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, April 22, 2012

Abusive relationship

Not exactly the comment of the week, but I had an alliance-mate ask me what I thought was an interesting question related to my "Perception is reality" post the other day.  The question, paraphrased, was basically "If EVE is such an awful game and its players are so terrible to each other, why do we keep playing it?  Why do people who unsub come back to it?"

The most basic answer is: what choice do we have?

When it comes right down to it, EVE basically has a monopoly on a certain MMO style.  And even if this gets me flamed, it's still true: "Internet space ships" are only part of it.  As this amusing little article put it, what EVE has that other MMOs don't is a combination of the sandbox and "old school Ultima Style PvP".  If EVE suddenly and magically transformed tomorrow into a fantasy-based game, but everything else about it stayed the same, I'm not convinced that the game would lose very many players.  Hell, it might even pick up some new ones.  ;-)  Because at the end of the day, the space ships are almost incidental.  A lot of us play this game zoomed so far out that those little squares could be space ships, archers, fighter planes, or animated tangerine creatures.  All we care about are the actions and the tactics, the personalities and the stories.

There just isn't a lot of competition in this arena, you know?

CCP Guard was interviewed by Lost in EVE last week.(1)  He was asked whether he played other games, and without naming names, he indicated that he did.  And he said that "like many of us", he sometimes stops playing EVE for a while to play other things.  But in the end, those games don't get his brain involved and he said he always comes back to EVE.  He didn't mention if this was before he was a dev, or now that he is a dev.  And I don't think it occurred to him to specify.  That's how EVE is, whether you work for CCP or not.

What this is not is a wife staying with an abusive husband because she's hoping she can change him someday.  This is a wife staying with an abusive husband because he's quite literally the only man on Earth.  ;-)

The real question will be what happens if EVE ever gets some real competition.  We saw a bit of that last year when the summer of rage drove hundreds of EVE players to Perpetuum Online.  But what Perpetuum does wrong, in my opinion, is that it copies EVE too closely.  It has only a few unique features of its own.  Those good elements are balanced by the fact that it's a very young game competing with a very mature one with so many more features.  So Perpetuum is always going to come out looking second best simply because it doesn't have the development time into it that EVE does.

In EVE, the player-base itself is often the content, and it takes time to build up the sandbox to generate the stories.  It takes time for this element of the game to emerge.

Any competition that EVE gets -- if ever -- will likely suffer from these problems.  Anything that gets launched in today's gaming climate is going to stumble out the door with only a small feature set that is going to look sub-par next to EVE's ten years of development time.  And then it's going to pray for enough revenue to develop into real competition.  It's also going to have to pray for its own Guiding Hand Social Club story or Goon versus BoB story to launch its initial sandbox meta-game.

But that assumes that some game developer will ever look at sandboxes and meta-gaming as something worthy of competition.  You'd think that Diablo III would buy into its harsh, cold world and make PvP non-consensual, for instance.  But from what I hear, that's not only not the case, but even the ability to perform minor griefing like path-blocking will be prevented.

How much DUST 514 will buy into this aspect of the EVE universe is something that I'm keenly interested in...  Can CCP capture lightning in a bottle twice?  DUST's long-term success may well hinge on their ability to do this.

(1) This interview will also be the source of my Quote of the Week tomorrow.


  1. "Can CCP capture lightning in a bottle twice?"

    Tell you what, dusties better build their metagame themselves...

    ... or we will do that for them

    .. and they won't like it.

    1. The problem with this meaningless threat is that Dust is just another FPS(albeit free).

      And when all they experience is grief, they will have NO problem whatsoever to delete the fracking thing and go back to wherever they came from.

  2. Having Diablo 3 be even remotely griefable would nix a potential revenue stream for Blizzard, so they'd never even think about it. They're going to be making money hand over fist due to the ridiculous RMAH that's in the game, and they're catering it totally towards PVE, with PVP being only an incidental way to get more money.

    They started the attempts to milk out extra cash in World of Warcraft, with all the pets and mounts and everything else getting purchased with cold hard cash. That went well, and then, it could be argued, a large portion of the whole Monoclegate debacle was because EVE, like many MMOs, tried to copy that aspect of things - and learned too late that WoW was really the only subscription MMO that could successfully pull it off.

    So they're drilling WoW to get as much extra green oil as they can, and now drilling into - and thus breaking - some of the core concepts of Diablo as well, and insuring that nothing could be construed as taking away from that cash stream. To be honest, at this point I'm just wondering how they're going to violate Starcraft to get extra cash, next.

    1. You mean like, for instance, breaking Starcraft 2 into 3 separate games to charge $180 for it?

    2. IMHO they already did that by splitting Starcraft 2 into 3 different releases.

    3. Not really relevant IMO, they're charging expansion pack price for the next two bits, and there is a ridiculous amount of game in SC2. More then enough to justify the price without it being gouging.

    4. I really don't see a problem with SC 2 having expansion releases for each of the new races. The campaign for terrans alone is more than most other games you buy these days.

      Also, I don't mind paying for quality. (Cost of SC 2)/(time spent playing) = value per dollar.

      Also, Blizzard is really targeting the mass market with games like WoW which is why it's very EvP friendly. Most people want to relax when they play games and PvP tends to be stressful for most people (esp non-"gamers" ie, the mass market).

    5. I do not mind either, as my sc2 campaign was free.
      But I was a little bit surprised that they sold a game at premium did only offer a short campaign AND charge for each family member extra if you want to use to online features.

      No four-packs with discount, no family packs, just pay 50 bucks for each one in your household who wants to play the game online. Starcraft even got a multiplayer spawn installation for free, the least they could have done would have been to offer two MP keys per game, which can not be used simultaneous. In that case I think I would have even paid twice.

      *shrugs* Maybe I buy the expansions, maybe I will using again just a guest pass to play the campaigns.

      On the topic of diablo: All I can say I prefer Eric and Max Schaefer's vision, so I skip d3 and just get torchlight 2 twice for coop.

  3. i think you're missing a point here ;

    not everyone on eve like griefing.
    do you really think the 66% of guys playing on high sec like it ?

    even if i'm now part of a nullsec bloc, and killed a lot of poor little things, i did not came to eve for the metagaming, i came here because the players really had the market and owned the land.
    sure this is way easier with metagaming, maybe it even need it, but for me metagaming/griefing is not a goal, it's only a mean to achieve goals.

    what i like on this game are :
    - the original sci fi universe
    - the fact we create the market
    - the fact we really have a property on the land

    i don't care about metagaming, i don't care about tears, i'm not here for that.
    hell for a very long time i wasn't even here for non-consensual pvp.

    but you're right on the big point : i do not have a choice.
    cause even if there's big think i don't like on eve, what i like is not available anywhere else, and i always come back to eve after i leave.
    and i'm sure lots of carebears feel the same.

  4. hmmmm...well, honestly, i found that i even liked mining in runespace (was dating some woman at the time who played it) so they don't have to be asteroids.
    I looked at perpetuum and it looks like a mechwarrior mmog (haha where's my Locust!)
    Star Trek online? sounds fun. maybe if CCP goes under like JumpGate i'll try that next. probably no rocks to mine.
    Maybe i should try "Rise" that seems almost a modern version of "Elite" of olde.

    But, i'm getting ahead of myself: what about World of Warcraft? I've never played it once, and consider it to be popular because of it's risk-free easy playstyle. Which i suspect i'd abhor. Besides, there's ELVES in the game. blech.

  5. Didn't Darkfall try to be griefer central of fantasy mmo and look where they are now. There is more to eve than PvP, this is why we keep coming back to it. End of the story.

    1. Darkfall isn't sinking because of the griefers.

  6. Interesting... so you feel companies shouldn't be in business to make money? Do you believe in this so strongly that you work for free too? Grow up.

    If you had the choice between selling 300K of item "X v1" or 1M of item "X v2", but to do so you would piss off a large percentage of the orginal people who bought "X"v1, in truth, what would you do?

    We are a niche market. All we can do is pray is that CCP does not change it's target market... though why they wouldn't, I can't guess.

  7. The 66% of eve that stays in highsec are subject to the same rules as the other 34%. Those soft targets are a part of what makes eve seductive. The guy that loses his ship in lowsec pvp...well what'd he expect? No tears, no earth shattering news about someone losing a Battlecruisers in lowsec. Now thr guy that loses his miner in highsec or a vindicator to a ninja salvager...suddenly tears and rage!

    The illusion of highsec safety keeps those people that would otherwise be playing some risk less mmo like WoW to CCP and the 34%s advantage.

    1. Yeah but a lot of people in hi sec that rage do so because they don't have the isk/sp/knowledge to do something about it. (Hence the "non-consensual") To say that all 66% of them are all care-bears is entirely false. Many of them are not care-bears but cubs that are attempting to grow into actual bears with actual claws and actual teeth. But I can't argue with the rest of it. The ability to actually impact the in-game world is addictive, but the ability to impact other players in-game is even more addictive. And once the space-pixels settle, that's what makes the 34% (or maybe griefers in general) keep coming back. It remains to be seen whether this will prove sustainable in the future. At the moment, in spite of many actions by CCP to nerf griefing and make EVE more newbie/carebear (there is a big difference there) friendly, the simple accumulation of sp and isk over the years by older players (and many griefers fall into this category) makes it almost impossible for them to compete/retaliate, which makes the game incredibly harsh. And newbies are the ones who actually pay subscriptions.

    2. "The ability to actually impact the in-game world is addictive,"
      Wait, what?
      What part of the "world" do you impact in a concrete and meaningful way? You can farm ... ahem excuse me, "fight off" an Incursion, that has temporary effects in the game world, but ... otherwise even FW (as it exists now) has NO impact on the _actual_ game world.
      That's actually one of the biggest problems with the game: players can affect each other, but the world itself? Nope. Hisec and lowsec are etched in stone. The belts will always be the same, the stations the same, kill thousands of rats in the system, and thousands more will spawn. Eradicating the pirate threat (player or NPC) doesn't raise sec status, pies (player or NPC) running rampant and unchecked doesn't lower it.

      Even in the Sov world, all that _really_ changes is the lil orange name in the upper left corner, a new alliance pays the bills... even having "upgrades" to sov systems doesn't change the truesec. You can build an outpost, but that's really all you can do to change the "geography" even in Sov space.

      Now if players COULD actually affect the game world itself in a very meaningful and concrete way... THAT would be a truly addictive game.
      ^^ btw thanks for helping fuel teh fire for a new entry of my own. ;-)

  8. Nope - I've been playing Eve exclusively for four years 'cause I like to fly around in internet spaceships.

    I like the ships. I like the work done on the planets and space backgrounds. I like the backstory, the stations, the jump gates, the asteroids, the effects, and everything else that creates the immersive feel of being in a truly sci-fi MMO (and not a sci-fantasy POS like Star Wars - any universe that has Ewoks is a big loser in my book).

    More PVP in Eve? Why bother? If I want to PVP, I'll go pick up a FPS (oh, yeah, Dust 514).

    Non-con PVP, metagaming, and all the immature drama of the asshats - don't need it, and don't care about the whining. Quit, don't quit - who really cares? Get rid of null sec, wardecs, ganking et al altogether and replace it with WiS. You whiners account for a rather small percentage of the player base, anyways.

    Changing Eve gameplay and reputation to make it more friendly and acceptable to new players means that CCP can survive to keep on making the game bigger and better - and that works for me.

  9. I doubt that Eve will ever have any competition.

    No other game company in their right mind would invest the necessary money to develop a competitive 3D MMO, just to cater to a minority player base, esp. one which regularly throws tantrums and causes all sorts of RL drama/problems for the game company, incl. actively discouraging new subs (via ganking, scams, lies, betrayal of trust, blackmail, fraud, theft, threats, abusive ranting in local, etc), as well as boycotting new and costly product developments (WiS, Dust 514).

  10. This is something I started investigating last summer. A game like Eve that anyone but CCP was making. I wanted to quit Eve so badly. Perpetuum started looking nice, but it seemed too 2d and clunky after playing Eve. I want the space ships. I like the immense feeling of being in space. I don't want to plug a joystick into my system to fly either. So yeah it's Eve or nothing.
    Another thing that you have hit on without imo going all the way. You have talked about the maturity of CCP, that the innovators are gone in a more mature company. You also point out the solutions of CCP Greyscale as taking the easy way out. To me this is troubling for our game. Although I get a feeling that their resources are being driven toward Dust. I wonder is the innovation gone for Eve?

    1. Like everybody else you are overlooking Trek Online. Granted, last summer there were in the middle of shitspace, having to basically rewrite/engineer the game for F2P.
      But they are now in the middle of their own "Inferno" / "Eve-space comes 1st" development cycle.
      They just introduced mining no less, in an actual EVA Suit&cute minigame. :)

      They are the ONLY ones with the potential to become another sandbox, if enough players steer them right. They already have the only "free modding" tool in the industry called the Foundry. That you can create your own missions in.
      But the EVE elitists somehow have decided they are too good for those nerdy Trekkies. Suit yourself.

  11. I suspect (at least in part) the root of it isn't so much carebear vs leet pvp'er as hardcore gamer versus casual gamer.

    Casuals do not have the ability to devote the same amount of timing grinding sec status in belts or running high value sites to maximise income as do the more hardcore.

    Nor can they sacrifice sleep and/or family time to meet an alliance side 2am CTA. Or at least not without incurring serious wife aggro.

    There is opportunity cost in every facet of EvE. The casual gamer wants fun while maximising income, the flip side of which is minimising risk so that limited time is not wasted.

    The hardcore gamer can be the reverse as they can spend that time. Blew up my faction fit tengu? No worries, I'll spend hours chaining high value rats in my corps home system.

    IMHO - we should never make high sec totally safe as it would destroy the uniqueness that EvE has. Don't break the sandbox in other words.

    The issue for me is more how CCP can market, attract, and more to the point keep (casual) players for long enough that the siren song can do it's sweet, maddeningly frustrating and (occasionally) totally rewarding work.

  12. A large abandoned tower in a C2 W space system? Check. A bunch of players in shit fit battle cruisers trying to take it down (probably just for the kill mail)? Check. Warp on top of them in a Heavy Interdictor, turn on the warp disruption field generator, and trap the ships that didn't manage to warp out? You could smell the panic :) You're right, there just isn't any other game like this one...

  13. I think the abusiveness of EVE is way over-rated. During my 3 months of playing, I was ganked ONCE. When I was 3 days old and went to low-sec. Lost 3M and learned not to go there until I have stealthy ships. Since I know that I find EVE just as "evil" as WoW. Or even less as I'm not forced to play in groups with idiots.

    The "evil" image come from idiots who ask for being ganked by doing things like autopiloting with a 500M+ in cargo, undocking while wardecced (why are you in a player corp in the first place if you don't WANT PvP), going lowsec without stealth, mining next to Jita in a Hulk during Hulkageddon and something like that.

    If an intelligent player makes a stupid newbie mistake, he learns from it. If a moron does the same, he cries on the forums.

    EVE is a nice, friendly, open-ended game for anyone with brain. It's an abusive hell only for idiots.

    1. QFT

      I can pretty much say that I completely agree. I've never had any trouble with 'griefing' in eve. It's so easy to just move away from someone who you don't want to interact with Burn 20 systems, no one is going to follow you.

      I think the most griefing I've ever had was a few days ago on the test server I did a frig 1v1, and was pointed with him being out of range of my weapon system for about 30 minutes (note to self: bring precision rockets next time) ...and I could have just self-destructed.

  14. Despite the game's very embryonic development stage, (and the fact I never found Minecraft worth my while) I'm casting a hopeful eye towards 0x10c. Who knows? The potential is definitely there.


  15. The reason I stay with Eve, even though I prefer a game with limited PVP instead of open world PVP, is that Eve allows character progression without having to actually play. No other game I know of allows me to continue to improve my character while deployed, or having family night, or any thing else I want to do. Playing WoT? that's fine cause my training is still ticking away.

    The ability to train 24/7 is the single biggest factor that has kept me playing Eve, even though the game play is only ok some of the time and the community's attitude to PVE enthusiasts is subpar most of the time.

    One of the biggest things Eve could do would be remove the ability to agress someone else in high sec and allow PVP only in low and null. This would result in a much more contemporary style of game, would attract more PVE oriented players, and funnel a higher population of people looking for fights into the areas designed to have fights. Catering to care bears would do more to boost the game's population and appeal then anything else. However apparently keeping a "hardcore" reputation is more important then building a game with popular appeal.

    1. While this makes sense, even if it is only the 0.9 and 1.0 systems, it will never happen for the reasons you suggested. Instead of making EvE more appealing, CCP have rightly decided to try another method. I think they know eve is, best case scenario, stuck where it is player wise.

  16. I think the point that is being missed is that CCP have created what is essentially a really large MMO-sized roleplaying group.

    I know this gets said a lot but, we are the content. Mittens is banned and he is still creating content too.

  17. The 0x10c reference got me giggling for a moment.

    Now, tis is a very good post on what is so exquisit about EVE. And I say exquisit and NOT exclusive, as I find it debatable just how "niche" this setup really is.

    With David Reid steering marketing, this exquisitness may actually get sold better in the future.


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