Wednesday, 18 January 2012
BB32: The Sandbox Argument
"A quick view of the Eve Online forums can always find someone complaining about being suicide ganked, whining about some scam they fell for or other such tears. With the Goons' Ice Interdiction claiming a vast amount of mining ships there were calls for an "opt out of PvP" option.
Should this happen? Should people be able to opt-out of PvP in Eve Online? Should CONCORD prevent crime rather than just handing out justice after the event? Or do the hi-sec population already have too much protection from the scum and villainy that inhabits the game?"
I've read through many of the blog banter responses so far and quite frankly I'm disappointed. There's an overwhelming prevalance toward a short-sighted "feet under the table" attitude. The majority of current EVE players seem rooted in preventing the growth of this sandbox MMO, resisting change and every opportunity and decrying new ideas.
Already this myopic attitude has all but brought an end to Walking In Stations which, however misguided in implementation, was an idea with the vision to attract a much wider demographic to boost the fortunes of EVE Online as a whole. Sadly, Incarna is now viewed as a developmental leper by the many players still foaming at the mouth from the mob rule of last summer and we are unlikely to see if the concept would have eventually yielded fruit.
My earlier mention of the sandbox is key to understanding my stance. Many commentators repulsed by the idea of a change to the current combat/aggression mechanics to foster a more nurturing environment claim that the ubiquitous risk of loss in New Eden is its Unique Selling Point. They are incorrect. Many games remove your progress in the event of your death. The USP is the risk and the sandbox environment. If all participants are not able to do as they please, then its not really a sandbox is it?
This is a double-edged argument; to prevent any action through the implementation of a mechanic undermines the sandbox principle - in the case of suicide-ganking of high-sec PvE-ers, either the perpetrators or the victims will complain their sandbox privileges are being violated. So already we've found the edge of our sandbox, it's got limitations.
Reasonably you may argue that those already playing in the sandbox have jurisdiction and should dictate the nature of the castle-building and hole-digging that goes on. To a degree, this is true. The owners of the sandbox certainly need to ensure that the current children are happy smashing each others castles and that there is enough sand to go around. But equally the sandbox curators need to consider what happens when these children inevitably grow up, get bored or develop different tastes.
Of course, there will always be the educationally subnormal ones who will sit and play in the sand forever and certainly someone should always be on standby to wipe the dribble from Special Ed's chin. But where is the harm in introducing new elements to the playground for children of different tastes. Some of the existing sandbox occupants might even find they like an occasional change of pace, playing in a new variation of sandpit. Children like Ed would eat less sand in a ballpit anyway, and more children like him might find their way into the sandpit if allowed to play in the safety of the ballpit first. This new influx would be sure to please those horrible children who like picking on kids like Ed.
Less resistance to change would do EVE Online the world of good. It's all very well the existing elitist playerbase demand that all possible new players be put through Hell Month just like they did, but those self-serving campaigners are simply the spoilt children who don't like poor little Ed because he smells funny and still wears a nappy. There have been plenty of perfectly plausible suggestions made elsewhere in this Blog Banter that would support both the existing playerbase, but allow for a softer approach to entice the Special Eds of the gaming world.
Lots of comments are probably inbound about how I don't understand EVE and the introduction of more casual or safer elements would kill EVE. Many might claim that my use of tasteless analogies shows a complete lack of empathy and I clearly don't know what I'm talking about. I have two replies to that; 1. You're all closed-minded, unimaginative sheep. and 2...
Have you eaten too much sand?