Eve Was Hard

Eve is hard.

If it started life as a smart marketing slogan, this simple phrase, however brief, however cold, has turned into an emblem. It’s a crest of honor that we the players of Eve wear proudly, and routinely like to shove in the face of those of our friends who instead choose to play the road more traveled in “safe” games like WoW. It’s a badge that, whether we’re aware of it or not, binds us all together; a purple heart that says “yeah, this game is fuckin harsh, and yeah, we love it all the more for it.” The infamous and oft-linked learning curve graph is one of the first things your new NPC corp-mates link to you when you mention anything to do with the difficulty of the game after starting your trial account, and that image stays with you.

What sets Eve apart from other MMOs, besides its sheer breadth of content and backstory, is this motto. Unlike other games, there are no real designated “safe” areas, no dedicated “pvp-only” zones, and no “no-PK” rules. Your actions have consequences, but what those actions are and where and how you choose to do them are entirely in your hands.

At times, we try and fit areas of Eve to these ideals, but the beauty of it is that they never quite fit these preconceived notions. We try and declare lowsec the “pvp” zone, or we try and declare highsec the “safe zone”, but the best part of this game is that ultimately those labels are square pegs in round holes.

This, however, is in danger of changing, and the danger is more real than you know. Eve is about to get a whole lot more safe, easy, and bluntly, dumbed-down, and when that happens, your “Eve is Hard” badge will be a relic of the past.

CCP stands at an interesting crossroads right now. In spite of their stumbling last year, they have one of the most well-regarded, accolade-laden, and buzzed about MMO on the market. Exciting partnerships with both Nvidia and Playstation are about to put them even higher up the totem pole, and the original vision of the “all-encompassing space simulator” is on the cusp of being realized.

That all said, CCP needs numbers. Subscriptions might be healthy right now, but CCP, rightfully so, has their eye on growth. Now, their challenge is “how do you attract new players to a notoriously cut-throat, unforgiving, and gigantic learning curve of a game?”, and here’s where the danger is.

Enter: Crimewatch

Crimewatch is the general in-game mechanic that govern aggressions; who can shoot who, who repped who and can now be shot, etc. and the proposed changes to this mechanic, for those who didn’t stream or weren’t present for the Fanfest presentation, are essentially CCP’s answer to new player trepidation of “Eve is Hard”. A video of the presentation can be found here, and I highly recommend going to watch it (yes, its long, but worth watching). The changes are at their core, a massive buff to high-sec security, and un-coincidentally, a fairly substantial nerf to high-sec griefing, baiting, and suicide ganking.

Its not all doom and gloom, and it should be mentioned that CCP Greyscale did begin his portion of the presentation with “before I start though I want to make it clear…we have not started coding on this, its not finalized, we’re going to change our mind about some of it regardless“. He goes on to mention a few things I’m actually all in favor of; among them, a set fix for the 15-minute aggro timer. When it gets fixed, the timer will be a set 15 minutes, after which your ship will e-warp. The ambiguity as it stands now of this sort of working half the time is simply a broken mechanic, and any fix is better than how it currently works.

Another pro of the presentation is that neutral repping will now give you a docking or jumping timer the same as if you’d used your guns on someone. This is a win across the board, because as Greyscale so aptly put it, “God hates station games”.

But now for the cons: Eve is about to get very, very easy.

In Grayscale’s words: “You should be making decisions in-game and going ‘I know what the outcomes are going to be and I can make a smart decision cause I’m a smart player, or dumb decisions if I’m a dumb player’.

This is incorrect. In the above, you will be making informed and instructed decisions because you will be a forewarned and advised player; your decisions will be made based off warnings and guidelines that CCP will write out for you, it has nothing to do with smarts. A smart player knows the rules of aggression and all of their complex ins and outs and uses that to their advantage over those who have not bothered or are too new to have done so. Does this give the “smart” player an unfair advantage? Absolutely not. To be sure, it’s an advantage to be smart, but that applies to a huge cross-section of the game (and life I might add) across the board.

An older, wiser player though, will know how to group their guns and use overheating and heat buffers correctly in a way that gives them an edge over someone who either is clueless about thermodynamics, or hasn’t actually trained it yet. A player with T2 medium autocannons and gyrostabs will invariably out-damage a player using meta 1 medium AC’s and gyrostabs. Whether this is by cause of the first player being an older toon, or just having made the smart decision to upgrade and train to T2 gear, it still gives him an advantage over the second player.

Eve really has two different types of skills: those you buy as skillbooks in-game, inject, and then click “train”, and those you pick up along the way, simply by playing the game. These are things like transversal and tracking mechanics, how to avoid de-cloaking fleetmates, or even how to fit a ship. There are no in-game skillbooks to train for “directional scanner level 4” or “advanced gate-camping mechanics lvl 5”; you as the player, as opposed the character, simply learn them. Aggro mechanics are no different.

Taking a Stand:

At the end of the day, most players, myself included, can probably agree that highsec should be “safer” or even “the safest” zone in Eve. However, that doesn’t mean it should ever be “Safe”. Eve is all about risk; whether that be in a PvP engagement, market wars, or even PvE, the risk vs reward system is the very foundation of the game. You might bring your minerals to a low-sec system to build due to cheaper build costs at a station, but now you run the risk of getting popped by that gate camp. Level 4 highsec missions are a breeze with a deadspace fitted Tengu or Rattlesnake, but those expensive modules make you a target for those who would capitalize on blowing up your ship for them.

My fellow alliance-mate Buck Futz has taken it upon himself to start a thread on the Eve-O forums looking for positive and constructive feedback and ideas for a better way to go about making changes to highsec aggro mechanics and the way the proposed changes will effect the game. Regardless of your opinion, I encourage you to read and/or comment on it here if you have something constructive to input (or if you’re as clueless about the game as Professor Alphane and his response, by all means, post your ridiculous and uninformed knowledge of Eve for the rest of us to giggle at).

In addition, a few days ago, a consortium of a few of my fellow griefers, gankers, and highsec war-deccers, held an open table discussion on the proposed yet completely uniterated changes to the war dec mechanics. Eve-O thread can be found here.

The panel had Darius III officiating, and included the likes of Psychotic Monk (CEO, Skunkworks), Alekseyev Karrde, Cannibal Kane, Lithalnas (director, Privateers), Iam Widderhins (PRONS), ToxicOz (CEO, Double Tap), Ts5P (director, The 0rphanage), and my friend Istyn, CEO of Tactical Knightmare (butt-buddies to Suddenly Ninjas). Additional commentary is contributed by Zedrik Cayne, Kai86, and Istvaan Shogaatsu. A recording of the discussion is here.

The above reads like a who’s who of “bad guys of Eve”; the gankers, griefers, and some-have-said destroyers of Eve. Yet ironically enough, these are the individuals fighting to make sure this game stays at the level it’s been held up to.

As opposed to many heated arguments otherwise on both the above threads, the idea and desire to keep Eve hard isn’t some “griefer agenda”. This is not a slanted “cheaters” idea on the game, or a way for those who pray on others in this game to legitimize their own playstyle. As griefers, we are extremely flexible to change, because we see it all the time. Our play-style is constantly in flux and in a state of uncertainty, because thats the way we choose to play the game: in the gray areas.

It is entirely understandable for someone who’s been suicide ganked, or been tricked into aggro in their mission to harbor a resentment towards the group of players who make that their playstyle, and I can even sort of understand the attraction to rallying to the idea of banning it entirely from “their” game. But Eve without the risk would be an entirely different game. It would turn boring and monotonous, and in the long run, I promise you, you’d lose interest in it entirely. These changes affect the game itself, and to alter that basic risk vs reward principal of the game undermines the entire foundation of Eve and that very cold, very basic motto. Eve is hard; lets keep it that way.






Edit notes:

1.) I’ve reiterated with some minor editing that Crimewatch itself is the general mechanic(s) in-game that govern the laws of aggression. What I am mostly referring to in the above are changes to Crimewatch proposed  by CCP.

2.) Due to a clerical oversight, I somehow neglected to add Iam Widdershins to the list of roundtable discussion participants; particularly neglectful of me due to to Iam’s huge contributions to the discussion. No Iam, I don’t have any sort of personal grudge against you, simply an editing oversight, and the offending interns have been rounded up and fired out of a cannon; kisses.

~ by Aiden Mourn on March 25, 2012.

19 Responses to “Eve Was Hard”

  1. Ok, I will have to read the whole thread and listen to the recording (later), but judging from the first post in the thread, that discussion won’t be very fruitful: it’s again a ganker arguing only for making ganking more convenient/accessible/profitable – just like carebears tend to argue solely for moar safety.

    Personally, I don’t want hi-sec to be perfectly safe – it would be boring. But as industrialist it’d be nice if I had more tools at hand than praying for CONCORDs timely arrival. And as far as I am concerned, the Orca’s “secret compartment” is one of those tools – though I could live with having things drop from it.

    Maybe the thread will prove me wrong, but I’m not hopeful.

    • I hate to point out the obvious here, but how about paying attention to your surroundings when you’re hauling goods to and fro or, dare I suggest it, tanking your hauler? Actually playing the game allows you to successfully subvert our attempts on your cargo at a near 100% success rate. Even without a secret compartment, the Orca has the ability to tank itself into a very undesirable target.

      • I do all of that, and the last hauler I lost was to well-executed trap. But I have been around a while, and both afford and fly both Orcas and Freighters, ie. the industrial counterparts to capitals. Younger players are limited to normal industrials, who are severely limited when it comes to tank vs cargo.

        So, if you want to make the life of (hi-sec) gankers easier, you also need to give some thought to buff the normal industrials – if only so that you keep having a buffet of targets. It doesn’t have to be much: off the top of my head, doubling or tripling the default cargo space on industrials would go a long way. Smart carepups would tank the shit out of their haulers, true; but the greedy (or drunk) ones won’t.

        Furthermore, the more tools the hi-sec industrialists have at their hand, the less need there is for further CONCORD buffs. And the more tools are available, the higher the chance that people make mistakes in using them.

  2. Skipper, placid, miriedor, sir substance, thebeep and I actually had a very good chat with greyscale about this at Fanfest. It appears that he has a serious case of “ohfuckishouldnthavementionedthat”, and we gave him the griefer side of things. I also told him that he should read the ninja blogs, and contact their authors. From the sounds of it, they are seriously rethinking their suspect flag idea.

    – tycho/soul

    • Thats pretty awesome that you guys were able to do that, thanks for voicing the concern. Yeah again, he did preface with a “this isn’t set in stone” bit, but the idea of making everything so on the surface and simplistic like that is pretty bad. Hope you guys had a fun time. Also, I misses you.

      • They quite enjoyed hearing the griefer side of things. Also, we ran into Zarago.

        The new wardec mechanic ideas are also VERY interesting. E-UNI tears best tears.

        You should come on a lowsec roam with TK sometime.

  3. I’m a little surprised that CCP doesn’t read the ninja/greifer blogs. Any carebear with an ounce of sense should as well. Know thy enemy and all that!

  4. Aiden, I’m glad I followed you. I got the email telling me about this and needless to say, with my account currently offline, I was completely unaware of it. Partially due to the fact that since I’m not playing, I stopped reading about it to stop the cravings.

    Anyways, I’m about to read/watch your links. I have found this post to be very important and have a slight hope that things will stay as they are, and Eve won’t become the BC of WoW. I STOPPED playing WoW for the sole reason that Blizzard “fixed” mechanics and gave both sides the exact same classes, “equalizing” them. If I wanted to be a god-damned paladin, I would have chosen the Alliance side. I wanted to be a Shaman and chose the Horde specifically for it. Our choices should have non-changing outcomes; I choose to attack a Badger with Plexes, I know I’ll have a small chance of getting them on the lootz but still lose my ship. I choose to shoot at a ninja salvager, I know he might come back with a ship more powerful than mine. These are decisions that we have come to know and love in Eve, and there are many more like them. If I can do whatever I want and not have a negative outcome, then I will stop playing this game. I want to be limited in my choices because choices ARE limiting. One of the main reasons I miss having racial bonuses and “job” bonuses.

    But for all intents and purposes, I am still relatively new to the game. And as a small player who just barely pays for my account(s), I have little voice in this. And I think that’s what hurts the most.

    Still, thank you for making me aware of this.

  5. Is there a reason you left out Iam Widdershins of PRONS? I mean, he contributed to at least a quarter of the discussion, transcribed the minutes, and edited the audio recording down to a digestable level.

    Just sayin.

  6. Did I at some point do something to offend you?

    I spent more than 7 hours of my own time on the hisec wardec round table in total, possibly more than anyone else; I was easily among the three people who contributed the most in ideas and active expertise in the discussion, spent 3+ hours editing the audio to the point where it is listenable, and a few more hours producing the meeting minutes.

    Is there a compelling reason why you mentioned TS5P (whose entire contribution to the discussion was to abstain and agree — not that he’s a bad guy by any means, but facts are facts) but I was the only person in the entire round table who was completely omitted?

  7. It may also be worth mentioning that Crimewatch is not the name of the changes that are coming; you say “Crimewatch is at its core, a massive buff to high-sec security” but what you are completely omitting or fail to realize is that Crimewatch is the name of the entire system that manages everything from NPC standings and sec status to remote rep aggression inheritance and wars.

    Any time you remote rep something or shoot something — ANYTHING — in hisec or lowsec, Crimewatch is the name of the engine that decides what ramifications there are to these actions besides the immediately obvious: gaining aggression to a player corporation, becoming unable to dock, or gaining a global criminal flag.

  8. Apparently my previous comment was lost to the aether.

    I came to ask, do you harbor some kind of animosity towards me? I spent what is probably more time on this round table presentation than any other person. I participated, easily in the top three most active in the discussion with presenting ideas and debating changes. I spent hours editing the recording down to a consumable format, and then spent hours more writing out the minutes in detail.

    Is there a compelling reason why you saw fit to mention everyone else involved, including TS5P who (though he is a great guy) had literally nothing to contribute to the discussion, and yet completely omit any mention of me? I’m extremely curious.

    • Omitted names were an editing oversight and nothing more sinister Iam, I promise ;). Changes have been made; hugs and kisses and awkward bro-hugs all around. I wuv you.

      Also, reiterated with some minor editing that yes, “Crimewatch” is/are the laws that govern aggression in-game and indeed what I am referring to in the above are the proposed changes to Crimewatch.

      Thanks for noticing it and calling me out though, appreciated. Note to self, hire Iam as chief editor over here…

      • Good to hear, I understand. I was just a little worried for a bit there, and even hopeful a little bit. It’s very hard in this line of work to keep track of who likes you, who just knows about you, and who hates you and everything you stand for. I know your name but I couldn’t for the life of me tell which of these categories you fell into 🙂

      • In our line of work, I tend to assume most people hate me; it has a way of simplifying things ;). I do apologize for leaving you out though, and I’m actually a fan of your work (even if your guys and my guys have a tendency of butting heads on the peri/jita gate…), so keep it up man.

  9. I’ve considered updating a recent blogpost I made about this when I initially heard about it. Though it seems its easily taken out of context, you have done a pretty neat job of explaining what these type of changes would mean at its core.

    We love this game because of its complexity. I for one don’t want to play a watered down EVE.

  10. im pretty sure the Professor Alphane post is a bad attemptt at trolling (it even has the proper amount of spelling errors). at least i hope so otherwise pls get someone to gank this man so he will ragequit because of that suicide ganking exploit.

  11. […] squishy new players. What ever happened to HTFU? About 6 months ago, I wrote a post entitled “Eve Was Hard” about the dumbing down and homogenization of Eve, and it seems we’re back around to […]

  12. […] like anything, is not without its faults. I’ve talked before about my thoughts that Eve is easier now, slicker, more forgiving, and a lot more manageable to navigate than it was before. I hold to […]

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