. community review « Torchwood Archives
Torchwood Archives
2Jan/13Off

Review of Crafting (industry) in EVE Online

This post is a reply to the Blog Banter #42.

The 2012 Community Review of EVE Online

"A gaming universe as vast and unique as EVE Online is constantly evolving and the experience is different for every participant. Conventional games review techniques cannot possibly hope to provide an accurate measure of every aspect of EVE's gameplay. However, with a community initiative like the Blog Banters, we have the resources to deliver the most thorough and up-to-date review ever.

By combining the experiences of contributors from across the EVE metasphere, we get a wealth of opinions from veterans and rookies alike. We'll be able to combine input from faction warfare specialists, wormhole residents, null-sec warriors, missioners, pirates, industrialists, roleplayers, politicians and more to paint a complete picture of the health and progress of EVE Online in its current Retribution incarnation.

Who better to review EVE Online, than those who know it best?"

Last year The Blogging Community of EVE Online attempted a crowdsourced review of EVE Online. I have taken part as well, and you can read my contribution here. This year we will be changing the way the Community Review is done, by focusing on a single area of the game.

As a member of Aideron Technologies I can do no different, but focus on item crafting, which in EVE is better known as industry.

This review is up-to-date for Retribution expansion.

Item Crafting in EVE Online

Science and Industry in EVE Online is just as important as its famous, unforgiving PVP. While many players call industrialists carebears and consider them inferior type of players, industry and pvp are like yin and yang: one cannot exist without the other and they are not mutually exclusive: combat results in ship destruction, so it's creating a demand - demand for ships, modules, drones and munitions. Nearly all items (with the exception of blueprints, meta 1-4 items, officer & deadspace drops and implants) are manufactured by players. An open, player-driven market completes the picture, allowing manufacturers to sell their goods to combatants (or just re-sell them for profit).

Different classes of items require different materials and the manufacturing cycle is different. Many items require multi-staged production, so crafting in EVE is far from simple and requires considerable amount of planning. On the other hand, completing big endavours like building a supercapital ship or manufacturing and anchoring a player-owned Outpost in null space rewards a lot of satisfaction.

Item classes and material groups

Items in EVE are divided into several groups, which require different approach to craft and different types of materials.

To manufacture an item, one needs its blueprint and appropriate materials. Obtaining blueprints may be as easy as buying them from NPC, but some advanced blueprints have to be invented or reverse engineered.

  • Tech I is the simplest one, because one only needs an appropriate Blueprint (sold by NPCs) and the right amount of Minerals. Minerals can be obtained from a gathering profession (Mining).
  • Tech II is a more advanced one. Blueprints have to be Invented first, some materials are obtained by Moon Mining and have to be transformed at a player-owned-starbase. One has to build components from these materials. In the last stage, components, minerals, Planetary Interaction products and the base Tech I item are combined to create a Tech II item.
  • Capital Construction is very similar to Tech I in terms of materials, but has two stages: an enteprising player needs to build capital parts first, and then combine them together to make the ship itself. Both parts and ships blueprints are rather expensive, so the barrier of entry is rather high.
  • Tech III is similar to Tech II, but the differences are in details. Activity to obtain the Tech III blueprint is known as Reverse Engineering, and materials are harvested from specific NPCs (sleepers) and specific regions of game (wormhole space).
  • Planetary Interaction has been added as part of the Tyrannis expansion and allows players to extract and produce materials on planets. These materials are later used for making in-space structures, commonly called player owned starbases (prior to this expansion POSs have been sold by the NPCs).
  • Rig manufacturing - allows players to use materials obtained from ship wrecks to make useful jury rigs for ships.
  • Outpost Construction is similar to Capital Construction, but uses both minerals and materials obtained from Planetary Interaction.

Of course as every other activity in EVE, one needs to have an appropriate skillset to make an efficient manufacturer. Four groups of skills are used for manufacturing:

  • Industry
  • Mechanics
  • Planet Management
  • Science

Crafting system design score: 90/100. Crafting in EVE Online is great, but at times seems a bit overcomplicated, especially when looking at Tech II and III production chains, which are quite long and require several stages. On the other hand, finishing a complicated task like this can be considered an accomplishment, and will be a source of  satisfaction for the player.

Science and Industry user interface

Unfortunately S&I GUI have not changed much over the years. CCP has added new activities over the years, but the interface is built with a very small scale industry in mind. Large scale operations in corporations like Aideron Technologies is basically a clickfest, because one need to set the activity and production line for each job separately. Each job requires at least 8 mouse clicks and entering some numbers from keyboard. Setting up 10 manufacturing jobs twice a day and 10 invention jobs four times a day will not prolong the life of your computer's mouse. It also makes setting up jobs hard on laptops with a touchpad only. Setting up Planetary Interaction and production chains at player-owned-starbase also takes a lot of clicking, but this fortunately has to be done only once. Maintenance of planetary colonies has already been streamlined by the CCP, so the amount of mouse clicks in PI has been substantially reduced.

Science and Industry GUI requires a serious rework to reduce the amount of clicks substantially. Optimizations, which would improve player experience include:

  • Grouping jobs - ability to start several identical jobs with just one set of clicks, instead of setting each job separately.
  • Material quota screen should be optional if all materials are available and should only show if anything is missing.
  • Linking structures in POS should be done in a graphical manner, similar to Planetary Interaction. Both interfaces should be made very similar, so players only have to learn once.
  • Planning screen should be added to avoid the use of third party apps and trackers. Such screen would allow player to plan the production of any item, getting a material quota (even for sub-components). A saved plan could be tracked (daily, weekly or monthly), to let the CEO know how much work has already been done.
  • Invention and Reverse Engineering are currently chance based. Random chance is quite easy to include in plans, but has two serious downsides:
    • unsuccessful jobs result in some tedious clicking to be completely fruitless,
    • it requires corporations to keep an extra stock (of blueprint copies, datacores and sometimes decryptors), Deterministic approach would allow more precise resource planning
  • Possible solution: making invention jobs 60% longer, require higher skills and 60% more datacores, but they would always succeed.

Crafting system implementation score: 65/100. Industry in EVE is a clickfest and requires considerable amount of out-of-game tools for larger operations. There is plenty of room for improvement in that regard.

Wrapping up

Total score: 77,5/100. Industry in EVE is rather complicated but also a very rewarding profession. It fuels the war machine of EVE and the player-driven economy would have failed without it. Unfortunately the UI is old and needs a serious rework. It should also be possible to conduct larger operations without the need to use Excel and third party tools, which are currently essential.

Other contributions:

22Dec/11Off

Challenge, Thrill, Choice and Internet Spaceships

This post is a reply to the Blog Banter #31.

Welcome to the thirty-first EVE Blog Banter, a community conversation between anyone and everyone with an interest in discussing EVE Online. For more information on how this works, check out this link or for details of this edition's topic, read on.

As any games journalist would probably tell you, a true and complete review of a Massively Multiplayer Online game is impossible. MMOs are vast, forever evolving entities with too much content for a single reviewer to produce a fair and accurate review. However, a collection of dedicated bloggers and EVE players (past and present) with a wide range of experience in various aspects of the game might be able to pull it off.

This special 'End of Year' Blog Banter edition aims to be a crowd-sourced game review. Using your gaming knowledge and experience, join the community in writing a fair and qualified review of EVE Online: Crucible. This can be presented in any manner of your choosing, but will ideally include some kind of scoring system.

With each Blog Banter participant reviewing the areas of EVE Online in which they specialise, the result should be a Metacritic-esque and accurate review by the people who know best.

Writing an unbiased review of a game one kept playing for several years is not easy, but I will try nevertheless.

Freighter class ship about to explode in Murethand

Freighter class ship about to explode in Murethand

EVE Online is a space themed starship MMO set in a distant future. It is a game very different from most MMO games, which are centered around the players represenatation - avatar. In EVE, your avatar is not  flesh and blood... it's a starship. Of course since 2011 it is possible to leave the ship and walk around captain's quarters, but it is not related to the main gameplay. Another difference is fully sandboxed nature of EVE: players are free to do whatever they wish or go wherever they want to go. There are no classes in EVE, and there is no experience points - EVE has an offline training system instead. And most importantly, EVE is a PVP oriented game.

Let's have a closer look at the features of EVE:

Single shard experience

EVE Online is one big persistent world, and everything happens in the same universe. The game is powered by one of the biggest clusters of servers in the gaming industry. This is what makes EVE such an unique experience.

  • tightly bound player community
  • working player-run economy
  • ability to meet in game any other player
  • actions of one player/corporation/alliance resonate throughout the entire game world

Character advancement

Avatar and the capsule

Avatar and the capsule

EVE does not have XP system known from other MMO and RPG games. Instead, characters are "training" skills, even if the player is offline. Each skill is capped at level 5, so new players can quickly specialize and attain the same level of skill as seasoned players. Every level takes more time to train than the previous one: simple skills train to level 3 in minutes, and level 5 only takes 4-5 days. This also means that experience grinding... simply does not exist. Skills allow operating different starships, weapons and modules. They also allow characters to engage in crafting, exploration or trading. The only disadvantage of the offline skill training system is that it takes time. Training can be sped up with "implants" or careful rearrangement of character attributes (it's called a "neural remap" and can be done once every year), but above certain level it is impossible to decrease training times any further.

Character professions

Characters do not have classes, which means everyone can engage in any kind of activity. It also allows players to try out every "profession" available in the game: all one needs is a proper set of skills trained. New players can choose from several types of activities:

  • Combat
    • PvE
      • Missions
      • Ratting
      • Incursions
      • Salvaging
    • PvP
      • Small gang warfare
      • Fleet warfare
      • Piracy
      • Fleet command
      • Faction warfare
  • Exploration
    • Archaeology, Hacking
    • Running hidden complexes
    • Finding hidden resources - gas clouds, minerals, salvage
    • Finding wormholes
    • Running wormhole complexes
  • Crafting
    • Basic - Tech I
    • Invention - Tech II
    • Reverse Engineering - Tech III
    • Rig manufacturing
    • Mining resources (minerals, ice)
    • Planetary Interaction
  • Services
    • Out-of-game services - webistes, killboards, blogs
  • Administration
    • Running a player corporation or alliance
    • Maintaining a player-owned space starbases

As you can see, there is multitude of things players can engage in, which also makes it very hard to be bored with EVE. If you don't like your current activity, there is always many other ones to give a try instead. You can read more about what  to do in EVE Online here, or in the official EVE career guide.

Customization

Noctis salvaging ship (Primae hull) (c) CCP

Ship fitting window

Player ship can be customized in many ways. First off, ships have module slots, which allow to fit weapons, electronic warfare, scanners, shield or armor. Second, they can be fitted with rigs, which work like "tuning kits" for cars: they extend performance in specific field while decreasing it in other. Third, different munitions can be used, which affects weapon range or deal damage type.

Player character can be recustomized anytime by putting different clothes, tattoos or piercings. Hair and its color can be changed as well. Characters can also use implants, some of which decrease training times (attribute enhancers) or increase performance in a specific task (hardwirings).

Tech III ships, which were introduced in Apocrypha expansion allow one more level of customization: the ship itself is built from 5 subsystems (player has a choice of 4 types for each of the five). Subsystems affect not only the capabilities of the ship, but also its look.

Player vs Player content

EVE Online is a combat oriented game, especially regarding Player-vs-player combat. Game world is divided into four zones:

  • high seceurity space
  • low security space
  • null security space
  • wormhole space (which in many aspects is very similar to null security space)

In high security space there is NPC police dubbed "CONCORD", which will destroy anyone attacking other players. This does not mean players are protected against non-consensual combat. CONCORD merely discourages it, but does not remove it. Players flying ships with expensive fittings or cargo have to be cautious even in high security space.

Players can also engage in wars between each other: for a small fee, one corporation (or alliance of corporations) can declare war on another. After 24 hours since war declaration fighting can begin.

Low security space gives shelter to space pirates and anyone else who likes to shoot other players rather than NPCs.

Null security space can be claimed and fought over by small and big player alliances alike. It is completely lawless, and offers more tools for warring parties to use.

Factional Warfare has been introduced in Empyrean Age expansion, and allows players to sign up for militias which fight the opposing faction militia. Rewards for killing opposing faction players include exclusive ships and equipment.

Emotions!!! Due to specific nature of ship loss (unlike in other MMO games, if you loose a ship in EVE, you do not respawn. You loose it for good and have to buy a new one) EVE offers a high level adrenaline experience. The level of adrenaline is comparable or even higher than in FPS shooter games. EVE is real!

Scamming and meta-gaming. EVE is just like the real world: people try to exploit others and often succeed at it. Simple scams like selling low tier equipment for high tier prices or convincing other players to invest in a business venture, which turns out to be a Ponzi-scheme are quite common and not only allowed by the devs, but even encouraged to do so. EVE is one of the games known for this kind of events, some of which made to RL press! Golden rule of EVE: trust no one.

Player vs Environment content

Live event with Sansha NPCs

Live event with Sansha NPCs

To fund equipment, players have various PVE content types to play with. NPCs can be found hiding in asteroid belts or in hidden complexes accesible through exploration. Questing is also available in form of "Missions". Most stations have agents who can be interacted with. They offer various missions, some of which are about killing a group of NPCs, mining a specific asteroid or moving goods from place A to place B. Each mission is rewarded with in game money and special "Loyalty Points" which can later be redeemed into special Navy ships or Navy munitions with increased damage.

Apocrypha expansion brought new AI and new NPCs called "Sleepers" which can only be found in so called "wormhole space" (part of space only accessible through unstable wormholes which randomly appear in space). New NPCs will try to swap targets and effectively attack either the weakest or the most ship which deals most damage to them.

Incursion expansion has added a group-oriented PVE content dubbed "Incursions". A system affected by incursion look different (space is in greyish yellow hue) and has some systemwide effects applied: reduced bounty from NPC pirates, reduced damage and damage resistances. NPCs infesting such systems are much more "intelligent" and require a group of players to effectively combat them.

Crafting

EVE offers an unprecedented crafting system. Every ship in the game, and majority of equipment has been made by players. The in-game economy resembles the real world very closely: by manufacturing ships and equipment you can sell them for profit to other players. You can gather the materials yourself or just buy them from other players. Crafting has several forms, depending on the items produced and materials used. If you like to build stuff for others to blow up - you will enjoy EVE crafting system very much.

Not sure if you can find a niche for yourself? You can manufacture basic Tech I ships and modules, you can invent their enhanced Tech II counterparts, you can reverse engineer the Sleeper drones into usable Tech III technology. It is possible to research blueprints so they use less materials or take less time to manufacture. It is possible to produce performance-enhancing boosters. You can build planetary colonies and manufacture planetary interaction goods there. The list is almost endless.

Visuals

EVE runs a third generation of CCP proprietary Trinity graphics engine, which offers high quality graphics based on shader model 3.0. Engine offers such effects as light shafts, self shadows and HDR rendering. The warp drive effect, which has recently received an overhaul, looks better than most TV Sci Fi series and movies.

Music and sound

"EVE has sound, you know" is a known meme, at least in the EVE community. Most players mute the game sound to better hear other players on voice comms (its worth mentioning that EVE offers a Vivox based built in voice comms as well). When you turn the volume up however, you will hear cool ambient tunes and good quality sound effects one could expect from a Sci Fi game. Each weapon and most modules have a specific sound, so players know what happens around them even when not looking at the screen.

"The Score"

Character advancement: 10 for offline training, 7 for time based experience system, overall 8,5/10

Character professions: 10 for multitude of activites, overall score 10/10

Player vs Player 10 for emotions, 8 for possible unwanted combat, overall 9/10

Player vs Environment 9 for multitude of options, 7 for missions that can be boring over time, 10 for exploration, overall 9/10

Crafting 8 for too complex crafting system, 10 for multitude of options, overall 9/10

Visuals 10 for realistic warp effect, 8 for small glitches and unrealistic light shafts in vacuum, overall 9/10

Music and Sound 9 for music score, 8 for sound effects, overall 8,5/10

FINAL SCORE: 9/10

EVE Online is a complex game, and this is one of the biggest issues for new players. Many people will not even try EVE because they think it is overcomplicated (one of the EVE's nicknames is "Excel in space"). The complexity and broad spectrum of activities is on the other hand a huge advantage: EVE is not just another brainless game, but offers a real challenge. This challenge, the emotions connected to it, and the choice to make what you want make it a game you can play for years - I'm just one more proof of that (been playing EVE for 6,5 years).

Click here if you want to try internet spaceships