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Daily Column

9 new MMOG articles today. For those of you keeping score that’s 256 pieces of MMOG entertainment in October that you can’t find anywhere else. No other network comes close.

I've tried to avoid writing about a certain article, but I've been asked for my opinion so many times now that I feel obliged to share. The article in question is titled, World of EveCraft. The author attempts to prove that EVE Online is a superior gameplay model to WoW for new developers.

"So here’s the thing: Eve Online is a better model for making an MMO than World Of Warcraft. If someone, right now, was looking for a way to create an interesting MMO they should take Eve as their mechanical gameplay model, and not WoW." - Jim Rossignol

I wrote a reintroduction to EVE not so long ago. I enjoy the game, but I don't enjoy it enough to play it as my full-time MMOG. The players who frequent EVE, who play it as their main MMOG and who are so incredibly passionate about it are players who enjoy competing on a variety of levels with other living players. They enjoy PvP combat. They enjoy PvP in every sense of the game, right down to controlling the manufacture of goods.

Without PvP I'm not sure that EVE works at all. The content, in this case the conflict, is player created unlike the content in a conventional MMOG that is developer created. There is some PvE content, but it consists mostly of FedEX and Kill 10 Rats quests that are both uninspiring and cumbersome given the time it takes to travel from point A to B in the game.

But what about the skill system? "There are no levels in EVE" the players shout. Everyone is equal. The skill system in EVE is indeed unique in that you learn skills over time whether you are logged into the game or not. This system results in long-term players having more skills and more powerful skills than young players. No amount of condensed play can remove the advantage of the player who started before you. As a player who enjoys "speed leveling" I felt throttled.

In EVE the skill-gap isn't too much of a problem. Anyone can contribute to a PvP battle because there are no limits on how many players can show up. Everyone is invited to the PvP party. PvE content necessarily has this restriction. 5-man instances, 20-man raids, etc. are built for a specific number of players. In EVE you might send out 100 players and encounter one enemy or you might encounter 200. You just never know. It's exhilarating, but for the folks on the receiving end or for those that don't want to join huge corporations (EVE's equivalent of a guild) you end up with limited advancement, just like you would in World of Warcraft. Learn all the skills that you want boys, the GoonSwarm (a large, vocal and powerful EVE corporation) or another large corporation is coming with 1,000 ships to take you out! An advancement mechanic in EVE doesn't guarantee that a player can find the level of challenge that they desire. Neither does a level based system I suppose, but it lends itself to provisioning more focused content.

The EVE design appeals to a very specific group of players. It delivers a direct-hit to their pleasure factory. There is still a level-divide, no matter how much the author believes that it doesn't exist. The level-divide is simply measured in skills. Those with more skills are more powerful and in a PvP environment that means everything.

Those of you that played or continue to play EverQuest will remember Alternate Achievement Points. These are ostensibly skills that you earn by, get this... leveling. They take a level based game and at level cap (or slightly before) give it a skill-based component.

Where is this rambling going? I'm running out of time, so I'll just cut it short. Be careful what you wish for. WoW has nine million players for a reason and that reason isn't poor game design. It is a game that can be enjoyed at a very basic level or taken to a level of skill only imagined by most. Watch an exceptional player solo something that you and two friends can't defeat to see what I mean. Enter battlegrounds and watch a truly talented player or team of players dismantle a team of average skill. Sure there is an item-gap between the best and rest, as well there should be. People with a given talent usually reap rewards from that talent. It's the way the world works. Somehow it may seem as palatable in a game, but the rules of the universe grind on...

Your thoughts?

Comments, questions or naughty pictures? Hit the blog or hit my mailbox. --Boomjack

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- John "Boomjack" Hoskin and the Ten Ton Hammer Team

Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016

About The Author

Hoskin 0
Dissecting and distilling the game industry since 1994. Lover of family time, youth hockey, eSports, and the game industry in general.