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...

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Comment of the Week: Bitter-vet?

I received an interesting EVE mail the other day that's got me thinking and I thought I'd expand on my response to it here, in relation to a couple of three blog posts today (the other two are coming later this evening).  The question was basically "Jester, you say at the top of your blog that you're a bitter-vet but it's obvious you're enjoying your activities in Rote Kapelle.  Isn't that a contradiction?"  And the short answer that I provided was that yes, I am enjoying my activities in Rote Kapelle quite a lot, but no, I'm still a bitter-vet.

Being a bitter-vet springs from a deep well of experience of watching how CCP develops the game and proceeds with their various activities.  You can still greatly enjoy EVE Online and yet still be a bitter-vet.  Being a bitter-vet goes beyond that.  Distilled down to its essence, all one needs to declare one-self a bitter-vet is to be willing and ready to believe that whatever choice CCP makes about something, it's going to be in their own interests instead of that of EVE players.  Coming back to the beginning, the ability to be able to do that comes from long experience watching CCP develop their game.  That "bitter-vet-ness" then resolves itself into a lot of cynicism directed toward CCP and usually toward the CSM that's supposed to represent players to CCP.

Some examples will suffice.

When it was announced that Orcas and carriers were going to lose their traditional seven-slot Corporate Hangar Arrays in preference for one-slot Fleet Hangars, the devs involved clearly felt that their change would be greeted with cheerful enthusiasm from all involved.  Those that actually spend time flying those ships, though -- had they been consulted -- would have been quick to point out what a bad idea this was.  Where was the CSM in this?  Who knows, but chances are they were never consulted for this change.  The change itself probably came from some esoteric bit of programming weirdness that the person involved didn't feel like tracing to the drunk Icelandic coder that put it together back in 2006 or so.  So hitting the "delete" key on all of it was viewed within CCP as the obvious solution.

This is a sort of programming that I occasionally think of to myself as "CCP lazy mode": the person involved is given the job to fix something broken, and fixes it by just deleting features.  Then the deletion is sold to management and players in terms of "it will make the code easier to maintain."  The missing features or some substitutes thereof (or perhaps even new features) are then added over the next several years until it's time for the cycle to start again because the people who added all those features back are by that point long gone.

Usually, this is easiest to spot with the "durable" sections of the code... the stuff that's been around a while.  Just in the last four years, we've seen this again and again with the fitting window, the inventory system, sov mechanics, POSes, player notifications and timers, and ship cargo bays of various kinds.  Think about ore and fuel bays.  These were added with a great deal of fanfare some time back, with extravagant promises of more specialized cargo bays soon to come: ammo bays and the like.  Hasn't happened.  And over time, the specialized cargo bays we do have will get older and hoarier and start interacting in strange ways with other new features that are added (like fleet hangars and loot drops) and sooner or later a bright-eyed CCP dev will come along and just decide to delete these bays and throw ore and fuel back into the main cargo bay.

"It will make cargo bays easier to maintain."

Similar things happen with CCP activities.  I'll cover this in a bit more detail in one of the two follow-on posts, but consider things like Incursion live events, pirate live events, dev PvP fleets, Armageddon Day, and the like.  Each is announced with a great deal of fan-fare, players love them, and many wonderful follow-ups are promised.  And then the follow-ups don't happen and the fact that the events happened in the first place is forgotten.

That's the well from which being a bitter-vet springs from.  I'm sure you can think of other examples yourself where CCP has followed this pattern.  They're following it today with all the cool new player notifications that are going to be included in Retribution.  And of course, the ones that exist today that they decided not to include because coding them would be annoying or hard.

When one of these changes goes bad, it also manifests itself as cynicism toward the CSM... "why didn't you guys say something about this?!"  But of course, the answer is often "we weren't told", only it's kind of embarrassing for CSM members to say that.  Which is probably part of the reason you get a lot of CSM members that say nothing at all.  This is one of those areas where CSMs 5 and 6 were much superior to the current model: if they weren't being told something, they would publicly declare that and the consequences of embarrassing CCP be damned.  This CSM?  Not so much.  But that's a whole other topic and not really something I want to get into again.  Maybe I'll bring it up at the next CSM Town Hall.  ;-)

As I said, I'll be expanding on this topic with a couple more posts today, both shorter than this one but covering slightly different facets of the bitter-vet experience.  Call it bitter-vet day around here.  Anyway, to the person that sent in the question, thanks very much!  Gave me something to think about the last couple of days.


  1. 10 Points to Griffindor for your use of "hoarier" in a sentence.

    1. There's a scene in an old Steve Martin movie where he plays a con-man/preacher. His fellow con-men at one point come up with a bet where Steve Martin has to use ridiculous phrases that they come up with in one of his sermons or he loses the bet. One of the phrases is "aluminum siding".

      I sometimes wonder if my alliance-mates will ever challenge me in the same way and I sometimes -- for my own amusement -- throw obscure words into blog posts and always think about that movie when I do so...

  2. "... the next CSM Town Hall."

    Heh. I see whut u did thar!

  3. All right Jester, I'm 52 and throughout my life I've learned that a person is either part of the problem or is part of the solution. I'm hoping that you are the latter. I'm looking forward to voting for you in the next CSM elections:-) And please don't tell me you're not running...

    1. Anonymous has a point, Jester. I know you've covered why you won't run for CSM in the past, and I've generally accepted that stance for as long as you posted interesting and informative pieces about pvp, ship fitting, community events and so forth.

      But when you seem to be putting not inconsiderable time and effort to write well articulated and directed pieces about issues that are or should be addressed by the CSM, even so far as to critique the performance of the CSM itself... well there's a point where one can't help but to ask when you're going to put your money where your mouth is.

      Yes, it is one thing to write a blog. It is entirely another to participate in CSM- but if we are to accept as fundamentally correct and fair the criticism you level at the CSM as a whole and at certain members it becomes apparent that simply by doing what you're doing already, but with a CSM mandate that gives it (supposed) weight with CCP, you would already be doing a better job than they are.

      More on topic (and I'll try to keep it short but no promises)- I tend to define bitter-vet syndrome as a tendency to look for the worst motivations and outcomes in all situations, regardless of the evidence. Essentially the opposite of giving the benefit of the doubt. Many of these judgements are made in (sometimes wilful) ignorance- a phenomenon I have observed way too often in many of the EVE sub-communities I move in.

      People will level harsh criticism at CCP's decisions after reading sometimes already ill-informed or biased second hand accounts of dev blogs or forum posts.
      People will ignore the obvious logic of a decision in the face of even minor inconvenience to themselves.
      People will refuse to accept change simply because they are "used to the old system".
      People will demand iteration, then complain when it happens (the inventory being the most obvious example.)

      Finally, bitter vets seem to have forgotten the nature of the beast they love. EVE IS A MASSIVELY COMPLICATED GAME- and while we all pay lip service to this fact emphatically and often, I think a lot of people who have been around it a long time have forgotten what that means. Many never had any real concept of it to begin with.

      As much as I'd like to go into a rant about the difficulty of maintaining complex code bases over time and platforms and the difference between what's right for the game and what the community wants, the fact is, nobody cares. The community doesn't want to hear it- this, and many other reasons, THIS IS WHY CCP IS RIGHT TO IGNORE THE COMMUNITY SOMETIMES. There, I said it. You can't always have your kool-aid, or cordial or soda or whatever, sometimes you have to have juice. We have to eat our greens and like a harried parent (loving this analogy) CCP doesn't have the time or energy to sit down and explain it to us every time we throw our spoon on the floor.

      Flame on.

    2. Holy long comment! You bring up some good points, though.

      As to the CSM: my current plan is not to run. As I said early this year about running for CSM7, I fear for the independence of the blog and the time I can put into it were I to run and win. Granted, I'd get at least 50 new posts a year out of being on the CSM (because I'd insist to myself on writing a "This week on the CSM" post every week), but how many would be lost?

      God knows CSM7 has given me ample reason to reconsider, though. I could hardly do less than most of them.

      That said, even when I have no intention of running, I've always been a CSM watcher. I wrote 70 posts tagged "CSM6" and I've written 43 so far tagged "CSM7". Keeping an eye on them is just something I do around here.

      As to your other points, you make some very good ones, which I will tinge with a little bit of my experience in this matter. My experience is that bitter-vets actually LOVE the game, but are disappointed with the direction of the game. We want to be positive by and large, but are prevented from doing so by this or that brainless CCP decision.

      If we didn't care, we wouldn't play the game or write about it. Apathy is a bigger enemy to EVE than bitter-vets ever will be.

    3. I would say that through his blogging he plays an important part of being part of the solution, in his own way. We need bloggers with a big name who can write articles that even CCP fears.

  4. "... and the consequences of embarrassing CCP be damned. This CSM? Not so much."

    Not surprising. Hans and a few others are clearly bucking for that next job at CCP. To join the ranks of Raivi, Michael BoltonIII, et al... ah, what a dream....

  5. "When it was announced that Orcas and carriers were going to lose their traditional seven-slot Corporate Hangar Arrays in preference for one-slot Fleet Hangars, the devs involved clearly felt that their change would be greeted with cheerful enthusiasm from all involved. Those that actually spend time flying those ships, though "

    So who in the NULL/LO/WH Dominated CSM we have now actually flies an ORCA? I doubt they give a shit& are just glad the whole thing is now scanable HI SEC be damned

  6. "CCP Lazy Mode" is certainly bad, but not as bad as "CCP Deaf Mode".

    CCP Deaf Mode is when CCP puts something up on the test server, in a devblog, or posted to the forums - intended for player feedback - then utter fails to listen to any of the feedback, pushes the ill-conceived feature/change live, and ignores the rage/fallout when the other shoe drops.

    1. lol the other shoe drops with WarDec/Manifest Destiny trapping Goons/HBC


  7. So basically if Mark Twain or H.L. Mencken were alive today and gamed, they would, by nature of their very cynical outlooks, be "bittervets"? ;-)

  8. The feature that makes me bitter is planetary management.

    It was billed as 'simcity in space', but managed to be even less interesting and fun than farmville in space.

  9. To be frank I have not really cared about some of the changes to the game to become bitter about the experience.

    I find I get Bitter-Vet when have reached a particular plateau of skill arena. I plan in stages;

    logistics (4/5/5/5)
    Mining Director with mindlink
    maxed shield tanking (Tactical is all that is missing for now, in non-cap skills)
    tech2 heavies and sentries (ewars drones V and durability V not yet done)
    all ewar to IVs
    warfare specialists IVs

    Short term goals like this have provided me with a momentum to go forward. Its like looking at a long flight of stairs. You climb because there is an objective at next floor. At the moment, I look up - just can not see where to go from here. And there is nothing which is appealing enough start the next climb. I have been clocking what I call non-goals. Repair Drone V anyone? Remote Hull Repair V? Maybe something in CCP's effort at tier levelling with provide a way forward. And to be honest I am a mere 55mil sp.

    Too soon to be bitter?

    ps. the jury is still out on how the AI shake up with effect drone pilots such as myself.

  10. Just concerning the CHAs in ships and co.

    All those how have this shine big ships like motherships and titans might already have most of the rights, but the newbee getting in to an Orca may have devisions he has no access to and his ceo may not want him to get his fingers on all the stuff since it means to give him access to EVERY office and pos structure set to corp access.
    Lets say division 7 is off limits for all and he dumps his stuff in there. Either someone with the rights swaps ship with him and pulls the stuff out or roles have to be adjusted. Both options not really good.

    Simply working with cans will 1. give you unlimited devisions to sort your stuff and 2. gets you rid off this horrible hangar access right management.

    As ususual you have those whom are against it and others seeing the good in it. Part of you bitter-vet status seems like seeing only the bad stuff in it and don't think about the good sides it might offer.

    At least you enjoy the game.

    1. you always have full access to all the divisions in your own ship.

  11. "Granted, I'd get at least 50 new posts a year out of being on the CSM (because I'd insist to myself on writing a "This week on the CSM" post every week), but how many would be lost?"

    You know, I would not mind if you "lost" some posts by beeing on the CSM. I think the shift in agenda (yupp, will happen) and views (certainly this also) from a vantagepoint of being within the CSM would just be interresting and given your writing skills I´m sure you will be able to write about just about all of the topics you want to anyway.

    If at the end of your CSM8 term find that you feel the blog is suffering, then I believe we are still better off as a whole after your term and we who read and discuss with you through this format will be there throughout and after CSM8 (given that CCP and CSM7 doesn´t murder the game the next few months...)

    We won´t mock you for changing your mind about running ;o)

  12. Here's what being a bitter vet means: EXPECTING CCP to change game mechanics when ever the biggest alliances start bitching that they are no longer being catered too...

    First it was delaying the TECH bottleneck fix for yet another year then twice now with CCP fixing the Wardecc mechanics only after the Goons are affected https://forums.eveonline.com/default.aspx?g=posts&t=157449&p=13

    Either CCP is seriously screwing the pooch by only changing game mechanics when Goons are affected or thier timing sucks shit & they need a lesson on Alliance politics & how not TO LOOK LIKE GIANT DOUCHE BAGS THAT PROTECT BIGGER NULL SEC DOUCHEBAGS


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