Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Strangle Them In Their Sleep

I admit I wasn't too excited about this month's Blog Banter topic. Not because its not interesting or worth exploring, but because it makes me so mad. So prepare for a rant.

EVE Online is a harsh universe where complexity abounds, both "good" and "bad" kinds. It has some problematic areas like trying to understand moon mining and if you have it set up right or setting the corporate roles and permissions interface, but these are minor compared to the overall state of the game which is quite sound when you get down to it. And not unexpected for a game this mature; you should be able to confidently log in and get in a space ship and go do something without too much difficulty.

But where EVE falls down is the risk to reward ratio that changes as characters age in the game.

New players are risking a lot, sometimes everything, as they play because the extent of their wealth is small compared to the ships they fly, and they lack the skills and knowledge and experience to protect them from mistakes or traps. How many newer players have lamented about undocking in a hauler and doing something that gets them killed? Or taking their new shiny destroyer out for a spin in low sec and ending up on the wrong side of a blaster?

Conversely, at a certain point a player is wealthy and experienced enough to lower the risk per action they take while the rewards only increase. Veteran players think nothing of losing four or five cruisers in a busy night, and very veteran players simply through entire battleships or carriers to the wolves for the sake of *content* and amusement.

EVE is a backwords bizzarro universe where the neophytes face the biggest dangers and challenges and the journeymen never fear nor struggle.

To make matters worse, for the uninitiated of EVE's PvP culture, we hide away the best tools and resources away from easy access. In game map? Pathetic compared to DotLAN maps. In game fitting tool? Useless for experimentation and research, you need EFT or Pyfa or Osmium. Guides and teachers are found in teaching corporations and websites and podcasts, but nothing in game. ISIS was a good start to directing people to what kind of tanking and weapons a ship requires, but the tricks to fitting a ship properly are still obscured and found only by trial and error for those without a mentor.

The new player is ignorant of these things, the veteran takes them for granted. Go ahead, veterans, play EVE for a week without any out-of-game tools, not even using the in game browser you cheater. Try leading a fleet without DotLAN or Dingo toolbox. Plan some skills without EVEMon. Come up with a new ship fit. I dare you.

And as a new player once you discover these resources? Things get better, you reduce your risk and increase your reward. Congratulations, you are no longer a newbie.

But until that magic point those players are handicapped, crippled, and mocked. Mistakes happen. We say "oh that player is over a year old so should know better than to undock a battleship and go into lowsec with three different weapon systems and dual tanks" but outside of the relatively new ISIS feature how can they know better? Where is the Clippy assistant to say "looks like you are trying to dual tank, that might be a bad idea"? No where, that's where. So they undock, they go to the wrong place, and they die.

And we mock them. He hold up the killmails, jeer in local, and chase them back to station. We take them on podcasts, blogs, twitter, and mock the fools.

The community as a whole despises weakness and ignorance so we mock and shun them, those unfortunate ones who failed to find the magic key of the meta-community and tools. We bring the new players into our house and then try to strangle them in their sleep.


No, that's true. There are many noble souls who try to help out. Sindel Pellion's Angel Project, EVE University, OUCH, RvB, numerous corporations and entities that will help mentor players into the enlightened status, but they are a minority compared to the overwhelmingly uncaring majority.

So, while the in game resources are so paltry, while the risk is so high and reward so little for the new players, and while we hunt them and mock them without mercy for the most part, new player retention will continue to be a problem for EVE. And if it remains a problem in the long run, old player retention is going to suffer too.


  1. How come that I never tried to stuff un-bonused guns to a ship, nor I tried to double-tank (except buffer-only anti-gank ships) ever? Fitting
    Some things should be obvious without training. But I guess common sense is not so common.

    1. I bet you think you never tried to lick your poop-dirty fingers, neither.

      It's called the perfection bias and simply means that once we learn a "right" way, our brain is deinctivized to keep remembering the old way OR look for different ways.

      And no, nothing is obvious without training (well, the matter of sucking a nipple still is contested).

      See, EVE will do nothing to prevent you from fitting a weapon too small in a ship. And not so long ago, it was difficult to figure the size of a weapon since -FAI- MEDIUM lasers were SMALL arms (you don't remember that neither?).

      Veterans can't remember what it was to be noob in a game so hostile and complex as EVE. And now the game is just running out of noobs, as old farts run the place and use every ounce of privilege and experience to stay in power. EVE has become a gerontocracy...

      ...and all gerontocracies die of the same.

    2. Gods Gev really? You so l33t I dunno how you can STAND to play with us mere mortals... or... is it that you bought all your chars with high skills right from the get go? Never had to work your way up the skill tree? That still wouldn't teach "you" how to fit a ship out now would it?

      NOTHING in EVE is that obvious... and TBH if you base the idea of arming a ship the way it is actually done IRL... then yea, you would fit a mix of weapons and defenses. You would have a mix of large, med AND small guns... Think on it, almost ALL war ships have Anti-personnel (.30 & .50 cal automatic weapons), anti-air (.50 up to 40mm) and primary role anti-ship/and shore Main guns (5in. up to 16in.) depending on class and role. Plus many have anti-air, surface and shore missiles and ASW, anti-submarine torpedoes and depth charges... ye gods what a MESS!

      Yet in EVE we 'learn' than mixed weapons reduces DPS (except of course that if you can you field drones often in an anti-frigate role... but only sometimes) and woe betide the guy who dies with mixed guns in fleet... he will NEVER be allowed to live that 'stoopid' mistake down now will he? I wonder how Adm. Nimitz would have reacted if someone dressed him down for mixing his gun sizes on the Arizona?

      No, how to fit and fly, successfully, in EVE is not 'instinctive' not matter what anyone says. Go to WoW and try and sell it there... they might buy that crap.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. I don't often agree with Tur, but when I do, it's about mixed weapons IRL vs EVE. I know my first "stoopid" Catalyst losses had 150mm rails like "16in main guns", and neutron/ion blasters for "anti-frigate/drone defense".
      Hell, it doesn't even have to be an oceangoing Naval ship. Look at modern sci-fi, too: Galactica had squadrons of Vipers, long-range heavy gun batteries, and tons of short-range AA "flak" batteries for point-defense against hostile fighters and missiles. The ships in Babylon 5 frequently featured heavy "main" guns, and lots of smaller guns again for that point-defense role.
      From a "common-sense" POV for a new player, fitting like Galactica or an Earth Alliance destroyer makes perfect sense. After all, it's what we see IRL and in space sci-fi.
      Then again, "common sense" dictates you shouldn't be able to fire _through_ a mass of friendly ships and still hit your target without doing _any_ damage to friendlies in the line of fire. :-/
      Obvious conclusion is obvious: "Common sense" has no place in EVE, therefore we should _not_ chastise people for lacking it whilst playing EVE. ;-)

      (deleted previous comment and edited cause I forgot the EVER-important negative-modifier "_not_" in the conclusion)

  2. We can't all be perfect like you, Gevlon :)

  3. Do you really think that's common sense to a new player? Really?

    I can see how fitting a ship at the beginning can be overwhelming to a new player. The tutorial barely tells you how to fit a ship, and the first time a new player goes to buy modules what do they find? There are 6-7 different types of modules JUST for armor resistance. Experienced players know the difference, but how is a new player?

    If it's their first time playing EVE how are they supposed to know dual tanks are terrible? The tutorial doesn't say anything, they're just worried about survival.

    There are so many different modules available for niche purposes, I wouldn't be surprised that part of the problem is many players don't know certain modules exist, or how to use them.

    The game really needs a 'recommended' fitting tab for each ship that new players could look at. Nothing special, I wouldn't even show T2 mods, but a rough framework would at least give them something to start. It would definitely be better then the 'figure it out' players are given now.

  4. Honestly what I think this game needs is to make the newbie ships more like the average frigate. More slots with civilian version of the various weapon systems, tanking mods, and damage mods. (Also insure that civilian mods can onl be fitted to newbie ships, and not have newbie ships or civilian mod on the market.) Make them maybe 75% of the dps, and tank of a t1 fitted frigate. Now newbies (and vets) have the option of carefree pvp. Sure the gankers are going to come along with their better fit ships and reap a havest of newbies, but the newbies can just reship. This sort of thing would keep players in the game and encourage them to pvp with real ships in time.

  5. ...but they are a minority compared to the overwhelmingly uncaring majority.

    I could not disagree more. With over 500,000 subs reflecting something like 150,000 live players, if the MAJORITY were as you say, I do not believe we would be here.

    In my time I have met FAR more decent people than true asshats... the issue in EVE is the same IRL... the asshats are LOUDER than the rest of that vast silent decent majority who are here to play the game and have fun, and fun that does not require others to pay for it.

    The corp I am in now is, obviously if you know me, a W-space corp and this means that in PvP, in the hole no quarter is asked or given... until the fight is over... then my CEO & FC looks over the killmails and, if warranted, he often contacts the opposition and opens a dialog about the recent 'player interaction' and how they could have done better and why... not from a standpoint of "OH YOU POOR FRAKKIN ID10TS!" but more, "Sayyy... ya'll could have really OWNED us if only..." This has often led to joint roams, joint sleeper site runs and new made friends etc. etc.

    I was lucky I guess... I googled EVERYTHING I ran into WHEN I ran into it during my noobhood... I must admit I am very surprised this is not second nature to our younger more interconnected players. You see as a career tech and guy in his 50s I was not 'To The Web Born'... I mean you guys are ALL up in the tech from day one where as I grew up with B&W TV (no shit) with only 3 channels (swear to the gods) and DIAL (as in ROTARY) partyline (look it up) POTS (loo that up too) phones... that was THE HEIGHT of tech in my day... and even I knew to search the web for your basic "Wanna Know More?" stuff on EVE from day one.

    I got into a fight in my first months, our noobcorp was War Decced and we got totally pwned on the undock at Soshin Station... lost a Rohk, an Exequror and my Thrasher, I reshipped during the fight and then lost a Rifter and my POD to boot... to one guy inna Ishtar FFS... but... afterwords we talked and he said we were
    (1) seconds from breaking him and
    (2) we surprised the shit outta him by undockig and immediately engaging AND (for noobs) giving a very good account of ourselves and
    (3) he then asked me, “Where did U learn to fit your ship? U in particular?" “Your fits are advanced and correct.” I told him I googled everything and had read up on Battleclinic and blogs and had learned to use EFT then PYFA... then he said something that made my week... “Aha!” “That’s the best thing you can do, keep doing that, it shows.”

    I and my corp had just been buggered hard and but good very publicly outside of our home station… and here I was feeling good about myself. =]

    These are the kinds of things that happen everydamnday... they just go unreported and untrolled because they are inherently just day to day stuff and are really quite untrollworthy so what we HEAR about is the Erotica1s... not the Oz's of EVE... but they are out there, every godsdamned day doing what's right for friends and, after the smoke clears, for potential friends alike.

    It would be nice though if a current and really helpful list of links was available INGAME for noobs... you know use the damned pop-ups for something worthwhile instead of just telling me a star is a star FFS...

  6. My God this is a good post.

    -Dersen Lowery