Monday, 2 March 2009

Blog Banter #5: Alts & me!

Note : Apologies for lateness of this post - I've been away since last week on secret squirrel work activities.

Welcome to another installment of the EVE Blog Banter, a monthly EVE Online blogging extravaganza created by CrazyKinux. The EVE Blog Banter invites enthusiastic EVE bloggers to address a common topic for a period of one week. Posts run the gamut: short, long, funny, serious, and everywhere in between, but always fun to read! This month's topic comes to us from Mynxee of Life in Low Sec. She asks "Alts and Metagaming: Is playing two accounts who are logged in at the same time and work together (hauler/miner, explorer/combat associate, trade alts in trade hubs) a form of metagaming that is "ruining the game"?"

Direct questions about the EVE Blog Banter to CrazyKinux. Links to other EVE Blog Banter articles will be listed at the end of this post as they become available.

Well, my views are simple - No it isn't ruining the game! I'll explain my reasoning below.

EVE is a team-game for sure, but with the vast diversity of play - anyone joining the game right now has to be specialised to a specific career choice really - or wait a while to get their jack-of-all-trades character up to speed. Basically the metagaming aspect in my opinion allows a new player to get productive quicker.

In my case I made the decision last summer when I started re-playing the game to roll 2 brand new characters - one for combat activities and one as a support industrial type character - before they were too generally skilled to be useful at any one item (and were specialized in completely the wrong areas for what I wanted, such that re rolling resulted in quicker start to my aims).. Would playing one character have greatly reduced my fun in EVE - the answer is probably. Right now, 7 months in, the team is working well. I now have a scouting alt with CovOps ability/scanning ability, and industrial activities turning over hundreds of millions of isk a week (of which a lot is pure profit). I also now have a formidable combat character.... flying tech-2 ships/fittings instead of a peashooting Drake pilot.

The alternative to playing multiple characters is to join a trustworthy corporation and work as a team. When I first played EVE back in 2004, I had one account only and never really got "Industry". I would say I didn't need the 2nd account until I fully understood the game.... and I've been playing 2 full accounts from Jan 2008. Joining a corp back in those days did help me learn to play and filled in the missing link in my knowledge. I don't think I'd have brought the 2nd account without this experience.

The sharing of resource between 2 alt's that you control in the trader/hauler alt is essential for logistics, in fact the game's design leads to this. Jump drives anyone? With the need for a alt-to light a cyno field, it basically means you need 2 accounts just to get to go places in your carrier if on your own.

There are many other uses for Alts than the ones I use right now - the legit long-term Spy? Everyone knows the metagaming aspects - and I seriously can't believe any big alliance doesn't have a "covert operations" pot for use in alts to infiltrate rivals. With fact you can buy timecards/codes via ISK now ingame via the pilots license extenions - this is only going to increase in my opinion. EVE is also less-cpu-intensive to run multiple instances than many other games so keeping.. Metagaming in spy's and defectors makes EVE more like real life - no "hand holding", which I think is in the aim of the game. If you are stupid enough to give access to the corporate crown jewels to a newbie don't go crying to CCP when they are stolen. The real world is a dangerous place, and as such so is trading in EVE. Trading items in low-sec is aiming to be double crossed and stuff stolen. I have heard through grapevine of a few pirates using industrial alts to er, lure characters into low-sec to buy an item and camping gate on way out so to get the money and the loot.

The other alt use is in a hauling alt/Orca pilot for mining - increasing yield, and amount that can be hauled in a single run - and saving the annoying fly back to station scenario which is all-too-boring when mining.

The corporation I used to belong to with my old-characters was actually only 7 people, but together we had around 30 accounts. My experience is with EVE is that most longer-term players who have player for > 1 year will typically have 2 or more accounts. Why such a small corp having so many accounts - same as above - basically to increase time played, and specialize more. It also allowed for belt-destroying mining operations....

Other games also have similar aspects - back in the days I played Everquest - and multi-boxing was a common occurrence amongst the hardcore players. However with Everquest I couldn't personally see the benefit. Its actually a testament to CCP that with EVE I'll feel the need for and pay for 2 accounts - as will many others. Its also the game that made me go multi-monitor so I could play both clients simultaneously.

CCP profit from alts after all this - and they almost give it their blessing... Would we have "Power of 2" promotions yearly (or more frequently) if CCP did not see this need?

In fact the only reason I can think of for this being bad is it may be keeping some people more insular than they should be really in-game - thus stopping people from having human interaction with other humans. But some people do like playing like that - so why should we be judgmental and say this is a bad thing?

Overall, good for CCP, good for some players playstyles, and essential for espionage, I'd say the use of alt's is basically part and parcel of EVE universe, and I'm glad!


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