At my gaming heart I’m an explorer, but a lazy explorer. If you say to me “Here’s the whole universe to explore!” I will think this is a good thing. If you then also add that to do this exploring I will have to spend a long time flying through boring black space and along the way there will only be a slim chance I will witness anything more exciting than a nice sunrise over a gas giant then I’m going to suddenly be much less inclined to explore. That kind of exploration has all the hallmarks of grinding and we all know by now how I feel about bloody grinding, don’t we.
Now in the many fan eulogies of Elite & Frontier I have heard how people would just set off to cross the galaxy or to find generation ships and asteroid hermits and whilst these have all sounded like great fun as a concept, the execution did not. Mostly they are tales of people wasting hours just going nowhere or, more accurately, finding nothing except more procedurally generated empty black space and that is, frankly, a dull waste of my time as I said here.
I don’t want Elite Dangerous (*name shudder*) to be like that. I want to explore it and I want it to want me to explore it. How can Frontier Developments do that? Well I think a little like this…
- Put lots of exciting things to find and see in there. Exploding stars, old space battle wrecks, glorious nebula, dou ble ice rings that we can fly through and any number of other marvels that can be generated on the fly. I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating – I want ED to grant me the chance to see the sort of cosmic wonders & interstellar events that I will never, ever get to see for real.
- Put achievements in there. At one time I hated them but Guild Wars 2 showed me the light. They are fun and give just the right boost of energy to a flagging desire to explore. I want to collect all the super novas, lost ships and forgotten miners in the game so I can paint the achievement badge decal on my cockpit dash
- Another lesson to learnt from GW2 is that of Dynamic Events. In somewhere as big and empty as space there needs to be some stuff happening for me not to nod off at the joystick and I want to see a DE engine built in to keep even the deepest of deep space explorations interesting. Imagine an old hulk you find that explodes out with pirates or hidden military forces! What about the deep-black sci-ship that will be sucked into a black hole unless you refuel the engines? The possibilities are endless!
- A last lesson they could take from GW2 is that of jumping puzzles. In GW2 these have always been a real marmite issue but well handled by Arenanet so that the people who hate them don’t have to do them whilst those that love them have turned them into an almost e-sport within the game. I’d like to see this happen in ED but instead of jumping, I’d like to see flight skills such as slingshoting, aero-braking & maybe even warp-skipping employed to reach an otherwise unobtainable location.
This is only a flavour of what it will take to keep me exploring and I have no idea if the Devs are considering anything like it, but if they are not and they just expect people to fly off for three hours of pretty screensaver time then I know that I’ll be bitterly disappointed.