Same Ship, Different Day

posted: August 22nd, 2006

So I’ve been playing a fair bit of Eve Online lately. I tried it out because people have told me what a great crafting system it has. Unfortunately I find the system a little flat myself. It doesn’t really feel like I have much control over customizing what I create. Certainly I can choose which modules I want to load into my ship, but there’s nothing particularly interesting about it. Either I have the skills to install a module, at which point it drops right in, or I don’t. There’s no elements of attempting something challenging that has a high potential for failure but which also has a chance of success. There’s no tension in the act since the success or failure is completely preordained and known to the player.

Working with blueprints to try and decrease time or increase material efficiency is a bit more in line with what I want from crafting but it still doesn’t really do it for me. The blueprint for my frigate will always produce the same frigate over and over again. I’ve got no way as a crafter to try and produce a better frigate. The most I can hope for is to produce my frigates a little faster or cheaper than someone else.

I still think it’s a fun game. I just don’t see what has people so excited about its crafting.

One thing it has made me think about, however, is the idea of crews. In Eve every ship only has a single player. Pirates of the Burning Sea looks to be the same. Why is this? Am I the only person who thinks it might be interesting to have a group of players controlling a single ship?

There’s two problems that I can foresee with having multiple people running a ship, of course, but I don’t think either is insurmountable. The first problem is simply one of making sure that it’s interesting for everyone. For people who are piloting or working as gunners there’s not too much that needs to be done but as an engineer there would probably need to be some kind of mini-game in place to let such a player have a more active role assisting in combat.

The other problem I see is that more casual players probably wouldn’t want to have to go out and round up a crew of others (forced grouping) every time they wanted to do something. That could probably be fixed by allowing NPCs to be hired to fill out empty spots. If the NPCs only had an average level of skill it would still be better to place a PC in those slots if one were available but it would hardly ground a ship if one weren’t.

Of course such things take time to program and if a lot of people didn’t want such a feature it would be a waste of resources, so I am stuck wondering if other people would be interested in such an aspect of game play or if I’m the only one.


That about sums up my thoughts on multiplayer ships as well. Part of the problem may be that, even for gunners and pilots, things may get dull- or may result in more interplayer conflict than cooperation. Manning a turret on a starship isn’t very fun if the pilot keeps screwing up facing.

Naval combat can be a rather dull experience- not the dogfight action of fighter jets, but more ponderous with bursts of adrenaline followed by long lapses of waiting. Sure, it would be fun to many, but we’ve conditioned gamers to expect so much “instant gratification” over the years that many will tire of it real fast.

Still, I’d love to see someone take up the challenge.

Comment by Chas — August 23, 2006

That’s why I was thinking there would have to be NPC crew available, because it might prove too difficult to find other players interested in playing a gunner or engineer or EW specialist. That would still leave players who are interested in taking on such a role with the ability to do so but wouldn’t force large amounts of the player base into doing that if they weren’t interested.

Comment by Evan — August 23, 2006

Star Trek Online will give you your crew working together to work a ship experience. But if it’s anything like the Battlefield games, I wonder how well it will work.

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