Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I Call Bullshit

I had an interesting conversation with Andrew yesterday (I'm green, he is red):





Insightful post that applies to most mmos: http://playervsdeveloper.blogspot.com/2009/05/800lb-content-gorilla-attacks-middle.html




(at least, that I've played)




*reads*




good post.




Eve manages to avoid that pitfall by having other players be the end game content




Sort of. All the major mmos have PvP as well




Some wow players happily pvp their lives away




WAR is all pvp, sieges, etc




agreed. But Eve has no "raiding" culture to complian and burn through content




Right..... so it doesn't avoid the pitfall so much as totally abdicate any notion of a PVE game




Exactly!




The major complaint I have heard is that it can be viciously grindy when not at war




i.e. mine, mine, mine, mine, mine, .....




bullshit

Then we got into a discussion about the existence of grind in Eve and how there can be nothing to do at times. Apparently he heard that complaint from Eve players (either former or existing) in a podcast (until I hear it myself I will refrain from naming names ).

I'm not denying that there is a grind in Eve for ISK as nothing is for free (although you can have tons of fun in a Tech I frigate with cheap modules if you know where to go), but I took exception to the "viciously grindy" part and the "mine, mine, mine" part.

For one thing, there are a ton of activities in Eve to make the ISK you need for purchasing ships for PvP. Some are combat related like:
Missions
Ratting
Exploration - especially since wormhole space opened up
Salvaging
Piracy
Mercenary Work

Other ISK making careers are more about the "builder":
Asteroid Mining
Tech I Manufacturing
Rig Manufacturing
Invention & Tech II Manufacturing
Reverse Engineering & Tech III Manufacturing
Moon Mining

And then there are the market careers:
Station Trader (aka buy & reselling)
Commodities Trader (aka haul cheap items to lucrative markets)

And finally we have the meta-game services career:
Corp Creator
High Sec POS Anchorer
Alliance Creator
Freighter pilot
Character Farmer
PLEX purchaser (ok, not so much a career as a short cut)
Article Writer
Graphics Artist
Website Host
Kill Board Host

* * * * *
What I'm saying is that to me a grind is an activity you HAVE to do for an end goal but is not desirable to do. To say that all you do is mine between wars is extremely simplistic and simply untrue for the majority of the population. If that is someone's complaint than I think that is a failure of their imagination in a sandbox that does not direct you to the next task as much as some other games might do.

I myself have never mined for personal ISK although I have done a couple sessions for corp activities before. In fact, the only time I felt like I experienced grind in Eve is when trying to get good standings with corporations and factions.

Yes, I'm a fanboy. I have never played any other MMOs and I may be far to close to the subject to be objective. And perhaps Andrew misheard or misintrepreted the complaints, or maybe he heard correctly and the person making them has a point from that persepective. But "mine, mine, mine, mine" between wars is simply not true.

23 comments:

  1. It was from multiple podcasts..... and another this morning, as I mentioned. =)

    I downloaded the EVE installer last night, but it'll sit along side my unplayed Pirates of the Burning Sea demo until I get a window where I think I can give it an honest shot.

    I doubt I'll be able to get over my general dislike of space games (there have been very few exceptions - Masters of Orion 2 for example) and my hate of PvP-with-loss, but stranger things have happened. (I actually enjoyed the WAR demo, which I expected to loathe.)

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  2. Mining?! That's got to be one of the least profitable activities in game. I agree with you, Kirith. There are many ways to profit in New Eden...

    For example, I just completed the latest round of loot sales for The Bastards. About 3 weeks worth of loot and salvage from ships destroyed while pirating sold for just a hair under 2.7B ISK. Everyone on the associated killmails were paid their equal share (we have software and a system to assist in calculating payouts). Then there were the ransoms we got in the same time period, which approached 1.5B, also split among folks in fleet at the time each ransom was obtained. Might even have been a couple of ships relinquished to our folks after the pilot ejected...which were sold and the ISK split among the involved parties.

    What grind?

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  3. Could this be a failure to guide new players into profitable activities on the part of the game designers?

    Does EVE have introductory quests/tutorials that handhold newbies? If so, do they cover the basics of some/all of the activities Kirith lists in his post? (Most modern MMOs have these out of the box, or else patched in.)

    Because if EVE doesn't, then this hole could lead to new players trying the game, failing to find any way to make good cash aside from mining, and quitting in disgust.

    I try not to toss out uninformed opinions even in MSN conversations - EVE *DOES* appear to have a grindy reputation from people who have played it.... and even some current players (who are perhaps not rabid fanboys and instead play a wide range of MMOs).

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  4. CCP has done a lot of effort over the past few years to try to address the "learning curve" from noob to veteran: Factional warfare was an effort to get more people in high sec into PvP last year, and this year the Epic Mission Arc for new players is reportedly designed to guide a new player much more. Might be high time for me to run that new player experience again to see how it is.

    To be fair, Mynxee, Eve is a group player game. What I mean is that a solo player might find a lot of avenues for easy ISK closed to them that a group can accomplish easily. But I still think that "mining" is only one of a myriad of possibilities for a solo player.

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  5. /me me pokes his head in after being punch drunk from having too much to do in EVE and too little time to accomplish it all

    Failure in imagination. The truly amusing thing about guys like that is that when they complain to you and you say "ok, then you're in charge of xyz", they back down quickly not wanting to take any responsibility on. Bleeding wooses.

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  6. "Failure in imagination" is a pretty poor excuse if the game isn't pointing newbies in the general direction of non-boring-as-hell things to do.

    "Gameplay by serendipity" is a pretty poor game mechanic.

    Anyone have an answer for my questions regarding the game's approach to educating new pilots?

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  7. This is one I've found: http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/65338

    In regards to "Failure of Imagination", Eve has a long history of not explicitly telling players stuff much to its detriment. A single player in that doesn't consume the forums and doesn't talk in chats or join a corporaiton like Eve University will not see any signposts pointing the way.

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  8. When I trial there's no way I'll spend time on the forums (the article you reference calls them "rant-driven", btw).... I'll happily read any documentation the game installs/I find on the EVE web site (tho the article suggests I'll be SOL) - but I simply don't have time to forum surf yet another game =)

    That Eve university corp sounds handy - hopefully something obvious will point me at it. =)

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  9. They recently created the Evelopedia which is supposed to act like an up to date manual. Not sure if its obvious to a rookie in game though. And sadly the Eve University is a player run enterprise so unless another players points it out to a new pilot, it probably would not be obvious; not sure if people in teh rookie channel point it out.

    (Yes, the General Discussion section of the forums is rant filled bile, but the New Citizens Q&A forum is very useful, I spent the first 6 months of my eve career reading those posts).

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  10. To summarize the current discussions: yes there are lots of activities besides mining in which one can "grind" for ISK, and many of them are perfectly doable solo.

    HOWEVER: is the sentiment Andrew has heard a result of Eve failing to point out these alternate career choices to new players who do not have pre-existing friends in game? That is to say, does the New Player Experience expose the pilot to all the possibilities adequately?

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  11. "handholding + EvE does not exist. I understand the idea though, I do and it is one area that they could explain to people, but EvE is a game that requires thought, if not planning.

    There is no easy solution to the question as it is not as simple as, do this activity and make money.

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  12. @Mansi:
    I'm well versed in the typical "we're above all that" presumptions that many players toss around to help make themselves feel good about their favorite game and how its played. Thankfully our host here is not like that... so could we just leave that sort of thing out of the comments?

    I'm a WoW end game raider primarily.... if you believe that doesn't involve thought and planning you're very much unaware of what the scene is like. Both at an organizational level and during the actual encounters the strategies involved can be quite intense, time consuming, and complex.

    In the small time I spent on WAR it required thought & planning as well... and doing sieges would require much more. Hell - even Free Realms has a requirement (albeit smaller) for those skills.

    EVE does not have a monopoly on the requirement for thought or planning. Never has, never will.

    Now, back to the topic at hand:

    There's an enormous difference between a game spoon-feeding you exactly what you need without any thought on your part and a game completely ignoring you and leaving you to fend for yourself as a newbie with very few pointers. I would assert that neither extreme is good design, and both lead to un-fun new player experiences (and thus lower player take-up/subscription rate).

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  13. "EVE does not have a monopoly on the requirement for thought or planning. Never has, never will."

    I believe what Mansi means is that your goals in Eve require consideration and research/ strategic planning in time scales of months if not years. There is not a "quest superhighway" (a term I got from Wow blogs and I do not mean it derogatorily) that leads you to end game content. Hell, there is not even signposts on a forest trail... unless you read player blogs or wade through the forums to see what others have done before you.

    Failure to do that "strategic planning" of what you want to do as end game could leave one "mining, mining, mining, bored now" very easily.

    That said, I think Eve would be better served by more mission arcs and more complex PvE content simply because the Alliance Wars can be very intimidating and difficult to transition to for even experienced players. One does not have to sacrifice the open game play of PvP in order ot have engaging PvE content.

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  14. Just to get it out the way - KIRITH IS AWESOME!!1! This was the first eveblog I've read, and because of it I started reading so many more - so thanks. (/end fanboi mode).

    Anyhow, one of the few reasons I love eve so much over other MMOs (and I've played my fair share), is that its mostly a player driven game (from PvP to alliance going down due to player actions). However, as such, and being a "real sandbox" game, trying to guide players to niches is problematic at best, due to curbing of imagination and creativity.

    If I may make an analogy, I would compare it to the elder scrolls series or to X3 - when I first played said games, my reaction "WTF? what am I suppose to do now?" - and being disgusted at the lack of a tutorial. But after playing a bit, I saw that the lack of tutorials actually made the game more interesting and fun, since I wasn't being led by the nose like a mule. However, that first "leap" of sorts where you change mentalities from the objective list type gameplay (go here, kill bad guy, next go there, produce 20 pieces of wood, ect) to the decisions-based gameplay (market price here is 300, but someone is buying it for 450 3 jumps away, I can make cash that way!).

    Ofc, being original/creative/etc isn't that easy (I never really went outside the box at first, only missioned and did a bit of ratting) and the solution for that in eve is the corp! In a way, instead of NPC tutorial agents, you get PC "tutorial agents", and instead of predetermined niches, you have player created ones.

    Also, one should consider that eve wasn't (until recently) meant to be overly player friendly. The beauty of eve over other games is its unique representation of human societies - hence allowing almost anything, from scamming to griefing to suicide ganking to pirating - and as such, the developers are (and should IMO) take the stance of minimal interference, thus letting the players either choose their own "destiny" or follow the rules that the ingame society has created.

    I'll leave you with a quote by CCPWrangler:
    "EVE is a dark and harsh world, you're supposed to feel a bit worried and slightly angry when you log in, you're not supposed to feel like you're logging in to a happy, happy, fluffy, fluffy lala land filled with fun and adventures, that's what hello kitty online is for."

    (Sorry for the illegible wall of text, and do keep on writing those awesome posts)

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  15. /cry at stupid blogger eating my comment. Let me try again, though it's never as good the second time.

    @Kirith:
    "I believe what Mansi means is that your goals in Eve require consideration and research/ strategic planning in time scales of months if not years."

    Sure.... but I would assert that this is neither unique to EVE nor particularly novel. For example, people who have read my blog know that I play WoW in much the same manner - if I wasn't digging deep and planning quite far ahead I'd be sunk and wouldn't see even close to the same level of success.

    Now, that doesn't mean that WoW cannot be played on a completely casual level - it is quite possible to do so. I'll bet that EVE could be played casually and without much planning as well.... but perhaps this is what leads people to the mine-grinding and eventual resentment.

    Does that sound either realistic or fair?

    @Mashashige:
    "[T]rying to guide players to niches is problematic at best, due to curbing of imagination and creativity."

    I completely disagree. Guiding players without forcing them into niches is exactly what a good tutorial system does. The two concepts are NOT mutually exclusive.

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  16. I don't believe there is an end-game in EVE. It's more like a buffet you keep circling as you sample the offerings over time, settling into niches along the way until they become uninteresting.

    From my point of view, the people you associate in game make the experience good, bad, or simply uninspiring. New players who choose to go solo are missing 99% of what is enjoyable about the game. Joining other more experienced players who are willing to mentor is the true superhighway to EVE fun. We get new players in my corp all the time. We show them the ropes of piracy, teach them about game mechanics, teach them about the user interface, and so forth. The game either appeals to them or it doesn't...but either way, they've had a chance to learn a LOT from us more experienced players about how to plan, strategize, progress, and have fun. After all that, if they don't enjoy the game...well, maybe it's just not the game for them. No harm, no foul.

    No game can be everything to everyone...nor should it try to be. EVE is what it is...and despite its flaws...it is good. Great, even.

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  17. "@Kirith:
    "I believe what Mansi means is that your goals in Eve require consideration and research/ strategic planning in time scales of months if not years."

    Sure.... but I would assert that this is neither unique to EVE nor particularly novel. For example, people who have read my blog know that I play WoW in much the same manner - if I wasn't digging deep and planning quite far ahead I'd be sunk and wouldn't see even close to the same level of success.

    Now, that doesn't mean that WoW cannot be played on a completely casual level - it is quite possible to do so. I'll bet that EVE could be played casually and without much planning as well.... but perhaps this is what leads people to the mine-grinding and eventual resentment.

    Does that sound either realistic or fair?"

    Having not played other MMOs I cannot speak objectively to the degree that more or less strategic planning is required in that game or another. Eve _feels_ like it needs more long term scheming and such, but I cannot say for sure.

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  18. @Andrew
    "I completely disagree. Guiding players without forcing them into niches is exactly what a good tutorial system does. The two concepts are NOT mutually exclusive."

    I agree that its the ideal- but there is a very thin line between opening a players eyes and killing his need for innovation.

    I live by the belief that change is only driven by conflict (be it external or internal), and thus, if life because too easy for a player/person s/he becomes apathetic and stuck in old concepts. Now theres nothing essentially wrong with being stuck with the same playing styles and tactics - except for the BOREDOM it creates. And I, along with alot of the player base IMO, will leave the game if it was to become static and boring (like end game WOW or others).

    Is driving players to start playing without any defined goal the ideal way of creating such "conflict"? perhaps not. But IMO it works, and it works well - with the added benefit of filtering those who will lose all their hard earned isk by being stupid and falling for a jita scam :P

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  19. I tried the new player xp, and it shows you that there are a few path you can take. Industrial, combat / missioning for example.

    And that's about it :). Then it's up to the pilot to decide what to do next. Some people will like that (and it seems that number of people keeps growing), and some won't...

    > the only time I felt like I experienced grind > in Eve is when trying to get good standings
    > with corporations and factions.

    Agreed ! Also mission running for a certain item, ie. a certain number of LPs can get a bit grindy, but it's not too bad tbh.

    About industry: there is something very satisfying about selling a battleship you mined most mins for. But it's not a pvp type thrill. Eve's got something for everybody, if you dig deep enough ;).

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  20. A lot of good comments in this discussion. I've only been playing EVE since November 08 but I've created 5 accounts since then because there are so many things that I want to experience and be good at.

    Only one character belongs to a corp and that's fun when I want to jump into a mining operation or fleet up and do some missions or PVP during the all too frequent war dec.

    I've fallen victim to scams. I lost my Obelisk Freighter in Tama to a whole load of pirates. I had my Myrmidon ransomed by pirates. The only thing that really annoyed me was the scammer, but I did learn how not to fall victim again. (*fingers crossed*) (Doh!)

    I only started running missions after doing a few with the corp, so that raised my awareness considerably.

    I learned quickly not to think of the pirates as griefers, which is what I felt like I had encountered in Ultima Online (wayback) and a couple of times during my short stint in WOW.
    Now I treat them as part of the ever present backdrop that keeps you on your toes and makes those trips into low-sec just a bit more exciting.

    Since much of my time playing is spent on my laptop while watching TV with the wife, having activities like trading and mining is kind of nice since they don't require all of my attention. I haven't yet felt like I was grinding on anything.

    One of the things I like best about EVE is that my characters are improving their skills even while I sit here at work and look forward to logging in tonight to check their skill queues and figure out which of the 20 different things I enjoy that I want to do for the short time where I can devote my full attention. I even enjoy downloading my market transactions for the trading alt so I can run my spreadsheet on my trade profitability. Good times!

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  21. yeah the new player experience has changed also the begginging level of skillpoints is different now instead giving you a training time boost which will probably help with those initial skills better rather than just giviing them to you. that being said the best way to learn eve is to join a corporation and having friends like kirith doesnt hurt either lol. also im not sure if it points new players to the epic missions yet but it should i as a 2 year old character found the present epic arc available interesting and it gives skills and pointers for newer characters a lot better than your standard missions. This still wont change the best way for learning eve is to just ask. ask in the rookie chat, the local channel(if your in hisec) or even the noob corp window. also if your looking at trying the trial get kirith or another friend to send an invite for the 21 day free trial gives you an extra week to try stuff out.

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  22. Lots of good discussion here, but i find it curious how many people seem to be drawn into a "troll". Andrew stated in the very first post that he won't be getting to Eve anytime soon and probably will not like it anyway.

    He's already set his attitude towards the game. That's a tough hurdle to get over. When i present the game to new players i tell them right off that Eve is not for everyone. You may or may not like it. It won't hurt my feelings if you don't.

    I played WoW for many years, it's a great game, but the individual player does NOT have anywhere even approaching the impact on the game environment that the Eve player does. I think that is the draw for the people that enjoy Eve.

    It's true you can solo play the game and hermit yourself away and yes it will get boring and repetitive, but then you need to ask yourself, why are you playing an MMO in the first place?

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  23. EVE's best tutorial is other players. There is no end game designated by the developers, there are no "Purples" you make your own game and that's the beauty of it. The fact that someone else can come along and kick your sandcastle down is what keeps many addicted. EVE is real loss, real politics and real player interaction.

    There's a reason people say "Internet spaceships is serious business" The fact that the EVE universe is one universe with everyone interacting in a melting pot of cultures and playstyles sets it apart from the isolation of the likes of WoW. The EVE playerbase is vicious, everything you do is PvP from trading and mining to combat whether for fun, profit or territory.

    Many can't cope with this and tend to blame the developers for not explaining things better but that has never been their intention. Players are free to make their own minds up, create their own path and determine for themselves what they want out of the game.

    Coming from WoW as a "end game raider" already puts you at a disadvantage because your view has become narrow. If you seek a game with an end then EVE is not for you.

    There are 40 odd thousand people logged in at any one time to one universe and you should be glad they log in to EVE as they are ruthless and vicious and you don't want them in your fluffy MMO.

    Besides, you already stated you don't like space games, you don't like the fact that you might lose your "purples" and you want the developers to hold your hand every step of the way, again, EVE is not for you.

    Only the determined, stubborn and down right ruthless survive in EVE, much like real life™ and that is what makes the game unique.

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