Lets get one thing out of the way – gameplay is nice and all, but I am in eve for the storytelling, worldbuilding and immersion. I like to win, but since I have attained only 22M SP since 2006 it stands to reason to conclude I am not here to conquer the known universe.
I have a great objection to eve and that’s universe design. Eve is by far the most ambitious, immersive and beautiful space game in existence, but competition is hot on its heels. Eve needs to significantly increase appeal, and I am not talking appeal with its already completely addicted fan base. People who are in eve will by and large keep in eve or regularly return to eve – and most will be dishing out money to grow the already lopsided (say – absurd) skill demographics.
To increase interest in more players by far the only easy strategy is to start a design initiative to significantly increase detail and immersiveness of space. Yes, I understand that to regulars most couldn’t care less, and those people were probably born with a spreadsheet up their ass and consequently I don’t give a damn about ‘those people’s’ interests in the game. But if CCP actually wants to grow (and not wither on the vine a couple of years down the road, as new games emerge, a far better space experience is necessary. I believe it is extremely important to start doing so right now.
Take for instance this rather small bit of software.
It’s been around for ages. There are others, such as Universe Simulator, and they look a lot better than eve, period. They look like space ought to look, and not some hollywood-level superficial CGI cardboard mockup for people to play tag in. The typical solar system is a far more rich and diverse environment than eve online. There are far more enticing, beautiful backdrops, as well as spots where players would be able to interact meaningfully with the real estate.
1. I call on CCP to radically improve the level (or even the pretense of) science. No, ice worlds do not orbit in the second spot in a solar system and no, barren worlds do not orbit in the respective ninth spot. This is pathetic. The current level of design is plain pathetic. Hire a specialist (or better – crowd source system design to volunteers), let them “enrich” systems, come up with better planet graphics, at least somewhat more realistic orbital dynamics. Maybe a few twin star systems wouldn’t hurt for crying out loud.
2. Add some real estate ok? O Neil habitats for starters. Solar farms with vast industrial complexes. I mean, I love Citadels, but they come a dime a dozen only a few months after introduction, and even though they look good, they are about as realistic as Flash Gordon about now. Make these structures a little more diverse.
3. In the real universe solar systems have things like culture. There’s people living there. So why, the hell do I get only a 2 paragraph, two tab description of a planet on which I can literally see continent spanning cities?? I mean, what the ****, why not write a short 2 page description of the uniqueness of such a planet. Even better, shoehorn a wiki in to the client, with approved descriptions of the science , history and ethnographic backgrounds of star systems. Add at least a dozen orbital structures for the typical planet.
4 – there is now what, 13 years of player history to quote. In the past star systems and regions were added. Yet I see nothing, or very little, of this expansion. Why? Why no cultural reference of “the colonization of this or that planet”, or the “fallout of a huge battle that happened in 2011 at precisely that spot”? Take for instance Jakku, in ‘the force awakens”. Holy **** there was a battle there. From orbit the planet looks positively scarred. Yet in eve CCP treats its own player base almost with palpable embarrassment. If a battle happened, why not create a permanent wreck belt on that very spot, that lasts for the entirety of the game’s future? If a Citadel explodes that was in orbit about a temperate planet, why do I not see mention of such a titanic event in the planet’s history? If a Citadel blows up and a hundred million people die or are scattered across the universe, why do I not see ragtag refugee caravans looking in raw desperation to find a new home? No, I am still transporting a dozen space hookers with my Iteron. Come on, seriously, at least try.
In all the above, serendipity is the goal. Just do it. If you create an orbital structure on a high lagrange orbit of a densely populated planet it doesn’t immediately have to have a purpose – but you can count on it that design wise, it will be used in some productive game mechanic before long. It’s like – if you build it, it will eventually generate meaningful purpose.
I characterize CCP as cravenly cautious in this regard. CCP only introduces content that has immediate implications for the existing game and shyes away from experimentation, creativity, art, content. I predict again (as I already have in 2009) that this will bite CCP in the ass hard, as the game will eventually be unable to overcome its own ponderous, gargantuan inertia and be able to compete with a game that has a late starter advantage. Remember, it only takes a few months of players deciding to not subscribe (because they are doing something else) and CCP is bankrupt.
So my insistence is clear – enrich the universe. Build it, plant that garden, grow that universe and beautiful things will happen.
Anyways, I will do my best to affect this side of the game, and if you agree with me, I’d love to hear your suggestions.