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Welcome to New Azeroth, Part I

05 May

As I’ve had Eve on the brain for the last few months (while our WoW group took a break), I keep finding things about Eve’s design that I like better than about 95% of MMOs out there.  So I asked myself, what would WoW look like if CCP made it?  I’ll admit, my first impression was probably a cross between Breathtaking Dogfights and Bambi Meets Godzilla, but after I stopped laughing, I thought, “Hey, I’d play that game…”

This sort of post has been percolating for a while and every time I come back to it, its gotten longer, so I’ve chopped it up into a few more easily digestible chunks.  So, on with the thought experiment.  Today, Part I.

The Map, Security, PvP and Everything

At its core, WoW is a PvE game and Eve is a PvP game but that’s too simple a characterization.  Each have huge areas of the game of relative safety and security where PvP is almost entirely consensual.  Each also have zones or regions that are effectively PvP free fire zones.

The largely symbolic WoW zone control monikers of Alliance, Horde, or Contested would be replaced by something similar to Eve’s 0.0 to 1.0 security system.  Eve’s security system is faction agnostic and based on PvP aggression, so with factions being such a key part of the WoW canon, some slight modifications are in order.  First of all, PvP wouldn’t be consensual anymore.  The solace is that in high security zones, retribution would be swift and devastating.

Two ways to go here in my view.  Either adopt Eve’s concept of Concord to punish aggression in high security zones (perhaps a bit immersion breaking despite the whole Burning Crusade thing) or my preference would be to modify it so that security becomes factional and runs a continuum from -1.0 to 1.0 with either end representing either Alliance controlled or Horde controlled zones.

To go full Eve would permit all players versus all players (i.e. Alliance on Alliance pk-ing).  Interesting, but I think you lose most of the Horde/Alliance dynamic which although seldom at play in reality nowadays provides the fundamental underpinning to the lore.

A Horde in an Alliance zone would become a free fire target for all alliance players in the “Empire” equivalent zone of 1.0 or -1.0.  NPC guards etc. would be present and vigorously assist in defense of the zones.  Remember those blissful days in Southshore/Tarren Mill circa 2005?

High sec (0.5-0.9 or -0.5 to -0.9) would be under the control of the appropriate faction, but as the security rating approached 0.4, the level of faction support would decrease.  Roving faction guards, etc. would assist in keeping defending the zone, with fewer present as security decreased.

In Low Sec (0.1 to 0.4 or -0.1 to -0.4) there would be no official presence other than at select points (similar to sentry guns on warp gates).  The closer the security rating to zero, the less vigorous the guards would react.  Think the guards at The Great Lift to Thousand Needles back in the old days.  An Alliance character could evade them and use the lift without too much trouble.

0.0 would represent true no man’s land.  No guards, free fire PvP.

A few examples:

Typical Empire Zone:
Dun Morogh, Elwynn Forest (1.0)
Tirisfal Glade, Durotar (-1.0)

Typical High Sec Zone:
The Barrens (-0.9)
Loch Moden (0.9)

Typical Low Sec Zone:
Duskwallow (0.4)
Desolace (-0.4)

Typical Null Sec Zone:
Eastern Plaguelands
Burning Steppes

The size of Azeroth might be a bit of a problem, but if CCP had designed WoW, it would have been much bigger with plenty of 0.0 wilderness in which to eke out an existence and engage in empire building.  With a creative distribution of necessary resources, this would create many opportunities for guilds and alliances to attempt to control portions of the map, vital trade routes etc.

Eve’s “endgame” if there is one, revolves around territorial conquest, so allowing portions of the map to be colonized and controlled by player groups would be key.  To that end, players would have to be able to build towns in the hinterlands of 0.0.

Like Player Owned Structures (Starbases) in Eve, guilds could establish keeps and build towns in the wilds with all the services they would need.  Of course, they would be destructible and capturable and require tending and maintenance to remain operational.

Progression

Say it with me: time-based, skill-based progression.  XP and levels (as we know them) are dead.  Ok, maybe not Eve’s I-can-finally-fly-a-titan-after-a-year’s-exclusive-training geologic time scale, but something similar would suffice.

Skills points would form the basis of progression.  Unlike the you-can-do-anything-if-you-train-it approach to Eve, fantasy archetypes should be maintained but with skill based progression within them.  Each class would be able to train and progress different class specific skills via real time training.  Like Eve, skill books could be purchased or collected as drops while others could become available from various trainers throughout the world or as rewards for epic missions.  Questing would remain, but rather than XP, items, skill books, faction and gold would be the reward much like Eve’s mission system.

Rather than levels, in Eve, the ships you are able to pilot are sometimes viewed as a sort of proxy for overall progression and status (yes, total skill points matter, but stick with me).  Your combat proficiency is a function of both the skills you’ve trained and your proficiency in using them.  As in Eve, PvP and PvE are very different games.

The closest analogy in WoW would be gear.  To use epic gear would require epic skills.  To use increasingly powerful gear would require having trained a set of skills to higher levels.  And like Eve, increasingly powerful gear has both strengths and weaknesses.  Doesn’t it just make sense that uber armor while offering enourmous defense comes at the cost of agility?  Shouldn’t an army of lowbie rogues in leather be able to give a highbie protection warrior a run for his money?

Want to use that uber 1337 shield?  Better have Level V shield skills trained.  Mount?  Buy one and get trained.  Wanna ride faster? Train to a higher level or train secondary skills (e.g., Steeplechase IV anyone?).  Want to gem that armor piece?  Not until you’ve trained it up.  The more you train, the better the effect.

Likewise, all other aspects of the game such as gathering, crafting, fishing, first aid, etc. would follow the same progression.  You would engage in these activities because you wanted to, i.e. you needed or wanted the output from the activity rather than mindlessly performing the same task for a skill up.  Since the output of these non-combat activities wasn’t necessary for progression, they might actually be useful for one of my favorite activities in MMOs…

The Economy

In Eve, destruction and loss provide the demand that drives the economy.  Things get blown up.  Stuff gets stolen.  As a result, things need to be repaired and replaced.  Since players manufacture nearly everything in the game.  Supply rises to meet demand, isk is made pews are pewed and all is good.

Everything in the economy needs to have some use.  No more vendor trash.  At least in the way we think of it in most MMOs.  In Eve, “useless” drops can be reprocessed into their constituent minerals which form the building blocks for the manufacture of all items in the game.  The closest analogy in WoW has been disenchanting and that’s really not very close since those components are only for augmentation rather than base manufacture.  Either expanding disenchanting or creating the functional equivalent of Eve’s reprocessing plant would turn all that vendor trash into commodities for the production of gear.  I’ve always wondered why a blacksmith could assemble armor, but never take it apart…Crafters rejoice.

In Eve, a ship might last you forever so long as you don’t get blown up.  And, as long as you don’t suffer too much damage, you don’t even need to pay for repairs.  If you are blown up however, buh bye.  Certain items may be utterly destroyed, others blasted into their constituent parts or perhaps damaged requiring significant repair.  While you would be rezzed, the dreaded corpse run returns in order to salvage your blasted bits.

Eve’s basic economy is the envy of most MMOs.  A key part of that are buy orders.  Add them.  At a glance, buy orders and sell orders accurately depict time and location shifted supply and demand.  Wait, location shifted?

Yup.  Eliminate gear mail.  In order to make the economy work and to foster emergent gameplay, travel, transport and risk are key.  Economics has been described as the study of the allocation of scarce goods.  Risk and geography are key to the pricing of scarce goods.  Time has value, risk mitigation has value.  Transport of goods would open up a whole new aspect of game play and opportunities for itemization.  High capacity pack mules or caravans anyone?  How about courier contracts?

Consider WoW’s lowly copper ore versus Eve’s tritanium.  Copper in WoW is relatively abundant and easy to obtain but is essentially useless unless you’re leveling an alt’s tradeskills and only then for a short time.  Tritanium is also relatively abundant and easy to obtain, but it also serves as the base manufacturing input for most items in Eve.  As a result, tritanium remains one of the most consistently lucrative minerals to seek out and constantly in demand.

Low risk, low yield in high sec, but higher risk higher yield is more dangerous locales…  Where demand exceeds supply and vice versa is opportunity for all manner of game play…Consider the possibilities.

Stay tuned for Part II.

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4 Comments

Posted by on May 5, 2009 in Eve Online, World of Warcraft

 

Tags: , , ,

4 responses to “Welcome to New Azeroth, Part I

  1. michael, St Erroneous

    May 7, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    IIRC a New Eden pilot has two layers of “security standing”.

    1) Concord security rating, based on generic aggressive acts in non null-sec locations.

    2) Faction standing, altered by mission-running and trumped by membership of an opposing factional militia. At low level of faction standing pilots are be kill on sight by faction navies through their high-sec area. Not Concord, but the faction guards at stargates.

    The separation of (consequences for unprovoked aggression) from (consequences for factional alignment) gives the game the ability to support more than two factions. Also, pilots, by default, are neutral and unaligned with the world’s political framework. By their actions, they become invested with the NPC world – they choose to take factional kill-missions, choose to join a factional militia. This gives players the ability to associate freely from the moment they enter the game, and establish the social structures they wish, without feeling the Iron Hand of CCP imposing a Realm v Realm scenario on the world. Pilots are restricted in what ships they can fly by time-subscribed, not who they can fly with.

    In the New Azeroth you describe, new players would be “born” with a negative standing to the opposite faction. One might imagine a process to progressively neutralise factional alignment, but even with that it would be a definite inversion of EVE’s model – new NA characters would start “locked in” to NA’s NPC factional environment and have to work for the right to earn free travel in NPC areas.

    So, upshot – I can understand why you would propose that feature. But I don’t feel it’s very CCPish.

    (It would be very interesting to see what their design work on nWoDO is like in this area – I expect they will deviate from EVE’s model quite substantially).

     
    • p@tsh@t

      May 8, 2009 at 9:04 am

      Fair point Michael. It would create a very RvR ish feel which is not entirely CCPesque but given the canon I think it would be interesting. I considered a Concord equivalent, but that seemed to me to take too much away from the underlying lore.

      It also puts back into play in a more serious way all those neutral towns like Gadgetzan or Everlook. They might actually become the cross faction market hubs that they were originally intended to be.

      Following the recent blog discussions of the idealized game that starts out on rails and leaves you at an Eve like undirected endgame, giving players that starting faction and context could serve that purpose. As they progress, then you could make more choices with the resulting changes in faction, whether you end up on Team A, Team B, or your own team that may be favorable/unfavorable with various factions.

       
      • michael, St E

        May 8, 2009 at 9:20 am

        You don’t need to spoil the cannon with an actual physically distinct Concord equivalent. The same faction police could respond to unprovoked aggression between mutually-blue players as would be responding to the presence of red-flashies (the opposing faction).

        But otherwise…

        *nodnodnod*

        Given the mutual loathing between the factions in WoD (werewolves v vampires, mages v technocracy – I’m not sure how much changed in the nWoD reset) I imagine CCP willl be going down something like this road.

        As long as there’s a way off the rails at the start too. :)

        I quite like the idea of a player, during the newbie experience, “opting in” to a role/class in the military. Make the railed-content there entertaining and rewarding, but it gives players a choice to opt off the rails and following a non-military game role (eg, trader, industrialist, crafter, fisherman, etc) from the start with a neutral factional alignment.

        Ie, everyone would have a neutral hauler alt. :)

         
  2. boris

    May 8, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    Loverly theorycrafting! Keep it up!

    And Steeplechase IV skill cracked me up. It’s very appropriate though.

    Next (twisted) mental exercise would be to reverse this. How would one apply Wow to EVE? Does seem that would break things though. You die in combat, but don’t lose your ship would be an extreme example. Suspension of disbelief failure there.

    Boris

     

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