So I haven't really been writing here regularly over the last week or two. I've had a fairly major change in the pace of life around here. That's left me a little on the depleted side lately, so I've just been playing EVE to keep myself feeling slightly busy.
A quick EVE progress report, where as I used to have a huge struggle to buy a myrm, I now own a fleet of 3 flyable battle cruisers and have one more on the market. My alt is now in a corp I've owned for about a year now, and working on getting to Hulk. 50mil is sitting in EBANK accruing a small amount of interest for me, as well.
WoW had another patch, and my blog roll lit up. I'm obviously following the wrong people since I haven't seen more than a couple words sideways on EVE's latest patch. In Apocrypha 1.1 Falcons have been massively changed, which doesn't effect me in the slightest, and Smart Bombers have been switched from Cruise Missiles to Torpedoes. The Stealth Bomber changes have effected several members of my corp, some like it, some don't, but a whole lot of cruise missile stockpiles were rendered obsolete. The minimum length for accessing cans and picking up drones was increased by about 1000 meters, which just makes everything involving cans, wrecks, and drones run a little bit nicer. A bunch of rendering changes, Orca corp hangers are still buggy as fuck if you don't have all your settings just right, and it's still pretty binary in terms of stability, either you will be perfectly stable, or you'll be disconnected religiously.
In terms of design thoughts, my major focus is usually on that first two hours of game play. I have a major advantage coming from a sim-game background in that I always know that my core game is just going to "work" for a certain percentage of the gamer population. The big question mark is how well can I pull people into it, how easily can I grease the transition between not knowing anything and having the sort of deep knowledge that makes a sim-game rewarding in the first place. The other problem of sim-games is that they are basically always slower paced, so what you need to do in the first couple hours is acquaint the player with the slow pace without completely boring them. This usually means finding an intermediary style of play that is fun and somewhat rewarding that they can do in their starter vessel.
It's advantageous to borrow Raph Koster's MMO concept of layered mini-games. Focus on making each step in a player's progression, in each of the major progress routes almost a game unto itself. Taking my EV clone for instance, Capital ship combat and fighter combat should not feel the same. Even if the user interface doesn't change, the way the player approaches the game should. The same should be true for marketing, construction, or planet/station ownership, each it's own game with it's own rules.