Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Shut up, I'M talking!

For the past two podcasts the group on "Shut Up. We're Talking." have talked briefly about Eve. First off they talk about the recent "scandals" in Eve and ask why the players put up with it, and this leads to a general discussion in the latest episode of why players even play Eve with its scamming, possession loss, "griefing", etc. Unfortunately they have talked about the game without a hardcore Eve player present to give counterpoint (no offence to Jon from The Ancient Gaming Noob, whom I have the utmost respect and admiration for, as he was present the first episode but represents a very casual Eve player who partakes of only a sliver of what the game is about).

On the topic of scandals I think there should be an acknowledgement that there are two types of scandals: acceptable in terms of the game, and unacceptable.

Of the scandals listed on the show, most fall into the former category. Player scams, assassination attempts, pilfering corporate wallets, pilfering bank resources, and the most recent example of a disgruntled director disbanding the BoB alliance are all deemed as fair game in the enviroment of Eve. So the reason Eve players "put up" with those scandals is because they are part of the game; if you play Eve you accept that these things may happen, sometimes to you.

The only two examples of unacceptable scandals in my memory has been the Tech II BPO spawning by a developer for his alliance a few years back (who was caught and presumably punished... the incident led to the first phase of the BoB / Red Swarm war) and the more recent POS Exploit that went unnoticed for a long time but when it was detected it led to the banning of 134 accounts. Only the first was facilitated directly by a CCP employee; the other was overlooked by inefficient bug tracking in a notoriously convoluted part of the game and then exploited by players. To see players leave en masse over these two incidents seems unlikely.

Now, on to why people even play Eve in the first place.

After all, it sounds really harsh, doesn't it? Your stuff can be destroyed or stolen, your peaceful industrial corp war dec'd, you personally hounded across the galaxy by people who want nothing more than to kill you. Not to mention the aforementioned scams. Why would anyone want to play that game?

A few reasons.

1) There is no other game like it. No other game currently on the market has as much emphasis on all forms of player versus player interaction. When other players are the end game content, you never know what to expect and the thrill can be intense. The item loss makes combat feel very visceral as you fear for the loss of your stuff and thrill in the pain your opponent feels when you cause him to lose his stuff.

Furthermore, the single shard architecture allows for a larger and more indepth market play; it allows for all Eve players to interact with all others, and it allows for massive long term conflicts on scales of thousands of players.

Once you accept the basic premise of the game, i.e. that anything goes up to a point, and learn to let go of the fear of losing your stuff, you can really enjoy the freedom the Eve sandbox gives you.

2) The harshness is mostly illusion. Unless you are willfully incautious, your stuff can be very safe.

In high security space, someone has to either trick you into attacking them first before they can kill you or they have to suicide themselves to kill you. And the devs have been making the latter more difficult. Additionally, your stuff in a station cannot be stolen or destroyed unless you trash it yourself. Guaranteed 100% safe. So as long as you don't put all your possessions in one ship and fly it out in space, you are never at risk of losing your shirt.

All tech one ships can have insurance that makes them extremely cheap.

With a bit of healthy paranoia, getting scammed is nearly impossible.

You get a warning before venturing into low sec or null sec space.

Your empire corporation got war dec'd? There are lots of options including fighting back, hiring mercenaries, hiding until they drop the declaration, or just plain leaving the corp and living in the NPC corporations that cannot be war dec'd.

As you get experienced, your wallet grows and you learn to fly ships you can afford to lose, you realize an important fact: the two most valuable possessions you have, your experience and your skill points, cannot be taken away from you by anyone else in game. From the starting point of those two things empires can be built and destroyed.

3) You get to fly internet spaceships.

For some people this is a big thing. We are the people that were raised on Star Wars and Star Trek, who spent hours with little models of the ships pretending to have space battles over the couch. Its amazing what people like us will put up with for the chance to sit in our own ships and command them (usually to their inevitable doom).

While there are other internet spaceship games, none currently look as gorgeous as Eve with all its other features.

So there you have it Darren and Karen et al, from a hardcore Eve player for the past 2 and a half years.


  1. The current run of events in 2009 has certainly had some widespread coverage. PC Gamer Podcast USA and Giant Bombcast have all had talk about the recent thefts/assassinations/closures but to be honest their discussion, whilst not based on any real knowledge of the game, was very positive - certainly from the Bombcast, they love that the game exists, even if they don't play it.

    I heartily agree with your statements and speaking ill of EVE and "why we put up with it" is a bit lazy, taking the game completely out of context.

    Go Go Kirith!

  2. To be clear, I'm not criticizing the coverage SUWT podcasters have done of Eve. I'm just trying to provide a "hardcore" Eve player's point of view that is missing from the last two episodes guests. I don't feel they spoke ill of Eve, but just didn't have the chance for someone to present the "other side" so to speak. :)

  3. Anonymous9:13 am

    Bravo, sir! Well said.

  4. Well said, well said indeed. Also, happy birthday.

  5. Very well stated, Kirith. You aptly describe the reasons New Eden is so compelling. As for risk, players can substantially minimize their exposure by taking the time to educate themselves thoroughly about whatever it is they are planning to do in-game--before they do it. Which raises another point: Does any other game inspire the quantity and quality of resources that EVE does?

  6. Best game in the world, period. Those guys need to STFU and GTFO IMHO... lolz.

    I hate people who talk like me.

    You illustrated why EVE is the best quite well. Perhaps we can conjure up a response from the podcast community.

    On a similar note, I think now that EVE is going retail, it would be a great time for the "professional" game journalism community to give it another look.

  7. Whoa, I never said Eve was best. :) I simply pointed out why I feel the players in the game play the game.

  8. Anonymous11:45 am

    Kirith I see that you aren't saying but I am. I have been a bit frustrated about the anti-EvE bias in the liberal gaming media. Sometimes I think these MMO podcasts should just call themselves fantasy MMO podcasts. I'll put out a blog on it soon. Thanks for the great article!

  9. Anonymous12:04 pm

    Great article Kirith! Keep them coming.

  10. I've always said that the reason I love the fact the game is full of scammers and the like, is that it means the devs don't attempt to protect me from myself. That is something worth it's weight in gold. My success or failure hinges on my choices, not the restrictions put in place by the Devs.

    Of course, it's not quite that black and white, but EVE comes closer to the ideal than anything else on the market...

  11. Anonymous7:09 pm

    You speak of me as though I am Richard Bartle, heh.

    You should take Darren to task! He's been in 0.0 space. He isn't an empire mining and mission monkey like me.

  12. @Kirith:
    "The item loss makes combat feel very visceral as you fear for the loss of your stuff and thrill in the pain your opponent feels when you cause him to lose his stuff."

    Beautifully sums up why I'll never play the game.

    1. I get no additional thrill from the "fear of losing [my] stuff" - I know this because I used to play MUDs where losing items was both possible and likely.... both thru PvP and PvE.

    2. I get no additional thrill from inflicting loss on others. I guess my sadistic streak isn't where it needs to be. =)


    "I have been a bit frustrated about the anti-EvE bias in the liberal gaming media."

    Most hilarious comment ever! Reminds me of politicians whining when their parties aren't looked at in 100% good light by a portion of the media. :P

  13. Anonymous3:09 pm

    Nice to hear this post discussed at #43 :). Would be fun to hear you on that show !