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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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Two men enter, one man leaves

Late last week, Kirith Kodachi over at Inner Sanctum brought up World of Tanks and opined that "EVE needs arena PvP.  Full stop."

This is the kind of statement, were I to make it, that would cause my blog comments and Twitter replies to turn into a river of flame.  Kirith seems to have gotten off light.  ;-)

Kirith came to this conclusion after trying out World of Tanks apparently after several weeks of resisting hearing corp- and alliance-mates talk about it.  Indeed, my last few weeks in LAWN, it was common for the main LAWN TS channel to be dominated by WoT discussions and battles.  At that time, there were seemingly more EVE players playing Tanks than EVE, right up to Mittens himself, who is apparently a big fan of the Russian tank tree.  From his own play, Kirith came to dislike the idea of modding the client of an MMO PvP game, but to admire the "instant on" nature of PvP combat in WoT.

Those who have read my blog for a while may have been able to piece together my opinion of it, despite the fact that there are zero posts on this blog tagged "World of Tanks."  In short, I tried WoT myself for a few weeks and came away from it rather ambivalent.  While I also loved the instant-on PvP, and I love-love-love the friendly fire, line of sight, and cover systems even more, the pay-to-win aspects of WoT turned me off the game in a big way.  The first rule of micro-transactions in PvP-based MMOs, so far as I'm concerned is: don't sell power.  The second rule is: let me grind to every item in the game.  If your MMO fails those two tests, I'm not going to play it, and that's that.  WoT fails those tests.

These days, if I want an instant-on PvP fix, I go to Global Agenda to get it.  GA currently passes the tests, though it flirts with the lines wherever it can.

Siesmic Stan at Freebooted brought up the topic of arena combat himself -- also in favor -- then invited other EVE blogs to do the same.

All the way back during my CSM run, I was asked what I thought about this topic.  I responded that I was in favor of it, as a game-play mechanic for Incarna.  When I wrote up a series of Incarna game-play ideas back in February, I wrote that Incarna should include:
"Flight simulator"/EVE "arcade game". Two pilots pay a bar bet of not less than one million ISK.  Then they "sit" at consoles and battle each other on an Alliance Tourney-style EVE grid with pre-defined identically fit, identically player-skilled Rifters/Ruptures/Hurricanes.  Winner takes the pot, minus a percentage for the house.
I also said that others should be allowed to bet on the outcome.  This was just a short note, that I'd like to expand on, in story-board form.

You enter an Establishment in Jita.  You've been challenged to a 1v1 PvP fight.  In the old days, this would have involved a trip to an agreed-upon low-sec system, or a can-flip outside the station, or riding down the acceleration gate of a L1 mission.  But players figured out the exploits to take advantage of these things long ago, and 1v1 PvP is all but dead in EVE... except in the bars.  Besides, you've been playing since 2007 and have 75 million skill points.  Your opponent is less than a year old.  He doesn't think you're as good as you say you are, and he's willing to put 100 million ISK on it.  That's good enough money to draw you to Jita.

You drop from your pod, suit up in your default Incarna clothes -- the NeX isn't for you -- and pass through the Door into the Jita Main Bazaar.  You grimace.  It's as crowded as when you first visited, two years ago.  Still... let's get this over with.  You move down the Bazaar ignoring all of the player-built clothes and jewelry and ship skins and enter a small Establishment called Pounders.  It's run by one of the new wave of NeX billionaires, who made his money selling red high-heels to the masses, but he's not a bad guy for all that.  He pumped his billions into buying the BPOs for, and building, a series of Consoles.

The Consoles are the game grid of EVE... the virtual world layered on the virtual world.  There's the SecWars Consoles, and the Chess Consoles, and the Living Chess Consoles, and the DUST 514 Infantry Combat Consoles.  You pass them all by.  In the back are the EVE Arena Combat Consoles.  Each one is a masterpiece, costing over a billion ISK to build from materials gathered from all over New Eden.  Pounders has six of them, all two-seaters.  The four-seater version is six billion.  Pounders hasn't put one in yet.  Your opponent has already claimed the second one to the left.  He's garishly dressed, but you ignore that.  It's beneath you.

The terms of the combat are set: 100 million ISK buy-in from each of you, identical ships, identical stats, winner takes 90%, house takes 10%.  He's specified Rifters in 15 million SP characters.  You accept those terms and have a seat.  Behind you, you can hear the side-bets being made, and there are lots of them.  You accept a few of them yourself, betting on yourself, of course.  Pounders will be taking 10% of all of that money too... it'll be a good night for the owner.  Someone else says that they'll put in a 250 million ISK stake to fight the winner, same conditions as this fight.  You let him know that if you win, you'll be happy to take him up on that... if he doubles the stakes.  He agrees.

The Console activates, specifying your choices: standardized ships from Rifters to Sleipnirs to the newest wave of Tech3 battleships.  You select a standardized 1v1 Rifter build.  It's one of the few choices not greyed out... the standardized game grid character your opponent has specified only has 15 million SP, after all.  You accept the ship as presented.  Off in the Market, the parts to build it are purchased and transferred to the grid.  It's automatically fit for you.  The game specifies that you'll have ten minutes to destroy your opponent.  A moment later, you're on the grid.

It's a standard Alliance Tournament circle.  You warp in directly to the beacon.  Off in the distance, you can see your opponent has done the same.  You take a deep breath, and the count-down appears in Local...

Thirty minutes later, you leave Pounders, 530 million ISK richer after winning both fights.  You made another 80 million from side bets, and another million or so selling the Rifter from the grid back to the Market.  Not a bad hour's work!  You leave a couple of chastened noobs behind, transfer to your pod, and drop back into your CovOps for the trip back to null...

I think it's a means to bring Arena combat to EVE that has a lot of merit.  It creates skill-against-skill fights, brings "instant-on" PvP to EVE in a way that isn't game-breaking, and doesn't hurt the Market the way a lot of arena proposals I've seen do.

What do you think?


  1. I was thinking very much along those lines except opening up to small teams as well as 1 v 1, i.e. 3v3 and 5v5. But same with the betting and pre-set or limited fittings.

  2. risk free pvp? thats not eve. gbtw.

  3. @Kirith: Yeah, that's why I mentioned a "four-seater" Console. I could see bigger ones, but any fight bigger than 5v5 should be the sole purview of undocking, IMO.

    @Anon: How is it risk-free? You have to buy the ship on the Market, and you have to put up a cash stake. If anything, you're risking MORE. But in exchange, you keep the other guy from using boosters, multi-billion ISK implants, superior SP, corp-mates, fleet boosts, and a dozen other factors to influence the fight.

    If you're in favor of those things, fine, but they'd still exist outside the Consoles.

  4. So, really, what you are talking about is an "instanced" establishment using real ships. If you could set up those establishments to have an audience as well as boundaries. As well as make player outposts have them.. that might be pretty cool for the Sport set.

  5. Curious as to why you think WoT is pay to win... yes, they do have gold ammo, but in regular random battles it is a huge waste of money and very rarely do people use it (even if they do it might give them an extra kill or two, but kind of immaterial in the whole scheme of things). It gets used in clan wars more, but then clans get free gold for holding provinces to fund that anyway (and clan wars is so far into the end game it's not a concern for most people anyway).

    Gold tanks are certainly not pay to win - a couple of them make grinding credits easier, but they are underpowered compared to other tanks of their tiers.

    I've played 3000 battles now, and while I do have a premium account to make the grind a bit easier, have never once felt the need to buy gold ammo... there's nothing pay to win about WoT, in fact given the instant on PVP and how quick it is to get into the next battle, the outcome of any one battle is largely irrelevant anyway - it's the fun of the chase, the tactics... just like small gang roaming in EVE, most of the fun happens before you actually start firing :)

  6. Restricted PvP with strict controls such as you propose here may also be what it takes to get more of the "care bear" set to become a little PvP-curious.

    Removing the shackles of CONCORD in a controlled environment will help them overcome their fear of loss :)

  7. To continue Mara's thought, such a console could double as a training simulator to help newbs and bears try/learn PvP.

    Would you have be in the same station as your opponent? why not have 2 consoles share a link cross-region or cross-galaxy so that 2 players could battle each other without the hassle/risk of long travel to get to the common console. Perhaps with a once per day limit to prevent over use and encourage players to meet in station to compete.

  8. Kudos on the Mad Max reference =)
    Mel Gibson, best Gibson
    (except for the drunken anti-semitic rants)

  9. @Anon: thanks! Coming up with titles for my blog entries is often the longest part of the process. I can rattle out a blog entry like this in 30-40 minutes. But then trying to come up with something clever to call it often takes the same amount of time, heh.

    This title came REALLY quick, though. I immediately had this image of Mel Gibson on a bungee cord with a chainsaw in his hands... ;-)

  10. The absolute biggest puller of this is instant action type of game play in EVE.

    The biggest reason I am not playing at the moment is that I need to commit at least 1 hour to EVE if I want to interact meaningfully with the game.

    This would mean I could get a PvP fix easy. :)

    Also, this would probably have the knock on effect of increasing the quality of PvP in eve, and subsequently more younger pilots would be confident to fly in low-sec.

  11. It was nice to revisit this post (I'm actually revisiting the entire blog from start to finish and loving every re-read). I think this is one hell of a good idea and CCP should take heed of it should they decide to finish Incarna.

    I like that you limit it to 5v5, anything larger requiring an undock. I also think having it in centralized places like Pounders (or other player owned establishments), rather than via some sort of station-link, is a great idea as it makes these events social. Good thinking here Jester.

  12. No, god, why? 2 identical ships? Knowing the opponent setup beforehand? Dropping the rock-paper-scissors-falcon doctrine for rock-rock duels?

    If you have equal ships, equal skillpoints, the victory basically belongs to the guy who shoots first.

    Thats not pvp.


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