Tobold's Blog
Thursday, April 05, 2012
EVE Online Killer?

There has been some dispute over how many people play EVE Online *because* of the PvP, and how many people play EVE Online *in spite of* the PvP. With "Sci-Fi" MMORPG SWTOR playing just like WoW, having space flight only on rails, and not having any space trading, there isn't really much of an alternative to EVE Online if you are looking for a space trading MMORPG. That is until now. Mojang of Minecraft fame just announced his 0x10c MMORPG, and that could be some serious competition to EVE Online. I wonder how he'll handle PvP.

I don't yet understand what Notch is really trying to do with that weird CPU he's building for the game, but I somehow got the vague feeling that the player is actually expected to program that thing as a part of the game interface? If thats true that would make the game hardcore beyond anything I've ever seen and certainly no competition for anything. Or can anyone explain to me what he's doing there?
Sounds like it has the ability to be programmed by the player but I suspect the c;ever idea will be for mini-games to be up-sold to players (e.g. minecraft, etc).

If programming it is key to the game then it'll be very niche, only a few of us have the inclination or skills. If it's just a fun bit then no harm, no foul.

To give Eve a run for it's money the game not only needs to be sufficiently different in key areas but also needs to be stunningly pretty and smooth.
Whatever your views on non-consensual pvp just about everyone agrees that EVE has an incredible in game economy. This is not a simple static model. Item loss creates the demand but non-consensual pvp creates an ever changing landscape of needs. Tornados are the gankship flavour of the month for example so that creates a demand for 1400mm artillery. Next month a war over some region may interfere with supplies of certain minerals. It always changes.

I wonder if a space trading game without item loss and without non consensual pvp could really compete with that.

I played a bit of X3 recently. It is a lot like a single player EVE (down to the crappy user interface) and it has a complex economy based on trading with npcs. Ultimately though the game feels sterile and boring compared to the real dynamic economy of EVE.
To a certain extent, I think Notch wants this to be a super niche title. It sounds extremely hardcore, and will only appeal to a certain sub-set of a sub-set (of a subset) of users: PC Gamers who are also programmers (with a deep knowledge of machine-level code, a niche-within-a-niche) who are into hardcore space sims.

What I’m both concerned about (for Mojang, as a business) but also in admiration of (because it’s the highest form of art) is that it looks like Notch’s ego is driving this – that is project will result in a game completely designed for his own amusement. This is a game by a programmer, for programmers. And not just any programmers, but machine-language guys who speak HEX and read binary. So what if their audience is limited by the nature of the game to the 1% of the 1% of the 1%? Notch is making a game that he wants to play, and if other folks see value in it, that’s just a bonus. Indie spirit lives.

That said, there’s another direction that I can see this going that works really well for Mojang: a layered community emerging as a result of the structure of the game, with engineers at the bottom (the Foundation) creating compilers and basic structures that are used by the next level of players (the Builders), who design simple programs that are implemented by the larger community (the Players) and so on … During a long alpha/beta process like Minecraft had, Mojang can cater to different tiers of players as the game grows, slowly developing an audience and eventually breaking out big-time (a la Minecraft).

Just scribbling these thoughts quickly over morning coffee, feel free to disregard if they’re crazy.
I guess this is just my limited perspective, but I just cannot imagine that there are a lot of people who enjoy the economic game enough that they would be willing to play a game as dry and repetitive as EVE appears to be without the drama of the political game (not necessarily the pew pew of combat, but the economic drama resulting from the political game) I'm sure there are some, but my god, there can't be that many.
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If he'd want to compete with anything, he'd shut that programming thing in a dark basement right away and never brought it back.

No matter when he thinks to himself, MMOS aren't "Minecrafts with better graphics" and 99% of stuff programmed inside with that thing would be Chinese goldfarming bots.
And God knows, EVE has been a bot-infested place for years.
Actually, I think his world will be vastly different from anything EVE can come up with just by the pure storyline. In Notch's, you are a finite resource, where in EVE, you are infinite. PVP will probably be only existant in very rare forms, and most likely be able to be turned off. If PVP were to be in the game in any one on one fashion, he's the kind of person that would flaunt it.

To the people saying he's only making a niche MMO, sorry, he's not. That is like saying Job's catered to a niche. Notch has a keen eye on features of games that people enjoy, but don't like the rest of. I for one would play a sci-fi game with expanded crafting and industrialization with far less PVP. This does not make it an eve clone, and let's face it, as far as sci-fi games go there is a very severe lack of them.
This does highlight one of the weirdly unrealistic things about EVE -- you can't program your ship at all without breaking the ToS. Faster than light travel, check. Immortality, check. Programming your mining barge to warp out when someone comes on grid? Unpossible!
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