Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Boy am I sick of time sinks

My current involvement with EVE is nothing more than a game of Progress Quest. Last week I was running around in my railgun Merlin doing level 1 combat missions, got pretty bored with it, and decided to look for a new ship. I don't know if I should pirate or join a sovereignty-seeking corp, but I'd like to get into null-sec and start playing the real game.

I'm having a bit of an issue getting over the towering barriers to entry in EVE. I think I've been a pretty good sport with it up to now. Using my existing Merlin, I plugged in some Ion Blaster IIs, some Rocket Launcher IIs, and a bunch of other necessities (like a good Afterburner, a webber, a warp scrambler, and some damage control) into EVE Fitting Tool. The loadout is decent for learning PvP. I can afford to trash a few as I get my feet wet.

However, I then used EVEMon to plan a skill progression to use all these modules, and the 14 skills will take over 12 days. All my first tier Learning skills are rank 4 or 5. This is such a complete waste of time. Good thing I don't have to actually grind any of this out, but waiting around for 12 days just so I can begin to learn how to PvP in EVE is ridiculous. (To learn how to just sit in some of massively huge and powerful ships in EVE takes over 200 days of training, and the ISK price isn't chump change either.)

Similarly, it takes weeks in WoW to get to level cap where competitive play starts to exist. FFXI and even older MMORPGs take months or years to get to level cap. Why should I be so upset? I've dealt with these time sinks before. Probably because I'm growing up, and I don't have 10 hours a day to throw at a game.

About a year ago, when I quit WoW for the umpteenth time, I made a note about why I left. It was something along the lines of:
As I'm leveling a new character, I'm not really learning anything new. It feels as if I need to prove myself to the game, once again, that I'm worthy of level cap. While in TF2 or DotA or some other non-MMORPG, I'm already at a level playing field, and the skills I learned through months of playing follow me and will be with me no matter when I decide to join up again. The system doesn't make me prove myself; I prove to myself that I still kick ass.

So here I am in EVE, just waiting to learn how to play the game competently, trying to prove to the system what exactly? That I know how to queue up a bunch of skills, go to work, and come home and play TF2 all night?

How about you let me fly whatever I want to fly, equip whatever I want to equip, and use any ability I want to use without having to prove to you that I have the $30 for 2 months of playtime subscription. (Of course I'd have to purchase these things which would take some time to acquire the ISK/gold/gil/etc.) Instead of making me learn Caldari Frigate 5, Destroyers 5, and Interdictors I (for a grand total of 35 days), how about you make the system complex enough (which EVE combat is) so that I acquire player skill and actual combat aptitude as I pop Interdictors.

All in favor of removing these "I am not worthy!" requirements, say Aye!


Psychochild said...

Removing "time sinks" runs into a classic chicken-and-egg problem. The compelling part of MMOs is the cumulative character. If I wanted a character that was the same as everyone else, I'd go play a subscription-free game like TF2. So, unless you can figure out what people will pay a subscription for (or, at least, some microtransactions), you're going too be stuck with a time sink of one type or another.

After playing around a bit with EVE's skills and reading this post, I can see the brilliance of EVE's system from a business point of view. After you get "hooked" into the main game, doing something bigger and better requires you to wait in the game. You're essentially paying for a week. You're unlikely to give up, because you've made up your mind. It'll take a lot to frustrate you away from that goal since you made the decision.

So, consider what you can offer a player besides a cumulative character to keep paying a subscription to keep advancing.

motstandet said...

Imagine EVE without the training nonsense. You still have to figure out which ship to fly, which modules to fit, when to activate modules in combat, when to engage & retreat, how the galaxy is laid out, where the safe spots are in travel, how to use the scanner, how to fly in a fleet, and how to do just about anything.

Acquiring actual player knowledge is advancement. So is accumulating a player reputation, player contacts, networking, gaining ranks in your corp, and amassing the wealth needed to purchase a ship fitted to pursue your endeavors.

I'm not bounded by some arbitrary game rule intended to stratify the player base, but primarily prolong (and ultimately frustrate) my stay in New Eden.

Regardless if newbies have the ability to access everything veterans have, they do not have the resources to actually get them. I certainly don't have the ISK to buy and fit a Mothership. Many first-time WoW players don't have the gold even at level 40 (or 30, or 20) to purchase a mount.

Removing the leveling progression in theme-park MMOs is very difficult because those games are designed in a way that leveling is the primary concern for a long time. Would Darkfall be better or worse if players didn't have to macro to gain skill points and only had to learn how to aim, dodge, flank, fight in melee, use a bow, work as a team, etc.?

I'm definitely not the average gamer, but I would enjoy EVE much more if I didn't have to wait days to learn how to play. The world is still massive and alive and filled with human agents all pursuing their personal agendas. That is what I'd pay $15/month for.

Tesh said...

If I'm going to be paying to play a game, I'd blasted well better be able to play it, not have to do a laundry list of grindy things or wait for weeks before I can play. That's one of my biggest beefs with MMO design; they are more about using time sinks to garner subscription money than providing ways to play.