Tuesday, July 28, 2015

BB65 - Easiest One Ever

I admit, I don’t see the blog banters all the time.  I’m very bad at that, and I apologize.  These topics are typically a really great way for readers to crowd-source the community’s opinions about certain topics, and it’s very helpful to read a variety of viewpoints on them.

This month’s blog banter is all about attributes:
Does Eve need attributes? It's been discussed a lot recently. Unlike other MMO's your characters attributes don't make a difference in day-to-day gameplay. They simply set how fast you train a skill. Is it time to remove attributes from the game or totally revamp their purpose? Do they add a level of complexity to the game that is not needed? If you really need to use a 3rd party application to get the most from it should it be in the game? Should they be repurposed with each attribute adding a modifier to your ship? Are attributes a relic from the past or are they an important part of Eve - You make your decision and deal with the consequences?

Should attributes be removed from the game?  Yes.

Moving on…

Okay, in all seriousness, while the initial question here is utterly simplistic, the follow-up questions are good ones.  Attributes are a relic of the “learning skills” days when CCP needed to pad out the skill sheet a bit for fear of players training out the entire sheet and losing interest in the game. 

For those who don’t remember, learning skills were six trainable skills that would each increase one of your attributes by one point permanently.  Or something like that.  Who cares?  It was stupid, and deserved to die a traitor’s death, as it did a few years ago.  It was a good removal.  Attributes are a vestige of the same stupidity. 

We want to play the game.  But we have to train skills to play that game.  And we need to develop strategies to play that game.  Attributes make us develop strategies to train skills to play the game!  Talk about too many steps removed!

Not every “choice” value-accretive.  Hey, we have attributes; let’s also let players choose whether numbers in the market read in Arabic or Roman?  But watch out, you can only change it once a year!

The blog banter question buries the lead, though: “If you really need to use a 3rd party application to get the most from it should it be in the game?”  Oh, now that’s a great question, and likely to be a bit more contentious!

On the surface, it seems like CCP should integrate many of these tools into the game itself.  EFT, EveMon, Killboards, Aura, Evanova, Eve Droid, Pyfa, Jumpplanner, Eve-Central, market scrappers, industry tools… they’re all very useful ways for players to maximize their game.  Naturally, we should incorporate them, right?

Only... such a goal is impossible.  Players will always develop additional tools – with or without the Crest API – that aren’t integrated into the game.  If CCP integrated all existing tools today, by tomorrow players would be working on new ones that further build on the client’s capabilities.  So, at best, CCP will be taking the players’ lead, developing internal equivalents with Eve branding for all third-party tools that emerge.  Say good-bye to any new content development or bug fixes.

Also, you need to keep in mind that the Eve client – for the most part – keeps players tightly involved with the decision-making process.  In a way, Eve limits the perspective to one player.  Market scrappers and industry optimizing tools take a wide range of individual perspectives to aggregate overall views.  By its nature, those kinds of tools should not be accessible by players within the client; it breaks the individual immersion and creates an omniscient perspective that doesn’t quite fit with the rest of the game.

Consider player immersion for a minute.  We play a game where we’re most often represented by a ship.  Very few players live in their captain’s quarters, and when we interact with others, we’re doing so either in a chat box or in space.  The sense that we’re an actual avatar traveling around space – a capsuleer – is already pretty thin.  Yet it’s absolutely critical for some of the elements that influence the risk of loss, a primary motivator of in-game action (ie. we are a clone in one location, our pod can be destroyed, we can control only one ship at a time – all of which affects choice, trade-offs, and consequences in a very real, practical way).  The fact that our knowledge is limited to one area of space – one character’s skills, one region’s market, one ship being fitted at a time – it provides a crucial connection to that gameplay facet.

Instead, CCP has chosen to develop internal game tools that suit their vision for player immersion.  Case in point: the new fitting tool that allows you to test fits without actually owning modules.  It does exactly what EFT and Pyfa do, but it does so from an individual pilot’s perspective.  If I want to see how a fit differs between Talvorian and Valeria – comparing data from two characters on different accounts – I rightly need to go to an out-of-game third-party tool.  To do otherwise breaks that same individual perspective.

As a result, CCP can achieve reasonable quality-of-life additions without either having to chase (and chase out!) player development or degrade player immersion within an individual character’s perspective.

Sure, there are some aspects of the game that break that model – universe-wide contract visibility, I’m looking at you! – but by and large, CCP has chosen to limit our perceptions to our active clone.  Internalizing some of the third-party tools would render that irrelevant.

And, indeed, many of the third-party tools are in the game already, albeit in an individual perspective-specific way.  The market is an individual-centered market aggregator.  The fitting window is a character-specific Pyfa or EFT.  Capital navigation and route mapping do the same thing as Jumpplanner, albeit limited versions.  The third-party tools simply provides an omniscient perspective on it.

It’s a good question, whether third-party tools should be incorporated.  I fall on the side of “no”, but I do empathize and understand the argument against me.

But attributes have to go, like, yesterday.  Give every character the choice between Geckos or a Genolution CA-3/4 for every remap they have remaining.

*ducks from the poo flung by market speculators*

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