Trees vs Choices

After spending some time with Diablo III, I was reminded of maybe the most fundamental change between D2 and D3, and in “old” Bizzard and “new” Blizzard.  Most of you are probably aware of the skill trees in Diablo 2.  Some of you may have played World of Warcraft.  Both had skill trees that looked like a flow chart: A Diablo II skill tree. An “old” WoW talent tree. Both operated on the idea that at various experience levels you gained points to spend in the trees.  These points either improved abilities or unlocked new ones.  Diablo 3 and the new WoW talent trees both dumped that approach in favor of unlocking core abilities at certain levels, and then providing a small number of choices.  In D3 this takes the form of glyphs that alter a given ability.  In WoW, the system is a little more convoluted, but at each talent tree level you generally get to choose between three additional abilities or modifications. Picking glyphs for a skill in Diablo 3. The “new” talent tree in WoW.  Another major change in the system was that in the old point-based system respeccing your skills was either impossible or incurred a Continue Reading →

Objects in Space

Note: This is old material, sitting in my draft bin for a long period of time.  The links are also to the old articles that got me thinking. Why should ships log off when players log off?  This has always interested me in Eve.  My understanding of the current mechanic is that, aside from timers, if you log off while in space, you go into a “warp stasis”, where your ship is apparently in a pocket dimension that you mysteriously come back from when you log back in.  From a technical standpoint, I can sort of understand this.  There are already enough objects in space on the server.  But perhaps if you log off while in space, your ship should stay where you left it? This would fit with the ideas behind stations and POSes.  Stations are where you go to get out of your ship, get other ships, trade, and so on.  Stattions are also the only almost completely safe space in Eve.  No one can blow up your ship while it’s docked.  In space where stations do not exist, POSes fulfill this role with hangars and force fields.  Would anyone leave a valuable ship sitting in a WH Continue Reading →

Growing Up

Now approaching its tenth year, the EVE Online player community has matured into an intricate and multi-faceted society viewed with envy by other game developers, but is frequently regarded with suspicion by the wider gaming community.  Is this perception deserved? Should “The Nation of EVE” be concerned by its public identity and if so how might that be improved? What influence will the integration of the DUST 514 community have on this culture in the future? -Seismic Stan, Freebooted, Blog Banter 35 Any discussion of the Eve community is tricky.  When you think of Eve from the inside, there are myriad groups all work with and against each other.  How do you succinctly capture a community that includes the CFC, R & K, Rote Kapelle, Tuskers, Faction Warfare, RP junkies, pirates, miners, inventors, manufacturers, wormholers, carebears, and traders?  Then add the flavors of each in all the various parts of space.  Then look at the meta community, which adds yet another layer.  I suppose the common theme to all the players who keep coming back is one of involvement.  The only way to succeed in Eve is not play, but if you ignore that, you reach a semblance of success Continue Reading →

Mass Effect 3: A Lesson in Player Investment

I don’t often post about other games here, but I wanted to take a look at the uproar over Mass Effect 3 and the endings, and something it says about games and gamers in general.  I promise there is a tie in to Eve at the end, but to explain the ME3 situation will require a lot of background. <There are ME spoilers here, so be warned.  Also I have always played a paragon female Shepard, so I refer to Shep as “her”, and may have only directly experienced portions of the game available to a paragon.> If you have been living under a rock for the last few weeks you may not have noticed the anger amongst players of ME3 over the various endings available.  There are a few complaints, briefly: The ending is illogical, employing a dues ex machina once the Crucible is activated. The behaviors of the team mates are illogical, with them all teleporting to the Normandy, as is the consequence of the Mass Relays being destroyed. The sudden change of the nature of the synthetic-organic conflict does not take into account anything the player has done. The 3 endings are, aside from colors and types Continue Reading →


Over at Jester’s, there was an interesting post highlighting what I think is a common view in multiplayer games.  A commenter posted that Eve doesn’t have smarter players, it has less players doing more with alts, and also that CCP has failed to deliver on the “Dream of Eve”.  The poster seems to imply that because players are using alts, and focusing on optimized play-styles, Eve is dead to him.  Ripard seems to take that same premise and draw the opposite conclusion, that optimization is good.  I think both slightly miss a larger function of Multiplayer gaming in general.  The older a game gets, the more people learn the “right” ways to work, and many players will gravitate towards this. Take WoW as an example.  I played a hunter for some time, and during each expansion, there came a point where the optimal gear for each build was known, and if you didn’t use that build and gear, finding a raid spot was tough.  This took some creativity and trial to learn, but once it was found, most groups with progression on their minds demanded you work towards the optimal.  This holds true across classes. Look at TF2.  Each map Continue Reading →