Is EVE Too Easy?

By ‘easy’, I’m not meaning the over-abundance of tutorials in the New Player Experience, or some kind of realisation that the EVE UI is in fact genius. What I mean is loss.

Most modern MMOs shy away from the concept of loss as much as possible. In WoW for example, when your character dies, you are at worst landed with a ghost-walk back to the character’s dead body (in order to be resurrected on-the-spot) and some currency loss to pay for the durability damage on your armour later on. You don’t even take durability damage on your character’s armour in PvP, and while there are honour points for succeeding in ‘honourable’ PvP engagements, ‘dishonourable’ PvP engagements (such as going to <insert newb-ish town name here> and farming hapless newbies as they’re mid-quest) reaps no punishment at all. When you lose your ship in EVE, chances are you’re not going to see whatever survived the explosion again. Its not a simple ‘run back to your corpse’ affair. Your punishment for engaging in PvP – any PvP – and losing, is that you lose your shit as well.

Before EVE, I was playing Ultima Online (UO). Now, UO had the run-to-corpse dealy with the caveat that monsters as well as players could rummage through your character’s corpse and take your stuff. If somebody killed that monster before you could, your items were theirs without any repercussions. If you took too long to return to your corpse, it would decay and everything on the body would be a free-for-all for players and monsters.

But what about permanence? In UO – in the earlier days at least (disclaimer for the truly oldskool: 1999-2003) – there was the concept of perma-red and perma-grey. Characters with red names were murderers, and characters with grey names were criminals. My memory is a bit hazy since it was so long ago, but it was something along the lines of the following:

UO had the equivalent of the GCC: after a short amount of time your name would no longer be red/grey to everyone and would return to the normal blue. However, despite being safe from the town guards and the majority of other players, the person you committed the act against would still see you as grey and openly-killable without repercussion. As would all the previous people you had committed criminal acts against.

Being a ‘Red’ was somewhat of a status symbol, similar I suppose to the -10.0 of EVE. If you killed enough player characters, your name would become red to everyone, so all and sundry knew that you were (probably at least) going to try and kill them. Being ‘Grey’ however, was not such an easy task. The mechanics are similar, but while a pirate in EVE might go out of their way to become notorious – letting everyone know how badass they are – the corp-thief does not. Unfortunately, the path to five-finger-discount land is fraught with failure and disappointment; you couldn’t just rely on time, trust and stupidity to get away with your ill-gotten gains. You had to practice on real player characters, which meant that you ended up ‘grey’ to a lot of people.

But What About EVE?

Now, I’m sure its been covered before, but a tweet the other week from @EVE_Virt of the #tweetfleet linked back to an old Hellmar blog about a potential ‘perma-death’ option to run in parallel with the pod + clone technology we’ve all become accustomed to. Here’s the gist of it:

Anyone interested in a character creation option that allows you to train skills at double the time as normal character does. The flip side would be that such characters would suffer from perma-death (i.e. if podded, could never be played again).

The most common argument I’ve seen against this (on the forums at least) is that it would be open to abuse from those with the high-sec-dwelling carebear mentality of never entering any system with a security rating below 0.5.

But what if you were forced upon creating this character to choose a pirate faction after you’ve chosen race etc? You’d be an instant outlaw and confined to 0.4 and lower systems, and be politically aligned – officially politically aligned – to that pirate faction. The rats for that faction would not shoot you unless you shot first, and would carry no bounties. Rats from other factions would carry bounties, but because of your association with your chosen faction, no security status would ever be gained.

You’d be ‘doomed’ to wander the badlands of low and null sec for the rest of your days, getting into dog-fights and praying you come out as the victor.

Obviously there are certain restrictions to this. Because you’re not using pod + clone technology, you’d be restricted to frigate hulls, or specially adapted variations of smaller/industrial ships (just a tier 1 indy, nothing fancy).

Limiting the ships to within vague boundaries of the lore would put a heavy limit on the LP that could be earned from pirate faction missions as well. Unless you really trust a group of people not to kill you when you work together in a lesser level 3 mission in a fleet of fragile frigates. And that’s assuming you even survive the mission! So, its not open to LP farming abuse in the same way that FW has been.

I think as an optional path when creating a character, it has a lot of untapped potential which could make low sec more interesting if enough people make throw-away ‘splodey-alts. It would also make for some true piratey roleplay stuff, which I’m sure a lot of people would love, if only for the fact of them having a proper pirate alt to roleplay in-game or on the forums.

But what does everyone else think about this? Is it an interesting idea? Is EVE too easy? Or is it too hard?

Comments for this Post

7 thoughts on “Is EVE Too Easy?”

  1. 02nd Mar '11 at 8:17 pm

    It is definately an interesting idea, it already was at the time. But these days, there is a lot to consider in support of the idea.

    A practical example from the nullsec niche: when was the last time the calls went out for young newbie tacklers. Years. Since CCP unfortunately through neglect of iteration but also through misjudging available information (see the QEN’s and the topic of pilot efficiency) stimulated the pilot efficiency curve to elongate (think of it as from Rifter to Drake) this pretty much died. And that is very unfortunate, because it adds to the retention challenge.

    There has not been much room for young players in PVP since those days, other than those paths which merely contribute to the Drake syndrome 😛 Equally, it has stimulated a pattern among capsuleers to only at a later (or often not at all) point in time pursue PVP paths, by which time they face higher dependencies and costs of PVP. It’s a catch22 created.

    In the advent of 5 second probing dictors, there is little use for young pilots these days, beyond the unfortunate doctrine of “kill the node”. And that is a shame. As such stimulating a flexible niche which can harbour elements of instant gratification, ease of entry, can be found. In many ways really. Fighter Pilots. Fighter Bomber Pilots. Kamikaze concepts. The opportunities are endless, and can be very easily implemented in most of EVE’s niches.

    But that is a game design challenge. Considering the statements of CCP’s lead game designer in the recent PC Gamer interview (the gist of it being: “we just want to do new shiny, but well we’ve got customers so yeah well we have to give them a rocket” – regardless of intended, it is how most communities have received his message).

    It’s going to take a very conscious CSM 6 to provide such a perspective – regardless of implementation options – to CCP. There is room for a balance between shiny & taking care, also with concepts such as this one.

    • 02nd Mar '11 at 8:38 pm

      The simple days of frigate, cruiser and battleship-only battles are long gone. The sheer complexity-blob that’s been added over the years makes null-sec PvP with frigates all but gone, with everyone clambering to get into the biggest, baddest ship they can fly/afford. There is still a place for specialised ships, but as you say; the very nature of them being specialised means they aren’t exactly newbie-friendly.

      A rifter can still be mean, but you’ll not likely spot one in anything other than small-scale PvP I’m guessing.

      I think the economic downfall of New Eden (for me at least) was in the Shiva (Exodus) expansion. Skirting past the addition of the much loathed POS-warfare, it added level 4 missions.

      Level 4 missions, to my mind should have been what level 5 missions are now – not really worth it for the reward, but worth it for the communal, group-play. Unfortunately, they very, very quickly became solo-able. These days you can find some 3-month old newbies running level 4 missions. They can’t run them incredibly well, but they manage. This is a massive isk faucet that led to the need for bigger, better ships as well as more and more faction loot/ammo/implants to try and create a sink to counter it. But as the population of New Eden swells, so does the supply of isk. Even titans are all over the place now, and that was never really the intention.

      Everything has spiralled out of control, and I think CCP run the risk of reaching a point where there’s literally nothing they can do (within reason) to counter it.

      But I guess the economy is better left for a separate blog entry!

      Thanks for the comment. 🙂

      • 02nd Mar '11 at 8:51 pm

        I wouldn’t say matters are spiralling out of control. I would say that matters have over the past 3-4 years become progressively static.

        In a dynamic like EVE (as Hilmar says, it is not just a game but an emerging dynamic) everything really is interconnected. One of the unfortunate mistakes CCP has made in this ongoing challenger to conquer the world, is to segregate themselves from it. It is because of that trend, that we can see how often they misjudge connections, or misinterpret data independant of behaviour.

        Where it comes to PVP and Capsuleer behavioral trends, that has been quite clear for a while. Ofcourse we players are equally to blame, after all we always seek the excess in our objective to win. No matter what the cost, or how insane. Group behaviour on all sides of this fence really.

        But back to this original idea of fast tracked characters, which face the cost of permadeath but can be provided with a wide variety of specialisations – suitable for many fun and meaningful interactions. It is an interesting concept, with many possible options to consider. I feared CCP would only ever revisit it in the context of Micro transactions, but fortunately CSM 5 managed to bridge the gap in misunderstanding and CCP repositioned itself with better understand of the other half of “metrics” (human behaviour) on the topic.

        Personally, I would love to have a few accounts with such a character each on it. To go out again, like back in those days of the “Noob Invasion Tours” (where we went out as noobs from empire to any dot in nullsec having a blast chasing through and sometimes one of us lucky enough to be able to fit an mwd survived till halfway back on the trip). I’d also love it as a concept of Kamikaze, to deal with Fighter Bomber swarms, or heck, score a dashing hit on one of those million supercarriers. Just as much as I would love to dash out into lowsec, where folks could come up with their own ladder systems or sense of e-honour (and corresponding meta). The opportunities, are endless. The balance, is easily found, at least in my opinion as all of us being EVE players … I don’t think we should throw this readily into high sec (heck, I’d suicide all day, and Hulkageddon would get a really new meaning or two).

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  3. Rel
    10th Mar '11 at 3:42 pm

    EverQuest pvp was similar, though the penalty was 1 item loot, coin, and a very real shunning from the normal “society”. Part of the reason being a dirty PK was so fun was because it was you against the world. 95% of the server hated you. In EVE, griefing or piracy are considered a legit profession, as people expect combat.

    I think your idea sounds fun. I’m not sure I’d participate without a group of friends though.

    • 11th Mar '11 at 11:29 am

      I think it would prove to be an interesting social experiment as well. Would former alliance-mates band together for greater glory, or descend into in-fighting and segregate into smaller groups trying to kill each other? Is blobbing not only their primary means of combat but also what binds them?

  4. 05th Apr '11 at 6:08 pm

    I’m a big fan of permadeath in general. Heck, I nearly retired myself the first time I got podded because it was part of my RP to run under fire (I was a specialist scout back then).
    There are so many ways to exploit PD if implemented as a training booster, however, that I believe it should be handled with about the same care as for-pay content.

    Just as a good proven solution to manage for-pay content without breaking the game balance is through dual currency, I reckon PD (or at least harsher penalty for death) could work better if running on a dedicated track.

    Your idea of aligning to pirate factions as a starting corps is interesting, as it would both ban ‘PD’ chars from high sec, and also opens a wealth of possibilities, such as training skills not available to the general population, fly ships other characters can’t, summon/enlist NPC support as part of their arsenal, etc.

    Harsher penalties could also come in varied flavors, such as:

    – Pirate Captain:
    Chosen at character creation by selecting Pirate as a Race, then the proper bloodline (Gurista, Blood Angels, etc).
    Trains 50% faster than standard, can use medical clones, but not jump clones, only 50% of total hit points are insurable at any time, has access to some Pirate-only skill trees and resources (optional: is barred from training select ‘normal’ skills for balance /RP purposes).
    A Pirate Captain can upgrade to Warlord (either by buying a title, completing some achievement, training a skill, yni).

    – Pirate Warlord:
    Trains 70% faster than standard, can’t use clones of any kind, goes dead for realz when killed.
    Has access to exclusive skills and resources that Captains don’t, ideally some really unique and possibly :awesome: content, including the possibility to cross-train (with some restrictions) other Pirate Bloodlines unique skills.
    Pirate Warlord can’t be chosen at character creation, and must result from the upgrade of a Captain… and there’s no going back to Captain once the change is made.

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