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.

Blog Banter 57a,b,c: Arenas!
Duncan Ringill

Your Name HereKirith Kodachi summed up his takeaways on the latest Banter, and proposes arena combat for low-risk PvP training.  I’m not sure what it is he finds so wrong with “just use Sisi,” but I certainly agree that we shouldn’t force new players to set up a Singularity launcher for what would likely be a valuable game feature.  Game-changer, if Kirith is correct.

Let’s say, then, that there would be an arena in a high-sec system, or an arena at a moon in each of many systems (at least one per empire).  Maybe one in every system in which a new capsuleer can be born.  AURA can guide the player there, adding a helpful bookmark.  I like this.

One can’t enter the arena in anything but a n00b hull fitted with civilian modules, Kirith suggests.  Every one of these ships that is blown up in an (any) arena is instantly replaced in the home station (or a station in the arena’s system).  One has to warp to the arena, popping out at a random location inside (or at a staging point as one waits for a match).  Once in, there’s also a suitable orientation delay of seconds during which the entering ship cannot target or be targeted.  Sound good?  Something tells me we’re missing something.  Uh-oh.

What do we expect will happen outside this hypothetical arena, in a system known to contain new players flying uniquely vulnerable ships?  Oh yeah, that.  The griefers will flock to the gates and lurk around the stations; they’ll bookmark and warp to points just beyond the Arena (which I’ll now capitalize because I think, as does Kirith, that this feature is fucking important to the future of the game).  Griefers will do their best to ensure that Mister Arena never gets used for his intended purpose, and they will do it in the name of “education” or “content creation”–because this is EVE, where the pigeons poop on all available statues.

No, we can’t very well have ganks, if our purpose is low-risk combat training for new New Edeners.  We’re led, then, to a necessary corollary: perfect-sec systems, in which PvP outside the arena is impossible.  Or just more swiftly policed by CONCORD, if the last idea puts sand in your sandbox.  The orchards where the newbie trees grow ought to have 1+ security ratings, or whatever it takes to hold the ganks down to an arbitrarily dull roar.  Or, if even that is intolerable to you emergent game-players, let’s try something else that gets the zero-SP toon  to and from the Arena without an unscheduled fight.  Suzariel has just suggested that the arena might not need to be any appreciable distance from the station.  A character in an appropriate ship sees an “undock to Arena” button.

Kirith also envisions a “match system and points calculator” to keep things interesting.  I’ll see that and raise him the next logical steps.  Since this is now a sport, how about wagering?  “Four hundred quatloos on the newcomer!”  Bet against the house AI (which of course knows whether or not that new toon is a vet player’s) or against other capsuleers in what could be an emergent parimutuel system run by third parties.

Are you not entertained?Not sure about the long-term fun in betting on n00bs, so let’s open this useful system to vets as well.  There could be veteran arenas, also with some protection against mere gankers, and with so much ISK at stake, what will emerge is a new career: high-sec gladiator.  NPC corps could offer missions against AIs, of course, perhaps located in the Arena, but the real attraction would be the pick-up 1v1 matches.

Imagine dueling as it is today, but permanently on display in places where the rest of the subscribers can find it, watch it and stream it.  Picture ship and module restrictions to level the playing field.  Imagine a points system not so very unlike that in the Alliance Tournament, with automated match-making and scoring, and you have competition for fame as well as fortune.  Balkanize it as needed so that there are always many, many more arenas and titles than there are win-button alliances to dominate them.  Limit alliances’ members to participation in a few arenas each; the idea, after all, is for individuals to win bragging rights rather than to duplicate the Alliance Tournament.

points1As did the knights of old, elite 1v1ers could strike out on their own, and they would have to do so if they wanted to travel a large arena circuit and try to win everywhere.  The rewards would be their winnings, the titles, and the donations of sighing fans.

Next, let’s plug it all into the lore, and have the arenas administered by various NPC corps and governments, perhaps with varying restrictions on ships, modules and toons (“Hey, Mom!  I won Best Sebiestor in T1 Cruiser Fit Without DCII in Hek on a Tuesday!”)  For extra credit, allow player corps to fire up and profit from their own arenas, and to offer their own championship trophies and other prizes.  Watch occasional reports flicker by on your CQ screens.

Or just hope that CCP sponsors an official tourney.

If you think EVE is a PvP game, though, you want this, and you want it badly.  You’re wondering, in fact, why we don’t already have something like it.  Capsuleers are the nascent gods of New Eden, and because these gods are still human, they want to prove it, and to prove it on TV!

Blog Banter 57: The Wrong Question?
Duncan Ringill

instruction01Kirith Kodachi nails up a Blog Banter on the subject of failfits and the prevention thereof.  To his credit, the direction he’s heading concerns the responsibility of the senior player in the education of the junior.  Granting that newer capsuleers’ undocking in suboptimal fits is a problem–for those new players if for no one else–sure, an experienced EVE hand can do a lot one-on-one to train someone who is just entering the game.

I submit, however, that this is akin to a driver’s education class in which the instructor talks about the latest Fast And Furious movie he’s just seen.  It’s sex education via dirty jokes when we could be using Ken and Barbie dolls or better.  Why tell another player how to fit, if the game were developed in such a way as to allow showing instead?

Yeah, in the game we have, you can share a particular fit through chat.  What you can’t easily share are the accompanying stats, or the logic you used to pick particular modules and rigs.  What can’t be shared trivially is the science of fitting itself, and it is one of the fundamental skills for survival and prosperity.

Give us an in-game fitting tool, CCP!  Shove it into the menu right down there next to ISIS, or (better yet) integrate fitting into ISIS.  Make this thing part of the tutorial, with samples engaging players on Day One in the basics of cap, grid and calibration with AURA as guide talking us through examples as she offers tips.  Enable stare-and-compare for the various modules and the sharing of fits within corps and alliances so that other players slip neatly into AURA’s place.

The old hand in EVE can sit virtually with a brand-new player; they can open ISIS at the same time, and talk or type their way through more advanced fittings.  Don’t force the teacher and the pupil to leave the game and communicate on forums about third-party tools that may not be interoperable.  Keep ’em logged in and socializing.  Build a schoolhouse for Kirith Kodachi; make it a place of learning whose products are fun and better killmails that we can share with a proud smile rather than a sneer.

Give the teacher tools, and bring enough for the whole class.

CONCORD as a Capsuleer Career, pt. 2
Duncan Ringill

data01

#PIIRS LOW-SPECTRUM COMM SCAN LOG YC117.05.28//18:09:22.387   

[CONCORD intercept-decrypt transcription]

{attrib uncert} *#&%$)$*@){>#((“–the files directly to me, Sarge.”

SGT Bagler: “Sure, we’ve got the sniffer data. But how come we’re spooking after a rich wirehead who never stepped outside the law? Other than that dust-up in Jita, I mean; that was a stray shot. What gives, Lieutenant?”

LT Murray: “Recruiting. That simple.”

SGT Bagler: “An egger? We gotta take on an egger? What for, for how long, and for how much?”

LT Murray: “You don’t wanna know how much, but the force is paying, from right at the top. Because the Captain says so. You’ve got a Piirs problem, remember?”

SGT Bagler: “That’s my case. Mine.”

LT Murray: “It’s bigger than you. The buzz out in low says she’s running for Sansha now. They’ll be feeding her ammo, and crew, so who knows where she’ll pop up next?”

SGT Bagler: “I can get her.”

LT Murray: “Forget Piirs for one damned minute. This guy’s the real deal. Look at those numbers–and he’s been doing it freelance. He cleaned up the shipyards all by his own little self. The Captain wants a badge on him before he turns pirate, or worse. Think of the ISK he could be pulling down for the big corps. He likes this sector, or he wouldn’t keep coming back for our jobs. This egger can be the one to take down Piirs and make it hurt–blow all her pretty head-metal right the hell up, and not just the destroyer. So when she comes back, she doesn’t come back here.”

SGT Bagler: “C’mon, Lieutenant. We caught her once. We gave it a shot, but those damned eggs’ll slip right past you. We’ll get her, no doubt.”

LT Murray: “Cut it out. This is your new partner. Everything else–everything–is on hold until you make it official.”

SGT Bagler: “He’s a weird one. Never seems to leave his cabin. These snaps are him at the balcony, just staring at that cruiser. It’s like even when he’s here, he’s still out there. It’s like they ain’t even human. Him nor Piirs.”

LT Murray: “Well, the Captain says we gotta have him, and I agree. Make the approach yourself. Nothing subtle, or he won’t even look at the offer. This is his home, and it’s time he stopped pretending it’s not. He wants to fight for us, deep down, so we make it pay. Give him one of those Comets. Swear him in. That simple.”

SGT Bagler: “You are gonna owe me so many doughnuts it ain’t even#&*(%)#@^@)%$//////////}”&*)?@#!%%%

[CONCORD intercept-recrypt interrupt]

Discuss.