Limiting Factors

I’ve been facing this thought alot, not just in the game, but in life as well.  Whenever one sets a goal and reaches out to achieve it – whether that be in life, in career, as an individual, as a corporation, in a game like EVE, or EQ2, or in real life, there are always Avenues for Advancement.

These Avenues for Advancement are the ways and means by which one achieves the goal, right?  Focusing on games (duh, its a blog about games…), you will have several Avenues of Advancement – you will have to move forward along the paths of: level, equipment, guild.  You’ll need level to be able to access and effectively engage those dungeons, bosses, or quests.  This also applies to EVE, though those avenues would be renamed: skills, isk, corporation – you need these to access various corners of the sandbox.

Now for some people, some of those avenues are harder to advance than others.  For the casual player, perhaps all of them are hard to advance – unless one has a regular group of friends IRL, or otherwise.  For the hardcore player in EQ2, leveling might be a snap, and by extension as they level, it becomes easier to acquire better equipment.  In EVE, the skill advancement is mostley an even playing surface, but even there isk can influence skill – by use of implants and remapping.

By now you are seeing that these things are by their very nature intertwined.  And so when one sets specific goals along avenues of advancement, the connections between these things can be a help – or a hindrence.  Where those things are a hindrence, they slow advancement along the avenue – and this is what I call, as the title of this post alludes to – Limiting Factors.

When I was playing Everquest II not too long ago, I ran into a wall – I had hit the mid 30’s with my Necromancer, and was enjoying time with him, sometimes solo, sometimes with two other people.  But slowly those two other people drifted away.  I never found a new guild to be a part of, and as a result, I started playing my almost exclusively solo.  This is fine for awhile, but after awhile, even playing a pet class, to really get into the meat of a game like EQ2, you need to be playing with other people.  I tried a few pickup groups and even a new guild, but never found a home.  So when AoC showed up at Target on clearence for a few bucks – and my brother asked me to try it with him…I went.  My Limiting Factor was social networking.  It was the lowest stave in the barrel.  The barrel will only hold as much as the shortest piece of wood bound within it, no matter how tall the rest of the barrel is.

In EVE, I run across this all the time – but the interesting thing is that the Limiting Factor changes from goal to goal and project to project.  When I wanted to fly an interceptor – money was the barrier – being able to afford to lose a 15-20m isk ship.  When I later wanted to set a goal for Black Ops, skill became the Limiting Factor – as a new player, I would have to cripple my basic skill training and wait six months or more to be able to fly one.  Currently in our corp, the limiting factor is again social in nature – we have three dedicated, regular players, who can come up with plenty of isk, at least for our current empire operations – but we can’t seem to get recruits on board with the corp.

While on the topic – I do not include amont limiting factors those that occur within oneself, outside the game.  Being on vacation, or emotionally unavailable for a week are not really Limiting Factors.  Neither is play time – since really it acts as a meta factor that complicates all the Avenues of Advancement.

The goal of course, is to find ways to expand the Limiting Factor, releasing the choke point in the process, and moving one forward a little easier into their chosen Avenue of Advancement.  Each problem has its own way of doing this.  And sometimes the game itself offers up a way to loosen that constriction – this was the original purpose of “rest xp” in MMO’s.  In the same way, though on a commercial side, they exist purely for profit potential, the reality of RMT transactions is that they provide a way to do the same.  In EVE Online, one of the veteran pilots in my former corp encouraged us to sell a 60day GTC – the initial influx of money would cover and fittings we needed and alleviate any fears we had about ship loss in fleet ops – it removed a limiting factor in PvP and ensured less Limiting Factors in other endeavors we would seek to undertake.

Whatever your Limiting Factors may be at the moment, its a good idea to share those with guild or corp mates, and even post it out in the open (such as I sometimes do on this blog!) to see who might be willing to weigh in on the topic or offer advice on how to handle it.  It behooves them to do this of course (mmmoooooo, go CoW’s!) because in doing so they relieve your tension and frustration and help you to remain in the game and contributing to your experience as a gamer.

In other words, whatever you may have heard from other sources, for long term viability in MMO’s – it pays to be nice.