Everyone loves Lego, right? That childhood pastime of snapping together pieces to create new and often bizarre creations is coming to the spaceships of EVE Online, but not all players are happy to hear about this.
The next EVE Online expansion, Apocrypha, is going to introduce some new aspects to gameplay. Some of these new features, like wormhole exploration, seem to be received positively by the player base. But others -- like the modular "Tech III" ship designs -- have drawn no small amount of criticism from EVE's subscribers. Tech III is an aspect of the game that has players pretty well divided, much like the upcoming Walking in Stations (aka Ambulation) expansion. The sentiment a number of players have been vocal about is 'Do we really need this?' Whines and tears are a daily occurrence on the game's official forums and perhaps the opinions voiced there aren't necessarily indicative of the sentiments of the larger player base. But concerns about Tech III are also beginning to show up on player blogs, far from the bandwagoning of the EVE Online forums, and in some cases from players who know the game very well.
Xiphos, from "A Misguided Adventurer" writes that he 'already owns Lego Star Wars' and expresses some degree of apprehension about the new ships. "I'm just not feeling this one and neither are some other capsuleers," he writes. In fact, he believes Tonglil of EVE's Weekend Warrior blog sums up these misgivings perfectly when he asks, "Is EVE walking the thin line between greatness and horrendous complexity?"
It's that added complexity which is the real issue here. Given the fact that Tech III will give each playable race in EVE a five-component modular ship design, you'll have 3125 possible combinations per each race's ships -- spread across Amarr, Gallente, Minmatar, and Caldari races -- that's 12,500 potential configurations. (The source of those figures is E-ON magazine and their exclusive preview of Tech III -- as mentioned on the Scrapheap Challenge forums yesterday.)
However, maybe some of us are looking at this the wrong way. There's a great deal of experimentation possible, and no doubt some of EVE's more cunning players will seek ways to create their own Frankenstein-like overpowered ships. But it's more likely that CCP Games will want to keep Tech III from being an 'I win' button. If past experience holds true in this case, the technology will arrive with Apocrypha in a pre-nerfed state, or Tech III's real weakness will be the scarcity of materials needed to create them. After all, CCP's past mentions of Tech III -- at least in terms of players creating it -- suggest there's a symbiotic relationship between wormhole exploration and Tech III manufacture.
Of course, rarity would ensure that Tech III ship components have extremely high costs of manufacture and thus command high prices on the market, something many players won't be willing to accept for what is, ultimately, a cruiser-class ship. (The first steps into the Tech III era will be baby steps -- the advent of T3 will simply be that of cruiser-class ships. No formal announcements have been made of Tech III battleships or capital ships, to date.)
So much of EVE Online is predicated on the notion that you can do what you want in the sandbox of New Eden, within the confines of its game mechanics. When CCP Games announced they'd be bringing a whole new versatility to ship fitting, it was with the intent to give EVE's players more possibilities. While CCP may be giving EVE's players that freedom, the question is -- do we want it?
Both Xiphos and Tonglil concede that it's still too soon to say what Tech III will mean to EVE, and ultimately reserve their final judgement until Apocrypha's arrival in March.
Where do you stand on the introduction of Tech III into New Eden? Ultimately, do you think this is a situation where long-time players of the game are more resistant to change than those who've recently joined, or is CCP Games adding another layer of complexity to the game that's not really necessary?