Challenge thoughts and a bit of a wrap-up.

I’m very pleased with the results of my little MMO design challenge below, with a lot of great responses. Thanks to everyone who posted, even the trolls, because we all know trolls need love too.

First the major issues that I agree on.

Non-consensual PvP: While to me this is actually a plus in many MMOs if done right, I understand why some people might simply not want ANYTHING to do with PvP, or allow any player to impact their gameplay unless they themselves allow it. I can respect that, but I would also say they should give it a shot, going into it with a thicker skin and set a timeframe to ‘tough it out’. I think a lot of people would be surprised how much some good PvP can add to a game, and the experience/stories you come away with.

Barrier of Entry: It’s a known fact that EVE can be extremely overwhelming when you first fire it up. Unless you get into the right chat channel or do some research yourself, it’s very easy to have no clue what you are doing and quickly give up. You almost have to go into it with the mind frame that you are going to tough it out for a month, and only then do an evaluation, which is not fair to ask of people. That’s one of the major downsides of giving your players so many options, they might accidentally pick an option they are not ready for and it could lead to a negative experience.

Lack of short term ‘fun’: This is the big one, and the hardest to break down. I think EVE has been home to the greatest events in MMO history, period. The Guiding Hand Social Club event, the first Titan kill, the massive wars, the Alliance tournaments, and countless other events are far and away the pinnacles of what it means to play an MMO. I doubt anyone involved in such events will ever forget them, or the rush that they surely had during them. That said, there was no doubt countless hours spent doing the ‘less fun’ stuff to make this all happen. The mining, the scouting, the planning; all the less glamorous aspects that need to happen behind the scenes to make everything come together.

This all leads me to this statement, and depending on how you take it will likely determine if EVE is the game for you; EVE is more fun out of game than in game.

What I mean by this is that looking forward to what is going to happen in EVE, be it personal goals, Corp goals, or Alliance ones, is often more motivation to play than whatever you happen to do that day. Part of the fun in a mining Op is knowing that down the line it will have a great impact on the Corp, that it will lead you forward and raise your power level with those around you. The actual mining Op itself is not reason enough to do it, it’s not ‘fun’ enough on its own to fly out and mine those asteroids.

I think the difference with EVE is that the scope is so much greater than other MMOs that you get a lot more of the low because the high is so much higher. A raiding guild needs to farm mats for pots/enchants, but that aspect of the game is much smaller than it is in EVE. At the same time, downing a boss with a raid is a smaller accomplishment than launching a Titan, or putting up a POS.

What draws me to EVE is that potential, that possibility of launching that Titan. I know exactly what I can get out of WoW, I know I can level up and gear up and take down Illidan. And that would be cool, no doubt. But for me, it would not be nearly as cool as seeing my Corp move out to 0.0 and have a major impact out there, or to have us become an economic powerhouse and control parts of the market in EVE. It’s those goals that make even the dull tasks of EVE enjoyable, because I know in the end the high will be that much better.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
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10 Responses to Challenge thoughts and a bit of a wrap-up.

  1. Pingback: West Karana » What if EvE Online were a Fantasy MMORPG?

  2. Rick says:

    “This all leads me to this statement, and depending on how you take it will likely determine if EVE is the game for you; EVE is more fun out of game than in game.”

    Haha, yeah, Wilhlem made a similar comment on the Ancient Gaming Newb, about how he talks to people about Eve more outside of Eve than in-game.

    Your statement isn’t 100% true for me. I love the chess-challenge planning of big PvE missions in Eve, fitting ships to endure something like The Blockade or Guristas Extravaganza, but the planning isn’t more fun than actually running the mission. The satisfaction from completing a big mission like that is definitely due to both the out-of-game planning as well as the in-game execution, so yeah, out of game is a lot of fun too.

    It’s not that Eve isn’t fun while you’re playing (depends on your perspective, I suppose, I love playing Eve), but it’s also a ton of fun planning out of game and reading blogs and forums about it.

    I also wonder how many people who are enamored with Eve are either long-time mmorpg players (EQ or prior, I go all the way back to text-based MUD’s), or they don’t really enjoy fantasy rpg’s as much as they enjoy Eve.

    I think sometimes we work too hard to compare Eve with other mmorpg’s. It’s quite different, and I think there’s plenty of room for Eve-style games in the mmorpg genre as well as WoW-style games, CoH-style games, etc. Instead of saying Eve has solved mmorpg problems, maybe we could say it’s fun in different ways.

    It wouldn’t have made such a good headline, though :)

  3. Let me just say that as a result of these posts I downloaded the demo and got completely sucked in yesterday. A terrific game full of helpful players, it was like an oasis after WoW. Thanks very much for your posts.

  4. syncaine says:

    Glad you like it Youngsoul. Just be sure to find a nice Corp before long, it really adds a huge amount of depth to EVE.

    And Rick, I totally agree, I also have a great time with some missions, and overall really enjoy logging into EVE just to see what’s happening. Seems whenever I have a set plan for a day, I log in and get sidetracked with some Corp stuff that’s needed, which to me is another plus for EVE.

  5. CrazyKinux says:

    I was offline the last 2 days after coming down with some sort of flu bug that’s been running around these parts of the woods. So unfortunately I wasn’t able to jump in the melee.

    I’ve only begun to scratch the surface of this thread and all it’s tentacles but I must admit that was one hell of bait you threw and from the response you got we’ll still have material for discussion for some time to come.

    I’ll give myself time to read up and then will try come up with a worthy response.

  6. Coherent says:

    Non-consensual PVP: The trick to making non-consensual PVP enjoyable is somehow ensuring that it’s a relatively even match. PVP = FUN WHEN YOU HAVE A CHANCE OF WINNING. Show me anyone who thinks that PVP is fun when they’re flying a frigate and a battleship comes out of nowhere and incinerates them.

    Verdict: BALANCED NONCONSENSUAL PVP IS FUN. Figure out how to make that work and you’ve got a deal.

    Barrier of Entry: With the skill system that EVE has, how can you tell what will be enjoyable before you put a month or six worth of training into it? EVE is an offline time sink that can lead to really bad choices that can’t be undone. If I spend two months training manufacturing and then discover it’s as boring as watching paint dry, I can’t fix that error without another two months training something else… that I don’t know will be any more enjoyable! With a game that requires you to PLAY TO SKILL UP, you generally figure it out as you go.

    Verdict: EVE’s skill system causes you to make painful long-term choices based on no information.

    Lack of Short term “fun”: EVE apparently isn’t about “fun” at all! EVE is something you do mindlessly while you wait for incidental fun to happen. You said it yourself: “EVE is more fun out of game than in game.” If EVE is more fun out of game than IN game, then EVE itself isn’t fun at all!

    But it stands to reason that if EVE is just an occupation where you wait for your guild to provide you with moments of enjoyment, then ANY game can provide that occupation. You’ve just described ANY game that has days/months/years of non-fun gameplay rewarded by brief intervals of orgasmic joy.

    Verdict: EVE isn’t fun!

    Conclusion: I’m not sure what you’re trying to get at here. You seem to claim that EVE has the solutions to all of our standard MMO concerns, but upon closer analysis we see that EVE is the worst offender in many ways. EVE does one or two things right and all of a sudden people are claiming that it could be the end-all and be-all of MMO gaming. EVE is NOT a diamond in the rough. EVE is NOT the solution that is somehow being discriminated against unfairly by the uncaring, unfeeling masses. This whole assertion reminds me of the Atari 800 vs Apple //e wars that used to rage on local bbses. Just because it’s what you know doesn’t mean that it has the potential to be the best thing evar.

    On the other hand, making controversial assertions at least stimulates conversation on your blog, so if that’s your intention, well played!

  7. syncaine says:

    Show me one game that has perfectly balanced PvP encounters? WoW is a joke with the AV steamrolling. DAoC was not RvR, it was blob vs small blob relic ganks in the early hours of the morning. UO was a gankfest. Why? Because it’s human nature to enter into a conflict that is favorable. Oh, and a BS won’t be able to lock and hit a frigate, but yea…

    The skill system: You can start manufacturing with only a few hours, if that, of skill training. The ‘months of training’ is when you want to specialize in it. All games do that though, if I pick a warrior to play, when exactly will I find out I would rather play a rogue? Certainly not in the first few hours, when you have 1-2 skills, right?

    About the whole fun thing. MORE fun != all the fun. I still have fun playing EVE, I was simply pointing out I also have fun OUTSIDE of EVE with it. Part of that is the complexity of EVE, it makes you think and gives you choices. Not much to think about outside of WoW, is there?

    Now clearly Coherent EVE is not the game for you, and thats cool. Like I said before, the point of the post was not to convert the world to all be EVE players, but rather to discuss the various issues with MMOs and how EVE deals with them. But you are correct, above all, it was to inspire debate, which I am glad you and everyone else is providing, good stuff regardless of which side you are on.

  8. Nuyan says:

    In my opinion the vision behind Eve and it’s features are vastly superior to any other MMO out there at the moment. Add the fact that it’s made and maintained by an independent company like CCP that has an unique vision of how the game should progress and invests a lot of money in it (more than any nonindependent game-developer would for such a niche game, I guess).

    Eve also has a future. It’s the only MMO out there at the moment which I could see still going strong in 2020 (with perhaps more players than currently). I’m sure there’ll be sandbox MMO’s out there in the feature that borrow a lot from Eve, it’s simply superior to the EQ/WoW-like games where you raid through instances, level up and play for items, where constantly new content has to be added to keep people playing. That kind of games simply don’t have a long future, I think MMO-players will get bored of it. Most people that played WoW for a long time don’t get grabbed by all those new MMO’s and I think the people that raided seriously in EQ/WoW will think twice before doing that again in a different MMO.

  9. Coherent says:

    I don’t think that EVE will still be going strong in 2020 because (I hope) by then another company will have come along and stolen all of EVE’s best ideas and built a space MMO that’s vastly superior on every level.

    Imagine how great an MMO would be with the engaging lore and depth of WoW quests and early-middle-end game playability coupled with the vast land wars and struggle for technology that sustains the endgame in EVE? Imagine a combination of weekly boss battles with never-ending machiavellian political alliances and betrayals and war in a massive single-shard world? People could PVP or PVE as they wished, and on a population basis where there are always enough people for both.

    Well, obviously it doesn’t exist. But it could! Somebody just has to build it and successfully merge the best of all MMO concepts into one. I certainly HOPE we’ll all be playing something like that by 2020. But it won’t be by CCP – they will never make another space MMO. They wouldn’t want to compete with themselves and they can’t close down EVE without pissing off all of their current users.

  10. michael, StE says:


    Nonconsensual PvP: The chance of success in nonconsensual PvP, if permitted, can never sensibly be a balanced battle – someone will attack in a ship or at a time that benefits them the most. However, the net effect of noncon PvP in EVE’s Empire Space is somewhat balanced by the risk the attacker is taking in assaulting you in high-security space.

    “Suicide gankers” are people who will target and destroy hauler ships in “high security” space carrying high-value goods for trade. They will be destroyed by the Concord police, but their buddies can sort through the hauler wreckage hoping to make a net profit. Other griefers do this on their own just for fun. This costs them money, and time (since their security level will drop if they keep doing it, blocking them from high security systems) but some people have too much money and too much time.

    CCP’s line on all this is that “high security” space is never safe – they provide tools that somewhat balance reward versus risk. Ships will be destroyed, cargos will be lost. A pilot ambling through high security space with an expensive cargo and a badly set-up ship that represents a irreplaceable portion of their wealth just shouldn’t be doing so if they’re not aware of the risk they’re taking.

    Upshot – it’s a deliberate design decision that CCP have made. It’s upsetting when it happens, and no-doubt puts a lot of people off the game, but the concept that “no space is ever 100% safe” is something that CCP seem to have placed at the core of their game. Star Trek Online will obviously go after a different market, and will probably avoid the same-race PvP issue entirely.

    Alternative EVE mechanisms are easy to imagine, and often proposed – make members of an NPC corporations (the corps that all players get put into when they start the game) immune to targetting/damage in some or all of high-security space – but that’s a version of a manual PvP flag, and would have some secondary effects. Hauling in Empire by rich industrialists risk free. It would also discourage membership of player corporations, which is a) where all the “real” fun is to be had and b) where CCP really want players to spend their time.

    Barrier of Entry: the skills required to test out a subsystem in eve can be learnt very quickly. Level 1 in one of the four Electronic Warfare skills takes about twenty minutes to learn. If you want to see if you enjoy flying haulers around for trading, Level 1 in the racial-specific haulers takes about thirty minutes. Learning to tackle and web a ship would take about six hours of training time from scratch, and then the pilot is instance useful to a player corporation at war. Someone can manufacture their own tech 1 frigates will no skills at all once they’ve bought a blueprint.

    Now, to be true proficient at these will take substantially more investment of training time, and game-time investment, but the first steps aren’t enormous commitments of time.

    And, failing that, there are plenty of people in the NPC corporations or help channels who’ll offer advice, and howto documents on the Forums. EVE’s formal documentation is practically mythical, but the community resources more than compensate for that.

    Imagine how great: One of the supposed benefits of CCP/Whitewolf’s merger is that the Whitewolf team have a much stronger tradition of storytelling than CCP. One hope is that the Factional Warfare expansion (supposed to be part of Revelations III, but who knows when it’ll turn up) will substantially’s enhance EVE’s PvE experience by a) making it count for more and b) involving more of the PvP tactical experience in the process.

    So, hopefully, the whole mission system should become much more immersive.

    One of CCP’s strong points is that they continue to evolve game mechanics to add both alliance-scale content (system sovereignty, Outposts, capital ships, titan logistics, jump freighters) and the general (EW nerf, revised player start, Invention, POSs, exploration, mining, forthcoming Ambulation and Facional Warfare). Their core problem with these changes is the need to balance this process in ways that don’t ruin the huge investment in time from long-term players (consider all the hate on the recent “We want to change Carriers” devblog) and alienate the long-term player without letting the whole game turn into a fossil.

    That’s a difficult difficult balancing act, but they seem to have the courage and sense of direction to manage it reasonably well at the moment.

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