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.
You can follow along, if you want...

Monday, October 15, 2012

All for won

One of the reasons I was busy all weekend is that I've been spending a lot of time in Guild Wars 2.  Before you ask, no, I still haven't tried PvP but that's still where I'm headed.  I'm still in the run up toward level 30, which is about where I'll feel comfortable trying it.  That's where you unlock all of your ability slots, plus where you seem to pull together enough skill points to get the highest level skills.

In the meantime, I'm still having a grand time with the PvE, which continues to be excellent in my opinion.  It's challenging, fun, and quite varied.  One of the things that I'm most impressed by is that any given quest line has three to four means of achieving the quest objective.  As a result, a lovely illusion of a lack of grind is presented.  One of the options is almost always "kill a bunch of X", but there are other options for achieving the same results, usually including one option that isn't even dangerous.  I find that bit amusing, but it has a practical aspect as well: if you want to blitz a particular quest line, you can do it by doing the non-dangerous option as rapidly and often as possible to quickly complete the quest.  I can see where that would be very useful to repeat players trying a new career path who don't want to get bogged down.

It's yet another example of smart game design, and GW2 continues to impress the hell out of me in this regard.  Again, the PvE is no hardship... quite the opposite!

And incidentally, while I've run into a few quirks, I have yet to run into any major outright bugs.  Like many third-person games, the camera's a problem but a manageable one.  From time to time, when in full-screen mode the game drops out dropping you to desktop with the game still running in the background.  I solved that by switching to windowed mode.  And at one point, the game pointed me to a storyline objective going through an area that was far too tough for me, but I found an alternate route.  But that's about it.  For an early version product, that's also remarkable.

What I wanted to write about today, though, was the stark difference between the emerging GW2 culture and EVE's culture.

As we all know, EVE culture is very dog-eat-dog.  Even within the same corps and alliances, you get a lot of competition and aggression.  And for unrelated players?  Forget about it.  Except in very defined situations (incursions come to mind), strangers that aren't close friends are treated very suspiciously at best and with outright hostility at worst.  And even in those very defined situations, a supposed friend can quickly turn into an enemy.  Blue-on-blue kills and "awoxing" are common in EVE.  That's the culture that runs through the game and EVE players get used to it or quit.  And in my opinion, even more than the learning cliff, this culture is probably EVE's biggest obstacle to becoming a mainstream MMO if that's what CCP wants.(1)

What about GW2?  At one point, I was moving between two areas on one of the many roads criss-crossing the GW2 wilderness.  The particular creature common to this area were mid-level wolves and it was an early opportunity for players to use and learn combo tactics and crowd control abilities to defeat them.  Like Skyrim, GW2 rewards you for stepping somewhat off the beaten path and so in this area I decided to do so, coming upon a cave system that was obviously a wolves den.  And sure enough, there was a mini-boss in this area.  Not enough to kick off one of the game's events, but a "veteran" creature which pop up from time to time.

This turned out to be a slightly tougher fight than I was ready for.  Before too long, I found myself in a "down" state, tried to fight back, failed, and was "defeated".  Click here to return to a way-point, the game instructed me.  And I started to do so... then I stopped.

When you're playing GW2, from time to time you'll get markers indicating that a nearby player or NPC has been defeated.  You can head for those markers and "revive" them... basically the game's resurrection system.  The important bit, though, is that these markers are placed on everyone's map.  Reviving someone is slightly annoying: it can take upwards of 10 to 15 seconds and the reward for doing so is paltry.  And I was off the beaten track, not even in an event, and with a dangerous creature close by.  I was idly curious... would someone come along and spontaneously revive me?  I decided to give it a few minutes to see.

Now in EVE of course, the response to such an event would be very predictable.  Other players would go by saying "lol noob" in Local leaving me to my fate... or more likely there would be a deliberate shake-down attempt: "I'll revive you for 10 silver."  Would an EVE player assist a stranger at little benefit to themselves and at a cost of 15 seconds lost time?  I think we all know the answer to that!  We've been trained virtually from character birth not to help our fellow capsuleers.  That's quickly morphed into "make fun of our fellow capsuleers when they're down on their luck."  That's EVE culture.

In GW2, I had to wait less than two minutes before someone came into the cave, revived me, and then helped me finish off the veteran wolf and the associated minions.

Who are these people and how is it that they're playing an MMO?

Nor is this occurrence uncommon.  At another point, I had flowed more or less organically into a small gang that was taking on a larger off-the-beaten-path dungeon.  I had intended just to dip my toe in to clear a few of the easier creatures and clear the local quest objective.  But this group seemed intent on pressing to the bottom so I followed them.  I was L19; most of the group was L21-23.  So I was slightly over my head but as a group we were pretty competent... right up until the moment we kicked off an event in this dungeon with a strong L24 boss.  Whoops.  I'll give us this much: we put up a hell of a fight and I was pleased with myself for being one of the last to fall.  But fall I did, followed by nearly everyone else.  There was a whole pile of us defeated now, with an extremely tough creature nearby.  To our advantage, we'd kicked off an event which raised both the stakes and the benefits of coming to help us.  Would someone?

This time, a couple of the members of the group started chatting in the game's version of local, naming the boss and the event, plus the location.  Responses started coming in: "what's the closest waypoint?"  And amazingly enough... people came.  Before long, we had a little holding action happening around our "dead" bodies while two more people swooped in and started doing revives.  I was one of the first back up and started laying down more defenses and helping with the revivals and pretty soon the whole group was back up, reinforced, and the L24 boss was defeated with good rewards for all.

Yet a third time, I had the opportunity to return the favor.  Pressing toward one of the game's "vistas" located underground, I found the defeated body of a fairly low-level character and got him back on his feet with thanks from him.  Then I continued on toward the vista with my new sidekick in tow.  This area was too tough for him but was about right for me.  I'm a close combatant, he's a ranged character with the ability to use a summoned creature as cover so it was a pretty good working relationship.  In due course we reached the vista to find it guarded by another tough boss.  I put up all my defenses and waded in.  There started a five minute fight where I was put into a "down" state at least three times.  "Down" isn't defeated: you get a few minor attacks to use.  And each time I went down, my sidekick would launch his summoned creature at the boss while I used those attacks.  He'd get me back on my feet, then fall back again, basically using me as a meat shield.  I didn't mind: that's what my character's built for.  When he went down, I'd return the favor.  And in so doing we defeated a tough boss with just two of us, again with very nice rewards.

Is all this stuff a bit "friendship is magic" carebeary?  Perhaps.  But on a cultural level, quite interesting!  A place further from EVE's culture, I can't imagine.

(1) And it's becoming increasingly clear they do.


  1. "Would an EVE player assist a stranger at little benefit to themselves and at a cost of 15 seconds lost time? I think we all know the answer to that! We've been trained virtually from character birth NOT to help our fellow capsuleers. That's quickly morphed into "make fun of our fellow capsuleers when they're down on their luck." That's EVE culture."

    Dude, your view is sooooo tainted by Null-sec that it's really starting to cramp your style. That's hardly Eve culture on the whole, though from what I gather it most certainly IS the culture in much of Null. But even then, it's harmless, competitive, brutal fun.

    I wonder, does GW2 have permanent loss like Eve does? If not, there's a big part of the answer as to why GW2 culture is so different. None of these white knights had anything to lose except maybe a little time by helping you out.

    1. If GW2 has permanent loss, either I haven't found it yet or it's so minor that I haven't noticed it. Might be part of the PvP.

      And I'm going to gently disagree with you about high-sec being all puppies and rainbows. I've heard LOTS of tears from purely high-sec players in my time, usually around massive industry corp theft.

    2. I didn't mean to imply that all of Eve isn't rough and tumble, just saying that your Null experience is really tainting your view on this one.

    3. In WvW you're asked to spend kama and coin to upgrade fort defenses and coin to buy siege equipment. It's nothing compared to EVE, but it is a bit like asking nulsec residents to spend LP and ISK to upgrade their system.

    4. I help out players all the time Jester -or at least I try to. Everyone is so paranoid in Eve that it's rare for someone to accept assistance.

    5. I played eve for 4 years before I quit. I left because the community had, in fact, become what it is today. Jester isn't wrong in his impression of how jaded eve players are as a whole. I've paid the price of helping people just to have them turn on you. Also, I don't think he's implying the OMGEVEISTHESUX!!! The community really does need to take a real look at itself. CCP is not a very professional group, nor do they seem to work with a plan or any kind of knowledge about this "EVE" you keep mentioning. However, the biggest handicap to growing EVE is really the community itself. EVE is boring. Really boring. Unless the community is awesome, there is little draw for someone to play it.

      I'm playing GW2 (among other games) and I'm also one of those people running around reviving people, helping others when they're trying to complete stuff. I also tend to get in over my head, but I like a challenge.

      Unlike other games though, I've found that there is a kind of "negative" to doing this too often. It's harder to make money in some ways, so the constant costs of travel and repair are really draining. At lvl 30 you're still okay, but as you go higher, so do your costs. I guess you could call it "adventure management" when you have to look at how you're going to do what you want while still paying for it.

      I also have not yet tried pvp, but plan on it soon. Time is an issue right now.

      Most importantly though, Halloween is next week! Load up on EVERYTHING!!!!!! Best MMO event ever in my opinion.

  2. Sounds pretty normal for non-sandbox type MMOs.

    1. Actually I'd be tempted to try and make the argument that GW2 is not a true theme-park MMO. I wouldn't go so far as to try and claim its a sandbox but it does share enough sandbox elements that I don't think you can call it a theme-park MMO anymore.

      The system of events in the world (pve) make the world feel very alive and dynamic. If a town comes under attack and nobody defends it then that town will fall under enemy control, and will remain in that state until someone liberates it.
      NPC's will lead expeditions into hostile territory, and if unescorted will be driven back. If they are assisted they might set up a forward base.

    2. heh. true i suppose. although i much prefer to counter with a favorite movie quote:
      "You see, their morals, their code, it's a bad joke. Dropped at the first sign of trouble. They're only as good as the world allows them to be. I'll show you. When the chips are down, these... these civilized people, they'll eat each other. See, I'm not a monster. I'm just ahead of the curve."
      I love using that quote in context.

    3. That sounds very similar to the system in Tabula Rasa, where the alien forces of The Bane would attack human fortifications, and if not driven off by PCs, would eventually overrun the NPC defense force. Then the NPC defenders would in turn try and retake their territory from the enemy (and get slaughtered) until PCs showed up to help them win.

      Actually RIFT had a similar system as well, but I didn't feel it was quite as well implemented in that case, as the difficulty of the enemy waves increased so drastically in such a short time it was nearly impossible for a small group of appropriate level characters to hold them off, let alone a solo player on a low-pop server.

      Don't get me wrong, riding in with a party of 10 or fifteen random strangers and crushing everything in sight did provide some fun moments, but nothing comparable to that feeling you'd get in TR when through careful use of concealment, cover and kiting a small group of attackers or defenders could liberate/defend against a much larger horde of NPCs that would crush them in direct combat.

      So, tell me GW2 is closer to RIFT than TR so I can go back to not wanting to spend $60 on an MMO I'll play for a few months then drop out of boredom.

  3. I though a mainstream EVE was the goal of pre-incarna-CCP only ? Do you mean that they are back to the dark side ?
    It's obvious EVE culture can't change, and it would be like trying a SWG NPE to do something about that...

    1. CCP's never given up this dream. They're just approaching it from a different direction.

  4. I think you'll find this is the way things usually go in most MMOs where you don't have to worry about other players killing you without provocation or scamming you with no recourse. I cannot count the number of times I have handed off or been handed a small fortune in materials for a crafted item with no guarantee the other party will follow through on their promise beyond the threat of potential GM intervention.

    The experiences you describe have happened to/were done by me in World of Warcraft, Warhammer: Age of Reckoning, Rift, Star Trek Online, Champions Online, Tabula Rasa, Age of Conan, Star Wars: The Old Republic and countless others. Some of my fondest memories of other MMOs are stepping in unasked and pulling strangers asses out of the fire, for no reward, and even sometimes at a loss to myself.

    In most MMOs the only aggression/greed/non-cooperation you will see from neutral/allied players is when competing for a limited resource.

    But player attitudes are a part of the environment they are immersed in and shaped by the rules of their game world.

    If for example you are on a PvP WOW server, you WILL be mercilessly ganked by opposing factions.

    If you're on a PvP Age of Conan server, you will need to behave in a fashion closer to that of your average EVE player, because everyone can and often will kill you for no good reason.

    Even still, the actions and attitudes you decribe are not wholly absent from the EVE universe.

    When I first started playing EVE, a random stranger fleeted his Jag with my newb rifter and took me plexing with him. Another stranger gave me isk to buy and fit my first destroyer. I myself have given away fully fit frigs and dessies to newer players (all strangers) to help them along the way. Just because the game environment encourages you to see all others as space douuches, doesn't mean they are.

  5. now the fun part, talk about this topic with someone who has a degree in social behavior and pyschology, and would most likely point towards what is the usual behavior of people in the real world ;)

  6. Well, I have gotten lost inside WHs, my exit closing behind me in a non-scanning ship. And I have had the WH inhabs show me the way out. I have had players help me with epic arc missions by broadcasting in local. Once, I was traveling through null in a shuttle and someone gave me 35M ISK to "buy a real ship to travel around null in." Don't know if I am just lucky, but I have had several occasions where EVE players (strangers) have been down right decent, of course there have been other who were ready to eat my eyeballs, but you takes the good with the bad. Thats what makes it fun.

    1. Yeah, I tried something like that too. Was ninja ratting a veeeery evil piraty corp's C3, when the WH closed behind me and I had the "doh" notion of not having fitted a probe launcher. I lived in that system for two whole weeks, ducking and dodging those pirates (lots of safes and logoffskis) and ratting their anoms when watchlist said the coast was clear flying around with a cargo hold stuffed to the brim with loots, until at last a random tourist appeared who helped me out. He could've EASILY popped my pve ass and gotten himself rich. Or just left me to my fate until I tired of hoarding useless loot and selfdestructed.

  7. go to Arnon sometime. you'd be surprised. course, i'm sure this exception about cooperation being encouraged (and where it works to attract help) proves the rule you'd say.

  8. I've has one experience (besides incursions) where this kind of behavior was exhibited as well. Running COSMOS missions back in my early days, where I would get in over my head in some pocket mission, a guy would warp in and we'd help each other out clearing the rats, building a new friendship where we'd help each other out with the next few COSMOS missions. (they're really a terrible legacy, where most of what you do is look stuff up and google and take item A to point B, rince and repeat, but it was the early days and space was beautiful :-) Btw, I still have these guys contact listed today and chat with them on rare occasion.

  9. You should make a mental note to reread these posts once you hit 80. GW2 does a lot of things right in the short-term, but unfortunately that’s not the metric MMOs are measured by, and what entertains you now will be the games downfall later on. It’s a very interesting contrast to EVE, and CCP’s long-term vision at (sometimes) the expense of the short-term.

  10. Hrm. What might your primary character name be, Jester? I'd not mind at all getting to go around and slayify things with you.

  11. I've been playing EVE on and off (mostly off, to be honest) for a couple of years. I still feel like I play the game, in some respects, but for the most part feel like an outsider studying the society of EVE instead of actually partaking in it.

    It's fascinating how you, a player bred and raised in EVE perceives the GW community that is so (I assume) strange to you. (As opposed to people like me, who came from other games or virtual worlds, and often are surprised by the ways things are handled in EVE.)

    I would love to see you try A Tale in the Desert, a game I never tried, but that, from what I heard, combines almost pure sandbox with cooperative instead behavior instead of the all too often sociopathic one often I've witnessed in EVE?

  12. I know some of the players you're encountering. They're from Myst Online, previously known as Uru. They may have fragmented on the original game, but I still remember the comradeship that had me follow them into Second Life and There.com.

    I'm proud to know them, and may yet join them soon (see the title of my site - and some of the pages - to know why). Not to say Eve's been a bad experience for me - quite the contrary. But my reasons for not playing it anymore are much different than most.

    I'm actually more interested in what server you're on, though I'll probably check the thread on the Myst Online forums first. :)

  13. Would the good still feel so full if the evil had not been tasted ? In EVE you have it side-by-side. The rainbow sweetness of that fantasy world might at some point just be a dull waste of time.

  14. "Now in EVE of course, the response to such an event would be very predictable."

    "Would an EVE player assist a stranger at little benefit to themselves and at a cost of 15 seconds lost time? I think we all know the answer to that! We've been trained virtually from character birth not to help our fellow capsuleers. That's quickly morphed into "make fun of our fellow capsuleers when they're down on their luck." That's EVE culture."

    I am sorry I missed this post the day it came out... I only saw it just now, but I have had some RL>EVE stuff going on so, meh.

    I disagree very very strongly with your basic bittervet position. I have known more good people in EVE than bad by a very great degree, it's just the same in here as it is in RL... the fluffy bunnies are no fun to write about. random acts of goodness are not 'interesting'. People are interested in GOSSIP, DRAMA, CONFLICT & SEX (and for most I know it is in that order too).

    So writing about how a guy, out of the blue, sent a corpmate of mine some millions of ISK a few months ago just because the corpmate had given him several Mil ISK wayyyy back when, like 2 years ago, and he wanted to say thanks...

    Writing about my CEO and Fleet Cmdr getting trapped in a raid hole, in a Mach and a Kronos w/o probes, and the corp who owned it sold them a BM out and safe passage, and it was not a ransom, my son offered to pay for it first as that was only fair...

    Writing about how one of our guys convo'ed an upper class WHer, who was making store runs via our stat lo, and warning him that he was being stalked by an SB ganker...

    Writing about how I tried ninja salvaging, found I was technically good at it, but also found I hated the way I felt about doing that to someone... because I remembered how I felt when it was done to me...

    No, I am sorry Ripard, I respect your writing, and all us EVE bloggers look up to you a bit... but, in this, you are wrong. At least in the 2 years I have been playing, 1.5 of then spent in W-space, my personal experience says yer wrong.

    You are, as you openly state, a "BITTERvet"... and it shows glaringly in your opinion on this topic.

    EVE can be harsh and hard and cold and deadly... and that is what people talk and blog and post and forum rage & whine about as the fun, easy, helpful, friendly, NRDS majority of the game is simply boring to read about.


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