Thursday, November 1, 2012

Eve and the coat of many metas

     OMFG!  How can a fucking Eve player not know about <insert massive in-game event here>?!?!

     That's pretty common on blogs and fora and podcasts.  Common as the risk vs reward meme (. . . and that's pronounced MEEM, like BEAM or SCREAM, not fucking "memmy" like "mommy" with a soft "E", ffs)  Whether it's hulkageddon, ice interdictions, a dev fleet or burning a trade hub, hard core Eve players seem incredulous that other players have no idea what these things are or what they are talking about.  Burning Jita was a bit of an exception though, as people were presented with a splash screen at log-on.  At the same time though, I can also say that I don't always read what is written on those things, so no doubt, like me, people will go to let the dog out, the wife in or to freshen their wobbly pop while the client churns out the character screen.  Lots of players have never even heard of Jita . . .

     Much to the dismay of the Eve vet, or MMO "expert", Eve doesn't have a monopoly on meta gaming.  Lots of other games and MMOs have plenty of meta content to enhance the gameplay as well, but Eve has certainly stepped it up a notch when you don't even need to log in to "play" the game.  For a lot of players, casual gamers, people who just play to relax for a few minutes or hours, do exactly that.  Log in, do some stuff, log out.  Eve isn't their hobby.  It isn't only/mainly where their friends are.  It isn't only/mainly where they get to interact with people.  It isn't some ephemeral "life fill" to expand into a huge, gaping space in their existence where something from the real world could/should be.  It's just a game.  Part time.  Preferably/supposedly fun.  Fora, blogs, Skype, Mumble, Ventrilo, Teamspeak and podcasts?  WTF?!?  It's a GAME.  Again, unbelievably to the hard-core podders, people have no interest in, or sometimes even understanding about, why they would need to or want to spend time outside the game, reading or listening to shit ABOUT the game.

     On the other hand, I fully understand how the meta game most definitely affects what happens inside the game, and whether any particular player knows about or cares about the meta game, they are still affected by it.  Absolutely NO question or doubt about that.

     At the same time though, (and this is going to be a tough thing to control), if CCP lets, or has allowed, their game to get to a point whereby even a casual player will NEED to know about the meta game in order to extract even the most basic enjoyment out of it, that's a fail.  By "enjoyment" I mean whatever basic reason any particular player uses as their motivation to play "a" game, or THE game of Eve.  I understand a company's desire to encourage their players/customers by rewarding them for investing enough or "extra" effort in their product to keep up with fora, dev posts, special event notifications in the meta environment, etc.  I helps to cement the "crack" aspect of their product.  At the same time though, the need for a player/customer to have to expend extra effort, above casual interest, in order to partake in or even hear about the odd little special offer or special event means that casual players will be less interested in a game.  In the present push-button, instant gratification world we current abide in, that's going to make other games, with easter eggs available to everyone, far more interesting.  Not good for Eve.

     The biggest area where the meta game has a negative effect on Eve, is negative press.  Bad things always, always get better press than good things.  Rage inspires more action than a warm, glowy feeling from something nice.  So, in order for CCP to do something other than slowly, slowly plod along with and extremely flat subscription growth, they're going to have to start pointing Eve in a direction that moves away from the asshole contingent in the game, and then hopefully use the meta game to promote a happier, friendlier game, in the meta "game", to gather in new, casual gamers, who aren't really interested in the meta game.  Ah yes, simple times indeed.

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