Posts archived in eve

Well, the paperwork isn’t through yet, but it seems I’m about to be promoted to an acting officer within my corp. This means I’ll be a regular fleet commander, as well as taking a much more direct approach to my role of corporate trainer. The position is with the military wing of the corp, but chances are I’ll still wind up active in every part of the corp as I usually am.

Our recent war has been going fairly well. After loosing at least one entire fleet to the guys hired to scout us out, we’ve managed to turn the tables on the corporation that started it all. We had been drawn into station camps and near station engagements by that first force, and the second force initially tried to stick to station camping our HQ.

First engagement was four of them, Brutix, Broadswoard, Vexor, and I forget the last but it was either tech 2 or a battle cruiser. About six of us with friendly support undocked and blew the Vexor to kingdom come, left the area, then came back and reversed the camp as the Broadsword would stop firing and then dock up every time his shields got low. From there we got used to the routine of hunting down most of their members, while the broadsword pilot stuck to 0 on station. The Vexor pilot has been hunted down religiously, loosing at least two assault frigs as well as a variety of other ships, but he’s also been known to bait in a small ship then undock in a Megathron. Last time he did so we pinned him down and took him into hull before he could redock. We haven’t seen his Megathron since.

Personally, I’m looking forward to the end of the war and getting back to mission running. I’ve had to dip into my EVEBank funds to keep myself within acceptable liquidity. On the other hand, my brand new Hyperion, built by a friend for a significant discount, is sitting at dock waiting for guns and insurance before it’s worth flying.

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Holy F***ing S***

BoB gets bitten by Goonswarm corp theft.

Man, if I had the money… I would so resub right now.

I’ve written more than my fair share here in the past about various MMO designs. Unfortunately, as I’ve bent my mind to the issue and kept an ear to the ground I become increasingly concerned. Chiefly, I’m concerned that the audience to which I can market, is not the audience for which I design.

At various times I may have mentioned that my background in online multi-user worlds is from MUSHes. A MUSH is a fundamentally social thing, and I’ve only even connected to a handful that had combat mechanics. I was simply never interested in MUD style game play, running around collecting gear and killing monsters. In the offline realm, sure I enjoy spending an hour or two on Diablo II every once in a blue moon, but for the most part rouge-likes and dungeon crawls simply aren’t where my heart is.

For many people, their first great MMO would be Evercrack, Ultima Online, Second Life, or World of Warcraft. But for me the first brush was Neveron, an empire management game based in the Battletech universe. The featured a primarily player driven economy, players fought for land which had the chance of granting them resources, they would research the ability to build better weapons and units, and above all players formed their own political landscape. I think it’s fairly easy to see why my current go to game is EVE Online.

But as I’ve designed, theorized and listened, I’ve consistently found certain detriments. I for one want an ever changing world, but by and large most people don’t. They would like change on their schedule, they would like to experience all the events and all the content at their leisure. So far, I’ve found it impossible to reconcile change that matters, with change people want. Oh, I could probably take the teeth and the meat out of change and give the players “I can’t believe it’s not change” and I’m sure some arbitrarily large number of people would be happy, but I won’t make that game. That game doesn’t interest me in the slightest, and the player’s reactions to that game are equally uninteresting. (Unless they uniformly hate it, then I might be interested.)

Secondly, I’m not in the mood to play to everyone’s masturbatory instincts. No, I’m not talking about titillation, I’m talking about instant gratification. I’m all for relatively high rates of feedback, but not this silly structure of ‘ding’ you’re better. Rewards should be commensurate with effort, talent and time. A patient and intelligent investment of one of those three should always reap greater rewards than simply bashing your head against the wall until someone gives you a gold star for effort. This is one of my main problems with the MUD style, the concept of Mobs that aren’t actually trying to win.

But most of all, societal interactions being important seems to be the rift that simply shouldn’t be. What is it that makes people think banning Goonswarm and the like for being assholes is a “wrong way” of dealing with them. Griefers are as bad, if not worse, of a problem as gold farmers, but our rules for dealing with them are practically non-existent. But in a greater sense, why are the social realities of an MMO the very last on the list of priorities. Guild management tools, chat tools, social environments, these all come out as the red headed step children of the MMO world. Even starting areas are completely ludicrous. Rather than beginning players in major population centers where they are guaranteed to see, meet, and interact with other players, they are instead positioned in the middle of fuckallistan. Anyone joining after the initial rush will be lucky to see another living soul after hours of wandering.

All of this has got me thinking about making games with significantly more limited multiplayer options. After all, a Thursday night group of 4-8 people can certainly have fun playing a persistent world game without the need for a thousand other assholes. But then, there is the alone together factor that tells me they also wouldn’t be interested in investing regular time into something without having those other thousand assholes around to pointedly ignore. Perhaps someday I’ll find my perfect answer, but for now, I’m more just frustrated than anything.

P.S.
EVE doesn’t work because it’s open PvP. EVE works because it has a complex socioeconomic simulation to offset that PvP, creating a world with a balanced variety of activities along the bartle types. Just thought I’d share.

Earlier today I was looking over the minutes for the first meeting of the CSM. While doing so I stumbled across this offshoot thread on system sovereignty. As I read through the various thoughts and suggestions posted I invariably found myself shaking my head in disappointment.

The posters in the thread certainly don’t come across as unintelligent people, and even the concepts they put forth aren’t bad in and of themselves. Still I can’t shake this feeling that I’m watching a deeper issue at play here. This does provide an interesting working example though, so let me explain.

In EVE players can own their own bits of space down in 0.0 space. In an effort to allow people to not have to be on at all hours twenty four seven, and create a certain amount of stability in ownership, they created a system to shore up an alliances sovereignty of their own systems. The way it worked was that alliances would build and place their own POSs (Player Owned Stations) and those POSs would grant them a certain amount of sovereignty over the given system(s). Those POSs would need to be destroyed one at a time, and any system may have several, from the edge inward in order to be able to shift sovereignty and make those systems usable by your forces.

The problem that created though is that it forced the sheer number of ships required to even challenge an entrenched enemy up into the server breaking numbers. A problem that has seen active discussion for pretty good piece of time now and we can be fairly certain the devs are talking about it non stop as well.

So where do I come in with an argument? Well, I think we have run into a problem where everyone is discussing rules for a fundamentally tool related issue. There are two things I know that come into play here, the first is that when it comes to two equally advanced forces Nathaniel Bedford Forest* said it best, “the firstest with the mostest”. It’s the simple truth for any symmetrically advanced combat where MAD is not on the table. Second is that players will discover and (ab)use the most successful/efficient tactics almost without exception. Therefore, I believe the answer is not to change the rules governing the game, but to implement the tools necessary to change the most efficient set of tactics.

First we need to create something to break up the groups. A good suggestion here would be to create a capital ship module that would do extreme amounts of damage to large structures, but would also create a huge radius around it which would damage other ships without regard to alignment or standings, the damage being inverse to victim size of course. You could also add battle cruisers that are basically a ship-gun capable of doing reasonable damage to a cap ship out at ranges of 300-400k, but who take a penalty for every ship within 300k of them and are naturally shy of fitting slots.

The hope would be to simultaneously decrease the typical fleet size for dreadnoughts, increase the number of battle cruisers in fleet engagements and spread out the combatants to take advantage of 3d space and gang warfare. Obviously it’s impossible to know from discussion how exactly all of these will effect the game, but the basic concept I’m trying to get across is that you can’t rules your way out of a tools issue. Just as you can’t use electronic controls to fix bad mechanical design, nor good maintenance to solve poor engineering or architecture.

Especially in sandbox environments, I feel that one should always focus on providing the players good tools. You may not always be right, but at the end of the day at least the player gets to keep their shiny new tool.

Richard Bartle wrote his treatise on MUD player types back in ’96. His assertions have been rightfully questioned and we have generally found them to not be a robust enough platform for player motivation. They do have another purpose for which they need only minor tweaks however. Activity types.

However, Bartle gave each one certain connotations in terms of how they interacted with players, the world, or each other, for my purpose we will be tossing those out wholesale. For instance, a killer activity is any activity in which the player kills another player while an achiever activity is any activity in which the player is put in direct competition with their peers. As you can see there can and in fact must be some overlap. However I would also like to add one more group before we begin, creators. Creators are most directly related to crafters, but can also be player housing, armor painting, or pet raising.

So why go through all of this, well primarily to better understand the current MMOs on the market. This group of activity types is fairly limited, but it still covers the vast majority of what we want to go into. First I’ll take a quick look at some of the games I have played well enough to comment on.


WoW is the obvious starting point to any MMO discussion so I thought I would go ahead and get it out of the way. What I have seen from WoW is that they are the epitome of mainstream, streamlined, generalist, easy and shallow. Probably one of the most amazing facets of WoW is that they actually did manage to strike an incredible balance of everything but killing, and then worked that in later. WoW’s fundamental mechanic, grind to x so you grind faster, gave it a very single minded purpose without distractions, and built on the corner stone of achievement game play. Exploration was given slight xp bonuses as well as slightly out of the way quest givers allowed explorers in while not fracturing game play focus at all. Social elements were added in the forms of instances and dungeons again feeding back into the main achievement style and finally creation was an alternate form of advancement as well as adding certain buffs. Killing, while existent didn’t receive it’s real focus until battlegrounds and even after addition was polished and demolished until it became as easy and focused as the rest of game play.

WoW is not, however, by any means a perfect game. Not even for achievers. The problem that WoW has, which will not effect their bottom line but certainly does effect a large portion of their player base is that they gave up a great deal of depth to make access particularly easy. There isn’t enough to explore nor enough of a reward for doing so to keep focused explorers engaged, there aren’t enough social tools nor enough reason to connect to please fundamentally social players, creators are required to hit their highest possible levels before they see any real use and even then have to compete with hundreds of others on their server if they are lucky enough to have so little competition. The killers don’t get to feel as though they’ve done serious damage, and achievers are faced with the brutal reality that their greatest achievements were well and truly worthless.

To add insult to injury, it only really takes you wanting more of any one activity to make the game start to feel hollow to you, and most people who are reading this blog are fairly far into multiple groups.

EVE may seem to be the opposite far extreme, but I would posit that it is really not. It’s done something very similar to WoW in fact. They took a corner stone of killer activities and built the entire game around it, keeping the activities in check and focused back into that. What they did very differently however was they exchanged ease of access for depth. An explorer can spend an entire career in EVE and not see it all, and certain types of exploring are very very profitable. Creation in EVE, in terms of crafting, is very well designed and thought out. Creation activities in EVE carry a certain amount of gravitas with them as well, since they have a direct effect on the capabilities of the killers. Achievers aren’t given so much a set of activities as they are a form of expression and they make use of it to the full extent. Best off all in terms of achievement, whether it’s piloting a titan or getting a 6:1 Kill/Death Ratio it is all dependent on your own skill making the achievements worthwhile.

Social tools are probably where EVE has consistently fallen shortest. Despite their excellent community the number of purely social constructs in EVE has remained relatively low. I believe this is a large part of why so many players are looking forward to Ambulation, it will be a chance to better explore the social side of the game. It may also be a chance to explore the social side of creation.

Of course EVE paid a heavy price for all this, their barrier to entry is at least exponentially higher than WoW’s. While they certainly maintain an excellent player base they don’t stand any significant chance of breaking the multi-million subscriber barrier in the next few years.

I could go on with Guild Wars or Tabula Rasa, but for now I’d rather focus on how we can use this when making MMOs. What exactly are these measurements useful for?

A good starting point would be cornerstones. Both of the examples I used above created a focus within their game that is truly inescapable. No matter what you are doing in WoW it’s to achieve the next macguffin and no matter what you are doing in EVE it is built on/funded by the frozen corpses of dead player characters. In TR it’s actually about exploring, but it’s an exploration of the lore and literature rather than a literal exploration. Guild Wars is built schizophrenically around exploring or killing while neither incorporates more than a cursory creation mechanic but both contain fairly robust social and achievement mechanics.

Another take away is that MMOGs are, presently, lagging far behind in the social component. There are more than enough meta game tools to sate player’s appetites, but we could still do with a certain grouping of advancements. In game message boards are a very good example, I have seen only one usage of these, however. Any sci-fi MMO can leverage these to the benefit of RPers and much the entire player base. Fantasy games can have an option to disable the menu to increase immersion, but they can still benefit from these as well. If you add on a program such as PlayXpert (PXP) you may find that players become more socially engaged with your game as friendships grown in game are fluently translated to out of game and vice-versa.

As much as I know I have certainly missed more activity types or have shoe horned them into these, they have worked reasonably well as a group of quick and dirty metrics from my perspective. Perhaps most importantly, since I am not a scholar and am simply trying to state what I have seen with a relatively broad brush, they should be judged as a speedy and stylized way of expressing the complex relations of players and activities and not as a comprehensive list or set of metrics.

Space ships
burning in
silence.

Dawn in EVE has come
at a dusk you wait for me
EVE begins again.

Nano in the North
building war with blood and tears
working in havoc.

Worlds apart in all ways
come together in violent haze
our frenzy silent.

Nebulae
outside pod
burning away.

So after talking a bit with Shuttler, I realised that while my knowledge of EVE barely scratches the surface, there are many players that really need to get their foot in the door. So here is my guide to starting a Gallante pilot without feeling like your brain is going to eat itself from the inside out. This guide assumes first off that you have played the tutorial. If you haven’t, PLAY THE TUTORIAL!

Grouping

First and foremost, EVE is not a solo experience. You can solo EVE, but you won’t like the experience. Since I assume your a GAX-aholic reading this as you are, get into the MOG Army channel and stay there! Go to channels and mailing lists, join, and input MOGArmy in the prompt that comes up. You’ll probably see 3-6 people sitting around \o ing and staying pretty quiet mostly. Why are they so quiet, you ask? Because they are all in Vent. Please get on vent, I hate my voice and I still get on there to work stuff out. We have an EVE channel, just keep an eye out for Foxmoon, Kaiu, and Hinkz they are far more experienced at the game than myself, I’m sure if you asked nicely they would be glad to help you figure stuff out.

In the same line, if you can get a group together for some early level 1 missions, do so! You will help each other, and you can take both take missions allowing you to chain them one after another, it’s less work and time overall than taking the missions one at a time and in EVE every little bit counts.

Early Jobs

As a newbie in EVE you have your choice of a few basic jobs to collect your starting capital, mining, ratting and missioning. Mining actually requires slightly less skill investment than missioning if you start out a character specifically geared towards it. The problem is, it’s boring as all sin, and especially with Goonswarm targeting high sec afk miners, getting to be a VERY dangerous profession. If you happen to get immediate acceptance into a 0.0 corp it will work out for you much better, since 0.0 is great pay-off and is far better structured allowing you to actually be safer in most cases than you would in low sec. Ratting is a constant slide down into low sec and takes pretty much all the same skills that you would need to have in order to mission, it’s a good way to loose ships and really won’t make you money as quickly or consistently as mission running will. Mission running, which the rest of this guide will assume is to be your starting job is surprisingly easy to get into, and can be some fun with a group.

So what are you going to need for mission running, well first let’s talk equipment.

Goal 1: Fitting your Incursus

Meet your new best friend, the Incursus. Now you could, conceivably pilot a Tristan instead, and if you want to switch to Caldari ships at a latter point, the Tristans launcher hardpoints make it a good starting point. Still either one will require pretty much the same fitting from a pure Gallente stand-point so I’m just going to stick to my favorite.

An Incursus fits 3 high slots, 2 medium slots, and 2 low slots, I don’t know if that’ll mean alot to you yet, but it will, trust me it will. Our primary goal is those high slots, frigates don’t tank(stand and recover from damage) especially well so we will focus ourselves on destroying stuff before we get hit. In those high slots we will want 3 150mm named railguns, in the mid slots we’ll want an afterburner and maybe a shield extender, and in those low slots we’ll want an armor repairer and an armor plate(deactivated, I’ll explain later). But remember that is a “goal” so lets go over what you’re going to need to get to the point of making that setup effective.

Skills

Before we talk about what to train, here is a tip on how to train. While you are on-line running missions, pick your shortest training time skills, these are usually skills that need to get to levels one and 2, and sometimes 3. When you are about to log off, check your skills that are level 3 plus, pick either the most important one or the one that will be training for the time closest to the actual of amount of time you plan to be away and set that to train. This will allow you to bumb through your low level skills while you’re around to consistently change training, and then lets the highest ones go without your having to think about it too much.

As to what skills you will need… You will want to invest in these trees in order.
Learning
Gunnery
Electronics
Engineering
Mechanical
Drones
*Social

* This is what I call an IF skill. IF you project yourself to be running missions on an incredibly regular basis after you’ve been playing long enough to have all these other trees pretty much full, then you really should invest in it. IF not, don’t go in beyond level 2.

Learning

These skills will decrease the time it takes to learn other skills, you should get learning itself up to level 5, and all the other ones, excepting possibly charm for the time being, at least up to level 4. The second tier learning skills cost 4.5 mil (roughly the same as a Gallente Cruiser) a book in high sec, so I don’t expect you to be able to even afford them for a while yet.

Gunnery

Your rail guns are your bread and butter in mission running, a good 150mm railgun burst can pop a drone or light frigate instantly. Better yet, they mean you can run away from your enemies, most level 1 enemies will max their range at 10k, and keep firing at them out at ranges of 20-30k. Invest in the namesake, then hybrid turrets, then sharpshooting, then go for damage. Doing less damage at a longer range is an okay trade off especially early on and in groups.

Electronics

Actually not so much the whole tree, but focus in on targetting, get that up to level 3 or 4 at least. It won’t help to awe inspiring power in your turrets if your constantly hung up trying to make a new target lock.

Engineering and Mechanical

These two may be low in the list but I can’t overstate their importance. The two namesake skills will increase your maximum power grid and CPU allowing you to fit more and more powerful equipment. Better yet, they are very important skills to flying battle cruisers and battle ships effectively. Once you have the namesakes down, branching out into the upgrade and armor trees will help you to fit the best possible tank.

Drones

I put drones as last because they really won’t effect your Incursus too much. Still working on them early can only help a pure Gallente pilot, a lot of Gallentian power is concentrated in drone based ships. When you step out beyond scout drones, you’ll also find EW drones, repair drones, scouting drones, all of which can be very important to a PvP player.

Social

Negotiation and Social will both increase what you get back from an agent after a mission. The differences probably won’t be hugely apparant until levels 4-5. Now if you’re going to be mission running why not invest in mission running skills? Because if your just trying to grab some starting isk, you’ll wind up with them trained while two skills that could really be a major assets as your moving into crusiers or destroyers are still waiting for some TLC. And probably just in time to be moving on to cruisers and the job you really want to take in EVE.

Important Mission Running Info

I’d say find the system Oursallent(sp?), and get over there pretty soon, it’s where Foxmoon and I have been based out of so both of us are only a jump or three away. Then open people and places and enter Federation Navy in the search box, searching for corporations. You’ll come up with a list, just take vanilla Federation Navy, you’ll want to right click on it and show info. In the window that opens up click the agents tab, and open the sublisting for Internal Security, now you should come up with a list of available agents, what you are looking for is one with quality -17 or lower (-18, -19, -20, etc…) close to Ours. If you can take Esate Black, I highly recommend it.

These will be almost entirely combat missions, so be ready to pwn some drones and frigates. His missions will seem pretty sameish after the first three or so. If you can’t access him, find the agent in the Navy that you can take that is closest to Ours. You can check this from any location in space by bookmarking the agent’s location, then setting that as your destination, open the map and search for Ours, then add it as a waypoint. Go to your autopilot tab and count the number of jumps between them.

If you have any questions throw them at MOG Chat or Vent and someone should be able to answer you.