Grains of Salt

In the course of researching EVE’s current subscription numbers (did they in fact break 400k?), I came across the PDF detailing the minutes from the last CSM meeting. In my Crtl-F’ing down the page, I came across this passage:

CSM continued to the point of how does risk versus reward scale? “Badly” (followed by laughter) was the response from some of the people in the meeting. The CSM suggested that rebalancing prices of modules so that average cost of modules versus cost of hull would be reasonably constant. Right now looting a frigate wreck gives you a good fraction of the value of the ship (because most of the value is in the modules), vs. larger ships where this isn’t true. Right now T2 is so cheap that it’s a no brainer, if you can use T2, you use T2. Following this train of thought, the CSM said it’s hard to make money by PVP’ing, most people now grind money so they can PVP. By adjusting somehow the drops from PvP, it could be possible to make it viable to only PvP, ISK vice. PvP-ing in a frigate means that you only need to kill a few ships to break even, flying in a Vagabond means that a player needs to kill 100 (in the ballpark at least) to pay for that ship. One CSM member pointed out that that buying a ship to fight in is not an investment in making more ISK (like when a player invests in his mission running ship), it is an investment in fun. CCP asked in turn whether it wasn’t a bit depressing to have to run content in the game that a player doesn’t necessarily wants to run, in order to be able to have fun. The CSM responded that all activity added to the game, there wouldn’t be ganking of helpless miners if there was no one mining.

Consider my eyebrow raised.

Now, I have been thoroughly warned about the propaganda and lies and how “everything these reps are saying has been vetted by PR people.” But taken on face value, it interests me that designers could be “depressed” about forcing players to grind before they have fun, and then the players (or the group representing them) defending the practice.

One of the big justifications in WoW for requiring Badges of Justice for the PvP cloaks back in TBC (and requiring raiders to cap Valor with heroics since then) was exactly that sort of cross-pollination. It is a sticky design issue, for sure.

Of course, this paragraph also happened:

A side-discussion ensued about why people try EVE. CSM pointed out that the unique attraction of EVE was “you can grief people” and “it’s not a game for wusses”. It was also pointed out that the broad scope of the sandbox was both a selling-point but also a negative — it was easy to get lost.

My particular deal-breaker is arguably a reason why I should not be in MMOs anymore: EVE seems particularly hostile to single-player gameplay. Carebear guilds Corps aside, I have little desire to reenter a position of social obligation, having driven that particular nail deep enough already. If I’m logging on at 9pm, it will be because I wanted to, not because I seek to avoid awkward, passive-aggressive guild drama.

Now, if I find like-minded people later? Sure, let’s go destroy something beautiful together.

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Posted on January 19, 2012, in Commentary and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I find Eve very solo friendly as long as you plan things out. I also think, particularly early on, Eve is more enjoyable if you take breaks from it. For example if you focus on mission running you may hit a point where you can get level 4 missions from agents and are just about able to get into a battleship but you don’t have very good modules yet. At that stage level 3s will feel like a depressing step back and level 4s are too hard. The best thing a soloer can do is play a different game while keeping the Eve skill queue going.

    Regarding people doing boring stuff, you do realise the CSM wants the potential for other people to do boring stuff for them to prey on. The CSM is mainly Goons, who get ships replaced by the alliance. They can pvp all day every day for free, paid for with the profits from owning null sec space. And much of their entertainment comes from blowing up the people whose gameplay style they’re defending. Think vampires making a case for why humans should be allowed to continue.

    • Your POCO posts in December were definitely the first time I bothered looking at EVE in any sort of serious way. Of course, it also confirmed some of my suspicions about solo EVE gameplay too.

      The Binding of Isaac did a pretty good job of starting to unpack the years of risk-aversion I’ve built up, so who knows what the future will bring. Especially if EVE keeps coming up on Steam for like $9.

  2. Just reading the quoted text the CSM seems to be smarter than the designers. How could you possibly make PvP effective at earning money if not by

    1) pushing in money from outside the system (i.e. for every ship you destroy the game created gold for you to own). Which is not immersive and an inflation issue.

    2) by making it very skill-dependend so that some players always lose in PvP and others always win.

    The point is: War costs money. War destroys things. Sure, there are winners in war, but they win at the expense of others. It’s a negative sum game!

    The fact that PvP tends to cost everybody in Eve is just evidence of the achieved balance. And moreover, it’s just immersive. I wouldn’t like to play a game that creates money and rewards to make me play. Of course, most other games do exactly that.

    • It is an interesting counter-intuitive design conundrum either way. Well, “counter-intuitive” to the average player not aware of long, painful journey theory anyway. ;)

  3. There is another issue I foresee of this; if ganking becomes a viable source of income surely many of those miners will change their activities….rendering ganking either way more competitive or pushing people away.

    I mean the response from the CSM I read as “Increase the profit when we gank the helpless miners, but leave their income alone.”

    Ganking is not for everyone and if it increases those who are looking for more of a PvE experience (which last I heard the “Empire only” population of mostly “carebears” far outnumbered the Gankers and 0.0 crowd) may move to different games.

    Nils basically hits the nail on the head, for them to be able to increase the income from ganking they would either need to create money from nothing (or seriously mess with the module survival rate) or they would need to find a way to make those “helpless” miners not so helpless so that ganks fail more often.

    • Well, risk vs reward. Right now, ganking miners is a low risk activity. You’re pretty sure you’re gonna kill that miner, and you’re pretty sure you’ll die. In an economic sense, risk is low. If you increase the reward, then you also need to increase the risk, otherwise the game will rebalance itself along more people ganking, and fewer people mining. How do you increase risk? You might make losing more expensive (increase cost of ships, such as through mineral shortage), but we already know goons don’t care about ore prices too much, they own so much space and are self-sufficient (or are they?). So then ships might become more expensive, for the miners. You might increase the likelihood of a failed gank, ie, make miners not so helpless. This drives up the cost of the average successful gank, lowers the fun (no one likes losing to Concord, or to a “helpless” miner).

      What is desirable? If ganking is more rewarding, and even self-sustaining, then more people will do it, or hey will do it more often. This makes mining less rewarding, so fewer people will do it. The people who leave mining, what will they do? On the balance, will simply increasing gank rewards lead to a game with more subscribers, higher player enjoyment and better longevity prospects?