Friday, July 31, 2009

EVE Blog Banter #10 - Fallacy of Presumption

Welcome to the tenth installment of the EVE Blog Banter, the monthly EVE Online blogging extravaganza created by CrazyKinux. The EVE Blog Banter involves an enthusiastic group of gaming bloggers, a common topic within the realm of EVE Online, and a week to post articles pertaining to the said topic. The resulting articles can either be short or quite extensive, either funny or dead serious, but are always a great fun to read! Any questions about the EVE Blog Banter should be directed here. Check out other EVE Blog Banter articles at the bottom of this post!

This month’s banter leans a little, OK a lot, on the academic side. It comes to us from xiphos83 of A Misguided Adventurer, who asks the following: ” Victor Davis Hanson argues that western culture, comprising of ideals such as freedom, debate, capitalism, and consensual government, are what make western society so successful at waging war. These ideologies create a warrior who’s direct participation in government, ability to think freely, and desire to remain free, fights harder and is willing to suffer more than his conscripted foe. Though a military must remain a structured oligarchy to fight a war effectively, why in a world where military conflict is as familiar as breathing are there so few alliances that embrace these ideologies when governing their members?”

The question posed here is based on circular reasoning. Let me break the question down so it’s easier to see the flaw.

1 - Victor Davis Hanson says western society produces a better warrior.
2 - Since Eve is so saturated with war why aren’t there more alliances that promote western ideologies?

Logical flaw: This whole question assumes that we all agree with Victor Davis Hanson. It’s therefore circular reasoning (begging the question) to construct a question based on a debatable premise.

I for one do not agree that western ideologies make better fighters. All you have to do is look at Vietnam to see that. The Vietcong fought like hell for communism and they beat the United States.

I have already read some of the responses to this question that have blown off the whole concept, saying comparing a game alliance to the real world governments doesn’t make sense. I disagree. BOB wanted to control the entire galaxy. How is that any different from British imperialism? Phoenix Propulsion Labs adopted a communistic ideology. The Goons are crazy and want to fight everyone (North Korea).

When you try to get down to the details of why alliances don’t adopt western ideologies is because you’re looking at the universe of Eve from the wrong perspective. Eve is the government and the alliances are the businesses.

Look at any real world business designs. They have regulations, restriction, and codes of conduct all of which are more restricting than their governments. Why? Because it achieves an effective organization. Eve is no different.

Moral of the story: Alliances are not nations fighting against each other, they are businesses. They operate under business ideologies because they are most effective.

Participant List

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

New Eve Trailer!

My gawd this is a sexy video. This is the way CCP should advertise Eve from now on. Has anybody else noticed the new Eve ads that popup on game sites? They are quite cool. I particularly enjoy the one that shows the progression of the miners from the early days in a cruiser, to a barge with industrial, and then to hulks with orcas.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Fluidity is important to increasing player immersion. Immersion is important for enhancing the player experience. When the player is involved in a fluid world, it is easy to get lost in the moment and attain high levels of enjoyment.

The realization that fluidity is paramount to an immersive experience came to me while watching the film Children of Men. Alfonso CuarĂ³n the director of this film, Implemented the longest single shot sequences I have ever seen, and the result was total immersion. Watching Clive Owen run though a battlefield of explosions, smoke, gunfire, and wounded people without ever cutting was an accomplishment most directors will never achieve.

Fluidity: the property of flowing easily. When put into the context of Eve I take it to mean uninterrupted gameplay and visuals. Some games have attempted to do this with tricks for eliminating loading between levels or zones. This is precisely what I think eve could use.

Side Note: Eve is the only game that I spend time thinking about improving. The reason I focus on improving Eve so much is because I believe the game design of Eve has the potential to last indefinitely if CCP continues to further develop the game as they have been.

Alright back to fluidity. Eve still uses many design elements that haven't changed since 2003. Back in 03 the visual quality of Eve was superb and with the technology and expectations from games it was in no ways lacking finesse.

Now in 2009, I feel that Eve needs to polish many of the design elements that have remained unchanged since its launch. The unchanged element that impacts fluidity most is zone transitions. Never once, have I seen my spaceship dock in a station, or enter a jump gate. I am tired of imagining a docking animation, or how a ship might look as it enters a jump gate.

CCP could kill two birds with one stone by creating station docking animations and jump gate entrance animations. When these animation sequences are initiated the client would begin to load the next zone. By the time the animation ends the zone would be loaded and there would be no black loading screens or scene changes where a ship appears docked without knowing how it got there.

Jump Gate Animation - This animation would function quite simply by creating a smooth transition into a warp animation similar to that seen by the millennium falcon in Star Wars. Other players will continue to see ships burst forth from the jump gate in balls of light while the gate jumper will see the space around them turn into the inside of wormhole-like space. While this sequence is occurring the new zone will be loading. While jumping players will still be able to access all their menus, and interact in market activities as well as chat, so it appears that the game is not on hold.

Station Docking Animation - When ships reach the distance mark in which the "docking request has been accepted" the ship will then be guided into a docking animation where we see the ship enter the station and dock in an appropriate area. While this sequence is occurring players should still be able to access all their menus. This could also show a visual explanation of why it take so long to switch between spaceships as the game currently gives you a countdown explaining that the ship is still docking even though it appears to be sitting in the hangar.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

What Are Fleet Battles Missing?

I love it when CCP releases a new trailer for Eve. The animated banners themselves that show little Eve ships flying around and blowing the hell out of each other are quite cool to watch. Every time I see them they make me want to be a part of those fleets. Heck, they even make mining look cool. So why don't you ever find yourself a part of an eve battle that looks anywhere near as cool as the ones in the trailers do?

The simple answer is because Eve uses a special engine to render out their videos. Clearly the lighting engine is better, there is antialiasing (which is supported by every game in the known universe except EVE!#@?), and quite a few other visual treats that the game engine does not offer. But there is something in particular that makes the cinematic battles look freaken awesome. This particular thing is (drum roll please)... Formations!

You will notice that all the fleet battles in trailers have some type of formation. Two sides are often facing off, ships are all flying parallel to one another, frigates are in delta flying formations and ships are spaced realistically.

Here is a screen from a trailer. Looks cool doesn't it? Now let's have a look at a real Eve fleet battle.

Hmmm. I wonder why Eve trailers don't use this kind of footage? Maybe because it's fugly beyond all reason! Can you tell who is winning this battle?

Granted one can setup their interface to display fleet ships as blue squares and enemy ship as red squares, however, if this is done all you shall see is a giant blob of intermixed red and blue squares. Sure you may be able to estimate who has more ships but you won't really be able to determine any visible strategies.

So in case you haven't guessed by this point I am going to suggest adding formations into Eve. This is how it can work:

There will be a series of formation skills, each skill will improve upon a different type of formation. When a player is in a squad leader position he or she will be able to choose any formation that they have trained skills for and form their squad into that formation. Once in a formation, ships fly in sync with one another. Pilots will be able to break out of a formation at any time and they will also be in control of their own modules and weapons, however, when in a formation the squad leader will have control of his squad's movement.

Ok, so clearly I am trying to make the game look cooler, but how will this improve a fleets fighting potential? Yes, just about every pilot will have different optimal ranges, speeds, modules, etc. This would force fleets to set themselves up with squads that have similar ship setups. For example one squad would be tackler frigates, while another would be sniper battleships. But the real incentive for flying in formations is the bonuses that formation members will receive. A delta formation may increase maximum speed, a broad formation may increase optimal range, while a sphere may increase repairer effectiveness.

Pictures of possible formations (yes these are from Homeworld)

Delta - Used to increase squadron speed.

Broad - Used to increase optimal weapon range.

Wall - Used to increase weapon damage.

Sphere - Used to increased remote repairing effectiveness.

Atom - An orbiting formation used to increase weapon damage.

Formations will be switched mid combat if the squad leader deems it necessary. For example a frigate squad may use delta formation to increase their speed while they cut the distance to their target, and then switch to an atom formation that increases the damage to a target. This could add an extra level of depth to each combat situation and make good fleet commanding all the more important to the success of an engagement.

Ok so assuming this feature was implemented and now we have fleets flying at each other in formations. Would someone sitting by be able to tell who is fighting who? Maybe.. but there is another way to address this issue even further: give wing commanders/fleet commanders racial ship bonuses. Different racial command skills could be trained. A fleet commander with a "Caldari missle command skill" could give added bonuses to all missile damage for Caldari ships. This wouldn't exclude people from flying an Amarr, Gallete or Minmatar ship with the fleet but it would give great incentive to use Caladri ships. Now you can have ship fleets that look like they belong together.

But what about two Caldari fleets facing off against each other? This will happen, but one way to entice bi-racial fleet battles is adding bonus to Faction warfare for using your faction's ships. This could not only make factions use their own ships but also give players extra incentive to join the militias. Faction warfare doesn't pay as well as people would like it to so why not give militia members an added combat boost?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Drone Tweaks

First off let me say that this is my first blog attempt... ever. The purpose of this blog is to discuss all faculties of EVE including personal stories, strategies, opinions, and ideas.

Ok, on to the meat of this post.

Drones are a big part of EVE. They are common place in both fighting and mining and should never be taken lightly in either profession. They are also in need of some major polish both in the ways they visually interact with your ship and how they are controlled.


The drone window operates like most other windows in EVE. Often players have it located below the overview window. Drones can be launched by right clicking the individual drone or the folder in which those drones are grouped, and selecting launch drones from the pull down list.

Sure, this is simple enough. However, finding a tiny name located in the corner of your screen, right clicking, moving down the pulldown list to the desired operation and clicking it is time consuming in the heat of battle. Not only that but a ship that relies on drones for its main source of damage is constantly giving drones orders: selecting specific drones and telling them to dock with your ship, ordering others to change targets, disbanding them for new ones, etc. Sorry CCP but your drone interface is slow, it's ugly, and I often end up clicking the wrong things on the pull down list, like "scoop to cargo hold". It needs a complete face lift.

My suggestion would be to add drone icons into the ship modules display. It could either be next to the existing module display or completely integrate with it. One icon would tell your drones to attack, another icon would tell them to dock, and another to orbit your ship. Each drone group would have its own launch icon. All drone grouping would be handled in an improved drone bay window in which the player will have 5 group folders that they can drag and drop drones into. Not more right clicking and adding drones to attack group. Drones in space would have active stat readouts next to this interface rather than having to scroll through a drone window to see your drone's health.

I am aware of the drone keyboard shortcuts but find those to be annoying and very unfriendly to newb drone pilots.

Visual Interaction

I consider myself an artist and have worked on game art in the past. The way that CCP handles drone visuals is particularly painful to me. This game has so many beautiful and realistic graphic elements to it, but when I see a drone pop into space from nowhere it ruins the sense of realism completely.

This next suggestion would be a fair amount of work on CCPs part. I actually understand the amount of time it would require to implement this change yet I feel it is worth it to keep EVE graphics up to date with modern titles. That being said, drones need to have a docking and undocking animation. This also means that ships capable of carrying drones need a visual drone bay.

Example of a Dominix with a drone bay in the side.

Carriers in Homeworld handled this animation beautifully. When a carrier would launch interceptors you would see each individual interceptor exit the carrying bay. Likewise you would see them line up and enter back into the carrier bay when docking. Most games these days have similar animation sequences and EVE is no exception to this standard.

Another issue that I have with drones is the placement of sentry drones. When launching sentry drones they seem to just plop out into space in a random blob. It looks completely uncoordinated and un-intimidating. If sentry drones where to have a formation like appearance upon exiting the drone bay I think it would really make them appear much cooler.

Example of sentry drone placement.

This led me to think about an actual improvement to sentry drones with the ability to keep their formation around the carrier ship. Ships have tractor beams right? Why not let them tractor around with the ship. The sentry drones would not orbit or fly after other ships but would act more like destructible guns that follow your ship around. This would eliminate the annoying procedure of scooping them up every time you want to change locations. Then again it could pose some balancing issues in pvp.

What do you think?