When I was a boy I loved to play with my friends in the woods behind our home. We would gather after school, take the tools of our serious after-school trades with us: Pocket knives, ropes, matches an other useful wilderness equipment. We would spend the afternoon building hideouts and campfires, spying on the gang of boys from the next block or go explore the haunted farm on the other side of the forrest. Occasionally there would be fights amongst the gangs. In the evening we would come home bruised and battered. We’d gladly sit down at mother’s dinner table and would tell the day’s stories from the wilderness while the soup would cool down untouched. Sometimes a cut hand had to be tended or a bruised knee. Something to show off at school the next morning!
It was brilliant.
Later, as a young man I was working at a kindergarden for a year. We would spend a lot of time outside with the kids. Letting them play in the sandbox a block away. There were concerned parents. What if something happend? What if the kids hurt themselves? Make sure that all playing equipment in the sandbox is safety certified! No brawling between the boys! Not to speak of campfires and the like…. much too dangerous!
Sometimes I wondered, which one was the better sandbox? Would I’ve missed the long and boring walks home from the forrest? There were no fancy toys in the woods. It was just sticks, trees, ropes and our imagination…
25 years fast forward I spend my free time roaming the wilderness of New Eden. In a virtual spaceship.
In the recent TEST State of the Alliance Montolio discusses (go to approx 5:00min in the recording) the idea, apparently put forward by Shadoo and Mr V, of arranging a War Game scenario between the HBC and the CFC. The goal of the event would be to get into large scales fights, have some well defined objectives at stake but at the same time avoid the chores of structure grinding that would inevitably follow a real all out war.
I have to admit when I heard that I was bit dumbfounded. I appreciate the idea of player generated content. I also agree with the general consent that the game mechanics of sovereignty (and its environment) needs a good overhaul to shake nullsec up. I have just moved from an alliance which was pretty much burned out from structure grinding to on where medium scale fights are the order of the day and the difference in game experience is baffling!
So why does the proposal of War Games sound so utterly wrong in my ears?
I honestly do not know what to think about the event. It seems to go against what I feel for EVE Online. War Games would be exactly this: playing a game inside the game. It would be the perverted pinnacle of sandbox gameplay: the emergent themepark!
The point is: I want to play EVE. That is the game. I want to conquer space empires with my buddies. Not play at capture the flag, while some big daddies watch over us. I want to venture out into the forrest not knowing if the boys from the next block suddenly come running at us with sticks in their hands. If I would have wanted to play war games back then I could have talked to them, we could have arranged a game of hide and seek. I could even have asked my Dad to act as referee. Why did we not do this?
It was all about the meaning of things. It was about the difference between things happening in our heads or feeling them in our hearts.
CCP will have to make up their own mind about this development. I find it alarming and I am a bit puzzled that there are not more voices picking this up. EVE is still a sandbox. It is a complex, difficult and even dangerous sandbox. But there is a difference between a sandbox where you can get yourself a bruised knee and a sandbox where every tool is security certified, every risk mitigated and every game going according to well defined rules.
I have no ideas how the War Games would happen. There is already talk on sabotaging such an event if it would be attempted. On the other hand, maybe it could be an opportunity to demonstrate CCP how broken sov mechanics really are by refusing to play with those toys. Maybe we can make a point out of it. I don’t know. What do you think?
Fly smart! Chira.