Engineers: Reality and Human Nature vs. Design Intent - Why the design Creates Tedium

Imagine for a moment you intend to purchase a high performance sports car. Or perhaps a truck that specializes in hauling heavy loads, or long hauling, perhaps for your fleet.

You purchase the vehicle. But it still requires modifications in order to fill its specific role to the best of its abilities. That is worth emphasizing here: You desire for the vehicle in question to perform its task not in a manner sufficient to the requirements of the job, but rather, to the best of the vehicle's abilities. Meeting the requirements is neither what you want from this vehicle, nor what you require of it. If it were, you would simply purchase the vehicle, and begin using it for its allotted task immediately, without modification.

So, you set up a time for have these modifications performed. Maybe you need nitrus and racing slicks, and changes to gear ratios and engine tuning. Perhaps you need a heavy duty trailer hitch, hook ups for refrigerated trailers or larger or auxiliary fuel tanks for long hauling. So you set up the appointment, drop the vehicle off, have the adjustments made, and put the vehicle into use a day, or a week, later, with minimal inconvenience to you, your fleet or other responsibilities. Because responsible business owners who care about their customers and repeat business understand the 3/11 rule, and know that WASTING THEIR CUSTOMERS TIME, is a BAD IDEA.

Now lets look at Elite.

I buy, say, An Asp Explorer. Or an Imperial Courier, for small ship combat or bounty hunting with some light USS Mat salvaging while I am out and about. No problem. While a rather ridiculous and overly gamey system in and of itself, once the ship is A Rated (usually possible at the station where the purchase was made, at least for small and medium ships) the ship is prepared to perform its role in a manner that fits the requirements of the job.

The ship is not, in any way, shape or form, however, ready to perform its allotted task to the best of its abilities.

For that, we need Engineering. And since I purchase this ship explicitly because I wanted a vessel that would perform its tasks to the best of its abilities, as opposed to simply meeting the requirements for the job...I need to Engineer this ship. Whether I WANT to do so or not is now irrelevant; if I desire for the ship to maximize the efficiency with which it can perform its allotted task - whatever that task might be - Engineering is now mandatory.

Which means I now need to spend time prospecting. Whether I enjoy it or not is irrelevant; it is, according to the above criteria, a requirement. Whether this fosters burnout in me, and makes me want to leave the game completely, doesnt matter. I cannot have a ship that lives up to its full potential without doing this. And the same goes for USS Salvage (which I, personally, somewhat enjoy, especially with the varied wrecks and debris types). The same goes for various mission types. Regardless of how much I enjoy a task in Elite - or whether I enjoy it at all - I now have to perform every task in the game. Otherwise, no ship I purchase will ever live up to its full potential.

But not only must I perform every task in the game, regardless or burnout or enjoyment. I must also spend time unlocking various engineers. That the unlock requirements for many engineers set a gold standard for boredom inducing tedium not only in Elite but in all of modern video gaming doesnt matter. That Kamitra Cigars alone are an intelligence insulting time gate is irrelevant. If I want a ship - any ship - to live up to its maximum potential, I have to partake of this ironically named "content" now.

And once that bit of tedium is out of the way, I still need to travel round to every single Engineer individually, rolling what upgrades I can get. This alone can take a day, or more. Not the entire grind listed above, mind. Just the flying around to each location part, and rolling upgrades.

On the up side, once all of this is done, I finally have a ship - one ship, that is; just one - that can perform its allotted task to the best of its ability. That can maximize the efficiency with which I can utilize that ship. That makes me feel as if I am not missing out on things I could accomplish with that ship. Provided I still derive any enjoyment from Elite at all, at this point - and there's a fair chance I dont, after being forced to partake of game content I dont like, for countless hours, in order to unlock game content I DO enjoy - I am now ready to put my new ship to use.

Of course, if I ever want to buy another ship...I will need to do almost all of this all over again. Every single time wasting, step - except, thank god, the initial unlocking of Engineers. But all of those other layers of tedium remain. Especially - and this is key, since the Beta isnt doing anything to change it - the RNG Mat grind. This alone can take days, or even weeks, for G5 min/maxers (which, thankfully, I have decided I am not, after all, going to become; I can live without SOME potential).

Does FDEV really believe that literally wasting your customers' time is a good idea? That this will foster positive feelings - and, more importantly, positive reviews and repeat purchases of game content? Of course it wont. Which is why roughly 50% of those who try the game, never leave a Sidewinder, and why a very, very large percentage of the install base is no longer playing the game. Because FDEV would rather waste our time, then help us enjoy it.

There are, of course, counter-arguments to this viewpoint. Chief among them: Engineers are something FDEV intended you to do gradually, over time.

Lets put that flawed theory to rest right now: Engineering a ship gradually, over time, makes little to no sense. You want a new ship to live up to its potential immediately. Right away. This being the case, then...why would you just take your time, and make your modifications slowly? You dont buy a new race car and wait six weeks to tune the transmission for track time, and four more weeks to add slicks. You dont buy a new long haul truck, start using it, and then wait six weeks to add the auxiliary fuel tanks. Why in the world would you buy a new combat or hauling vessel, and then wait days, or weeks, to modify the ship, all the while subjecting yourself to an experience that is strictly subpar to the one on offer?

Most people wouldn't. Which is why I suspect a lot of people attempt to make all of their modifications to a new ship almost immediately after buying it. Which is abject tedium, and, I suspect, fosters burnout, especially in newer players who change ships fairly often. Which they must, because multi-role in this game isnt half so good at multiple roles as FDEV seem to think.

Another argument against my view is "its, like, your opinion, man." Well of course it is. Move along, please.

I think FDEV need to take a long, hard look at the role they intend Engineers to fill in this game.

If its progression, its a very, very bad implementation of progression. The RNG mat drops - even with a broker that just adds more loading screens between modifying a ship and actually playing the game our way with it - does not allow a player to plan, or work proactively toward goals. Its just gambling. Flying through systems or driving across dirt and rolling dice is neither compelling game play, nor worthy of a triple A space sim.

If the Engineers represent End Game Content the implementation is even worse. The signal sent with this claim is that "grinding RNG is the End Game." Yeah. That will retain players looking for an immersive space sim. Players who were told by that recent PS4 ad to "Build Your Own Empire" are definitely looking to log in and gamble on random material drops instead. Sure. That's why the game was so massively, headline grabbingly successful on that platform...oh, wait...

FDEV need to consider the role they want Engineers to play. Honestly, I dont think they have any business as a Feature Mechanic. I dont think they ever did have. I have always thought that the less time we spend waiting, watching and staring at menus, the more time we can spend in our ships, flying, hauling, fighting, exploring...playing the game.

Engineers puts a serious dent in time spent actually playing. And even that pales in comparison to the dent it puts in the time spent Playing Our Way. And in that regard, Engineers, in their current implementation - even with the adjustments underway in the Beta - are far more detrimental to the game, and those who want to play it, than they are helpful.

We came here to play. To blaze our own trail. Play our way. And now the Engineers are leaving us with a binary choice: Either play the way you are told to play...or miss out on content. Neither of these is an acceptable choice, to your customer base. Neither of these is a wise choice, as a business that cares about customers and repeat business.

The Engineers should not subtract from time spent playing the game in the roles and ways we see fit. And until real, quality adjustments are made that support this, they remain a detrimental burden to the game for a whole lot of players.
 
And the trap of min/maxing is sprung.
For some, perhaps.

Me, I am just looking at INARA and my inventory, and am content to get what I can before the even worse G1-G5 grind is introduced...next week, it looks like. I have G3 rolls on Frag Cannons and Multi cannons, with Corrosive, and that's good enough for me. Likewise, I have 2-3 longer range G5 FSD's and some lightweight scanners and MC guns.

I am good with that. Once I finish one or two more ships this weekend, I dont plan on even looking at the RNGineers again. Ever. Far as I am concerned, until they go back to the drawing board, Mats and Modifications might as well not exist.

But yes...this is, in general, how devs spring the min/max trap on people. Make them feel as if they are missing out on content, then insert a misery inducing level of tedium and ridiculous time sinks between players and the best rolls. Then, with minimum effort, sit back and brag to investors about player engagement how many hours players are putting in.
 
Psycho-babble won't change a thing.
Probably not. But after giving it some thought, I wanted to try just once more to offer up actual reasons why RNGineers not only are tedious...but actually foster burnout in players. If you're looking to retain a player base for the long haul...this...isnt how you go about it.
 
More module types would be nice, like a module for cooling or better thrusters instead of engineering.
Agreed. They could always consolidate the Surface and Exploration scanners into a single module. Or better still, just build them into ships. We have far more valuable modules now. Those are basic, necessary software upgrades to a ship computer. Their presence as actual, physical modules makes no sense anyway. The same goes for a limpet controller. Even today, that would basically be a software add-on for a ship's computer system, not a physical computer in and of itself.
 
Let me clarify something slightly. The gradual upgrades work in a way for combat -- and only for combat. Slowly growing the potential of your combat vessel can actually be fun and engaging,

For trading, it's a pain in the butt. You want and need maximum FSD range in order to trade efficiently, and you want it immediately. Anything bigger than one- or two-hop trading is practically pointless without FSD mods

For exploration, it's a REAL pain in the butt, since you can't find everything you need out in the black. If an explorer wants to max out his FSD, he's got to spend a lot of time at a station dully scanning ship wakes when he wants to be heading out on another expedition to the distant stars. Very frustrating when you want to be doing one thing and the game forces you to spend several extended sessions doing something else entirely.

Grind can be fun. I don't have a problem with grind per se. Busywork gates are another matter, and there's far too many busywork gates in ED, espcially in Engineering.

If FD can't tell the difference between grind, which is working at something you WANT to accomplish, and busywork gates, where you spend time doing things you never ever wanted to do just for the privilege of being able to grind at what you ACTUALLY want to do, then they need to hire someone who's studied workflow or process management and take their findings into the design of this game. Because there's a good game under all the nonsense, but there's sooooo much nonsense.
 
Can we get the condensed version?
Engineers foster burnout and frustration by introducing a wait wall between the acquisition of a ship, and the ship's ability to live up to its full potential. The wait wall adds nothing - not unique game play, memorable characters, interesting stories...literally nothing but tedious grind. Which fosters burnout in players.

Engineers should exist in a way that minimizes downtime, and time spent not blazing the trail we want to blaze. Instead, they maximize time spent playing the way FDEV says we have to, and staring at loading screens and menus. This is textbook bad implementation.
 
Let me clarify something slightly. The gradual upgrades work in a way for combat -- and only for combat. Slowly growing the potential of your combat vessel can actually be fun and engaging,

For trading, it's a pain in the butt. You want and need maximum FSD range in order to trade efficiently, and you want it immediately. Anything bigger than one- or two-hop trading is practically pointless without FSD mods

For exploration, it's a REAL pain in the butt, since you can't find everything you need out in the black. If an explorer wants to max out his FSD, he's got to spend a lot of time at a station dully scanning ship wakes when he wants to be heading out on another expedition to the distant stars. Very frustrating when you want to be doing one thing and the game forces you to spend several extended sessions doing something else entirely.

Grind can be fun. I don't have a problem with grind per se. Busywork gates are another matter, and there's far too many busywork gates in ED, espcially in Engineering.

If FD can't tell the difference between grind, which is working at something you WANT to accomplish, and busywork gates, where you spend time doing things you never ever wanted to do just for the privilege of being able to grind at what you ACTUALLY want to do, then they need to hire someone who's studied workflow or process management and take their findings into the design of this game. Because there's a good game under all the nonsense, but there's sooooo much nonsense.
Very well said.

That's the big problem with Engineers for me as well. Not that they take time. Acquiring lots of Rare and Legendary loot in Borderlands 2 took time, and I didnt mind that one bit. Completing the story of the Witcher 3, with the armor and weapons that I wanted to acquire and improve fully maxed out, took a metric ton of time - and I didnt mind that, either. Long term goals in games dont bother me.

Abject tedium does. And the Engineers are just tedium. Scanning wakes. Shooting rocks. Rolling dice by clicking on menus. Nothing they add to the game is at all interesting or fun. And a Mat Broker and remote engineering for the single BP you are allowed to pin at once, are not going to change that.

Its time to go back to the drawing board on the implementation of the Engineers. They arent progression, because a ship isnt a character.

A ship is a tool, and if the tool cannot perform to its potential upon acquisition, based on a solid, predictable timeline for installing the necessary upgrades with a reasonable guarantee in terms of resultant performance, the tool, and the upgrade process, are both flawed beyond usefulness.
 
Engineers foster burnout and frustration by introducing a wait wall between the acquisition of a ship, and the ship's ability to live up to its full potential. The wait wall adds nothing - not unique game play, memorable characters, interesting stories...literally nothing but tedious grind. Which fosters burnout in players.

Engineers should exist in a way that minimizes downtime, and time spent not blazing the trail we want to blaze. Instead, they maximize time spent playing the way FDEV says we have to, and staring at loading screens and menus. This is textbook bad implementation.
It's basically a load of rubbish. How people use engineers is up to them, the game does not force you to partake in engineers. While I agree with you about RNG and can think of better versions of engineers (more like side grades then upgrades), I think they have done the best they can to minimize the RNG and keep most people happy.

I will carry on using engineers like I did before. I didn't grind for anything picked stuff up as I went around doing what I wanted and upgrade I bits and pieces.

It's people who think they need this stuff asap and grind it all out, when most probably don't at all. That has nothing to do with FDev, but the games industry in general. It is how most MMOs are designed and trying to get people out of that mindset must be tough.

I play in a way that is fun for me. I don't suffer from burn out and I don't grind. It may take me years to get a python or to open up the engineers, but I am not in a race to, as most are not necessary at all.
 
Engineers foster burnout and frustration by introducing a wait wall between the acquisition of a ship, and the ship's ability to live up to its full potential. The wait wall adds nothing - not unique game play, memorable characters, interesting stories...literally nothing but tedious grind. Which fosters burnout in players.

Engineers should exist in a way that minimizes downtime, and time spent not blazing the trail we want to blaze. Instead, they maximize time spent playing the way FDEV says we have to, and staring at loading screens and menus. This is textbook bad implementation.
What would be so wrong with the following system?

Step 1: Unlock Engineer

Step 2: Get engineer to level 5 favor once and once only

Step 3: buy blueprints from the engineer for the mod you want.

Then apply those blueprints at any outfitting station for a reasonable cost in mats for each roll of the RNG dice.

How hard is that exactly? It cuts down on most of the pointlessness. A one time cost to unlock a guy and gain access to his secrets is fine, but in the 31st century, it should not be necessary to be physically at an Engineer's lair in order to use his mods.

For crying out loud, they know that players don't like the RNGineer grind. How do I know they know? because they simplified it like hell for the beta.

At a certain point, you can't put your game in people's way or they'll just leave. It's like the board flipping exploits. They represent your player base voting with its legs that your mission board is inadequate for their purposes, and instead of dealing with the problem you squash the symptoms by nerfing things. Like that's the answer.

Put your game in people's way and they'll break it with workarounds and exploits to get to where they want to be. Deny then the ability to do so and people will just leave. You need to seriously think about how to streamline the process of playing Elite: Dangerous, and the way you're choosing to do it is the opposite of a sane approach.
 
It's basically a load of rubbish. How people use engineers is up to them, the game does not force you to partake in engineers. p
Can you run into engineered pirates no matter where you are in the bubble?

Can you clearly see the superior performance of players who engineer their ships?

Can you be destroyed by and rendered utterly no match for Engineered players in Open?

Since the answer to these questions is all Yes, the game forces you to partake in engineers. The method of force is the punishment of inferior performance of your ships for failing to do so. THis is a well known coercive method made famous by mobile games.

Don't be a fool. Just because the method of coercion is psychological rather than a hard coded gate, doesn't mean there's no coercion to use Engineers going on.
 
i) Engineers are being overhauled to take randomness out and steady progression in
ii) Every game has some sort of time / resource sink for progression - whether that is experience / xp / credits / gold / resources. The thing about Elite is you can choose to engage or not in each - same argument could be made for Cutter being behind a rank gate (Gah sounds like too many other posts here)
iii) There are so many alternatives to getting the "best" ship - exploring / mining for example gain practically nothing from engineering (unless you are going for max distance to get to very specific outlying stars for exploring) - people try to get to triple elite in a stock sidewinder for example
iv) For an analogy - imagine you want to be a chess grand master...you can't just buy the knowledge you have to learn the basics, potentially seek out trainers, and if you get to the top end, play peers all over the world to experience their specific styles and tactics. Even then, you probably won't make it to be a grand master...(does that count as close to RNG in real world).
v) Burnout and frustration are forces people put on themselves on a game that has no definable start or end / goals are self-defined. I've built engineering up over probably 5 semi-targeted runs or spurts. I feel more burnout trying to rank my combat rating...so I choose not to target this too often
vi) Powerplay back in its infancy - now that was burnout - spend hours and hours trying to counter 5th columnists that had an effective 5-1 resource advantage and no way of preventing them. Now that was morale sapping / burnout inducing - however over the course of the past year, its been modified and the worst of the wrinkles ironed out...even so I won't play seriously any more in this area...too many scars
vii) Is there any computer game where you start with a tool / character / skillset ability to live up to it's full potential? Every RPG / MMO / turn based strategy game I've played you start small and build up over time (possibly excluding a football manager game starting as Madrid / Barca!)

Could the engineers have more unique stories? Yuo. Could mission branch more effictively? Could PP tie into missions more effectively? Could we land on all planet types?
I think removing the randomness out of Engineers seems to be a step the majoirty of the player base favours (I sunk weeks into Diablo so am an outlier with RNG) and might solve some of the initial issues, but there are so many different avenues where improvements can be made due to the vastnest of the scale. I just know I've been entertained on for much longer in games hours than pretty much any game I've played in the past few years, so for me its doing something right.
 
Can you run into engineered pirates no matter where you are in the bubble?

Can you clearly see the superior performance of players who engineer their ships?

Can you be destroyed by and rendered utterly no match for Engineered players in Open?

Since the answer to these questions is all Yes, the game forces you to partake in engineers. The method of force is the punishment of inferior performance of your ships for failing to do so. THis is a well known coercive method made famous by mobile games.

Don't be a fool. Just because the method of coercion is psychological rather than a hard coded gate, doesn't mean there's no coercion to use Engineers going on.
I run in open and have no issues. So no the game does not force that on you.

I bounty hunt, go into combat zone etc and have no issues. I don't PvP.

As to others "superior performance" I really do not care. These players will be better then me at combat anyway. No matter how much I engineer my T7 a FdL will make mincemeat of it.
 
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I am unphased by this - I happen to like to engage in the various activities Elite has to offer.
I can only blow things up for so long before I get tired of blowing things up.
I can only Explore for around 200 Jumps before I'm ready to eat blowfish liver.
I can only haul stuff for so long before I get tired of hauling stuff.
I can only run missions for so long before I get tired of running missions.
And when I get tired of something, there are at least 2 or 3 things I haven't done for a while to do.
I don't PvP because PvP does not entertain me - exploration is more interesting.
I don't BGS because PvP is more interesting than BGS, and I don't have my own minor faction to care about, so don't care about any of them.

Engineering in incidental, as I'm always picking things up - interesting rocks, bits of metal, scanning this, that and the other... my Materials and Data bins are perpetually full - which means, if I want to Engineer a brand new ship, I usually have no problems fully upgrading a brand new ship the day I buy it.

And with the various Brokers, it's a little less effort than before to restock the hard-to-find materials.

Ultimately, Elite is completely pointless - I can't put it on my resume, I don't get paid for playing, it won't get me into the astronaut program, and it won't do my any good if I were to go to flight school.

But it is a fun way to waste spare time.
 
Whether I WANT to do so or not is now irrelevant; if I desire for the ship [...]
This is inane. You cant claim 'what I want is irrelevant' and then move right into 'for what I desire'. "What I want is irrelevant for what I want." is not even bad logic, its no logic. You just typed an entire wall saying "What I want is the best stuff now, but I dont want getting it or invest energy or time, but it has nothing to do with what I want, except for the stuff that I want. Now."

Okay, noted I guess.
 
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