Friday, 5 November 2010

Incarna

I was listening to the "NotALotOfNews News Hour" podcast - and there was a discussion on Incarna, based on the CSM meeting minutes. Given that what's likely to be delivered in Incarna seems to be very much in an inchoate state, I decided to have a think about it. And not just because "What would you like to have in your "Captain's Cabin"?" sounds rude.

Some thoughts, in no particular order:

  1. If the developers are going to err, err in the direction of making Incarna chrome (i.e. attractive but basically non-critical-functionality), rather than have it negatively impact the current game.
  2. Expanding the existence of our characters beyond their ships is potentially strongly game enhancing.
  3. If it ends up being like stations in Star Trek: Online, it'll just be annoying. 
  4. EVE is a slow-paced game, with a grimy futuristic feel. Incarna should enhance that, rather than make it seem more shiny and clean.
  5. It would be really nice to be able to look out of a station window and see ships coming in/going out, etc, rather than having the stations feel like separate worlds.
  6. It would be nice if the stations were differentiable in some way, rather than all being clones of each other.
  7. If there are NPCs, and they are mission-giving, they should in NO WAY have big yellow question-marks over their head. Wrong feeling, wrong tone, wrong idea. Incarna should enhance the experience, not make "running about collecting qwests" an irritating and time-consuming necessity.


While I'm on missions, they really are a bit lacklustre, aren't they? The following conversation is typical:

Shay Deebloak (Agent): Laria Raven, out in the depths of space the Ivil Company is running illegal drugs, hidden in the holds of innocent-looking frigates. The customs officials race frantically from station to station, gate to gate, attempting to stop them getting through. Despite my misgivings about you, I feel that you have the ability to help in this battle.

Laria Raven (Me!): Oh...coool... I'm up for that, on the side of good, trying to stop these dirty smugglers! So, what's it to be - policing a blockade? A letter of marque? Blowing them up as they approach the station?

Shay Deebloak: Could you take these documents to the next system, please?

Laria Raven: ...

Shay Deebloak: It's important! For reasons that will never be very clear! I'll pay you moderately well! And if you come back, I may well ask you to do exactly the same thing again!

Laria Raven: ... meh.

It seems to me that if Incarna can be used to leverage more dynamic, less repetitive, more involved missions, that would be a positive.

Also, there should be bars. Cantinas. Whatever. (Actually, I think that's a given).

It seems unlikely that there's a way to stop there being lots of idiots in station alternating between yelling "Boobies", spamming, and whinging about how their ship got blown up and now they have nothing and how could this happen? (Gee brain, I dunno, possibly because you ignored everything you've been told ever, and attacked the game like it was a cross between X-Wing vs Tie-Fighter and World Of Warcraft.)

Back to my list

  1. (actually, 8, but html does not like long digressions). I want to change my character's clothes. Just occasionally. So she doesn't stink. This kind of thing isn't for everyone. It's pointless and useless and so it's exactly the sort of thing that Incarna can and should do.
  2. I want people to be able to organise events, entertainment, amusing stories. I want there to be an in-game news channel I can watch.
  3. There should be gambling. I know this is contentious, but I can't imagine EVE as a place where it doesn't go on.
I guess, in the end, what I'm saying is that Incarna should be a genuine expansion, rather than a modification of what's already there. Because what's already there is pretty darn good. Open the world up, rather than modifying it.

Some of this is hard. But it seems to me like EVE has the ideal platform for dynamic content, because of the sheer amount of space in the universe. Lets have some ambition (particularly in missions).

Oh, and as for what I want in my Captain's Cabin? (or my Lieutenant's Locker? (Or my Midshipman's Manor (or my Ensign's Enclave (or my Admiral's... Annexe....))) I want it to be a space that (a) feels private, so perhaps a limited amount of customisation. (b) I can invite people to and (c) uh... You know, I'm really not sure.

Sidenote:
...TS is coming to EVE... I can feel it...

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