Archive for September, 2011

Been Playin’ Tanks

Posted in World of Tanks on September 13, 2011 by Easley Thames

The last few weeks have been very busy for me IRL. I actually haven’t undocked once this month so far.

In the meantime, being an online gaming addict, I needed something to play casually while working.

So, I decided to give World of Tanks a shot.

WoT is perfect because I can play one match until I explode, then tab out and do some work while the game finishes.

You can also leave one battle and immediately start another with a different tank. There is never any boring down-time, and the amount of effort you need to spend working in the hangar area is relatively minor.

This “leave or stay” option provides an opportunity for hardcore players to get back to grinding while casuals can stick around and watch their team finish the game, possibly learning something in the process.

The basic method of entering battles in WoT is very simple. You click one button, and the server matches your tank and 14 others against a relatively-equal team of 15 opponents.

It takes about one minute from the time you click the “battle” button until you are driving around on the battlefield.

In contrast, Eve suffers immensely from the “time til fun” factor. You might need hours of searching to get one brief moment of joy.

Eve doesn’t feel like a game, it’s like an alternate world where you have to make a serious commitment in time to actually achieve something.

Maybe Eve is TOO real sometimes. We want people to be risk averse, otherwise there is no tension in the game, but not to the extent that people are afraid to undock without a large blob and guaranteed reimbursement.

Despite how much fun I am having paying WoT, I should be more active in Eve after the first of October.

However, with the number of great games on the market, I am definitely concerned that CCP might start losing cutomers if they can’t solve some issues with their Winter expansion.

Unlike me, most people don’t play 5-6 MMOs at once. Most people who fall in love with a new game drop their old game.

Sure, some people come back and change their minds, but I think there is a real risk here for CCP.

Rather than a single explosive issue, like the T-20 scandal or “the door to nowhere,” CCP’s problem is that they have established a negative pattern of behavior.

This pattern includes over-hyping future features, then delivering drastically scaled-down versions of those features with poor quality control.

CCP needs to understand that the best way to market Eve isn’t to dream up new features to add to the game description, it’s to deliver meaningful and enjoyable gameplay that transforms the customer into their best advocate.

Why did I decide to play World of Tanks? It was because lots of other gamers have been impressed by it. Their stories made me want to drive a tank, not the game’s marketing team, although their video mocking Eve was a rather humorous.

Don’t forget that existing customers are the most important group to cater to. Taking us for granted is not only arrogant and foolish, it will backfire when bitter veterans chase off those new players CCP has spent so much time and money trying to impress.

As gamers, we have lots of options. It is CCP that needs us, we are the people who fall into the niche market Eve caters to. There are not that many people who Eve will appeal to, at least not compared to a fantasy-based MMO, but that doesn’t mean CCP should try to make Eve more like those fantasy games.

When you try to be everything to everyone, you end up pleasing no one. When you have a unique identity, even if it appeals only to one niche of the gaming market, then you have something invaluable.

CCP talks about Carbon UI as their “competitive advantage.” Truthfully, the players could give a rat’s ass about this technology. It has brought us nothing useful.

So what do we want? I can’t speak for everyone in the game, but I can tell you what I would like to see.

I want CCP to put incentives in the game for smaller groups to fight over. The ideal solution would be to seed resources in such quantities that these objectives are nearly worthless when divided among 100 people, but valuable enough for 5-10 people to fight for.

I want CCP to restore some sanity in terms of super-capital EHP and doomsday weapons. I also think that supers should have longer timers before they disappear from local when they disconnect with aggression. Expect another post on this topic soon.

I want CCP to shake up the way we get intel through local so that bots can’t escape danger, and to add a sense of mystery & adventure back into the game. Everyone is too aware of their surroundings for our own good. Countless opportunities for fights are lost due to “local spikes.”

That would be a good start for the Winter expansion, which I believe should be focused nearly exclusively on flying in space.

Advertisements