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, June 27, 2013

Don't do anything stupid

This one is yet again kind of philosophical, but something that I've been thinking about.

Five or six times a month, EVE players send me KOTW candidates that are essentially EVE players being frightfully dumb.  And from time to time, I have indeed featured these kinds of losses.  But I look into the whys a little bit first before I do, looking at character history or trying to understand if there's a reason for what they did.  And from time to time, I've held off featuring this or that kill because I talked to the person and they really just didn't understand how to play this game.  This is something that's in the nature of EVE: there's little documentation and only very few player guides, particularly about specific "dos" and "don'ts".

I got an e-mail this past week from someone who wanted to thank me for all of the guides that I'd written over the years, but told me that he was nevertheless unsubscribing from the game.  He just didn't feel like he was getting the hang of it, and felt like he was continuously making mistakes that were getting him trolled by corp-mates.  I got the impression that there was a straw that had broken the camel's back, but he didn't tell me what that was.  But honestly, he didn't have to because I could understand and sympathize with his situation.

There are few among us that haven't done something frightfully dumb in EVE Online.

And lots of times, I think it's because we simply don't realize why what we're doing is wrong.  Evidence to the contrary, very few people log into this game intending to do something stupid.  Sure, there are guides to playing EVE, but most of EVE knowledge comes down to experience.  And until you have that experience or encounter a situation and have it explained to you what you should do and how you should do it... how are you going to know?

This is something that I've felt myself from time to time, and the more I think about it, the more I think it's actually more of an issue after you've been playing EVE for several years.  When you first start out, the mistakes you can make are comparatively small.  Perhaps you can get a ship destroyed because you didn't know how to fly it, or because you forgot (or didn't know) to watch Local.  Perhaps your PvE group takes a few more minutes to tackle an incursion because you didn't know how to apply your DPS properly.  Perhaps your small gang loses a fight instead of winning it because your ship didn't contribute to the fight in the right way.  But the level of mistakes you can make in early EVE play is relatively minor and forgettable.  And these mistakes are generally avoidable: a good teaching organization like EVE University can see you safely past them.

Then, as you play for a few years, the potential down-sides of your mistakes become bigger: you can whelp a sub-cap fleet because the intel you provide is poor or because you're an inexperienced FC.  You can lose a capital ship by jumping it to a cyno you shouldn't have.  You can lose an expensive PvE ship or a hauler to gankers because you didn't understand the mechanics of how ganks work.  Even though you're more experienced at the game and should know more, any gap in your knowledge can have a correspondingly larger and more memorable effect.  Worse still, there's no corp in EVE that will teach you ways to avoid mistakes at this level.

At the highest level of play, when you're supposed to be the most experienced, that's when you can make the biggest, stupidest mistakes of all.  You can fail to realize that your alliance bills won't be paid this month, resulting in the loss of sovereignty over dozens of systems.  You can lose a corporation's nest egg or an alliance's sovereignty to a badly-researched corp thief.  You can jump a titan to a far-flung system instead of bridging a fleet there.  You can whelp whole super-cap fleets.

And at every level, these mistakes can be unintentional or accidental... or can happen simply because you don't understand this or that undocumented game mechanic.  When it's the latter, don't expect much sympathy from CCP.  They've shown from time to time that even losses -- even massive losses -- resulting from a misunderstanding of how game mechanics work are your fault, not theirs.  And these gaps in an EVE player's knowledge are both invisible and inevitable.  I can't tell you how many times over the years that I've said "Huh, I didn't know that" when some esoteric EVE mechanic is explained to me.

The more you think you know everything there is to know about EVE, the more likely you are to do something unforgivably stupid... because you're in a position to.

The funniest thing of all about this?  Getting educated about how EVE Online works?  That's your responsibility.  While lots of people in this game will be quick to point at you, laugh, and tell you how stupid you are, almost nobody in this game will explain why you're being stupid.  Now that I've had the opportunity to chat with EVE Online developers in an informal setting, I can tell you that this philosophy goes all the way up to that level.  More experienced players will rarely educate you because the successful do not want competition.  EVE developers will rarely educate you because -- I think, anyway -- they're concerned that knowledge given will be knowledge exploited.

In this way, EVE Online is kind of a game of chance: you have to hope that someone else makes that stupid mistake before you do, preferably in a position where you can hear about it, learn from it, and learn why it was stupid... without it being you that it happens to.  You're essentially playing this game hoping every day that you're not going to end up being an object lesson for someone else.  The lucky ones get to keep playing.

So... yeah.  That player that's unsubbing because he didn't realize why something he did was unforgivably dumb?  I can definitely sympathize.  EVE is a harsh, cold, dark universe, blah blah blah.  Don't do anything stupid, OK?


  1. Isn't it really just the potential consequences for failure that sets EvE apart? People do really dumb stuff in theme park games all the time because they didn't know what they where doing or how to do something that is only documented outside the game or taught by older players. Its just the worst that could happen is they get kicked from 5-mans or they have to pay a few more repair bills than others.

    About not sharing knowledge because of the fear of competition, Ive met lots of pvpers and mission runners who love sharing their fits, tactics and the dos and dont's. Getting a trader or industrialist to part with their arcane wisdom? Good luck.

    1. Getting a trader or industrialist to part with their arcane wisdom? Good luck.

      Bah humbug I say to you... Ever read "A Scinetist's Life in EVE" or "Mabrick's Mumblings"?

      I have sat (bored to effin tears personally but meh...) in 10 to 15 man mining fleets in Null where the ONLY banter on COMMS for HOURS was details of the how and why of Industry in EVE... I don't know who yer flying with, but it aint who I have and do fly with...

  2. If you keep just one rule, you can avoid ALL hurting losses: don't fly anything you'd be hurt if lost.

    The "jump instead of bridge" hurts because the guy just lost his only titan with 300M in his wallet. His mistake was having a titan. Hell, if your total assets are 90B, you shouldn't even have a supercarrier, stick to carriers and dreads. You lose one of those: you shrug and jump into the replacement.

    1. I think you mistake a stupid mistake for a mistake you can not aforde. They are totaly seperate things, allot of people who acidental their faction fit mission ship or their titan can likely replace it, but even so it could potentialy get them trolled mercilessly by the eve comunity. So how about you read the artical again and think before posting

  3. I would pay good money (or ISK, if the authors preferred) for an Eve user's manual that had the depth and insight of old PC games. Something that covered, literally, everything; from solo PvP to Planetary Interaction, to Sov Holding, to What the Fuck Does Agility Do Exactly? Seems like there are those of you out there smart enough to compile such a thing. It's an opportunity knocking. Who's going to answer the door?

    1. The the main part of the ISK guide is free to download and is a good starting point they are working on updating it for the last couple of release and should have them all published by Aug

    2. Have you ever heard of the ISK guide? There is a PvP version of it too, or so i heard. It is as close to a manual as it can get with EVE. And it was a horrendus amount of work from the 5-6 guys that worked on it.
      Maybe you can send ISK their way?;)

    3. A guide exists, it's name is ISK The guide : http://www.isktheguide.com/ !

      Problem : the last update was incursion, but they cover a lot of base, which can help bootstrapping a new player.*

      Another good source is Eve Evolved column, on massively, where a lot of guide / knowledge as been added with the time.

    4. isktheguide.com - Probably not the best, but definitely a good start for most of us who want to try out something new in EvE.

    5. Honestly those kinds of info is out there spread out.
      but most ppl don't know how to look for it.

      I am working on a PI guide for my corp and once its done I will publish it for everyone.

      Agility : http://www.eve-wiki.net/index.php?title=Agility

    6. I think an updated version Of ISK the Guide Volume 1 plus Volume 2 (that doesn't actually exist yet) might fit the bill.

    7. I have been playing over 2.5 years... Tur has over 40mSP and I am a very involved player and bloggers so I don't 'just' play EvE I think about it a lot too... I am focusing on Logi/Ewar and support roles for Tur as they are truly specialized (IE actually L33T) roles... and I like being an important cog in the big machine... but, I recently lost a Devoter to not knowing that with an active Warp Disruption Generator operating you cannot receive remote reps... made sense AFTER I died when I looked over the why and all, but who knew?

      EvE is the best reflection of the real world I have ever seen in a game environment BECAUSE there (1) it is sooo very deep and complex (<- why I oppose your stand on reducing complexity without very good cause Ripard) and (B) there is no frakkin Manual. I like that a 8 yo toon can eff up in amazing ways! Yea virtuality!

    8. http://www.isktheguide.com/ this is the closest we will get to an in-depth guide.

    9. Don't forgot the Eve University wiki. It has a large number of guide articles and class recordings that are available to anyone.

    10. TurAmarth, there is a saying in the gaming industry: Good games are "easy to learn and difficult to master" (http://www.wolfsheadonline.com/bushnells-theorem-easy-to-learn-difficult-to-master). If I read it correctly, that's what Ripard's stand is. Quite some things in EVE are just hard to do without much to master there. Not only doesn't that do much for improving EVE, but the opposite, it takes the fun out of it.

    11. EVE is easy to learn and difficult to master. A trend I have long noticed is players set their path in EVE within their first month playing. That's when the miners become miners, and the missioners become missioners. By about 3 months they have learned enough in their field of interest to survive.

      The Problem is most people stop there. They found a comfort zone and stop learning. Do you have any idea how many miners have No Idea of how to fit a ship for PvE or PvP after YEARS of gameplay? Do you have any idea how many mission runners think their deadspace/officer fit paladin will show those damn pirates in the wardecs?

      Call it ignorance. Call it complacency. The real problem people are facing is they stop learning. That classic EVE difficulty cliff image is more accurate the it realizes. People find their comfort zone and the curve stops and levels out. Then they remain ignorant about the other 98% of the game. How many people do you know could tell you about COSMOS? How many people you know knew a scrambler will kill the MWD on a combat drone or NPC frigate? How many people know how to correctly fit a POS to survive a siege?

      Do not stop learning. If you do not learn something new Every Day in Eve, your knowledge base is slowly becoming outdated and irrelevant. You are either growing, or you are dying.

      There is no in-between.

  4. As a response to the guy above me, http://www.isktheguide.com/ this get's pretty close, if you are willing to read all the pages. It doesn't really go into the dos and don'ts but it does explain allot.

  5. You could fetch the ISK.


    It has literally hundreds of pages written about the do-s and don't-s of eve. Go give it a try, the author is a friend of mine and a really nice fellow .

  6. Personally I make mistakes all the time. Just the other day I did something bone-headed and dumb and I'll probably do something else again next week. For me it happens, not because I don't know better, but because Eve inhabits a special place between pure fun hobby and serious RL work. I can't allow myself to take it completely "fun" and yet I also don't have the time or inclination to take it completely "serious" either. Which all boils down to one very important attitude regarding Eve, I don't care if I do something stupid. It happens. Just like jumping into an insta-locking gate camp, sometimes crap happens and there is nothing you can do about it.

    Those that venture, those that undock, take that risk. And risk is defined by many things, stupidity being one. Dumb is about perspective. Embracing perspective is about survival. And to survive in Eve one must embrace that perspective in order to survive.

    The "right" way is an illusion. It is right if it works and wrong if it doesn't. Move on.

  7. Such a blog entry ... rich in stuff to comment on!

    "While lots of people in this game will be quick to point at you, laugh, and tell you how stupid you are, almost nobody in this game will explain why you're being stupid."

    Couple thoughts here:
    1 - I wouldn't say "almost nobody," because there are plenty who will explain. Hell, there's *at least* one fairly substantial alliance predicated upon EXACTLY this point (don't think I need to point out who, do I?). That said, ratio of those who *will* help to those who'll just laugh at you is VERY heavily weighted toward the laughing ones. It *is*, after all, EVE.

    2 - Of *course* that ratio is what it is. Give up a tactical advantage?!? Sure you jest! Er ... wait. 9-)

    "Now that I've had the opportunity to chat with EVE Online developers in an informal setting, I can tell you that this philosophy goes all the way up to that level."

    Unsurprising, since many of them *have* played, once upon a time ... or so one might be led to believe, anyway. (Arguments about whether they need to once again *entirely* aside ... 8-P)

    "More experienced players will rarely educate you because the successful do not want competition."

    *DING* And, again, because they do not want to lose an advantage. But it's not a universal trait, just highly predominate.

    "So... yeah. That player that's unsubbing because he didn't realize why something he did was unforgivably dumb? I can definitely sympathize. EVE is a harsh, cold, dark universe, blah blah blah. Don't do anything stupid, OK?"

    Ask the sun not to shine, why doncha? This. Is. IMPOSSIBLE. If you play this game for any length of time, you WILL do something stupid. It's gonna happen, and all you can hope for is that the damage from it will be limited. It's EVE, after all. Best you can do is encourage people to try to fly smart. And there's no guarantee of that, either, at all.

  8. To anon above me, take a look at this http://www.isktheguide.com/

  9. This article really hit the nail on the head. As a noob, I was always hear: 'Don't mix guns.' EVENTUALLY, someone finally bothered to explain why. Took months. One time I pressed someone why you shouldn't, and he offered no explanation, just saying, it was a f-ng stupid thing to do.

    ...Now really. What does that really help? I can follow that advice blindly...but then I get to a ship like the old Typhoon...and...um...what. do. i. do?

  10. Bridging off the first Anon and Gevlon - Eve is no different, mechanically, than most other MMOs out there. I defy anyone to understand proper secondary stat prioritization in WoW (one of the more direct games out there) using just the in-game resources. Actually, just run an instance with a new player and be prepared to tell them to get out of the fire - the leveling game really doesn't prepare people for the idea that the floor may be trying to kill them.

    Losses in Eve are generally less dramatic when compared to other AAA MMOs if you follow the "don't fly what you can't afford to lose" rule. A bad run in a raid/expert/heroic will take about 30 minutes of questing to repair and resupply, activity you likely would not be doing without the bill. A ship lose in Eve? No more time than it takes to get to a station and reship. Your standard economic activity should be enough to cover your ship loses. If it isn't you need to fix one side of the equation or the other. Why do people *believe* that Eve loses are harder? Because they are thinking of the ship as a character and not as a consumable.

    The problem with learning in Eve is the community. You have put out some good information, so have some other sites, but it is nothing compared to other games. Add in that very vocal segment of the of the online player-base that loves nothing more than to tear people apart for any error and you get where the game is now.

    It is not going to change because there is no economic incentive for CCP to force a change. If Dust does as poorly as many people anticipate we shall see, but for now they don't really care about new player retention. Is that really a problem? I have a hard time believing anyone comes into Eve blind. You know what is going to happen when you enter space as a new character and the community does it's best to deliver on that expectation. Provided CCP is happy with the game size and subscription base why would they change a formula that seems to be working?

  11. Jester, this is hyperbolic.

    Yes, it's true that ignorance plays a part in stupid thing people do in EVE. But most stupid things that people do in EVE are because they are stupid and ignorant, not just ignorant. That guy who got himself killed in an industrial with 2B on board? It was not just ignorance. I occasionally carry stuff in highsec (in a freighter), and trust me I am very aware of the potential to die. I would never carry 2b in my freighter, much less in a wafer-thin industrial.

    And as for ignorance: EVE is very well documented for a thing of its size. I know practically everything I know about EVE from just reading a damn wiki, or playing with EFT and Evemon. (Or occasionally from playing the game itself.) Yes, I still end up reading wiki pages now and again because I am ignorant. But the smarter players know they are ignorant and try to minimize the damage from their ignorance by not taking huge risks with game mechanics they know they don't understand. Gevlon is right about that must characteristic bit of EVE lore: don't fly what you can't afford to lose. Just sticking to this simple rule would save so very much grief for stupid people. This rule is plastered all over everything you are likely to read about EVE as a newb. I am not sure how you can miss it. But people ignore it all the time.

  12. Johnny TwelveboreJune 28, 2013 at 6:41 AM

    "While lots of people in this game will be quick to point at you, laugh, and tell you how stupid you are, almost nobody in this game will explain why you're being stupid."

    This may be true but anyone is welcome to fight Tuskers in Hevrice and the vast majority of us will help out with advice afterwards. The last newbie who came into Hev and challenged anyone he could is now one of us.

    Fly fast,


    1. I'm pretty sure that guy joined Stay Frosty tbh.

  13. Don't sit at a WH grav site in a rorqual collecting ore from mining ships.

    Just don't. Trust me on this.

  14. An old professional musician once told me that what makes a pro is not whether you make mistakes--you will--but how you recover. That's what sets success apart from failure over the long term.

    Sometimes, the rules just suck. For instance, you can take a courier contract, deliver every single item to a destination under deadline, and fail the contract. How? By breaking the shrinkwrap so that you can fit the items into your Orca. The contract covers delivery of the shrink wrap, not the items within. That's an official answer from CCP. I asked. Welp. Learn something new every day.

    (And if you do this, by the way, the interface becomes really buggy and strange--the recipient ended up having to fail the contract too.)

    1. This makes perfect sense though. When I pay UPS to ship a package for me, they don't get to open the box and hand my recipient the individual items because it made it easier for them to fit it on their truck. You're getting paid to move a package, not getting paid to move a bunch of separate items.

    2. Sure. But it was still one of those lessons that I was only going to learn the hard way, and I posted more as a warning to others than as a complaint.

    3. Although I will note that UPS sets a max size and weight beyond which they simply won't take the package, and it's guaranteed to fit easily into their trucks.

  15. My most enduring attraction to eve is that I know I don't know everything and there's always something new to learn.

    Thankfully, I've found a corp where we try to look constructively at every mistake and learn from it. We encourage every new recruit, no matter how noob-ish or veteranly embittered, to continue to ask lots of questions even after they've been on board for months.

    Know-it-all-itis, or just the expectation of "casual" playtime, are the likely causes of these unsubs. If you're not constantly learning and improving your skills in EVE, you're falling behind.

    I don't begrudge the unsubs: sometimes playing EVE takes more mental energy than I have after a long day and I choose another game/activity. And when I log into EVE, I expect to play the digital equivalent of chess, not tic-tac-toe.

  16. For me, the lack of documentation has been the biggest obstacle to getting the most out of this game. When I first started playing, I didn't know that there was an Eve University where you could learn about the game. I started playing because I had a friend who used to play, I really didn't know that it was a harsh game with substantial consequences. As far as I knew, it was WoW in space. I didn't even know that there was a difference between high or low security space, or that ganking was a thing. Even to this day I keep finding things that I 'should' know, such as that the D Scan is based on camera position and not ship position.

    The position of the developers is much like the position of a college professor. You must take the effort to learn the topics instead of being shown every step. The difference is that you have some idea of the gaps in your knowledge when you are in college and have the ability to fill those gaps. Playing Eve is like talking a class that never meets, has no suggested reading, no syllabus, only a final exam.

    To me, the model that CCP uses to retain players is the same one that the Nigerian Prince scammers. It is a process that naturally selects the ideal target. If you are gullible, greedy, or ignorant enough to fall for the initial email, you are likely going to fall all the way into the scam. This allows the scammers to not waste their resources on people who will leave once things start getting suspicious. In Eve, if you can put up with the game play long enough, chances are that you will be the kind of player that doesn't mind things like the lack of documentation. Since the player base consists of these players, why should CCP start providing it now?


  17. What I tend to hate from my community is the Elitist 'that fit will never work' mentality from Incursioners that say that then DON'T say why just leave the newbie lingering with questions no answers except: its a shitfit.
    I do often fly newbie fleets but it does wear you down when an 30-60 billion shiney fleet does curb stomp you & then attenpts to follow you around in compeittions.

  18. Well, since you opened this topic (of people calling out mistakes but not explaining them): I would much appreciate if you would do this more in your KOTW posts. Sometimes you do, but not often enough for my feeling.

    I must admit, when you call a ship misfit, often I am not able to point out why exactly. Could be a first comment if you don't want to clutter the post itself. I remember a post (some months ago) where you even teased, that there are at least 7 (or 8?) mistakes. I found 3 or so... and missed the "spoiler" section/comment which would explain the rest to me.

    Thanks for reading/considering.

  19. Regarding the people who point and laugh and ridicule, but don't explain: I don't think that the majority of those is concerned about explaining away a personal advantage.

    I think they don't explain, because that would require /effort/ and /time/. It's so much easier to just type 'L2P' and move on.

  20. "that knowledge given will be knowledge exploited."

    In New Eden? Really? LOLOLOLOLOL. Thanks for the chuckle and keep blogging. No need to publish this comment. It's not really contributing. Just wanted to say thanks.

  21. Maybe they do stupid things because they truly are stupid. The information is out there. You can lead the horse to water but can't make him drink. "How do I undock" oh I don't want to do the tutorials.

    I don't know how many times my CEO has sent out Eve mails and said in Teamspeak not avoid trade hubs and not to run missions in war. Three billon ISK losses in a week 90% were in trade hubs. Stupid people will do stupid things. The only hope is they will rage quit before they cause too much damage.


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