It’s just so accurate

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EVE: Instanced battles would mean a lot more headlines for the game

I wanted to follow up on the last post, talking about the possibility of bringing instanced battles to EVE, specifically the one major area it would greatly help EVE; attention.

For most of EVE’s history, the big events have always focused around loss, especially losses that are expensive. Its easy for non-EVE players to understand a headline of “$50k lost in massive EVE battle”, and its a headline even non-gaming news sites like posting. It grabs people. And it also attracts people to the game itself, which is rather important when we are talking about one of the longest-running MMOs out now.

The problem with such battles in EVE is they are rare. Even as capitals and supers have become far more common, its still rare for two sides to both use and risk such ships in combat, and most of the famous exmaples have happened because mistakes were made rather than both sides planning to fight. By far the most common source of super deaths is still ganking them when they are out doing PvE or traveling, rather than in actual combat, which isn’t exactly ideal.

Life is Feudal, on a much smaller scale, has this same problem. Its too easy to run away from a fight, so if one side doesn’t want to engage, you are left with the option of trying to gank them or finding someone else. But in LiF, in an IB, that’s not the case. In an IB both sides not only want to fight (they showed up), but once inside fighting is assured, and people do die. It’s fun, its effective, and it provides the kind of content people envision when they think of ‘good fights’ in MMO PvP combat.

IB would also mean that if you are involved, you know a fight is going to happen. No more signing up for a fleet, traveling for 2 hours, sitting in system under TiDi for another few hours, and traveling back home without a single shot fired, which happens in, sadly, most major fleets today.

I’m not going to pretend to have all the details figured out, but if the system was added, and it did work as intended, large-scale battles with significant losses would become far more common in EVE. Not ‘too common’, since that’s unsustainable even for the larger alliances, but far more common then they are today. It would also mean we no longer have to deal with big event disappointment, like the “1 million dollar fight” that never happened somewhat recently.

It would also lead to a new meta, one that I think many theorycrafters would enjoy. So much work and effort goes into the Alliance Tournament meta, and that is far more limited than what IB would bring, both in size and in ship/module options.

But yes, most of all, it would give EVE more ‘newsworthy’ set-piece battles, which would draw more attention to the game, and ultimately more players trying it out. EVE needs that, and really, it needs combat to actually happen a lot more than it does today.

Posted in Combat Systems, EVE Online, Life is Feudal, MMO design, PvP | 6 Comments

Instanced Battles work great in LiF, would they work in EVE?

If you go way back in the archives of this blog, I’ve been pretty against the idea of instancing in open world games vs keeping content out in the world. When WoW first started using phasing (personal instances, basically), I mocked it, and still feel its a pretty terribly way to execute content.

So I’m a bit torn on Instanced Battles (IB) in Life is Feudal. Or rather, I’m torn because I think they work exceptionally well in LiF, and I wonder if a similar approach wouldn’t solve one of the ongoing problems in EVE as well. But before I get to EVE, lets first talk about why IB are great in LiF.

The first and biggest advantage is performance; in an IB not only is the number of people limited, but you also don’t load all of the world and its related teraforming. Its just a clean, small section of the map where the IB was dropped, with the 100 or 200 (IB come in 50v50 and 100v100 flavors) players who are all here to fight it out. Performance is especially important in LiF because the combat system is somewhat nuanced; it relies heavily on correct timing to block, counter, and execute combos. When you have lag or lower FPS, all of that goes out the window. Yes, in an ideal world the game would run great at all times, but in an MMO things are never ideal, and if a game runs well for 100 players, 110 will show up (more on that later).

IB also have clear win/loss conditions, both for the actual battle itself, and the outcome. The losing side of an IB has their realm claim decrease in size, and enough loses can downgrade your guild monument. The downgrade process is how, currently, you can actually fully remove a guild claim from the world. In the actual battle, the winner is the side who controls the capture point, which is a very clear objective that can’t be argued against. It also makes clear who is the attacked and who is the defender, and this influences strategy for both sides.

IB can only happen during a set time (currently this is set to around 9pm EST on Telmun). This means the important battles can’t be scheduled for off hours, or ‘timezone tanked’. The 24 hour or so period between the drop of an IB and the actual battle also gives both sides a bit of time to gather numbers, so again you aren’t dealing with panic-response situations.

Finally, just because LiF has IB, doesn’t mean that world PvP doesn’t happen. Judgment Hours encourage open-world fighting, and plenty of random, ‘natural’ roaming PvP happens as well.

If you look at the above, it solves a lot of problems EVE has when massive battles occur. Even though CCP is miles ahead of everyone in terms of technology, in a game that allows thousands of players to fight, those players always bring n+1 to a battle, resulting in soul-crushing TiDi (servers slow down time, so 1 minute in-game is actually 10 minutes real-time). Imagine if the timers around a citadel were fought in an IB?

Because it’s EVE, lets say a Keepstar battle would be a 1000v1000 situation, while smaller citadels would be limited to fewer pilots. EVE can easily handle 1000v1000, especially instanced, so performance would be near-perfect. From a strategy perspective, what ships do people bring? 1000 titans is the ‘well of course’ answer, but would that really happen? 1000 titans can’t hit small ships, and even if that side won the battle but lost 100 titan in exchange for much smaller/cheaper ships, would it still be a victory? Plus smaller citadels aren’t worth nearly as much as a Keepstar, so would alliances still risk such ships? If the answer is ‘no’, what ships do you bring? Supercarriers can be defanged, dreads aren’t effective vs sub-caps, and once you go lower than that, the meta could be all over the place.

IB in EVE would also result in clear winners/loser in terms of the objective. No more citadels repairing because of TiDi, no more posturing for a massive battle only to have neither side engage. No more running away the moment a battle looks risky. In an IB, whatever pilots and ships go in, they fight until one side wins. And just like in LiF, IB wouldn’t kill open-world PvP, especially because citadels would still need to be reinforced initially to start such a contest.

I’m sure there are many pros and cons I’m not covering here, both for LiF and especially for EVE, but I think the idea is at least an interesting conversation.

Posted in Combat Systems, EVE Online, Life is Feudal, MMO design, PvP | 13 Comments

Its fine, just a little snow…


Still coming down at an insane rate, but wanted to get this posted now in case we lose power again. The energy company sent us a very reassuring “you’re most likely f’ed, but hey, we brought in extra trucks and people to fix it faster than four days this time” message, which we really appreciated.

At least I can escape into my favorite MMO right?


Oh right, winter in LiF is here as well…

Posted in Life is Feudal, Rant, Site update | 1 Comment

Should we expect an MMO to last forever?

Going on day 3 without power thanks to the recent snowstorm, good times. Spent the first night at the house, but once the temp dropped below 50, it was time to go. Luckily my parents’ house has power, and they are away on vacation so we are here just hanging out. Power company estimate is to have things fixed by tomorrow night. We’ll see.

Anyway, on to a topic I’ve been meaning to blog about for a bit now, ‘forever’ MMO design vs one-off content. Forever design is what EVE is, where after 10+ years, things are still going and for the most part what worked five years ago still does today. I’m talking about things like mining asteroids, using the same ships/modules, and a place like Jita being the main trade hub.

On the opposite end of that spectrum is a game like WoW, where each expansion, and sometimes even a patch in that expansion, resets the game and content you experienced before no longer ‘matters’. This is known and accepted by the players, and the point of playing isn’t to continually build up to something like in EVE, but to enjoy the ‘ride’ and come back when a new ride is added.

Life is Feudal is a sandbox, so in theory is more like EVE than WoW. There really are no ‘rides’, but your character does have a skill cap that is easily reached (as compared to EVE), and each town you build has a limited number of buildings and crafting stations before it too is ‘done’. Furthermore, some resources like iron and clay don’t respawn like asteroids do in EVE, so those too are limited. It is simply not possible for a LiF server to exist for 10+ years like EVE has; all of the non-renewable resources would be gone, all existing characters and towns would be maxed, and the only activity left would be PvP for the sake of PvP, which itself would eventually stop working as all weapons/armor would eventually be gone from durability loss.

Even on a smaller time scale, some things in LiF only work at the beginning. One example would be coops, which hold chickens or rabbits. When you first start playing, you can catch a rabbit or a chicken in a snare trap, and once you have it, you can place the caught animal in a coop you built. The quality of the animal is likely low, somewhere between 10-30. Once you have a few animals in the coop, they will breed, and generally the offspring will have a slightly higher quality than the parents. Over time, you will eventually have a full coop of max quality (100) animals.

Quality of the animals is important for crafting items from said animals. You can make higher quality food from the meat, better arrows from the feathers, and higher quality armor and weapons from the leather. Going from low quality animals to higher takes some time, and while that’s happening you are scaling up from their output, slowly getting better/stronger. It’s an enjoyable loop, and it’s just one of many happening all at once as you play.

But that loop, and many others, can be skipped if a more advanced guild gives you 100 quality animals, or if they give you an advanced town to move into, or the best quality food to massively speed up skill gains. These are all temping things to get better faster, but ultimately they just shorten your time with LiF, as currently the growth loop IS the game.

LiF is still in early access, but the issue of a limited content loop is there, and would be hard to fix, if the devs even intent to fix it. Not all MMOs need to live forever, be it via EVE’s design or WoW’s continued content drip. Maybe LiF is intended to be played for a set amount of time, and then that’s it. I personally see that as a flaw in the design, but I also can’t deny that the current gameplay loop, even if not infinite, is a lot of fun. If the devs turn a profit, while supporting the game for a 3-4 year run, is that ‘worth it’, both for them and the players?

Posted in crafting, EVE Online, Housing, Life is Feudal, MMO design, World of Warcraft | 6 Comments

LiF: Guild report Feb 28th 2018

Our guild went from having not nearly enough wood, to cutting down so many of our matured trees that we didn’t know what to do with all the logs. It’s honestly a pretty common pattern in LiF, where one minute you desperately need something, and the next you have too much. Part of that is learning the game, but I also think some of it is either poor balance or progression not being paced correctly.

We have a similar issue with gold ore right now; there is a nearby mine we feel we should be mining while we can, before someone else gets it, but at the same time we already have ‘enough’ gold, and putting more of it inside our base takes up space we need for buildings or crops. Our solution to that ‘problem’ is to create a personal claim near the mine and use that as storage until we need to convert more of the gold into currency.

Our town is almost complete in terms of what we feel are the ‘must have’ buildings. We have all our crafting bonus buildings (kitchen, blacksmith, carpenter, schools) built or near completion (herbalist), we built our second warehouse, and we have plenty of housing (bind points). The last building we want is a large stable, and after that we can either upgrade our stone walls to castle walls, or decide on a project on our realm claim space.

On the combat side most of us are able to use tier 2 weapons/armor, and we are starting to produce those in better numbers and quality. The quality part is in large part dependent on making steal ingots, which require an ingredient from the herbalist skill. Herbalism is something I’ve gotten into on another alt, but it’s fairly time consuming. There are 40 some herbs, and each has three random properties different for each player. The way you discover what those properties are is through trial and error; mix two herbs, if they share a property, they will create something and that property gets revealed. Rinse and repeat however many times you need to uncover everything, or in my case, the 11 herbs that have the ability to create flux (the item needed to make steal ingots).

This last judgement hour was also an interesting one. Our original plan was delayed, so we initially were set to just defend and see what happens. We figured our enemies, APEX and friends, would hit our old enemy gondor, who live nearby, and they did exactly that. Gondor had a good number of buildings on their realm claim, which isn’t protect during judgement hour, and many of them ended up being destroyed. Our allies Revenant responded about 30 minutes into JH, and asked us if we wanted to come along to fight APEX. A bunch of us went, and we had a good battle that first started near the base and then moved deeper into the nearby woods. We ended up winning, and along with killing a bunch of APEX, Revenant was able to take a bunch of trade carts APEX was hoping to haul back to their base. I don’t know what was inside, but my guess is items taken from gondor.

I’m really hoping our plans come together this Saturday, because if they do, it should be a pretty serious fight. We will see.


Posted in crafting, Inquisition Clan, Life is Feudal, MMO design | 2 Comments

Pillars of Eternity 2 preview

I received a preview copy of Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire through one of my usual sources, so here are some initial thought after about two hours of playtime (oddly Steam only tracked the game the first time I started it up, every time after that it didn’t recognize that I was playing it).

In the best way possible, PoE2 is ‘more of the same’ from PoE. It has the same feel due to using the same engine, the graphics are better but in the same style, and while in combat you get more things to do, it is still that very familiar style from Baldur’s Gate where auto-attacks still matter.

When its released in April, I think PoE2 is going to get compared to Divinity: OS2, which is fair considering how similar the two games are in many ways. D:OS2 is the better-looking game, but I think POE2 will end up being the more solid RPG in terms of story and progression. I loved D:OS2, but towards the end I was playing to finish it, while I played PoE1 multiple times because I enjoyed it so much.

The odd thing about the preview build is it doesn’t start at the beginning of the game, but rather at level 6, which I’m not sure how far into the game that is. Being dropped into the game at some midpoint is distracting, and I certainly think I’d put more time into the preview had it been at level 1, but maybe that’s a blessing in disguise so I don’t have to replay too much at the actual release.

In full disclosure I also purchases shares of the game via Fig, so I have financial reasons for wanting the game to do well. Expect a glowing 10/10 review minutes after the game is released.

Posted in beta, Kickstarter, Random | 7 Comments