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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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

What about blob?

Several times a month now, I'm asked about the blobbing problem.  How does EVE fix its blobbing problem?

Fair warning: my perspective on this is not going to be what you think.  But before I give it, let me reiterate that I am a champion for small-gang play in this game.  Small-gang play is my first love in EVE, and it's slowly being strangled.  While part of Gentlemen's Club, I directly experienced what it was like to be a small gang in the path of a blob.  It ain't fun.  After joining Get Off My Lawn, I directly experienced what it's like to be part of a blob.  It also isn't fun, though for different reasons.

The first game that makes a 500v500 fight fun and viable is still in gaming's future.  EVE isn't it!  But if you want "epic fights", for now EVE is the only game in town.  It's the only game that's even trying to provide these super-large engagements.  So even though EVE is fundamentally flawed in this regard, you have no other choices.  We are in the Model T era of super-large MMO PvP fights.  There is only one model, in only one color.

Unfortunately though, the simple fact is that EVE does not and will never really support super-large fleet engagements.  The developers can try to wedge tools and UI kludges into the game to make such fights less painful.  The ability to lock targets directly from a broadcast is a good example.  But these are kludges built into a game that simply wasn't designed to support 500v500 fights.  It's like trying to get a human heart to pump oil.  It could probably do the job.  But it ain't ideal and never will be no matter how much the devs try.  EVE would have to be completely re-engineered to make a 500v500 fight fun and viable, much less a larger engagement.

For myself, that size fight simply takes pilot skill out of the equation.  When I play a game, I want to feel like I can be skillful at it... that my actions matter and make a difference.  When you're chosen at random to die to the alpha of 100 Maelstroms and nothing you can do alters the fact, that isn't fun for me.  So I despise blobbing and if the day comes when that's the only type of game play available in EVE, that will be the day I need a new primary MMO.

That's my perspective on blobbing.  Clear enough?  Because I'm probably about to annoy you.

How does EVE fix its blobbing problem?

The correct answer: What blobbing problem?  CCP doesn't see a blobbing problem in EVE, and they never will.  They like blobs.  Blobs make them money.  So whether you like them or not, CCP is motivated to cater to the blob.  Nothing anybody says is going to alter that fact in the slightest.  Anyone who is railing against the blob is doing nothing but shouting at the rain.  It's a waste of time, and it's really why I've never written about this topic before.

Hey!  You!  Put the keyboard down for a minute.  Don't yell at me, and don't throw things.  I'm just being practical, and accepting the inevitable here.  I'll explain.

As I've said several times before, CCP has done a lot of studies of its player base.  And it's found and made public that if they can get you to join a corp, and play the game for three years, after that you're statistically very unlikely to unsubscribe.  Therefore, they are highly motivated to get you to join a corp right off.  That's why the new player experience is geared the way it is, to directly point new players toward corp recruitment immediately after finishing the new tutorials.  That's also why the NPC tax rate was set how it was, to get you to join a non-NPC corp.

But it's not enough that you just join a corp.  You have to join the right corp.  You are being subtly or overtly encouraged to join a long-standing corp with a large base of members, or at the very least a corp that is part of an alliance.  After all, if you join a buddy's corp with 15 other members and your buddy stops playing EVE, you're probably also going to stop playing EVE too.  That's bad for CCP.  So they make it very easy for larger corps to grief smaller ones, but they also make it easy for corps to join alliances to try to avoid that.  If your corp is in an alliance, that's a larger base of potential friends that it will be harder to leave by quitting the game.  You're being subtly or overtly encouraged to join a big group, not a little one.

This is why alliances like Goonswarm and TEST are great for CCP, and country/culture-specific corps and alliances are even better.  These are groups that are tailor-made to recruit and retain new EVE players, and are very difficult to walk away from once you've joined them.  When people sing the praises of this kind of alliance, that's what they're singing the praises of: giving CCP a solid income base.

And it's also why, in any sort of conflict with smaller groups, CCP is always -- subconsciously, if nothing else -- going to take the blob's side.  That's where their bread is buttered.

This is also why EVE game design is always -- again subconsciously, if nothing else -- going to cater to the blob.  We've known for years now that the only counter to a large super-cap blob was a larger super-cap blob, the so-called "n+1 problem."  CCP hasn't designed a counter.  It's not in their best interests to.  It is in their best interests to encourage you to get a larger super-cap blob.  Even the Goons have surrendered to this idea after a brief flirtation with using tier 3 BCs to counter supers.  These days, the CFC super fleet is one of the biggest around.

Even micro-level changes to the game encourage blobbing.  Interdictor bubbles were recently changed so that they give a player 60 seconds of aggression regardless of other circumstances.  It used to be to aggress a dictor that launched a bubble, another player had to try to warp within the bubble.  This is no longer the case.  A dictor can launch a bubble in an entirely empty system and will still have 60 seconds aggression.  This had the impact of rendering most defensive bubbling techniques useless to a gang with only a single dictor.  Prior to the change, for instance, it was common for a dictor with a small gang being chased by a larger gang to launch a single bubble just off the gate, then burn to the gate and jump through.  The chasing gang would lose precious seconds landing at the edge of the bubble and having to burn through it to the gate.  A single dictor can't do that any more.

The solution?  n+1.  Bring another dictor.  One dictor defensively bubbles the gate, then gets safe and cloaks.  A second dictor stays with the fleet.

Was this change made to make fleets bring more dictors?  Probably not.  But it's subconscious changes like this that are driving the growth of blobs.

And as your opponents are encouraged by micro- and macro-level game changes to bring more and more and more ships to an engagement, you have little choice but to do the same, or die.  At the same time, we've got the parallel situation where ship fittings and fleet compositions are also becoming more and more standardized, with fewer mistakes being made.  Parallel to that, we've also got massive stagnation in the EVE universe with fewer large fights taking place over locations and resources that simply don't matter.  Sov fights have, for the moment at least, become a thing of the past.

But if you were going to try to crack sov, at this point, only the largest blob would have a chance at it.  That also subconsciously works to CCP's advantage.

In the first book of the A Song of Ice and Fire series of fantasy novels, one character tells another about "devil grass."  In this series, one of the cultures in the books believes that devil grass -- which is useless, rampant, and chokes out any other plant life -- will eventually cover the world.  This culture believes that's how the world will end: covered in devil grass taller than a man.

Anyone who tells you what EVE's end game is is lying.  Everyone has a different idea of EVE's end game.  But I can tell you what EVE's end state will be.  It will be two identical 2500 ship fleets with identical fittings and identical fleet compositions fighting it out in a system over no particular goal or objective.  Only by the very loosest definition will it be an "epic fight".

But CCP will be happy.  What blobbing problem?


  1. Pretty decent analysis, as far as it goes. For as much time as you spend analyzing the intrinsic motivations of CCP, you completely neglect to mention the obvious fact that any game that tries to be realistic and sandbox-y will favor blobbing tactics to some degree, as superiority of men and material is a time-honored principle of warfare in our world.

    So, combine those two points, and you've done a fair job of proving that small gang warfare can't reasonably exist in EVE. But hey, it actually does! To some degree, at least. Now, a bittervet's response to this inconsistency is to bemoan the fact that obviously small gang warfare hasn't long to live, as it is inconsistent with the above analysis. A reasonable person might instead respond, "wow, ccp must really be trying to provide me with small gang warfare, if it exists despite my proof that it shouldn't exist. I should conclude my post with a huge expression of gratitude to CCP, instead of just expelling a huge bittervet tear over the inevitable decline of EVE"

    As a self-proclaimed bittervet, you went negative, and we shouldn't be surprised. "Life sucks and then you die", not just a motto but a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    1. Vauw what a absolutely crappy and awfull reply mr.rammstein :(
      To you jester, this is powerfull stuff, have been reading your blogs for a couple of month (still kind of new in eve world), and this is goddamn impressive, and hell it's openminded, blood and courage, thumbs up Mr.Jester :-)

    2. "But hey, it actually does!"

      Hey! Well done in defeating a proposition no one made!

      Can I have a go?

      The sky is not green and everyone who insists it is is wrong. Do I win a biscuit?

  2. very interesting analysis, and I have a problem faulting its logic. However, and its a big however, how does this do anything to help the long term. It won't help with player retention, it won't attract new players and it will further niche the game and CCP will be left to extract ever more revenue streams form fewer and fewer players.

  3. I'm going to kind of ignore everything you just wrote, and suggest something that attempts to adjust several things at once.

    CCP should create a new module that does the following:
    1 - Generates a bubble with say a 5km (or whatever) radius that prevents more than 10 (or whatever) ships OUTSIDE the bubble from locking any 1 ship INSIDE the bubble, when ship #11 tries to lock, ship #1 loses it's lock.
    2 - Increases the time it takes to lock any ship INSIDE the bubble by ships OUTSIDE the bubble by 100%.
    3 - Ships inside the bubble could lock each other without effect.

    This would accomplish a few things.
    1 - Any fleet using it would be more difficult to alpha
    2 - Blasters would have a place in large fleet fights
    3 - This would boost the power of active tanks relative to Buffers in fleets without actually making them OP for solo/small gang (logi would have to be close or risk not being able to get a lock/lose their lock)

    Blobs would still retain power, but this would require them to spread out their fire if facing targets using this device.

    1. This wouldn't work for exactly the same reasons the new lock breaker module doesn't stop alphafleets: alphafleet pilots simply cycle their guns and lock targets on FC command. Each ship will only have the target locked for a fraction a second, but that's all those 1400mm guns need to fire on the target.

    2. That's a good point, in that case, I would make a slight change to #1 such that no ship will lose it's lock in less than 2 seconds, if an 11th ship tries to lock and there are no available lock slots, the lock simply fails.

  4. "CCP doesn't see a blobbing problem in EVE, and they never will."

    "Unfortunately though, the simple fact is that EVE does not and will never really support super-large fleet engagements."

    Your conclusion is that it is in the best interest of the developer to support/encourage blobbing, but you also state that they will never fully achieve it (without giving any argument on that). Would you mind expanding on that?

    1. I think it's less about CCP and more about the technology. Every tactic CCP has used to make blob warfare more appealing has dealt with the symptoms of the problem rather than the causes. EVE just has too much data about too many different things to process to upscale gracefully with today's technology.

      Which is why we get "solutions" like TiDi, which doesn't address the causes of blob at all. It just gives the server more time to cope with them.

      I just think the first true super-large PvP fights in an MMO are going to be in a much simpler MMO. Something without spaceships maneuvering in 3D, firing guns that point every which way, missiles that have to be tracked, drones that have to be tracked, area of effect weapons that have to be accounted for, etc.

      CCP certainly wouldn't be the first company to overreach the capability of the technology they're using.

    2. Regarding 'super large fights need a simpler MMO' I'd argue that Dark Age of Camelot had that formula already (upwards of 2000 in a battleground with little to no latency - back around the time when WoW was relatively new).

      But, it looks nothing like Eve, because the graphics were simplified in favor of the MMO/PvP part. I seriously don't see CCP trying that.

      I could also argue that Travian's 'endgame' fights achieve this handily as well; It was extremely impressive, the numbers of troops that were sent to attack our Wonder city. And it could do all that because it was run from a small javascript browser ingerface. Pity the game went PTW.

    3. Planetside 2 may be able to offer engagements approaching this size, but it remains to be seen if the servers will be able to cope with that many people fighting over one facility.

    4. Good read and plenty of opinion to go around. I'm going to respond to the statment "Unfortunately though, the simple fact is that EVE does not and will never really support super-large fleet engagements." I am pretty sure Jester is well aware of the following empirical facts -this is mostly for others who read his blog.

      The technical challenge facing CCP is a mathematical one. Its what's known as the n^2 (N squared) problem. If you are in a system by yourself the server has to simply tell one client, yours what you are doing. This is expressed in the simplest possible math: 1 client message = 1^1 = 1. However if your corp mate warps on grid the complexity goes up. It is now:

      - Tell you what you are doing
      - Tell you what your corp mate is doing
      - Tell your corp mate what you are doing
      - Tell your corp mate what they are doing

      The math is now 4 client messages = 2^2 = 4

      As you might suspect, for N clients involved in a fight the complexity becomes N^N in all cases (and you thought N+1 was a problem...) Currently there is no way around this fact -its not a CCP problem, nor is it a problem of the technology they are using. Its a programming/math problem.

    5. In the final paragraph it's N^2 not N^N.

  5. I agree with several of your thoughts on blob warfare, but do not agree to your source for the problem. You attribute it to 'money-grubbing CCP' wanting to encourage more players to band together in larger groups to increase CCP's income.

    Instead I posit that the current blob-warfare mindset was created and is still perpetuated by the players. Specifically the FC's of those very same large alliances. They are 'lazy' in that they don't wish to opt for more complex strategies that would rely on subdividing fleets into smaller more autonomous units. This takes more work than just call primary and shoot.

    Honestly, CCP has never had any 'real' control on the PVP aspect of this game. They put stuff out there and let the players figure out the best way to use it. Then they watch the results and try to interpret what they should add to the mix next. (example: CCP originally made corps in the game, but it was the players that started alliances and so CCP added that as well.)

    So if players were to come up with ways that would make smaller autonomous fleets a 'thing' then blobs would start to go away. One simple idea is that using more than some critical number of ships to alpha an enemy ship is a waste. If it only takes 100 ships to alpha one enemy ship and you have 200+ people in your fleet then you are wasting 50% of your firepower. In this case they should divide the fleet into two 100+ fleets and alpha two targets.

    I can also remember other groups using tactics where they would 'seed' a ship or pairs of ships in every system within a region. These ships would work autonomously, but band together if a larger force was to confront them.

    It's really all in the hands of the players and how they choose to play. Yes, game mechanics currently dictate taht alpha is king, but knkowing that one should be able to adapt and avoid such things if they choose.

    So don't blame CCP, blame the FC's that opt for the more simple route of blobbing instead of trying out new things and pushing the game in other directions.

    1. So you're trying to say we need an Ender? "The enemy's POS is down"? I'm afraid it doesn't quite work like that in EvE. There's neither the controlled numbers-wise conditions like in the battle room (yes, Ender once went 1v2) nor any longer the WMD Ender used near the end of the book. The economies of scale are simply too great in the game as it stands.

    2. Wrong point about alpha. If you have too much alpha in your fleet, you just divide your guns. If you still have too much, divide further. I'd say a fleet of 200 alpha BS could probable have 4 weapon groups and still insta-pop most BS. There is no incentive ever to have fewer/cheaper ships than your enemy.

    3. You're only really considering 1 point of his reply and that is the alpha of the fleet.

      He proposed that fleets should be broken up into smaller fleets for autonomy, your proposition obliterates the idea of autonomy.

  6. CCP doesn't really want blobs, they want large good fights. But you are right, it would be too hard to change the blob now. One way to counter the blob is to make objects "physical". So you can't fly through a ship or shoot through a ship to hit something else. That would then force players to have to fight in formation etc etc

  7. Need some asymmetric warfare.

  8. In the Inferno Trailer, the speaker dude says, "Out here, progress is numbers." Considering CCP made that video, perhaps it can be seen as a telling indication of how they feel.

  9. The whole notion of “blobbing” seems pretty squishy to me. Sure 500 v 500 is probably blob v blob but players use the term for much smaller scales, “I was minding my own business when I got blobbed by 5 pirates!” Is 5 v 1 well chosen small gang conflict or mini blobbing?

    What’s the most powerful ship in EvE? Friendship. If you want to run solo you call this the n+1 “problem”. If you embrace friendship (and who wouldn’t, it’s an MMO for hell’s sake), you recognize there’s always a bigger fish and act accordingly.

    Crucial battles are crucial. Is it any wonder groups devote more and more resources to them? “Blobbing” is a “problem” when they bring more resources than you; when they are the bigger fish.

    Sure CCP could change game mechanics to make bringing more resources to a conflict difficult but if pursued too vigorously it would feel like punishment for having too many friends.

    1. I'll prefix this post with the point that I come from a history of using (and in some ways abusing) Second Life. Over there, its not uncommon to have users spend $15-25 a month on average just to engage in a casual social medium, no problem. I spent upward of of $200 a month for a short time, but unless you're reselling land that's unrealistic for the average player. $10 a month average for EvE is NOTHING compared to that.

      At some point, CCP will need to address the growing 'problem' in the industry toward shorter, casual gaming. You will find more and more trying Eve, liking it, but unable to leave HighSec because they spend maybe 30 minutes a day, or 2-3 hours a weekend, actively playing.

      PI and the reworked Faction War are examples on both sides of the equation where they seem to be getting it right. The new FW in particular seems to possibly scale from small to 'blob' sizes, and already has a community of their own to keep some general cohesion.

      I'd like to see more of that within both the Industry and Combat sides of the game. Reworking the POS mess is a good start, I'm glad to hear that's on the table for winter. Switching Moon Mining / T2 components to the PI format (and only allowing either a POS *or* a POCO anchored) would drive both sides in an interesting fashion as well.

    2. I used to say that you and the people you are flying with is "a fleet". The people who attack your fleet form "a blob".

      That does seem to be the most consistent definition I've heard out there.... Whenever you get killed, it was a "blob" that killed you.

      It's pretty clear what Jester's talking about here, though. He's talking about fleets that are so large that your individual actions become near-irrelevant. As long as at least sometimes you manage to get the primary locked before its dead, and you press F1, you're serving all of the role in the fleet that you are supposed to serve in it. Sure, every fleet has "DPS" pilots who are only supposed to do that, but the blob comes when it doesn't matter if half the DPS pilots don't get a primary locked in time because you've got so many pilots in fleet that you're just kind of sloughing around this gigantic sloppy continuum of starship rather than leading a bunch of pilots who actually fly their ships.

  10. I look upon corporations as some kind of gated community in RL. Your playing time is restricted by rules and regulations. YOU WILL CTA! etc.
    Presently I play the game solo, and according to the last statistics, so do 33% of players. I hardly ever read in blogs about solo players. Does CCP think about us, after all we are a third of their income.
    I am in a corp, but it is a one man corp. I might as well get the tax rather than give it to some NPC corp.
    I've been in the game 2 years and one month. I haven't reached that "magic" 3 years yet, and I am wondering what a solo player can do in this game. If I try to solo in null with my lowly SP, I might as well just commit (game) suicide.
    I would appreciate any thoughts on solo play. I would note that all your blogs Jester are about corporation play. You should think about the other third sometimes.

    1. I understand the point to play eve even solo. If done it some times too, but what do you EXPECT from it?

      You can be good. You might also be the BEST in what ever you do. But if two play together well (not even as good as you) they will achieve more.
      You can go out to 0.0 and make your solo roam and you will surely find victims. Engagements in "fair" 1vs1 but you might get stopped by three friends.

      Another option is to make wormhole expeditions. You can do those but don't expect that you can drop a pos for your self without getting attention of other residents.

      If you decide to play this game solo it is like you play X3 with an online highscore board. You can build up your industries, build up your wallet and foster your wealth. But you still need interaction with the community to some point. Well you already have since you sell stuff to players or buy stuff from them. Maybe you would count Chribba as solo player as he is one man in is own corp and alliance. But he interacts with the community (in large scale) so it isn't that much solo... is it?

      In short: what do you expect from solo play and what should be written about it? (there is a lvl 4 mission guide here)
      And what do you expect from someone like jester who lives for his corp friends and enjoys that to write about solo game play?
      Market pvp is somewhat solo "pvp" and was also covert by jester some weeks ago.

    2. "I've been in the game 2 years and one month. I haven't reached that "magic" 3 years yet, and I am wondering what a solo player can do in this game. If I try to solo in null with my lowly SP, I might as well just commit (game) suicide."

      With over two years of skill Training you should have more then enough SP to venture into 0.0 if thats what you want vOv

    3. This all depends on your definition of solo.

  11. "What’s the most powerful ship in EvE? Friendship."

    The My Little Pony's Space Adventures forums are over that away; these are the EVE forums, where people were killing you for your beans before it was cool.

    1. EvE lends itself well to group activity. When I murder, it’s often with a group. A group I trust. A group of Space Friends. If that’s “My Little Pony's Space Adventures” so be it.

  12. Just a note. Eve isn't the only game to have 1000 people in a fight. Planetside pulled it off for awhile with 300 x 300 x 300 player fights in Beta and at release. There was a lot of small gang conflict during these fights because the engagement was spread out over varying terrain and infantry were able to have impact on vehicles. After a few months there was a "balance pass" and vehicles were improved while infantry AT weapons were weakened. The result was infantry were almost always regulated to fighting indoors and the blob formed at the different bases. The only small gang warfare at that point was for vehicle drivers.

    Now, for Eve the biggest reason for the blob is supers and capitals. When any roam could get hot-dropped then there's not much incentive to go looking for a fight.

    Limiting supers, either through some form of mobile cyno jamming ship or reducing the range they can jump, will go a long way to creating an atmosphere conducive to small gangs but still let blobs be used in assault situations.

  13. I think there's a problem of terminology here. The word blobbing is inherently pejorative, it's automatically bad. Synonyms for the same thing that aren't bad include "epic fleet engagements", "battles", large scale combat, noob-friendly fleets etc. Some of the Rooks and Kings videos show conflicts that are really larger than "small gang pvp" but no one calls it blobbing because we all think it's cool.

    Really any pvp that isn't small gang or solo is likely to see one or both sides in blobs. There also is a considerable skill factor even there - a great fleet fc is a stupendous force multiplier so large actions aren't simply number-crunching exercises won by the most numerous.

    Is it bad for Eve? Ultimately if it's all about numbers then that should lead to null sec alliances becoming more newbie-friendly. It's no mystery that the nullsec coalition currently most successful is one dominated by alliances with a reputation for newbie-friendliness.

  14. Some feedback:

    Since a couple weeks the postings have been very boring. Instead of providing additional information and insight it had more the quality of "forum complains pushing personal agenda".

  15. Even the new war deck mechanics favor large alliances war decking smaller ones (costs too much to deck a large alliance) and, IMHO , it will force players to be in larger alliances to reduce high sec wars. CCP is not only unconcerned about small gang warfare: They are trying to consolidate smaller alliances into larger ones, therefor increasing the size of the blob...

  16. Not bad - an interesting analysis, Jester.

    You might have also included the fact that most of CCP's server side efforts, incl. a significant investment in upgraded server equipment, has primarily gone into supporting "blob" warfare.

  17. Thats a really bad analysis Jester. I could go into detail but I feel like I wasted enough time actually reading this.

  18. You are really hard hit by "bittervet" disease right? I'm sure you are following community events closely and how often devs talk in the feedback threads and take player feedback serious and implement it if it is needed. The problem with Blob is not that ccp wants it but that CFC is abusing it as the only way to fight.
    It is supported by large amounts of HP from structures. If you are going out to kill a station it makes a difference if you get 200 or 2000 there.

    The easiest way to counter blobbing would be time based actions. Use the hacking modules or something else besides gun power. maybe a ship which "places explosives" around the target but needs time for it. To kill of an SBU it only needs 1 hour. to get an i-hub in first reinforce it needs 2 hours.
    Once such mechanic exists you can decide whether you attack one target with your 2k men or spread out to hit 10 or more simultaneously. And it is much easier to force the blobbing power to split up since you can easily hit several targets a once. Currently if you try this tactic you end up with small groups that need a lot more time to accomplish the target and the blobber can just pass by and sweep off all of them since he knows you need very long with that numbers.

    However you did a good job by writing this but I don't share your pessimistic view of things. I play eve about 6 years now and it is always changing. The changes we have seen to FW with plexing look to me like counter blobing. Once we get rid of the current sov war game we might finally get more activity based mechanics to achieve targets and that would limit the use of blobs.

    1. I invite you to read the paragraph to the right of my character picture at the top of this blog. ;-) I write from the bitter-vet perspective and don't present myself otherwise.

      Still, there are reasons that people become bitter about the game and blobbing is one of them.

      I've noticed that my summer posts tend in general to be a bit more negative, probably because activity in the game itself slumps. As things pick up in the autumn, I become more chipper. So I suspect this too shall pass. ;-)

    2. don't worry, haven't missed that paragraph ;-)
      but yeah. sometimes it gets harder to see the good things in eve and blobing isn't one of those for sure.

      Will be interesting to see the game develop further and how the problem will be solved.
      To your "technological" or mathematical (how other say it is) problem: Maybe someday the server-side code of Eve will be able for multi threading (AFAIK it isn't) and one system is not limited to one CPU.

      Maybe somewhere in the future the mechanic is changed and we can shoot us in movie like battles.

  19. Good article. I'm with your argument most of the way, but it gets confusing at the end. You say that neither being in a small gang in the path of a blob nor being a member of a huge blob are any fun, and you say that "if the day comes when that's the only type of game play available in EVE, that will be the day I need a new primary MMO." But you go on to say that the end state in EVE will be two identical 2500 ship fleets with identical fittings fighting each other for no particular reason whatsoever. I think it would be hard to find a single person who thinks that that scenario sounds even remotely fun, and yet you say that CCP will be perfectly happy in this situation. That's the part I don't agree with. The day that this scenario comes to fruition is the day that EVE dies. No one is going to play a game that is that boring, and plenty of people will unsub long before the game devolves in to what you describe. If that's what CCP wants, then sure, they'll be happy.

    Certainly, though, you make a convincing case that the game is moving in that direction. It has been said many times that CCP's goal is to subtly push players into nullsec because players who join a nullsec corp are much more likely to stick with the game. Now, at the risk of sounding like an ignorant fool (and keep in mind that I am a highsec resident), what exactly are people DOING in nullsec these days? Sov warfare, as you pointed out, is pretty much non-existant right now. My impression is that basically everyone on each half of the map is blue to each other, and neither half sees any point and has no desire to invade the other half. It sounds like the most exciting things that happen in nullsec these days are the occasional Titan or supercarrier kill (for no reason other than "Oh look, a supercap, let's kill it"), usually because the pilot did something stupid. The Goons have nothing better to do than play market games with Technetium and gank highseccers for the lolz, and Titan pilots have nothing better to do with their 60-some billion ISK ships than go ratting with them. This is just conjecture based on what I've read, so maybe I'm wrong and there is more going on in nullsec, but from this perspective nullsec sounds pretty freaking dull and boring. So CCP is not succeeding in their goal of pushing new players to nullsec, and if they're happy maintaining (and even encouraging) the blob-tastic status quo, they will slowly suffocate EVE to death.

    Blobs are not good for EVE or CCP in the long run. Surely they have to recognize that on some level... right?

    1. So, do you agree that the blob problem will make EVE so boring that people will stop playing? You admit that you personally feel this way, and I have a hard time imagining there are many EVE players who DON'T feel this way.

      How can CCP not see a problem with this situation? Just curious what your thoughts are on this counter-argument, Jester.

  20. "The first game that makes a 500v500 fight fun and viable is still in gaming's future."

    It's called Planetside 2, beta is in less than a month and it's 666v666v666

  21. I appreciate your approach, Jester, disecting CCP's motivation. Now, as you say that business success is the ultimate goal (a sound motivation there), and you also clearly conclude the "end state" of EVE Online. Wouldn't that end state mean business failure ? Alliance lock-in or not, the end state you describe would make alliances leave EVE altogether.

    Regardless of being bitter vet or not, would you not want to take a stab at suggestions for "more fun" mechanics in order to save the business and, ultimately, the game ?

    Thinking of it....you are not really the suggesting type, are you ? You observe and reason, you might even extrapolate. But do you ever suggest outside of the comfort zone ?!

    1. I only go into "suggest" mode if I really feel like I've hit on something that other people have missed. CCP themselves have said it's more useful to them if players point out issues with the game *without* trying to solve them, since gamers are rarely good game designers (ironically). I've written on that topic before.

      Still, I'm going to think on this one. It's probably what I'd list as the second or third biggest issue with EVE right now. Far and away the #1 issue is attracting new players to the game, though.

  22. Its quite ironic really as in many ways the blob is the as much a 'risk adverse' method of play style than it is living in high sec.

    At the end of the day you play to win - and the key to winning is either be better OR bring more people; and since skill is relative and a risky variable its conseriably easier to be consistant and stick with blobing and each member of the team requires far less skill than it would if both fleets were of equal size.

    It also shows that the desire to win is greater than the desire to have a good time. You could in theory go into battle against the blob, 5 to 1 odd against you and have a real good time but know your going to lose. How many EVE players have thought that would be a good idea? To die in an epic fire fight?

    Its probably because it wouldn't seem epic - it would look like lambs to slaughter and you'd get laughed at for even considering it.

    N+1 is a factor that will always work for each and every MMO because the devs know that eventually you'll figure out that to win you need to bring more players to the game, so that you'll be encouraged to bring a buddy along to help you win. More players means more subs and obviously more money.

    The devil grass may take over the EVE world but its only a problem for the people who don't get a tidy profit from every field that grows. Maybe if EVE does hit that state it'll become a problem - but I'm pretty sure its a problem that CCP would LOVE to have

  23. Come live in wormhole space. The biggest blob we have is usually 20ish pilots, and the largest offensive cap fleet includes a single carrier.

    Couple that with the ability to hunt targets almost completely invisibly (unless someone has a listening post set up) and a constantly evolving set of neighbors/victims and you have the best environment eve has to offer.

  24. Another note on the blob. You can never really get away from it. In modern armies, the individual solider doesn't really matter. It's the units as a whole that makes a difference.

    The only way to get away from it is to stay in areas that promote small gang PVP

  25. I was thinking about this last night after reading your post, but I didn't have time to type up my thoughts.

    It seems to me that we can draw some parallels between RL military developments and EVE in this case.

    In the past, military engagements (away from the protective walls of cities in anycase) basically have a 1-to-1 correspondence with combat in eve. Massive blobs of people fighting each other. Whichever general can keep up moral and prioritize targets the best will give his army a sizable bonus. The skill of individuals is somewhat irrelevant.

    Now thing of present day warfare. It's really not like that at all. Presently, war is more of a 'small gang' type activity, with the occasional 'hot drop' (aka tactical drone strikes, etc.). Why is this the case? Well, I'm sure you could find (or invent) many possible reasons why this is the case. Some of it is probably that society doesn't want a mass slaughter of people. However, I would say that isn't the largest factor. Largely, the use of 'small gang pvp' IRL is caused by an increase in the value of the soldier. More training is required to get a soldier capable of operating in the conditions of todays battlefield. As such, losing your force is no longer a viable tactic. You won't be able to conscript villagers as spearmen for your army and train them (minimally) in a matter of weeks. Therefore, losing any portion of your army could be crippling.

    Why is this not the case in Eve? Because losing your force is (almost) never a crippling blow. There is absolutely no reason not to rush your entire army deep into enemy territory to strike at critical points. Who cares if everyone dies. There is no reason to be tactical about it. All you lose is your ships. Your 'soldiers' still have all the skills they had before. All they need to do is grab a new ship.

    Thus, the blob.

    I can't honestly think of anyway to solve this problem. There are no social forces in eve calling for a reduced number of soldiers. People are (generally) happy to volunteer for 'military' service. Also, technology is (fairly) static.

    The only potential source of such a change may be T3 cruisers. When a pilot loses one of these ships, he loses some skillpoints. Which is 'permanent'. However, it's a minimal loss, and T3's are not that common in large blobs.

    And in some sense, null 'blob' warfare does have some sort of 'small gang'. It's call AFK cloaking. That's about as far as a guerrilla warfare as gotten in eve.

    1. Zenver, you still see massed tank battles in wide open spaces like Iraq.

      The main reason why squad warfare is common at present is due to (urban) terrain.

    2. In EVE, the only "terrain" worth mentioning are jump gates and wormholes.

      The only terrain that limits unit size is a wormhole.

      Thus, if you hate blobbing, learn to like wormholes.


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