Lost Dungeons of New Eden

This past Saturday I wrote about the EverQuest Agnarr server, one of Daybreak’s progression servers, and passed over at one point one of the expansions slated for it, Lost Dungeons of Norrath.

The main focus of that expansion was instanced content, a brand new concept for EverQuest at the time.  They were dungeons that came in a few basic flavors that had some variations between them, allowed the players running them to choose a difficulty level, and ended up rewarding players with “augmentations” that they could use to upgrade their current gear.

It was a moment of change for EverQuest and MMORPGs in general.

Saturday evening I decided to log onto the EVE Online test server, Sisi, where early cuts at the upcoming abyssal deadspace content had been made available for people to try.

The “How to” aspect of this new feature wasn’t obvious to me, but I found the thread about trying it out in the forums, which at least got me pointed in the right direction.

I wasn’t sure what ship or fitting I ought to try, so I just used my ratting Ishtar fit and figured I would adjust from there.  Everything on Sisi is 100 ISK and the market is stocked with all the non-faction non-officer hulls and modules, so you can grab what you want.  When grabbing some ammo I accidentally bought 2,000 Ishtar hulls, but what the hell right?  It is all 100 ISK.

I then grabbed a “calm” filament, the level 1 flavor and headed out to give it a try.

Ishtar in an Abyssal pocket

The tiers run like this:

  1. Calm
  2. Agitated
  3. Fierce
  4. Raging
  5. Chaotic

And each comes in variations, the difference between which I have yet to see.

Tiers and types of filaments

I spent most of the first run fiddling with my drones to figure out what would work and what I ought to skip.  All the NPCs had placeholder names, but they were either ships or drones.  I seemed to be running into just Sleepers, but that might be related to which filaments I picked.

It seemed that 5x Acolyte IIs would eat up anything small and be able to dodge incoming fire.  Mediums and heavies were too easy to hit and I had to pull them right away.  So I plowed through a room, went through the gate, which opens up once you’ve cleared, then did another room, and then another, and then was back in normal space again wondering when I would get my prize.

I knew that ships did not drop loot, so skipped past them, but I didn’t notice the part about blowing up the structure in each room.  That is the loot pinata.  So I grabbed another calm filament and gave it another try.  This time I broke all the pinatas and came out the other side unscathed.

That run dumped a bunch of loot on me, though the loot payout is cranked up at the moment, well beyond what it will be when it goes live, to let people experiment with drops.  I got a mutaplasmid for a large shield extender so bought one off the market to mutate it.  The result was okay.

Mutated shield extender II

CPU usage went down but power grid went up.  Sig radius got a little bit worse, but the shield hit points were boosted quite a bit.  Not a bad mutation I guess.  And the newly created module shows you what was initially mutated and what got better or worse.

The after module

It also has a button to find that sort of thing in contracts, since these items won’t be on the normal market.  I am going to guess that contract usage will jump sharply when these are introduced and that we might get a pass on the contract UI after a lot of people are suddenly using them more than ever before.

I also had a mutaplasmid for a medium shield booster, so I grabbed a tech II version and ran it through the process… and ended up wrecked.

Worse for the tinkering

I also got a tier 4 filament drop so decided to give that a try.  That went less well.  I managed to blow up small stuff in the usual way… a pack of cruisers in this case… with acolyte IIs, leaving me with a Sleep battleship once they were out of the way.

Sleek Sleeper Seeking Me

And even that seemed to be going well.  I pulled in the acolytes and sent heavy drones after the battleship.  Not problems at all…. right up until my ship suddenly exploded and I was dead.

And that was that

I am not sure what did me in really.  I may have flown into a pocket of toxic space.  The timer may have run out.  Nothing in the feedback (or in the logs) indicated what happened.  Something just turned my ship into mush, ripping through armor and hull in a flash before I could react and do anything.  Surprise!

That threw me to where my death clone was set.  From there I had to move to a station that had stuff up on the market then set about fitting another ship.  I decided to go with an Eagle this time.  It could hold the five acolyte IIs I’d need and I thought the guns might speed things up.

Eagle on a run

As it turned out, nothing I could do would make medium rails track the small drones once they closed range, but my own drones took care of them as expected.  Being able to reach out and shoot larger targets seemed to work okay.  And I could pop the structure right away.

Structure going up as the gate opens

I ran some tier 1 and 2 versions just to get a feel for it.  It sure looks pretty.

Eagle waiting for the gate to open

My tour ended when I had another insta-pop event.  This time I didn’t even see things change, I was flying one moment and dead the next.  The logs don’t show anything, just my drones popping away at the small stuff… and it was all small stuff.  Maybe I hit a mine.  I don’t think the timer ran down… but there is no visible timer, so I am not sure.

Just before my sudden demise

Anyway, that was enough for me to get at least some flavor of what is in store.  I might try it again as we get closer to the Into the Abyss expansion release and things have settled down some.

But as I tinkered around with all of this my brain kept making the link with the Lost Dungeons of Norrath expansion for EverQuest.  Here we have players being given instanced content, able to choose the style and challenge up front while the actual layout comes from a set group of possibilities, and offering up items that augment current equipment as a possible reward.

Nothing new in the world I guess.

Unfortunately my impression so far is that abyssal deadspace has all the drawbacks of of PvE in EVE Online; It is fun and interesting the first couple of times, but it becomes tiresome on repetition.  And there is the insta-death timer thing.  I don’t know enough to know if that is avoidable or if we’re going to get a visible timer, but it will rile people up when it happens on the live server.  People do not like to get their shit blown up.

In the end some people will optimize and do abyssal deadspace for the rewards, and then complain about having to grind and the lack of predictability in getting what they wanted.

And that leaves aside the whole RNG module upgrade element, which already has people annoyed, as well as the strange new contract marketplace that will spring up where you’ll have to be very careful to inspect whatever you buy because every mutated module could be different.

That it doesn’t appeal to me doesn’t mean much in the larger scheme of things.  Somebody will love it.  There is a niche fan base out there for every feature.  But will it be a draw for enough people to have been worth the effort?  Will it change the game in a good way?

7 thoughts on “Lost Dungeons of New Eden

  1. Gevlon

    The answer is no. It cannot change the game as a whole, because every reward will be available on the contracts. Ergo, if you want it and have the ISK, you can have it without ever setting foot in it.

    Soon a specialized class will emerge (like the incursion runners) who will farm these for a living and everyone else will be better off just ignoring it and do what they were doing for ISK and buy the rewards.

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  2. Bhagpuss

    Gevlon’s reply leads into a much more fundemental question, namely do player-to-player economies make or destroy roleplaying games? Inn my opinion, a fully functioning, unrestricted economic model, in which everything a player can obtain in any way can be transferred to another player at a mutually agreed cost turns an mmorpg into an economic simulation.

    Once you arrive at the point where normative practice is to work at a task of your choice to earn in-game currency to purchase items or services that you need or desire you have, ironically, achieved the goal of creating a virtual world. Unfortunately the virtual world you’ve created is an exact analog of this one, which was what many players, myself included, were trying to escape from when we took up the hobby.

    Even in GW2, which has quite a lot of content that can’t be bought directly from another player, most of the steps towards obtaining that content can be traded. The standard answer in game to questions about how to get “difficult to obtain item X” is exactly what Gevlon suggests EVE players will do: “grind gold doing whatever you usually do then buy it”. This is not a happy direction for the genre to follow, to my way of thinking.

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  3. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Gevlon – As for who, that is pretty much what I said in the third to last paragraph. As for changing the game, ISK isn’t everything. The availability of changed modules can change the fitting meta of the game. We shall see.

    @Anonymous – Yes, I mention the timer a couple of times. The problem with the current state of the build is that it doesn’t track the time left for you so far as I could tell and it doesn’t tell you that you’re getting blown up because the pocket collapsed.

    @Bhagpuss – That is the double edge sword. Devs and players alike prize the concept of having a real economy in-game. And EVE Online has come the closest to that ideal. You pretty much have to become part of the economy to play. But then ISK becomes the goal, or at least sufficient ISK for your needs. If I want faction ammo or a faction ship, which are both better than the standard stuff you can make yourself, somebody out there is grinding the loyalty points to obtain them and is turning around and selling them on the market in Jita.

    But if you don’t have decent economy you end up with a lot of the dumb things you see if WoW and EQII. I recall the market in WoW being flooded with blue silk hoods. If you’re a tailor there is a gap in the training where you have to make 20 or so to advance. You make them and then you go to see if you can sell them, but the market is full because everybody else leveling up a tailor had the same idea. And nobody really wants them anyway. So you end up vendoring them

    Likewise in EQII you can tell which tier of raw materials corresponds to where the player base is, because they are rock bottom cheap. Too much supply. But other mid-tiers can be much more expensive because nobody is playing there so the limited supply gets bought up by somebody who corners the market and jacks up the price.

    As I recall, even some tiers of raw materials in GW2 end up in the 2 copper price range because supply exceeds demand.

    So if you have a good economy, players can bypass challenge with currency. But if you have a crappy economy then players feel screwed because they can’t sell things on the market.

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  4. Mazer

    I can’t really muster much concern for the ‘this will just turn into another thing for a subset of players to grind like incursions’ point since that seems fine to me? More ways for people to play the game isn’t bad, assuming CCP doesn’t pile way too much dev time into it which doesn’t feel like the case here.

    My initial impression of the random module mutations was super negative; I’d hate to run into a fight and lose because the other side just has magically better RNG gear. On reflection that’s probably an overreaction though unless they become super widespread, and I could see it being a way to get that ‘I want to tinker on my one favorite ship and eke out that last bit of performance’ gameplay that doesn’t really exist now beyond buying faction mods. Still kinda feels like maybe modules shouldn’t get better as a whole though, just trading off stats.

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  5. Knug

    1) more niches for players to occupy makes the game stronger. Bypassing certain content by simply buying things off the market is just fine. We each play the game our own way. As a note, more niches increases payer diversity
    2) Most of the gear that gets mutated has limited gains for some fairly nasty drawbacks. certainly some fitting restrictions won’t be a penalty depending on your particular ship. I also expect the mutation maximum benefits to be reduced prior to release.
    3) the boundary of the rooms isn’t well marked – this is intentional. The timer isn’t shown – this is intentional. The comment made that grinders don’t like it when their stuff gets blown up is why I doubt these sites will become equivalent to incursions in terms of ISK generation.
    4) CCP indicated that they were aspiring to have variations of the Abyssal space to be multi-player – whether cooperative or wide open to PVP I don’t know. I certainly hope its PVP, as every other activity in New Eden can be interrupted by other players (to various degrees), I’m not keen on having a new activity 100% free of PVP.

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  6. BluPhenix

    You are wondering about the glavian part. Glava is a Slovenian word – it means head. Also Tri is three in Slovenian. So Triglav (the mountain you mentioned) is Three-headed mountain. How this name came into EVE I have no idea, might be a coincidence. Witcher is even more “Slovenian” there is the already mentioned Triglav, then there is Maribor (2nd largest city in Slovenia) etc.

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