The Quest for the Heart and Soul of EVE

So a rather interesting debate exploded over at J3w3l’s last month which quickly began to turn into finger wagging and passionate claims and denials of the very existence of other players. The whole PvP/PvE debate is unusually touchy these days it seems. More than I remember it being in the past. In this case, I engaged a couple of fellow gamers on the question of what makes PvE and PvP so different. Specifically, there were several claims made that PvP is more “dynamic” than PvE which lead me to think about the PvE of EVE Online.

Now staunch PvPers will never want to be in a conversation where they admit PvP has anything in common with PvE. So usually they’ll try to frame the discussion as a duel between having a “dynamic” (defined as intelligent people to play with) game or having one where you only interact with AI (defined as PvE). I think their definitions are a bit off and the comparison too extreme. It strips each feature of it’s nuance and importance. PvE, generally should be understood as cooperative play when players use the term to describe their preference. They’re almost always trying to explain that they prefer not to compete in combat with other players. PvE players play with the same dynamic people as PvPer’s, so that’s not a defining difference between the two. PvP on the other hand is typically used as a euphemism for “player combat”. Players usually use it to reference this specifically. When PvP’ers come to the conversation with this term their number one argument is that “players are more dynamic” which means this is the subject when the term is brought up.

So here I am pondering just what it is about EVE Online that me and thousands of other players like me – nay, the majority of EVE players – love about it. I pretty much only engage in PvE in EVE these days. It’s just vastly more interesting to me. I interact with other players. We have politics, we have rivalry, and of course the economy. We’re every bit as active with other players as PvPers. It’s just the nature of that interaction tends to be non-violent. I’ll balance that by saying I know capsuleers who find the same amount of joy in combat against other players. They also have politics, rivalry and economic interests. These are equally valid and fun ways to engage the game. The differences between the two come down to how players prefer to approach one another. PvE’ers tend to prefer cooperation, and PvPer’s the opposite. Of course, none of us can ignore all the players in between, such as the bounty hunters, good-guy militias who fight pirates, pirates who fight evil pirates, industrial companies who hire bounty hunters, freight runners who hire security and so much more. This is why defining PvP and PvE based on combat/AI gets us nowhere. Both features employ combat, but the approach is different. The defining difference is how each player prefers to approach other players.The gameplay is otherwise, not very different.

If we were to say that there was a heart in EVE, a core that gave the game all of it’s strength and power to influence gameplay, what would that thing be?

My first hunch is always to say it’s the economy. It drives all interaction, both peaceful and warlike. Maybe that’s why so much of what I enjoy about PvE other players enjoy about PvP. How else could these difference be bridged? They’re two approaches to the same game with the one major intersection being the economy. All the same, it’s true that every feature of the game is interconnected such that no one piece is as good without the other. You can’t subtract the economy from EVE in any way and still have the game we know. Each piece, including the PvE/P pieces, makes up the whole. None can be removed without changing the game dramatically.

They’re just features, and while players may have a preference for one or the other, the things they signify usually are only tangentially related to what they actually mean. So PvE is no more strictly about playing with AI than PvP is about strictly fighting with other players.

EVE is a fascinating game, totally unique in its offerings. It’s got flaws, but it’s also got something no other MMO I’ve ever lived in has. It’s got politics and economics are gameplay systems. I’d say these are the heart and soul of the game. PvP and PvE are just additional features.

Change Comes to New Eden in Crius

eve-criusYesterday’s patch notes were a pleasant, but shocking surprise for me, the Gallentean engineer and manufacturer. For the record, I tend to ignore a lot of spoilers about the game and try instead to discover things on my own, where practical. I’m also a businessman so I can’t ignore everything. Crius was surprising for me though, as I just resubscribed last month and I’m not entirely caught up from the last patch. It’s all been a bit much.

One thing’s for sure: I’ll probably create my own manufacturing guide for players like myself. Because so many of the old ones I used to rely on are pretty much obsolete as of this patch. Mostly for the better in my opinion. Reliable resources like the Uniwiki are already (mostly) caught up with the changes.

Blueprints & Manufacturing

The changes to Blueprints are especially breath-taking. It’s just difficult for an old capsuleer like me to see things like Wastage Factor and Material Level get streamlined virtually out of existence. Well, the latter is still in game but it seems they’ve attempted to make the mechanics of blueprints much easier to understand. Can’t fault them for that, it’s definitely about 6 years overdue. The complexity of just reading a blueprint is enough to make newer pilots opt for the simplicity of pirating or mission running.

Also, no more limited industry slots at stations. You wanna research/copy/invent/manufacture something? Just do it. There’s no longer and 30 day queues with players piling up just to get simple jobs done. That alone is a huge change which is sure to get productivity moving more fluidly and dynamically for the economy.

The new Science & Industry interface is also amazing! It’s actually fun to interact with because it makes research and manufacturing very streamlined while giving the player all the information they need. Before, this information was stored in various tabs, tooltips, and boxes. Going into a research job required a bit of research on it’s own. While players still need to do research, the new interface makes it less tedious.

Teams

eve-teamsAnother new and interesting feature is called Teams. It’s CCPs efforts as making player industrial movement more meaningful and fluid. Things which used to bottleneck player progress are gone and features like Teams give players some control over the manufacturing landscape of the universe. It does this by adding teams of workers to the manufacturing and research process who add bonuses to the jobs. Those teams stay in your solar system for a month before moving on, but their bonuses are great enough that industry will move more dynamically. It’s a powerful concept for sure. I’ve been tinkering around with it off and on the past couple days, intrigued by what it can do for me. Needless to say I’ve been in bidding wars for these Teams in the hopes of bringing more and better industrialists to my neck of the woods. The laws of competition demand many warm bodies for a true economy to thrive and my edge of space, while relatively peaceful, is also quite boring. I have no intention of moving either (I’ve put in too much work where I am) so I’ll just have to bring everyone to me by filling my space roster with competent teams.

Will these new changes shift the industrial game to great heights? I think they have the potential to, and I think there will be major upheavals in the market (again) as players tinker with all of its parts and as our corporate monopolies re-tighten their hold on the new parts of the game. I think more new players will see industry as more accessible. I just might begin keeping a Captain’s Log. I started and stopped with that idea dozens of times in the past. I’ve always wanted to try roleplaying in EVE, but I start and stop playing so much that I always feel out of touch with the story when I get back to it. We’ll see how that turns out, but don’t get your hopes up.

Steam is having a great sale right now with EVE. You can get the entire game and 30 days subscription for $5 or you can buy a special pack with comes with that plus a PLEX (if you don’t know what it is, look it up, but trust me it’s extremely valuable, especially so if you’re new to the game) for $20. PLEX is also on sale. If you’re thinking about giving EVE Online a try and your motivating interest is exploring its industrial economy, now would be a good time to get in the game.

Scree Tags: #eveonline #crius