Thursday, 16 October 2008

The Next Leap Forward (OOC)

Metagaming is using out-of-game knowledge in-game. In this regard, if you’re playing a game which develops, it could be seen as metagaming if you try to predict those developments based on forces and influences which don’t exist within the game.

Every so often, CCP announce their plans for future “expansions” of the EVE universe. Every so often (and in fact frequently), players of the game offer, vociferously and with energy, their suggestions as to what the next expansion should include. Simply glancing at the forum thread for “Commonly Proposed Ideas” brings up a plethora of golden standards (Salvaging Drones, Player-made Ship Skins, Skill Queues (I say “queues” because there is an entire sub-culture devoted to different “flavors” of queueing), Yachts, dedicated Command Ships), and the Features and Ideas board throws up the issues of the moment (not least tweaks – or total workovers – to the UI, distinctions between BPOs and BPCs, or ways and means to rescue Ghost Training).

But EVE is a game, and it will, naturally, tend towards mirroring other games with which it competes, on the basis that all the best ideas ought not to be concentrated on the one game. Thus the FPS-ishness of Ambulation, the possibility of planet-side warfare, the Factional Warfare to allow P-v-P for carebears.

What, then, can be (vaguely) prognosticated for the farther future ? If a stealth-hound’s entrails are read, to what will the Pontifex Maximus point as the way forward ?

Three areas (from my viewpoint) cry out.

At some point, bigger and flashier ships are going to be wanted (”much bigger” -- Wormhole X-treme). This could be by way of (and probably would be a mixture of) new big ships, new better weapons, and new specialist ships. Big ships have the problems of game balance (Were Titans meant to be quite so common ?), and of the time needed to skill up in them. New weapons have the problem that people mount them on ships they weren’t meant for (Battle-Badger, anyone ?) and, for a while, cause major confusions. New specialist ships imply a further descent/retreat/concentration into niche developments: this again throws up issues regarding skills needed, as well as the tendency for fleets to need to be bigger to accommodate the specialisms. And big fleets mean big lag.
On the other hand, new big ships would distract the ardent PvPers into skilling for them (and paying for them, and for the bps for when they get bl*wn up), which would give some breathing time for those who prefer the Old School appraoch; and new weapopns and specialist ships would afford the opportunity for the development of new tactics, and would simulate the tendency of science to leap ahead (usually propelled by a good kick from the rear) in times of military conflict.

PvPers see no reason why they should be anything other than people-who-kill-people. Perhaps they’re all postal workers – I don’t know (sorry – unfair typecasting there).
Other people (again, it's typecasting, but I've heard the females of the species mentioned in this regard) want increased non-violent interaction. Which is probably one reason for Ambulation, the Great New Hope under development. If what we've seen, put together with what's talked about, comes to pass ...
Strategy meetings in stations, where three-D maps could be used to plan attacks; face to face contract negotiations; real-time shops, and bars to meet the lonely spacer's needs (at last there's a reason for the dancing girls we keep shipping round for our agents' bachelor nights).
This is also where the desire to personalise one's ship comes in -- the Hello Kitty Kessie is a well-known icon in this field :: the more individual it is, the more people associate with their ship, and the more people associate a pilot with a partcilar ship or ships. Liveries on freighter/haulers would also help people know which ships are and aren't worth fragging.

Sooner or later, Tech-3 is going to come along. In my opinion, very quietly, with someone idly trying, for the thousandth time (or a N00b, for the first), to run research on a T-2 bp, and suddenly finding that it works. From that, of course, would arise the issue of the new components needed, from among the "rubbish" that pilots have gathered (and, in most cases, recycled) over previous months. All the station's research lines suddenly get swamped with people trying for T-3 things and what was yesterday's rubbish becomes today's HOT commodity, with people desperately trying to remember which ship it was that carried that particular piece of cargo, and where that otherwsie useless bit of salvage came from.
More than that -- imagine some T-3 frigates that address the issues of the existing ones -- basically replacement ships for some of what we have, but refined that way the devs now think they always ought to have been. This would allow players the option to stay with the old, established model (cheaper and BPO-able) or upgrade to the T-3 version, with the extra features but probbaly dearer, only available in BPCs, and possibly not insurable at the outset (until Pend work out the fair return formula).

The Jovians will be behind it all, but I don't think they'll emerge from their sanctuary yet. Some of the T-3 will be better versions of what we have (though, once again, there will probably need to be skills learned to use them -- Advanced Rigging, race-specific tech knowledge); others will open up new fields (perhaps even new careers, given that careers in EVE are what people make of them :: there are "healers", but that is because they chose to train those skills and buy and install those modules; in theory the ship that heals today could pod you tomorrow and you wouldn't spot the difference without a ship scan that you won't have time to make).
But even without the Jovians, there should be nothing to prevent the coding in of additional stations, expanding some corps and perhaps establishing new ones, with agents who would offer "different" missions (i.e. missions which previously had been limited to certain areas). If the "price" were right, how many people would be willing to fly 20 or 25 jumps for an agent? Especially if you factor in the existence of new agents at the other end.
The other "There should be nothing to prevent", which would allow in-game refinements, is the existance of the "Worthless" ores. Currently they get used for mining missions where there is no point in doing anything but taking the ore back to the agent. Suppose, however, the T-3 stuff required new refined product available from those ores -- which would obviusly, require specialist refining (new skill, limited station refineries that would be able to) :: suddenly these ores would have a second reason to exist (as well as there being a reason why agents want these ores).

None of this will appear this year, but metagaming isn't about so much the reality of the game, but of how it might be if this force or that motive were to influence it.

Jenni Concarnadine

1 comment:

  1. I think RP usually takes a backseat to excelling at a game in general and combat in particular. That said, I'd love to see more RP.

    My alliance, Ushra'Khan, used to be know for RP, and I'm trying to bring it back. Hopefully ambulation will greatly help with that.