EVE is an extraordinarily unique game. The modern FPS Sandbox can sometimes be functionally the same game with varieties in just character and location, but even among MMOs EVE is frankly just plain weird. That said, it is not impossible to draw inspiration or parallels to other games, especially MMOs, as long as we are very clear about the specific mechanic or design philosophy we are discussing. The most common comparisons I have seen made to EVE are to WoW.
This is unsurprising as it’s probably the most popular MMO of all time and a greater part of your audience will be familiar with the aspect you are trying to discuss. I believe CCP Larrikin said at one point that the new endgame PvE we are seeing is supposed to be inspired by one of the harder endgame raids of Warcraft of yore. Another example is Albion Online, a new contender rising up recently with an advert which seems to be pulled directly from EVE ads of a few years ago.
Dofus is about as different an MMO to EVE as you can get.
I never played WoW. Through my history in gaming, I have always had one main game I’m playing continuously for a few years. New single-player titles would pull weekends from me here or there but I don’t think this is an uncommon experience. From when I made it to multiplayer games, that path has been Diablo II -> Dofus -> StarCraft II -> EVE Online. The astute readers here will notice the title and have figured out that it is Dofus that I want to discuss today.
Dofus is about as different an MMO to EVE as you can get. It’s a class & equipment, turn-based game, very much influenced by systems like Dungeons and Dragons, but done in a gorgeous and hilarious world created by the French Studio Ankama. I highly recommend the anime/cartoon they made as it captures the tone and the aesthetic of the world beautifully. It also contains my favourite fight scene of any show in the anime/cartoon style. This takes place between the prime antagonist, a Xelor (time mage) called Nox and the Gandalf character, a Dragon with the amazing name Grougaloragran. The only danger is that you may spend the rest of your day watching clips as I just have writing this article.
Anyway, during AT season, my old school friend who I used to play with got in touch. We have since been reliving our old glory days of apothneskaisnun (the originator of Apothne) and TasteMyStaff. In doing so, I’ve been able to look at Dofus through the lens of a much more experienced gamer than my early teenage self. Specifically, there are three mechanics in Dofus which I think we should look at. To be clear, I’m not advocating for these game design changes to be implemented in EVE, just that they are mechanics worth discussing. Doing so may lead to more insight into the cogs and levers of EVE, by considering what potential mechanics may add to or subtract from our beloved game.
In the world of Dofus, the map is split into screen size tiles, each with 2-3 groups of NPCs to shoot. A reasonable analogy in EVE is that we traverse each star system as you might in Dofus, and each star system contains a number of anomalies with rats in. In Dofus, the longer a mob goes undefeated over the course of hours/days, it gains stars, up to a maximum of 10. The stars act as a multiplier to your XP/loot drops, incentivising hunting mobs that you might not normally, due to the increased chance of rare drops and greater XP than farming the single optimal mob. If you’re looking for flat returns, it’s still worth it to farm whichever mobs drop the most valuable loot, but it is absolutely worth daytripping all over the place if no-one else has, places where the stars have really built up.
there would be an incentive not just for people to go exploring the less inhabited or “worse” regions
Obviously, in EVE, we don’t get XP for completing missions or anomalies, but imagine if CONCORD increased the bounties on pirates the longer they were out there terrorising those who live on the outer rim of New Eden? Furthermore, the longer they’re out there, the more likely they are to have acquired/built some more of those blingy deadspace drops. Should a system similar to this exist in EVE, there would be an incentive not just for people to go exploring the less inhabited or “worse” regions. It has that little incentive to go “just” beyond the safety of your borders for the slightly less often run sites.
Pirates, if they don’t want to run the sites themselves, could camp the high-star anoms and catch unsuspecting ratters searching for that extra boost to their income. Encouraging players to not only exist in space but to provide a bonus incentive for taking risks and going outside their comfort zone/safe space could be an excellent addition to gameplay. Do you decide to run the constantly farmed sites at home or go out for the big money payoff in the ass end of Cloud Ring? Maybe even just go one or two systems beyond your established intel network for slightly older mobs that most of your alliance avoid running, increasing your gains but also increasing the potential response time if you are attacked?
Whenever you start an instanced PvE fight in Dofus, the fight randomly assigns 2-3 challenges for you to complete. Each having varying difficulty and providing an equivalent bonus to your XP/drop rate. For those interested in a more detailed list, here is a link to the wiki page containing the current ones. Some challenges and combinations of challenges are virtually impossible depending on what loadout you have or what mob you’re fighting. It is however always an interesting discussion as to whether we want to try a given challenge if the extra time or difficulty is worth the payoff.
It gets players thinking about how to fit ships in various ways
Instead of talking anoms as I did in the previous example, here we could discuss missions. There already exists an ISK bonus for completing sites within a given timeframe, but why not extend that to using a given hull class or weapon system to kill the final boss, completing it on your own or never exceeding a certain speed? Maybe you can’t use an active tank module, or maybe you can’t fit any buffer modules? Maybe the Amarr Navy want you to complete the mission in an Amarr vessel to prove the superiority of their engineering?
The missions would be the same as they have ever been, but through randomly assigning various challenges it would encourage (but importantly, not force) players into new ship types. It gets players thinking about how to fit ships in various ways and expands the engaging, decision-making part of the game. You can still run the same missions in your Raven all day and see no change to your rewards. However, players who engage with the challenges and succeed would hopefully find it more rewarding both in enjoyment of gameplay, as well as whatever little bonus to the mission payout was given.
CCP in recent years have tried to deal with the issue of permatanking and the strength of logistics in many ways. Examples of this would be nerfing the rep power of capitals in the old slowcat spider tanking format, as well as introducing optimal and falloff to remote repair modules. The addition of the ancillary remote repair modules also gives players the choice to frontload their rep power, though these modules are very niche. All good FCs know how much logi they need to hold versus a given opponent, and how much damage they need to break them in return. This engenders a “critical mass” which if fleets do not achieve either have to stand down, batphone, or be content with picking at tackle, stragglers and those who disconnect. The moment you lose critical mass is the moment you can achieve effectively nothing in a fight.
In Dofus, whenever you take damage in an encounter, not only do you lose the given amount of HP, but 1% of the damage you take is removed from you hit point maximum, returned only at the end of the fight. This wildly changed the meta from just stacking heal upon heal for the longest, dullest fights in both PvP and PvE. Imagine, for a moment, if 1% or even 0.1% of damage taken to your vessel was removed from the respective HP pool (shield/armour/hull). The “critical” mass equation is suddenly more messy, as each time you switch to an old target you need less alpha to kill them before reps land. Furthermore, a fleet which has just had a fight and is travelling home may have been rendered soft enough to be pounced upon by a smaller group.
As a side benefit, I believe this could be an interesting solution to the perennial problem of bombers in larger fleet PvP. What if damage bombs did less raw damage, but a higher percentage than standard was erosion? We would then not see fights cancelled abruptly from a solid bombing run, but instead, they would serve to soften their targets for the main fleet. The impact of damage erosion and how much it would affect fights would scale with fight size. To solo and small gang pilots, the change would be hardly noticeable, but to huge fleets, the mechanic would have real consequences. The ship maximum HP would be reset to normal values upon docking/repairing in a citadel or station.
To reiterate, I am not necessarily advocating for any of these mechanics to be put into EVE Online. For those of us who like to play junior/armchair game dev from time to time, however, I do think that discussing how mechanics work in different games and what their potential effects would be if applied in some fashion to EVE is helpful. It can lead to a greater understanding of the game and how and why we enjoy playing it. This is not a self-contained article. This is the beginning of a discussion I hope to have with readers in the comments, on Twitter, or on our CZ Discord. What do you think of these mechanics? Are there any gameplay features in other games you think would be interesting to see tried in EVE? I look forward to hearing from you.
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