Farmville in Space With Guns

Posted by admin on January 15th, 2011 filed in Games, Science Fiction

Today a friend referred to EVE Online as that “Farmville in space where you shoot your neighbors”. Hits the nail on the head. :-D

I now know two or three people in town who are signed up to EVE, so I finally forked over the cash that turns my (suspended) trial account into a full account (for 1 month). The 21 days of the trial give you a good chance to figure out the user interface and you get an idea how EVE works. Yup, the learning curve is quite steep. It’s not structured linearly, but rather a space economy simulation that gives you a setting and game mechanics, and you have to come up with your own goals.

EVE Online doesn’t even have a leveling system in the sense that other MMORPGs have it. Of course the game generates enemy encounters with varying difficulties, and the game gives you hints how difficult a particular “dungeon” will be. But it’s less explicit.

By the way, the space version of a “quest dungeon” is a dead-space pocket — a part of space that is “off the map”, because hyperspace jump gates do not function there. You can only reach a dead space by using an accelerator gate that propells you in there. (Incidentally, you can warp back out the normal way…?) Dead space is used exactly like a MMORPG dungeon that is instanced when the first player uses the accelerator. It’s also where the NPC pirates hang out for you to shoot and loot. Or for you to “be shooted and looted”…

Since dead-space “dungeons” de- and respawn, the game must reveal the coordinates to you before you can warp to the entrance (the accelerator gate). You get the coordinates as part of a mission, or you find them by exploration. Newbie explorers scan space for “cosmic anomalies” and find accelerators — but some of the encounters would be too hard for them. In these cases, the game says that you failed to pinpoint the exact coordinates, and therefor you cannot navigate to the signature. This would be a in-character hint that “this is a high-level dungeon, and you’re a newb, dumb***”.

What distinguishes EVE from other MMORPGs is that you implicitly advance to higher levels over time. Your skills improve just by being there. (Well, and by paying monthly fees.) As soon as your skills and equipment are good enough, you are able to pinpoint a previously unreachable signature, fly there, and trigger the encounter. Again, quite an intuitive way of integrating a MMORPG-style levelling system while stying in character.

Also, each solar system has an explicit security level: In “hisec”, CONCORD (the NPC “cityguard”) blows up any PvP player who attacks you. In “losec” you are on your own. If you steal something in nullsec, it’s between you and the former owner — and his corporation. The gray areas between hisec and losec have decreasing levels of protection: The lower the security level, the later CONCORD shows up. So in those areas, the PvP robbers get you sometimes (e.g, while you’re mining, or are on auto-pilot), but they cannot get away with everything.

Another quite intuitive way of implementing areas with difficulty levels without any visible “walls”.

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