Monday, October 17, 2016

Alphas and Perspectives: The Cautionary Tale of Art Hornbie

Way back in June of 2014 I wrote about Art Hornbie's blog and his culture shock at coming into EVE and finding things were not as he expected:

At first my reactions to these angry posts was the usual "get friends and do things", or to simply ignore them as the ravings of a bitter new player without the patience to work towards a goal. But over time as I continued to read his blog posts and consider them with an open mind, I realized that the issue is not his patience or ability to adapt, its the difference of a vastly different perspective on what Eve could be.
My Perspective
My perspective, and the one shared by the vast majority of the playerbase I suspect, is to view EVE's storyline and a lore as merely a backdrop to the actions and machinations of the player constructed entities, be they high sec manufacturers or null sec coalitions. I've often said that in EVE the players are the end game content and that roleplaying in EVE doesn't exist because players live the roles and don't need to play-act them.
On the other side, we have Art Hornbie and I'm going to try and paint what I think his perspective is. Imagine watching a show you love for years and getting a chance to visit the set. You walk down the street and decide to walk into a store and discover that inside the door the building is empty. Not just unfurnished, but a shell representing a store and not really a business. And the next house is also fake, like those ghost towns they used to build for nuclear tests. In fact, every building is a placeholder for a real business or home or utility but on the inside they are merely facades, painted to look the real thing but are not.
If you approach EVE as a living and vibrant sci-fi operatic universe filled with millions of souls moving in cohesion or conflict, and the players are mere actors in this milieu, then you are going to be sorely shocked to discover its all a two dimensional backdrop to the players that occasionally gets a new coat of paint or picture but is static and unresponsive the rest of the time. Don't bother looking for a man behind the curtain, the curtain hides only a brick wall.
This disappointment is further compounded by a game that continually gives more power to the players, which if you are a "players are the endgame" proponent is a good thing, but can be frustrating for a newer player who sees only the resources fought over and gobbled up by the string and/or numerous, leaving scraps (if anything) to the casual newer players.
And from that perspective, I can see why Art Hornbie writes what he does. I don't know if I agree with it and I definitely thinking he's tilting at windmills, so I'm patiently waiting for the "I'm Quitting" post albeit with a bit of sadness. Its possible the game Art expected and wants might have been a fun game if the technology could be built to allow it.
But its not EVE.
I was correct and Art Hornbie left EVE for Elite Dangerous a few short months later:
Well, after reading the CSM minutes, I plunked down my money for Elite:Dangerous. E:D's idea of billions of stars to precariously explore and frolic in appeals to me.
I've written before about how much fun it is to build things from scratch in Eve. Go out get the blueprints, harvesting the materials, assembling all the pieces and building a thing-a ma-jig. It's all fun until you realize that raw moon resources are all spoken for. Monopoly of content by those who have gone before stopped we newer players, me and my corp mates, dead in our tracks. And I've written about that ... extensively.
So the wide open opportunities that I presume are inherent within E:D are simply begging for me to discover and explore. A space game with actual space.
Eve doesn't have any much needed infinite-growth inhibitors so everything gets taken and monopolized by the few large constructs. In E:D, who cares! We'll just get what we need somewhere else; or, we'll simply operate on some fringe performing up to our capabilities. No more ghetto, no more content exclusion.
I'm looking forward to some real E:D space exploration of a logically laid out universe and discoverable resources. I expect I'll still Eve a bit, maybe.
Maybe I'm approaching one of those walk-away moments that I've read so much about. It's too bad, really, as the Eve Online sci-fi universe is so full and evolved. Wish it was actually part of the game.
Anyway, we all try new games from time to time. Since I'm a one-game kinda guy I'll be largely absent from Eve while I explore E:D. But I'll be checking in every once in a while to see if any content opens up for the progression of newer players.
Looking forward to the future of both games ... but more so for E:D atm as Eve has lost its way.
Consider this a cautionary tale for November and the possible incoming wave of Alpha players looking for a vibrant game they can plug into easily, or resources they can exploit alone or in small groups, and facing the same disappointment and uphill struggle Art Hornbie faced.


  1. This F2P-ish transition will be... interesting. I am not sure any MMORPG has gone this long, 13 years, and gained such a reputation amongst the community of MMORPG players that pay attention to the wider genre (which is a small-ish subset of MMORPG players by my estimation), and then attempted this sort of change.

    Games like DDO, LOTRO, Rift, WildStar, and SWTOR all saw significant boosts in population upon going F2P, though only SWTOR seems to have maintained much of theirs, and most of them have found themselves needing new ways to wring cash out of free players as time went on.

    So I think it is still something of an open question as to whether or not New Eden is going to get a lot of new players or if it is just going to be a bunch of vets with some experience of the game back to kick the tires and see if the reasons that made them leave still apply.

  2. Alphas will be gimped to only be able to perform really (3) different things in EVE: (1) L1/L2 missions, (2) Mining (in basics ships), and (3) small ship PvP in LS/Null.

    Only those that engage in #3 are going to be retained in EVE given what we already know about retention. If you come into this game fresh and see only HS belts and L1/L2 missions without anything that other MMO's offer why stick around?

    Nice thing about SWTOR and all the others is that the F2P player sees everything up front and when making a decision about a purchase knows exactly what they are guaranteed to get in terms of content or perks. What are you guaranteed to get in EVE when you subscribe? For most it's the chance to "level up your Raven".

    1. You forgot the biggest use: ganking with more alts in the high sec chokepoints. All these new players are in for a very very nasty education about the percentage of sociopaths that "play" this game.

  3. One issue that has come up time and time again is moon goo distribution. The nullsec blocs claim that null is not about goo, it is about "good fights". Yet what causes the wars out there is shuffling of moon goo.

    If moon goo was dynamic (as in, lasted a few months and then respawned elsewhere) then there would be a use for survey probes, and small group content in null would be much richer.

    I know, I know, for every problem there is a solution which is simple, elegant, and completely wrong.

    But what if, for example, that valuable moongoo spawned in lowsec, and small groups had the ability to steal goo from the mining array, or set up their own mining array to siphon some goo from the moon and then disappear before security forces arrive?

    1. Even then the large blocs would move in and take it over again. Although anything has to be better than what there is now.

    2. Well, there are moon mining operations of some value in low sec and there are mobile siphon units already in the game. Unfortunately, the siphon requires anchoring II and the last chart I saw only gave Alphas anchoring I. But I am not sure Alphas are going to get out of the NPE and be disillusioned that moon goo isn't within their reach.

    3. The problem with silos is their detectability through the API.

  4. I posted a whole post but it's disappeared. Any way to get it back?