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.
You can follow along, if you want...

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Bicyclist on the roadside

The following post has absolutely nothing to do with EVE.  Nothing at all.

Hypothetical situation: driving uphill on a lonely two-lane mountain road, you come upon a bicyclist going in your direction at the edge of the road.  Just off the edge of the road is a steep embankment, then a cliff.  The bicyclist is struggling to climb this mountain road.  Maybe he's just getting some exercise or perhaps training for a competitive event... or perhaps that bicycle is how he gets around.  The next closest human is miles away.  It would only take the very slightest nudge of your steering wheel to send the bicyclist careening off the edge of the road, down the embankment to serious injury and probably death.  What do you do?

Chances are pretty good you recoiled a bit at my last two sentences, because you'd already started to picture yourself going wide into the other lane to give the bicyclist plenty of room as you passed, hadn't you?

What if the bicyclist were your worst enemy?  What if you were assured that you'd never be caught?  Same answer?  Yeah, probably.  It might be fun in the latter case to picture yourself sending the bicyclist enemy to almost certain doom, but you wouldn't actually do it.  In the 21st century, we're all moral people to whom murder is anathema.

But the first laws against murder actually started out as purely practical things, about 4500 years ago.  Morality had nothing to do with it.  Human civilization at the time had advanced beyond the point where someone would murder you for the goat leg you had just cooked, but not by much.  No, in a time when savagery, rape, slavery, and early death were commonplace, morality was the last thing on the mind of humankind.  The first laws against murder were instituted by the very early religions.  When humans commit murder, they tend to kill people they know: acquaintences, associates, friends, family.  This was as true then as it is now.  Those people tended to be of the same religion as the murderer, and the murder resulted in the net loss of worshippers.  Worshippers represented power and money, so the earliest religions frowned on that sort of thing.  Kings and states soon saw the practical value of this -- a citizen represented work, taxes or tribute, and a potential soldier for the army -- so they instituted laws against murder as well.

Murdering someone of a different religion, or from a different kingdom or state was perfectly all right.  As a matter of fact, until pretty recently, priests would tell you that God not only condoned such murders, He celebrated them.

Living people of your same religion or state increased your religion or state's power, revenue, and prestige.  Living people of a competing religion or state potentially reduced your religion or state's power, revenue, and prestige.

Hush.  This has nothing to do with EVE.

OK.  Maybe it does.  A little.

Because the answer to my hypothetical situation in EVE is that you'd murder that bicyclist on the spot, wouldn't you?  If EVE had bicycles and cars, roadsides and cliffs, that'd be one dead bicyclist.  You'd probably do it, and then stop your car, get out, and shout "LOL noob bicycles sux0rs pwned u pubbie!" down the embankment at him.  And in the process, you might find yourself murdering a member of our own religion, our own state, because not all of those hypothetical bicyclists who can't afford or don't have the skills for a car come back to EVE after being murdered, do they?

It's got me really wondering about the people who rage-quit EVE when this sort of thing happens.

The past few days, I've been cheerfully engaging in a little bit of EVE "class warfare", only the "upper class" this time is people who've been playing EVE for five or more years.  These people, quite naturally, know way more about EVE than I ever ever will, even if I play EVE for 15 years.  Just ask them.

Because even if I play EVE for 15 years, they'll have been playing for 20.

In an MMO that wasn't such a niche product, this wouldn't be a big deal.  I'll bet there are more EVE players with e-fame than there are WoW players with e-fame, just because the niche is smaller and more crowded, on a single shard, where everyone runs into everyone else sooner or later.  Sooner or later, you're gonna get yourself punched in the mouth, or told that you're never going to be as good at this game or know as much about this game as someone who's been playing for two more years.  Don't like it?  HTFU or GTFO.  "EVE isn't a game for wusses" as the CSM so succinctly put it in the December Summit minutes.

Now, of course, if EVE players could murder WoW players instead, we'd do that instead in a second.  That's why lots and lots of people are getting so excited about even the potential of raining fire down on DUST 514 players from orbit.  God doesn't condemn such murders, he celebrates them!  Because that isn't our religion and it isn't our state.

Don't get me wrong!  I'm not advocating the end of ritual murder of younger EVE players by eight-year-old EVE players.(1)  Far, far from it.  Morality?  In my EVE?  No way.  But it's sure got me wondering how many of EVE's problems as a niche market MMO are created by its own players, particularly its older players.

I have outside reasons for being on this kick lately, by the way.  More about that tomorrow, including a long bit of reading material for all of you.  I'll try to post it early so you can go back and forth to it during your respective work days.  ;-)

(1) OK, most of the time I'm not.  I haven't given up the idea of a couple of "5 million SP or less in this area, please" areas of EVE.


  1. Posts like this remind of why I'm glad that you didn't run for CSM7 (ok, well, posts like this and specifically the post coming tomorrow!).

  2. Holy Wall of Text, Batman. Are you secretly Barth? Or Virt?

    1. Those squiggles on your monitor are called "words". You read them to learn stuff. ;-)

      More seriously, think this was too long? It's 950 words IIRC, somewhat shorter than my average "Geek Philosophy" post.

    2. Nah, just teasing you. I found it interesting. It just felt longer than usual because it's a bit of a hike from the opening tease to the EVE connection ;)

    3. Murdered real people don't get decanted at the nearest clone bay, with vengeance in their hearts.

      Really, the New Player Experience and Highsec's mechanics don't really prepare a True Newbie very well for that first, poorly thought out lowsec trip (often because they bought a skillbook in a lowsec system by accident, or similar)

      Perhaps one of the tutorial missions needs to deliberately send out the new player to get podded by another player in Lowsec/Nullsec, while explaining the clone/skillpoint limit mechanics, some basic PVP pointers, and that ancient rule of EVE: Don't fly what you can't afford to lose.

  3. I am always curious why some players see making new/noob player's lives harder as a laudable activity. In every MMO I have played there seems to be a group that delights in taking advantage of those who do not know how to fight back, or who have nowhere near the experience (actual skills or points) or the gear/ship to compete. I have yet to see a response that I could understand.

    Interested to see where you are headed with this, and the comments it will get. The times I have tried to rationalize some of these behaviors, i just ended up refuting my whole blog entry in the comments.

    1. These are the same people that used magnifying glasses on ants or pulled wings off of insects for the chuckles. Fortunately for the rest of us they keep it restricted to electronically praying on the weak otherwise society wouldn't be much fun.

    2. Or maybe we do it in a game, where nobody really gets hurt, in order to prevent the rage getting so bad that we walk through our respective offices with an AK47, blowing away every little arrogant tard that thinks that my desk is a dumping ground for his half arsed work, and that coffee rings on important papers is a good thing. Can you just copy this for me. Can you just file this, can you run out to the post office, can you... NOOOOOOOO!!!! Arrrhhhggg!!!

      Blam! Blam! Arrrhhh!!! Oh my God he's got a gun!

      Hmmmm... think its time to see Dr Zeus again.

    3. Obviously people tick differently.
      I also have been on the receiving end with under 5 Mio skillpoints more than once. And I enjoyed every minute of it. So did my corpmates (RL friends). Our small newbie corp has been wardeced, hell we even wardecced experienced corps with 40+ members ourselves. Just for the fun of it.
      And then we tried to survive and even score some kills.
      Never have I been agry of felt "griefed".
      Nothing gets your heart racing like "unconsensual" pvp in Eve. Love it.
      There is nothing better than ,for instance, suddenly having a "ninja" in your mission. Or someone trying to suicide gank you or flipping your can. Suddenly PvP :)
      So my opponent has 10 times as many skillpoints? Ok whatever, it is still exciting. Much better than carebearing half asleep.
      I always enjoyed roaming through lowsec even with more than mediocre skillpoints. I only ran missions so I could afford new ships to get blown up in :)
      Now with still only 15 Mio skillpoints I relocated to 0.0. That's even much better, because you can be attacked anywhere, anytime.

      TL;DR;: it is good to be "griefed". A game without emotions is not worth playing.

  4. I'm not entirely psychopathic in my EVE gaming.

    A few days ago, I was scanning down a wormhole when I noticed an unshielded POS, and a few moments later an Orca entered the wormhole system. I managed to d scan down its position.

    I could have killed him and squished his effort to setup in a new wormhole, but I didn't (Partially because all my corp mate were offline). I sent him a message and we started talking for about an hour.

    He was a apparently someone that used to live in null sec and had decided to leave his alliance and try something different. He said he considered leaving EVE if living in a wormhole didn't work out. So I gave him a few tips about wormhole life and I told him he could ask to join my corp if he wanted a group experience :)

    I like to think that my decision not to kill him prevented EVE from losing a player :D
    Being nice has a power of its own.

  5. You know what's funny? My first thought wasn't of going wide to let them pass, it was exactly as you describe, giving him a little bump, or swerving a little in his direction to make him ride off the edge. Anyone who is dumb enough to ride that close to a cliff is dumb enough to ride OFF the cliff. I'd just be giving my good buddy Darwin a helping hand =). Not that I'd actually do that, as you say, but it did cross my mind before the more peaceful alternative.

    Anyway, you do make somewhat of a good point: Some EVE players act more like console FPS kiddies than MMO players, and this can drive away new players. It's not just in-game either, you come across the same on the official forums, which anyone looking for a new MMO to play will check before actually signing up.

  6. Did you get a girl pregnant? Is that what this is about?

    Otherwise fun read and it can be hard to squeeze the trigger.

  7. Another post describing your ageism towards old toons. Do try to overcome your Eve prejudices.

    The game is already designed to make you feel slightly annoyed every time you log in, no need to strengthen the effect by yourself.

    If you really think this is such an endemic problem, let me make you a suggestion: instead of just describing what you perceive to be old players' attitude towards newer ones, go a step further and make a detailed analysis of why they do so.

    Having such knowledge, you can even devise a general course of action to influence the target player group and soften the trend a bit.

    Otherwise, this kind of post just sound like random ranting to said player group, and not only fail to improve the situation, but also strain your relation with said group.

  8. This post and the comments highlight the ongoing, perhaps even never-ending, dilemma of EVE. Where's the line between being too harsh and not harsh enough? If we make it too hard for new players to get established, then we're killing the thing we love, because sooner or later, even the old farts will get bored of the game and leave and without new blood, EVE dies. On the other hand, we don't want to make EVE so safe that people are undocking megahugeshinies with no mods and afking across the universe.

  9. There needs to be some morality in terms of introducing new players to the concept of always-on PvP. Exclusive zones for noobs will not enhance the ability for players to introduce their friends to the game.

  10. Your post also reminds me of the prisoner's dilemma and the Tit for tat strategy. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tit_for_tat

    With problem with eve is that the last condition of having a good chance to compete is usually not met by new players due to lack of skills, funding and connections in the game, in comparison to those "20 year long players".

  11. First guy ever war dec'ed my corp, killed three of us an podded me... on the undock at a station in Soshin.

    We ended up that day becoming very good friends until this very day. He has joined our corp twice to assist in other decs and has been a true and totally trusted pirate friend. LOL

    There are those here who take it too far, but people can be asshats in real life too... but, on the whole, "I am finding much to like in the honorable scumbags of EVE..."

    The dishonorable ones... kill em when you can, avoid em if you can't and ignore em all the time. They are not the majority, by a wide wide margin.

  12. It happens in Australia
    and then there's those who like to swerve and scare; sometimes they misjudge and hit the cyclist(s).

  13. EvE is Everyones versus Everyone

    If you are being nice to others, thats just the way you want to interact in the game, however if someone asks "how can you win this game?", then the answer is making everyone else rage-quit.

    To win EvE you should make your enemies bleed isk, make their ingame time unfun, back-stab them, make them loose their ingame friends, grief and harrass to the point the game looses any appeal. Why? cause if your opponent looses hope, they will no longer regain their ability to become stronger, learn and comeback to fight you (which is of course the whole idea of evolution in this game).

    So you see being harsh to the newbies, is actually the social answer in Eve for "selection of the fittest", so those who survive the gruesome first 5mill SP, are the ones to stay and fight back.

    Because, what would be the point of the game if you can never fight back? right :)

  14. This was a pretty good blog until you started going on this "EvE is Hard!" rant. Isn't this exactly why we play EvE?

    1. A lot of us? Yes. But there's ultimately going to be a battle for the soul of EVE Online, between players that like the game like it is, and CCP who wants one of their products to be a major MMO player (and income source).

      We have two choices here: either EVE becomes easier (and more populated) or CCP slowly relegates EVE to a secondary product to concentrate on DUST or WoD or something of that source that CAN be more populated than EVE.

      I just don't see them accepting a few hundred thousand subscribers forever.

    2. There is a difference between making it easier and making it more accessible.

      Want to know what I don't like about the NPE?

      Once you start the game in a brand new account, the tutorial pops right up and starts bossing you around. It is COMPLETELY rigid, and I also thinks it doesn't manages expectations very well.

      "ok" the devs say, "there is a cancel button for people that don't want to listen, and even a popup saying that completing the tutorial is very helpful".

      To me, that completely misses the point. Once you click the cancel button, the tutorial becomes COMPLETELY option. The newbie goes from a spartan training approach to space void in just one click.

  15. One of the nice things about many forms of high sec aggression is that they are, in one sense or another, by mutual will. I tend to make a specialty in the form of can-flipping where I do the flipping in some helpless-looking ship that's less helpless than it looks. Do I sometimes kill week-old characters in their first Osprey miner? It happens, though I much prefer to shoot at hulk pilots. But, newb Osprey or bittervet Hulk, the only way I get a fight is if the "victim" thinks "Ha ha! I'm gonna swerve and knock that clueless idiot over the cliff!" And then he tries to do it.

    I don't think of it as murder. I think of it as a lesson in humility and caution.

  16. Honestly you have to ask yourself why you came to eve in the first place. My first mmo experience was eq2. I played that for quite some time on their open world pvp server. SOE as is typical eventually screwed pvp up. So I started looking around for another open world game. Naturally eve eventually came to my attention. So I started playing and you know what? I quit after the initial free trial. Why? because there was no pvp. I did the starter missions -- and found that the computer would tell me to go here or there and then the computer would take me here or there. And then I would find that the mission would have me kill x or y and i would tell the computer to kill x or y. A whole lot of auto pilot and orbiting, without another person to kill in sight -- or any explanation of how to kill another person without getting concorded -- boring as hell. Well when eq2 pvp went totally off the cliff I came back to eve and said I have to give it a real try, because its rep for hardcore pvp must have some basis. I got into the game and yet it was still a full month before I had any serious action.

    So all in all, if you ask me the problem with eve's new player experience is not that new players are being curbstomped but rather that there is a disconnect between what eve is supposed to be and what it actually is. CCP should be looking for ways to promote new player combat to get them used to the idea of what eve is, instead of shielding those players from any risk. Personally, in most mmo's there is a newbee island or some protected newbee land where the new player gets his feet wet. I personally would like to see ccp implement something like that in eve. The way I envision it is that before a pilot goes out and flys a ship they require training -- usually in todays and presumably the future worlds alot of flight training is virtual. Why not start the new player's in a virtual system that is not actually part of eve where they get a certain amount of flight time and are encouraged to shoot each other up, but without any actual penalties from isk loss etc...? After they get their flight time they get their wings and then start in the starter systems where everything is "real." just my 2 isk.

    1. The problem with introducing any kind of "virtual" newbie system is that few will use it. CCP would have to put an opt out option for returning players, alt accounts, ect.

      New players would spend 5 mins in virtual system say, "OK, I'm ready" and opt out. It isn't until AFTER they start actually interacting with real eve players that the new player realizes how little he knows.

    2. I dont know -- lots of games have such a feature -- and in my experience -- people tend not to leave the newbee island until they have milked it for all its worth. Usually there is some sort of benefit - gear, experience, money. that you can get without the competition of the vets and so even people re-rolling tend to stay until they are forced to leave.

      I think the bigger problem is that once you have such virtual instance for new players -- there may be a clamor for instances for vets which might be hard for ccp to resist. But if a virtual proving ground for new players is successful in holding them it is worth the risk imo.

    3. If the newbie island has any value to it outside of training, you better believe it'll be exploited to death and get nerfed quickly.

  17. "Absolute power corrupts absolutely"

    Its interesting really because most MMOs death penalty is almost zero, just a minor inconvience, where as in EVE every ship and character represents a time investment, either the time to generate the ISK, fit the ship or even the trip to Jita to pimp your ship out is still time invested in the game and when someone turns it into space dust they destory that 'time'.

    Video games are designed to be a place where morals can be put on hold for a little while, you get the same situation with people driving cars as they are much more aggressive in a large metal box as they are in person because of the added power (from wielding a large mechanical object) and annomimity; but that largely depends on the personality if they would be able to switch between these personas or they are simply like that all the time!

    Now saying that older players kill younger plays for the hell of it in EVE I think is just coicidence as the younger players would simply not be able to afford the better ships to be competitive at the same level, but to be honest if you saw a player AFK mining in 0.0 you wouldn't care if they had 2mil SP or 100mil SP, you'd gank them all the same simply because they are weaker than you; and thats because power corrupts (or EVE players are simply douches :P) and people want the satisfaction of making a kill, regardless of how fair or difficult it actually was (hence why the blob is so popular because its a higher chance of success)

  18. I quit EVE after the trial. I followed the tutorial and ended up jet can mining as a way to afford ships while my learning and combat skills trained. A person came in a small ship and took my ore. I went and got a bigger ship and attacked him. He killed my standard missile-fit caracal easily with his interceptor. I didn't understand the mechanics of this PVP and didn't like not having the ability to learn before being set upon by such advanced people. Begging for scraps of info in the Rookie channel doesn't help. I came back after a year and fortunately found E-UNI. The new player experience is MUCH better now, but needs to be better. Getting info to new players is the answer, not hiding them from reality.

  19. Great post. I really enjoyed reading it. Can't wait for part two to find out what this post was actually about. Laws are good? There are no laws in EVE? /me scratches head

  20. The simple reason to push him to death is that you lose nothing, gain something from doing it.

    As you said yourself, the base for the first law is not to kill people who you could need. Very few groups in this game think that a nrds policy will benefit them, because of the way the game works. Civilian do not add something to your case. Which is unfortunately.

    I can only repeat myself, populated space need to be worth way more than empty space to people controlling them.

    Though even now it seems that the goons doing the smartest thing and actually care about their own newbies and keep up the swarm ... and people wonder why they are strong? ;-)

  21. The reason your analogy fails is that there isn't any associated cost - apart from law enforcement - with pushing the cyclist over the edge.

    Say the cyclist is an up and coming manufacturer of some commodity you desire .. now the stakes are balanced a bit better. After all, as you point out above, if old players manage to drive new players off the edge to the point where Eve is less of a commercial success for CCP than their other stuff, then Eve as a whole suffers.

  22. Like Mordis 4 comments up, I played EvE for about one month about 5 years ago. I had decided i was going to be a PvE salvager/trader. Like Mordis, i was hunting/salvaging on my own after almost a month in game (was absolutly loving my new destroyer), and had a small frigate start harassing me and stealing loot.

    Now, having played UO for years from the start i should have known better than to react to obvious provocation, but the game clearly told me that destroyers were anti-frigate ships and my experience to that point showed me that i could run once my shields dropped and get away.

    Needless to say i was wiped out and podded. I lost my shiny new ship and didnt want to spend another month getting back everything i had just lost. It was completely demoralizing to a noob to know that i was practically back to day 1. I quit the game and never came back.

    I love the idea behind EvE, and read blogs about it and the books that have come out. If the game weren't populated by most of the worst of the hardcore 1337 gamers of other MMOs it would be a great game. Unfortunately the very reason that most of the current players love it is the reason they rarely have any new blood to prey on.

  23. Before technological advances that allowed us to live longer, overcome illness and keep most of our babies alive, a breeding adult was a highly valuable resource to a community. Basic survival required not making each other dead. Eve could be looked at from that perspective - killing that pubbie in a jalopy is, in a sense, shitting where you eat. A little help makes that FNG a contributing member of the community instead of a moment's entertainment, before he unsubs. Maybe "don't fly what you can't replace" should flash in big block letters for the first month - and "don't kill what you can't replace" for a month or so after that :)

  24. Morality in EVE is a bit odd. I am mostly a carebear, although I'm not averse to entering lowsec for some exploration, with enough precautions taken to at least try to keep myself safe.
    Recently however I was in a fairly empty low sec system scanning for sites, whilst my probes were doing their thing I was checking d-scan. On it I saw a whole bunch more probes that weren't mine, but no ship, which I assumed meant it was cloaked. A bit more probing and scanning later I had found only 1 site in system, a mag, and a Vexor had appeared on d scan.
    Checking local it turned out to be a few months old character... and something inside me said "I bet I can kill that guy." So I bought a horribly overpriced warp disruptor (note to self: carry one always) and flew to the mag.
    As expected there he was, a lil Vexor and a few T1 drones.
    I had landed about 4km outside of point range so started burning towards him. Had our roles been reversed, the minute another ship appeared on overview I'd probably have legged it.
    Eventually I got close enough and destroyed his ship, getting a couple of mill out of it in meta 4 and replacement Sister's probes. He started talking in local, by saying "wow, you're cool kid." Other lines included that no killboard would respect the kill (I don't even use one, see afforementioned bear statement) and that he assumed nobody would bother to kill a T1 cruiser. To which I simply repied "Welcome to EVE :D".

    It felt good to murder another player simply because I could, but if it had been me that had been murdered, I'd have been a bit annoyed but would try to work out what I'd done to get me killed.

    Not sure what that makes me now... the term used to be "Weekend pirate."


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