Over two years ago, CCP Veritas introduced the EVE community to a prototype on the Duality server called the “Dojo”. Players seeking some tournament style fun could set up a match based on ships which they select with a partner. They are then insta-warped to a deployable structure. While it did become an instant threadnaught on the EVE-O forums and was well received by the player base, it was something that was never iterated on or brought anywhere further than Duality. For all intents and purposes, this project died once Veritas left CCP. CCP Rise took the reigns of that prototype project, nothing since that forum thread and a few mentions in the social media have surfaced.
Walking in Stations
A little over a year before the defunct Dojo, there was another project released. Known as “walking in stations”, they never reached the full potential of what it could be. Even now, the idea of being in the captains quarters serves little to no purpose besides giving you a different way to do the same tasks you can do from the standard ship spinning point of view. Within that captains quarters, though, is a door leading to a place we have never been able to enter. Neither the character in the game, nor the player behind the keyboard, have any idea what is behind that door. Even with the wildest speculations from lore specialists, we received no confirmation from CCP one way or the other.
We have two dead projects that together could lead to a solution to a problem the EVE Online has had for over a decade. The vast majority of players stay in a high security space and would never think to venture out into low or null security areas of the universe. Due no small part because the groups inhabiting them already there have developed their tactics and techniques so well that they immediately crush the unaware wanderer.
Mining Fleet AI
Fast forward to now and we have a new AI introduced in the Ascension expansion on November 15 2016. This AI adds a new dynamic to the universe; NPC mining fleets from various factions and Empires gather resources like any other player might. In its current form, you will encounter NPC miners gathering resources in asteroid belts in your neck of the woods.
If you happen to attack those miners or have less than savory standings with them, their support fleet will warp in and defend the mining fleet. These protection fleets will not only aggress a player with firepower: they will provide remote reps to their fleet and have the ability to use electronic counter measures. An unprepared player could find himself riding the pod express back to his or her station if they come across the wrong NPC mining fleet.
Can we combine all these elements then? Cross a deployable structure for player created tournaments with a locked room in the captains quarters, and add an advanced AI for NPC’s that have the ability to destroy a player or small gang. The result is an ultra realistic training simulator that would allow players and their friends to form up a fleet and load a training environment using a variety of opponents in an effort to learn how to fight other players.
Most capsuleers know running any level of agent missions, including burner missions, is easy to run through. Or, they are so repetitive and farmed out that they are mundane. On top of that, little gain is realized besides that of ISK. There is no correlation between how players engage NPC’s to how a solo pilot or fleet would fight in PvP. The two are nowhere similar and could be a strong indicator of why so many players never make their way into dangerous territory, instead being content on remaining in their safe place of high security mission running.
Imagine being a new player just joining the universe of EVE Online. You have seen on the news or told by a friend about scenarios where fleets of ships gather in space and duke it out in massive battles consisting of heavy hitting battleships, pilots providing game changing boosts to their teammates, and ships that assist their fleet with remote repair modules and electronic counter-measures. This sounds like an awesome game that a lot of people might want to play. But newcomers find out rather quickly that not only can they not really participate in that kind of game play yet. Instead, that there are groups of players that have been taking part in this area of game-play together since the game was in beta thirteen years ago.
How could any new player ever hope to be that good? Especially when most fleets that corporations and alliances participate in consists of hours of hanging out on comms and maybe a few minutes of fighting dictated by the FC on which enemy to target. What does this actually teach a player besides how to press F1? A Training Room that simulates real fleet combat would allow for new players to learn how to engage the enemy. They would actually learn how to properly fly: targeting the right opponent and with the right ship fit. This environment would give budding fleet commanders the chance to understand how and why to call certain targets.
There has been plenty of talk in the past, including the latest episode the latest episode of The Mind Clash Podcast, on of having two versions of Eve. One in its current iteration and another being strictly for solo players. Alleviating their fear of being ganked. A good reason for wanting this is for those players that don’t want to go outside of their comfort zone or for various other reasons. But, this is EVE. By removing that layer of the unknown and essentially lowering the bar to entry into the PvP arena, more players would find themselves in the far reaches of space thus creating more content for the entire game in general.
If properly executed this concept could be the next step in the New Player Experience (NPE). Nothing is worse than going through a video game tutorial and then thrust into a world that you can’t take part in and still really know nothing about. Based on the response of my harsh critique of the developer who oversees the NPE, it was clear that most players agree that EVE Online is such a complex and ever changing environment. There is no way that it could ever get to a point where a new player could learn all there is to know without taking some college style course over the time of a real semester.
This is no way to learn how to play a game. A training room provides a clear benefit for new and old players by utilizing existing assets. If we could at the very least make this one addition in the NPE, we could finally open that door into a new opportunity for every citizen of New Eden.