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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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Go buy a ship

Former EVE Online blogger, now legit game journalist Mat Westhrope has started covering Star Citizen, and over the weekend, he covered a little fund-raising event they did over the weekend.  Go read his article, which is concise and well-written and worth your time.  I'll wait.

There's two things going on here.

First, there's the fund-raising aspect; Star Citizen has been crowd-sourced from the very beginning, of course.  But in the weeks since the official crowd-sourcing was closed, there have been periodic requests for additional funding, usually attached to promises of additional features if the additional funding is secured.  The good news is that this has allowed the Star Citizen developers to nearly double their funding even since the official crowd-sourcing was closed down some months ago.  But on the not so good end, the constant requests for additional funding are becoming a little bit off-putting.

Hell, I'm a self-confessed Chris Roberts fan-boy and this stuff is starting to put me off.  ;-)

It also raises the uncomfortable specter of privilege within what will be the Star Citizen universe.  Something that has always aggravated me about EVE Online is the sense among the "played since beta" set that the game somehow belongs to them and the rest of us are fundamentally unworthy to play it somehow.  Entitlement disease always frustrates me and some EVE players have it pretty bad.  And these sorts of "buy a special ship!" fund-raisers threaten to bring that disease into Star Citizen as well.  I found this quote -- from one of the purchasers -- particularly off-putting:
I bought one because I wanted to support RSI, which is all your doing in the end. There are now 300 people with LTI corvettes. 200 of which are dumbed down "civilian" versions of them which costed 25% more, which is fine by me.
So there are 100 smart people, and 200 dumb people.  Thanks for that.  That really makes me want to jump into a game with you.

The second thing that bugs me a bit is this:
Thankfully, these significant real money investments are at least protected. Each purchase comes with LifeTime Insurance (LTI) which will ensure that the vessel will always be replaced if destroyed or stolen.
OK.  Not every game is EVE Online, where something once destroyed stays destroyed.  And honestly, I wasn't expecting Star Citizen to follow this pattern.  But this LTI thing takes things just a little too far, in my opinion.  I suddenly had this vision of having one of these ships and naming it Prometheus's Liver, which in the legend regrew every morning after a vulture tore it out the night before.  Does that mean that one of these 300 people can somehow contrive to have their precious ship "stolen" every single day or every single week (for a hefty fee, of course), only to have it returned to their hands?

In short, does that mean the rest of us might get the occasional sniff of the smart person ship?

Yeah, I've gotta say that's a little off-putting to me as well.  This game isn't even out yet and there are already haves and have-nots, already those who are investing the game with a pay-to-win culture.  In a word: ugh.


  1. AFAIK there was something about paying for citizenship. Citizenship being a status thing that determined your place in society... or... something ...

    I only pledged enough for future closed beta access during the Kickstarter, so I don't particularly have too many strings attached/invested.

    It looks nice, and it'll be a nice distraction from EVE; but... I just don't see it being a huge threat to EVE's niche (EVE's niche is not internet spaceships).

    So yeah, it might just be yet another mistress to cheat on EVE with, but in the end we'll always come back to EVE; usually crying and on our knees, begging.

    I wish I could say the same for DUST, but that's a different can o' worms.

    1. So true...

  2. I'm interested in Star Citizen and hope it will be good but with the LTI and special ships for the early bird it might end up in a two class society.

    If you played eve since beta you might be very rich and have all the stuff you wanted but it still can be destroyed. The only thing in eve the separates old players from newer ones (IMO) are T2 BPOs as they are virtually undestroyable.

    We will see how Star Citizen will manage its economy. Will be hard with persistent ships that are simply replaced out of thin air.

  3. If you can steal ships in SC, what keeps the lucky players from sharing their capitals with their friends? So they meet in space, their friends take over their ship, and thanks to the insurance he has a new capital in the next day.

    And after some days every member in your group will have his own special capital ship.


    1. Here you go. Have a read. That goes for you too Jester.


  4. "Something that has always aggravated me about EVE Online is the sense among the "played since beta" set ..."

    How many of those people still play EVE Online? I couldn't even name one "played since beta" player ... so this entitlement complex that you claim exists ... well, I've not encountered it yet.

    1. Can say that I did not got some breaks, but yeah got an beta account, still a noob :p

    2. There was what 5 of them at fanfest? Who have never unsubbed anyway.

    3. Damn typo,
      meant to say:
      "Can´t say that I got no breaks, ..."

  5. Which pledge tier did you pick Jester? I've been at the $30 tier since the Kickstarter drive, but the promise of an LTI Constellation is really making me want to up my pledge. It seems like it would be very versatile.

  6. [TL;DR: don't bet on a Goonswarm-esque mentality taking hold in SC.]

    One sense I get is that in SC, players may have to get used to not being the most powerful entities out there. It's not like EVE, where even the rawest scrub player is an immortal demigod; you're just a normal guy with the ignition keys to a spaceship.

    And the culture's definitely going to be different; I'm pretty sure that Roberts and company have stated flat-out that insurance fraud could get your policy revoked, and it's easier to do an insurance fraud investigation when you've got essentially a perfect recording of the incident for which the claim is being submitted. Scamming and griefing and rule-lawyering your way out of adverse consequences doesn't seem to be quite as compatible with SC's ethos as it does with EVE's.

    I actually backed SC, and I didn't do so to gain an advantage over other players; the money I put in was an investment in the sort of game I've wanted to play since I was a kid, the sort of game I was disappointed I couldn't quite play when I first created an EVE account. Let's face it; in EVE, you're not flying an internet spaceship; you're commanding one. You have control of your ship's modules and weapons, but to get the thing to move, what do you do, even in a frigate? Order an approach, an orbit, a warp, or point in a direction and order a speed.

    It doesn't scratch the itch for someone who wants a game that lets him or her get into a virtual cockpit, grab a stick and throttle, and fly. That, to me, is the charm of the old space games, like Wing Commander, like X-Wing, like Freespace, like Independence War. And I suspect many of the SC backers feel similarly; they understand that they're not paying to win, but paying to invest in the best game Roberts and company can produce. That's why I backed the game.

    Yeah, there'll be elitists and [censored]s in the community. That's true anywhere, and sadly, most communities don't have adequate safeguards against sociopathic elitists. But most communities don't encourage and lionize the utter [censored]s the way EVE does, and I've got a sneaking suspicion that some people who try to bring an EVE mentality into SC might be in for a rude awakening.

  7. The perspective is a valid one, Jester. I totally understand your point. Particularly the life-time-insurances may later be to Star Citizen what the T2 BPOs are for EVE Online : a desease.

    But I believe there is a flip-side to the story, Jester, which you did not mention. I feel it is worth pointing out and then one can discuss the pros and cons.

    Chris Roberts, overwhelmed by the success of the crowdfunding campaign and the desire of players to throw money at him, now wants to make this the first AAA game that is fully funded by players without ANY investor involvement. That is pretty exciting stuff ! And it had not been the plan initially, where the gap between the campaign to the 20M projected budget had been to be funded by investors.

    Now, I do understand that in order to collect more money, Roberts needs to offer something to the players. He won't go all the way with the "subscriptions" -- which are premius access passes to development information. In-game perks are just the most flashy thing to offer. And I also understand that more people are likely to spend 50$ on a virtual ship if you tell them that this money won't be lost as the first pirate comes around. I mean, AUR gear in DUST is throwaway, yes, but not that expensive per death.

    So, from a marketing standpoint, I fully understand the move. If it the CONs, which you pointed out, Jester, outweigh the PROs ( i. e. AAA crowdfunding ) stands to be seen in how LTI works out in the game. Would you not agree ?

  8. This makes me curious if you've thought about giving World of Tanks another go, as they've done a lot in the past year or so to remove some of the supposed "pay to win" stuff? Or are you still against it on the merit that gold should be something available to everyone? (Although nowadays, it sort of is - in a roundabout way, through certain specials and contests)

    Or do you just not care enough about it to bother? :)

  9. Pay-to-win............ Please define 'win' in the context of Eve and then demonstrate Star Citizen has a similar basis.

  10. EVE also has "LTI" in the form of noob ships, no? But it's not a problem because of how noob ships are balanced against the rest of the game. As long as Star Citizen makes sure these perpetual ship replacements are similarly non-competitive, I don't see the problem.

  11. So I'm guessing EVE and the CSM are keeping you from keeping up with some of Star Citizens details.

    But other than offering us the chance to buy ships now with LTI. Chris Roberts, has speciffically stated on the front page, that he does not want anyone to feel obligated to pledge more. (I plan on getting a variety of the ships as the brochures come out but that's just me) They appear to be offering more variety to get the people hanging out at the website incentive to pledge but its your choice. Every ship that's offered through the pledge process has been stated to be available in game for in game credits.

    The only thing about your post I have a concern about is the insurace for stolen ships. Getting a replacement ship could be abused. But if there was some player manufaturing control and you just got the credits to replace it then I think that could balance it out. But yes if a new ship spawned in your hanger everytime time your ship was stolen that could become a problem fast. However it ends up working I have faith there will be some controls in place by the time the game goes live.

    I haven't seen anything in the game that is anymore pay to win than Plex is in EVE.

    1. http://www.eidolonius.com/ for more info.

    2. "I haven't seen anything in the game that is anymore pay to win than Plex is in EVE." - Mainly because that is the kind of p2w that Roberts want to implement in the game as his business model. Buy the same stuff everyone else buys with RL money if you lack the time or patience to farm it on your own.

      Is gold rule, and he stated several times so is: I shall not not advantages for dollars that can not be achieved ingame otherwise. GW2 was used several times as reference.

  12. Shocking realization: the most vocal parts of every MMO's population are spergs with no interpersonal skills and a tendency to lord their digital possessions over others as compensation for the fact that people in real life actually hate them. What a shock.

    Every online game has this part of its culture and it's always loud and annoying. I really don't see this as any kind of ding to a game. In fact, it registers as a non-issue to me.

    As for the way those ships will work, yeah that's kind of game breaking. They might want to rethink that a bit.

  13. The LTI covers more or less the hull and a t1 fitting if I want to use eve terms. You do not really want to fly with such a fitting once you have the money for the "good stuff". Furthermore insurance rates itself should not be very high, in this regard the game seems to become very different from eve, as the game want to encourage battles and tries to stay away from creating a culture of risk averse "elite pvp" players. Sounds good in my book, as this is the biggest drawback of eve in my humble opinion.

    Losing a ship stays meaningful, while at the same time it should be nothing that you become afraid of.

  14. Dinsdale PirannhaJuly 1, 2013 at 8:34 AM

    The more I read about Star Citizen, the less I like it. I was really hoping it would be an alternative to the null sec RMT cartels that control Eve, but when a company already sets up players with a "no-loss" certainty, years before the game is even released, that is just plain wrong.

    1. Just basic hulls and starter fittings. I don´t really think that this is a big issue. It is less an issue than plex for sure.

  15. I recall reading something about the difference between abuse of the LTI and "normal" use (i.e. getting shot by enemy players or NPC's). Also, from what I've read (which certainly is not all) you don't get your cargo or (necessarily) your upgraded guns. And you can insure your ships in-game as well, for in-game money. The LTI sounded (to me, but hey, I play EVE) as a lifetime insurance for the hull + basic fittings only, without additional pay. It's not as if you'll respawn at the same point in the mission.

    And yeah, it's not EVE. Let's wait to see what comes out (as the design document for an early version of Freelancer, by mr. Roberts, sounds like a design checklist for EVE).

  16. "Does that mean that one of these 300 people can somehow contrive to have their precious ship "stolen" every single day or every single week (for a hefty fee, of course), only to have it returned to their hands?"

    In theory, no. We'll see how well CIG is able to control it, but that's been addressed a number of times, with the threat of loss of insurance, and the possibility of account bans.

  17. Free life-time insurance is a benefit for early pledgers, but how much of a benefit that is depends on how expensive insurance will be to buy, and is currently unknown.

    Regarding the sort of insurance fraud you mention, that was discussed on the Star Citizen forums at the time life-time insurance was announced, and is something that Chris Roberts believes will be easily handled.

  18. LifeTime Insurance (LTI) which will ensure that the vessel will always be replaced if destroyed or stolen. This... EvE does not EVER 'replace' your ship and Insurance is never 100%...

    This may be right for Star Citizen (an elfs everywhere...) but it aint for me.

    1. Platinum Insurance was abused more than once to get more than 100% payout. But I am sure you are aware of that and just like to do whatever you do.

    2. Keep in mind that just because the ship will be replaced (again, with basic fittings) it doesn't mean there's one available right this minute. It's been mentioned that for some ships, ie. the Idris Corvette, it could take a while for that insurance replacement to be ready for you.


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