Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Do We Need More Sand?

Eve prides itself on being a game that allows the players to create content and story themselves rather than being led by the developers along a pre-conceived narrative.

This is the famous 'sandbox' idea. The player is given an non-linear game environment and they are left to interact with it. There is no definite end to the game and there is no progression other than the goals which players set for themselves. Eve players are free to do what they like.

The only limitations of Eve are the environments and tools that we are given by the developers to play with. Or, sticking to the analogy, how much 'sand' we have. The 'sand' we have been given is geography, such as Empire space, Lowsec, Nullsec and wormholes. We also have infrastructure like open markets, stations, planets and stargates. Finally we have the ships, the modules, the enemies and so on. All this 'sand' is of course hugely important to the game. The players can only develop emergent behaviour and innovative gameplay if they have the materials to work with. The big question I want to ask is, do we need more sand?

The most obvious way to give players more 'sand' is to create new environments. New environments spawn the most distinctive differences in gameplay. For example, life as a player in Empire is totally different from Lowsec, which in turn is also nothing like Nullsec and living in wormholes is different from them all! These are the four very distinct environments that Eve players adapt to fit into. CCP has created these environments and the laws that govern them. The players and corporations have created play-styles and professions that function well in those environments.

Getting to grips with new environments is also something that Eve players find very enjoyable. The most sucessful Eve expansion so far has been Apocrypha, which tempted people to play by the lure of both a whole new environment, wormholes, and a new way to exploit them, T3 ships. Apocrypha attracted many new players to the game, and also rekindled the interest of players who had become slightly bored.

So back to my big question. Do we need more sand? Does Eve need to continue to create new and unique environments? Or do we already have enough? Will the current environments be able to satisfy you for a long time to come? Or will you need a constant stream of new material to keep you interested? Maybe you are more concerned with balancing and tweaking the environments we already have?

What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. I don't think it's an either-or case, both are necessary; we would all like more sand, because the same old sand gets a little boring. But updates to the old sand in the form of tweaks and fixes and nearly as good as new sand.