Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Tyrannis: The Anti-Social Expansion?

The excitement and trepidation that surrounds each EVE expansion is a real calendar highlight for me, with entertainment to be found in both the new content and the resultant reaction from the playerbase. We Freebooters always like to try out the new stuff as much as we can, even if we're not intending to adopt it into our regular playstyle. We've got to get our money's-worth, after all.

With Apocrypha we had the opportunity to flirt with wormholes; some players had a quick look, decided it was "a bit scary in there" and moved on, others stayed and a new play-style was invented with w-space frontiersmen playing murderous games of hide-and-seek with each other and any unwitting visitors. At Freeboot Towers we pretty much bankrolled the rebirth of our corp by selling hugely overpriced scan probe launchers during that initial period when everyone and his mother was investigating the wormhole phenomena.

The arrival of Dominion was very null-space-centric so I've had little first-hand experience of this, however it did encourage us to join an alliance for the first time and the Fleet Finder was a very useful tool for ganging up with a bunch of folks we'd only just met.

However, to me Tyrannis feels a little at odds with the whole MMO concept. For the last few weeks my EVE-playing has felt very insular. There's been lots of reading in order to understand the intricacies of Planetary Interaction in order to make best use of the new tools, which I don't mind as part of the preparation cycle. But in-game my time has been very single-player oriented. Again, I don't mind the initial setting-up phase as I experiment with different colony layouts and fine-tune my production chain, but even when it's all established there's an awful lot of micro-management required, with the current mechanics requiring the restart of each individual extractor at thirty-minute, five-hour, one-day or four-day intervals.

There's a heavy efficiency price to pay for using the four-day option, so if you're going to bother with Planetary Interaction at all it's hardly worth using that. I've got five colonies, each with at least ten extractors, so this means at least once per day the game mechanics are set up for me to endlessly click at least fifty fiddly extractor menus in order to get them doing what they were doing before.

I really like the idea of Planetary Interaction and it's quite imagination-provoking, but unless repetitive tasks are your thing, it is essentially quite dull. Even the 'exciting' bit when goods need collecting requires the player to avoid all contact with other, lest they get blown up which is generally not considered a satisfactory outcome in any business plan.

It's little wonder CCP bolted Evegate onto Tyrannis in an effort to increase player interactivity and I'm not sure how successfully that's been embraced thus far.

How's Tyrannis been for you?