Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Should High Sec be Safer?

Here we go again, you say. Another dialog on the safety of high sec, where pvpers adamantly proclaim their entitlements, and/or carebears make thin arguments about vaguely expressed ideas.

Would it benefit the game to allow people to travel nearly unscathed through high security space? Should we equip CONCORD with super death rays that blast anyone who so much as looks criminally inclined? Or, should we lighten up the security to encourage more pvp? It is, after all, a pvp game. Right?   


In my opinion, to ask the question of whether 'high sec should be safer' is to think inside of a box--the box that says you must think of EVE's geography in neat little sections that have neat little rules that have been almost entirely unchanged for the past ten years.

High Sec is for safety, industry, mining. Low Sec is for piracy, faction war. Null Sec is for large, blobbing alliances who fight over space. And, we're only allowed to think in these terms, apparently. We're only expected to talk about how to make low-sec more interesting for pirates, and how to fix 'sovereignty' in null-sec, or whether to make high sec safer.

I think it would be fun if EVE wasn't so staged --and didn't have such predictable, set dimensions. I'd like to see some kind of piracy abound in null-sec, and Faction War spill over to high/null, and bigger wars happening in high sec, and Jita-like systems in null-sec with player-run security and commerce.

Imagine 0.1 systems that are 'almost' null-sec --no bubbles, but no station or gates guns.

Imagine systems 'between' high-sec and low-sec where CONCORD 'sort of' responds but are stretched thin so they will only monitor certain places. (Such as gates, or etc.)

Imagine something 'in-between' null-sec sovereignty and Faction War in NPC null-sec --perhaps incorporating the pirate factions in EVE. Moderate sized groups who find Faction War too small, and null-sec too great a leap would have engaging and interesting gameplay.

Imagine if there were more 'pocket's' of different kinds of space, rather then the current geography of high-sec, surrounded by low-sec, surrounded by null-sec. Imagine if every major high-sec trade hub didn't necessarily have a high-sec route between them?

Imagine if 'security' impacted other things, such as cyno placement restrictions or the ability to anchor system-wide cyno jammers. What if system security impacted how hard/easy it was to take a system in Faction War?

Instead of black and white and red, I want fifty shades of every color. I think we need to stop thinking in terms of just 'high-sec' or 'low-sec' or 'null-sec' and start thinking about more in-betweens and acrosses--opening the door to new strategies, new decisions, and a myriad of new gameplay options.

Monday, September 8, 2014

FW for High Sec - Improving EVE's New Player Experience

Faction War has often been pointed to as a game mechanic in EVE that opens the door to newer players becoming more involved in PVP. The popularity of plexing with frigates, destroyers, and other cheap ships means that younger players can become involved quickly, without needing lots of skillpoints or large and expensive ships.

However, having seen new players struggle first hand, and having run a few 'noob' alts in Faction War myself, militia can be difficult and confusing for new players. There are aspects of the FW game mechanics that are 'clunky' and unintuitive. And, making the jump from high-sec missions and/or the tutorial, to low-sec combat is a fairly large and intimidating leap for young pilots to make.

So, how about introducing a sort of 'Faction War Lite' into highsec?

-A new set of 'Rookie' plexes would spawn in these systems. (For example a Rookie Small Compound, or a Rookie Medium Stronghold) These plexes would give substantially smaller payouts then 'regular' plexes and the NPCs would be somewhat easier to deal with for a solo pilot.

-The old system of 'Occupancy' could be introduced for these systems. There would be no station lockout, thought players could still contribute toward 'taking' a system.

-Faction Police that normally shoot hostile militia in high sec would be a little 'lighter' in these systems and would still shoot hostile militia on stargates and stations, but wouldn't 'follow' them. So, combat inside plexes or off the stargates would go unhindered, but hostile militia would have a hard time camping high-sec gates, or etc.

Once this was setup, I think it would be interesting to introduce a sort of new, advanced military tutorial, or set of 'new player' missions that utilizes high sec FW game mechanics. Players opting to do this 'advanced military training' could be pseudo 'drafted' into militia. They would then follow a increasingly challenging storyline related to the war, which would culminate in a final task of running one or more high sec plexes, and possibly put them into the situation of potentially having to fight another real player.

Friday, September 5, 2014

EVE is not an Alliance Tournament

I’ve really enjoyed watching the alliance tournament the last few weekends: the silly commentators, the surge of reactions during various upsets, various alliances trying to surprise people with new or unexpected compositions, and betting a little on matches to make some minor pocket change.

Sometimes, I feel that many people in EVE would like to see combat in EVE become more like alliance tournament combat:

They want to control the size of the engagements, and have fair ‘teams.’ People complain of getting ganked, or blobbed, and many pilots who consider themselves ‘solo’ pvpers often display a sense of entitlement toward getting ‘solo’ fights.

They want to control what people can fit and what advantages people can have. People complain about ECM, about links, and other things they feel are force multipliers or some sort of ‘unfair’ advantage that makes things ‘uneven.’

They want clear cut killmails so that they can make clear cut battlereports that show cleanly defined fights with all factors involved.

However, combat in EVE is messy and complicated. Engagements can have multiple parties and facets, with smaller fights happening side by side, and groups merging in and out of the fight at different times.

Furthermore, the entire scope of the ‘fight’ is rarely restricted to the engagement itself. There is what happens leading up to the fight, and often what happens after. You have different groups trying to bait each other, or a pilot carefully hunting his prey. There is intel being passed, and spies, and complicated loyalties, and political decisions that FCs often have to make subconsciously.

EVE is not the Alliance Tournament. Faction War plexes are not tournament arenas where some specific thing is supposed to happen. Low-sec was not ‘meant’ for small gang pvp, and the low-sec community is not entitled to specific gameplay void of intervention from things we do not deem ‘acceptable.’

Often, when I see people insist that warp core stabs should be removed from plexes (or the game) or that some contrived thing should be put into place in low-sec so PL can't drop supers on destroyers, or that CCP should implement plexes where only battlecruisers and nothing else can enter (or where only some specific gameplay can occur) I think that these are people that do not really understand the game.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

FW: Game Over?

I'm not the kind of person who gets disgruntled when non-militia talk about Faction War game mechanics. Just because someone's main focus might be in wormhole space or nullsec doesn't necessarily mean that they can't have valuable input and detailed knowledge and ideas about something else.

However, sometimes the things people say make me scratch my head and wonder if we're even talking about the same game.

A recent article was posted on Crossing Zebras from an author named 'Niden.'   While I don't disagree with everything Niden says, much of what he says discredited him quite a bit in my eyes, as it clearly showed a very clear misunderstanding about Faction War, and the people who consider themselves 'militia.' In fact, some of his statements are so far from the truth, I almost have to believe he is trying to troll people.

First, he claims that "players seldom feel the need to step out of [Faction War] to get action and it essentially becomes their world. Like Americans who think Europe is a country and don’t have a clue where Belgium is on a map."

Faction War is actually a melting pot of different kinds of players, backgrounds, and etc. Not only do the players themselves have alts (or are alts themselves) but you have plays coming and going toward all walks of EVE life.

You have market traders, industrialists, and players who spend weekends running incursions. And, you have a lot of militia who don't just identify with FW, but are also general low-sec players engaging in piracy, or some sort of anti-piracy.

Saying that militia are inside some sort of box, and don't really see outside of Faction Warfare is about as silly as saying that a nullsec pilot has no concept of anything else in the game simply because he lives in null security space.

Secondly, he claims that "Factional Warfare is a fabricated and fixed narrative..."

Actually, Faction War is rich with player defined narrative. Playing under the overarching 'theme' of a war between two made-up factions is not much different than a wormhole player playing under the theme of Sleepers and cut-off space, or a nullsec pilot playing under a theme of large sovereignty wars.

Faction War is thick with politics, spawning revolutions, civil wars, betrayal, and shifting loyalties. On top of that, you have player motivations that are far more complicated than a bunch of mindless militia playing out the storyline that CCP has given them. You have people taking or campaigning over systems due to personal grudges, and non-militia stepping in to honor old loyalties.

Niden goes on to make a large number of rather amusing comments, which seem to be intended to point out something negative about Faction War players, but really just describe eve players, or people, in general.

For example, he claims that FW pilots are impatient and want more instant gratification. Actually, EVE players in general are becoming more impatient and want more instant gratification. And for many, not just instant gratification, but they want someone to fight them in a very specific way that is conducive to their personal gameplay.

He points out that players tend to join the winning side because of ISK benefits. Which is mostly a part of human nature. People like to be on the winning side, especially if winning has perks. This doesn't mean that you should incentivize losing, or somehow diminish the benefits of winning.

This is EVE. If you're expecting some sort of 'honorable mention' ribbon when you lose, you're probably playing the wrong game.

Faction War does have its problems, but I'm not sure they're the problems Niden is pointing out here.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Starting a New Alt

A week or so ago, I started a new alt. My original plan was to start up a few more trade alts, since my trade ‘dabbling’ has slowly slid into full scale obsessive trader syndrome. But instead, I decided it would be fun to have a sort of anonymous, ‘escape’ pvp alt. I have no set goals or plans for him, except to wander around and try and do whatever strikes my fancy at the time.

I decided to start by doing some of the tutorials. Even when I was really a newb, I don’t think I ever did much of any of the tutorials. Maybe the first few, just to learn how to move the ship around and etc.

I more or less made it through the two military tutorials, but quickly started to get bored and annoyed, so mostly was skimming them by the end. Honestly, I was a bit shocked at the state of the tutorials—they seemed very unpolished and not well put together. The missions made me feel like I was going in circles, rather than progressing toward anything. Some things were excessively repetitive. And in the ‘advanced’ military tutorial, I took one look at the massive wall of text being constantly thrown at me and pretty much said, “yeah, right. Not going to happen.”

When I ‘finished’ those I didn’t have a plan, so felt a little lost at first. I traveled to one region, but changed my mind and then traveled to a different high sec region, and finally settled in to do a few Minmatar level 1 highsec missions. I also ran around a bit in the belts, killing a few rats to earn a little ISK. In the beginning, I wanted the toon to be completely self-sufficient with no ‘help’ from my other characters. 

I was saddened by the NPC changes I noticed after doing a bit of belt ratting and mission running. One thing I clearly remember as a newb was how much fun I had killing the NPCs—and looting the wrecks. Everything is new at that stage, so it used to feel like going on a treasure hunt. I remember learning aspects of the game by reading the descriptions of the various modules and ammunition stacks that would drop. And, I remember learning about what a lot of modules did by simply putting them on my frigate and playing around with them.

It seems that now, all that low level NPCs drop, literally, is junk metal. It made me very sad.

However, on a good note, I did notice something that made me pleasantly surprised. And that is how quickly I felt I reached a point where I could fly a decently fit ship. Within a few hours, I could fly a reasonably setup pvp frigate, and within a day or two, a decent destroyer. YAY for meta modules.

I quickly grew bored of level one missions, and finally gave up on them. I transferred some ISK over from a trade alt, bought up all the skill books I was still lacking and could train, and headed out to do something a bit more pvpish. I settled on Faction War. I know, big surprise! But it seemed the perfect thing to do on a few day old alt that you want to pvp with. I chose Gallente because it is the one militia I’ve never been in. But, I havent’ always had great experiences hunting Caldari, so I went to part of the Minmatar/Amarr warzone instead. 

The first thing I did was burn through a fifteen minute small plex. And gleefully look at the 43k+ LP earned from the Gallente’s tier 4. Considering how cheap I was flying ships, and the fact that 43K LP is almost enough to by a Navy Vexor, I would definitely not need to worry about being self-sufficient here on out. Running level one missions in highsec, for the mere pittance I had received, seemed like a very big waste of time. I should have just gone directly to Faction War.

Another thing I noticed is that you don’t seem to lose standings when you cross plex. Which is excellent. I didn’t want to start out my alt by building up a bunch of negative standings that would be difficult to grind back later.

I also got my first taste of blood on the character. First, my own –dying to a large Amarrian gate camp. Then later, I bounced to a planet and accidentally came across a Magnate just sitting there AFK. I killed and podded him, and scooped all the random salvage materials he dropped. First kill.

My second kill was an Amarrian plex farmer, and was kind of a funny kill. I had logged out on the inside of plex, probably to do something quick on another toon on the account. When I logged back in, I landed on the outside gate, just as the plex farmer also landed.

I quickly scrammed him, and killed him. He was stabbed, but while I was killing him I noticed that he had apparently warped to the gate at 0 instead of 10. He was having difficulty moving, warping, or etc because he was stuck inside the gate. lol. Rookie mistake. Noob Amarrian Farmer Alt Scum Bag.

Anyway, I got my first real fight last night, with a breacher. It didn’t go so well for me, but it was fun. And we had an entertaining chat in local afterwards. Apparently, it is somewhat amusing to a low-sec hunter to warp into a plex, and have the five day old character inside charge you full throttle, instead of warping away stabbed.

I have no idea what I’ll do next. Maybe I’ll stay in Gallente a while. Maybe I’ll wander. Maybe I’ll train some exploration skills. Maybe I’ll join the Amarr and secretly kill my Minmatar friends. (evil laugh) Maybe I’ll turn him into another trade alt after a while.

I guess I’ll have to wait and see where my fancy takes me.