I’ve found it very interesting observing my adaptation to the windows 8 operating system. Specifically the things which I find most annoying about the new environment. You might think it would be the in-your-face start menu replacement (TIFKaM or The Interface Formerly Know as Metro), buts its not. You might think its the memory leak which shows it hungry jaws every time I launch battlefield 3 but its not. No the biggest annoyance so far, is that I can no longer press the windows key to bring up the start bar, and thus the time. Literally since the standardisation of the windows key, I have been using it to find the time, and now I have to press windows-c (or side swipe on my tablet) instead. The windows key was never intended to be a time telling button, but I like many others have been using it as such for years. Its a hard habit to break. Its things like this which begin to cause problems when you want to bring in change, or fix a problem. The effect it can have on the things people did with the item which you never expected (or are not accounting for in you change testing).
Its this entanglement of expected usage vs. Actual usage in eve which I really want to talk about today. Because I believe there is a fine line (which has been crossed) between “Emergent Game play”, and missing functionality. The problem as I see it is that although emergent game play is a great thing which helps define our game, it also ties together items when it comes to balance. If item One is used for Action A and action B, and A becomes over powered, the nerf to Item One could affect how well it performs Action A as well as Action B. Confused? Let me cut to the chase then.
Often referred to as the suitcase carrier, the carrier class ship has become the defacto standard for personal logistics in nullsec. When an alliance moves homes, or deploys to an area of operations, I would bet my bottom Rifter that 90-95% of ships are moved within the ship maintenance bay of a carrier. An i think that 5-10% are mostly ships which wont fit in a bay. The reasons for this are simple; the carrier can carry 2 BS sized ships (or more of smaller classes), the carrier can carry ships assembled and rigged (unlike the Jump freighter), the carrier is cheap (unlike jump freighters or Super Carriers). So most Nullsec Pilots will have a carrier for moving their things around (or will rely on friends to do their moving for them with a carrier). Yet at the same time, a carriers intended primary role is combat logistics. It seams to me that one of the 4 biggest fighting ship classes in the game is used just as much for fighting as it is for shopping. Its like watching an old lady beat a thief around the head with a handbag, or use a rocket launcher to carry melons home from the supermarket. Some might call this emergent game play. I call lack of functionality tying two actions together.
If tomorrow CCP decided that carriers contributed to much towards power projection, and nerfed their jump range by half, it would directly effect both Carrier Combat and Player Personal Logistics drastically and I don’t believe this should be the case. I believe that this is evidence of a hole in the current industrial ship menagerie; that of a ship transporter.
To split the function of Personal Logistics from Combat, Carriers should be split into two; a combat capable ship very similar to the current carrier, but with a hold only capable of holding 1-2 cruiser class ships (because ghost riders are the most balls out example of emergent game play I have ever seen), and a transporter; thin skinned and incapable of combat, but able to hold 1.5x the current cargo/SMA capacity of the carrier. I would even be for allowing for “retro-fitting” the current carriers between these two roles with a module i.e normal carrier, triage carrier, transport carrier. I cannot reiterate enough, that currently the logistical ability of the average Nullsec character is at the mercy of how CCP thinks the combat carrier needs to change to be better balanced. Think on this with a mind that sees the current nullsec stagnation, the amount of blame “Power projection” is getting for this and the ever increasing speed of the ship rebalancing.
I suspect that the carrier isn’t the only example of this, but its certainly the one which worries me the most in the near future. It would not surprise me at all if before the year is out, I will have to make double if not tripple the number of jumps to redeploy in Nullsec. I am all for emergent game play, but there comes a point where pointing at players shoehorning something into something else completely unrelated and shouting ’emergent game play’ becomes an excuse for lazy development.