Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Who is the actor in EVE?

My girlfriend doesn't really like EVE. She logs in to queue the next skill and does some random things too but nothing worth mentioning. She haven't join any player group nor she amasses wealth like a standard highsec PvE player. She is the kind of players you would suggest EVE. She hates trivial content, considers losses as natural consequence of failure, likes to wander off from rails. Yet she doesn't like EVE. We talked a lot about it and the result is surprising.

If you play a simple short-match game like a Counterstrike round, the actor is obviously you, the player. You make the choices and you get the rewards/losses as consequences.

In an MMO like WoW the history of your character pretty much defines what you will do. You can of course wander off to pick flowers or collect minipets but that doesn't affect anything, neither in the World, nor in your character progression. Your effective actions are lead by past decisions and doing differently than you "should" is considered being bad in the game. I mean if you rolled a mage years ago, leveled to 90 few weeks ago now, you must buy cloth gear without spirit, queue in the dungeons as damage dealer, get intellect gems and fix that Golden Lotus rep. If you do differently, you are either doing random vanity or simply suck in the game.

If you would grab a topguild member bear tank player, give him the above mage and tell him that he must play with this character only, he will do the same. His previous bear habits are null. This is why it's considered Role Playing Game. The actor, the one who makes the choices is the character, the player can only choose to roll/respec, otherwise he must obey the character. Refusing so and trying to get bear gear for the mage or pulling aggro in dungeons is filed not under "playing differently" but "sucking".

Who is the actor in EVE? Is it the player, able to pull any moves like in a Solitaire game? Not really. While theoretically you can do anything in EVE, in reality EVE is extremely punishing for "bad playing". Sure you can mine in a titan, but maybe you shouldn't. Something clearly defines your path and harshly punishes deviation from it.

In EVE there are no classes or real character progression. Your character can't tell who you are, he can only tell who you are not. If you have no Caldari Battleship skill, you are not a Rokh pilot. But having Caldari BS 5, Large railgun specialization 4 and all needed support don't make you a "Rokh pilot". Also, the path can't be put in a textbook like in WoW. If you read ElitisJerks and gear/talent your character accordingly, follow the yellow exclamation marks and you are doing good regardless of the setting. On the other hand if you jump into a 10 man gatecamp, your ship skills or even ship choice matter little. Your personal gaming choices are equally irrelevant, the #1 solo PvP video hero dies just as sure in that camp as a 1 day old newbie. What will define if you win or lose in EVE if not your character and not your ad hoc choices?

The actor in EVE is the corporation, alliance or even coalition. Not I blown up 7 supercarriers in 1V-LI2, nor the titan pilot with final blow and highest DPS. Not even the fleet commander did it. The HoneyBadger Coalition did. We were just units in a huge Starcraft battle, pieces on the chess table. No, it wasn't coalition leadership who organized the cooperation between anti-SOLAR alliances, many red to us. Their moves were limited by the abilities of the coalition. It was the coalition itself, the system, the organization.

You, as an individual affect EVE by shaping one of the organizations. Maybe your part of shaping is simply adding +1 pilot to the fleet. It's no small things, alliances die when players start not giving pilots. Maybe you make plans, get more people, get towers running. All these actions shape the organization, therefore affect its future choices.

You as an individual player won't make story like you do in a phased MMO or a single player game. Your effect won't be direct and obvious. However it is anything but irrelevant. If no pilots come, there is no fleet. The culture of a coalition is shaped by every member. In EVE you don't make difference by pressing buttons. "Orbit the anchor, target the broadcasted ship and start shooting/repping" could be done by an upgraded autopilot. The difference is made by taking part in creating the organization that can field that fleet.

That kind of play is surely not for everyone. I can only hope that my girlfriend finds an aspect where she'll like to participate. But if not, I can't blame her. I keep giving her PLEXes and hope that one day she'll fly with me. For now she is undecided. If she finally says no, her character can be sold after all and most of the cost regained.



Tuesday morning report: 179.9B (6.6 spent on main accounts, 7.1 spent on Logi/Carrier, 3.8 on Ragnarok, 3.3 on Rorqual, 3.4 on Nyx, 3.4 on Dread, 37.4 sent as gift)

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

It is achievement enough to have a gf and one that plays EVE

Sugar Kyle said...

Your view of a story and effecting the game is very much focused around your view of what makes playing Eve matter.

spinksville said...

If she was having fun in the game, she would want to play it. So it's not just feeling like a pointless cog in a machine that's turning her off.

Johnicholas Hines said...

Yes, and corporations and alliances are physics, coded by CCP just like the alignment dynamics. The actor in Eve is your team of players, which may be concentrated in one corporation or alliance, or may actually be spread across corporations / alliances.

A price-fixing cartel is a team, even if (for stealth) it isn't a corporation or alliance.

Anonymous said...

The problem for me when I tried to play Eve is that most of your ingame time is devoid of the need of responsive action from the player.

It would be comparative to playing WoW where the GCD was 6 seconds.

I really can't get into the game where I click my weapons once and wait for the ship to finish fighting or click to move type flight, where you just wait for your flight to finish. While it does get vastly more complicated in terms of fleet dynamics for me its the moment to moment play that's terrible.

Anonymous said...

Interesting viewpoint. I came into EVE thinking I could forge my way in and try out the various roles - you know, the ones on the EVE homepage. My "meh" feeling towards EVE right now probably comes from finding that won't work so much. You cannot be a freedom fighter or industrialist or whatever - as you point out, you can only be a cog in someone else's corporation which is a FW corp or an industrialist corp. Being a cog in someone else's corp is what I do in real life, not what I aspire to and which I'm willing to spend money every month to take a shot at for a few hours a week. That's the other part - is EVE mostly only for people whose lives allow them to play 10+ hours a week and log in multiple times a day to update trade orders on their alt?

Meh. Maybe I'll feel differently after a few months away from EVE. Or after I burn out on X-Com, one of the two.

Anonymous said...

So, how much time passed before you realized that DRAKE#2746 MATTERS?

6 moths or so...the same period EVERYBODY told you to WAIT before understanding EvE.

Anyway, gz for at least realizing that.

Oh, and comparing the pilots with drones in StarCraft is stupid.
The pilots are NOT born with a click...they MAKE the coallition that WIN.

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