Way back when I was a student with a car there was an older, confident, gorgeous female student who one day asked me to help her move her bed from her old house to her new flat. Being a 20 year old idiot I assumed this was some coded come on that equated to “come and set up my bed and we’ll have wild sex – let me show you the magical ways of an older woman”. I was, therefore, somewhat disappointed and confused when all she wanted me to do was move her bed from one place to another. She made me a cup of tea, we chatted and no nudity was observed or nookie engaged in. I went home befuddled, once again wondering why popular media would mislead me so cruelly about motivation and reward.
Which leads me nicely onto the new Community Goals addition to ED because just like the popular media whispering lies into the stupid brainpan of the 20 year old me, Frontier Developments had convinced me that their new 1.1 release feature would provide me with some great motivation and rewards for playing alongside other people, some of whom would happily blow up my ship and tea-bag my RemLokked face just for a chortle. The reality so far is I’ve travelled over 200ly to run 40t of metals and supplies back and forth over a 10ly route again and again and again and again and I have nothing to show for it at all except profit. At least when I was moving the bed and not getting and of the sex I had the sex to think about – with trading in ED I have none of the sex to think about and all of the bed moving to do. On my own. Again and again and again and again.
OK, you might say, please stop talking about the sex and the bed and stick to the game and the new mechanic – why, dear Burro, do you feel so aggrieved by this? What was promised and not delivered? Give us details and stop thinking about that older student – yes you are, I can see it in your eyes – stop it! Bad Burro, bad!
Huh? Sorry, what? Oh, Elite… right. Well when they* announced these Community Goals I was a little bit excited that we’d have something to do. Then it turned out that these things to do would be hauling stuff from point A to B again and again and again and again and I became less excited but I still held out for some form of narrative structure I could lose myself in and some cool rewards to play with afterwards. So when the patch launched I stopped the rare run I was on and jetted over to Yembo where the first of the new deep space Ocellus stations was being built because I was full of excitement at the prospect of seeing the station taking shape as promised in the trailer. Now to be fair to that trailer, it does indicate that you would only see the station taking shape after enough raw materials had been collected but I still find it odd (and disappointing and dull) that I’m taking ton after ton from one station to the next only for it to vanish into a black hole with nothing to see. GalNet talks of the Yembo shipyards and yet I can find no shipyards in Yembo, just another copy/paste system like the billions of others created by the StellarForge engine. Hell, for the first couple of runs I wasn’t even sure I was doing it right because there is no feedback beyond a number in ship’s transactions tab showing you have increased your contribution and therefore rising up the reward ladder. Not only that but there is nothing in the world to show that anything is happening because the NPCs never mention it; GalNet only reports ‘global’ news and so there is no local colour to the feed; there are no missions on the bulletin board that even mention the damn station or supply line; and there is nothing going on in or out of the station that lead you to feel like it’s actually happening. Hell! there is no need for me to be at Naddodur Terminal at all – I could do exactly the same and experience exactly the same at Brunton Gateway in Dulos or Lave Station in Lave or in any port or outputs in any system in the entire galaxy. There is nothing – NOTHING – in Yembo to show that this event is happening and is part of a wider universe. People mock Eve for being spreadsheet game but this kind of gameplay in ED is little better and just makes ED a button pressing game. Still, at least there are the rewards, right. Right?
Well let me ask you this; when moving a bed** for a beautiful lady*** would you prefer the reward to be a warm fuzzy feeling of a job well done or some hot, rampant sex****? If the answer is the warm feeling please congratulate yourself on being a better human being than me but also please check yourself into the nearest clinic for some form of sex drive malfunction. What does that to do with ED, Burro, you growl sternly? I’m glad you asked, I smile sweetly. Look, if I’m in a game doing a lot of boring tasks in a boring manner for a boring end and in a boring place I’m going to want a fooking good reward at the end, that’s just plain obvious. What constitutes a fooking good reward will, I suggest, depend on what type of player you are but what doesn’t is easier for a player base to agree on and the current rewards on offer are, frankly, pants. I’ve only managed to supply a few hundred tons but I’ve already made C1.5m from doing so (along with various non-associated supply missions and trade runs at the same time) and so I find that my reward pot of C3k to be firmly in the “Not Really Worth It” category. True I’ll also get a small discount on the goods and equipment at this station for a period after the event is completed but both the discount level (and few %) and the length of time (a few days) are too small to make any difference, especially as I’m not planning to stick around this dead-end part of the galaxy once the damn station buggers off to HIP 101110.
So to recap, I’m doing boring trade runs to supply the building of a station I can’t yet see for a set of rewards I don’t actually want or need. On top of that, when the station jumps out to HIP 101110 I don’t think I’ll follow as there is fek all out there (yet) so what would be the point? And on top of that the increase in player activity makes the docking experience in Yembo both scary and costly, not to mention the sodding piracy! When I put it like this even I wonder what is keeping me there and then I realise that in playing the Yembo station storyline my game time has dropped from a usual 2 hours a session to 1 or less and I’m logging out after a single round trip run and going off to watch TV or edit videos instead. The boredom of the Goal has actually reduced my in-game time by 50% or more over just a few days! This is because I don’t want to give up and miss something by leaving to do something more fun because I’ve invested too much time and effort to just walk away, but at the same time I just don’t want to do any more supply runs for the damn Goal so I have no choice but not to play and instead wait until the damn event is over. Now does this sound like engaging gameplay to you? If it does could you please check for signs of a recent head trauma?
Look, these community goals are better than nothing but they need to be better than better than nothing before I’ll bother getting involved again so please Frontier Devs give us some immediate rewards in terms of visual clue to what is happening – let us see what is going on, let the station and NPC chatter reflect what is going on.. Give us some extra depth in the missions we can take on so that we feel as if the Goal actually exists and we can affect it one way or another. And for love of all that is holy give us some great rewards we might actually want and use such as a lot of credits instead of a handful; access to a great or unique upgrade; a decal for our ship; and maybe and some kind of title we can display for all to scan and see. I know these community goals are still being testing so I’m not throwing up my arms and crying about the sky falling in, but I really, really, REALLY hope FD are planning a large scale re-vamp of how they run these bloody things because as they stand they are a boring waste of time. Apart from the docking which is anything other than boring o.0
UPDATE (18/02/15): So the event closed and my hopes that the station would then start a construction phase were dashed when I turned in the mission and was told the station had now flown off to HIP 101110. Still, I was rewarded with C7,500… less than 1% of the profits I’d earnt in the small bit of trading I had done for the community goal. FFS.
*Frontier Developments, who else?
**Sorry, back to the bed again. I’ll try not to mention the sex though.
***Or handsome man, you choose.