Jamming (BB38)

“In his recent “That’s just the way it is” post on Jester’s Trek, blogger Ripard Teg posits that the established EVE player-base has come to accept many of EVE’s design idiosyncrasies, rarely questioning their purpose or benefit. Conversely, he also suggests that new players might not be so forgiving of these “quirks”. In an interview with Gamasutra, Senior Producer CCP Unifex describes EVE Online’s developers as “relatively hands-off janitors of the virtual world”, underlining that he has only four content developers but “a lot” of programmers and engineers.

Has a culture developed where CCP has started to take player effort for granted – expecting the “social engine” to fulfil tasks that might otherwise be CCP’s responsibility? Or should this culture be embraced as part of “emergent gameplay” with these quirks accepted as the catalyst for interaction?”

A group of accomplished musicians comes together for a night of improvisation. Each one has a deep respect for their compatriots in this exercise. The intention is to produce, as a group, a unique sound that is a direct result of the collaboration of the group as a whole. This sound will be a galaxy apart from the over-produced, bland and unimaginative drivel known as “popular” music.

For this to be a success, all ego’s are checked at the door. No one musician can take the lead, there is no arrangement charted.

Things tend to start off a mite stiff, as each player gets a feel for the other participants particular style and feel. Slowly it comes together; feet start tapping whilst knowing looks and delighted smiles commence to fill the room.

It goes late, no one wanting to put a finish to it; this is a good one.

That is true jamming. I’ve been there and had the privilege to experience just that. No other musical experience can supplant it. No other type of playing comes close, nowhere near it.

A truly good jam session is also an extremely rare event.

Eve Online is the gaming equivalent of jamming. It’s a collaborative effort between CCP and Eve’s players, to bring about something unique and different amongst a plethora of over-produced, bland and unimaginative theme park MMO’s.

No one could ever convince me that Eve now is what CCP intended it to be when the game went live all those years ago.

Neither is it what any of the players want it to be right now (not completely).

Just as a decent jam session will not be perfect from start to finish, Eve Online has its peculiarities, its idiosyncracies and its “you can’t be serious!” moments. Corp TS3 can often be filled with the plaintive cries of someone who just cannot believe some simple procedure can possibly be so complicated.

There is, however, a situation now where CCP designers are getting a little too gun-shy of trying to influence game direction. This, I believe, is a direct result of Incarna and the Summer Of Rage.

As with all balancing, straying too much to the left will usually result in over-compensation by straying too far to the right. From trying to influence game direction too much, CCP may now be guilty of leaving game direction completely to the players.

I have not tried to wade through the CSM summit minutes, who has? Well, a few brave souls, at least.

From the summaries those bleary-eyed die-hards have put together, though, I get the distinct impression of CCP dev’s tossing ideas into the air in front of the CSM delegates and seeing which ones survive. Bit of clay pigeon shooting, anyone?

The next expansion has some good things in it, true; but it does seem a little light on, if I’m to be honest about it. There definitely seems to be hesitation on CCP’s part to make a leap into some new direction and I believe it’s all down to jitters from Incarna and its ugly aftermath. It could also be down to the companies main focus being on Dust at the moment, but I doubt it.

As to the point about new players being put off by the game’s quirks, I’m personally not convinced. Someone with the right attitude and personality to be a long-term Eve player will have the patience and tolerance to overlook Eve’s shortcomings and be won over by the sum total of what is, after all, a truly unique gaming experience.

It’s all in the mind, you know.

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One response to “Jamming (BB38)

  1. Pingback: Blog Banter 38 Summary – Dogma « A Scientist's Life in Eve

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