Thursday, October 25, 2012

BB40: Interstellar Blood Sports

From Freebooted blog courtesy of Seismic Stan:
So on with the banter.

Fresh from publishing the community spotlight on the EVE blogosphere and Blog Banters, CCP Phantom has suggested a banter focus on competitive tournaments.

There is no finer spectacle in the universe of EVE Online than the explosive dance of weapon-laden spaceships in combat. The yearly Alliance Tournament is the jewel in EVE Online's eSports crown and the upcoming New Eden Open should deliver the same gladiatorial entertainment showcase.

Given the scope of the sandbox, what part should eSports play in EVE Online and what other formats could provide internet spaceship entertainment for spectators and participants alike?
Well this is a very open question. "What part should eSports play in Eve Online?" Hmmm... in the past I explored the question as to whether or not Eve could learn anything from World of Tanks and this is what I said then:

Eve needs arena PvP. Full stop.
It boggles the mind that this simple game play mode has never been added to Eve's feature set. Even worse, it was considered and technically sound a few expansions ago but cut because some people at CCP felt it didn't work for the game. I think that is poppycock but let's play devil's advocate and ask ourselves why arenas would not work in Eve.
1) Safe Space - By their nature, in order for arenas to provide an even playing field for the teams then outside interference must be disallowed. However, in Eve no one can hide completely safely in space, that is to say, that everyone can go everywhere in theory. These two concepts cannot exist together.
2) Lower PvP Population in Low/Null sec - Arenas would provide easy access PvP and thus cause a number of pilots to not bother with frustrating roaming to find targets when willing targets are available. As fewer people choose to roam, fewer targets present themselves for those that do.
3) Gaming the system - Eve players are notorious min-maxers and any system put in place to try and find even matchups would quickly get disassembled and analyzed to find the perfect combination to give an advantage, making casual arena players quickly loose interest as they can't compete with the "hackers"
To which I respond, bullcrap. (I realize this is making a strawman and then beating up on him, but since no official explanation was offered to the general public as to why arenas don't work, I'm going to do this. People can correct me in the comments and I will re-evaluate my position then.)
Docked in stations players are completely safe. Sure they may not be doing anything in a space ship but they can market PvP from there, including in null sec causing great havoc to enemy logistics. The casual PvP population in low and null sec is already low and the players most interested in arena type combat (assuming moderate consequences and fast turnover) are players not interested in long-ass roams and big risks anyways. In other words, the players most likely to participate in arena combat are players that would otherwise be tempted to log out and do something else, like World of Tanks.
Now I could go on to how I would design and implement an arena combat system in Eve much like Seismic Stan did in his latest blog post, and I hope other bloggers take this topic and run with it in a Blog Banter type idea (hint hint), but suffice to say that I think something needs to exist to provide casual quick PvP in Eve to keep players with short time scales in the game, to provide a stepping stone between PvE combat training and PvP combat training, and actual full on PvP combat in low and null sec (and high sec wars).
I still think this concept or some variation on it is something that could be brilliant for Eve. Amateur eSports run by players for players, with various degrees of success and legitimacy, happening all over the cluster at any time. Then the official tournaments run by / sponsored by CCP would be the pinnacles of the sport.

* * * * *

Now on to the second question. "What other formats could provide entertainment for spectators and participants alike?"

I have several ideas!

Death Race - Based on events that Rixx Javix held in the past, I could totally see a CCP sponsored event where racers have to run a course with the obstacles being the spectators themselves! CCP could also set up cameras at various points to cover all the action much like a Formula One race.

Skill Race - Similar idea except having really structures as the obstacles and the goal is to complete the course in the fastest time, much like Olymipic down hill skiing.

Space Polo - A can has to be moved through a circular structure for a point. Teams consist of five players each, and can can only be moved by tractor beam. Everything else allowed.

New Eden Cluster Series of Poker - Let's put those fancy avatars to good use!
Wait til the River!
The list is nearly endless.


  1. Your original WoT comparison blogpost was also the catalyst for the reintroduction of the Blog banters. I remember it well.

    I'd definitely like to see some organised events that are a variation on the "everyone must kill everyone else" theme. I wonder if the death race idea would work as a circuit rather than a point-to-point route? It would certainly make it easier to spectate/participate.

    I've also been dying to try out a team match of Bushkazi/Space Polo for years. I even wrote some rules once.

  2. All of your format suggestions instantly reminded me of Subspace (now known as Continuum) which is a 2D multiplayer spaceship game. It's got the guns and bombs and combat modes but they also offer stuff like capture the flag, turf wars, hockey, etc as variations and twists on the already existing mechanics and it works VERY well. I'd love to see something like that in Eve as long as it was implemented properly.

  3. I participated in a season league of sub-warp Frigate racing and it was much fun ! The challenge for organisers was to put guards to the obstacles, thus making sure pilots would go around them or else get a points fine.

    We had a great time, even organised "no air show" with betting, prizes, drag race and formation flying. Spectators were well entertained and rather numerous -- considering they had to really get to the site and not sit in their quarters.

    I can totally see CCP putting a professional frame around such a format with proper, TQ-enforced, way points and cameras for a proper TV stream.