Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
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Monday, May 2, 2011

Quote of the Week: Invested players

The Quote of the Week this time references EVE but didn't come from EVE directly:
An invested player expects the game to have fair outcomes more than fair actions. They feel that they had to put a lot of work, time and money into the game, and so should everybody else. Invested players get angry if they feel that all of their hard work is for nothing. They hate the sense that other players are cheating, or that a game is cheating on their behalf, because the game and its world means something to the invested player. They don't want that meaning to feel futile.
It's from a terrific post from the What Games Are blog posted on Twitter by @CrazyKinux last week.  Go out and read the whole piece.  It's definitely worth your time.  In particular, the discussion of fair actions versus fair outcomes is going to be critical in EVE over the next eighteen months or so.  I've touched on it in a couple of posts regarding EVE's learning cliff vis-à-vis the new PvEer or PvPer, but this issue is even broader than that.

Invested players are not only the core of EVE Online subscribers, they are also one of the chief causes of unsubs.  I'd be willing to bet, for instance, that the number of EVE ragequits due to someone who has tens of millions of SP exploiting the inexperience of someone who doesn't exceeds the current size of the EVE subscriber base.  Probably by a factor of three or four.

Even more than that, though: in my experience, the more invested an EVE player is, the more he or she wants the game to remain a niche product outside of the mainstream MMO market.  "I'm right because I've been playing EVE since beta, and you haven't" is usually the message here, often with the corollary that anyone who doesn't meet that criteria is somehow less worthy.  As the quote above says, they take a stubborn pride in having defeated the learning cliff, and expect everyone else to be forced to endure and defeat it, too.

But if Incarna does succeed to or beyond the expectations of CCP... if it really does start to change the paradigm from "Internet spaceships"... if it does start battering down the learning cliff... there will be tens or hundreds of thousands of new EVE players.  And those new EVE players will likely want fair actions, not fair outcomes.

Except that's not what EVE is about... not what it's ever been about.

It will be interesting to see how that conflict is resolved.


Postscript: Literally 45 seconds after I hit "Publish Post" on this entry, I went over to FHC to read the latest reactions there to today's forum devblog and encountered this post:
Corporate CCP would be steadily moving EVE away from the cruel, uncaring universe paradigm in order to promote it to a wider audience. Paying to opt out of a war, the removal of suicide ganking, a boost to high-sec and low-sec insurance payouts would be in the next expansion.

5 comments:

  1. I think EVE is already very close to Tarminic's quote. The boost to PVE content and tutorials made it so. Other MMOs keep the cruel world separate from the caring world via separate play-type servers--PvP vs. PvE. It so happens that cruel players tend to play in the cruel worlds. EVE has hisec and nullsec to provide this separation. The difference in EVE is the cruel world can bleed into the caring world. If not for suicide ganks, can tipping, ninja looting/salvaging, and wardecs hisec would be just like a PVE server in any other MMO. The relatively high cost of death in EVE is acceptable as to a caring world as an example of a EVE as a "hardcore" game that could add to its appeal were the other issues not present.

    I wouldn't be surprised to see CCP remove some of those in conjunction with Incarna to broaden the appeal to more players while leaving nullsec to the cruel players. I think it's an easy business decision to court hordes (pun intended) of players instead of trying to maintain the bittervets who are quitting anyway over everything from gameplay to forum problems.

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  2. I have to say boo to that.

    Games are so safe from consequences now days that eve stands alone because it has these.

    There is constant tension in EvE. You have a billion isk packed into a hauler that is easy to kill....your heart is pumping every jump.

    Jump though a gate and see a fleet...you pucker.

    Yet EvE is still safe because if you do not take undue risk you won't die from PvP. Who is going to suicide me missioning in my t1 battle ship with mostly t1 or t2 fittings? no one.

    I really hope they don't remove the tension from eve.

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  3. Another intesting topic; something that is also interesting is: what makes a player 'invest' in EVE?

    The core player base as invested through their own play by using their own goals and metrics to control their level of investment; but in todays world of games with over simplification & instant gratification and EVEs notorious 'heres a rubix cube, go fuck yourself' attitude its going to take a huge shift in focus to allow newer players to become invested sooner and therefore more likey to play EVE long term.

    I agree that EVE isn't a game that is designed to be fair, but that gives it a lot of niche appeal to players who see EVE as a more realistic reflection of what real life would be like in that environment. Its also why EVE doesn't have much in terms of reward schedules designed to keep the player pumping in the quarters because the reward schedules are more emotional & player based (ie, buy your first battleship or compete in PvP) rather than system based. Unfortunatly EVE is not a straight forward skinner box 'press button, receive a treat & a pad on the head' and doesn't have clear goals for new players to follow and get that sence of achievement; but to players even want that sort of game play? Does giving the player a pat on the head every so often actually make a FUN game or just something that people are conditioned to do?

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  4. Great point Lee.

    I would rather see the tutorials extended and thus expose a new player to EvE longer and guide them through setting there own goals than changing EvE.

    The tutorial is a skinners box and can lead players into EvE by providing pat on the back as they lean EvE. I felt the tutorial sort of taught a basic veiw of the game then abbandoned you. Suddenly to box was gone and you where left with nothing. The tutorial should teach you how to build your own skinners box.

    Extend the tutorial, teach joining a corp and corp goals, teach a number of potential paths and what they mean. Provide tenative goals for a player..have the agent say something like. "My co-workers cna offer more luckarative missions but you will need a more durable ship..look towards training a battle cruiser with proper support skills and then show a generic BC fit for that race and maybe a short video of it tearing it up" Congrants the player is nwo fired up about reaching that goal...have one fo these for all the paths. Provide guidance on there goals.

    At most change 1.0 space to be safer (ie the tutorial zones) and leave the rest as the dark world of eve.

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  5. I'm not so concerned (yet) about Eve turning aside from the cruel, uncaring universe. Witness the trailer released during Fanfest: "A Future Vision". The ground troops are hung out to dry by some dude in a station who calls in a space bombardment, and is then himself assassinated (or so it is implied). If that trailer is representative of CCP's goals and aspirations, then I can't see Eve making a radical turn-about from what it is now.

    I can see that in-station activities might be safer and offer some simpler social activities that help new players into the game and perhaps reduce that cliff. But unless players can live and play entirely in one station, they're eventually going to have to get into a ship and undock. And then ...

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