Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
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Friday, July 15, 2011

Take what you like and leave the rest

I have two more posts about Perpetuum in me, then it will likely be moved to the "Departed MMOs" slot and I'll start looking for a replacement.  I'll probably dunk a toe into Fallen Earth after it goes F2P.

As I mentioned in my last post, PO does eleven things really well when compared to EVE Online.  In that post, I covered ten of them.  I'll cover the last one tomorrow.  But first, I want to cover ten things that PO really does poorly when compared to EVE Online.  Such comparisons are inevitable because as I've said already, PO and EVE are the same game with different skins.  Still, Avatar Creations had the opportunity to break from EVE's way of doing things when it made sense to do so.

I've already covered a few of these, so let's get those out of the way first:

#10: Weapon fire isn't blocked by solid objects.  I covered this one at length in my post about line of sight, targeting, and firing in PO.  Still, it's worth mentioning again.  I understand that I shouldn't be able to grief people on Alpha ground.  But Avatar should have taken the Global Agenda approach that shots are blocked by any solid object.  They might not do damage to a neutral robot, but the fire should hit them and be blocked by them.  If a hostile robot steps in front of the fire intended for another target, that fire should hit the blocker, not the target.  Make players get used to using each other as cover and responding to the rats doing the same.

#9: The game is two-dimensional for no good reason other than to the force the use of the terrain.  Give these robots jump-jets, Avatar!  Make them take up a slot or two, but give players that option.  I'm not asking for flying robots.  Just jumping ones.  Let players ambush each other from above, or hide in valleys and "pop up" as enemies approach.  Let defenders stand on the tops of structures and use them as cover from attackers below.  Let a player who has no interest in the big trench in the middle of the map hop over it, as long as he's willing to sacrifice some of his tank to do so.

#8: In a very similar vein: travel time in this game is boring.  EVE has warp drive and/or autopilot to cover long distances in safe terrain automatically.  PO has no equivalent that I found.  You can automagically approach things, but you'll hardly ever do that because it's so easy to get hung up on the terrain.  So, you're manually piloting everywhere, which gets really old in a big hurry.  You've got one type of shortcut that I thought was cool: a "freeway"-like line of structures that greatly speeds robots that walk between them.  Put in more of these.  Then make your light bots and assault bots faster.  It's a PITA to walk for five minutes to get to an assignment location, scan five robots (taking one minute), and then walk for five more minutes to turn in that assignment.

#7: Not letting trial accounts use your game's market is dumb, dumb, dumb.  How about letting me try the game?  Put limits on the amount I can buy and sell in a day if you must, but let me buy and sell.  This allows me to buy other types of weapons, ammo, mods, and robots, and try them out.  If I can only try out one type of weapon and four types of mods on one type of robot, I will probably miss something that will encourage me to subscribe to your game, don't you think?

#6: Related: there isn't enough differentiation of low-level robots and ways to fit them.  For instance, there is only one good way to fit a light combat robot: four guns, a plate, a repper, and either a sebo or a chassis scanner.  Granted, you're developing a new game, and presumably, there will eventually be other types of light bots as you have time to develop them.  But make it a priority!  If light bots are going to be all that a new player can use, have a variety of them available with different strengths and weaknesses.  It ups the initial cool factor of your game.

#5: Four related topics.  First, your LOS/targeting/locking model is really bad in general.  Your game was crying out for no targeting system at all, and for manual firing of weapons.  Again, I've covered this before, but let's get into some specifics, starting with sight range and fog of war.  When I undock, I can often see robots 2000 meters away, despite intervening cover, hard and soft.  Then, as I start walking toward a specific area, often, new robots can pop up in my overview only a few hundred meters away that were previously invisible.  This presents the illusion that your game is instanced when it really isn't!  This isn't what you want to be doing.

#4: This comes to a head the instant you deploy, and see yourself completely surrounded by little red plusses in all directions.  Dear God, does this make your game look cluttered.  Things only get worse as you start approaching some of these little red plusses.  Because you can see those plusses through terrain and structures, before too long, you'll start seeing through hillsides to little red plusses apparently embedded into those hillsides.  And because you can see those little plusses hundreds of meters before you can see the terrain, sometimes you get little red plusses apparently floating in mid-air.  And finally, since you can also see not only plusses 200 meters from you, but those 1500 meters from you, it becomes difficult or impossible to tell which ones are the plusses you're approaching without referring frequently to the overview.  This is also not what you want to be doing.

#3: The net result is that by aping the EVE model so closely, you're making your game ridiculous.  ECM slavishly follows the EVE model, for instance, acting by breaking all the locks for the targeted robot.  This doesn't make much sense in EVE, much less in your game.  How about ECM, that instead, makes your robot invisible on overview beyond a certain range (say, 500 meters), and impossible to target at a closer range (say, 100 meters).  That's a close approximation of how ECM actually works in the real world, after all, and would create very non-EVE-like tactics for your game.  If an ECM bot can't be locked until you get super-close, that encourages ECM-fit bots to fit super-close range weapons for self defense, for instance.  Boom, your game has an up-close, nasty stealth fighter that you have to get close to to kill, something that EVE doesn't have.  Then, by giving your rats some of these capabilities, you give yourself an excuse to only show players rats that they have come fairly close to, which would solve some of your clutter/line of sight problem.

#2: ...because let's face it, you've got a horrible clutter problem.  On the positive side, you encourage me to use buildings and hard terrain as cover to avoid enemy fire.  This is great!  But I've got to zoom in quite a bit to see the structures and terrain to do this.  Problem is, my screen is already full to bursting with overview, mods, list of locked targets, primary target window, armor and accumulator display, etc.  Your game pretty much requires a wide-screen monitor to fit all of this stuff on the screen.  At least in EVE, I can play the game zoomed way out.  You've got to cut down some of the clutter.

#1: Finally, targeting speed in your game is really bad.  The Mesmer heavy mech (basically the same as a battle cruiser) has a locking time of 12.5 seconds.  The Yagel light bot (basically the same as a frigate) has a locking time... of 12.5 seconds.  If that wasn't bad enough, the Mesmer has four electronics slots to the Yagel's one, and those electronics slots often mount sensor boosters.  The Mesmer also has triple the Yagel's lock range.  As more and more EVE players enter your game, you're going to learn about the griefing potential of these dichotomies (EVE players are really good at spotting and exploiting this sort of thing).  One tiny example: during one of my assignments, I piloted my little Yagel into a site already occupied by an Arbalest.  Over the next several minutes, despite there being five rats in close proximity at all times, and despite at least 25 rats being destroyed, I didn't get a single kill credit.  The Arbalest was locking them before I could, and often firing one shot at each rat in range to ensure he received the rewards for their deaths.  It also means that your newest players are getting murdered in their light bots as they have to get super-close to their targets, and then wait... and wait... and wait for the ability to shoot back.  This was a bad, bad choice.

So... yeah.  You've got some work to do.  Most plagiarists go to the trouble of copying from really good students, not mediocre ones.  ;-)  Better still, as the saying goes, "take what you like and leave the rest."

However, as I said, you've got lots of good points, plus one innovation that is marvelous and something that EVE Online should steal immediately if not sooner.  But I'll talk about that tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. They've fixed number 7, anyway. I'm on a trial account and I can use the market freely.


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