In his recent “That’s just the way it is” post on Jester’s Trek, blogger Ripard Teg posits that the established EVE player-base has come to accept many of EVE’s design idiosyncrasies, rarely questioning their purpose or benefit. Conversely, he also suggests that new players might not be so forgiving of these “quirks”. In an interview with Gamasutra, Senior Producer CCP Unifex describes EVE Online’s developers as “relatively hands-off janitors of the virtual world”, underlining that he has only four content developers but “a lot” of programmers and engineers.
Has a culture developed where CCP has started to take player effort for granted – expecting the “social engine” to fulfil tasks that might otherwise be CCP’s responsibility? Or should this culture be embraced as part of “emergent gameplay” with these quirks accepted as the catalyst for interaction?
Eve’s idiosyncrasies are part of it’s charm. Whether they are appreciated by new players I don’t know. There are still players coming and going so I guess there are still people who can get over the learning curve. And let’s face it, a lot has been done over the past years to make Eve a more comfortable place for the new player. The new wiki is also very nice. I don’t see anything wrong with players turning to player created info (like blogs or the excellent Eve Uni Wiki) for extra info. Hell, eve warcraft has Wowhead. I don’t see anything wrong with that. It also leads to players looking for Player Run Corporations sooner since that’s where you learn the most.
A lot of these infamous Eve idiosyncrasies are being fixed in the past two expansion, and there is team papercuts. Also some effort is being made to make some things in Eve more convenient (like the inventory hehe). Market search will improve in the next major update for example.
There is however a fine line between dumbing down and more convenient. I think the main question should be ‘is the game more fun if we fix this or that’. Was it fun to finally be able to warp to zero on gates ? I thought it was. The extra 15km trucking to the gate added nothing but annoyance to my game play. Would it be more fun if I could insta warp to say a system 15j out, inside of trucking there through 15 gates ? Well maybe for some people, but in the long run I would say no. The 15j travels to pick up an item or do whatever adds to the feeling of vastness of the Eve universe. This would be totally lost if we could just go wherever we please.
This inevitably brings Factional Warfare 10 – 20 mins orbiting a button in my mind. Is that fun ? Once the rats appear it’s ok, since you have something to shoot at, but overall it’s a pretty bad game mechanic. Do I have a solution (ie. a more FUN idea) ? Not really. It probably always would come down to a timer of some sort and a PVE activity. That PVE activity could be improved though.
Anyway, the original question was whether CCP depended too much on the community to explain core mechanics and it’s idiosyncrasies to new players or players in general. I think they do a decent jobs these days to fix the idiosyncrasies. I am sure despite all the work, the tutorials can be improved (as can be read in Freebooted’s blog entry) but part of Eve’s charm is it’s community and the helpful people that bring us things like dot.lan or the aforementioned Eve University Wiki. Also Eve requires some sort of effort on the player’s part, you have to do some research and try things out to see what works and what doesn’t. And I hope it stays that way :).