The Rivals
Duncan Ringill

LOLCaps057

EVE=PvP is a charmingly limited view, and “villain” is as adorable a handle for a pretend destroyer of pretend spaceships as “teacher” is pretentious. (But go learn how to fly a Cynabal–good stuff there.)

PvP is a small subset of war, but I’ll happily grant Dex the pride of the infantry grunt invoking the favor of the Queen of Battle.  The officer corps has its own swagger, to be sure, and rightly so.  Nothing, however, matches the arrogance of the war profiteer who moves the chess pieces.  The masters making trillions off the efforts of PvPers like Dex do not spare a thought for his chimpanzee fun, as he in turn may care little for the grand games they play.

Standing to the side are the markets, whose warriors enjoy quieter conflict.  I can imagine racing hearts even there, though, as the combatants sift buy and sell orders to try to divine the hearts of their enemies.  The struggle for resources that is EVE is nowhere so exemplified as in the marketeers, for whom everything has a price.  The masters of war bow to the need for fun, but the economy rules all.

EVE is therefore more a trading game than it is a war game, and far more than it is a PvP game.  Spaceship combat is simply what gets Dex’ juices flowing these days, but rather than argue with his passion I’ll encourage him to wallow in it–because when we break it all down, there’s a secret depth that no one talks much about: we are the nascent gods of New Eden, indulging every whim to live larger than do the NPC inhabitants of this little universe.  To do, in a word, anything.

What EVE is really, really about is being awesome in any of a ton of possible careers.

Kings, Not Emperors
Duncan Ringill

rome1We were overdue for a threadnaught, and CCP Greyscale delivers in the form of the proposed jump drive changes.

Null-security space is stagnant, he tells us, as though we didn’t already know that, and he is beginning with a giant step (or the opposite of one, really).  The addition of jump fatigue and cooldown timers will seriously slow force projection.  The goal is to make the enormous, headline-making battles less feasible and less well-attended, the theory concluding that EVE will be more interesting.  Surely this will be the case.

Imagine a Roman Empire suddenly lacking in those fantastic tools of conquest, the roads.  Legions less able to cover ground rapidly are less able to enforce Imperial law in the provinces.  Imperial might and the myth of its divine origin lose the ability to awe the citizenry, conquered peoples and rival empires.  An empire built on military might–as they all are–weakens and eventually crumbles.

Other CCP plans will affect sovereignty in many ways, but even a hisec bear such as I can foresee a nigh-inevitable end to the era of the Space Emperor.  At the very least, additional Doughnut resources (time and ISK) will be taken up in logistical planning, strategy and diplomacy.  I don’t know whether the jump-drive nerf must necessarily spell the demise of CFC, but it’s going to make for hella interesting behind-the-scenes sov struggles.  CCP is tuning our EVE experience.

What if the moods, health and welfare of your neighboring friends and enemies suddenly became more important than the edicts handed down from a distant Doughnut Throne?  What happens when the Gauls begin to feel more Gallic than Roman?

War.  That’s what happens.

The result?  Maps redrawn.  The destabilization of nullsec through some sort of nerf to force projection is the sort of thing I’ve predicted and hoped for (without having had a clue as to how to accomplish it), for the sake of GrrGoons as well as for the rest of us.  Their wars will be less CPU-throttlingly spectacular, less exercises in Teamspeak endurance than grand strategy and rapidly-evolving tactics.  The Art of War more than War Gratia War.  Null governors, de facto kings owing less fealty to an Emperor, will be seizing, trading and squabbling over renters, capital ships and moons they once shared.

NBSI will evolve into NRDS. Alliances will split from coalitions and corps from alliances.  Toons will leave null to be replaced by others drawn by the new face of war in New Eden.  The wily old Space Emperor will clutch at power, alienating some alliances to gain or retain others.  Dogs and cats living together! Turnover is what we’re talking about, turnover and interesting war.  More battles and more FCs.

Hope the Space Emperor is up to the challenge.  He’ll be playing a new game, as will everyone else.  I don’t want to see CFC destroyed, mind you; I want to see them earn their legend, and earn it again every goddamned day–or make way for those who will.  Their forum swagger will become more than empty bluster, as will that of their new rivals.  More who-the-hell-are-these-guys will be seen in Local.

There will be battle reports I’ll actually read.  Thanks, CCP.  I believe you’ve figured out how to think big by thinking small.  Great idea.

Never the Twain Shall Meet
Duncan Ringill

trains01A bridge between Tranquility and Serentity?  Chinese players able to interact with those in other countries?  That a theme Art has touched on, and he hits it again this week.

It’s an idea to fire the imagination, and perhaps the coolest notion of all is that of new (to us) players chattering in an alien language in some of the same comm channels.  Yeah, I can see why this is desirable; cross-pollination has to be a good thing, right?

‘Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished, all right.  World gamers getting to know their Chinese counterparts couldn’t help but defuse the international tensions willfully (or otherwise) deepened and prolonged by the current segregation.

Well, if it happens, it’s not going to be accomplished by CCP.  Standing between us Tranquilitarians and the Chinese is The Great Firewall, a technological and political barrier that we barbarians are not going to be allowed to scale anytime soon.  It’s unfortunate, but Chinese authorities are not going to permit ISK transactions and uncensored chat.  Heck, we’d be lucky to be able to pass EVEmail back and forth; forum wars and ISK trading aren’t about to happen, either.

The barrier’s not insurmountable, but CCP isn’t going to tear down this wall.  Even if they had the permission from the People’s Republic, there would remain a last hurdle: sharding.

Chinese players on Serenity aren’t playing in different space; they’re on a clone of the universe we inhabit.  Serenity, like Singularity, is filled with the same star systems we see on Tranquility, with (presumably) the same divisions among hi-sec, losec, null and w-space.  As amusing as it would be to watch an attempted merger of CFC sov with its Chinese counterparts, that’s not a task CCP is going to undertake.

Did I say that was the final hurdle?  Strike that.  The ultimate concern is budgetary.  The desirability of international brotherhood aside, there ain’t no money for trying to merge what was sharded by design.  The new space to which our player-owned stargates will bridge us is not going to be on Serenity–not until the government of China changes.  Or changes its mind.

Pull Up to the Bumper (Musclemix)
Duncan Ringill

Ask your grandparents

Much was made earlier in the year of a long-term dev scheme to push high-sec players out into low and null.  CCP knows that players who play together tend to subscribe longer, so space that more or less forces lone wolves to band together must have sounded like a good idea.

Applause/boos greeted it, because this is EVE.

I think that my dim view of the plan was based on instant resentment toward being pushed anywhere.  Who the hell is CCP to tell me how to play?  The hell with that!  I’ll plant my happy ass so deep in a high-sec station that there’ll be buy orders put in on it, thank you very much.

The recent tweaks of minerals and industry no doubt began the process, but what do I care?  I haven’t mined anything in over a year, and I don’t manufacture.  No, the first manifestation of which I’m taking note is the announcement of the Burner missions coming in Hyperion.

These will be L4 security missions, popping up randomly in rotation with the familiar PvE content.  Each will pit a capsuleer against a single frigate-clad NPC who will be using PvP tactics and modules,  That does sound cool.  Baby’s First PvP!  Or it would be, if this were happening in L1-3 missions, too.  Why the heck isn’t that the case? 

As odd as the implementation might be, I can dig it.  This doesn’t smell as much like a push as it does a pull.  Try this soupçon of PvP, says CCP, and if you like it you know where to find more.  In the meantime, it’s free training (plus loot) in how not to panic when scrammed by a frigate–and in how to plan for it.  Become a better pilot, ready for whatever the next step might be.

Spoiled Rich Kids
Duncan Ringill

Ask your parents.

Ask your parents.

Art reminds us once again that one of EVE’s greatest potential strengths–its lore–lies rusting at the bottom of a corroded dev bucket.  It’s a vast yet unfinished science fiction universe underpinning the game we know and love, and yes, it’s also a source of frustration.  Why didn’t CCP get around to finishing it…or if they did, why didn’t they bother to set it in motion?

The answer, of course, is that that’s supposed to be our job.  We are the ones who invest hearts and minds into making all the space politics go.  NPCs, their corps and even their alliances are supposed to dance with us, fight us, and perhaps be bent to our will.

It’s been a colossal failure, hasn’t it?  Perhaps you’re having too much fun to have noticed.

The one thing NPCs have in common with each other is that they all have jobs.  Their behavior is oriented around activities that would further the economic or political interests of their bosses.  This is convenient for our player characters, because the NPCs can be counted on to be in certain places, doing certain things.

Time was, there would be news posted.  A bit of power would change hands here or there.  Sometimes it would be written around faction warfare or live events.  I never paid it much attention, because it didn’t seem to intersect with my game-play.  You see, I didn’t notice the gaping hole where lore should be, either, being too busy flying pretty spaceships with my friends.  Art seems to think this disconnect is potentially fatal.  Surely not.  Surely?  A decade ago, it was a marketing slogan; in what may be EVE’s twilight years I think it is a lost opportunity.

I didn’t need EVE to be any more than it was, and perhaps I still don’t.  I didn’t have a job, either, beyond the occasional mining ops with my crew.  In that respect, I am a little like the HTFUest pilots out there.  What fun there was to be had, I helped make, and I made it on my own terms, because I didn’t have a job.

While considering how my and Art’s points of view could be so similar and yet so different, I think I came up with a theory: capsuleers are not part of New Eden.  While some of us have jobs (shout-out to miners, faction warriors, DUSTies and industrialists everywhere), the socioeconomic background of the game doesn’t really touch most of us.  At all.  NPCs are busy working for a living 24/7.  Guess who that makes us?  That’s right; we are the spoiled rich kids driving the Rolls into the swimming pool.  We are the interchangeable Britneys and Shias, grabbing headlines for what amounts to less than nothing, unless a lot of ISK being destroyed or stolen counts.

Art’s already made the connection before, but the one thing that might cause us to reconsider the pool as parking is standings.  Without some responsibility to NPCs (beyond a few crabby agents), we are rootless inhabitants of the playground the working folks have to live in.  Standings are what could force us to engage with the opinions of non-capsuleers and thereby become citizens of New Eden rather than its vacationing assholes.

Give us standings, CCP!  Give our standings hits and buffs when we interact with your myriad NPCs.  Make those standings matter.  Make it expensive to live beyond the law; make it less remunerative to operate within empires, and make the back-and-forth between these spaces be difficult to cross at a whim.  Make the CFC (along with perhaps all PC and NPC sovereignty) a de facto empire; they’ve long since earned that status, and while you’re at it sov that can shelter carebears in relative safety need not give up as much loot as the wilder spaces.

That crew I just lost came aboard my battlecruiser in a station, where people still remember them and who may resent my stewardship.  I might be able to buy a replacement ship in that station, but it will come at a cost, and my next crew’s loyalty will also be expensive.  Where are the colonies and outposts who could use a helping hand from a capsuleer, and who will remember his or her name after a service done them?  Should I be able to run for political office on Luminaire, leveraging my standings from the war into a lucrative income or a place at a strategy table?

Come on, CCP!  Reward daring and ingenious players by working them into the lore.  They belong on the screen in my CQ, not just on a statue in the parking lot.  Let them drag NPC corps into their schemes.  Make governments take notice or take flight.

That’s how to make your lore live, breathe, shout, fight, shit and fuck.  Maybe it will even feature in a real-world news story someday.

Fimbulvetr
Duncan Ringill

Mittani may have evolved as far beyond actually logging into EVE as the rest of us have beyond ants, but here he is offering a view from his altitude of the NPE that matches up well with the experiences of mere immortals: namely, that EVE’s NPE sucks and always has.  With entertaining hyperbole (the tutorials aren’t really bad IMO; they just need a lot more context), he even makes his case clearly and convincingly.  Only Nixon can go to China, it seems.

A newbie zone, huh?  Yeah, it’s a no-brainer and an old one at that, but perhaps only the man who indirectly put the T in HTFU can come right out and say it on his website, and now that he has, gunfighters from all over CFC can begin to admit to seeing wisdom in the idea.  A good scheme doesn’t become bad just because CFC wants it, after all.  Any jerk can float an opinion, and I’ll be no exception, doggone it.

He may still be thinking too small.  He’s careful only to propose setting aside a chunk of that mysterious new space, and to bar any but new players from it, so that CCP would do all the hand-holding there (and so that naysayers can’t accuse him of wanting to make hisec safer).  Such economy is to be admired, as would be any clever EVE propagandists who stood waiting just outside the zone to recruit the new and presumably more skilled and confident class of capsuleers.  If Jove-space is furthermore only going to connect to low (rumored), Mittani’s proposal makes even more sense for CFC.

Can CCP unbend, though, and scrape together the resources to make something like this happen?  Even the coldest, harshest heart on staff ought to be warming to the thought right about now.  Why not design a universe where fewer players quit in frustration in the first month?  Why not prep those same players a little more thoroughly for corporate play and the sort of social experience CCP says it wants?

A Mittani as a player of the larger game necessarily sees new capsuleers as a crop to be harvested.  It’s not surprising that he would advocate for carefully-tended fields surrounded by the tallest of fences, watered by the gentlest of killmails and fertilized with ISK or ship replacements, all paid for by CCP.  What megacorp doesn’t dream of subsidies, and won’t lobby for them?  In retrospect, we should be surprised only that it’s taken this long.

Me, I’ll still advocate for perfect-sec systems in existing 1.0 and perhaps elsewhere, connected to minor trade hubs.  There’s no need to tie up the new space when the game begins here in high…unless CCP really does want to nudge everyone toward low and null.  If that’s the case, I would happily share.  Let n00b-space connect to all five other types (holla at my w-space peeps), so that the adventurous player fresh out of the tutorials can easily move in any of those directions when the training wheels come off.  Mittani has spoken, and I agree.

Good joke. Everybody laugh. Roll on snare drum. Curtains.