Welcome to the reincarnation of my blog. This will be a public forum (why else would I publish it to a blog?) but mostly I plan to use this space to organize my thoughts about EVE Online and maybe a few random thoughts that are only peripherally related to EVE. I'm familiar with the characters on EVE forums, so comments will be moderated. Trolls, griefers, and those with nothing constructive to add will be ignored. I may also delete anonymous postings; I'm putting myself out here and showing you my face - the least you can do is show yours.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Grind

MMORPG has a grind.  The grind serves two purposes.  The first and most obvious purpose of the grind is to sell game time.  In order to acquire items that advance game play, a player has to participate in repetitive, predictable and boring activity and is rewarded with either the means to acquire the desired items, or the item itself.  A fraction of the game time that the player purchases is spent on grind and the balance of the game time is spent achieving the objective. The grind is filler; it turns 10 hours of content into 40 hours.  The second, less obvious and grander purpose of the grind is to add value to the desired items.  The longer a player has to work to obtain the item, the more rare and the more valuable that item becomes.  These two factors translate the desireabiltiy of the item into real currency for the game developer.

In EVE, the grind is very complicated.  The 'sandbox' nature of EVE allows players to define their own grind.  Early in the game, only two paths are available to new players:  mining and missioning.  The isk that the young player earns gradually increases as his skills (also a part of the grind) increase.  Eventually a plateau is reached where the isk/hour rate does not increase with skill progression.  That currently happens at about 15m to 25m skill points (approximately 1 year of game play) with a plateau at 30m to 40m isk/hour.  The grind gets a little less well defined once the plateau is reached as players can, more or less, define their own grind (manufacturing, courier, mercenary services, thieving, trade) and the grind begins to look more like players' self determined end game objective. 

I know that when I say this, I will be contradicted: a productive capsuleer makes about 40m isk/hour of game time while grinding, regardless of the grind.  At that rate, a fully fitted battleship (as an example) takes between 3 and 6 hours to acquire (assuming 120m - 180m isk investment). For me, that's about half a week of game play which generates about $2 u.s. for CCP.  By contrast, a 150m isk battleship costs about about 1/3 of  a plex - about $6.70 u.s.   (That's an interesting disparity)

Why am I mentioning this?  Because at 40m isk/hour, some threshold is crossed at which point the sensibilities of some (presumably) null sec pilots is offended and the source of the isk is considered a 'faucet' that must be shut off.  Of course no one seems to be complaining about the amount of isk that a pilot can earn through manufacturing or mining moons.  To be fair, running null sec anomolies is somewhat riskier (though negligibly risky if the ratting is occuring in friendly territory) and should be rewarded at a somewhat higher rate than high sec missioning.

Does high sec need to be nerfed?  I don't think so.  Does Null sec need to be buffed?  Maybe just a tad. (The changes that will happen in the Crucible Expansion should address this).  I think the 'grind' is working as intended or needs to be tweaked slightly to the benefit null sec pilot.  Is there any justification to the whining complaints about the high sec isk faucet? That was rhetorical.  Is there some mechanic in place that is keeping 'carebears' in high sec?  That is a topic for another post.

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