BB 62 – What is and/or should be the future for walking in stations?
I am not sure what EVE players really think about walking in stations. Oh – I know what the loudest and more forceful EVE players think, and they tend to be against it. I am not really sure about the remaining majority. I wonder what CCP’s survey and poll data shows?
The basic mechanics of walking in stations seemed ok – visually it looked ok, the way you could interact with the environment was ok, and you could sort of imagine your avatar living in such a place. It wasn’t earth shattering, but it was a starting point that CCP could have grown from.
Let’s change history. Let’s assume CCP didn’t make a hash of the implementation. They didn’t force all players to use the Captain Quarters, and they kept working on subsequent features.
It is June 2011. You log in after the Incarna release to see your usual hanger bay view – but with a new icon in the top right corner to enter your Captain Quarters. You enter, spend 20 minutes walking around, take some screen shots and change the clothes you are wearing. It is a little buggy and has some performance issues. You return to the normal hanger and mostly ignore the Captain Quarters. Over time the performance issues are ironed out.
In November Crucible is released, with extra Captain Quarters added so that they now match the station type. If it is a player station, the controlling Alliance logo is also displayed on several walls. CCP allows you to invite up to 2 other players into your quarters. It is mostly pointless – but some characters with clothing glitches are in high demand for amusing screen captures. Subsequent patches allow you to purchase cosmetic updates, including being able to turn up or down the ambient light and dynamically change the color scheme.
Inferno comes next in April 2012, and Concourse and Corporation Meeting rooms are released. The Concourse is instanced and the number of real players shown in each one is limited, but NPC characters fill the space depending on how busy the station is. The main draw card is the undock viewing window. Aside being simply fascinating to watch in a trade hub, it proves useful to have a friend or Alt watching it when you undock in unsafe space. Finally there is a reason to regularly use the Walking in Station feature.
There was a bit of unrest about the Corporation Meeting rooms. As you enter the door you immediately find yourself seated in a darkened room. Around you are the shadowy figures of your Corp mates. Their Avatars are not generated – that is limited to the 2 or 3 designated speakers who stand at the front, next to a large display. This allows basic power point presentations to be shown and is surprisingly immersive – particularly once 50+ people attend and the room fills around you. You actually have to fly to the station to be in the meeting room, but you can view the telecast from other stations.
Retribution arrives at the end of 2012 and CCP introduces the Bar and Shop feature. The shop is just a nicer interface to buy clothes through, including preview modes. The Bar is again instanced, but you are able to chat to some mission agents there if you wish, and it is the hub for the new smuggling game mechanics.
2014 sees an excellent New Player Tutorial available in station, a black market, and various gambling games. The smuggling and black market basically add another complete profession to the game. Towards the end of the year espionage options are introduce and are well received. They consist of a variety of hacking games use for intel gathering. One allows you to see into the bay of another pilot, to view their active ship. Another allows the station security system to alert you when another player requests to undock. Another gives you a cargo hold manifest. Most popular is the hacking game that allows you to show who is selling or buying an item on the market without first purchasing from them. Of course failing such games alerts the pilot to what you are doing and has other negative consequences.
As you move forward to 2015 CCP is talking up their latest in station hacking game – where someone docked can temporarily bypass security to allow another player – who normally couldn’t dock, to do so.
CCP has been careful with their development of walking in stations. You have a functioning Captain quarter with a variety of cosmetic changes available for purchase. You can invite up to half a dozen other players in for meetings. Outside there is a concourse, corporation and alliance meeting halls, interview rooms, bars, and a handful of public spaces station owners can purchase. The Planetary Interaction room in particular looks stunning. CCP has had to be smart about using generated NPC avatars to fill spaces and keep performance sharp. While you don’t have to walk around in stations, there are many reasons to do so.
In the meanwhile the game of flying space ships in EVE has continued to involve into what we know of it today.
I wish I was more creative with my ideas, and I wish I could paint a better picture of the possibilities I can see with Walking in Stations. I wish CCP did not make such a hash of its original implementation, and then become so hamstrung by the player’s reactions. I can see how it could have become a seamless part of the game which added to the “cool” factor, and catered for the type of player that is engaged more by seeing themselves walking around than looking at themselves as a ship.
I suspect however CCP would not have the fortitude to do anything with it, and the player base would not have the courage to allow them too. It would also take so many years to get to the point where it viably added to the depth of the game that I wonder if it will ever be viewed as worthwhile. I expect not.
Other posts can be found here