Wednesday, 18 January 2012

BB32: The Sandbox Argument


"A quick view of the Eve Online forums can always find someone complaining about being suicide ganked, whining about some scam they fell for or other such tears. With the Goons' Ice Interdiction claiming a vast amount of mining ships there were calls for an "opt out of PvP" option.

Should this happen? Should people be able to opt-out of PvP in Eve Online? Should CONCORD prevent crime rather than just handing out justice after the event? Or do the hi-sec population already have too much protection from the scum and villainy that inhabits the game?"


I've read through many of the blog banter responses so far and quite frankly I'm disappointed. There's an overwhelming prevalance toward a short-sighted "feet under the table" attitude. The majority of current EVE players seem rooted in preventing the growth of this sandbox MMO, resisting change and every opportunity and decrying new ideas.

Already this myopic attitude has all but brought an end to Walking In Stations which, however misguided in implementation, was an idea with the vision to attract a much wider demographic to boost the fortunes of EVE Online as a whole. Sadly, Incarna is now viewed as a developmental leper by the many players still foaming at the mouth from the mob rule of last summer and we are unlikely to see if the concept would have eventually yielded fruit.

My earlier mention of the sandbox is key to understanding my stance. Many commentators repulsed by the idea of a change to the current combat/aggression mechanics to foster a more nurturing environment claim that the ubiquitous risk of loss in New Eden is its Unique Selling Point. They are incorrect. Many games remove your progress in the event of your death. The USP is the risk and the sandbox environment. If all participants are not able to do as they please, then its not really a sandbox is it?

This is a double-edged argument; to prevent any action through the implementation of a mechanic undermines the sandbox principle - in the case of suicide-ganking of high-sec PvE-ers, either the perpetrators or the victims will complain their sandbox privileges are being violated. So already we've found the edge of our sandbox, it's got limitations.

Reasonably you may argue that those already playing in the sandbox have jurisdiction and should dictate the nature of the castle-building and hole-digging that goes on. To a degree, this is true. The owners of the sandbox certainly need to ensure that the current children are happy smashing each others castles and that there is enough sand to go around. But equally the sandbox curators need to consider what happens when these children inevitably grow up, get bored or develop different tastes.

Of course, there will always be the educationally subnormal ones who will sit and play in the sand forever and certainly someone should always be on standby to wipe the dribble from Special Ed's chin. But where is the harm in introducing new elements to the playground for children of different tastes. Some of the existing sandbox occupants might even find they like an occasional change of pace, playing in a new variation of sandpit. Children like Ed would eat less sand in a ballpit anyway, and more children like him might find their way into the sandpit if allowed to play in the safety of the ballpit first. This new influx would be sure to please those horrible children who like picking on kids like Ed.

Less resistance to change would do EVE Online the world of good. It's all very well the existing elitist playerbase demand that all possible new players be put through Hell Month just like they did, but those self-serving campaigners are simply the spoilt children who don't like poor little Ed because he smells funny and still wears a nappy. There have been plenty of perfectly plausible suggestions made elsewhere in this Blog Banter that would support both the existing playerbase, but allow for a softer approach to entice the Special Eds of the gaming world.

Lots of comments are probably inbound about how I don't understand EVE and the introduction of more casual or safer elements would kill EVE. Many might claim that my use of tasteless analogies shows a complete lack of empathy and I clearly don't know what I'm talking about. I have two replies to that; 1. You're all closed-minded, unimaginative sheep. and 2...

I
N
G

U

Have you eaten too much sand?

21 comments:

  1. That's a tough one. On the one hand, change can be good, empowering, and present options. On the other it can divide and enrage, especially if it is over-sold and under-implemented.

    I've always been a proponent of thinking from both sides of any argument and I've tried to work my way thru both sides over the years. It is obvious that CCP has struggled with this issue as well, WiS might be the most obvious example, but Incursions, Wormholes, didn't even exist when I first started playing.

    So new content, play-styles, have been successfully introduced and I would encourage that trend to continue. Making non-con combat more difficult in some cases and easier in others wouldn't fundamentally change much about Eve.

    Exactly how that happens is open for debate. But personally I believe it is a debate worth having. It'll probably rage as long as Eve exists.

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  2. Can I get an opt out of PVE option?

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  3. Your point proves right for many things specially like mining. Many, many people have said that "its the macro bots that need to die, everything else its ok" or "it just need stronger rats", MINING ITS NOT OK. Right now its too boring, repetitive, slow and simple. And still many people dont wanna it to change and evolve. God, many good people have been bored to death with it.

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  4. Seems to me it would be a simple thing to make opt-out PvP effectively the case in very high highsec simply by exponentially increasing CONCORD presence. Basically, 1.0 systems would have CONCORD on every gate, asteroid field, and station. 0.9 might reduce that slightly, with a drop off to the current norm in 0.5.

    Nothing changes in the game mechanically, but the safe parts of space get safer, effectively make CONCORD preventative rather than punitive in serious high-sec.

    Aside from all that, I seriously fail to see the problem.

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  5. A brave post.

    I agree that change is often a good thing. You are right in calling out those who oppose making EVE easier or safer as "elitist." These were the same people who thought removing learning skills made EVE far too easy for new players - never even considering that having to train skills that effectively did nothing for the first month of your play time isn't actually fun or inviting.

    Even if high sec aggression mechanics were entirely revamped, there are still plenty of opportunities to screw new players out of their enjoyment of EVE.

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  6. Wow, you called them elitists. I'm impressed. Of course, after reading Vonstudley's response I find your use of that term hilarious. Thank you!

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  7. Alright, let's take a look at the fundamentals.

    Eve Online is a multiplayer online role playing game starring internet spaceship captains; the vast majority of these spaceships are designed around blowing other internet spaceships into smithereens.

    To fill the demand for new toys, other pilots flying internet spaceships need to acquire materials to construct these internet spaceships.

    Building and breaking internet spaceships is one of the fundamental drivers of the game; an entire economy has built up around the acquisition and destruction of raw material.

    What happens if we add an opt-out clause to PvE activities in Eve Online?

    There is an equation of the gears in this game; keeping everyone in the same sandbox but modifying the rules that some players can play under while still being allowed to influence the economy is a recipe for problems.

    Remember the plague of trial alt miners in the early days of Eve Online? They are an example of what can happen when a rule exists that can be exploited to destabilize gameplay for personal gain.

    Opting out of PVP would create the exact same kind of disparity which, ultimately, would destroy the long term stability of Eve Online's gameplay system. It may be a grind, but it is still a cornerstone of the game; opting out of PVP should not happen in Eve Online unless you simply stop playing the game altogether.

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  8. Alright, let's take a look at the fundamentals.

    Eve Online is a multiplayer online role playing game starring internet spaceship captains; the vast majority of these spaceships are designed around blowing other internet spaceships into smithereens.

    To fill the demand for new toys, other pilots flying internet spaceships need to acquire materials to construct these internet spaceships.

    Building and breaking internet spaceships is one of the fundamental drivers of the game; an entire economy has built up around the acquisition and destruction of raw material.

    What happens if we add an opt-out clause to PvE activities in Eve Online?

    There is an equation of the gears in this game; keeping everyone in the same sandbox but modifying the rules that some players can play under while still being allowed to influence the economy is a recipe for problems.

    Remember the plague of trial alt miners in the early days of Eve Online? They are an example of what can happen when a rule exists that can be exploited to destabilize gameplay for personal gain.

    Opting out of PVP would create the exact same kind of disparity which, ultimately, would destroy the long term stability of Eve Online's gameplay system. It may be a grind, but it is still a cornerstone of the game; opting out of PVP should not happen in Eve Online unless you simply stop playing the game altogether.

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  9. I'm disappoint in you Mabrick and Stan. I am no elitist. You shouldn't insult true elitists by putting me in their category. My scum-baggery has self respect. I would never waste it on elitist jerks.

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  10. >If all participants are not able to do as they please, then its not really a sandbox is it?

    "Sandbox" doesn't mean you can do as you please whenever you please with no consequences, it means that the game is relatively freeform without predefined objectives. Being shat on is absolutely part of the sandbox - not necessarily a *nice* part, but part nonetheless.

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  11. Something to consider is that a huge portion of eve-bloggers are PvPers, and most of those are pirates or militamen in Faction Warfare (who often dabble in piracy) or null-sec dwellers (who spend their days griefing other null-sec dwellers as a way of life). You've asked for an opinion on whether they should be deprived of targets and whether they can respect the viewpoint that PvP should be disallowed in some areas. It's reasonable to assume that most of them of would answer no, even given a chance to seriously consider the notion.

    I understand what you are getting at, and I think simply shutting down all "blow up ships" PvP in certain sec levels (maybe 0.9 and 1.0) would be great, a great way to give that PvP free/introductory zone without ruining the game.

    There's no real reason to NOT institute PvP free zones. If anyone wants PvP, the choice to head for low or null or w-space, where no police exist, is an ever present option that provides lots of warnings to make sure you understand you are about to die.

    I don't think the question was suspect, but the jury is hardly impartial. The majority of responders live a life clearly biased towards loving PvP and scorning those who refuse to participate in it.

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  12. Brave position, but I am missing the bit where risk/reward gets into this.

    EVE is zero sum game, if I profit somebody else looses out.

    You want to make certain parts of hisec 'safer' or even 'safe' you'll need to reflect this in the ability to make ISK in those parts of space, or you're introducing massively unfair competition to those of us who do take risks.
    And to put it bluntly, no risk in a zero sum environment should mean no reward. Because how is risk less profit fair to those of us who do run risks?

    Besides a pirate I'm also an industrialist (yes, in lowsec) and it is already really hard to compete with hisec industrialists who take far less risks, and now you propose we make these people immune from harm all together if they so desire?

    When that happens to EVE i'm taking my ball leaving the sandbox and going home. All 5 of me. And that's no empty ragey threat, because what made me pick EVE (actions have consequences, risks carry rewards) will be permanently destroyed when people get the ability to 'opt out'.

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  13. Same mechanics that gankers use to gank can be used by "I want to opt out of PVP" people. To them, my comment is "the game. learn it."

    I agree with Kaeda's sentiment - if you make 1.0 a concord locked-down no pirate zone, then there should be no ice belts and no roids or mission pockets there.

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  14. It's a fair point Kaeda. I have the same sentiment (no risk, no ISK).

    I'm not a game designer, so I didn't propose a solution, but you are right in that PvP free zones shouldn't even pale in comparison to anywhere else when it comes to making ISK.

    There has to be something to do in 1.0 systems though beef, otherwise you've essentially instituted a solar system station where You can't do anything. It would defeat the purpose. You could still leave crappy veldspar, could still leave level 1 (or create level 0) missions for this area.

    Instituting the PvP free zones would require some changes to ensure that it pales compared to the rest of EVE, but it'd be a worthwhile endeavor.

    I think the biggest reason people complain about being ganked or decced (aside from not having any PvP experience) is simply that they don't have a choice if they want to play. It's a bad way to keep non combat types interested in the game and fosters anger and resentment. Almost all of us consciously make that choice to go kill or be killed, and we search out combat. But some people really just love mining or hauling, and they have no choices in avoiding PvP at all. It's the lack of choice that pisses people off and drives them away, not the fact that they could be ganked.

    Imagine if you got a car, and someone wanted to wreck cars. The police are only allowed to destroy a bad guy's car but not to put him jail. You drive along and WHAM, he wrecks your car and his friend loots it, running away laughing. He chose the PvP, the police blew up his car and let him get away to repeat the offense another day, and you're left with nothing. Sounds like EVE right? How pissed would you be? It comes down to the same thing. You "undocked" from your garage, accepting that you might be a gank victim, willing or not. According to the majority of respondents to the blog banter, you have no right to be pissed that your car was destroyed and looted, and that you if you don't like it you should quit life.

    And most people will say RL and EVE are different. Then again, you have to spend time, money, and effort to buy that spaceship as well, and depending on the price, that's hours of your life. Doesn't seem fair you've been robbed of your hard work unwillingly. Everyone has the option to take their car to a destruction derby, but hardly anyone DOES.

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  15. A semi-carebear's thoughts... Until there's something else economically to get produced and consumed by us, the ships must burn!

    http://chasingisk.blogspot.com/2012/01/get-your-tears-out-of-my-beer-yc114.html

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  16. For me, there is a lot of ways to fix non-consentual PvP in High Security space.

    I find the notion of a being unattackable in this game ridiculous, especially only for a limited time, as most of the ones wanting this option are people who are flying ships only trainable on paid accounts.

    The best way to slowly introduce new players to the life of eve is to expose them to the
    harsh nature of the game, but helping them along.
    I wish CCP would get around to fixing a way to pay for a fully fitted ship with the same modules as you have on them when you insure it(which would only pay out according to what modules were on the killmail and such). During trial period, this insurance could be handed out free to new capsuleers. If the new players break the rules and get concorded (or get shot in low/null) there will be no insurance payout.

    This would in my opinion rule, because it would expose new players to the risks without the actual downside of it. This will give a new player two weeks without nececarily having to worry about these parts of the game, while learning the basic stuff needed to play the game.
    P.S. The newbies ships shall not drop loot, to prevent module farming.

    When it comes to suicide ganking. I do believe that a very "roleplaying" approach would be the best.
    If you rob a bank and your car get shot, im pretty sure you are not eligible for a refund, nor should it be like that in EvE.

    And if you are faced with dangers in your work, you either don't do the work or find a way to secure it so the risk becomes manageable.
    Managing risks in high-sec is hard. And my way to fix high sec activities is to make it more dangerous but more manageable.
    A 200+M hulk can be killed by 10M cruiser. or maybe a 30-40M battlecruiser(i haven't participated in ganking ops so im not sure.) And there isn't really a whole lot he can do to prevent it.
    He might press the warp button as soon as he sees a combat ship on grid, but unless he is actively aligned, which would make mining very unlucrative. He has no chance of getting away before you have him pointed and shot.

    After the ice interdiction, CCP should put themselves in the NPC corporations and concords shoes, and think. What would happend if this was in the real world. Surely, ORE would get out there filling the demand for miner protection, with a new mining ship with heavier tank. or maybe a siege module that made the miner imobile, but added so much tank it would take a battleship or two take it out.
    It would still be possible to suicide them, but it wouldn't be that lucrative to gank people just to gank them. (Unless you were filthy rich)

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  17. :) Totally agree stan, especially with the tags for the post.

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  18. Heh, I have no idea what you mean Anabaric. ;)

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  19. I hear this argument about people afraid of change killing Incarna and I think it is largely missing the real point.

    Most of what I read abut people pissed about incarna were pissed over MT and also the lack of any other development of the game.

    I don't think you will find anyone that was opposed to walking in stations and the new game content that would bring with it. People were upset that one: it was being forced on them to make us a captive audience forced to watch a perpetual commercial of virtual goods basically, and two: that all other aspects of the game were abandoned and all eggs were put in one basket so to speak.

    I think you will find the overwhelming majority of players fine with walking in stations so long as they can still choose ship spinning and that you still develop other aspects of the game like making the interface more user friendly.

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  20. @kat

    chasingisk.blogspot.com/2012/01/get-your-tears-out-of-my-bee...
    that is categorized with [Pornography & Sexually explicit]
    has been blocked by Web Content Filter.

    oh really.... ?

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  21. The simplest bottom line for me is:

    EVE is a Virtual REALITY... it mimics reality. NO WHERE in RL are you truly, completely safe.

    EVE does not mimic reality in that we are all IMMORTAL. We are "safe" from real endgame death... however, our STUFF isn't.

    EVE is not "SAFE" for your stuff... and it shouldn't be as far as I personally am concerned...

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Lay it on me.