January 18, 2015

Immersion and module tiericide

A brief post about immersion as it relates to the module tiericide.  The short version is that having odd and inexplicable names adds confusion, not immersion.  Using that as an excuse for removal of largely useless meta modules is a red herring.  So what should we be looking for?

Patterns contribute to immersion

If I come to be immersed in the game then the patterns in the in-game world become predictable because they seem like a real world.  This is built up from getting the details right and getting them consistent.  If I see that a new, unfamiliar ship is developed by CreoDron Shipyards and past experience has told me that CreoDron ships favor drones, then I'll expect that the new ship will be drone based. It adds to immersion if the game world continues to make sense.  If the world is generally consistent, then that opens the opportunity to go one step further and introduce the exception.  But if the world is full of exceptions then it's no longer a pattern, it's just confusion.  The exception has the potential to break us out of immersion and make us scratch our heads or just exclaim WTF?

Example from the Enyo: "Unlike most Gallente ship manufacturers, Roden Shipyards tend to favor missiles over drones and their ships generally possess stronger armor.  Their electronics capacity, however, tends to be weaker than ships from their competitors."  Even though the idea of Gallente missile-based ships has been fading for years now (perhaps only truly gone now with the Recon rebalance), this flavor text remains to trip up new players and break immersion.  Let's just hope that ISIS helps guide new Gallente players from training up their missile skills.

Extending Immersion in modules

So the next step would be to take the patterns that have been established, such as racial benefits in ships, and extend them to something like modules.  If we've already established that the premier Target Painting ships are Minmatar, then we'd expect that a Minmatar made faction-level module to be the premier in that class.  We can even go to have the Officer Module named after a Minmatar.  We'd expect the best stasis webifier to be Serpentis and the best Afterburner from Sansha.  Yes, there is plenty of room for rivalry too - perhaps the Angel Cartel is a close rival in propulsion to Sansha.  I hope I'm misreading the dev blogs, as they seem to imply a flattening of the faction modules rather than keeping a complexity that adds to immersion.

What we could see:
Afterburners - Sansha for highest speed, Minmatar for best fit at high levels of performance
Microwarp Drives - Angel Cartel with highest speed, leaving another for smallest signature
Warp Scramblers - Federation Navy with longest range, Serpentis remains with highest strength

Immersion supports Gameplay

We get benefits in gameplay primarily in understanding the game.  We don't get as many non-intuitive corner cases.  New players can pick up on how to play the game itself, rather than wading through oddball naming and inconsistent bonuses.  And we get fun ideas like a "True Sansha roam" where Sansha ships with Sansha modules actually is the best possible combination for what is expected from Sansha combat styles.

It doesn't help the game to ask players to memorize that clearly an "Interior Force Field Array" is better than a "Pseudoelection Containment field.  Having those two different names doesn't do anything for immersion all by themselves.  Quick, which is better: "Internal Force Field Array" or "Interior Force Field Array" ?

Immersion supports Lore

There is distinction between this kind of internal consistency that makes the world more understandable and the lore.  The lore provides a rich backdrop of stories, but knowing the lore shouldn't be necessary for playing in the sandbox.  Eve isn't a story-line driven game where you can't get to the end-game without knowing who the big villain is.  The lore can provide immersion for those who are interested by adding another level of consistency and pattern that makes the world seem real, but it (largely) external to the game itself.

There is a big opportunity here for CCP to increase immersion with these module tiericide changes.  I hope that we can see some of the possibility here come to Eve.

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