Blog Banter 63 – Customization

Kirith Kodachi posted the next Blogbanter – 63 – Customization.

Super Kerr Induced Nanocoating, new structures that can be fit like ships with modules, the promise of player built stargates… the ability to shape your space and change the look of your ships is finally coming to EVE. What other customization options of EVE would you like to have? What would you like to do to be able to shape space and environments? What would you like to change just for you in the client or in any 3rd party tools?

 

 

Would I like my ships pink?  A shuttle looking like a dragon?  Would I like to have trophies of my few kills hanging on my wall? Would I want my POS look like Disney Castle?

My New POS

 

I see two levels of customization in EVE (or any game for that matter), internal and external.  Whereas internal customization only affects what I see, external customization affects what other players see.  For example, we can to some extend customize our UI and shove the menus around on the screen.  We don’t get to change the menus, we don’t get to apply macros or use 3rd party tools to  interact with the UI (I think thats what the botters get banned for, yes?) but we do get to optimize it based on our activity, workflow and of course computer hardware. For Internal customization, I would love to spread the individual menus and tools out across my entire computer screen, outside the rectangular bounds of the game client.  I would love the ability to make my own shortcuts on the screen (keyboard shortcuts have never been my friend) and I would love to organize my inventory differently, have them sorted into more logical containers or folders.  Yes, I know I can buy station containers but its tedious.  The limits of internal customization should be that they need to be fair so that nobody has an advantage over another – which is implied if everyone has the same tool set.  For example, setting the overview up correctly wins or loses the game and my opponent may well kill me because he has them set differently.

External customization is a different beast altogether.  Ship skins and avatars are shared with the rest of the universe and they have to fit into the overall style of the game.  For better or worse, EVE is not Stephenson’s metaverse where (nearly) everything goes.  CCP has built the entire game on an industrial, dark design that fits well with most people’s imagination of space “SciFi”.  Giving players the ability to fly bunny-rabbit-shaped ships with pink ears would break the design beyond recovery.  The company has to be very careful what they allow on external customization to prevent one player to ruin the experience for all.  The easiest is of course to allow none – pretty much where we are currently (avatars exempt but since nobody really looks at them, they are a moot point).

But customization has the purpose to tie a paying customer further to the product. “Look, this is me” is a much more powerful statement than “look, this is a ship that looks like all other ships but I fly it”.  I can’t see a reason why we shouldn’t be able to select from specific skins for each ship type – within limits that CCP’s designers set.  Decals and logos of our corporations and alliances are likely to be used for ships, POSes and sovereignty structures but even their layout need to fit into the overall mood of the game.  Not everyone has a perfect space logo like our Alliance!

Illusion of Solitude

What else would I like to see?  Above all, I’d love to interact more with the planets, build PI up into a proper, engaging “mini game” with real buildings and functional roads, vehicles etc.  Basically, DUST-style environments that need to be set, maintained, payed for and so on.  Wars could be fought over them, alien beasts may Zerg-like invade them, basically, we could have Starcraft over our PI installations. And who says its limited to PI?  Why not encourage overall settlements, build cities factories, defense systems? Time-scale differences not withstanding (we can’t just advance by years in SimCity style), the ability to “own” a planet or at least a continent would not break the lore but it would create further attachment to the game.  I could tie into “Legion” (if that ever will be a thing) and be the base for Valkyrie fighters.

Overall, while I see great value in the ability to use external customization, I am more concerned that this breaks the immersion of the space game.

 

 

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Inner Sanctum of the Ninveah – Personalize
Eveoganda – Customization?
Supposedly Solo – Customization

Blogbanter: I reject your reality and substitude my own

A blogbanter on Lore?  Can’t resist

How important is “fluff” in Eve online? Would eve online be the same if it were purely numbers and mechanics, or are the fictional elements important to the enjoyment of the game? Would a pure text, no reference to sci-fi or fancy names still be an engaging game? Should CCP put more or less emphasis on immersion?

For me, the backstory of every game has always been a double-edged sword –  too little and the world seems empty and out of sync, too much and my fantasy is weighed down by doctrine.  Even as a teenager, I read Lord of the Rings and never fell in love with the arrogant and ethereal elves, I much preferred the tough-as-rock dwarves, in my mind, I chose to see the books as written for them.

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Blogbanter 39

Some say a man’s home is his castle. For others it is wherever they lay their hat. The concept is just as nebulous in the New Eden sandbox.

In EVE Online, what does the concept of “home” mean to you?”

A theme close to my heart from Freebooted has been picked up by Drackarn and many others and I am wondering what else I could add to the chorus of excellent voices.

Blog Banter 37: The Line in the Sand

“EVE Online sits on the frontier of social gaming, providing an entertainment environment like no other. The vibrant society of interacting and conflicting communities, both within the EVE client and without, is the driving force behind EVE’s success. However, the anonymity of internet culture combined with a competitive gaming environment encourages in-game behaviour to spread beyond the confines of the sandbox. Where is the line?

Oh the famous line between the real world and the online world – this is what my blog is all about and hence it should be dead easy to drop a few lines with references to my older posts and be done with it.  Yes?

Maybe.

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The long tail

The Public Perception of EVE Online

Now approaching its tenth year, the EVE Online player community has matured into an intricate and multi-faceted society viewed with envy by other game developers, but is frequently regarded with suspicion by the wider gaming community.

Is this perception deserved? Should “The Nation of EVE” be concerned by its public identity and if so how might that be improved? What influence will the integration of the DUST 514 community have on this culture in the future?

Ok, this blogbanter is a rather easy, straight -up marketing question for the MBA dudes at CCP.  There are only two ways this can go in the community. One is the obvious answer that discusses EVE being too complicated and “un-fun” to the the WoW community and therefore is concerned with easing new recruits into the dark and smelly world of New Eden.  The second one is concerned about the integrity of New Eden and the danger that soft and casual players present to the hardcore EVE vets who are aoh-so-superior to the rest of homo sapiens.

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Blog Banter 34. The future role of the CSM.

I am on record being quite cynical about the CSM and their role.  In that view, CSM are a marketing trick to make CCP look good by pretending to really “listen” to their customers.  Players are suckered into believing that they have a real stake in the future of the company and game and therefore are less likely to unsubscribe.  A CSM as a marketing trick deserves no further discussion and the recent Blog Banter 34  “How would you like to see the CSM grow, both in terms of player interaction and CCP interaction?” should not be an interesting one.  After all, it was spawned by an employee of CCP and hence serves the purpose of enriching his own wallet.

And then I thought about it more.

CCP as a small tech company has arguably created an online game that in complexity has no equal.  Forget WoW and its countless clones, forget FPS, RTS and console games.  The depth of EVE Online is much closer to e.g. Second Life than a game as its content generator are people, not script writers.  I would like to go one step further – EVE Online has many times be compared to be a spreadsheet with a nice background.  I doubt anyone at Microsoft understands everything people can do with the tools they built into Excel.  But whereas we all readily accept that MS is a toolmaker company, I certainly still compare game companies as content creators.  And that is where my (and I think CCP’s) thinking failed.

See, if CCP realizes that they are building tools instead of content, they give up the notion that they know everything.  Creation of focus groups, polling customers and having “test labs” are common practice for software companies and I assume CCP does this also – in addition to statistical evaluation of player behavior of course. The CSM is another way by which CCP can poll what their customers really are doing with the toolchest they have built for them.  I challenge for example any chosen CCP employee to a discussion on Wormhole warfare mechanic with Two Step, cloaky combat with pjharvey, military leadership with Ender Black and fan fiction with Seismic Stan or Miss Thalys.   These players / tool users / customers are better by many miles in what they do than any one of CCP employees.  They will be a much better source of what we – the users – can do with CCP’s toolchest.  And why should this be so surprising?  After all EVE Players consider themselves as the smartest online players out there – I think with reason – so CCP should develop the humility to acknowledge that and deeply embed CSM into their learning.

And so, to bring it home, how would I “grow” the CSM as it was laid out in the blog banter?    I would like to give each CSM member more or less specific portfolios they shall report on – these are fairly easy to prepare (WH life, null sec mechanics etc).  CSM members open themselves to EVE players and seek input based on their portfolio, assimilate and discuss with the other council members into discrete sets of recommendations.   If blood spills then between them, so be it but subsequently, CSM members bring topics and recommendations towards CCP and report to the players the responses.  This portfolio-based approach will limit the partisan nonsense that some CSM members spew (removing ABC ores from WH because it breaks nullsec markets for example) and overall create a collaborative environment with CCP and the players.

Fundamental to that is that CCP changes its understanding of what they are – a tool maker, not a game company.

Blog Banter 32: Non-Consensual Combat Restrictions

EVE Online is a cruel world.  Click “Un-dock” and you consent to be raped, pillaged, burned and mutilated.  If you don’t like it, HTFU or play World of Warcraft.

EVE Online is a peaceful world where you can mine for resources, trade with friends and travel in peace, protected by Concord’s benevolent and ever-present police force.

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