January 11, 2015

Where Have All the Objectives Gone?

Look at all the objectives!
I've been thinking about writing this topic for a while now, and after having it brought up on the CSM X interview I did with Cap Stable, I figured now was the time. As you can see, I've obviously been playing so much Arma lately that even my EVE posts are being influenced by them! No, that's not a bad thing.

On Cap Stable, we were talking about my experiences as the CEO of Noir. Academy and how it had enlightened me over the years, specifically about how new players treat or think about what you might consider "high level" PvP. When a new player asks for advice on how to get started with PvP, the answer is so often to buy 100 frigates and go lose them. And that's honestly good advice in some ways. There are aspects of the game that a new player won't learn without doing. You can read about slingshotting, but after consuming all the articles out there, you'll probably still fail on your first couple of tries. But for me, and I think many others, it takes more than the gameplay itself to keep one interested.

It's often said that EVE has some very . . . let's say special mechanics. The gameplay itself is often not intriguing or interesting. That's especially true for things like corporation management (meaning in the game, utilizing the corporation tab), POS management - or any type of management really. But it's also said quite a bit about the combat. It's not a terribly interesting area of the game for many people. I enjoy it personally; I enjoy being able to read the overview and understanding the battlefield, of keeping tabs on a couple of scouts and understanding where the enemy is moving to and for. That's fun for me, and that fun exists solely within the battle - there aren't any outside variables that enhance that enjoyment. But I fear that most new players don't see that fun when they take their 100 frigates out. They're learning important mechanics, yes, but if they're not enjoying it, then they won't stay around.

For myself, if the only enjoyment of PvP was found in the fight, I probably wouldn't be as involved or have stayed a player for so long. Instead, the  Fight Joy (shall we call it?) has to be coupled with something more, something bigger than the fight itself, something more permanent. Objectives. Of course, for me as a mercenary, my objectives are the contracts. A fight has a place inside of that contract, winning it increases our chances of completing the contract successfully. Losing it means that we have to work harder.

Obviously there are an innumerable amount of objectives out there for people. Not all objectives even have to relate to PvP. And of course not all pilots are going to be concerned with objectives. Some people do truly play for Fight Joy and don't care about the extraneous. What's so interesting to me about Objectives, however, is that Fight Joy can be found within an Objective without considering the Objective. That is to say, someone who cares about Objectives, like me, can coexist in perfect harmony with someone who only cares about Fight Joy. We can both fly in the same fleets, shoot the same targets, and partake in the same Fight Joy and come away from the experience both loving EVE.

But someone who isn't like me, someone who perhaps does enjoy Objectives but not Fight Joy would be hard pressed to stick around if they're thrown into pure Fight Joy situations with no direction, no Objectives. As older, more experienced players part of our duty should be to encourage new players to undock time and time again, learning by doing, but also ensuring that those who need it have the objectives to focus on. So next time you give a new player some advice, think of the Objective too.