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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Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday is recycling day

This time last year, I quoted a piece that pc l0adletter wrote on the EVE-O forums that really bears repeating:
That's what the real metric should be. [CCP is] an entertainment company, they're selling fun per dollar. Look at what players actually spend time doing and enjoy, and make that stuff more fun. Look at the stuff they hate, like POS bitchwork, and figure out how to make that less miserable. This is such elementary business logic that I feel stupid even typing it out, but it seems empirically beyond [CCP's] comprehension.
It was a great quote then, and it's a great quote now.  CCP's starting to come around to this way of thinking, and that's great.  But I feel the need to expand on it.

There's been a lot of chatter on the various EVE fora the last few days about incursions, and a complaint that comes up again and again is that incursions offer "too much ISK for too little risk", to put it poetically.

Get ready to accuse me of trolling:
  • for one thing, this isn't true; and, for another,
  • so freakin' what?
Let's look at each in turn.

On those occasions when I've actively beared, I've run sanctums and havens in 0.0, and I've run incursions in high-sec.  Know what's riskier?  Incursions.  By far!  I'd bet serious money that far more ships are lost while running incursions than while ratting in 0.0.  I myself have lost two ships running incursions, one to a logi that I shouldn't have trusted, one to a bad fitting choice on my part.  I've only lost one ship ratting, thanks to a silly assumption on my own part that a Scimitar couldn't possibly be a tackler.  ;-)  But even outside of the ships that I myself have lost, every single time I run incursions, I see ships -- quite expensive ships -- explode.  Every single time I run incursions, I see ships go into deep armor or structure, and while playing logi myself, have had to overheat my reps several times to prevent ships from being lost.  When I fly DPS or web ships in incursions, I'm far more concerned about losing my ship than I am while 0.0 ratting.

0.0 ratting, by contrast, is remarkably safe.  Much of it happens in empty systems with no threats in evidence, with the simple ability to warp off if there's even the slightest chance of any danger.  I'll bet there are twenty people ratting in Titans as I type this, a hundred or more ratting in super-carriers, and a thousand in expensive tech3 or pirate faction ships.  "Too much ISK for too little risk?"  0.0 rats themselves are absolutely no threat at all... hell, the major risk in 0.0 ratting is boredom.

Which brings me to the second point.  Let's be clear here: PvE in EVE is no fun at all.  Incursions are the most fun PvE in EVE, but on a fun-scale rating of one to ten, the best incursion fleet in the world rarely rates more than a four or so, and most would be hard-pressed to hit a three.  It's just that every other PvE option in EVE would be hard-pressed to hit a two that makes incursions come off looking good by comparison.

I have yet to be convinced that incursions are having a significant impact on the EVE economy as a whole, even on a micro scale: PLEXes alone, say.  Lots of people claim this, but nobody has shown anything even approaching conclusive proof.  In the meantime, we've got a lot of people bitching that other people in EVE are getting rich and this is somehow a bad thing.  I've pointed out in another post how circular much of this money flow truly is.  If you're worried about this circular money flow, then your path is clear: start suicide-ganking incursion ships.  It's not that hard.

For the rest of us, let's be equally clear.  The non-circular component of this money is going to either new EVE players trying to get out of EVE's slogging mid-game(1) or it's going to 0.0 alts -- people like myself -- who have to do PvE to make money to buy PvP ships.  If EVE Online spotted all of us PvPers a passive and automatic income equal to the average cost of ships that we fly in PvP every month, the vast majority of PvPers would stop doing PvE in EVE entirely.

PvE in EVE is not fun.  We do it because we have to, not because we want to.  Nerf incursion ISK, and we're going to move to whatever becomes the next-most-efficient source of ISK to fund our PvP habit.  Because that's what's fun for us, not the PvE.  And CCP should keep that in mind.

But if people who like running incursions are having fun... if they're satisfied with a three or a four on the fun scale, or would rate it higher... then what right do you or I have to tell them they should stop?  Yes, I myself want to tweak and adjust their fun so that they will be more a part of the larger EVE community and so they'll be better players.  I make no apologies for that.  But at the end of the day, if they're having fun, more power to 'em and anyone who bitches about that too much... well, that just strikes me as envy, honestly.  There's nothing stopping any of these people bitching from joining some incursions and getting some "risk-free ISK" for themselves.

If it came right down to CCP saying they only have time to work on one PvE option in EVE at a time, then I'd encourage them to put incursions at the end of the list of things to be worked on, not the beginning.  Because as much as incursions do need some tweaking, since they're the most fun PvE EVE has right now, they do have the virtue of actually working and adding to EVE's fun per dollar quotient.

CCP should be making the rest of the PvE in EVE more like incursions... not the other way around.

(1) I'll have more to say about this very soon.


  1. Good post, Jester.

    You are absolutely right - CCP should spend its time/effort making less-fun aspects of the game more fun, and not nerfing something which many players are apparently already enjoying.

    And, "balancing a game" to make it equally miserable for everyone would be a rather bad direction, eh?

  2. "PvE in EVE is not fun." You make the mistake of projection, Jester. PvE is not fun for you. There's obviously plenty of bears out there for whom PvE is the bee's knees. Hell, there's plenty who "enjoy" mining....so to make a blanket statement like that? Meh.

    Also, as for the "so what" about people making money in hisec... well, supposedly null is the endgame, right? Where CCP thinks everyone should eventually be headed? Well...why would you say that, but then DO something that entices people to stay in hisec, or even low, close to where the "money" is?

    Some people define "winning" EVE as ePeen and KB stats, or number of "gfs". Others define it as "I haz more ISK than you and can fly shinies no problem." <--currently the latter crowd seems to outnumber the former by a fair margin.

    If EVE subsidized PvP that'd be great except for the fact that losing wouldn't carry much import, which kinda destroys that whole "losing in EVE is REALLY losing" aspect we love, and bears hate, so much. ;-)

    1. It's the social aspect of incursions that put the fun at anything higher than a three or four, not the incursions themselves. Do you agree?

      And I wasn't suggesting CCP subsidize PvP. ;-) Just pointing out that if they did, there'd be a lot less PvE in this game.

    2. Again, "a lot less"? You really underestimate Bears. Both in number and in hard-headedness. They really truly DO NOT understand that "EVE is a PvP game with PvE content". It just does not compute in those lil ursine brains.
      Know what I just realized though? Carebears are a lot like real bears. Get them used to the idea of better food (namely, human pick-a-nick baskets!), and pretty soon they'll forget berries and forage, and just sit on the side of the road begging for human scraps, or actively ransacking campgrounds. Likewise when big new ISK faucet opens up, carebears run to the basket. Threaten to take it away, and boy they get irate. Relocate teh bear, and it will make its way back. Relocate the food, it will find it.

      Just as a real bear that's become too accustomed to human food, the only solution at that point is to put it down. ;-)

    3. PS -- "social aspects", we've talked and blogged and commented on this before. EVE is Massively Multiclient, not multiplayer. ;-) Many people, bears most especially, actively avoid the "social" aspects of the game in favor of solo play. As my pal Kel mentioned (he was in my first bear alliance with me), VGs people don't even talk -- just about clearing sites and making ISK as fast as you can.
      That's a lot of EVE nowadays, it seems. Screw socializing, let's just get this [whatever it is] done.

    4. I would tend to disagree, a lot of the people I fly with are running VGs for that social aspect, I have ton of fun flying with people that actually talk on comms. Sure there are the pug fleets where no one knows each other and none of them talk, but in the fleets Im in there is usually 3-6 corp mates a few randoms to fill in the holes and when they hear us corpmates talking and having fun between ourselves they tend to open up and start talking and having fun with us.

    5. I can't believe I'm doing this, but I agree with Hong, Jester, when he says you're projecting your desires and experiences onto what is and is not fun.

      Far better, and more useful, to ask those who run Incursions what makes them fun.

      Other than that, though, I agree with the main thesis of your post. CCP needs to let that which works alone and fix that which does not.

  3. I agree with your post, although I have never run incursions, the only problem I have with them is the respawning allowing hours upon hours of farming of them. Incursions were designed to be disruptive and defeated in steps, not allowed to be milked for every last isk they are worth.

    Remove the respawning feature of them and make them actually disruptive to players. Ive been in incursion systems (Mobit recently) and tbh, the negative effects are so minimal, I had no desire to even get into an incrusion fleet.

    Not that I have any motivation to do so as is, but thats different =P

  4. Even if you are right about the relative risk *while doing* Incursions, you are forgetting the risk that your space gets taken over, the ships that you lost to take the space and whatnot in your 0.0 ratting risk calculation. Given all that extra risk, why should the payout be less than highsec?

  5. I agree that ratting and mining in general needs to be more like incursions in complexity. I do not agree that this means incursions are good in their current form. It means the rest of PVE content is simply terrible. Incursions need balancing. The rest of the PVE content needs to be completely reworked.

  6. Incursions are also have had a side effect of teaching fleet discipline to a subset of eve that never would have known wtf tags/broadcasting for reps/ or primaries are. I've found bringing incursion noobs to my kitchen sink pvp fleets much easier than bringing l4 mission bear pvp noobs for the first time because they already have a experience operating in a fleet. When they ask what to fit their ship i can just say "fit for incursions, with a MWD and a point" and 80% of the fit comes out decent. Yeah it's not pro pvp, but it works and gets people to pop their pvp cherries.

  7. I agree with Jester that PVE in Eve is lacking. I've said it many times over. I like incursions but there are not enough of them because I hate crowding. I like some PVP, but in no way to I make enough isk from PVP to be able to PVP as much as I'd like. So I have to PVE and Lvl 4's just don't cut the mustard. The payout is poor but MORE importantly, the sense of challenge is non-existent. I want missions that are fun but pay less than incursions. I want incursions that are risky and pay better than solo missions.

    Give me the option to play the game how I want, otherwise I'll end up looking for another game that does provide what I like.

    We can even extend this argument to putting some restrictions on war decs as well. A war dec is unfun if you don't want to fool around playing someone else's version of fun. There needs to be some kind of limit on war dec's so every player can have fun, not just the ones that like to hunt other people. Hint- lots of action in low and null, no need to allow PVP in high.

  8. I have never run anoms neither incursions, but I will summarize the arguments I've heard that seem reasonable to me:
    - the least paying hisec incursions pay better than the best anoms (and for that matter, the least paying anoms seem to be less rewarding than solo lvl4)
    - the specialized fleets farm the same type of VG site over and over while ignoring assaults and HQ (which should in theory be better paying)

    So people look at this and conclude that a nerf is due. The other solution of course is to make all other PvE content more rewarding, but in that case I think some serious ISK sinks should be added too.

    1. I don't disagree with any of this, but the people banging this drum aren't looking at the logic. It's almost a jihad with them, like high-sec incursion runners are automatically bad people who need to be crushed. They hate the sinners, not the sin.

    2. This is the exact kind of tweaking/adjusting/balancing needed. I am one of those who, for now, believes the natural progression of an EVE player should be to get the mechanics under his/her belt in highsec, test the more dangerous lowsec waters, then move on to null. I say "for now" because I haven't done POS bashing yet :)

  9. You are spot on that ratting in null is safe. I've lost one ship whilst ratting solely because I didn't check intel before I jumped through a gate. Apart form that it's very safe. Rat, see a red hide, red goes away carry on ratting.

    I also agree with your 'so what' point. If people want to spend all their time in hi sec making as much isk as low sec they should be allowed to, they are paying for it who are we to tell them how to enjoy their game.

    Seriously is there any null sec player here who would move to hi sec if they could make 10% more isk? Not many I'd bet.

  10. Too tired to read all the comments, not sure if anyone already said it but in my opinion, Incursions will not get nerfed! CCP might do the oposite, boost HS isk income!
    And... to make thing worst, they will not create something to attract people to 0.0, they will create necessity of people to be in 0.0!

    Why? This way, you have to almost mandatory, play with alts. And alts means more subscribed accounts and more money to them!
    Simple, clean and a solution that makes everyone happy as long the reasons that they will create to force us stay in 0.0 are not just dull and boring!

  11. Awesome article Jester, I think you pretty much nailed it. I've never run nulsec anom's so I've never been able to comment on them, but I have run my share of incursions of all levels and your absolutely right. Every day I see ships enter low armor and hull, every few days I either see or hear of a loss, usually an expensive faction ship.
    To the people who complain that incursions are too easy I would remind them that in the opening days of incursions billions of isk worth of ships was turned into space-junk. The only reasons incursions are so "safe" today is because EVE pve sucks!

    Without anything else to compare it to I would have rated incursions as a 6/10 but really such a rating is meaningless. Your right in that the only reason incursions are more fun than missions or anom's is the social aspect. I get to talk and fly with a hoast of people I wouldn't normally get to socialise with.

    On a side note, I actually agree with you. PVE in EVE isn't fun, and yes I am aware of the irony in saying that when I also say I run incursions for fun.
    Honestly, the most fun I've had thus far while playing EVE is the few time's the alliance Im with has been war-dec'd, the few times I've wandered into lowsec/w-space and the rare times I've actually gotten into a fight. (I'm ashamed to admit that I've yet to win one on my own.)

  12. If they did subsidize pvp people would still pve they would just fly more expensive ships.

    But I agree EvE PvE is boring and if not for the social aspect it is not fun at all. Least not doing it more than once.

  13. I couldn't agree with you more jester. Although I also have to agree that in someway the "unpleasant" nature of the pve content encourages players to try other activities (ie pvp) but I believe that Eve is a sandbox game and as such gives the tools to players for them to use, enjoy and exploit for fun.

    Also bear in mind that for a lot of players pve is the credit card to pvp players, so the more fun, accessible and profitable the pve content is the more players will become involved in pvp.

    The real question is "how do we make pve more fun"? Why is the current pve bad? Is it just the grind, or the bad ai or something else? What is it about pvp or sov warfare or factional warfare that people find fun? Can we take some of those elements and turn them into fun pve content that at the same time acts as training ground for new players or at least keeps pve players entertained enough to keep them playing.

  14. What do you consider to be a 'better player'? Better at what? PvP? Does that make every industrialist who gets a kick out of completing a massive project a poor player?

    1. Better in this context means flying better fits, being more social, being less of a ragey douche-bag, thinking of the fleet's needs ahead of your own needs, and occasionally saying "screw it" and taking some risks. All of these are valuable EVE skills that should be encouraged.

  15. I've done Incursions, and I've done a bit of PVP. There's something that I've been dying to know for a very long time.

    I found Incursions kinda fun. Not awesome. Not great. Just kinda fun.

    I found PVP, on the other hand, DREADFULLY BORING! All it seems to consist of is warping around! I went out of my way to join a low-sec pirate corp with a good killboard. I go out on as many fleet ops as I can make time for. All that happens is we warp around low-sec in a big loop and hope our scout gets aggressed somewhere we can get to quickly. Most of the time nothing happens. How is this more fun than Incursions?! I must be doing it wrong, but I haven't PVPed enough to know.

    Any suggestions?

  16. In your "fun" analysis you're missing one point. If incursion is fun at f.e. 4/10, then what would change if incursions payouts would come more in line with other PvE stuff? If it's an activity that creates fun - then nothing should really change. But if the fun is in crazy ISK that you're making - then it in turn means that CCP didn't reach any goal with incursion introduction.

  17. CCP stated that the Eve economy is going good in the latest reports from the CSM - so *isk* coming into the economy isn't an issue (at least not yet).

    I think you've hit this nail fairly solidly with your article Jester.

    I have to laugh at "HUNG" (compensating much?) - He's doing one hell of a lot of "projecting" himself...


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