A Manifesto for Diversity of Gameplay

(Milo QUinn) #1

What follows is based upon a reply to a post on the EVE Online Jita FB group concerning a story about the B4R in-game player support channel. The story was titled ‘In a Universe of Backstabbers, These EVE Players Offer Support’.

It got me thinking about why EVE seems to have acquired a reputation as a game populated by ‘backstabbers’ - i.e. ruthless, treacherous predators who get their kicks by making other players’ game experience unpleasant, aggravating and frustrating. How did we get into this situation? What harm is it doing to the reputation and popularity of the game? And is there anything that can be done to repair the damage and make the game more appealing to potential players?

I rattled off a fairly lengthy reply to the post, sharing my honest feelings about the game and how I have seen it change, not always for the better (IMO), over the 10 years or so I have been playing, and from the perspective of a player who identifies primarily as an industrialist. (I actually have four omega accounts and 12 active characters.) I reproduce that post here, pretty much in its original form, and welcome comment and discussion on the points it raises. Given its general theme, which is an appeal to CCP to rebalance the game in order to create a more level playing field between industrialists and those who take pleasure in making our lives difficult (i.e. the aforementioned ‘backstabbers’) , I have given it the title…


For we industrialists, gankers are of course annoying, and it’s no fun losing mining barges or haulers to those elements of the player community that we generally regard as a tiresome nuisance at best, and as shameless parasites and sadistic predators at worst.

But indies must nevertheless grudgingly admit that, by increasing the risk attached to non-combat activities, and forcing them to devise tactics and strategies to counter those risks, the existence of gankers does make the lives of indies a little more interesting and exciting - even if they also do mission running and even PvP themselves as well.

The problem comes when some gankers get it into their heads (as an alarmingly large number of them seem to have) that it is their right - indeed, even their sacred duty - to dictate how everyone else should play the game; i.e. like they do - just PvP, ganking, piracy and nothing else. There is something intrinsically intolerant, narrow-minded and frankly fascistic about saying “Be like us and live like we do or we’ll eradicate you!” After all, it is that mindset which, when manifested IRL, leads to the persecution of minorities, inter-religious conflict, ethnic cleansing and genocide.

One of the attractive things about EVE is the diversity of gameplay that it offers, which is reflected in the varied professions and career paths that players can choose to specialise in. This is why the game appeals to a wide variety of people. In fact, the player community of EVE is a veritable zoo.

And with actual zoos it is the variety of animals on display that pulls in the visitors. If we can liken indies to docile, peaceful animals like zebras, and gankers to aggressive, predatory animals like lions, then I think we can agree that a zoo full of zebras and nothing else would be quite boring. But a zoo full of lions and nothing else would also be quite boring after a while, too. Having a zoo with both zebras and lions would be more interesting, surely. And why not also have giraffes, monkeys, elephants and all the rest too? Then we’ll have a zoo that people would actually want to visit.

But the gleeful, sadistic zeal with which some gankers target and harass peaceful indies in-game, combined with the sneering, self-righteous condescension and abuse they frequently subject them to on player forums, and their obnoxiously arrogant - and very revealing - declarations of their ‘divine mission’ to drive all indies out of the game suggests that these gankers would like a zoo where the lions are let into all the other animal enclosures to prey upon all the docile, peaceful animals, until only the lions are left. It might liven things up a bit, to be sure, and could even increase the numbers of those types of visitors who are drawn to gore, carnage and ‘Nature red in tooth and claw’. But it would also no doubt discourage large numbers of potential visitors who are repelled by that sort of spectacle, and disgust other such actual visitors so much that they leave the zoo after only five minutes, never to return.

And what happens when all the docile animals have been slaughtered and eaten, leaving only the lions? Yup, things get very boring again. The prospect of the starving lions finally turning on, killing and eating each other might not be enough to draw in even the most bloody-thirsty visitors, and would certainly not appeal to the majority who regard the idea of a stagnating monoculture of vicious predators cannibalising each other as about as far from the ethos of a proper zoo, and the rich diversity of a natural ecosystem, as it is possible to be. The end result is quite inevitable; visitors stop coming and the zoo eventually closes its gates forever.

Many of us who identify primarily as ‘indies’ have suspected for some time that this is what has been happening to EVE, and what will be its ultimate, sad fate. We believe gankers and PvPers have been over-represented in the player community and on the CSM. And they have been very vocal and assertive - true to their natural personality type, perhaps - in trying to influence CCP’s decisions regarding the development of new game features and changes to existing ones.

The result of this is that the game has been gradually - but by now quite significantly - skewed in favour of the lions, to the disadvantage of the zebras. The recent nerfing of mining ships, which rendered mining operations less profitable and more vulnerable to ganking, is a perfect example of this; it is almost as if those changes were made at the specific request of miner-gankers and other anti-industrialist elements of the player community in order to encourage industrialists to abandon mining activities or simply leave the game. Industrialists could be forgiven for concluding that the lions have, in recent times, been running the zoo.

It is true that people have cited statistics seeming to show that player numbers have actually increased following releases that appear to favour PvP and ganking activities at the expense of other more peaceful forms of gameplay. But what if this is just the boost in numbers of the blood-thirsty type of visitors who are drawn to gore and carnage? What about the numbers of potential players who never joined the game because they were put off by this same element? Obviously, there is no way of capturing the statistics of those who decided not to join the game because of its seeming emphasis on aggressive styles of gameplay. But this invisible opportunity-cost may be more significant than some people - including CCP - might want to believe.

And PvPers and gankers are perhaps by nature rather fickle in their interests and easily bored, more motivated by quick thrills than long-term, delayed gratification, and so they might not stay as long in the game as those players - e.g. indies - who find many types of activities interesting and rewarding in the longer term, and regard just blowing stuff up as a very ephemeral and superficial buzz. I know this from personal experience; many of my IRL friends and erstwhile fellow EVErs left the game quite quickly after joining, because they were only interested in PvP and ganking, and so quickly exhausted everything the game had to offer them in terms of constant novelty and new challenges in that particular area.

Are gankers and PvPers, like the lions who took over the hypothetical zoo, going to be the death of EVE?

I present as evidence for this premise the fact that CCP recently opened up the game to free gameplay for alpha clones, no doubt in a (desperate?) bid to boost the number of paying player accounts when those alphas hopefully upgrade to omegas, and even more recently closed two of its offices and laid off 100 staff. Anyone care to join the dots here?

Maybe the lions have had it their own way for long enough, and we now need to foster a more diverse player ecosystem if the game is to survive.

(Corraidhin Farsaidh) #2

As an industrialist you should know that it is destruction that drives the market. It is not the ‘lions’ that are harmful to the game, but rather the changing attitudes of certain elements who feel entitled to safe play in a PvP game.

(Mr Lopez) #3

Your reply includes both safe space and entitled in one sentence the hipster buzzwords nice… The lack of “prey” is whats hurting the game. You don’t attract prey animals with shouts and raised fists. You lure them with things. You do pve as well unless you just buy plex so your an industrialist at some level even if just using the market.

Pve is a fundamental aspect of the game as is pvp. There has to be a way to entice and not force people to go to null. Highsec is not a good place to stay longterm. Some people join eve and are disappointed that they cant be captain blood in highsec and kill everyone in sight without repercussions and equally bad are those who feel that they should never be vulnerable to unprovoked attack. But pve in eve is really stale. And making npcs kill everyhing that moves in a highsec system is going to make “prey” type players leave the area for better pastures and possibly the game.

In nature a herd of gazelles run from one lion. If the gazells fought back they would kill the lion and second would no longer be gazelles… Eve is having a kinda mid life crisis i think as to who it needs to keep her server goin.

(Milo QUinn) #4

You sing a depressingly familiar refrain, Corraidhin.

Of course indies know that destruction drives the market. I mean, DUH! But there is a fundamental difference in economic terms between destruction involving non-industrial characters (e.g. PvPers) and that involving industrial characters, i.e. producers (e.g. miners). The former increases demand, which drives up prices until production ramps up to match it - bad for consumers but good for producers, until the market rebalances. The latter decreases supply and thereby also drives up prices, but it also reduces industrial capacity, thereby lengthening the time needed to rebalance the market - bad for consumers and also, obviously, for the producers personally affected by the destruction, at least in the short term. Either way, consumers lose, but damaging industrial capacity makes the effects longer lasting, so consumers end up paying more over a longer period. Your choice, I guess :slight_smile:

And I notice you asserted that EVE is a ‘PvP game’. Really? So why are there PvE elements? Why are there NPCs? If EVE was a pure PvP game these things would not exist. The fact that they do exist means that your assertion is incorrect - though it is quite typical of PvPers to want to believe in this conveniently self-affirming delusion, of course :slight_smile:

(Dalton Ormand) #5

Hisec industrialism is a whole different species that low and null industrialism. The safe, easy, yet boring, grind of high sec asteroid belts is what floods the markets and reduces profit margins for those that take risks in their industrial efforts. Disrupting those high sec, safe activities is more beneficial to the market than one may assume. The loss of gank ships feeds demand. The loss of mining ships feeds demand. When demand is elevated, prices go up for the finished products. When millions of m3 of safe ore is brought to market, supply goes up and prices go down. High sec mining is like a deer population that has become a bane to it’s natural environment. When that happens you introduce wolves to the area to control deer population and allow the natural environment to restabilize.

EVE is Everyone Vs Everyone. It’s what you signed up for. If safe and easy harvesting of materials is your preferred play style, try joining a null alliance that can offer secure space for your activities. Or take some risk and do it in low or wh space. As an industrialist through and through, this game is simply stated as, you get what you put in. You want bigger returns, take bigger risks. You want more isk, spend more time in game, wisely. If you want easy isk, with no risk, play sims or Farmville.

(Mr Lopez) #6

You have read the economic reports for the last two months right? Compare all of nulls mining with all of highsecs.

(Dalton Ormand) #7

That doesn’t show just high sec, there are low sec systems in those regions too…

(Mr Lopez) #8

So then the amount from high systems is even lower then?

(Dalton Ormand) #9

exactly my point. The largest industrial presence is not in high sec. The largest free of risk presence is though.

(Milo QUinn) #10

You make some valid points, Dalton.

But when you say

“High sec mining is like a deer population that has become a bane to it’s natural environment. When that happens you introduce wolves to the area to control deer population and allow the natural environment to restabilize.”

I am tempted to wonder which parts of

“…these gankers would like a zoo where the lions are let into all the other animal enclosures to prey upon all the docile, peaceful animals, until only the lions are left…”

you did not understand. Was my analogy too subtle? :slight_smile:

(Dalton Ormand) #11

manufacturing and refining complexes give better bonuses the further from high sec you go, the belts, planets and moons give better yield. Selling items in low, null and wh offer better returns if you’re willing to wait for the sell orders to complete. The large markets crush it on traffic and turnover of orders though. To continue the op’s analogy, if industrialists are zebras, than high sec indies are the old/weak/slow ones of the herd and are easier prey for the scavengers.

(Dalton Ormand) #12

The lions aren’t hunting high sec zebras. The hyenas are. The lions are fighting amongst themselves for alpha dominance while the weaker predators are happy surviving off of the weak prey.

(Milo QUinn) #13

@Dalton: Top marks for insulting people who may already have self-esteem issues :slight_smile:

(Dalton Ormand) #14

You mean by calling high sec gankers hyenas? :sunglasses:

(Milo QUinn) #15

@Dalton: Yeah. They probably wouldn’t like that…

(Black Pedro) #16

I find your argument rather hollow. At best you have made a case that the feelings of certain players aren’t being catered to sufficiently, and at worst constructed a complete straw man you spend a thousand words knocking down. You are railing against a “mindset” you have painted on to other players, which you then go on to assert without evidence is “killing Eve”.

Firstly, those that shoot highsec industrialists are not all fascist social engineers trying to “tell you how to play the game”. You are conflating in-game rhetoric with real-world motivations. There are some that are motivated by ideology sure, but the majority are either looking to take resources from another player of a PvP game because it is more efficient than grinding them themselves, or take enjoyment in engaging in PvP with other players in a spaceship PvP game. Why would any gamer really care very much how you play the game other than in the ways it can benefit or effect them?

But even if there are some players who want to impose some “PvP lifestyle” on other players as you claim, what of it? They are playing the game by the rules, and in a sandbox game, they can set any goal they want. They aren’t breaking a rule by playing a competitive game with other players. It’s like blaming the lion in the zoo for wanting to eat all the gazelles - it’s not their fault they are lions. They are playing the game as built by shooting industrialists. What would you want to do anyway, ban any player who declares they want to dictate how other players play the game?

CCP has done a pretty good job at providing a space for industrial-minded players to operate in relative safety with highsec. With simple precautions, almost all losses can be avoided, or at most are a tiny operating cost in the life of a highsec industrialist. This is backed up by the MERs from CCP Quant which show destruction is only a fraction of a percent of all goods moved around highsec. Highsec is amazingly safe, maybe embarrassingly so if CCP wants to claim Eve is a full-time PvP game as they do in the New Pilot FAQ.

If there is any kernel of a real problem in your lengthy manifesto, it may be that certain people don’t read that New Pilot FAQ or understand what type of game they are playing. Thus they are unprepared when the sandbox intrudes on what they think is a standard grinding/progression game where interactions are largely consensual. Maybe CCP could do a better setting expectations that nowhere is safe and you are always in direct competition with the other players, but Eve Online is, and always has been a game where you should have no expectation to be able to play alone or without having your game intruded upon by others.

In the end, I think the players you claim to speak for should stop worrying about what motivates other players, or what they may say in-character about what motivates them, and just get on with their game. Just block anyone who says something that upsets you, and take measures to defend yourself and play the game your way. Stop the futile efforts to make CCP change the core of the game to suit what you think you want by conjuring up some constituency you claim to speak for, and just play the game as intended. And if you can’t get over the fact other players can take your stuff, then perhaps realize you are just playing the wrong game and go find a game that meets your expectations better.

TL;DR: Stop inventing and imposing motives on other players for playing the game as designed and intended, and learn and use the mechanics that allow you to operate almost with impunity in highsec to the other players that might want to take your resources from you.

(Tipa Riot) #17

You fell for the role play narrative of highsec gankers, you can also call it propaganda. This is just part of the psycho game between predators and designated prey. With giving them what they want … tears … you lose this battle.

In EvE the roles are not fixed, everybody can hunt and evade being hunted depending on the situation. There is no qualitative difference, however, if people start to think about themselves as prey (or pure hunter) it’s their own decision, usually narrowing their mind …

… and btw, industry is PvP and not PvE. Shooting rats is PvE.

(Do Little) #18

Odds are there is a criminal element in whatever city you live in. You could get mugged the next time you go for a walk. In more civilized parts of the world we generally don’t worry about this too much - the risk is very low and we know how to manage that risk. We don’t expect police to prevent crime - only to catch and punish criminals.

Highsec is safer than most large cities. I’ve been an industrialist in Eve for close to 4 years - in both highsec and nullsec, including a stint as a freighter pilot for Red Frog. I’ve lost 1 industrial ship in highsec - on the dock in Jita - roughly 2 years ago. I learned from that mistake and wish CCP would let us display the kill rights our ships have earned!

Because Eve has a player driven economy, there needs to be a risk/reward balance. Right now, I’d argue we don’t have enough risk. I realize there are players who want to watch Netflix while they mine in perfect safety and there are systems in Eve where you can do that, but they tend to be a long way from trade hubs. Use dotlan to find them.

If you’re losing ships over and over in Eve - maybe you’re doing something wrong!

(Corraidhin Farsaidh) #19

I put safe play, not ‘safe space’. Everything in EvE is PvP ultimately because the market affects everyone, and everything you do affects the market one way or another.

I am an industrialist in WH space so have to deal with logistics in dangerous space on a day to day basis. I am about as far from a PvP player as I can be. Yet everything I do affects others, either by selling my goods or by providing hunting opportunities for others.

EvE was and is a purely PvP driven game, when you click undock you are explicitly consenting to the possibilty of being shot at. If a player doesn’t like that they should consider changinv which game they play rather than trying to change the game they are playing.

(Linus Gorp) #20

What makes you think that this reputation needs “repairing”? If CCP would have wanted a fluffy Hello Kitty Online paradise, they wouldn’t have developed nor promoted the game the way they did.