Five reasons everyone should love Alpha clonesAshterothi
Love them or hate them Alpha Clones are coming and while most of the playerbase has warmed up to them, there still seems to be some negative ideas circulating in particular corners of the internet that don’t know much about our little spaceship ecosystem. Most of these negative feelings are made around the assumptions of free to play, and maybe some about the assumptions about how EVE works now.
Here are 5 awesome things about Eve’s F2P Alpha clone system:
1) Racial restrictions are a good thing.
Most people have heard that Alpha clones are going to be racially locked. However, rather than looking at it as a restriction, new players can and should look at it as a focusing device, to help with understanding a restricted amount of content without worrying about the differences. In a universe in which you can have unlimited accounts (as long as only one is logged in at any given time), it is ultimately not valuable to think of anything as “restricted” by race, as much as “directed” by it. The addition of 250k SP you can get for free on all subsequent accounts, thanks to self buddy link referral, will make it easy to slot yourself in a new role quickly enough.
2) The new Alpha Clones allow for faster experimentation
What it does do is allow players to decide which experience they want, based on the cultures they are presented, and allow themselves to be introduced to the game through that culture’s lense. Far, far too often in this game players ask reasonable questions like “what is a good ship for level 1 missions?” or “what is a good ship for exploration”, and receive answers like “depends, here are your choices…” but new players don’t want choices, they want options. They have already made the choice of what they want to do, what they need is as clear of a path to getting started doing their choice as possible cleared away. You have chosen this race, so you use these ships, and you use these weapons. If something else tickles your fancy, spin up a new clone and try that too. Once you know what you want to do, once you know which of these paths interest you, you can commit by making an Omega clone and trying to finance it one way or another.
With Omegas come additional power, and additional ISK making capabilities, but a massive additional cost. To buy your way to premium content you must produce, build, and replace. It creates a natural progression towards looking deeper into the game.
3) Constructs a “Lower” class, and a call for piracy.
ArcheAge is another game that is often compared to EVE Online, and given terms like ‘sandbox’. It also was built around free-to-play principles, and what they offered in exchange for services was the ability to own land, and produce more labor. Labor was used to do anything that generated resources: pick cotton, cut down a tree, open a coin purse of a bad guy, and for free to play characters you only generate labor while logged in.
By contrast, paid for characters generated labor even when off line, so could produce far more. In addition to this, paid for accounts could own plots of land, and houses. This land was protected and you could control who could cultivate on it. Which means a free in order to harvest things a free to play player had to be friends with a paid character, thus use their land, hide thier farms deep in the woods and hope no one snipes them up, or prey off of the unprotected. This allowed paid for characters to become a kind of “gentry” class, a group of people using privileged equipment, and who owns the production of the game, where the free to play characters were pushed more towards piracy.
While some people may argue about the successes and failures of the management of ArcheAge, we can use some parallels to predict the behavior. Alpha clones will function almost exclusively as consumers. There is no way an active Alpha Clone could keep up with his own production need unless they are playing very conservatively. Most are going to need methods of acquiring ISK easily and cheaply but thankfully EVE has this in spades, if you really go looking. The question then becomes how much exploration can our systems take? Eventually the industrial powerhouses can build corporations of consumers and generate billions off of an industrious tribe of alphas supporting Omegas.
4) Creates a power level for the game
One of the most challenging things about designing content for EVE is the notion of purchased power being totally commonplace. One of the arguments that has sprung up from time to time is that x or y change would make EVE “pay 2 win”. The reason this is a laughable argument is that EVE is pay to win at it’s very core. ISK brings you power. It can buy you access to things should shouldn’t be able to fit, and do things better than you could otherwise. ISK can even buy the very skills it takes to do those things (and this was true long before Skill Injectors).
However, Alpha clones break that. Alphas provide a level of power that is specified. While some will spend more to fly around in a blinged Gnosis, or VNIs, most content can be geared assuming the power level of an alpha clone. This means that future content, in particular this new AI content, can be built around the notion of an alpha clone power level, allowing Omegas to feel the full power of their advanced ships and technology.
5) Favors teamwork over power
All of this culminates in it’s ultimate goal. To give players a secure enough of a foundation, and enough drive and reason, to take the plunge and try to do something with or against another player. Many players never make it to this point, being paralyzed by options, or thwarted by a desire to not make a costly mistake. Disposable basic characters makes finding your place in New Eden, often the biggest challenge of all, far more reasonable of a challenge. Finally, a defined maximum reasonable power level allows the game designers to ensure that the content alphas do experience are challenging, and rewarding in the right ways, while still allowing Omegas to feel strong, efficient, and productive.
Alphas, given their effective hard limit on power, will be driven to use teamwork to circumvent power deficiencies. One has to wonder how exciting level fours may end up being if you try to do them only as a group of 2-4 alpha clones. One thing you cannot take away from an Alpha is their ability to band together, and there will be plenty of people willing to pay to be Omegas to serve in any powerful roles that may be needed. They can do some limited content on their own, but there is plenty of things they will want to try to make a team for. These are the seeds that bear fruit as corporations. This is how we ascend.
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