Tobold's Blog
Saturday, June 13, 2009
 
MMO weekend at Steam

This weekend many MMOs on Steam are at least 20% off. You can get EVE Online and Age of Conan for half price, and EQ2 The Shadow Odyssey for 75% off. I was toying for about half a minute with the idea of buying EVE for 7.49, but then quickly realized it wasn't the cost that keeps me from playing that game. It's the fact that there is no 100% safe way to play EVE without getting ganked. So, I'll still wait for that EVE PvE server, or Jumpgate Evolution, or some other PvE space game.

Syncaine has a good post up about EVE. It's well written, so I don't really see why he felt the need for a sensationalist and provocative title of "Why your MMO is dying, and EVE is still growing", which just leads to people pointing out that at the current rate of "dying" and "growing", EVE will surpass WoW in the year 2078.

Unfortunately the skill point constantly growing with real time system Syncaine likes so much is also keeping new players out. In a game like World of Warcraft it is hard to catch up to the people in the endgame. In EVE it is downright impossible. Basically, the more money you paid to CCP in the past in monthly fees, the more powerful your character is. RMT at its worst.
Comments:
"It's the fact that there is no 100% safe way to play EVE without getting ganked."

OH! THE HORROR!!!
You are right, though on the catching up part, but... why would that be a problem? EVE is huge and you can play the game for ages without facing that strawman sociopath who will gank you, camp you, call you names, make you cry... :)
 
My main struggle with EVE is it is simply boring. It isn't entertaining to play at all. I've single-handedly had less fun playing EVE than any other game I can remember playing.

Which is disappointing, because the stories about EVE are certainly amazing and one of a kind. I enjoy hearing about the antics of those crazy people and their crazy game, but count me out from actually playing it.
 
Well, good thing there is no "endgame" in EVE then. ;) Even though I understand what you mean. Luckily, if you are just a month or two old and can train some e-war skills, you got a role in a fleet gang. And more guns, after all, is always good.

There's also a LOT of empire-based corp that would happily take you in, bring you on mining ops or mission runs. The learning curve is big, yes, but learning the ropes before venturing out in low-sec or null-sec is probably a good idea anyway... :D
 
A PvE server would not work, at least it would not work as well as EVE does now. I don't have a lot of knowledge about economy, but correct me if I'm wrong when I say that its the PvP, and destruction of ships that come from it, that is the driving factor in the economy and the market place? How could you ever simulate that with PvE only?

I don't like the fact that some places are unsafe, that people greif, but the market and the way it seems to be big enough to feel like a real market is interesting. It's a lot more that a faction AH.

And about the "RMT at it's worst" that seems a bit strong. Sure, older chars are 'stronger', but that's an huge simplification. If I start WoW, I start at the same level as you, you don't have an advantage, your years of paying Blizzard money makes no difference? In all games, time (ie money) spent and knowledge aquired is an advantage.

Besides, yes older chars in EVE have a lot more acumulated skill points. But you don't have to spend all that time to get almost as much bonuses from the skills as they have. Skills in EVE has 5 levels, each level usually gives a percentage bonus to dps, speed and such. To train the first 4 steps, and get 80% of the bonus, takes less time that that last fifth step. So while an old char may have taken the time to train that last step of a skill, its not an exceptionally large advantage.

Just thinking you're exagerating a little :)
 
EVE subscription numbers are misleading at best. Since players can only actively train skills on one character per account, having two accounts is the norm, and I know at least one person who pays for 5 accounts.

It's nuts.
 
In a game like World of Warcraft it is hard to catch up to the people in the endgame. In EVE it is downright impossible.

I just recently started playing EVE, but my impression is that you don't *need* to catch up to be able to enjoy the game. In WoW, it's essentially impossible to play with friends unless you're within a few levels of them. In EvE, a newbie in a frigate can fight alongside a veteran in a battleship. That's one thing I love about it: There's no need to grind to get to the fun part of the game.
 
you can play the game for ages without facing that strawman sociopath who will gank you, camp you, call you names, make you cry

Exactly the same can be said about microtransaction games, where you might never meet the guy who spent a fortune to outgear you. Nevertheless you reject those games, because the very idea that somebody out there could be stronger than you because of his money spent disgusts you. Same reason with me and EVE.
 
"Unfortunately the skill point constantly growing with real time system Syncaine likes so much is also keeping new players out. In a game like World of Warcraft it is hard to catch up to the people in the endgame. In EVE it is downright impossible."

That's exactly what put me off in the past, but with Jumpgate being delayed I needed something to do in-between Wintergrasp battles and I've just upgraded my EVE account after the two week trial. The many different career/job paths and the fact that you know it isn't safe out there in space makes it very enjoyable. Whether I'll still be playing come Jumpgate Evolution's eventual release is another matter though.
 
>>Basically, the more money you paid to CCP in the past in monthly fees, the more powerful your character is. RMT at its worst.

Why do you think this?

Is it because there is no way to convert ISK back into real dollars?

I'm honestly having a tough time understanding your stance on RMT as it pertains to player benefits with the varying views you have proffered over the past week or so with all of these RMT related posts. You seem to be more inclined to be playing devils advocate with the subject more than you are in discussing viable implementations that benefit both the publisher and the player.

From every article I've read, Eve's implementation of RMT, while not perfect, is considered to be the best in the industry at this point in terms of gamer benefit, yet you are not happy with it from all indications.

/shrug
 
There's also the Guild Wars trilogy for cheap which I've been wanting to try out. Any thoughts on these games?
 
See for yourself at http://www.guildwars.com/trial/

If you like it, buy it. I recommend using nHancer if you have an nVidia card to see this game in its full glory.
 
Wow. Tobold, I don't think I've ever seen a more cynical, untrue statement from you.

First off, EVE's a PvP game at heart, but Empire space has become effectively a nearly PvP free zone. The only real time you have to worry about being ganked in hisec is when you're doing something not smart, say autopiloting in a shuttle with several hundred million ISK worth of something in the cargo hold.

As for the skill over time system being "RMT at it's worst", wow. This is both the most common and most ignorant complaint about EVE I've ever seen. First and foremost, EVE doesn't have an 'Endgame'. It's an infinite loop. There is no level cap, so there's nothing to catch up to. Further, because of that, all there is is capabilities a character has. Flying a battleship, flying a capital ship, they're just goals. And honestly, bigger ships are not always the best tool for the job, nor are they always the most powerful. Shoot, go spend some time on youtube looking up EVE videos. There are several out there of industrial ships(think semi truck in space) destroying ships worth many times their cost. Furthermore, the most skilled combat pilot in EVE has around 100mil skillpoints. Even with that 100 mil SP, he'll use about 5% of that while flying any given ship. There are some faction ships that could take that number to 10% or maybe even 15% in the case of a battleship. In other words, to be able to do most things in EVE, you really don't need more than around 15 million SP, a number easily obtained within the first 6-8 months of play.
 
You had me up to the 6-8 month thing...
 
Tobold you know my opinion on EVE. I believe it is a game you would enjoy if you could get over the fact that you were ganked once long ago. I agree with Caleb though - EVE can get very boring if you keep doing the same thing over and over (mining or mission running for example). In my opinion its a great gae for short stints.

To whoever asked about Guild Wars - Buy it. Buy it now. I think every MMOer should at least try Guild Wars. You may love it, you may hate it but try it just to see how things could be done differently from any other mmo you have played.
 
There's also the Guild Wars trilogy for cheap which I've been wanting to try out. Any thoughts on these games?

There's a lot i could say about the games, though without knowing your preferred playstyle it's hard ot say anything exactly. A few big things, though:

missions: These tend to be more interesting overall than the WoW instances I've been in, or other combat zones. The quests also seem overall done better, in that the objextives seem more mixed, and even the "kill 10 X" quests seem to be done better, in that you can kill the "x's" anywhere in the game and if any items drop, they will drop for every kill.


Lack of lots of leveling: if you like exploring game mechanics, zones, etc, Guild wars would probably be nice for you, in that respeccing a character costs nothing, and can be done as many times as wanted. (Though buying or unlocking the skills will take some time.) Exploration is also easier, as the low character level means you can often revisit quests on some older areas and not be overpowered, nor is there any pressure ot keep leveling through most of the areas. If you do like levelling, though, you'll probably get bored, as a lot of the game involves more of increasing the amount of available skills, or just trying stuff out, than levelling or getting better gear.


PvP: I haven't done much PvP apart from Ft. Aspenwood, (Which for me is extremely fun, though other people may of course have a different opinion). It does lack a lot of the gear issues that, say, something like WoW would have, but you'll still have to play a long time or possibly pay money to unlock stuff, and it may be hard to find a good group for GvG, or other such team PvP, if you are inexperienced.
 
I don't understand the fear of being ganked in eve, I've been playing for going on 3 months now and have never had an issue. I just stay in Hi-Security space and haven't had any issues. Once I get my ships where I want them I will venture out into the lower security areas and then hopefully have some fun with my corp.

As far as the skills go, if you looked online a little bit and use tools like eve-mon you can be in a tech 2 ship in just a few months which will make you competitive in a lot of situations. Given that a large part of pvp is fleet battles anyway it doesn't take that long to get competitive.
 
EVE was a good game, but it didn't work for me. It wasn't rewarding enough of constant playing (at least not early on), since that gives ISK and what do I need loads of ISK for if I can't use anything cool yet? The long time to get to the point of being effective was annoying as well, in addition to the various character attributes which made less sense than WoW where they're pretty straightforward.
 
@Klepsacovic:
"The long time to get to the point of being effective was annoying as well"

Depends what you want to do in the game. If you're happy being a tackler, then a couple of days (especially with the new pilot experience) is enough to be useful. Tacklers are vital, die a lot, and are also very cheap ships. :)

"in addition to the various character attributes which made less sense than WoW where they're pretty straightforward."

Attributes affect the speed a pilot can learn different types of skills. That's about all. They have no impact on ship or weapon stats, for example. Only skills do that.
 
In other words, to be able to do most things in EVE, you really don't need more than around 15 million SP, a number easily obtained within the first 6-8 months of play.

6-8 month before the fun begins is exactly what I'm talking about. I don't have that kind of time and patience. Not when there are so many games out there which are more instantly rewarding. I'm looking for a GAME, not a JOB.
 
Wait...

"Basically, the more money you paid to CCP in the past in monthly fees, the more powerful your character is. RMT at its worst"

Let me just toy with this statement.

"Basically, the more money you paid to XYCompany in the past in monthly fees, the more powerful your character is. RMT at its worst"

See the problem?
 
Rachel, in the former money is the variable. In the latter, it's time.

Sure, if you have played an MMO longer, you should have a more powerful character than a new player.

Most of us seem to think that time played is a fair way of increasing the power of your character. When someone can come in and drop some extra cash to be more powerful, it negates the whole idea of trading time for power. It diminishes the perceived effort.
 
@Rachel Alexandria
In EVE the two are directly linked. In other games you can play a lot and get nowhere. At the very least WoW has expansions which effectively reset the game, so divide the time by three. I've been playing for around 4 years (or is it 5?) and only the last few months are relevant to the strength of my characters.

In WoW character strength is loosely based on time played rather than time subscribed.
 
In EvE, you could spend 5 years subscribing and taking completely irrelevant skills that dont help you or complement each other, it works both ways.
 
I will never purchase any product via Steam ever again. I have not and will not forgive them for the fact that when I had a week-long internet outage and thought to play a single-player game - Half-Life 2 - I was unable to because their invasive copy protection which treats me, a paying customer, like a criminal, and would not allow me to launch the game without an active internet connection.

Screw them forever. I'll stick to physical boxes where at least I own the disk, and am not at the mercy of their servers to be able to use the product I paid for.
 
Assuming what Syncaine says in his post is true, then it shouldn't be as much of a problem if you can't catch up to the oldest EVE veterans.

That is, the concept of horizontal growth should theoretically remove the need to play "catch up" in the first place (or at least minimize it to an extent).

Imagine if Free Realms was a PVP type game (it is in the sense of scoreboards, outside of the card game). You would have old vets maxed out with level 15s of every class, while new players would possibly only have 1 class maxed out. But since you can really only compete a single class versus another single class (since it doesn't make sense to pit a ninja against... say a cook), it won't matter whether you pit a vet against a newer player.

Of course... when it takes 6-8 months to reach the cap required for a single part of the growth... I'd say that could hardly be considered "horizontal growth".
 
You can buy characters with ingame ISK from other players, so in essence you CAN catch up a lot faster if you can make a lot of ISK or if you buy game cards and sell them for ISK and then buy am advanced character.
 
"I will never purchase any product via Steam ever again. I have not and will not forgive them for the fact that when I had a week-long internet outage and thought to play a single-player game - Half-Life 2 - I was unable to because their invasive copy protection which treats me, a paying customer, like a criminal, and would not allow me to launch the game without an active internet connection."

Huh? IIRC, all you do is start in offline mode and you can play any single player game that you want...
 
Such vitriol, Tobold. I understand why it comes from you though. The game is all of the things you don't like:

1.) It encourages and sometimes requires players to take initiative and act intelligently in order to succeed.
2.) It doesn't overly reward treating the game as your second job.
3.) You actually take a real risk when you try to make stuff happen in the game world.
4.) It gives players real, meaningful power if they work for it and play well.

Certainly EVE has its flaws, but it concerns me that you seem incapable of seeing the draw of what EVE offers and analyzing it with a modicum of objectivity.
 
@Evizaer:

Huh? If anything, that sounds like something right up Tobold's alley.

1) Acting intelligently rather reactionary.

See the post right before this one. He rants especially about how he prefers something that requires something more of a strategic mind rather than a battle mentality.

2) Doesn't reward players for treating EVE as a second job.

That's most definitely something Tobold would like in a game. See his post in this very thread.

3) Taking real risks to make things happen.

I don't know how risk-averse Tobold is, so this is rather neutral.

4) It gives players meaningful power if they play well.

Again, this is definitely something Tobold would like to see. Promoting player skill rather than avatar skill.

However, the thing is, not all of these statements are exactly true of EVE, and there's still the main deterrent factor of EVE: the time investment issue. It doesn't necessarily mean time /played, but having to wait even a month before your avatar skills are ready to enter the real world is a bit off putting.
 
>>and there's still the main deterrent factor of EVE: the time investment issue. It doesn't necessarily mean time /played, but having to wait even a month before your avatar skills are ready to enter the real world is a bit off putting.

This is getting a bit ridiculous. I dont care how much RMT you design into a game, there will ALWAYS be a time committment involved with playing ANY game.

Even if you could control every aspect of the in game economy, combat, politics, player skills-advancement, ect. with RMT, you're still going to be required to put in some form of time commitment in order to progress beyond the character creation phase of any game. To see someone using the debate point of having to "spend even just a month" in a game as a time commitment, really cements my derision of the RMT issue as a whole.
 
there will ALWAYS be a time committment involved with playing ANY game

The question is how much time you have to commit before the fun starts. In WoW the leveling up part is fun, because you have an active part in it, so the fun starts in the first minute. But a game where you have to wait offline and pay a monthly fee for 6 to 8 months, without you in-game activity making much of a change, is no fun to me.

Like syncaine said, your character is completely defined by his skill points and his ISK. You can gather the skill points by paying CCP a monthly fee for 6-8 months without playing, then you gather the ISK by paying for a PLEX and legally exchanging it for ISK. And presto, after half a year of giving money to CCP without logging in more than few hours you'll have a playable character. And you think this is great game design?
 
>>And presto, after half a year of giving money to CCP without logging in more than few hours you'll have a playable character. And you think this is great game design?

Wait a minute, paying a company for the ability to have a playable character without having to log in much sounds exactly like what you have been asking for over the past few weeks of this ongoing RMT debate.

This sounds like it would be right up your alley, so either the other commentors here are correct that getting ganked early on is what keeps you from going back and giving the game another try, or I'm honestly beginning to think there isnt a game that can be made that would suit your desired playstyle.
 
The 6-8 months part is a lie, unless we are talking about how long it takes to MAX OUT a particular path.

Within the first week you can do the basic activities (mine, PvE, econ, even PvP), just obviously at the lowest levels, like any other MMO. If you focus your character in one specific direction, within a month or so you should be very proficient. It's only when you seek to max out on a path (say Hulk for mining) does the skill requirement go up. Much older characters are not outright stronger, since that's not how the point system works They simply have more options, and more of those options at high or max level.

But the fun starts on day one, because a huge part of the fun is just learning the game, and that part never ends in EVE.

Also the whole ganking this is so overdone, empire is Trammel unless you seek to draw attention to yourself.

Given how much you talk about economies in MMOs, it's odd you have avoided the one game with an economy that actually works and true success can be rewarded.
 
Caleb, I know that's how Steam is _supposed_ to work. But try running Half-Life 2 without an internet connection. I couldn't get to to work and neither could any of my friends who said "all you do is start in offline mode" either.
 
Syncaine is right. Eve has so many things dne right Tobold is criticizing in other mmos.

I tried Eve three times and only recently I got hooked. And I disagree with the 6-8 month totally.

I am playing 3 weeks now and I am mining, trading, upgrading ships, even PvP here and there. I was invited into a small corp very fast due to my "I am not a kid" attitude and I was learning fast. We build our first POS now (player owned structure) and its fun to have a home.

The trick is that Eve is very complex and oyu have to find your path to enjoy it all yourself. As the possibilities are endless many new players become disoriented, but the community is very helpful.

As I dont have much time to earn my ISK (as Tobolds time is tight too) I simply bought gametime, turned it into Plex and sold it. I bought some nice ships for various roles I enjoy for it and its pretty addicting.

I searched for a new venture after WoW (which I stopped playing after 4 years) and Eve was the only one holding its promisies.
 
"Unfortunately the skill point constantly growing with real time system Syncaine likes so much is also keeping new players out. In a game like World of Warcraft it is hard to catch up to the people in the endgame. In EVE it is downright impossible. Basically, the more money you paid to CCP in the past in monthly fees, the more powerful your character is. RMT at its worst."

I totally agree. Every time I consider looking at EvE I remember this.
 
@Pzychotix

I was being sarcastic, mostly. I listed the really great things about EVE that I know Tobold would like. By rejecting EVE wholesale, he's rejecting these positives as well--there are huge positives that would far outweigh his weak criticisms if he actually gave the game an honest shot. Perhaps Tobold's gankphobia has completely overwhelmed his sense.
 
I'm completely aware of the positives. As I said, I would play EVE on a PvE server. That is called "standing to my principles" or "voting with my wallet". I will not pay for a game with non-consentual PvP.
 
Tobold, you can be fine playing Eve without PvP and do missions level 4 or other tasks easily.

Being ganked means you entered 0.0 space. Simply ignore that and you're a happy PvE gamer in Eve
 
You *can* get ganked in higher security space, it is just less likely.
 
Actually, anything below 0.5 are unsafe, especially on heavy trafficked areas like level 4 mission areas or shortcuts from faction borders where going through a 0.4 system, like 2 jumps will save you 15 safe jumps. But as long as you trade and what not in 0.5+ your pretty much safe, except if you are doing something stupid like hauling very expensive stuff in a vulnerable freighter or shuttle.

Eg there are group of people who will not hesitate to blow you up before concord blow them up just so they can loot your cargo, so using something that has virtually no shield/armor is really bad idea when transporting valuable stuff.
 
For some odd reason Eve Online seems to be the one game where you constantly get a lot of things wrong. Perhaps the bias against pvp influencing every viewpoint.

Eve has no levels, there is no 'end-game' to level to before you can take part in it. Create a character and take part in the action. Eve is a game where a lot of brand new characters could take down a battleship if they worked together. Not like in WoW where level 1 characters could never kill a level 70 character, even if there were 100 of the level 1s.

There is no 'catching up' as such to do. The lowliest frigates have a job they can do. Everybody can play a part. Also all skills max out at 5. When you get your battleship flying skill to level 5 then that's it. The 3 year veteran and the 3 month newbie will have the particular skill at the exact same level.
 
No matter what the eve praisers say here to be competitive you need 6-8 month min, unless you are happy be a tag-a-long guy in any pvp -useless cannon fodder, who might be or not be there

EvE has also extremely boring and grindy parts (mining ,travel) on top of combat being uninspiring

Those are 3 reasons why I would never sub to eve ( I played it in beta and trough 2 trials) despite the fact that it is only game which provides the player driven dynamic world.

I like pvp, not grinding for pvp, nor leveling for pvp. Combat has to be compelling too - in eve I feel like I am playing a spreadsheet war ( all complete with a fact that in eve you never actually look at ships in action - you only stare at combat overview table)

Jumpgate evolution overview at gdc'09 looked promising though.
 
I think you are making some seriously wrong calls on a game that has been seriously revamped for the new character experience.

I think all characters now start combat effective. You can run regular missions--level 1 and probably 2s within a week of playing.

I think the first 1.5 Million SP you earn at double rate to help close the the effectiveness gap.

And I rarely find the emotional stakes in other games to come close to EVEs. I just lead, lead, my raid group into Ulduar for the first time. We had 3 first kills (Ignis, Razormaw and XT-002). XT was even a perfect 1 shot, no deaths the on raid groups first try on the fight ever. I am extraordinarily proud of my riaders--but in someways that doesn't come close to the emotional highs (and lows) that EVE can put you through.

And I would say the chances of being ganked, particularly as a newbie, in Empire Space (0.5 and above) are effectively 0.

My main has 30M SP in EVE--9 Mil of which is in Command. Once you get a skill to 5 (say battleship), there isn't going any higher. And all the other points in command do nothing for me while flying a Battleship. Which can still be tackled by your ship costing 1/1000th of mine and on a skill point budget of that is maybe a couple of weeks in the making at good, effective levels.

After a certain point, more skill points only make your character more flexible, not more dangerous in any specific ship.
 
Tobold, I don't understand how you can make 3+ posts about a marginal, write-off game like Luminary, yet you don't recognize and analyze (or even apparently understand) what is good about EVE. Apparently one negotiable flaw compromises a significant number of positives. This is not rational behavior and it makes me more skeptical of your judgment than I'd like to be.
 
But that's the point. That particular flaw is *not* negotiable in my eyes. I was ganked and podded in the first week of EVE, where insurance and cloning didn't exist yet, and I lost a significant amount of skill progress and ISK. Today that is less likely, but still possible.

In a game where your whole character is defined by his number of skill points and ISK, being able to lose both due to the random malignancy of other players is not acceptable to me. Nor is it to millions of other players.
 
P.S.: The "review my favorite game more positively or I'm leaving" never works on this blog. I even have a full money back guarantee for cases like these. :)
 
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