I want to write a pair of posts about space-based industry in EVE Online (as well as a bit about industry in EVE Online in general). But I'm going to write the first post in the context of Kerbal Space Program. The two games are more connected in this small way than you probably realize. Or at least, they should be. Because both of these games involve building things that fly in space. And because building things that fly in space in KSP is insanely fun.
Doing so is challenging, engages your brain, and instills a real sense of accomplishment when you build something big and it happens to work. This applies whether you're doing it in space or on a planet or building some of the truly goofy creations that KSP players have come up with.
Building stuff -- just building stuff! -- in KSP is insanely fun.
Though my progress in the game has slowed down a lot (due to the factors I mentioned this morning), I'm still in the process of building my Jool exploration ship. And I got it into my head that I'd kind of like to use the same basic design as spaceship Discovery from the movies 2001 and 2010: thin and really long, crew cabin up front, engines in the back. But to put a KSP spin on it (and in a slight nod toward reality) I decided that instead of jettisoning fuel tanks from the sides the way I did it with my Enterprise design, this time I'd jettison fuel tanks from the length of the ship.
Fly around for a while, undock from both ends of a fuel tank, cut it loose, redock the remaining components, fly around for a while. Before long, I'll just have the small fuel tank up top left with a few landers (both remote-controlled and piloted) attached to it. I'm making the whole thing modular, and playing around with different modules. Do I want to use the tried-and-true Skipper engine to power the thing? Or do I want to go with a trio of nuclear engines like the movie Discovery? How long should I make it? What should the landers look like? What should the probes look like? It's all pretty much in flux, though I think I've finalized my Leythe lander:
That sucker can make it into orbit from the surface of Kerbal, easy, which means it should also be able to get itself into orbit from Leythe despite that moon's gravity. I'm absurdly pleased with it, actually: everything I need to actually land -- parachutes, landing legs, lights -- is attached to the three outboard fuel tanks and engines. Once it's on its way back to Leythe orbit, I can cut all that stuff loose. The central spacecraft is surprisingly light and nimble.
And in doing all of this, from the design of the ship to the design of the unmanned probes to the design of the landers, I'm using past experience from my previous KSP ships. I'm testing each piece, then I make sure the pieces work together. I'm trying out different engines, trying out different landing strategies, starting to pay more attention to mass than I have previously. It's all immensely satisfying.
It'll be weeks before I actually get around to flying the mission and I don't much care because I'm enjoying the playing and tinkering. I'm having fun, which is kind of the point to playing a game. Anyone remember that?
Compare and contrast with EVE, where building things that fly in space is a workmanlike chore. It's spreadsheets and logistics and huge cans full of obscure stuff. And all of it is about as much fun as one's real job... probably less so, because lots of people do enjoy their real jobs.
Building my space stations in KSP felt like a project, and it was something I was invested in at each stage of the process. I thought about the design, the elements I wanted to include, and how all of them were going to fit together. I thought about my stations in the context of what I was going to use them for, which meant that I had to think about what items I wanted to incorporate and where I wanted to incorporate them. It took skill to do and instilled a real sense of pride of ownership when I was done and they were doing the job that I wanted them to do.
Again, compare and contrast to EVE, where building a starbase is a task that players dread and will avoid if they can at all do so.
As CCP Ytterbium has revealed, EVE is doing an industry-based expansion for the summer. Heaven knows it's been a long time coming. And as a partially industry-focused player, of course I'm happy about it. But in a lot of ways, what was announced in the dev blog announcing this theme is really just polishing the sneaker: making industry a little bit easier, making it a little bit more interesting, and changing the dynamic of how and where things get built (more on that in my second post).
But I don't kid myself into believing that building stuff will be any more fun. The game and the fun that goes with it is still very much about what you do with the ships after they're built, not the enjoyment of building the ships. But does it have to be that way all the time? KSP (and other games that focus on the mechanics of building things, and making building things fun) says no.
It's an answer to the question that maybe CCP should consider at some point.
Anyway, more about the actual mechanics of what's being announced in the dev blog in my next post.