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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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Bad press

Why did you start playing EVE Online?

Some of my new alliance-mates and I, in between two roaming fleets and a home defense op today (<3 Rote so far, but that's another story), got into an extended conversation, one of the topics of which was how and why all of us started playing the game.  I raised the opinion that I bet a lot of people in the Teamspeak channel started playing EVE because they had heard about or read about or listened to a story in which some EVE player had been horribly awful to some other EVE player.  There is a certain type of person, that once they hear about such a story... want to do the same thing.

And so they start playing EVE so that someday, they can do that.

I've mentioned this concept before, briefly, when I was looking at EVE log-in numbers as part of my "Some curves aren't" piece, but didn't really delve into then.  And I'm not really sure I can do the topic full justice now.  Still, it deserves some exploration.

For many EVE players, the story that brought them in was the first great heist/assassination by the Guiding Hand Social Club.  It's not outside the realm of possibility that this single action brought in more EVE players than any other single action in the game's history.  It garnered huge, huge press in the gaming websites at the time.  And it caused thousands of budding assassins and corp thieves to start playing this game.

And when I raised the opinion that many of the people on Teamspeak had joined for this reason, I got general agreement.  One even directly reminded me of the GHSC story as his reason for joining.

EVE hasn't had such a story make the news in some time.  And that's really kind of funny if you think about it.  Because the news just this year in terms of failed or back-stabbed alliances, corp theivery, and scamming, has been huge.  We've had the DRF take-over of the NC thanks in part to someone up north leaving the back door unlocked for them.  We've had a near trillion ISK corp theft.  We had the biggest Ponzi scheme theft in EVE history.

Not only did none of these items make the gaming press, but the last had become so obscure (in only two months!) that I had forgotten the name of the site that pulled it off!(1)

But of course, we know what the gaming press has been covering about EVE this year, don't we?

It's been bad press, all right.  But it's been out of game bad press.

Today, on his Sins of a Solar Spymaster column at Ten Ton Hammer, Mittens wrote a short piece about a Titan buy scam, and about the GSF interdiction of blue ice.  It strikes me as nothing less than an attempt to jump-start the EVE in game bad press engine.

Now that EVE is going to be a flying-in-space game to the potential permanent exclusion of other opportunities, EVE is gonna need something to bring new players into the game.  Is bad press the way to go?  It does have the virtue of having worked for EVE in the past.

Why did you start playing EVE Online?  Discuss.

(1) Thanks to Mara Rinn and others on Tweetfleet for remembering for me.  :-)


  1. Heh, honestly I had never heard of it until a friend of mine told me I should start a trial account and join him in a corp of mission runners. It was a lot of fun, and I got hooked when we got dec'd. Still being on a trial account, I sucked at PvP, but the rush from fighting was enough to make me continue playing (although sparingly) for 3 years now. Had never really heard of any scams or such until I got into tweetfleet and understanding the backstory of Eve and the different major alliances.

  2. I started playing because I heard about how BoB and Goons were at war, and Goons were winning by swarming the elite PvP BoB. It sounded fun to me that that many people were involved in attacking each other at the same time.

  3. I started playing EVE in beta cause it was a game about spaceships!
    At the end of beta i left, the game felt unfinished (back then CCP still promised to fix the daily downtime) and I walked away.
    Some months, maybe a year, later i came back because the press that EVE got for some ingame incident. Might as well have been that heist you mentioned.

    So yes I understand very much where you are coming from.

  4. Was looking for a new game, and my friend played this years ago and looked cool. Was this or aion and I stayed for eve. Enjoy it alot and its a relief from other MMOs that seem the same or older to me. Its been fun too.

  5. Tar-Palantir also joined due to stories about the "Great War" of BoB vs the rest of Eve in 2007 (post ASCN war). Would have joined during the ASCN war, but computer resources were not at home at the time. The wars, something big, more than just killmail whoring or random roams, was what brought Tar-Palantir into the game. Politics, social intricacies, strategies, strategic goals rather than just winning a fight, scale, and consequences more than just your kill/loss ratio all make Eve worth playing.

  6. I joined about 2 years after a friend mentioned that I was a bit naive about how the world works and needed to learn what he called 'strategic bastardry'. Events such as the Guiding Hand Social Club heist were at the forefront of my mind, but the small-scale betrayals and deception I've seen or encountered are no less 'real' for all their pettiness.

    Haven't made much progress on the bastardry side, but I have learned a lot about spotting sociopathic and high-mach behaviour, which has helped me in RL office politics no end.

  7. Well, the thing that got me to play eve was actually the zero punctuation review.

    Call me a masochist but it somehow made the game seem appealing. :)

  8. Worked at IBM looking for cases for whitepapers and stories.

    Checked EvE out and got hooked.

    I wrote and article way back on a player loosing a shitload of RL cash and experienced that people contacted me and wanted to start playing EvE.

    EvE benefits from such cases but also in general bloggers telling stories.
    Ushra-Khan has supplied a lot of those.
    We had numerous bloggers and you could always find a new mini fiction story to enjoy on the website or the blogrolls.

    A simple picture post like this wotlankor.com/?p=530 brought a few mails of WOW THAT LOOKS AMAZING !!1! as well as the typical friend comment "Ohh you still play that game for 3rd year in a row... I might check it out"

    Sorry for the shameless self promovation in illustrating different ways that players contribute to the game.

  9. I joined after clicking a banner ad.

  10. I started playing after reading a story on the T20 incident.

  11. Me, I was kind of lucky. I came into the game virtually blind -- a mate told me that he'd just tried out an awesome new spaceship game on recommendation of a friend of his. A few tips later (go minmatar, focus mostly on perception and willpower) I was in the game, and haven't left since. My main is the very first character of ANY KIND that I created in the game, and I've since come a very, very long way.

    Ever since the beginning though, I was planning on being a PVPer or a pirate. It just took me a bit to get rolling. Since I started 2 years ago, everything has been awesome.

  12. I did start playing due to the big scams - not so much in the hope to one day be able to do unto others, but the idea of playing in a universe where players actions could matter. A MMO where the Massively Multiplayer was what it's all about.

    That and the market trading - I like numbers.

  13. My attention towards EVE was triggered by the "Butterfly Effect" teaser video of CCP... Until then I was a classic MMORPG gamer, WoW, Ragnarok Online, LotRO etc. ... The only sandbox-ish game I ever played until then was Anarchy Online and I never really got the hang of it.
    When I watched that video I was like "wow, that's something I always wanted to experience". Then I started to inform myself about EVE and when I heard, that almost everything you see in the game is made by players, every ship, every module, even player-owned stations, I totally wanted to test it.
    And well, that was one and a half year ago and I'm still here :)

  14. I had been playing Aces High (WWII combat sim) for years and played x3:Reunion for a while and was looking for something that brought the two things together. I was highly disappointed to discover that EVE wasn't joystick-based (and still am to an extent), but the inherent possibilities and opportunities kept me in.

  15. Autonomous MonsterOctober 24, 2011 at 4:21 AM

    Saw this article in PCG, and said, "I want to play that."

    The griefing aspect never much appealed to me. Well, I liked the idea that it was possible, in the abstract. The lack of arbitrary restrictions on human behaviour that entailed: it suggested a sort of verisimilitude to me, built into the game from the ground up.

    That was what drew me in through the article. The sense that it was, as much as possible, a world complete in itself. The one shard thing, that was a big draw; that continuity and the size of the thing.

  16. The takedown of BoB from the inside was what got me interested. Having a buddy at work who played the game finally made me join. The learning cliff drove me away, but I eventually came back.

    Had I known how GSF operates, or the extent of the scamming, or especially what appears to be real hatred that low/null residents have for hi-sec, I'm not sure I would have stayed.

  17. I played WoW and heard about EVE in Scott Johnson's Podcast "the instance". He made fun of it, telling how difficult it is to learn and complicated to master. That was the day when I downloaded the trial version ;-)

  18. I started playing because of a girl. Then I shot someone and blew up his ship, and I was hooked.

  19. the "eve never fades" fan trailer :)

  20. I had been into tradewars in the 90s so when someone told me about eve I started playing. Eve is the natural extrapolation of tradewars. It is brutally elegant, bad stuff can and does happen. The game is what you make of it.


  21. For me it was a combination of things. Yes, there was the GHSC heist story, and reports from the great war; I have also followed the arstechnica forum dedicated to EVE - but I think the biggest factor for me was Kane Rizzel's blog.

    Not that that I'm ever going to be as successfull as he is :)

  22. One of my friends on facebook posted the Butterfly Effect and HTFU videos CCP made. I was intrigued, so I went around reading guides and reviews because I could tell this wasn't the kind of game you could just jump into without knowing anything.

  23. I started playing because it was a fun, totally enjoyable and safe game to play with my friends.

    I stayed because it wasn't.

  24. I started eve in the beginning of the beta period, I can still remember having to download a new X00MB build every day, because there was no patching system yet O_o.

    I had been playing Jumpgate before that (another MMO space-sim, but one where you had to actually fly your space-ship with a joystick) and when I first heard about eve and saw the screenshots I liked it. Then I heard you couldn't direclty control your ship using a joystick/gamepad but only with a mouse, I was all like 'How on earth can that ever be fun?!".

    Eventually, when the beta started some JumpGate friends convinced me to try it and I've been hooked ever since.
    I've seen and experienced corp thefts, heists and scams for a long time and even though they feel stupid and unfair when you or your corp gets hit by them, they do give EvE that special freedom that most other games don't have.

  25. I had heard about EvE a lot and it was always on the list of games to try eventually. EvE players seemed to really like the game but I never actually played as other games held more interest.

    I had played wow for a long time and moved over to WAR...witht he failure of WAR I tried real hard to go back to WoW but could not. It was so simplified and repetitive. All the wow style games suffered from the same thing.

    EvE came to my attention because it was not simple.
    I stayed past the trial as I felt like I was having fun, working towards personal and corp goals, and was useful.
    Kept playing eve because it is such an open world and you can have an affect on it. Also love the single player.

    Stopped playing because felt I no longer was having fun, working towards goals, or having an effect in the world with only a 2h play period.

    Scams are neat and love that they happen but are not the only reason people joined. I joined for the learning cliff.

  26. Everyone elses story seems so much more interesting than mine. I actually joined because a workmate at the time was telling me about the mechanics of the game. He and I are very much into finding the most efficient and profitable ways to run...well...anything. So he got me a trial (which, I found out later, benefited him) and he bought me a retriever and some skill books and I spent eight hours a day, at work, mining. Then...one day...some @$$hole flipped my can...and then I got angry. And then I was hooked. Now I have four accounts, and I'm gleefully hunting for fights and getting them and, sometimes, winning!

  27. I'd seen ads for EVE in various gaming magazines over a couple of years time and my curiosity was piqued because of the spaceships (I love spaceships), but tempered by the realization that getting involved with an MMO could be an enormous time sink.
    I finally took the plunge.

    Highlights include nasty hi-sec wars (against ex-corp members no less), a 200 person fleet battle across 3 systems of low-sec (against No Mercy and friends before they were Merciless), 4 months of paranoid wormhole life, 4 months of 0.0 SOV life in Catch (with daily CTA's) and currently abiding in low-sec chasing/running away from neuts, withstanding gate/station guns and waiting out GCC's.

    I look forward to another 2 years!

  28. I started to play on my main (which will not be mentioned to keep the buyer confidential) around 2003 after the news came around of new sandbox MMO on the Earth and Beyond forums. For about 5 years I played pretty consistently, even making an alt designed to cause drama, spy and cause as much destruction as possible i.e. Jonathan Mcarthur. But what really tipped me over the edge has to be the profileration of ISK since the game began.

    I remember those days that a Battleship meant something, when most people flew around in frigates and cruisers. The days of no tech 2, and only frigates, cruisers and battleships. Oh those days just make me feel all warm inside.

    But those days are over, and for now, I just swing around EVE on my alt/main feeling disgusted at everything.

  29. I'm something of a sci-fi nerd. I've read all the Dune novels, watched B5 more times than I care to count, grew up on Fuck Dodgers and the original Battlestar Grabasstica, back before Starbuck was a coffee, and didn't have balls (I'm sorry, but Katee Sackhoff's name HAD to be a pun... that chick probably has a necklace of the dried testicles of her conquests, Dirk Benedict probably just had a "pearl necklace" but I digress)...

    Anyways, one day in Borders I was browsing thru the sci-fi aisle, saw the EVE Empyrean Age book, and thought it seemed interesting. Bought it, began reading it, rather enjoyed it -- at the time thinking it was just a decent sci-fi novel.
    Well, one day I was sitting in my local Starbucks (sans balls -- the Starbucks, not me, I mean, just to be clear), reading this book. Dude sitting nearby looks at the book, and goes "Hey, you play EVE? Sweet! I never met anyone irl who played!"
    "Uh, I play what?"
    "Well you're reading the book, you don't play the game?!"
    "This is based on a game?"
    "Yeah, it's pretty bitchin. Spaceships and stuff. You should check it out if you like the book."
    The next day I started a trial(this char, in fact), and a week later I was a paying subscriber. :-)

    Chances are that the number of people who began playing because of the books (and having no prior exposure to the game via other media), is very, very small. ;-)

  30. I'm one of the ones who first heard about EVE when the Guiding Hand Social Club business hit the gaming press. I was a few years out from having sworn off MMORPGs -- after losing a few bad years of my life to EverQuest -- and had decided I needed a new game. When I read about Istvaan's heist, I was like "Wow, I want to play a game where there's a real economy and you can do serious stuff!"

    I didn't want to do heists or be a massive dick, but I did want the complexity that allowed such things. It was very appealing.


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