February 1, 2013

Eve Achievements, Part 1

In the CSM Minutes section on "Customer Loyalty" there is a call for Achievements in everything but name.  But also just recently, CCP made clear that they had to do a lot of hand-coding work to give the Gallente Faction Warriors a medal for achieving total system control.  This is a definite warning sign that the infrastructure isn't ready for a full blown Achievements system.  I hope that doesn't dissuade CCP - part of the real opportunity with Achievements is for CCP to motivate - one might even say "Enable" and "Instigate".  So we have the opportunity to encourage behaviors that aren't explicitly rewarded in game.

So what could those look like?  I'll start with a general one, then let's go into the roles that CCP advertises Eve with and see if they'd be a good framework for Achievements.  To be clear up front - I'm still a newb (if enthusiastic) and I haven't played all of these roles, so my take is probably both misguided (never been there) and completely spot on (if I'm a well-read newb and these aren't what Eve is advertising, perhaps that advertising is wrong).  As Ripard Teg might say: It is important to believe these two opposites at the same time.

These got so long I'm going to break them into multiple posts.

General: Skill Certification

Before we get into the roles that CCP promotes on their website and in their advertisements, there is one easier path that is already in EVE: Certificates.  When you first start the game you can roll through a lot of these as you knock our your frigate and small weapon skills.  This is a great opportunity to start popping up congratulatory Achievements to the new player, getting them hooked and maybe pointing them towards possible next steps.

Sidebar: I haven't seen certifications mentioned too much even in recruitment postings.  Instead of saying "25M SP required" I'm surprised recruiters don't say "Core Competency Standard + Cruiser Standard in a shield tanked faction" or the like.  Instead we even have some posts that have a huge long list of skills.  So, is there something wrong with certificates that people don't tend to use them?


The manufacturer role seems pretty well set for Achievements. Offer the first one when the player takes delivery on their first T1 ammo (which they'll likely do in the career mission).  From there ramp it up to more complex objects: small ship utility modules, drones, rigs, medium weapons, then bigger rewards for their first cruiser hull, battleship hull and that vaunted goal: capital ship.  An additional path can be with the first ME and PE research, as well as leading into Invention (T2 ammo/drones through T2 ships).  Note that these should not be a prerequisite chain.  I bought a BPC and manufactured my own first (sadly deceased) Battleship after I had built a battlecruiser and a cruiser, but I never built a frigate or destroyer.

I'm musing on the idea of one-time achievements for new items.  Let's say a new ship class is introduced.  A one-time award to the first manufacturer to build that ship could be cool - and would definitely be a public one.  It ought to be a non-trivial one though, something that perhaps also requires a new skill, the equivalent of the first person to build a Titan.  Just having a race to see who can login first after downtime, grab a BP from an NPC seller, then churn it out doesn't sound like much.  If it is the first person to get a BPC from a NPC drop, learn a new science skill, invent from that BPC, and manufacture it is more of a race.

I'd recommend that we don't care about the sales side.  This could be for personal use or for corp buddies.  The market side will be covered by the trader.


So the trader's obvious achievement here is measured in ISK of profit, but that is boring and is already a reward in of itself.  Part of the opportunity with these Achievements is to go beyond the profit.  Let's think about what we want to motivate in Eve - what could make for a better community and a better game:

* Regional Market Dominator: Move the most ISK volume in a region in a given month.
The challenge here is how to keep people from selling to themselves and their alts to rack it up with only frictional cost.

* Market Maker: Move the most ISK volume in a specific constellation
The goal here is to encourage creation of new hubs.  I'm saying constellation instead of system to keep the number of these rewards down and because if we see a well stocked system in every constellation we'd definitely have the sub-hub goal achieved.  Same weakness as above of course.

I considered item domination, but there are just too many items and if it is a collective achievement then it essentially becomes the goals above.

Loyalist, Freedom Fighter

I don't know how they're trying to distinguish these in terms of in-game roles.  The description of Freedom Fighter specifically references slavery, so was this meant to be an anti-Amarr specific role?  That seems very odd compared to the other roles, and there is no in-game matching artifacts.  The description of the Loyalist is clearly meant to include FW as well as mission runners.

Faction Warfare In any case, the easiest expression of these roles appears to be Faction Warfare, and FW has something that killmails don't - a built-in system for spreading out LPs.  This will make it a lot easier to build an Achievements system on that other areas.

A few more could be structured like these, in multiple levels:
* (faction) Loyalist: gained X LP by killing opposing faction player ships
* System Defender: gained X LP by defensive plexing
* System Assault: gained X LP by offensive plexing
* System Controller: donated X LP to system control.

That last one seems particularly important.  During my stint in Gallente FW I noticed that while we were pushing towards higher Tiers, there didn't seem to be any individual incentive to contribute, thus leading to a big free rider problem that any game should seek to avoid.

Mission runners could also be loyalists.  The trick here for me is figuring out what the goal behavior is.  Just racking up LPs and Standings are already covered.  I've argued before that there should be a role for players to exert control over factions so that they aren't the passive power blocks that really seem at odds with the sandbox theme.

Perhaps just as FW characters donate LP for system control, other characters could donate mission-earned LP (including FW LP) to manipulate the faction's policies.  The top circle of donators for a month become the ones who get to call the shots for the next month (along with a shiny badge like "Amarr Imperial House Member" or "Boundless Creation Executive Board Member").  They would then take the sum of all donated LPs and institute certain actions:
* Increase / Decrease sec status of a system (for X LP - obviously a lot of LP, btw) - Faction Only
* (basically anything you can do now in a FW system, but corp station by station) - Corporation Only

Now imagine the fights over that, the wonderful sandboxy fights. A whole new form of PVP, one might say.

Next time: Achievements for Explorer, Salvager, Pirate, Bounty Hunter, Miner, Fleet Commander, Planetary Industrialist, Empire Builder

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