Lunaran.com Matthew Breit Level Designer | Texture Artist
Thu, Jun 1st, 2006 | 8:30pm
This post actually started growing in my head about forty five dollars ago.
The designers behind Eve had a novel idea: grinding in an MMO sucks, so why don't we just remove the leveling aspect altogether and make everyone level up at the same rate, provided they've picked what skill they want next.
It's a noble effort, but I hardly see how removing one of the major reward mechanisms in an RPG in the first place is a decent way to control powergamers. Here's a hint if you're developing an MMO right now: if any part of your game can be labelled "grinding" you probably need to examine why it's not fun rather than just remove it. Now, instead of playing to get character experience and loot, which barely makes me want to play as far as Kurast in the first place, I'm only playing for loot.
On top of this, many of the skills provide such meager bonuses as 2% and 5% to something as narrow as the "accuracy falloff distance" of a particular size of a particular class of weapon. Plus, training time increases exponentially with each level, until you're looking at waiting over a month for a single level of a single skill (and that's only as far as I managed to endure - there are skills that take even longer). Once skill training is measured on the same resolution of time that appears on my bill, I really can't help it if I look at the 5% bonus I'd be getting to the speed of my medium Caldari fighter drones and seriously question if that 5% is worth $14.95.
Couple that with all skills only having five levels and you begin to wonder why you're even bothering with them.
Eve has lots of windows. There's a bar on the side with at least a dozen buttons, all of which open rectilinear blocks of interactivity that could be applications all by themselves, rife with tabs and lists. I think Turbotax is even in there. There's also, if you're not in flight, a bar on the other side that has several more such buttons which open several more such behemoth panels. If you are, there's yet a third with more buttons for steering your ship and a list of every empty container that's been renamed to a corporate ad within ten light years. If you want to fiddle with your inventories (of which you actually have several), or other ships, be prepared for even more. God help you if you're using drones.
Considering you pretty much need to run the game at a resolution approaching that of your actual windows desktop to make room for all this shit, it's a good thing the game's graphics aren't terribly taxing. Unfortunately, that doesn't really seem to help me. What makes the desk-drawer-full-of-old-bank- statements style interface all the more maddening is the GUI's horrible lag times. Imagine shuffling through such a desk drawer while drunk, and that this desk drawer is also at the bottom of the sea and you're scuba-diving.
When I want a window out of my way, and I click and drag it there, I can sit and watch it catch up with my cursor. If I swing it in a circle I can watch it slowly adventure in a ring around my screen as if investigating my cursor's path pixel by pixel. That is, of course, unless I didn't do it slowly and deliberately enough, in which case I somehow "miss." Sometimes trying twice to scroll a menu or select something isn't enough. Right-clicking on anything is just as painful, and resizing a window (like the dreaded Market display) seems to force a full refresh of everything in it, as if the word wrap is handled server-side. Oh, yeah, the whole combat interface is also windows and right-click menus.
It has nothing to do with overcrowding in the system I'm in, it has nothing to do with my video drivers, it just never goes away. To the person that still hasn't forgiven Adobe for categorizing the toolbar between PS5.5 and PS7, it's enough reason to quit on its own.
I already have a job
I'm the type of person that plays a game for escape as much as for gameplay, and the ones that really put me in an imaginitive world I've never seen before stand out as the most memorable.
Eve somehow mixes spaceships with real-life economics and finances, while retaining the mundane details and tireless responsibilities thereof. I either waste hours mining Plagioclase asteroids in a mining craft I very nearly named the "SS Cubicle," or I - get this - eve-mail my eve-resume to player corporations, looking for one to accept me so that I can do what some other corporation member orders when they want it done, and have the corporation "tax" 50% of my personal earnings in return.
If I'm lucky the corporation promotes me to junior accountant, in which role I can handle paying the corporation's bills and rents, audit its other members if money goes missing, and hopefully make enough to cover the insurance payments on my ships.
Why on earth would I look forward to that?
If you're not a Caldari pirate, you're not playing
The game that I think Eve is when I look at the screenshots is a pretty badass game. I get to handle my business, I make ends meet by flying around the galaxy, ferrying cargo and passengers, occasionally fighting off raiders or going after them myself, and generally being very Malcolm Reynolds. In short, I think I'm looking at Freelancer.
Eve gives you all of those options, of course. If you want to be a trader, there's an extensive free-market system where goods and cargoes buy and sell in different systems for different amounts. This also sounds wonderful, but is in application a bunch of crap. The player-controlled bids and sales are all absolutely ludicrous, with people posting goods for sale for exorbitant fortunes and for purchase for paltry scraps, so there is never any kind of profit to be made there for a middleman transport type. The NPC-controlled ones, which show up in the same list, are a bit more reasonable, but instead of continually updating they're only refreshed once a day when the server resets, meaning if you don't scramble to buy and move in the first hour or two there's simply nothing left.
In my time zone the server resets at four in the morning.
You can blast bad guys, too - there are plenty of missions available from agents for that. The rewards, of course, are measly, sometimes not even covering the cost of the ammo you used during the mission. Level 3 and 4 missions are pretty rewarding, but you can't survive them without having racked up millions of skill points, so until you get that far, trying to be a mercenary feels a lot like ... why, grinding! Except now you have the added comfort of knowing that there's nothing you can do to speed it up.
Then I have to endure "No man the game really gets fun once you move out into low security space where all the PvP is." This statement is on par with my ex-girlfriend telling me Fellowship of the Ring "really picks up after the first three hundred pages." Low security space is where people hang out at warp gates, catch you in webifiers, and threaten to destroy you unless you wire them tons of money. It's unfortunate that, out of all the stuff you're supposed to be able to do in Eve, the only gameplay perceived as good is blowing up other players. Too bad I don't like PvP.
Why don't you just join Goonfleet
Because it won't make any of the above go away. Besides, while I do like the forums, we're talking about people who think ten dollars is a reasonable price for attaching "ASK ME ABOUT DRIPPING HORSECOCK" in giant red letters to somebody's made-up internet name. If playing with Goonfleet is anything like trying to obey the strict set of written and implied regulations on SA, I doubt the added pressures of having to cooperate with the FYAD flamesquad is really going to bring me around on this one.
And the deciding factor:
I don't have enough disk space to install Half Life Episode One
I'm going to go give all my money and ships to a friend now.