Damage once done

EVE has always been a bit of a different game.

Thrown into a giant blender, new players are (correctly) told that if they do the right things, they can become more powerful than even Vader could possibly imagine. Then they start dying, and realize that when you lose your ship in EVE, that sucker is gone. It’s not coming back.

This can be a difficult realization for a young player. The later it comes, the more they lose, the worse the backlash.

Not every player makes it to the other side of this formative event in their careers. Even then many that do died to NPCs, never learning the crucial aspect of the game: EVE is about killing.

At its core, killing other players is what drives the game. It is the primary driving force behind the entire economy: killing other players is great fun, and it’s totally allowed in virtually all its variations.

So is theft. Theft, grifting, and deception are as much a part of the game as mining; they always have been. Other soft and friendly games might even have policies against this kind of low-class behavior, even leading to bans; at CCP, they advertise it:

Theft and lies, violence and depravity: these are things EVE is built around. Many people, like our dear friend “Anon” (anonymouse@anonomuss.com), who so preciously commented on the previous post, feel that these things are morally wrong. They don’t want to believe that it’s a part of the game. They won’t. They will call those who do such things sociopaths, criminals, and names that are best not related here.*

In reality, no more of these “evil” pirates are truly bad or unbalanced people than you will find in any other section of the game. People who quietly run missions all day are just as likely to be mentally deficient maladjusts than the people who go around joining mining corporations to kill their Orcas for kicks. The real difference lies in the way they approach EVE: as a game, or as a second life they lead as an investment in a simulation.

For a well-adjusted “greifer,” crime in EVE is simply that — crime in a video game. It’s no worse than crime in Grand Theft Auto, though you may find that it has a greater impact on other people’s attitudes towards you. Committing theft and confidence scams in EVE is simply the smart man’s crime. Crime in the real world is fantastically stupid and fraught with serious risks, while crime in EVE is both completely allowable (encouraged!) and carries lesser consequences even inside the scope of the game, should something go awry. For someone intellectually capable of crime but smart enough not to do it in real life, EVE is a dream come true.

On the other hand, your typical carebear may even feel entitled to the peaceful environment they once believed they had in the game: uninterrupted exploration of PVE content, without disruption from other players and reaping rewards and progression. When they lose time and riches to other players seeking PVP, they may become enraged and feel that CCP owes them a change in mechanics to “fix” this.

Where do they want to go with these riches anyway? It’s something I’ve always wondered. Do you just reach an end-game in an expensive missioning ship and just stop playing? I intend to conduct a survey at some point. But I digress.

It has long been my aim to bring PVP to every corner of the game. People are borne into the universe of EVE with the inalienable right to be shot at by strangers out looking for kicks. It is my sincerest desire to see this carried out in CCP’s long-term plans for the game’s development. But as I have mentioned, many players don’t feel that this is an OK thing to have in their EVE.

Clearly, we are playing two completely different games in our heads.

Conversely to my desires for EVE and its future as a glorious battleground fraught with danger and challenging enemies, my greatest fear for the game is that it should become the opposite of this. Several of our currently aspiring CSM candidates wish to restrict PVP arrangements (such as wars) to a consensual-only basis, leaving anyone who doesn’t explicitly seek out PVP utterly safe in perpetuity.

That is not the EVE I have come to love, nor is it the game I have been playing for the last 4+ years. It is something entirely other. I don’t want to ever be able to be safe, and I don’t want others to be able to retreat into their shells and remain forever untouchable. In a game like EVE, this is stagnating and harmful.

CCP has recently been trending in this direction (and is rumored to be considering further large steps in this direction). I don’t know what credence to lend to what I’ve heard, but there is talk that CCP’s plans for the next major expansion include phasing out non-consensual wars (what the heck kind of real war is consensual?) and simultaneously pushing the people that used to be involved in those into faction warfare. FW is currently a very specialized warfare arena that involves being restricted from free travel in one or another half of hisec, and mostly squabbling over fighting turf with local pirates as you fight in either large groups or lone frigates in lowsec. Forcibly pitting half of the game’s PVPers against the other half in a red team/blue team fashion is not largely conducive to content that I find interesting. It should be a free-for-all!

This coming on the tail of CCP’s changes that made hisec incursion-runners very close to untouchable while earning the highest income rates in the game. I can see why they are doing it: CCP is strapped for cash. After the fiasco with Incarna and lost subscriptions, CCP dare not anger the player-base until they have a solid line of income from other properties, namely DUST514 and World of Darkness, neither of which is finished yet.

Hopefully, once they’re secure in their future, they can get back to making EVE the harsh, evil, glorious world it was always meant to be. Hopefully, the damage done by these changes is not irreversible. Hopefully their playerbase will not be so entrenched in their entitlement to safe and peaceful gameplay that they betray the very future of the game through their cries of majority. Hopefully EVE remains special. Because I can speak for hundreds when I say: That’s why I play it.

*Bonus reading: the (angry, ranting) blog post that originally crystallized my stance on PVP and killing strangers in the game — How do I hate thee? by Helicity Boson, instigator of Hulkageddon. While not a sublime gem of diplomacy and tact, the man speaks more than an ounce of truth when he speaks of carebears and their falsely-entitled attitude.

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One Response to Damage once done

  1. Hong WeiLoh says:

    Here’s something funny: I actually agree with this post pretty much in its entirety.

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