I’ve spent the later half of my evening watching the story of Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak and felt it semi prudent to point out some of the main features which make games like this successful (since it’s likely we’ll be getting a pve focused expansion sometime after CCP is finishing up with their current fw iteration.)
Beyond the ever important aspect of gameplay being king, what titles like homeworld, blizzard’s successful titles in starcraft and warcraft, and the various bioware games have in common is an immersive player experience with fully voiced dialogue.
Now, I understand this can be expensive, especially when a company hires foreign voice actors. There are, however, some alternatives.
Firstly, Aura is a computer, you can easily justify using an ai voice program for her. This should help with immersion on mission debriefing. However, I highly suggest where ever she’s used in this manner, you take a page out of the mission debriefing from the above video, rather than the current EVE mission text. A lot of that is filled with irrelevant information. (So much so, that most people don’t even read it.)
Edit: adding video
Secondly, It’s not necessary to hire English (or other specific localized) voice actors. Just having any audio at all will draw the attention of the player, so it’s perfectly fine to use local islandic voice lines with localized subtitles if you want to hire a professional voice actor.
Lastly, I’d like to point out there are many people in the community that would gladly volunteer to voice some lines. The dominion trailer (which, if im not mistaken, had lines voiced from players) was absolutely incredible. When the Russian fc came on screen and just said to burn them all, we all got chills. It was an incredible moment.
As for the other lessons we can take away from these other successful games. PVE needs to be compelling. Campaign missions tend to try to make the player solve puzzles or approach a problem in a unique way, rather than just brute forcing a solution.
Current EVE combat missions pretty much have the player go to the location shoot some stuff and then leave. (This is the case for all combat pve in EVE.) For repeatable missions, at no point should we be saying, oh, I’ve done this one before. Once the player “solves” the formula, the process becomes rote and interest declines.
For combat missions or other pve sites, we can improve the process by creating dynamic filters.
A dynamic range of ships could appear in these instances, rather than the static numbers we’re currently used to. Mission objectives could vary, from just killing everything, to running a hacking module on some site asset, to delivering marines and using a skinned version of the hacking minigame (once the marines have been delivered to a location) to clear the objective.
Changing objectives, is also something that could happen. If you go into the site with one objective in mind, whether it’s to kill enemy ships, or secure a package the mission could update with a new main or optional objectives given to the player by aura or the mission agent.
Combat missions don’t need to just be kill quests. King of the hill, location defense, asset delivery / retrieval, convoy protection, ai fleet ops, are all viable options. And since the mission system would be dynamic, any particular mission could have any number of these objectives… or all of them.
The locations as well don’t need to just be in deep space all the time either. I suggest some more static structures be placed around the system, and certainly more that exist around the stations and gates. When a mission or cosmic anom is created, maybe some of these locations can be near populated locations. Defending some station’s commercial or military property could be an interesting addition to our current mission set.
The dynamic nature of the mission system I’m proposing wont be a problem for mission debriefing either. Each set of occurrences can have it’s own set of text dialogues that go along with the mission. If aura uses ai voice lines, she can debrief the player based on the output of the algorithm for mission generation.
So in summary, the main points we should take away from this are: A dynamic pve environment and an immersive player experience will be important for the future of EVE’s development.
Since so much of EVE’s pve content is mission / site based, making those locations be dynamically assembled as well as the various mission assets and objectives be dynamically assembled is the key to keeping content fresh. And, having Aura voice any relevant text that we don’t have other voice overs for will help keep players engaged with the process.
PVE doesn’t need to be a grind, it can be compelling.