The Sweet Steepness of EVE

Wilhelm2451 over at the Ancient Gaming Noob posts about Eve Online’s steep learning curve.

Those are some well chosen examples. Wilhelm2451 cites the ability to compare missle launchers. In my first few weeks of EVE I made a spreadsheet that compared all the T1 hybrid ammo types. It was a very worthwhile exercise. It looked like this:

Which is pretty much what Wilhelm asks for in-game.

One of the ways I know I’m weird is that I didn’t resent having to do that. It felt good.

What I learned from doing this is that the answer to “What’s the best ammunition?” is “It depends”. In the case of ammunition, it depends on what range you are going to engage at, and how much capacitor drain you can stand. And also on how much money you want to spend. Antimatter has the highest damage rating, but it also has the most capacitor drain, and the biggest range penalty. Nevertheless, checking prices indicated that it was far and away the most popular hybrid ammunition. Because people like their dps.

This is linked, (inextricably, imho) to the matter of strategy. Strategy matters in EVE in a way that other MMO’s don’t come close to, though we’re seeing some move in that direction. For example, in EQ2 I have hotkeys that switch out sets of gear for tradeskilling, dpsing, and mezzing. Actually, I have several tradeskilling gearsets, so that I can better handle the tradeskill instances.

This is probably the thing that endears EVE to me. Brains matter. Analysis has a payoff, sometimes a big payoff. There’s nothing that makes me happier than wading through a pile of data, knowing that there’s a payoff at the end.

The other example Wilhelm cites is that of finding agents:

EVE Online has the most awe inspiring map in any game I have ever played. If you want to get somebody who likes outer space interested in the game, just open up that map. The map is a selling point.

And the map has just gotten better and better over time. I love all the information it provides.

But it won’t tell me where the nearest level 4 Amarr Navy agent is. And it certainly won’t tell me what are available to me.

I suspect that the CCP team has stayed away from this sort of thing for economic reasons. They choose to focus on implementing interesting game mechanics, to maintain the interest of the player base. It cannot be said that this is an unsuccessful business strategy. The adoption rate is slow, but the game is very sticky.

But they’ve done something else: publish all of their game info database. You can get access to your accounts, or others by permission. You can get a dump of all the systems, all the jumps, all the modules, all the skills, everthing about the game that is fixed and immutable. And you can use that database to make software tools that go with EVE. In short, CCP has said to its players: You do this.

And do it they have. With a bullet. They haven’t made the tool Wilhelm wants, though, not yet. That’s an opportunity for someone. The tools are far better than could have been made by CCP, or any game company, on its budget. And there’s a clear economic reason for it. The players care a lot more about these tools than the company. Tools to digest information, I submit, do not add a lot to the bottom line.

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