Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Things I DON'T Like About Eve Online

Being a hardcore fanboy of Eve Online takes a lot of energy and might give off the impression that I think CCP can do no wrong. But there are things about the game I do not like so I figured I would enumerate them now.

1) Hidden Mechanics.

Here's a story from my Warhammer days. In Warhammer range and distance are paramount to attacks but pre-measuring was strictly not allowed. You had to eyeball it first and declare your action (be it shooting or charging) before measuring to see if you were successful. Then a new game came along called Epic (still a Games Workshop game but different scale) and in it you were always allowed to measure, at any time, for any purpose. You know what? It made the gameplay better because it removed the guessing from the strategy and allowed you to fight with your tactics and not with hopeful guesses.

In Eve there are many features whose mechanicsare hidden from public view, such as invention, loot tables, spawning rates based on true security, mission distributions, etc. Sometimes players can decode the mechanic from enough instances but its all guesswork, the truth hidden in the bowels of CCP's Icelandic offices. I hate hidden mechanics because it makes it harder to determine the flaw (if any) in the design, and you end up with a few players finding it and exploiting it until it becomes common knowledge and then fixed in a patch.

2. Repetitive missions with lackluster rewards + missions are too easy after a certain point.

Eve missions are typically "go and kill" or "go fetch" (aka courier). The lack of differing objectives combined with repetitive mission assignment (i.e. how many times do I have to get Attack of the Drones!?!?!?!) makes your brain bleed after a while. Go in, kill the bad guys, go to the next pocket. We need escort missions and sneaky covert op missions, or missions that span a system or systems.

Plus the rewards are pathetic. Not in terms of value of ISK, but in terms of excitement. Oh looks, more named modules, more salvage, and some ISK and loyalty points. Yay *yawn*. Where are the special items agents give for particularly hard missions, medals for excellent service, access to restricted stations?

Finally, once you get to the point where you can fly a battleship with T2 gear, 90% or more of the level four missions are cakewalks. I know Eve is not a PvE game but having level five missions be (a) in low sec and (b) require gangs to run really blows and (c) have shitty rewards really blows. I want level 5 that are least more difficult than level fours but can still be run by expert mission runners. I don't even care if they are in low sec and have low rewards, give me the challenge!

3. Ship Customizations

While I don't support the wholesale customization of ships, small customizations would be cool. Extra antennas and pods, racing stripes, small corp logos, etc. It wouldn't be much to add a level of immersion to the game.

And while I'm on the subject, the Tech II Caldari ships with the cameo patterns? Not cool.

4. Uninteractive Planets

Besides moon probing and mining, we do nothing at all with the plethora of planets in the universe. We can warp to them but really we are warping to a point in space near them. And its funny how no matter which direction you come from, you always end up in the same 1000km grid beside the planet as everyone else when you warp to it. Unrealistic but done for gameplay reasons.

Give me planetary services we can access based on the population of the colony, give me ways to exploit the resources, give me more! Something anything would do.

5. Let Me Be Free

Let me warp to any point in the system without having to make a bookmark there first. Its stupid, STUPID, that I cannot point to a spot on the solar system map and tell my ship to warp there. I mean, what is the fracking problem CCP? How does it break the game in this age of 23 second scan probers to allow players to make deep safe spots with a click of a button instead of this crazy crap that goes: "warp from A to B and make bookmark as you fly between them, and then..."

Its moronic CCP, fix it now.

6. POS Wars

I've never been directly involved in a 0.0 POS war but it strikes me as especially stupid that system soveriegnty is determined by who has the most POS towers anchored. Not invading the planets, not assaulting a space station, not controlling the star gates. No, its how quickly you can spam the moons with your towers and/or destroy the towers of the enemy.

And we all know the assaulting a tower is a mind-numbing affair. (So I've heard.) There had got to be a better and more realistic way to do it CCP. Find it.

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That's all for now folks. Thoughts and comments encouraged!


  1. It is hard for me to really judge from my perspective, but I would argue one of the main reasons why World of Warcraft is such a successful franchise is that the development team behind it is extremely efficient.

    I do not want to get into a full debate about this, but granted that Eve is a 5 year old game and it is still very difficult to just "get started" in the game, largely do to poorly designed agent/mission structure, is really quite sad. Sad to the point that I really worry if CCP will stand a chance once the Sci-Fi/Space Exploration MMO market develops more competition (but who knows, maybe that is what CCP needs to get its act together).

    People wonder why more people don't play eve, yet they forget in order to even "start" playing the game you have to spent countless more ours OUT OF GAME reading forums and guides just to get a clue because there's such a lack of in-game information. People wonder why "newbs" are so clueless.

    What is funny though, the whole "research information" and planning aspect of this game is probably one of my favorite parts, hahaha.

  2. I agree, missions are mind numbing, stupidly repetitive and beyond boring...personally, I have avoided them for the most part. How could they be made better? How about a series of tasks you have to complete that tie into an overall objective; sort of like the multi-part missions that exist now but that use a wider range of skills/mechanics: PVE, maybe even PvP, exploration, reconnaissance that actually requires you to go somewhere and use your directional to get location-specific facts, etc. If you don't have the skills yourself, enlist the help of corpmates or friends or hire someone. Missions would be so much more fun if they were were broader in scope, less canned, and their outcomes less predictable. I would love to see some kind of branching to different subsequent task requirements resulting from an assessment of your performance by your agent for a prerequisite task. Designing open-ended branching activities is tricky (I know this from 15 years spent designing and programming interactive computer-based courseware), but with enough reusable components that can be customized for a scenario, you can do it cohesively yet keep things lively.

    I cannot agree more about bookmarking safes. It's ridiculous that our ships' computers wouldn't allow us to enter some coordinates and say "Store that position." rather than having to go through the rather stupid imprecise exercise that bookmarking safes or scan spots currently involves. There may need to be some kind of limitation imposed for game mechanics reasons though I can't think of what right now. Also...why why WHY is copying bookmarks into or out of your People and Places SO sluggish and apparently limited to doing five at a time? Dumb. Annoying. Stupid.

    I love EVE but there is a LOT of room for improvement in the "unnecessary obstacles" department. If such obstacles must exist for good reasons, those reasons should be well-documented (and not buried in the rather unusable forums--a whole OTHER rant I won't even get into here). I can (usually) live with limitations if I know why they have been imposed.

    Look at this can of worms you've opened!

  3. My real point about the mission system wasn't so much the content itself, which I can understand seems limited, but rather that there is very little advice or general direction or pretty much any information at all on who you should go take missions from and why. For example, the game itself in no way informs you that if you primarily had interests in industry than perhaps you should consider corporations a, b, and c, because they have good r&d divisions which are useful to industrialists.

    INSTEAD, I have to go to a random forum guide (lets call this A)that is likely dated or partially incomplete that tells me about the different kinds of options I have in this game. Then I read another guide (B) that tells me the different kinds of agents which in turn leads me to another guide (C) that tells me some of those agents listed in B are useful to the professions listed in A and so I should go an agent database website (site D), so that I can see all those agents in the world. However I have to plan from scratch, including determining distances/locations/making note of space security and combine that information relative to my current location and/or intended destination just to get an idea of how I can go about pursuing the interests in A. Notice, that I have just now played Eve without pretty much even so much starting up the Eve client. Nice.

    Even after all that, which I have done, I have a very general idea of how I should go about trying to accomplish my goals in Eve. I also forgot to mention that there is a lot of information not even found in composed in the form of a "mediocre" guide, such as the problems and implications of devoting most of your time to certain factions and how that it alienates you if not limits your possibilities should you decide to suddenly switch your locations or affiliations (i.e., work in Caldari/Amarr space after missioning in Gallente/Minmatar space for so long). The average person would not have the patience for all of that. I wouldn't be surprised if most of the people who play Eve haven't even looked into all that information. It's really the inherent problem with having such an in depth game but I would think CCP would have realized this when they started this at the start.

    Not everyone can see past all of that and still find an enjoyable game.

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  5. If you ever played World of Warcraft before, I think Eve's mission system is the equivalent of spawning a level 1 newbie, as in the first character you ever made, in Shattrath with no information whatsoever. In other words, you have to either a) figure out for yourself where the starting zones for each race are and how to get there OR, b) look up a guide that tells you where to go and how to graveyard/ghost run all the way through sub 70 level mobs all the way to the starter area of the starter zones where you can fight level 2 wolves. And I think even then, Wow would be more helpful in directing you since once you've reached that area all the quests (i.e., missions) would fall into place, more or less.

  6. What I find amusing is that I still find Eve to be so much fun!

  7. Anonymous7:25 am

    well while I admit the mission system is well what it is, as expressed more eloquently than I can, the fact that something DOESN'T tell you whereto go what to do is part of the fun. I understand the desire to have someone tell you go here for industry etc...but that is limiting you to industry only, coming from a mining/ building background and then switching over to PvP I am glad I was not locked into one thing.

  8. In keeping with Alex' original point about the research needed to get started in missions properly and Manasi's comment about part of the fun being learning as you go, the type of missions I was attempting to describe in my previous comment...if properly designed...could both cut down on the information needed to follow the right path AND impart a big sense of adventure due to not quite knowing where the mission would lead or whether you'd even be able to do some of it on your own. Would be truly wonderful if you could accept a fairly comprehensive objective and somewhat follow your own path to complete it. There is a touch of this kind of thing now ("get me some tritanium; our supplies are running short" where you could mine or buy the minerals as you prefer) but I wonder how much more could be done with that approach.

    Hmmm. I sure seem to be spouting off an awful lot about something in the game that I hardly ever do!

    Anyway...while the amount of "outside" reading and research may be off-putting to some...it is one of the things I love about the game.

  9. I was talking aobut something in my own blog with mynxee last night, two more pet peeves to put on the list:

    -you can't rename or fit your ship unless you're inside it

    -you can only switch ship once per 30 seconds.

    I had an ANNOYING time fitting my 8 new frigates :(

  10. The New Player Experience is something CCP is aware of and needs tweaking which they seem to be doing every patch nowadays. And the new missions team promises more varied missions in the future. Which is all good.

    There is a balance between hand holding and throwing to the sharks and I think they will get there eventually.