Friday, November 18, 2011

Blog Banter 30: The Melting Pot

     Some people amaze me with their ability to come up with really amazing ideas.  I am not that artfully minded, so by the time my bulldozer-like mental process puke out some funky idea, likely a billion other people have already thought it out, about 500 years ago.  For instance, I thought it would be very cool to have something to wear on your hands, the same way you can wear socks to keep your feet warm.  The difference is though, and get this, each finger would have its OWN little sewn pocket to go into.  How cool is that!  I would call them "hand socks".  I think they'll really catch on.  On to Eve though and what I would wish for if the devs had time on their hands.

     When I started playing Eve, I thought of two things - Star Wars and Firefly.

     For Star Wars, I spent a lot of time with my son playing X-Wing vs Tie Fighter.  Awesome game and there was many a joystick we broke or just plain wore out.  In that game, there was a lot of manual flying, but there was also times where you just set the throttle and flew.  If the devs had the time, I think it would be cool to implement joystick connectivity if you wanted it.  I had great fun chasing down enemy ships and shooting them, and I would enjoy chasing down rats and players and shooting them in the same way.

     While the Eve guns track and move, completely different from the small ship guns in X-Wing, once in joystick mode (which could be switched to with a hot key) a small targeting window would appear on the GUI (that could be re-sized and moved around) and in the small targeting window would be a fixed reticule.  This targeting window would also be able to have the camera view zoom in and out, like the main GUI, and is essentially the tracking computer/gun camera view.  In order to shoot the target, you would actually have to fly your boat.  The position of the guns sight reticule in relation to the ship you're trying to shoot is calculated by the combination of your character skills, and the tracking characteristics of guns, coupled with your flying speed.  A green reticule shows you are in range, yellow in falloff, and red out of range.  The better your gunnery skills, the smaller the reticule size.  Your rounds/damage can land anywhere inside the reticule, so the better your skills, the tighter the grouping.  In joystick mode, when the reticule is on target, that's where your guns will land.  When you're flying in joystick mode, you would be able to select either volley fire, or ripple fire.  Volley fire is great if you know you are on target, and all guns fire at once.  If you are trying to bracket the target, or your reticule is larger, or you have a tough target, ripple fire activates the guns sequentially.

     Switching into joystick mode would toggle cockpit view, so some simple windscreen/bridge layouts/views would be activated and you'd be looking out the front window of your boat.  Each boat, or more specifically race, would have their own style of layout but it would still have all the critical information concerning ship status and equipment.  Switching from keyboard/mouse to joystick would be no different than switching from normal GUI mode to map mode or planet view mode.

     Now granted, how "exciting" is joystick mode going to be for a sniper Apoc at 140km?  Quite likely not very.  But that would change considerably considering the size of the ships and the closer orbit ranges of some of the smaller ships.  Small ship fights and brawls would be much different than longer range encounters.  There are lots of joystick controlled games out there and people gravitate towards them because of the personal skill it takes to pilot any particular craft well.  At the same time, other might say it would be too hard to control.  It would be too hard to learn.  Point of fact though, the targeting/reticule window is EXACTLY how pilots of C-130 gunships aim and how most fighters aim (via HUDS).  They fly their planes to put the reticule on the target.  This idea might be impractical for Eve's ship mechanics, but joystick flying a spaceship is a blast :)


     The second part of the idea is fairly simple in scope, but fairly massive in execution.  All the individual aspects are being worked on, or will be worked on by CCP anyway, it's just a matter of putting them together.

- CCP has Eve, space and their spaceships
- CCP is working on adding internal game play and avatars to Eve
- CCP is working on a ground based MMO in the form of World of Darkness
- CCP is working on a ground based addition to Eve in the form of Dust 514

     Now, just put all those together.  See?  Told you it was simple.  :)

     Fly your ships around in space, and anything smaller than a battle ship can fly a few more places.  If you warp to a planet, you don't just warp to a planet, you can select a city to warp to as well.  Warp to high orbit, in the docking space of a ground city, and fly your ship down and dock at a spaceport on the ground.  there could even be different space ports for different ships, IE commercial/freighter, shuttles, repair facilities that are player owned, etc.  All the commerce and businesses that exist in space could also exist on the ground.  Take any aspect of an MMO other than Eve, and incorporate that mechanic to the ground portion of Eve.  The missions, the industry, the ground based skill sets, everything.

     Scanning skills in Eve could also benefit scanning and exploration skills for new planets.  Certain planets would by necessity have certain, unique, city structures, keeping in line with what Dust and current PI needs are.  In the space age theme of Eve, (and/or Star Wars or Firefly), expanding to different planets, systems and regions is just a matter of a player doing it.  Default, NPC "basic" settlements could/would exist to help an explorer with basic necessities on any planet they are landing on, but planet development would be directed by players and what they transport/freight in, and what they set up.  Anything that the player can do in space, can be done in a similar ground-based theme.  New player income and occupation opportunities would abound.

     So, like, I know.  "Dude, sounds like a job.  Sounds like life.  I play Eve for fun, not another job!  I play Eve to get away from real life for a little while!"  Yeah, but the difference is, as massive and all-encompassing as the Eve "universe" (truly) could be, with the amalgamation of space with the ground, you can walk away from it.  If you're bored with space, go "live" on a planet.  in real life, you have to do a lot of boring and tedious things, you have to "work", because it pays the bills.  In Eve, if you're bored with running a mining/industrial POS in a WH, go try a mining operation on a planet where you manufacture weapons and vehicles for use on a planet.  Go be a ground based bounty hunter or merc.  Be a bandit and hijack ground based shipments or operate a shipping agency, ground to ground, ground to space, planet to planet, whatever you want.  Is every planet going to be civilized?  What kind of intelligent life or animals will be on each planet?  At what evolutionary stage will each planet be?  Want to fight alien dinosaurs or dragons?  How about advanced AI machines?  Whatever CCP and the players can come up with, there's thousands upon thousands of planets just waiting to be populated.

     As monumentally huge a project as something like this would be, the upside is, EVERY gamer, whether they are console or PC, shooter, griefer, avatar-fan, whatever, they all would have a spot to fill, a place to play, a piece of gameplay that fits them.  Want a melting pot?  Eve: Universe.

On a more pragmatic note, maybe this is the direction CCP is headed anyway once they find out how well Eve and Dust are going to interact.  Hope so, but it would be a fairly massive undertaking.

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