I’ve have heard the devs say on multiple occasions that they want to present players with meaningful choices, and I believe that the way mutaplasmids are being designed fails to achieve this goal. Under the currently proposed system, your choices are: (1) Sell the Mutaplasmid or Roll the dice and (2) selecting the module type and value that you’re willing to risk. Player knowledge and skill does not affect outcomes, with the results being completely randomized.
To make matters worse, it is likely that the system won’t feel good to many players. Indeed, player feeling is something that I heard a dev mention at this year’s Fanfest. According to CCP Fozzie (iirc), actual ECM rolls aren’t that important to how to how it feels to players. ECM users tend to remember all the missed jam cycles, while victims tend to remember all the successful jams. This results in both sides having negative experiences with ECM (yay psychology \o/). Thus, I question why it is reasonable to assume that players would have a different experience with the random effects of mutaplasmids, especially when it can result in the destruction of mods worth millions or billions of isk. Imagine how it will feel to them to destroy an expensive module due to random chance -without the ability to chalk it up to a personal mistake and without them at least being able to learn something from the experience.
To sell or to gamble is not a meaningful choice.
This system flies in the face of what Eve is and what the devs are trying to accomplish. I prefer games that employ chance sparingly. I want to win or lose based upon my knowledge and performance, and not on a dice roll. If I wanted random chance to be the sole factor in determining outcomes, I’d go play Candyland. To Sell or to gamble is not a meaningful choice. Moreover, I imagine that ruined modules are going to leave a sour taste in many players mouths. Because people hate loss more than they like gain, the system must have positive results at least twice as much as negative results just to break even with player feeling -this is, no ■■■■, backed up by psychological research (Wikipedia on Loss Aversion). And the system is probably going to have to do even better than that if the devs want players to feel good about pulling that lever. Of course, at this point, I’m like why? Why introduce the randomness? Why allow such a wide range of effects sizes, greatly increasing the chances of balance breaking effect sizes (Extra Credits on Break Points). CCP Rise, even said that they are worried about balance, but hopefully, the players will find it fun to deal with it. Lol.
Well, I don’t always have good alternatives to problems I see, but I kind of like this idea. So please humor me. Under certain D&D rulesets, the point cost of boosting an attribute during character creation increases based on how high that attribute is. For example, increasing strength from 12 to 14 will cost 1 point per level, for a total of 2 points. However, increasing from 14 to 16 will cost 2 points per level, for a total cost of 4 points. Naturally, increasing from 16 to 18 will cost 3 points per level. Not only that, but you can actually decrease attributes below 9, in order to free up even more unallocated attribute points. What’s the optimal strategy? That’s debatable, but I have personally seen players take all three possible paths (1) Maximize the most important stats at the expense of everything else, (2) Maximize overall attributes by balancing out point spending during character creation, or (3) somewhere in between paths 1 and 2. Do you go for a well-rounded character with no notable strengths or weakness, or one that does insane DPS, but who can only grunt and is highly susceptible to mind affecting spells? Doesn’t matter. What matters is that you can use your knowledge of the game and its systems in order to make a meaningful choice that will impact your performance, play-style, and experience.
Do you go for a well-rounded character, or one that does insane DPS, but who can only grunt and is highly susceptible to mind affecting spells? Doesn’t matter. What matters is that you can use your knowledge of the game and its systems in order to make a meaningful choice that will impact your performance, play-style, and experience.
You can probably already guess at where I’m going with this. I propose that:
- Mutaplasmid levels are differentiated by unallocated point totals and minimum and maximum possible effect sizes.
- Players have the ability to increase and decrease the stats of their choices, within predetermined limits and according to unallocated point totals.
- The cost of boosting effect sizes increases as the effect size goes up (i.e. the cost to increase from a 20-25% boost should be larger than the cost to increase from 10-15%.
Not only will this system allow meaningful player choice, but it should also help with balancing issues -especially if you want to keep possible effect sizes of up to 40%.
Let’s compare systems.
- The current system could conceivably result in uber powerful modules with no significant drawbacks. The new system, on the other hand, could still result in powerful bonuses, but at the expense of fitting cost, cap usage, and/or other drawbacks like sig penalty.
- Affects under the current system are completely random, and do not allow for meaningful and satisfying choices. The new system allows players to use their knowledge of game mechanics and the meta to create custom made modules to suit their particular PvE and/or PvP needs.
- The current system can potentially ruin valuable items completely at random; player knowledge and performance has no impact on outcomes. Because of human psychology concerning loss, no ability to blame one’s own mistakes, and no potential for a conciliation prize of knowledge, this is highly likely to result in poor player experiences and overall dissatisfaction with the system. Under the new system, players bear the responsibility for under performing mods, and can use knowledge gleaned from mistakes, research, and advice in order to create better modules in the future.
I’m not a game dev. There may be factors that I have failed to consider with my proposed system, and I wouldn’t be butthurt if players and devs knocked it in the dirt. However, I strongly assert that the current mechanics concerning mutaplasmids run counter to why many players love about Eve and to stated developer intent. Thus, it is my hope that a better system be implemented, even if it means a content delay.