Saturday, 27 August 2011

Blog Banter: EVE Quick Matches

In times past Crazy Kinux would email a question to the EVE Blogosphere and many bloggers would share their views on a particular subject. Alas, the Blogfather is no longer performing this service and whilst Rixx Javix has adopted The Blog Pack, I don't believe he has any plans to fire off blog banters. However, it is a great concept and I see no reason for the tradition to fall by the wayside.

So I am writing this post in the hope that I can inspire some bloggers to throw their hat into the ring on a subject that a few of us have been discussing. I hope that the following paragraph might incite a few bloggers to re-ignite the Blog Banter flame. So if you've got a blog, feel free to pitch in.

EVE Quick Matches

Kirith Kodachi recently discussed the idea of what a World of Tanks style quick-match element would bring to EVE Online. Would the opportunity for a quick combat interest you? How could it be implemented? Could it be done without having a negative impact on existing gameplay elements? Or does such a concept have no place in EVE?

Further Reading

The following blogs have already touched upon the subject and might give you something to chew over. Come banter with us.
Blog Banter 26 Summary

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Suddenly Combat: World of Spaceships

"You enter the bar and are confronted with a barrage of light and noise. You note wryly that for an establishment purported to be a place of relaxation for capsuleers, Kodachi's famous 'Batman Orange One' club is not short of stimulation. Beyond the gathering of drunk Matari gambling loudly over a game of strategy and nestled between busy poker tables and a gyrating Jin-Mei pole-dancer surrounded by admirers, you spy what you seek:

The Virtual Combat Hub. No wrecks, no capsules, no CONCORD, just pure combat."

Along with giving us the charmingly bonkers phrase of "threat level orange on a scale of one to Batman", Kirith Kodachi has recently been comparing and contrasting EVE Online to World of Tanks on his blog, Inner Sanctum of the Ninveah.

Whilst pointing out that they are very different games and highlighting the strengths of each, I certainly agree with Kirith's sentiment that EVE could stand to benefit from providing the denizens of New Eden with some kind of similar casual, drop-in/drop-out combat mechanic.

The difficulty in implementing this would be doing so without compromising or devaluing EVE's existing combat dynamic which, whilst more exhilarating, is also more time-consuming and complex.

I think I have a solution that might please many.

Welcome to the Pleasure Dome

We know that in the hopefully not too distant future, those mysterious doors in our Captain's Quarters will open, giving us access to more of the station environment which is to include "establishments".

The activities which might be available in such areas may include the previously showcased hex-based strategy game SecWars and perhaps some variation of poker. Whether pole-dancers can (or indeed should) be entertainingly interactive is an entirely separate topic.

But what if capsuleers also had access to 'combat simulation booths'? Accessing these devices could allow the player to join a variety multiplayer ship combat scenarios for a quick fix of casual combat in automatically generated arena death-matches.

In order to set the experience apart from 'real' combat, the ship-types available could be limited to Tech 1 ships and modules, perhaps with preset fittings and standardised skillsets. The graphics could be wireframe or skinned with the hyper-real 'Tron-esque' neon textures seen in the Alliance Tournament title sequences.

Establishments could rent these virtual combat hubs from NPC suppliers and charge for their use or allow them to be free to attract customers. Perhaps establishment owners could organise competitions or sponsor a team for inter-establishment leagues. The possibilities are endless.

How and Why

Although not a programmer, it seems to me that this would not be impossible to implement and is a relatively scaleable concept. The majority of the code is already in place, with a simple click on a start button 'undocking' your virtual ship into an instanced 'system' with the other combatants where the usual combat engine would take over. The majority of the new code required would be for the UI element and the player-matching system.

Such a virtual combat arena would have the following benefits:
  • It can give players a taste of ship combat without the expense and time required to participate in the real thing.
  • It would give more meaning to the Incarna avatar experience, perhaps even attracting those who fanatically favour "flying in space" over "walking in stations".
  • It would foster combat confidence amongst a new breed of virtually-trained players who otherwise might be unwilling or unable to find real combat.
  • It would provide the opportunity to participate in Alliance Tournament style battles, broadening the appeal and understanding of the yearly competition.
  • It would be a social focus that could create a sub-culture of competition and gambling that could attract the more casual player to EVE whilst staying true to the roots of "flying in space".
  • It could offer an in-game playtesting environment similar to the Singularity server.
  • It would give the CCP's art department an opportunity to re-use those sexy AT9 ship textures (which I can't find a screenshot of anywhere).
Perhaps a pipedream, but I would dearly love to see something like this implemented in the future. I think it could introduce a lot of exciting new gameplay possibilities whilst appeasing a lot of critics.

[With credit for images to, and CCP.]

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Fickle Mistress EVE

A month, it seems, is a long time in New Eden.

That EVE is clearly a feminine name is no coincidence I suspect. I dared allow myself some time to engage in the real world and although I feel I did not scorn her, EVE nonetheless acted with fury that is indeed not found in hell. Well, to say 'fury' is probably pimping it up a little, but she certainly moved out and threw all my stuff onto the driveway as she went.

Or if you want the riddle-free version: Wow, a lot has happened in my absence, mainly the following:

EVE Vegas 2.0

My last blog-posts were EVE Vegas flavoured and despite my promises to provide coverage, none was forthcoming. Sorry about that, I was off having fun. Besides, I felt that Ecliptic Rift, whom I had the pleasure of meeting whilst in Vegas, did an admiral job of providing an independent view in this general blogpost and this one about our afternoon with CCP Dropbear (good pun about "dropmic" there too, I wish I'd thought of that).

I felt that EVE Vegas was a great stop-gap for those who would wish for more than one Fanfest per year, although understandably on a much smaller scale. It was very Goon-centric, but this is not necessarily a bad thing, I had no idea how deeply Goon culture is intertwined with the fabric of EVE. A number of CCP attendees started life as EVE-playing goons. Lead game designer Soundwave was apparently a "legendary shit-poster" as a Goon, and Security guy Sreegs was also from their ranks.

I was hoping for the opportunity to have a beer with The Mittani, if nothing else to find out whether he wanted to poke my eyes out with a model Incursus for the podcast mockery I have directed at him these last few months, but sadly my encounters with him were brief.

Our first meeting was a drunken half-hug during a late-night pub-crawl, but he bounded off into the crowd before words could be exchanged. The second was whilst I was speaking with the event organisers to get my latest Mittani-flavoured audiofile played, where he interjected to politely request that he give his presentation first. The last was a mildly embarrassing moment when I went up to ask him a question during the open-mic portion of his presentation and he pointed out how defensive my body language was. I still cringe when I remember my response to that was to, in a hall full of EVE players, momentarily drop into some odd fighting stance before recovering to ask a perfectly gentlemanly question about his future with the CSM. I knew Vegas was full of tits, but I never expected to be one of them.

Sadly, Mittens cleared off early the next morning, so any chance for a sensible conversation was lost.  Nonetheless, I found attending EVE Vegas to be more than worthwhile. It was refreshing and inspiring and I found myself coming away with new, grand ideas for my future in EVE.

EVE Commune R.I.P.

Although I knew it was coming, I feel saddened by the demise of the EVE Commune podcast. Garheade was the driving force behind the initiative but for him, after 30 episodes, Lady Reality stood strong against the seductive crack whore that is EVE. Quite right too.

I was further saddened by my inability to see EVE Commune off in a proper fashion in it's last few episodes. After all, I owe EVE Commune a lot. If it wasn't for Garheade's request for me to read my Cult of EVE article on the show, I might never have got bitten by the podcasting bug. Although belated, I would like to offer my thanks to the EVE Commune team and wish them all the best in the future.

The End of Crazy Kinux's Blogpack

So the Canadian man-mountain who wrote the One Blog to Rule Them All has hung up his quill and decommissioned The Blog Pack. Apparently he has moved onto to pastures new and although still out there somewhere, was unable to continue his role as the 'Blogfather'. Whilst the Blog Pack itself was always a matter of taste, CK's diminished role in the community is a shame, although it was apparent in the last few months that his resources were increasingly limited and he was unable to devote the time required. I wish him luck in his new project.

Fortunately, the blogging autocannon that is Rixx Javix of Eveoganda has stepped up to resurrect his own Blog Pack from the ashes of CK's. As a part of the now defunct iPhone app Capsuleer, the Blog Pack served as a great introduction to the EVE Blogosphere and although I am less sure of the Blog Pack's role today, it's continued existence can only be a good thing.  Thank you Rixx.

Russians Run Rampant In Null-Sec

Although I have yet been able to set aside some time to get back into the core gameplay of EVE, my understanding is that much of the stable existence which I left behind has been torn down and my alliance is on high alert for sovereignty-threatening hostile fleets. My grasp of the politics is so poor that I can't be sure of the whos and whats, but word on the grapevine is not good. Systems have been lost, the corp POS is no longer there and reinforcements have been called in from elsewhere. I'm not sure what it all means, but it certainly sounds exciting.

Re-igniting the Flame

So all that remains is for me to get back into the swing of things. I intend to whisper sweet bloggings into EVE's electronic ear and get her to move back in. Or at least stay over at weekends.

I'm sorry I went on holiday. Lady Reality? Never heard of her.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

(Parody) Pimp My Pod NeX Store Special: The Mittani vs. Incarna

With the latest EVE Online expansion - Incarna - came the NeX Store, allowing the purchase of various garments for the new player character avatars. In an attempt to quell the negative press surrounding the NeX Store launch and it's arguably overpriced fashion items, CCP turned to the services of a certain CSM chairman in an effort to restore order. Meet flamboyant style guru Grunbart as he attempts to assist The Mittani in turning the tide.

This 5 minute skit originally appeared on episode 28 of the EVE Commune podcast and was subsequently played at EVE Vegas 2.0.