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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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Perception is reality

The latest Blog Banter over at Freebooted raises an interesting question: Is the perception of EVE's player base in the wider gaming community as -- and you'll forgive me -- a bunch of arrogant pricks deserved?  I don't usually get involved in the Blog Banters.  This isn't because I don't like the idea or the concept; I do like it.  But I normally have so many other things that I want to write about that the banters pass me by.  Still, this one caught my attention and I've been spending a lot of time thinking about it.

Of course, I've written about this topic before, even recently.  In a post I wrote a couple of weeks ago, "Put away childish things", I said:
As CCP grows and matures as a company, and particularly if DUST 514 succeeds as I suspect it will, the company is going to have be very careful about alienating an existing customer base that has grown used to a certain CCP culture.
But really, the more I think about it, the more I think I could have phrased that a little differently.  I should have said that the existing customer base has grown used to a certain culture, period.  The culture of current EVE Online players has become extremely entrenched.

"You are a criminal at heart and appreciate that no one in EVE exemplifies basic human decency, including game designers," says one extremely humorous view of EVE Online.  And the humor in this reference contains more than a grain of truth.  EVE definitely attracts a certain kind of player.  That's the perception.  Many of us started playing EVE after learning about things like the Guiding Hand Social Club's early theft or the disbanding of Band of Brothers, or like activities.  I've written about that before.

But the perception is increasingly becoming reality, and that reality is increasingly becoming self-reinforcing.

I think the thing that prompted me to directly respond to the Blog Banter this time was the second question, though: "What influence will the integration of the DUST 514 community have on this culture in the future?"

Again, I've written on this topic before and I think anyone who reads my stuff knows that I'm extremely pro-DUST 514.  I think it'll have a positive influence on EVE Online, CCP, and gaming in general.  It has a chance to really be game-changing on a lot of levels.  And sure, I'm worried about the DUST 514 tail coming to wag the EVE dog, but I think that's a much better problem to have than the alternative.  The alternative is DUST 514 failing in the market-place and CCP having to bear the brunt of that failure.

As a result, it's funny to me how many EVE players have a hate on for DUST 514.  Many seem to be invoking their in-game personas and hoping for DUST 514 to fail.  I think a lot of EVE players, when given the question "What influence will the DUST 514 community have on EVE?" gleefully and savagely respond "What DUST 514 community?!  There won't be a DUST 514 community because it's going to crater!"  What impact this will have on CCP were it to come to pass, they dismiss as irrelevant.  They seem to not understand nor care that hundreds of CCP employees will lose their jobs should this happen.  After all, EVE itself can survive and be profitable without those people, so what of it?  HTFU.

As I said, perception is increasingly becoming reality.

It's doubly funny because were these very same gamers that would be playing DUST 514 to enter EVE instead, the reaction would be different... for a while.  A couple of years ago, Massively did a short bit where they checked this perception of EVE (and Darkfall) players as newbie unfriendly by playing newbie and asking a couple of basic questions of EVE's in-game community asking for help.  And the EVE players, by and large, were generally helpful of these faux newbies, though (a year before Incarna)...
Because it's EVE, there was also a player who delighted in feeding us false information about how to walk around the outside of your ship, kit out your human avatar, and generally do a lot of brain-bendingly awesome stuff that the game doesn't yet support. The only real surprise here was that there weren't more like him.

But of course the friendly treatment ends the moment the newbie undocks.  ;-)

EVE players have always been particularly good at dehumanizing the Other.  A lot of EVE players dehumanize Goons.  Most Goons dehumanize their enemies.  And a lot of EVE players dehumanize any potential DUST 514 players as "console kiddies."  They're practically being regarded as a common enemy by a lot of EVE players.  And if EVE players can inflict loss -- particularly public loss that prompts an emotional response -- that's the best of all.  As a result, I think there are a lot of EVE players that would take a savage glee in watching DUST 514 fail.

So, to answer the key question of the banter: is the perception of EVE players deserved?  Oh yes, very much so.  Hell, even Hilmar at Fanfest flat-out said "EVE has the best players in the world, because they get all of their badness out of them in the game."  And that makes the second question of the banter almost completely irrelevant: "Should 'The Nation of EVE' be concerned by its public identity and if so how might that be improved?"  As I've already said, EVE players positively glory in the perception and I suspect most would argue that there's nothing wrong with it and nothing to improve!

One more time: perception is reality.

I'll probably have one more post on this topic in the near future, because there's another angle I want to look at this question from.


  1. Queue "Team America" clip, the speech about "Dicks, Assholes, and Pussies".

    Without that standard, I think a lot of people would characterize the EVE populace at large as "a bunch of dicks".
    Having that sort of schema in place, though, I disagree: a significant number of EVE players are Assholes, and a lot more, the vast majority really, are Pussies (myself probably included among them)... and you yourself seem like a good Dick, Jester.

    EVE is real, CCP says, and I agree. There're far too many parallels to ignore -- and just as with RL, EVE needs more Dicks, and fewer Pussies (and most especially) Assholes.

  2. I really think a lot of the 'dehumanization' you mention stems from the nature of 0.0 warfare. You go to extremes (alarm clock ops, etc.) to defeat your opponents you really need to hate them. Otherwise doing extreme things just doesn't make as much sense. You see the same thing in RL with basically every type of conflict. You don't wake up at 2am to get 'good fites'.

  3. I for one, hope to see DUST succeed even though I don't plan on playing it myself as I'm not going to drop the cash to buy a PS3 for one game. It's an interesting concept that deserves to be tried out. If it was available on the Xbox, I'd play the crap out of it even though I generally hate console shooters.

    I think most of the people that hate DUST are jealous because it wasn't available on PC and they couldn't play it. And they were even more jealous in the same way that a younger sibling apparently gets all the attention.

    Anyone else notice the parallel between FPS assholes and EVE assholes? Coincidence? I THINK NOT!

  4. EVE is what happens to humanity when you strip away the thin veneer of civilisation.

  5. Nice article. I too hope Dust is successful and am shocked that more people are not. The potential for gaming, not just Eve, in the future if Dust does succeed is enormous.

  6. Hoping DUST fails is hoping that CCP fails and thus, EVE fails. Wake the fuck up, people.

    If you like this game you should be rooting for DUST 514, regardless of its quality.

  7. "The culture of current EVE Online players has become extremely entrenched."

    "Many of us started playing EVE after learning about things like the Guiding Hand Social Club's early theft or the disbanding of Band of Brothers, or like activities."

    In retrospect, it is intriguing. I was browsing the internet the other day and I clicked an ad with a ship on it and some background stars.

    I created an account and started playing, and that day is now five years in the past. I didn't know shit about the game and it's principles at that time. It took quite some time to understand even that the sandbox is an important concept in the game.

    Perhaps the way I was brought into the game freed me from some initial prejudices and now I consider this "You are a criminal at heart (...)" type of play just as valid as any other possible type, really.

    Sure, I realize that there is a good selling point at offering a game where most of it's players see things this way. I just don't think it is any more important than the others.

    But do I keep repeating this at every Eve related forum and blog out there? No, because the people that see the game in that 'criminal at heart' way are so focused at evangelizing their play-style to everyone else that I cannot be bothered to try to convince them that this is only part of the whole picture.

    Well, of course, that's just my perception, which bring us back to the title.

  8. I'm not so sure. A lot of people don't bother uploading their opinion and just play the game. Most of them don't care about visiting grief on the "other," unless their targeted. :) EVE has some of the most intelligent, helpful and cooperative players out there and you see that most of the time in the game.

    It only take a couple jackasses to give a neighborhood a "crime ridden" rap. EVE is the same, overblown on it's own hype... but the perception is not the reality.

  9. Heres the thing: EVE started out quite a bit more newbie unfriendly than it currently is. There is a growing perception within the playerbase that additional newbies are trying to force the game to become all simple and dulled down without any edges or cruelty being possible. People want to nerf suicide ganking so that it isnt possible, people want to nerf other kinds of skullduggery - scamming, etc - just so that they dont need to take risks.

    I think the growing fear with dust bunnies is that they'll further this culture and be intolerant of the people that have been here for a long time. I personally never participated in hulkageddon, but there is a point where carebears and general idiots who refuse to take a risk do need to HTFU and ragequit if they cant deal with it.

    1. Of course the dust bunnies will change the culture. They will have have downloaded DUST for free. DUST's success (perhaps CCP's survival; there have already been layoffs this year. Few icelandic investors are in good shape. Can CCP survive a DUST failure? perhaps or perhaps not) is dependent on dust bunnies making millions of RMT purchases.

      If EVE players go act like EVE players to the dust bunnies, I don't see them making RMT purchase and HTFU. I think they will just leave, perhaps telling their friends they understand why nobody plays EVE/MMOs.

      IMO, the outcomes are that either the culture changes or DUST, and perhaps EVE & CCP, fail.

  10. And if DUST 514 players can effect PI and moon-goo ... the alliances that foster, help, pay and transport those console kiddies to where they can raise hell for them will prosper at the expense of others.

    The losers will hate on the console players. The winners will utilize them to harm the losers.

    How would you like to see a bunch of console playing non-eve Goons invade your PI planet? Wanna bet it won't happen?

    1. This. We should consider that CCP *MUST* take all this into account when designing interaction between Eve and Dust.

  11. Been playing Eve for nigh on 4 years now. Don't really care much about the asshats and their constant whining about 0.0, ganking, carebears, ranting in local, or whatever. Yawn. I like to fly digital spaceships, so I do my own things and have fun - and pretty much ignore BoB, the Goons, The Mittani, or any other current ass-flavor of the month (AFOTM).

    Personally, I find them to be a minority - not truly representative of the majority of the player base - but overly represented by the digital press, in the CSM, and by CCP, as being the "typical" Eve Online player. This makes me laugh, since the idea of being a "digital bad-ass in a computer game" is so utterly silly.

    I'm all for the success of Dust 514, the Sony partnership, WiS, and anything else which will attract more game players to Eve, make CCP more successful, and keep the game up & running. And, if the "new" direction of Eve eventually results in the Goons et al ragequitting en masse, I certainly won't shed any tears.

    Losing 30,000 "bad-ass" players in favor of gaining 300,000 "WoW" players makes good business sense to me.

    1. I could not care less about good business as I am not ccp and have not invested money in them.

      And if you get 300,000 WoW Players for 2 years and lose 30,000 about that issue, than I really hope for you that those players would have have not paid more.
      Many old players run alts and run their accounts for a long time and have so far no plans to change this. Long term players are in general more worth.

    2. Obviously, you know nothing about corp business if you think a smaller number of long term players is worth more than a much larger number of new players.

      So, no point in arguing with ignorance.

    3. Hmmm...There was a sci-fi space simulation MMO called "JumpGate" that i played through beta and into retail. They were crippled just after trying to branch out into another MMO that tanked horribly.

      That's one opinion. The other opinion was that the developers were sucked into the same "perception is reality" spiel touted by the vocal and rabidly vicious minority who wanted more player killing "because the core of the game was pvp"...

      the game base dwindled and it is no more. Will that happen here? IMHO no it won't. there's a critical mass of carebears (the socializers and achievers) that attract the explorers such as myself. A critical mass that simply cannot be killed off by the griefers.

      Besides, griefers and carebears alike abhor risk. each are prone to risk aversion. I think this colors the "reality" itself. The "perception" merely seduces the developers and clients alike to buy the 'straw horse' of the so called "reality" being beaten between opposing poles of the 'risk aversion' camps.

      outsiders neither care nor see the "reality" because 'reality' is soooo much different. The minority shout long and loud and the silent majority whose wallets do the walking have the last laugh. As long as CCP never lose sight of this i'm confident this game will never die.

    4. the insane risk aversion the more vocal members of the eve clientele tends to warp the "reality" of eve (in this case that "PVP is the core of the game"; aka Griefers) as a whole that outsiders hardly see as the reality at all, let alone the "perception" of eve in the mainstream (in this case that "Eve is pro-PVP. yuck!"; aka Carebears)

      The whole thing is a straw man. What I mean by that is outsiders are the silent majority who let the wallets do the walking, see the game as just another multiplayer game full of carebears and griefers as any game is - full of human folly - and leave the 'insiders' (aka the vocal griefers & carebears) content to weave a web of white/grey/black lies to their heart's content among the players of eve-online: killers, socializers, achievers and explorers of a MMOG called "eve-online" who for the most part enjoy the element of risk in a game.

  12. If CCP were smart, they would keep Dust and Eve players as far away from each other as possible. Eve is like a job now, ISK is truly is real money, and major alliances are in the business of making money, its not a game anymore.

    Mining rocks to pay for ships is probably the most soul deadening gameplay I've ever experienced. Keep Dust fun, and most importantly don't put Dust players under the thumb on Eve players, orbital bombardment is a surefire way to destroy Dust 514. You want to get rid of Titans? I say give Dust 514 players the power to destroy large numbers of them via boarding or ion cannon.

  13. And sometimes reality defines perception.

    Having given the game a try for 6 months, rather than just a trial period, I quit the game and my impression is that the reputation is roundly, utterly and gleefully deserved.

    And that's the response I give when asked about the game.

  14. Dehumanizing your enemy becomes really hard when you participate in the community.

    I hated allot of guys in eve until I met them, eve mailed them for something or fought them on an extended basis.

    I think most of the HTFU comments come from guys who are just lonely in their hearts, and real life :).

  15. This post is great however misses the ultimate point: "Can CCP develop any other game than EVE (or some differently themed version of it)?"

    Obviously I'm not talking about programming. EVE Online has a bad name, so even if CCP would develop Hello Kitty Online, people would assume that it's full of griefing and wouldn't play. Even worse, lot of griefers would show up assuming it's their place and would find some way to grief, at least with chat bully.

    What I'm telling is that whatever CCP touches will have a bad name that scares "nice people" away.

  16. To be honest I can see the link between Dust players and EVE players to be a very benificial one and although I can see that Dust will attract a different form of gamer through the first person shooter element of the game I can see that the ones that stick around and play longer term will have a very similar mind set to those who play EVE.

    Games like COD and BF etc all have very casual 'jump in jump out' type of multiplayer gameplay where anyone from the noobie and the expert can shoot each other in the face and talk trash over the mic.

    Dust the main selling point is the persistant world. Don't get me wrong I think Dust will have a 'jump in jump out' type of element so that casual gamers or players with limited time can still play but the more hardcore FPS players will be the ones that the persistant world appeals to them.

    This then obviously leads up to the planning element of the game and the formation of 'clans' or I would imagine in Dust would be corps or even 'sub divisions' of corperations so that each corperation can have a 'planetary military' arm and keep everything in the same general organistation structure.

    Those clans or corps with the more dedicated FPS gamers will be the ones who love the co-operation and planning elements that I believe Dust will provide a very similar experiance to many of the 'war masters' of the EVE universe.

    Yes I can see Dust bringing in a different type of gamer; but to be honest I think they'll give us all a good run for our money!

  17. Actually, there is a disconnect between the eve player and non-eve player here. When you finally understand the game and how it plays, you are free. Death no longer means anything. Ship loss, even pod-loss means nothing. It's one of the few games that you can completely prepare for a death. And once you're prepared? Game-death-worry is like a long-term illness of sorts. It keeps you out of fire, makes you gear up as best you can. In WoW, the death-worry comes from the time and energy wasted on wipes.

    But in EVE? Once you fully comply and understand the 'Don't fly what you can't afford to lose', your discover this is the one and only hurdle. I'ts like looking at a cliff, and your friend says 'Dude, trust me, jump!'. Well, it's jumping off a cliff, of course you are scared. But, you trust them, finally give in and jump, only to find the 'drop' is about 10 feet into a lake with some awesome sandy islands and tons of parties going on on those islands.

    And to anyone that calls mining a soul-deadening profession, thank you for not joining the miner-gene-pool, it sounds a little too much for you to understand what we really do.

  18. With Dust CCP basically said "we are extending EVE universe into a new exciting direction and giving other people access to it for free. But you, our dear paying customers, will not be part of it". Did they expect applause?

    We all learned that only a threat of imminent annihilation keeps CCP focused on our interests. So long as no PC version is released it is our duty to galactic society to make Dust fail.

    Luckily, look at Dust success chances - a FPS produced by a no-name chinese team, with game mechanics copied from starship spreadsheet game. Its only selling point is shared chat and marketplace with universe whose inhabitants hate dust bunnies guts. Competing with the biggest titles in game industry. How can it succeed even without our interference?

  19. Eve its quite newbie friendly today, people often give a few millions of isk and ships to those who have less than 1 month in the game.

    Another story is when said noobie went missioning into low-sec in a pimped fitted battlecruiser, only to be laught at for the ridiculous fit.

    Perception here is about how newbies are treated when they make mistakes, not when they ask for help. Even veterans who ask for guidance or help, are better treated than when they provide a failfit.

    EvE is not really newbie unfriendly, its actually "mistake unfriendly", and thats good, if you do things wrong, if you fail to be smart when choosing your course of actions, if you trust blindly.....then it is only logical you pay the price of your foolish decision.

  20. DUST 514 is PVE only isn't it?

    1. No. DUST 514 is PvP with a PvE component tacked onto it. In PvE, you face rogue drones in high-sec. All other fights will be PvP.

    2. Yeah didn't EVE start out as "PvP with PvE content tacked on" too?
      Doesn't it have a lot of people now who SOLELY play the PvE content, terrible as it is, and NEVER PvP: in fact even despise the very IDEA of PvP and wish it would just "go away"...and appear to be getting their wish?

      Just saying.

    3. Jester, didn't you write a post about why some people play only the PvE content in Eve? I searched for it, but no luck :(

    4. A full post? Nope. But I mentioned that I talked to a lot of PvE'ers over last summer when I was looking for an alliance. A LOT of them mentioned the combination of relaxation plus the ability to "keep score". I made an analogy comparing it to the ability to play Tetris but on a machine that keeps track of your lifetime Tetris score. ;-)

    5. "I made an analogy comparing it to the ability to play Tetris but on a machine that keeps track of your lifetime Tetris score."

      The Tetris Online guys are actually interested in doing exactly this.

  21. If Dust fails, and people get fired all is fine. HTFU is not nice, but actually a good advice. HTFU will help you to get a good, maybe even a better job soon.

    If Dust is successful, and people get pay cheques with huge numbers as a bonus, everything is fine too. Unfortunately no one needs to HTFU, so it is not a complete happy end.

    The success of Dust is important for eves future, but it is not important for eves survival. World of Darkness fans should be concerned about dust514, because if dust is not successful it is a safe bet that WoD will suffer for it. EVE-Online is good business for CCP already.

  22. If Dust fails, it should not hurt too bad. Some people will be let go and an exciting game changing option will be gone but that's it. At least I hope CCP did not bet the farm on Dust; would be terribly foolish if they did.

    1. No, they "bet the farm" on Dust 514, WoD, and WiS.

      Thanks to player rage, WiS was effectively nuked, which also killed WoD development.

      If Dust 514 goes down, it won't be too long before we'll be saying farewell to Eve Online, too.

  23. Re all of the "EVE & CCP will be fine is DUST fails" and "EVE-Online is good business for CCP already"

    does anyone really know that? All I know is:

    the Icelandic economy had a huge meltdown so presumably there is not as much access to banks and investors as there used to be.

    CCP had to do layoffs earlier this year for financial reasons.

    I would guess CCP could survive a DUST failure but assume it would negatively affect resources available for EVE Development. But then I realize that I have no basis for assuming that. Have there been recent financials that say what shape the company is in? CCP seems to have a lot of developers/employees for such a small subscriber base. So is there any factual reason other than what people want to believe about EVE being profitable or being able to survive a DUST failure?

  24. At worst, if Dust 514 fails, CCP will end up closing shop.

    The investors are in it for short-term ROI, not long-term breakeven - or even "doing good business" - on a small subscriber base. In all probability, they are hoping for a Sony buyout, based on a successful Dust 514 launch and reception. If this doesn't happen, they may pull out, and force a sell-off any IP assets - incl. Eve Online - which are worth a damn, in order to partially recover their investment. This is fairly typical, and what's left usually isn't able to survive long.

    At best, a Dust 514 failure would pretty much end any possibility of future Eve development. The dev and support staff would be reduced to the minimum necessary to keep the game running, while the company and investors decide what to do next. It is unlikely that CCP would be able to secure any further investment. They might shop around for a buyer, or they might switch the game to P2W, which would allow it to survive longer.

    No matter how it works out, though, only a complete idiot would be hoping that Dust 514 will fail.

  25. As a gaming vet of many years, I find that the perception that the EVE community is more unfriendly than other game communities to be a false one. I have played many MMOs and FPS games, and they all have a large number of shit talkers and newbie trollers. EVE is not special in this regard.

    I don't expect the Dust community will be any different than your average FPS "community" either. You'll have your average joes playing for fun, you'll have your exploiters stroking their artificially enchanced epeens, and you'll have a bunch of shit talking tweens that should have met an early end via introduction to a rusted coathanger.

    To sum it up, there are assholes all over the internet, and they like to play games. ALL games, not just EVE, and not even especially EVE. Spend some time on a WoW server if you want confirmation that lots of gamers everywhere are vicious little pricks.

    1. Yes people are people. However EVE is unique in the way that people behaving badly are tolerated and celebrated.

      I understand why people behave the way they do. The question is why does CCP allow them to do so? Clearly CCP has to forgo a large % of the target market by doing this. I assume in the beginning CCP felt that they could not compete head up as a normal MMO and wanted to focus on a niche. And you can't really change an established MMO's culture once it launches.

  26. IF jester is right, and CCP is really headed into that 3rd-stage thing he mentioned before, won't the culture of EVE get destroyed? Griefers like Goonswarm would never be able to pull their "burn Jita" campaigns: they're too "disruptive" etc. the average griefer would get banned after suicide ganking someone, and the forums would get policed like crazy.
    Which I guess leads me to this:

    With carebears being butters, and Griefers being grandma.


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