EVE pvp part two.

November 29, 2009

So I log on today, and get greeted by a new window with milita chat in it. Apparently I am now part of the Caldari Milita. So, my first instinct is to ask what it is about. I try on the rookie help channel, but it gets lost in the scrum of questions. After about three abortive attempts to find out what exactly the milita was in the milita tab, I get told where to go, and suit up a frigate.

Luckily, my Corp leader was doing it, so he fleeted us up, organized us, and we spent the next 40 minutes scouring asteroid belts for WT’s, which are war targets-opposing players. No dice, and as the time went on, we lost fleet player after player. My corp leader left, and soon it was 4, then 3, then 2 of us at a gate in Tama space.

We managed to score a kill. Unfortunately it seems to have been a blinking red member of our own militia. There was talk of spies in the chat, but now idea if this guy was one. So, as time went on, there was just me and someone else. A tech two assault ship had been flirting with us, staying out of reach. He then warped to ten km, I opened fire, he drove off my buddy and podded me. End of story. The ship loss was fast, as soon as I got in range of his guns, it cored me in seconds, too fast to even do anything.

I can’t say how meh the experience felt. There was no real meat to it-there was no personal aspect to fighting, it was over too quick, and not really any plus. I didn’t even feel mad, it was more a “wtf how do they expect newbies to do this?” Seriously, they give you a letter of intro to join a militia from day one in the boxed copy. Why would they even think a newbie would see an upside to it?

The point of losing should be to encourage you to try again. But considering that being podded can actually set you back days in skill learning because it kills your implants (which are more expensive to replace than a cruiser, and a full set could easily be more than a battlecruiser) and that you have nothing to even show for the experience but a vague sense of “why do people like this?” makes me wonder what CCP expects of you. The experience is just too brief and over too fast to really generate a desire to continue.

I mean seriously, it’s not like there were any mistakes I made that caused me to lose. Well, only one: not listening to my gut and heading home when it was just two people. It’s not like I felt that I could have managed the encounter, or I lost because it was a close fight and he was skilled. Stuff like that will keep you going. But when the prudent course is not to engage in pvp at a specific time in the first place, it doesn’t inspire you to try again.

The loss of your ship/implants doesn’t help either. Your gut tells you to go back out there in your cruiser and make him pay. Your brain says “You just lost a cheap ship, and you aren’t getting anything to go back out and risk losing a more expensive one in a gate camp.” The whole “don’t fly what you can afford to lose” acts as a discouragement to play, because of having to need to weigh participation.

At this point I’m not sure I’m going to convert it to a sub when the 60 days run out. I think I may try some piracy after talking to my corp members just to try another aspect of the game, but I never have played an MMO that seems to discourage you from playing it so much, whether its pvp, or the amount of time it takes to train skills.

Happy thanksgiving

November 26, 2009

Have a safe and happy Turkey Day everyone. Be careful tomorrow if you do your shopping on Black Friday. Walmart in particular is going to be murder as they are discounting insanely for their 6-11 doorbusters. Be careful going in on the initial rush.

I think there’s a lot to be thankful for. Personal things aside, we have plenty of well-made, well polished MMO’s for us to play, with more on the horizon. MMO’s have lost their stigma, so that means more care and more devotion will be given to them, similar to how the japanese roleplaying games in the ps one era were much better translated and localized than their 16 bit counterparts.

Good memories in the past, Good tidings for the future. Have fun everyone today, and see you out there in the game.

One interesting omission from Champions online.

November 26, 2009

No RMT shouts.

No seriously, not a one. In almost every recent game I have played, there has been a strong RMT presence, shouting their wares in public chat channels or even in zones themselves. Not so in Champions. I don’t know if it’s because money is secondary to CO, or because the instancing design divides RMT too much to make farming viable, or the low population per instance. But I think this has been the first game where immersion isn’t broken by someone spamming a script for gold.

It’s not that bad.

November 22, 2009

So, I picked up Champions Online.

Yes, that Champions Online. The one constantly subject to nerd rage and dire predictions of impending doom. I had some worries from listening to all of that, and following comments on blogs. However I really wanted to play a superhero game, so I ponied the $29.99 down, got one, and with some nervousness, logged on.

It’s not that bad. If anything, it’s actually pretty good.

Install was easy, patch was very easy-took maybe 2 or 3 hours, compared to how long has taken me for other games. It looks great on my laptop, and while the gameplay is pretty mindless, it is fun mindless. Character creator is great, and I spent a good amount of time before making a munitions character named Gun Bunny.

Teh Gun Bunneh.

My first CO character

Population is not bad per instance. There was a lot of griping about it, but the areas themselves are small enough where you simply cannot have 200+ people in an area. They aren’t small vertically-if anything they expand very high and when you get your travel powers, what is fun is seeing how high you can go. The horizontal footprint isn’t that large though, and they wouldn’t be able to put enough mobs to support that amount of people.

Cash shop is fine. Nothing in it seems to even affect play, and there are no ads or instances where I felt I really needed to drop some cash to progress. The only negatives I have had were with the targeting system. It is hard to tab multiple targets, or at least felt it for me. Also, it was too easy to switch off auto attacking. People have mentioned it was designed for a gamepad, and I’m tempted to try one for it. They could also explain builds and leveling better, but this game is an altoholics dream imo, so if you aren’t the experimenting type hit up an online FAQ or something.

I think it’s becoming important to take reviews or diatribes against a game lightly. An MMO even if you only play for a couple of months is a great value, compared to other games. However too many fans or ex-fans have their own issues with a game, and communicate it so often that it risks being taken out of proportion. I know that if I had listened to them, I’d have missed out on a fun game.

RMT thoughts

November 19, 2009

Lum the Mad wrote over at both MMORPG.com a column about the difficulties of stopping RMT. I think he sidesteps the issue a lot though. He talks about the practical nature of stopping it, but the problem is not that, it’s in the ultimate design of the games in the first place.

The problem is not limited developer resources, the problem is using the economic aspect of an MMO as gating content to keep players playing. When I played FFXI, it wasn’t hard to level at all, even during the hardest periods of the game in the COP era. What was hard was trying to afford necessary gear, due to the scarcity of components or pieces. The best pieces leveling were either buyable, or farmed and bind on pickup to a player. The best gear happened to use components that were rare, and thusly could have a high cost, even when not monopolized.

This was designed to slow leveling down by forcing players to spend time making gil to afford gear. In FFXI very little alternative gear existed that was anything close to your expected loadout in terms of stat boosts. If you went cheap, you went gimp. Very gimp, to the point of being useless in parties. So leveling time slowed down tremendously as players farmed or made money in various ways to outfit their characters with gear, spells, and food. Again, I’m sure this was a conscious design decision, made to slow progress.

RMT quickly stepped in. While they were negative because they tried to monopolize spawns and tried to drive prices to establish a monopoly, the reason why it was so hard to root them out was because players hated the gating system gil provided, and were very willing to spend real life money to shorten it. It’s like hiring a maid to clean your house. You exchange money to shorten time.

I never have used RMT, but a lot of people did. Despite constant bannings, RMT persisted until SE took steps to reduce the impact the economy had on the average player. Rare crafting components dropped more frequently, and in other venues to prevent monopolization. Basic gear was introduced that enabled many players to gear less expensively and still contribute. The focus of the game went more towards bind on pickup gear from endgame instanced events over open-world spawns. In short, they reduced the power of the economy to gate players, and replaced it with other means like time.

While Lum does talk about how hard it is to enforce, he missed the real problem. Players know how hard it is to enforce; I’ve counted hundreds of ISK spammer bots in the newbie channel in under two weeks of play. We know developers resources are limited. But if that is the case why do developers spend so little time in the design phase mitigating the effects that cause RMT? Like:

  1. Everything buyable with currency: Some things need to be off limits from buying or selling, even using components. The best gear should be obtained through play as a sign of skill, and not be transferrable or sellable.
  2. Money used as timesinks or gating: If players have to slog through making money to get to the fun stuff, they will subcontract it to RMT if the grind is too great. The particulars of the grind and the RMT point varies by player, but it’s much easier and safer to use time, which cannot be resold.
  3. Making the game vulnerable to unfair arbitrage: A lot of the grind may be player driven, as they buy and resell goods at markup to make money. This makes a few players rich, while making the economic game a huge grind for others. There always should be an option to obtain specific pieces for a player in a reasonable time, to prevent them from turning to RMT when they realize it takes 3 months to raise crafting high enough to be able make something that sells for multi-millions constantly at AH. If you don’t want to do so with all pieces, include inferior, but still useful. FFXI had assault point gear which enabled people to earn good armor pieces for average players with a decent time investment, and it provided an option against much costlier goods.
  4. Not making an economic game optional, and  high-end. This means make it clear that if you want to be a tycoon and show achievements for it, it has to have a high enough bar to entry that it will be cost-prohibitive for a person to use an RMT Service.  We have raids for endgame players, and something like needing billions of gil to make a castle would bar a lot of people tempted from using RMT to fund it. in FFXI relics originally were this, as gil was scarce and the cost to owning one would put buying the gil in the thousands of dollars range.

The practical difficulties of banning it are significant, but shouldn’t that mean that it should be tackled, or at least given more thought at the design stage? I mean, Aion’s use of Kinah to buy back EXP loss they had to have known would have been a sign for RMT, but they went ahead with it anyways. You really need to minimize the power currency has on your players, and I think then the administrative aspect will become much easier.

Analogy police.

November 18, 2009

You are a kid. Which of these would you prefer to hear?

  1. “We’re going to Six Flags for our vacation this year?”
  2. “We are going to the park for our vacation this year. They have such a lovely sandbox.”

So why the heck do we think sandbox is a positive term anyways? Kids play in sandboxes. There is nothing to do in them except move sand around, unless you bring your own toys. No kid I know would pass over a trip to any amusement park over playing in one. Seriously, what adult plays in sandboxes? Even the beach has a purpose and the ocean.

It’s odd that sandbox is supposed to be an original, free-flowing experience, and themepark is often described as dull, linear, and changeless. If anything IRL its the opposite way around.


November 18, 2009

So I got bored one day, outfitted a cheap frigate, and decided to see what 0.0 space was about. To be honest it wasn’t really that different from normal space, except for the guywith the force recon ship camping the gate. It honestly wasn’t that bad. I managed to get away twice, and tried to sneak up on him, but didn’t get away fast enough. Unfortunately range and drones beats speed it seems. He killed me and podded me.

That pretty much was it. No heart-pounding anger, no real gameplay addition. I  felt angrier playing Mabinogi PvP, and had more of a rush. I think it was in part the expectation that people should be fair in Mabi, whereas in EVE I tend to not really expect that. Plus, I purposely didn’t invest much. I lost maybe a 300k fitted ship, and the guy who killed me probably got all of 50k from my wreck. I was more annoyed that I couldn’t get in deeper to be killed. Two systems into 0.0 was all I could get.

It was nice to know that you can get away from a lone, stronger ship even as a frig. I’m training my frigate skills now, because I have my eye on an inteceptor mostly to tool around in, and it opens the door to the tech 2 frigs. I have a couple of cruisers, an Amarr done boat, and an Omen. I also have a bestower, and a coercer for salvage. My corp has been cool to hang out with, no complaints there. I wish all game populations where that mature.

Its somewhat dull though. As a cruiser I really don’t feel like I can contribute much to a battle. My corp mates go into a level 4 mission, one of them tanks all the mobs, and the rest just shoot. The mobs are tough enough to make a few of us newbies superfluous, and while we can team up to take some of the ships down together, it’s very underwhelming.

I know I gripe a lot, but I really want to like this game. I think EVE does a lot well, and it has a very zen-like quality to it. I like the players, and I like training and learning about ships. Its kind of a game though where it’s not all that engaging for the newbie.