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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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Mystery box

So here's a quickie that's also philosophical.  I'm in a philosophical mood this week.

EVE is often a bit of a "mystery box", or just a plain old black box.  To learn definitive things about the game, often the player has to feed it a lot of inputs, see what comes out, write the outputs down, and then try to reverse engineer what the game is actually doing based on this data.  There's certainly no documentation and because of game updates and the like, sometimes even the documentation that players have come up with is wrong.

A couple of good examples:
  • I'm sketching out outlines for the next few PvP guides, one of which will be basic electronic warfare.  Those of us that do e-war have always had the impression that e-war strength drops very rapidly outside of optimal range.  But to my knowledge, it's never been officially documented just how much.
  • In CCP Fozzie's XL guns thread that I referenced last night, CSM member mynnna and many other EVE players are having an argument about missile speed versus explosion velocity versus ship velocity versus explosion radius and how those factors interact.
In both cases, there's no definitive source that I'm aware of that has a canon answer.  So players end up endlessly debating these and other subjects that are tied to the underlying mechanics of the game, which exist in the black box but are otherwise undocumented.

Net it down to its most basic level and you get "EVE is hard to learn and is hard to explain."  This is just one of the reasons.

Here's the philosophical bit, and the bit that I'm very curious to get some player input on.  I've blogged endlessly on the difference between needless complexity in EVE and complexity that adds to EVE's rich game-play.  Which do you think this is?  When you have to endlessly debate how missile explosion radius interacts with ship signature, is that adding to the richness of the game?  Or is it complexity for the sake of complexity that should be simplified or removed?

In my opinion, someone very smart needs to take EVE's combat system, break it down and flow chart it, simplify it, and rebuild in a similar fashion to what was done with Crimewatch.  Again in my opinion, most of the rich complexity of EVE comes from how the combat system is applied, not the mechanics of the combat system itself.  It wouldn't reduce the richness of the game at all if I could explain EVE combat in simple terms.  Again... in my opinion.

But I want to hear what you think.

But wait just a second.  Before you answer, here's the really tough part... before you answer, remove from your head any thinking you have in terms of "EVE is hard, I had to learn it and it took a long time, and if newbies don't want to do the same, screw 'em."  Because I'd like to hear your answer outside of that tendency that EVE players have to want to torture other (particularly newer) EVE players.  Just look at the problem at its most basic, as if you were designing the game from the ground up.

Does EVE's black box nature add richness to the game?  Or needless complexity?  Discuss.


  1. In my (gaming) experience making things more transparent takes away from the immersive nature of the game.

    Let's face it, we build the LHC to test our theories of the Universe.

    In thinking of the natural evolution of the UI where in WoW once people could write addons and create their own UI (not that I look forward to the week of trying to remember all the addons I use when I start) it made certain things 'easier', but I always balanced when I played turning my UI into some sort of command console that totally obscured the game aside from the stats and numbers versus actually, you know, playing the game.

    But, once people became able to ruthlessly optimize everything... they did.

    Which I think takes something away from the game.

    I suspect the people who need to ruthlessly optimize would like more transparency though I don't particularly care for it. I think it takes something away from the experience when you know that much about the reality of how life works.

    1. I think it's a valid point that if every formula were published, then all the "correct" decisions would be known and it would take something away from the subtlety and nuance of the game.

      Where this point falls down, though, is that this is already happening: even without officially confirmed formulas for everything, we already have EFT-warriors and min-maxers and everyone else who earned EvE the nickname "spreadsheets in space."

      Therefore, since most of the harm in revealing the formulas has already been realized, I think we're left with mostly a net benefit in the form of much more useful player input about how some of those formulas lead to un-fun gameplay. For example, the recent debate about blap titans could have been much more productive and better for the game if people hadn't needed to spend so much time arguing about what the actual formulas were, leaving more time to debate their effects on emergent gameplay.

      But, there's also a compromise solution: if revealing the machinery behind the curtains would take too much away from the magic and immersiveness of the game, CCP could at least provide us the tools to do the science ourselves. The ability to implement basic custom scripting and data capture into the game client was something WoW did really well, and could benefit EvE as well, with an even better roleplaying flavor: these are advanced, futuristic, technological marvels we're flying around -- why can't we ask the ship's computer to keep a log of the numbers its sensors are already showing us on the screen?

      The ability to write basic scripts that gather and analyze the data which is already displayed to the user (via overview columns, damage log messages and so on) would help reduce the black-boxiness of the game without being a boring hand-out from the devs; we'd have to work at it ourselves, developing and debugging scripts to load into our ships' computers.

      This could even be tied into the game at a deeper level -- maybe this ability would require a special mid-slot module, and the scripts it runs would all be player-written and sold on the game market. "Taleden's Situational Awareness HUD v4.2, only 500M in Jita!"

  2. That's an epistemological question. As the nature of the information deals with engineering and maths, I would suggest that it is information that should be transparent, not opaque. The application of that information is what should be subject to empirical experimentation as to its efficacy in particular situations and the topic of debates, not whether it is true or false in the first place.

    1. So much this.

      The complexity of eve is also not a discovery every player of eve has to make for himself. No, just like in the real world we do this together. People will make observations, create hypothesis, test and publish the results. Project compass, the gridfu manual, wensley's guides, etc..

      Then organizations and people like e-uni, agony, ouch, bloggers, and just simply people talking to people will spread those results and change peoples understanding of the game.

      Eve presents us a world with natural laws and it adds to the depth of eve to for us discover these. Sure it all gets a bit fuzzy when we start arguing with "god" how we would like these laws to change. But fundementally this process provides the depth in eve that people love.

      It is the basis of the meta game, theorycrafting and just nerding out trying things and seeing what makes them tick.

    2. Yes. My toons spend weeks and months learning suites of scientific and engineering skills. Who thinks they shouldn't understand how combat works? My 1200-DPS Machriel says otherwise.

  3. EVE is only hard to understand if you want to make it that way, breaking the math down to its tiniest bits.
    What's so hard about "big weapons hit smaller ships moving at high speeds worse?" Sure, it doesn't give the minute description of exactly how much DPS is lost from a certain gun at a specific target, but it gives a newbie the basis with which to learn the more complex bits when they're ready.
    I like EVE because it isn't incredibly simple. Thinking on it, all the people I've invited to the game have understood the base mechanics rather quickly; it's the thought that they need to invest large amounts of time(=money) waiting to be able to do the things they understand the concepts for (read:skill training).

    My understanding of EWar was that it worked exactly the same as guns from the range aspect; in falloff range you have a chance to "miss" entirely. Optimal+Falloff=50% hit chance. Any "hit" is at full strength. I haven't tested it passed watching my target painter miss a cycle now and then, though.

    1. That is correct (although the exact % chance to miss might not be 50%).

  4. What you have to ask yourself is do you want rock paper scissors or something more complex and vibrant? Eve may not be a pure skill game like chess but at least its "black box" nature has pushed it to the level of rock paper scissors spock.

  5. I think both are somewhat wrong. It doesn't have to be about richness. or just needless complexity. It is complexity that is there so that individual play styles can exist. Think of it this way; If the entire process and the complete interactions were known there would be one best ship, with one best fit, a single best skill set, with a single best set of implants. One and only one for each type of situation you are in. anyone who didn't fit this exactly could get called fail, and this is even if the difference is within the normal distribution of the RNG. I think we all know that Time in the game makes a difference, more skill points for fitting better equipment help a ton, but the biggest thing is being confident in the game and playing it the way you have practiced and are used to.

    So in the end the vagueness of the game I think is more from the need to keep people playing a diverse game, not fitting the best cookie cutter after each patch. There is a limit to how balanced a game can be without having everyone fly the same ship at the same skill levels.

    Should they have to learn because i did? Heck no, and hell i am less than a year into the game. Should the complexity be there so that we have a variety of enemies to face and to reduce ridicule when someone doesn't have the absolute best fit (because you cant know that absolute best fit without the direct numbers) yes, yes, yes, and Yes again.

    The debate is a result of eve collecting and pandering to an intelligent group of people, at the expense of some of the less willing to think and learn. I am ok with that as a philosophical choice it brings intelligent people to the party.

    as an aside based on that thought. The goons pull stupid stunts, but damn are they intelligent because they manage to win at the game despite not taking it seriously half the time or more. The meta game, and the nuanced parts of ship fittings and such are part of the meta, is an important piece of what makes EVE EVE. Take away that black box and you dont have debate, and people with differing valid opinions you have the ONE BEST WAY better get in lock step foo world. I left WoW because of that. dont try and bring it here.

    Tego lingnome

  6. The information should be available in a CCP linkable site.
    The Evelopedia has most of the information in its numerous guides but because its out of date and hard to find, everyone bypasses it and goes to other sites. The Evelopedia would be kept more up to date if CCP would take the time to get the DB information up to date. If CCP wont take the time why should we?


  7. Adds to the richness.

    In all other cases I've agreed with your stances regarding needless complexity. This one is different. Firstly it's a VERY central mechanic of Eve which will always be minmaxed to hell and back a trillion times and secondly the fact that it's a black box actually adds a funny kinds of randomness to combat, that's not the usual computer pseudo randomness and which emulates that real life missiles (and guns) don't follow algorithms as nicely.

    Also...there's a difference between the complexity that hinders a player's easy of learning the game and the one that hinders the ease of mastering it. Eve should be easy to learn, but hard to master...and you don't NEED to know every knitty bitty detail of missile maths to win pvp fights.

    It also gives the 10+ year old farts something to keep bickering about ;-)

  8. There are different types of fake complexity. Learning skills are a useless fake complexity because they are easy to understand and a no-brainer to learn. The screwed up skill list with separate non-racial ship skills for destroyers and battlecruisers. The strange names for modules and implants. They make the game more complex, but not more rich, just harder to see through it. More vocables to learn.

    The formulas for tracking, missile damage, (T2 invention chance? How good are those?) etc. are different. No one knows them exactly and they cannot be learned. They have to be explored, examined, experienced. You will know what tracking will do, when you killed a battlecruiser or battleship in your tiny frigate for the first time. Their application is influenced by a lot of factors, depending on the involved ships, their positioning, maybe environmental effects of wormholes. There are so many variables that an easy application is not possible.

    These formulas are more like a law of nature. You know what it does, at least approximately. You might do the calculations, when you have some time and know the boundary conditions. But it won't help you much, when you dive in with your tiny frigate to hold down that battleship.

    Let people explore them and come up with experiments to test the formulas. Remember, this is a sandbox. It's a bit like those people who made a map of wormhole space by triangulation of POS distances.

    However, I am a little nervous that even CCP might not know how it works exactly. They should know the "laws of nature" of EVE and should be able to manipulate them accordingly. But when I sometimes read or hear stuff about that mystical old code, I fear that they don't know either.

  9. Honestly, EVE is pretty ridiculously opaque when it comes to information. I've brought this up before. It's not even as if the game is just keeping the systems from you. It's keeping everything. The only way to figure a lot of this stuff out is to go online which is just a hurdle. Why should online be the only source for critical information about a game?

    In a game with four weapon/resistance types, why can't I know what the incoming damage is?
    In a game with rich industry, why can't I learn about what it takes to do T2 manufacturing without going online?
    Why does it take a happy accident to figure out that I can double click in space to go somewhere?
    Why do I have to go online to learn the difference between anomalies and sites?
    Why do I have to go online to learn about how escalation works?

    EVE is terrible at communicating to people what is going on. It's a lot like life that way. But very few games take that approach. EVE, as a game, is a game with a terribly written user manual that zaps you every time you get one of the rules wrong.

    Large, complex systems like EVE leave a lot of people confused and frustrated. There is a lot of reward for feeling like you figured something out though, but EVE is therefore only targeted at the professional EVE player. There are very few people who play EVE casually because it's not enjoyable that way because you're playing the game with people who playing it professionally. There is a reason we keep different leagues in sports. It's not fun to be the high school team getting crushed by the pros (except for awe factor).

    I'm not suggesting that EVE be broken up like that, but you have to make allowances for differing skills levels. One big way to do that is to make it easier to learn this stuff naturally. One of the big difference between people playing a game casually and playing a game professionally is that professionals research. They look stuff up. They take in all the information they can find. Amateurs experiment. They learn as they go and can't often be bothered to spend their time outside of playing, learning how to play.

    Therefore in order to accommodate those people who learn by doing and who don't want to spend equal or more time reading about playing rather than player, EVE needs to explain more stuff in the actual game. You still don't have to spoon-feed the players, but the raw information needs to be there and presented in a useful way.

    I was just teaching a friend of mine and he couldn't find a missile launcher that didn't fire only defender missiles because the "Uses charge group" for defender was listed above the fold, apart from the rest and first. That's just plain stupidity on the UI designer's part. The attributes window is raw data, but it's not presented in a useful way. CCP can do better.

    There's a ton of people who put stuff in their bio about what damage, incoming and resisted, each pirate faction is associated with. But that information could be presented by damage meters broken up by type on incoming and outgoing damage. Players would then learn by doing.

    There are a ton of ships, but there is little to no in-game assistance for finding a particular ship and role for a given race without looking at each individual one and looking at their bonuses? Why can't I see at a glance the primary weapon and armor system for a ship and it's basic role (attack, combat, ewar, scout, etc.)? Why do I have to look each individual ship to learn if it can use cov-ops cloaks? Or other specialized equipment? The ship browser will be a big boost here.

    Why can't there be a quick overview about what's available at each security level, both at hi, low, null, but also about when you can do certain things like cynosaural fields and moon mine.

    Please, please, please make things not to opaque to those who want to play by doing and spend more time playing the game than read about how to play the game.

    1. Real simple.. make it so the best way for everything is self evident and you remove LEARNING... whether it's learning by doing or by reading, it's still learning.

      You wanna play a game that has no learning curve, go play an FPS. EvE is a niche PvP centric MMO sandbox for those who enjoy the challenge of LEARNING and who want to keep on learning, not for those who want to just jump in and 'mindlessly' play a game.

  10. I think people who want to break any game down to a point of knowing the exact formulae involved have missed the point of playing a game. Experimentation though trial and error is part of the charm of EVE. Start with small ammo against small ships and go from there training instincts all the way.

  11. I think any system created by humans in life operates like this - it's just rare anyone sticks around for 10 years to examine and play a system/game like this.

    I call it arcane knowledge - and learning this is what made this game fun for me for the past two years

  12. Personally I would prefer Eve remain a black box when it comes to combat. Eve has so many 3rd party tools to help you theory craft and plan that if the mechanics were transparant it would be too easy to min/max and Eve would be like every other MMO. What draws me to Eve is that fact that there is almost a realisim of sorts in the game (Losses mean something, time invested nets longterm rewards). A good example is I can do all the mathmatics involved in firing a rifle, but that will not make me a sniper; so it is with Eve what looks good on EFT might not be practical in a real fight.

  13. a few things should be 100% transparent in a game. To pick a few examples in eve: docking mechanics, invulnerability timers, aggression mechanics, module behavior if offline/online/active, physics (bumping mechanics) etc.

    there is simply no excuse for not having official documentation for those basic game mechanics. Combination of effects in context of a certain scenario however should be players business. Thats where good players separate from not so good players. Example: are rage rockets the way to go if you fight a signature tanked AB slasher and you have only one web.. or not.

    There is still (after two FW expansions!) no official up2date resource which would explain FW mechanics, thats no black box thats laziness.

    1. I've only been playing a week. I joined FW on my 3rd or 4th day in the game... and I pretty much learned the mechanics from the FW information screen. The information is right there in the UI and is only a few short paragraphs long.

      I made my first billion just yesterday cashing out my LP. As of yet I have not looked at any external sources except to look up which Nexus chip Caldari Navy Hookbills need...

  14. what i forgot to mention is that eve tries to reinvent physics. Thats a very bad idea in almost every case. Example: tracking in eve is not influenced by the ships orientation. That seems to be a simplification but it complicates everything. A kiting frig has to have almost the same tracking to hit something as a brawling frig. Two slicers with identical fittings, one moving, one not have the same chance to hit each other at any point in time - even when one is not moving at all and the other is burning with 5k around the first at optimal range.

    Docking games would not be there if ships would actually dock and undock at different docking bays. Scooping ships into larger ships instantly created so many exploits that it isn't funny (ask a dev why you can't eject with weapon timer)... another oversimplified system which simply ignores physics which seems to be a simple solution at first but complicates everything in the long term.

    ignoring physics creates a very unintuitive universe. Eve isn't complicated, its unintuitive.

  15. Personally I think the tendency of many EVE players to lock into the min/max efficiency stuff takes away from the immersive aspect of the game. But then thats just be an opinion based on the way I like to play and not what I think is best for everyone or the game itself.

    I guess in the end I think the players really don't need to know exactly how everything works. There should be a little mystery. Particularly if its there to encourage experimentation. However, EVE is quite literally a black hole of information. The fact that the players are required to figure out, and document so many of the mechanics, in order to have any understanding of them, adds to the overriding elitist attitudes and really doesn't help the growth of the game.

    Truth be told, the biggest issue I have with some game mechanics is that they don't seem to support an immersive experience and seem to be shortcuts to shoehorn in a desired result. There have been a few cases when once I knew how something worked I was disappointed that there wasn't a more interesting mechanic behind it (research and invention come to mind).

  16. Simplifying the combat system will make it harder to understand. At present it's not complex enough: ships shooting each other are treated as spheres, with only the angular velocity between the two spheres being taken into account when deciding whether shots hit or not. There is no accounting for the shooter perceiving the target based on the shooter's velocity vector being modified by the shooter's rotation.

    Simple things like this are what make the game difficult to understand. Here we have a frigate flying around a dreadnought, but both ships are treated as shooting at a target with an angular velocity generated by the dreadnought flying around the frigate. This is why the combat system is hard to understand.

    Honesty, if rotational velocity could be subtracted from angular momentum, and if line of sight could be made to work, the combat system would be much easier to understand because it would then work closer to the real world physics that we are all familiar with.

    If you want a simplified combat system, World of Warcraft is that way (hint: just stack PVP resilience).

  17. I don't know if we need to have the formulas transparent or not. Also I'm not sure if they should be rewriten to make them easier to understand. If they can redo the combat and physics engines and we can now have 5000+5000 person battles then for sure do it. But I don't know if just to make the game easier to understand is good enough. However, I do think that the relationship of different stats should be stated clearly somewhere. Such as the missle velocity, versus explosion radius vs sig radius and such. Just not the exact formulas.

  18. And before you say, "it's too hard," someone should do it and then say, "it's this hard." Then once you have something that is "this hard" you can then determine the clock cycle budget for certain calculations, and work on trimming the cycles down. Maybe there are other calculations that can be short-circuited when time is running low: forget the comparison of explosion velocity to target speed (or cache that result from the previous round in the "Ship in a box").

    "It's too hard" is just a euphemism for "we're too lazy" until someone actually does it and then decides, "it costs too many cycles." Time dilation buys more cycles, so there is plenty of opportunity to trim the cycle budgets of combat calculations. Perhaps nVidia has some ideas on how to offload line-of-sight calculations to GPUs that already handle ray tracing primitives?

  19. Personally I don't mind EvE being technical. Indeed, one of it's biggest selling points to me is that EvE is a game which rewards the player's real skills and not just the character's "skill points." Doing your homework makes you a better player. I find EvE the most immersive video game I've ever played precisely because it's UI is essentially a direct analog to the character's interface. Yes, I'm not encased in goo and I have to use a mouse and a keyboard instead of just neural interface, but otherwise what I'm doing when flying my ship is exactly what my character would be doing. (As a side note, this is why "Walking in Stations" actually decreases the immersion for me rather than increasing it. It takes me out of the character and puts the character "there" on the screen)

    Having said that, to be properly immersive technical information needs to be provided. If these guns and missiles were real life products, they would need to be accompanied by technical specs, plots of data from live-fire tests, etc. If you want to reward people for looking at the details then you need to provide sufficient information for informed players to make intelligent choices. So in this respect true black box behavior should be limited to things for which there should be little or no knowledge: behavior of NPCs, spawning rates for sites, etc. The technical specs of capsuleer technology should absolutely be available in some form, particularly for things like combat where it's very difficult for players to test on their own using in-game tools.

  20. Do we /need/ the equations? nope. It'd be nice to be able to lay our hands on them, but that's mostly for people like the makers of EFT and pyfa.

    What I'd say we do need are the generics: Having a lower explosion velocity than the speed of your target decreases the damage roughly X% per Y% lower.

    Difficulty through obscurity isn't good. Difficulty through complexity is. You may know that tweaking X causes Y. But what if you also tweak Z?

  21. I think the two aspects of complexity/deepness and accessibility don't exclude each other. The UI and basic game mechanics should be easily accessible. Either through documentation, but better through well crafted in-game tutorials. The existing tutorial missions could still be improved in many ways and more important there are numerous topics that are not covered yet but are essential to the game. Recently somebody (CCP_Sisyphus?) asked for suggestions for T2 manufacturing tutorials, for example. All things PvP are, unfortunately, absent from the tutorials. In general everything you cannot do as a week-old character is missing. I wish the tutorials were more tied to the skill tree. If you have trained anchoring II, for example, a tutorial on Mobile Warp Disruptors would be unlocked. At level IV the POS tutorial would be unlocked, etc.. For more holistic tutorial themes the certificates could be used. Make it clear to the player what will be unlocked by which skill and where tutorials are unlocked in the skill tree. When in doubt place a tutorial lower on the skilltree than strictly necessary to be good at the activity.
    Not everything can and should be explained in the tutorials. However, accessibility could greatly profit if players get more hints that "there is more to learn here". I liked the idea of giving people a T2 BPC at the end of the newbie industry tutorial for instance. They can then find out how to build this thing.

    When it comes to mysteries: they are important but should be more part of the game world than the mechanics. It is perfectly fine if somebody has to figure out how to access a foreign structure in space. It is frustrating to find out after half a year that the scanprobe UI of your own ship reacts to the alt-key.
    Finally there are the finer details, like exact damage formulas. In that respect I agree with OOZ662. I appreciate that some people have fun finding those out, but the game should not require somebody to do this, not even to be successful. A game that depends on such fine-grained optimisations is prone to develop nash-equilibria or single-best-solutions. The details thus do not need to be public. People who are nerd enough to want to find out will probably have fun doing the reverse engineering.
    There exists a lot of documentation on all kinds of topics on the EVElopedia. Try searching for "Guide". However, the Wiki is very badly structured and maintained. A navigation tool would be very nice. In-game links to the entries would also help to make information more accessible and up-to-date.
    However, documentation is IMHO subpar to learning things from the game.
    One last thought. In a sandbox not everything can be documented by the producer. Nobody planned on jet-canning. Wormholes were never meant to be habitable...
    Thanks, Chira,

    1. Agree...and as an answer to foobar (above), bumping is also a thing CCP can't have planned on being used for the purposes it presently is.

      While I agree that more things should be more visible/documented within the game, I disagree with the many people here who wants CCP to document everything...simply because this would firstly take ressources away from development (to do the documentation) and secondly would make changing mechanics even more ressource costly than it already is (especially if there is built in user friendliness that would need to be redesigned also rather than more easy-to-edit wiki text).

      CCP's strategy of leaving a large percentage of their own documentation work over to their players is a very very smart move in the case of Eve Online IMO (with "large percentage" NOT being 100%! Nor 95, 90 or even 80...) given size, sandbox and complexity. I think we, the players, are simply better at it than they can ever be...

      I have high hopes of Ali Aras championing just where that percentage should be...

  22. This is not about "complexity" for creating rich content, the issue you are describing is related to how CCP implemente a mathematical representation of combat.

    Both tracking and signature radius affect hit success, but the way it was explained ages ago (by a cool flash animation on CCP official site) said otherwise.

    The same is happening with missiles, and frankly the root cause is we have never had acccess to actually obtain the math formula from CCP itself, only "guesses" that were reverse engineered and explained very well what we saw.

    Redesigning it is not about flowcharts, its about what you wish to represent on the game, and how math will help you out on that.

  23. If you simplify the Eve combat mechanics what's left? Let's be honest, the actual execution of the battle is remarkably simple in Eve unless you are an FC or maybe logistics. You are not going to deal with rapid movement, there is no quick reaction to threats, and you have a limited number of options (Eve cruiser: about 6, WoW or Rift tank: about 30).

  24. I find that this is something players get to explore, and while it shouldn't be unnecessarily complicated, it's nice if you discover things about the game.

    I think this is one of the things that attracts people to EVE and should be nurtured.

    I also like that people derive equations for mechanics empirically.

  25. If anything, I'd paint the box a few shades blacker, with more variables and more chaos. There's no reason that a complex and violent physical interaction with a huge and fantastically complicated machine should have a simple model.

    There are RL examples of people dying from wounds they should have easily survived and surviving wounds that should have killed them several times over. I don't know why the effects of injuries on a kilometer-long ship would be any less complex.

  26. There is no question to me that hidden mechanics does not contribute to the quality of the game and adds needless confusion.

  27. New player here. One of the draws of EVE is that there isn't one 'right' approach in most cases. If mechanics are transparent, the game tends to be less fun. There becomes one way to fit or do something, and anyone who tries anything else becomes a 'noob.'

  28. I'm not sure the mechanics should be made any less complex, but I do think combat mechanics should be publicly available. If they are not, and players must derive mechanics based on testing, there is no way to know if the mechanics are actually working as designed. If the mechanics are public, however, then players can compare in game results with expected results, and if there is a major difference, report that to the developers.

  29. Personally I think its good because its a good amount of complexity and a good amount of depth; simply because we're dealing with multiple forces, mechanics, equipment and technology for the overall goal, and each one has its own advantages and disadvantages.

    The problem with the combat system is that is hidden behind that complexity and turned into a 'trial by fire' so that only the ones brave enough to make the fire walk will pass and the rest will go home with burnt feet.

    Some of the math really needs to be cleared up, or at least explained a little better. Take projectile turrets for example: if I was a new player I'm looking for 2 things to know before I shoot this gun: whats the MAX range and what is the BEST range. But looking at the stats I have 'falloff' range and optimal range. The max range then becomes 'falloff x2' and even then its not clearly explained what happens after 'falloff x1'. Whats worse is that the 'optimal range' is the one thing that I would read and say "right, so thats where I need to be ALL the time" is almost always completely impractical!

    What would be great would be a 'combat computer' module that works similar to an ILS (instrument landing system) on planes. It takes your target and offers a scale on the range with max range at the top and markers which show the optimal ranges for the target as a 'y' axis. As we know some guns get better further away and worse close up. Others get good mid range and then get worse either too close or too far away, so some sort of scale to indicate that would be best.

    Then your x axis would then be the transversal; so if the target is going too fast the needle will be further away from centre or completely off the scale if they are too fast to hit. This way you've got a pretty simple Luke Skywalker "stay on target" type interface that actually provides a lot of information at a quick glance.

    Now as you get better in the game most of that becomes 2nd nature, so the combat computer module would be more like a set of training wheels that when you feel grown up enough you can take them off and free up the slot for something more fun :D

  30. The "newbies should suffer" outline a bit the problem with black box: information inequity. Some people have information, others not. Getting information becomes the source of power and not processing it. Currently the best source of power is a hacker who can get into CHAOS, an NDA breaking CSM or a renegade Dev.

    Complexity isn't a problem, lack of transparency is. It doesn't matter how complex the ship velocity/signature/missile explosion speed/radius/whatever, because someone will come and break it down into easy to understand flow chart or program. Just like there is surely no one who could tell how much cap does 2 capacitor power relay II + Heavy capacitor battery + 2 CCC I rigs give to a Navy Dominix. But EFT tells us instantly. Players will break complexity into rules of thumb.

  31. Eve's black-box is needless complexity.

    I much, MUCH prefer games I play to have their mechanics extensively documented, in full. The PVP ones moreso, but I think all games in general, I like to know EXACTLY what is going on under the hood.

    This isn't one of those card games where you have to figure out the "dealer's rules"; where the whole point of the game is figuring out how to play. That's not what eve is about. And the particulars of game mechanics are not what we should have to figure out, as players.

  32. preamble: You'd need to do a lot of convincing to make me believe that application and mechanics can be separated. Application emerges from mechanics, does it not?

    It's important to keep in mind end goals. The end goal is not to have devs post simple formulas on the wiki or whatever. The goal is to make sure the average (new) player doesn't get screwed over by something he/she doesn't understand, and can't reasonably be expected to understand.

    With eve about to release an exploration-themed expansion, it seems like a bit of a shame to move to more transparent levels of the black box*. Your suggestion would mean that we'd never again see threads like these:

    or the original electr0freak post about missile damage formula

    That's REAL exploration, or perhaps scientific experimenting, but whatever you want to call it, I think it's a fantastic thing to have in your sci fi game, especially when using your game's science skills is actually just lots of clicking and an RNG ;) I'd bet money that those characters' painstaking research and voyages of discovery were incredibly gratifying, perhaps even some of their favorite moments in eve. I know they'd be mine.

    But is it dicking over everybody else? I'd say no. The average pilot can get by with "big guns have a harder time hitting small targets, especially when the target is orbiting quickly". With the angular velocity coming up right on the overview, they get everything they need to know to do approximately the right thing. If they're math nerds like me, they can do forum research (in-game research having already been done, though I could recreate it if that sounded fun!) and figure out exactly what I should set my orbit to in ship x against ship y, or if that should be a 3rd damage mod or a second tracking enhancer. But Joe Blow doesn't need to, to get it pretty close to right.

    Crimewatch is an example of making tradeoffs with the level of transparency of the black box. New crimewatch is better for the server and better for new players not screwing themselves by accident. However, it's not like nothing of value was lost: I know of some real artists in the old medium of criminal flags... It sounds like the depth of knowledge and carefulness of though was incredible. Those guys could eke out the last bit of performance for their lowsec fleets or hisec shenanigans with their knowledge and tricks. These poeple put in their 10,000 hours and could do fascinating things. The kind of things you might read about on TMC. It's a damn shame that was lost.

    Similarly with grid-fu: it's completely shitty when fleets are 10km apart and not on grid with each other. That screws over the average player and should be removed from the game, were it reasonably feasible. However, if you know the tricks and can execute the painstaking work required to make them happen, it seems right that you should get an advantage. Sadly, in the grid-fu case, I don't see a sane way to salvage it and all forms of it should probably be snuffed out. That said, reading about grid-fu is what first showed me that eve and its players were REALLY different, and something special.

  33. Learning the ins and outs of wormholes and how they're connected would be another example. It'd be a damn crime if CCP just published all the info about connections, their probabilities, etc. The info out there is just enough that even new people acting reasonably don't get completely boned (need a scanner to find wormholes, connections will collapse-> don't go into a hole without a scanner). Note the relatively little info, but also extreme popularity of the wormhole mechanic.

    So you've got some examples of how this should work: wormhole info is just enough so that newbs don't screw themselves, but leaves plenty of room for--and indeed need of--experts. Old criminal flagging system didn't quite give enough info for average players (heh, or some devs) to understand the basic important cases, but experts were rewarded for their expertise. Now crimewatch (and safeties) keeps average players from screwing themselves, but leaves less room for virtuosity. bad grids are terrible when accidental, and completely screws the average player even when the grid fu is intentional, giving the master of grid-fu unreasonably large advantages for their esoteric expertise.

    I've made it pretty clear that I think new players have enough info not to screw themselves completely, and nerds have enough info to do really cool explorations. It leaves ship fitting--especially doctrine ship fitting--as an area where real expertise matters and is rewarding for players who delve deeply and their alliances.

    Post the official formulas if you must, but I'd argue strenuously against simplifying or unifying any of them. Make them too simple and there will be unambiguous min/max fits, drastically curtailing experimentation and constricting the doctrine meta. I think that would be terrible.

    *There are a number of levels to possible black boxes that CCP can take: tell us nothing, let us figure it out completely from scratch (or just from hit notifications, in the case of damage)--which is like grid-fu or some aspects of WHs. Next would be give us all variable values, but not the fomulas... we are told what tracking means, and what the tracking of a given gun is. The level after that would be to give us the formulas, but leave the implications of those formulas up to the players. This is what you get when people run tests and post (correct) results. Not really a black box, but can still be considered a level on the black box spectrum. The last level would be to simplify and publish formulas so that the implications become obvious to most players.

  34. In both of your sited examples, I'd say having them undocumented is 100% OK. Why? Because people who don't know about the intricacies can still use missiles, can still use ewar etc. Importantly though, people who make the effort to understand what is going on may benefit from investigating these things. This, in part, is what adds depth to EvE and provides people with the opportunity to define their own level of time investment / benefit ratio.

    What isn't OK is unnecessary obfuscation through silly names for modules, implants and almost everything else. These do not add depth and only serve as being a PITA. Examples: "Siege" for shield mindlinks / booster stuff (just wtf!), ladar for gas sites, gravimetric being roid sites, blue pills - oh they obviously improve your shield boost amount etc. etc. This list would probably span many hundreds of items in EvE and none of them add depth to the game, just an annoying requirement to "show info" on randomly named items or use google as a "translator".

  35. CCP should not give out equations, but they should reveal how things basically relate to one another. Players can then debate/hash out the minutia, which is always a fun player pastime. CCP should give us enough information to understand the mechanics, without getting too specific.

  36. Keep the mechanics hidden. they keep pepole guessing and stops us from going that all FOTM inn. now pepole fit ships based on testing and surposticion. sorry bad english

  37. We don't need specific formulas. I think we're better off without them, but we should have some idea of proportionality or inverse-proportionality. E.g. if this number goes up how does that affect this other number. Does X affect Y at all, for example? That would be nice to know. Otherwise I'm left doing scientific experiments to determine what the answer is and then I'm left looking online for the one true answer.

    Additionally the problem with online resources is EVE isn't popular enough to weed out the old answers. So it's very easy to get incorrect information about something because no one may have written something to make it better.

  38. Both of the examples you have mentioned, ECMs and missile damage, fall into the "good complexity" bin for me. I like complexity so long as it can be reasonably understood with coarse rules. In both of these cases, it can be. Jamming chance is X% in optimal, then drops to zero eventually. So, if I want to jam, be in optimal or near it. I don't mind having to do a bit of experimentation to figure out if my chance is reasonable at say optimal + falloff.

  39. In my opinion, its a mix of both. I think that anyone that wants to know exactly how the entire game functions should be able to find out, either by having a canon-verified, CCP answer, or through testing.

    On one hand, it does have the potential of adding to the richness of the game, but the lack of knowledge as to how it all actually functions on a mechanical level doesn't need to remain.

  40. Making the formulas public would not change the complexity of the game at all. It would just save people who care to look at it the tedium of wasting time, isk and ships on figuring the formula out. We know that EFT fits do not perform at perfect DPS or perfect defense, but having the textbook formulas gives us a place to start from, and a way to compare things. Also, basic combat mechanics are not something that any game should hide.

    I mean, we are flying spaceships. Of course we ought to now the book performance and mechanics of how the thing works. That's how you design the silly things. Engineers don't guess at the properties of a system, they meticulously plan for them.

  41. I feel the explaining of the mechanics should be done more effectively, however, with this said, I dont feel they should be reworked similar to crimewatch. I dont want them fucking up Rockets doing great damage against drones/frigs and shit damage against anything bigger. I dont want them to negate the use of rigs to reduce the effectiveness of HAMs or HMLs being able to hit frigs or drones harder. Same for target painters, I dont want fucking things up.

    As Ive said before, if the system is not broken, some companies fix and fix and fix until it is so dumbed down that the enjoyment of learning and understanding the system is gone. Complexity just for complexity's sake is bad. However, the interaction between the mechanics you've stated for missiles are very easy to understand once youre able to break down what each one does alone; and then when you understand that, you can combine them and get the answers so many people are debating.

    These missile mechanic debates are pointless because so many people refuse to actually break it down piece by piece and then build it back up. Its really not difficult to understand if you completed 10th grade math.

    I also didnt read other comments before posting, sorry if I repeated anything.

  42. Whether it adds richness or unecessary complexity can't be sufficiently answered because even CCP apparently doesn't know how it works. I mean, if Fozzie doesn't understand it then nobody does. All of which goes again to CCP having pretty awful software guys. One competent guy could decipher the black box in a few weeks and fill in the blanks of all the developer documentation that was either lost or never written in the first place. CCP can't hire that competent software guy, though, for whatever reason, so we have to settle for a pointless philosophical question. The answer is, "it's a floor wax AND a dessert topping!"

  43. I think the answer on transparency depends on the subject. Things like gun tracking, EWAR falloff, and missile mechanics should have well-published equations. We need to understand how these work to make informed fitting and combat choices. Other topics, such as the respawn mechanism for wormholes and exploration sites, should remain unstated to contribute to the sense of mystery and the unknown.

  44. http://www.eveinfo.net/wiki/inde~125.htm

    Scroll down to Falloff and Optimal. Goons ran these numbers already. Not that I trust Goons....

  45. This is part of Eve's charm, you can take the time and figure it out. It isn't just given to you. Think of it as practicing the bow&arrow, actually practice helps you gain precision(hitting in tight bunches) but then you have to practice with each bow and arrow type to learn how you need to adjust your sights/aim to have accuracy(hitting the bulls-eye).

  46. You /can/ explain eve combat as it exists now in very simple terms. Shoot things and they take damage, small/fast things take less damage from bigger guns, things take less damage outside of optimal range, missiles must hit targets to do damage. The only time that arguing over formulas becomes important is when you get to min/maxing things, which while a staple of EVE life for the last 10 years, plenty of people get alone just fine in the game without worrying about the effects of nanos vs. overdrives on damage received. Having more variables creates more opportunities for sub-optimal builds to have success. The simpler the combat system gets the more powerful min/maxed ships get as they can be tuned more exactly for the situation they will run in to, making them even more so "the only way to play" for everyone.

  47. The richness and complexity is good. The "black box" nature of it is yet another advantage that long-term players have over new players.

    When someone graduates from being a "newbie" and buys an account, they are likely the sort of person who is willing to spend a certain amount of time reading about Eve instead of playing it. Since the official wiki doesn't give sufficient detail, where are they supposed to go? The Goon wiki in the comment above? The E-UNI wiki? It just adds another dozen or so feet in the "learning cliff."

    Will this lead to mini-maxing and mandatory ship fits? Of course it will. But again -- we already have those, based on the intensive reverse engineering that the major nullsec blocks engage in.

  48. "As Ive said before, if the system is not broken, some companies fix and fix and fix until it is so dumbed down that the enjoyment of learning and understanding the system is gone. Complexity just for complexity's sake is bad. However, the interaction between the mechanics you've stated for missiles are very easy to understand once youre able to break down what each one does alone; and then when you understand that, you can combine them and get the answers so many people are debating."

    Nope. You don´t get the answers, you get some piratical results that are useful enough, but you get nowhere near the theorycrafting of other games that can calculate applied dps down to the last digit for some of their boss fights. (and than compare the player skill to the theoretical max values ;-))

    We have as far as I know not even a decent tool to parse logs, nor decent combat log files.

  49. Just pointing out there is a difference between publishing the formulas and simplifying the game.

    I think all of the physics equations should be officially published. (And T2 manufacturing etc)

    Having the information doesn't preclude making difficult choices.

  50. I'm going to preface this by saying that I am a very new player, as I started this January and therefor would like to leave open the reality that I might not know what the hell I'm talking about, so please feel free to rebuttal as needed.

    Now then, on to your question about the mystery box/black box that is EvEs game mechanics. My opinion on this is varied. Personally, I enjoy learning new things, figuring out mechanics and the like is a pleasurable pass time for me. However, there is a line where and honest opinion on a matter (and therefor any constructive criticism/constructive idea pitches) cannot really be made unless the subject in question is well understood by the person making the argument. I would take the fact that, for example, the way missiles apply damage is so constantly argued back and forth (based on how it works and what can be done to improve it) as in indicator that it is not well enough understood by the common man (or at least the theorycrafters who would like to propose changes) and just ends up bouncing around until devolves into a consensual (albeit somehow argumentative) agreement that it's not good enough. But this issue does not lie so much with the complexity of the way the damage is applied and instead falls to a failure to communicate how it actually works so that people can make a sound judgement on the situation. So really, your question has two parts.

    1. Depth and Over Complication:

      There is nothing wrong with deep content. Not inherently. EvE is a game that, in fact, prides itself on the depth of the game mechanics (and that's not even considering meta-game, such as subterfuge and AWOXing which in of themselves might seem simple but quickly become a game of their own in terms of unlinked accounts that don't look suspicious and don't have shared API and everything else (I actually don't even understand it all that much, mostly because I've never done it)). However, deep content is NOT the same as over complicated content. I would liken deep content to a series of interacting game mechanics that, based on the situation, generate right/wrong or at least best/ok/worst ways of going about doing things. It requires an understanding of the game, and how everything ties together, and what the best result is and how to get there. But over complication is not interacting mechanics. Over complication is a poorly communicated mechanic (rectifiable) or a mechanic the is a mash of several different specific mechanics clustering together into something that is incomprehensible. For instance (and keep in mind, I'm using what may very well come across as a textbook n00bie statement) I would consider the current system (that is, pre-odyssey) to be, while not the deepest mechanic, a deep mechanic none the less. There is a right way and a wrong way to probe. You want X probes in Y formation for maximum results scanning down more high trafficked areas such as planets/moons, pos's, routes between gates and w/e (truth be told, I don't really have much experience with scan probes either, and it's showing). On the other hand, I would consider the way missiles apply damage to be an overcomplicated mechanic. X damage at Y travel time causing an explosion moving at Z speed while interacting with A m/s target speed and sig radius. See the difference? There are so many different mechanics trying to be calculated by the same equation (I'm assuming it's the same equation, but more on this in the next segment) it's a miracle that even CCP understand it. As a result of the rather confusing system by which it is set up people are at a loss to give proper feedback, and are at even more of a loss to try and explain to a newer player such as myself why missiles are creating such a broad spectrum of results. Now, that's not to say all missiles are bad or anything like that, most people would say that it's really only citadel torps that are pointless right now. But this just means that the back end math works for most of the content, it doesn't mean it's a good mechanic.

    2. Math and Mystery:

      Now, my stance on what makes a good game mechanic aside, lets get into the more nitty-gritty reality of the current issue on how the application of missile damage is explained. Simply...it's not. Or it doesn't seem to be. Or no one has let me in on the secret yet. Who knows? That's exactly the problem. I'm not really sure anyone knows. Do I oppose testing of mechanics so that players can better understand the exact math that goes into the game? No. More power to whoever wants to do that. Do I oppose the idea that players should be making suggestions for changes with a half-cocked idea of how the game works, especially when CCP themselves actively look for player feedback of mechanics? Oh yes, yes I do. There is nothing wrong with having unexplained mechanics in your game (though that is not an excuse to have poor tutorials and new-player interaction, it does mean that I don't expect for CCP to explain to me the exact optimal locations to, using the earlier example, probe. Should I know how to use a probe launcher? Yes. Should I know how to manipulate probes and use them to scan? Yes. Should I know what the right probe type for the job and the right formation of said probes should be? No. That needs to be learned/taught through player interaction with both the game and other players). So when do things get taken too far? Math is inherently logical. A + B = C. Sure, there is hard math; for instance the transversal equation is an example of something that scares me. But that doesn't mean it's incomprehensible. And if you generally understand the factors that go into an equation such as the one for missile damage, you may understand why picking up a second flare rig might be better then picking up a second rigor rig. But there is a difference between a complicated back-end and a system that is either too hard to understand or just simply isn't revealed. I would like to think that my CSM members would know how the mechanics work. They don't have to understand them (though it would be a plus), but they should understand what goes into them and what could be causing problems. And players who want to contribute opinion and criticism based on why something doesn't work or why something would work better should understand those things too. But this is not helped along by the current lack of explanation into how the back end works (which you think would be a priority given CCPs desire to have the best and brightest of EvE helping them make their game better).


      I think that in its current iteration the math behind missiles isn't deep, it's too complicated and too shrouded in mystery. If numbers were given out people might crunch them and mess around with it until a better mechanical solution can be created. Although, purely in my own opinion, I would say there are too many factors relating to missile damage. Turrets have tracking, and sig checks, and damage. Missiles have travel time and damage based on explosion velocity in relation to enemy speed and signature. And even if you fully understand the math, its not like you can really make situational judgment calls while comparing ship speed and explosion velocity while guessing the targets sig radius. At least not in a manner that positively affects gameplay in any capacity. If a game mechanic doesn't affect gameplay; just results; it's probably useless as a mechanic and would be better off replaced with a more effective modifier in the back end. I'd even go so far as to say that since the current missile mechanics are adversely affecting the results of certain missiles (see citadel torps) to an extent where most of the people I see are complaining that they aren't viable, that's just an indicator that the math itself doesn't work and needs to be changed to something with more emphasis on player action (a la "do I really think I can hit that frigate with a cruise missile while it's at that speed?").

    3. Math and Mystery:

      Now, my stance on what makes a good game mechanic aside, lets get into the more nitty-gritty reality of the current issue on how the application of missile damage is explained. Simply...it's not. Or it doesn't seem to be. Or no one has let me in on the secret yet. Who knows? That's exactly the problem. I'm not really sure anyone knows. Do I oppose testing of mechanics so that players can better understand the exact math that goes into the game? No. More power to whoever wants to do that. Do I oppose the idea that players should be making suggestions for changes with a half-cocked idea of how the game works, especially when CCP themselves actively look for player feedback of mechanics? Oh yes, yes I do. There is nothing wrong with having unexplained mechanics in your game (though that is not an excuse to have poor tutorials and new-player interaction, it does mean that I don't expect for CCP to explain to me the exact optimal locations to, using the earlier example, probe. Should I know how to use a probe launcher? Yes. Should I know how to manipulate probes and use them to scan? Yes. Should I know what the right probe type for the job and the right formation of said probes should be? No. That needs to be learned/taught through player interaction with both the game and other players). So when do things get taken too far? Math is inherently logical. A + B = C. Sure, there is hard math; for instance the transversal equation is an example of something that scares me. But that doesn't mean it's incomprehensible. And if you generally understand the factors that go into it, you may understand why picking up a second flare rig might be better then picking up a second rigor rig. But there is a difference between a complicated back-end and a system that is either too hard to understand or just simply isn't revealed. I would like to think that my CSM members would know how the mechanics work. They don't have to understand them (though it would be a plus), but they should understand what goes into them and what could be causing problems. And players who want to contribute opinion and criticism based on why something doesn't work or why something would work better should understand those things too. But this is not helped along by the current lack of explanation into how the back end works (which you think would be a priority given CCPs desire to have the best and brightest of EvE helping them make their game better).

    4. Sorry for the double post of the second paragraph, and any glaring grammatical errors as I was quite tired when I posted wrote this.

  51. The black box adds to the complexity of the game in a positive way. It allows people to dick into it if they want to.

    More important is that you can explain it roughly in an easy way to someone new. It doesn't have to be 100% correct but it must cover the basic. And most of all it should work logical.
    A Missile hitting you from behind? It will deal less damage if you fly faster as the total impact of the shock wave is less right?
    If you get hit in the front it should hit harder as both velocities add.

    A target is orbiting you, it is hard to hit the target. You are orbiting a sitting duck, it is hard to hit the duck??? Why?

    CCP doesn't have do reveal the exact formula but a short and logic guide to know WHAT influences stuff and HOW.
    If you fly faster, you get less damage from missiles.
    If your signature increases, you are easier to hit.

    Keep the complexity, hide the formulas. You don't need those info to play the game. But you can seek this info if you want to.

  52. I don't mind the black box nature of Eve, for newbies or experienced players....

    But, I would be okay with CCP taking apart combat and reworking it from the ground up. And my reason for this is very simple. I don't think CCP knows exactly how combat works anymore. It's a system that got built over years and years, just like crimewatch, with more layers being added to it, and now it's a complex web even they can't completely figure out.

    That web may make for a vibrant array of ships, fittings, and experimentation on the players part. But it also means if anything goes wrong... CCP can only make a change, pray it works, and wait to see if it works.

    I think loads of combat mechanics can be simplified in their implementation, while still allowing all the variation.

    Think Poker. It's 52 cards, X number of players, and you'll never in your entire life play the exact same round of Poker twice. But we have perfect understanding of Poker, the rules are exactly documented, we've tossed it at super computers to figure out probabilities, but not "solve" it. Because they variation in play is so complex we know it cannot be solved. We can only figure out the chances of something happening based on the cards in play.

  53. I think the innards of a modern television set are quite complex. I think a one-led one-pixel monochrome screen has more physics to it than the average joe cares to know about. And still untold millions enjoy watching television.

    One does not need to know *exactly* how something works to be able to enjoy it's effects.

  54. Complexity only adds richness to people who figures stuff out. Choosing Projectile Ammo is a good example of a rich but accessible system. It's very clear to see what the choices are - damage v range, damage type. It's clear that one can check an opponent's likely fit and optimise.

    But where the complexity is some formula that looks like E=n(2~) HHr (17.8) it's just gobbledigook to most of us. What's more many of those formulae have been reverse engineered by players rather than being visible in the client.

    Incidentally ECM outside optimal is known and no your ECM strength is not affected. A second separate % chance to fail is applied. So if your ECM strength is 17 then at optimal plus falloff it feels like an ECM strength of 8.5 but actually you have a 50% chance to fail (checked separately) followed by an ECM strength of 17.


  55. I think it the discussions sure can add to the meta-game.

    On a personal level I don't care one bit about the minute details of the mathematics under the hood of the game. I see no reason why the math should be "open source" at all. Why must everything be known? Is the process of trying out what works good and what does not not a fun game in itself? I understand that some people do find it interesting to know, but personally I'd rather see that everything is not known.

    Half the game is trying stuff, not copying a cookie cutter fit to maximize the damage/output/whatever. At least for me.

  56. "Does EVE's black box nature add richness to the game? Or needless complexity?"

    All of our formula-crafting is emergent gameplay.
    People guessing wrong about certain aspects of gameplay, seeing patterns that don't exist, creating mythologies. That's what creates the richness. You can still play the game well without knowing the formulae.

  57. As a new player (less than 5 M SP) I appreciate the details like this. The fact that nobody knows for sure just adds to the wonder that is the eve universe. Even as someone who flys Cyclones, and is about to step into a typhoon for the first time, not knowing all the mechanics, and the mechanics not being all known, is attractive to me.

    I came from other MMORPGs hating the fact that people knew every little game mechanic and how to use it to it's maximum. What I don't want to see in EVE, and what would inevitably happen, is players forming fleet designed to use the newly discovered and actual mechanics to their advantage in fleet battles. Eve is a very attractive game and part of that is just the player history and stories of players seeking to learn the mechanics them selves, whether it be devising the pipebombing scheme, or Aperture Harmonics discovering negative targeting range in the Magnatar C6. All of these things fascinate me, and I believe, even as a relatively new player, that they should remain a mystery.

  58. A good start:

    When a target is locked, display your modules' effectiveness against it next to each module. Like to-hit chance for turrets, likely effective damage for missiles, and similar for EWAR. Make it somehow explicit in the UI what the probability or effectiveness is.

    If there is already a way to show that, please let me know. I use the tooltips a lot, and they are good, but I think a little more work on this would take a lot of the guesswork out without accidentally throwing anything out of balance.

  59. Personally, I think the game mechanics and UI should be as streamlined and intuitive as possible. This makes the game accessible and enjoyable. But, I think New Eden should have as much mystery and uncertainty as possible. This makes the game rewarding and enjoyable.

    Just look at mission running. Everything is documented on eve-survival.org. There is no mystery, no uncertainty, no sense of epic, no real satisfaction from accomplishment. Just grinding.

    Guild Wars 2 goes a long way towards this paradigm. Simple, easy to understand mechanics, UI, and information. But the dynamic events and quests means that the world was unpredictable and exciting, at least in those early days. I personally thought they should have gone further with the dynamic events. Everything should have impacted everything, dynamic event chains should span weeks, not hours.

    I would love to see more dynamic, unpredictable content in Eve, where your actions really impact the state of the universe. This is the complexity I want to see.

    1. I agree completely with this aspect, and I feel it goes a long way to hitting the nail on the head as twere re my stand on Documenting Complexity as a Bad Thing.

      eve-survival.org is a fantastic player developed resource... I myself have added mission reports there... but, it does it too well, or I should say, CCP did not do the missions well enough.

      A mission report on eve-survival give you exact information on what to expect, how to counter it and how to blitz the mission if desired. Because this data is exact and because the missions do not change, this makes them far too easy to run and therefore makes them boring and a grind...

      The fault lies not with the data collections and reporting, but in the mission mechanics... Why are the mission NPC so inflexible in tactics, fleet comp, DPS, response to threats, and timing? The missions should have a variety of fleets comps and fits, the fleets should change tactics and response patterns. This does not mean an increase in difficulty just an increase in variety. L2 mishes should still be as hard and no harder to complete and so on.

      The initial contact NCP fleet should have a variety of ships/fits that are randomly joined up and deployed. The triggers should be more responsive... I have never understood the justification for three groups on grid that allow you to not only attack and destroy one of them but also loot & salvage until the player is ready to 'trigger' aggro from the second group.

      This feels very unrealistic and breaks immersion and TBH, is just boring. If I attack one group of ships from a player corp or alliance fleet, I can guarantee unless I have an overwhelping force, the rest will join in if there is a chance to save their mates and kill some of us... not just sit there, on grid, watching or acting like they are AFK...

      The eve-survival reports should be, at best, a guide to what you can expect, not what 'will happen' without fail. More dynamic, unpredictable and therefore exciting content is exactly what is needed fr missions and exploration and everywhere in, and out, of New Eden...

  60. Make a flowchart listing all the requirements for a given item.
    Like say the requirements for 1400mm artillery and then the ships it should go on.
    This way people have a very good idea where they are going and what they can do.
    Oh and definitely do like in PI with the schematics for all industry.
    this way some one can see what they can build with their stockpile going in rather than looking backwards.
    It also would make people more interested starting up by showing them future things saying soon this could be yours to!
    ooh thought, make little videos showcasing the general idea of a ship on some targets with a voiceover telling people what they sre doing.
    Useless to vets or good corps, invaluable to starter corps and new people

  61. The other thing that strikes me while reading this, is that most people do not know the difference between a complicated system (a TV) and a complex system (a living cell).

  62. My honest opinion: if you get everything served on a silver plater, it loses its purpose, its worth. I honestly prefer if information is vague, as differing opinions and experiences can lead to differing conclusions, which in turn produce a more dynamic, varied gamescape. This goes not just for the technical details, but lore as well. Take for instance EVE's background - we know where we New Edeners come from and many ask themselves what Earth looks like now. But do we really want to know? Imo, most of the fun is in guessing and trying to piece things together, not in facts. Minmaxers can still do their thing with perceived data.

  63. Ripard... started a comment, ended up with a post... go figger huh? =]

    If yer interested... "EvE is a Riddle, Wrapped in a Mystery, Inside an Enigma... "


  64. I believe we've been sold the idea that dark mechanics make the game experience more insteresting... Unexpected consequences get our interest after all, when in fact all it does is make use of our ignorance to supplant lack of content. This may be exacerbated by our gaming traditions where the most challenging of games, no matter the genre, where our favorites. One of the questions I used to ask when I met someone in EVE was what were their favourite games and why, and in the vast majority of cases, we had at least two games in common, and those were hard games.

    Mechanics should be clear, content on the other hand, shouldn't. It's what other games are aiming for after all these days and EVE's lack of clear mechanics make it lose adepts as other games are becoming more friendly and easier for more people to perform positively according to a specific set of rules.


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