Saturday, April 14, 2007

3...2...1...Ignition...

There are times in life when ya just gotta say "Fuck it." and do what feels right. Today was one of those days.

I'd finally gotten to the point where I just had to say something on the E-O forums about the Griefateers, come what may. Basically I'm just fed up with these people not only using noobs as target practice, but then having the unbelievable gall to to try to contend that well after all, EVE is a rough game, so hey, y'know, if six battlecruisers blast a single noob frigate into space dust for no other real reason their own entertainment, we should all be cool with that cuz it's all just part of the game, right? Bullshit.

It's people with attitudes exactly like these that inspired me to bail out on EVE a year and a half ago. Putting the game itself on the side for a moment, the fact is that EVE, as a commercial business, needs a regular supply of new players who get into the game long-term or it will not, it cannot, survive over the long haul. When the first thing new EVE players have to deal with are assholes who gleefully pod them repeatedly just for laughs, chances are they're not going to be sticking around very long, if for no other reason than getting your ass kicked over and over and over, before you've even had a chance to really get your bearings in the game and figure out how to make progress and defend yourself, just isn't any fun at all.

Apparently, some players really just don't seem to care about whether or not EVE will be able to continue to attract and retain new long-term players. What these folks do with their behavior is send a clear message to new players: "Don't expect to be made welcome in this game. This is a place where the strong prey on the weak for the entertainment value. Unless you're a really hardcore PvP'er who's willing to put up with this crap for weeks, maybe months on end until you grow strong enough to defend yourself or find allies who will do it for you, if you're someone who wants more from an MMOG than just PvP, you'd probably best forget about EVE and look elsewhere because we're just not going to let you get to that point.".

That's exactly the message I got the first time I tried this game and a big reason why I didn't return to it for over a year afterward. Why would I? Getting killed over and over no matter where I tried to go or what I tried to do just wasn't any fun, and what's the point of playing any game if it isn't fun? How many noobs have been victimized repeatedly by the Griefateers and finally said "Fuck this...what's the point?" and moved on? How does this sort of behavior help the game or the playerbase as a whole? Answer: It doesn't...quite the opposite in fact.

Also, let's take a reality break for second here: Star Trek Online is coming, pretty soon in fact....June was the last projected launch I've heard, though it's been a while so my info may be outdated. Anyone who thinks STO isn't going to put a serious dent in the EVE subscriber base when it launches is kidding themselves. If EVE remains as inhospitable as it seems it has become to new players, a hell of a lot of players are going to jump ship and head toward a game that not only is based in the most beloved sci-fi universe in history, but which I have absolutely no doubt will be far more welcoming to new players.

Certainly, there are many, especially long-timers, who would stay with EVE because they've got so much invested in it, but those are the serious, hardcore players. Let's be probably overly generous and say 35% of the current EVE playerbase are hardcore enough to stay with the game no matter what. If we take CCP's standard figure of approximately 150,000 total subscribers as accurate, that means that about 52,500 players will almost certainly stay with the game...but what about the other 97,500? How many from that group will stay with this game when there's another, brand-new sci-fi MMOG out there to play, one which is not only based on the most popular sci-fi adventure series ever, but also will almost certainly be a far more grief-free gaming environment than EVE?

Let's think about that for a second. What would happen to EVE if 2/3-3/4 of its players decide to bail and go play Star Trek Online or other MMOG's? Hardcore EVE PvP'ers can proclaim their gaming purity from now until doomsday and it ain't gonna mean shit if all of a sudden EVE doesn't have any players left because they've all sailed on for friendlier shores.

By now, maybe you're thinking "Aaah, she's full of shit...it'll never happen!". Yeah, and I bet there are a lot of players from now-defunct MMOG's that said the same thing about their games...until suddenly, one day, they just weren't there anymore. I have no doubt that CCP would do anything and everything it felt it possibly could to keep EVE alive, but every business has to bow to economic reality sooner or later, and one of the most basic of these is: If there's not enough income to keep a service thriving, eventually the business has to cut its losses or it whithers and dies.

150,000 players...that's not really a very large margin for error. Add to that the fact that we're not talking about EVE having to compete with just any other original sci-fi/space MMOG, but with one based on the most successful sci-fi franchise in history. Many will flock to STO simply because it's new and it's Star Trek. In fact, I'd strongly suspect that STO, if it's as high-quality a game as EVE, will be giving WoW, rather than EVE, a run for its money. Let's be honest, compared to ST's fanbase, EVE's is less than a drop in the bucket. That STO will outsell EVE in subscriptions is pretty much a foregone conclusion, the question is whether it will also kill EVE in the process. Players who act like the Griefateers do nothing but help to ensure that when STO is live, when an attractive alternative does become available, that many more players are going to be disenchanted enough to dump EVE and take advantage of it.

There are plenty of other reasons why what the Griefateers do is wrong and unfair. I've posted some of them in this thread...my comments start about halfway down the page. As expected, just about everyone wants to bash me and tell me that if I can't handle PvP (a bullshit argument at it's core as I don't have a problem with PvP, I have a problem with griefers and bullies) to go play something else. Yeah, great attitude to take on this, people...exactly the way to ensure that the maximum number of players will indeed say "Fuck this!" and bail on EVE as soon as STO goes live.

I've said this a number of times here and elsewhere, but I'll say again: I love this game. It's because I love this game that when I see shit like this going on I feel compelled to speak out. In my opinion, these people are harming something I've come to love and are helping to ensure that sooner or later, it's going to disappear forever because some people are just too selfish to share the wealth and to treat new players decently, at least until they have the time to establish themselves enough to stand on their own as players, even going so far as to declare war and attack a corporation set up as a school for exactly this purpose. It's incomprehensible to me that these other players, who presumably love this game as much as I do, can't seem to wrap their minds around the fact that what they're doing may be technically permissible, but that doesn't mean it's advisable, or good for the game...or maybe, perhaps more likely, they just don't give a shit.

Well, fine...I've said my piece. I'll continue as a player as long as this game continues to be enjoyable and entertaining for me, as I'm sure many will. Yet, I'm also conscious of the fact that this is a game, one that most players pay for on a monthly basis. I've already paid for a full year, so I'm good til next February, but what about those who aren't? What's going to keep them playing EVE instead of moving on to something else? One thing and one thing only: Fun.

No one's going to pay for a game that they don't find to be fun to play. Being treated like shit isn't fun. There's no gun to anyone's head here...in fact, people are paying for the privilege of participating. It's this simple formula that will spell EVE's continued success or it's eventual failure.

Great gameplay and cool graphics can only go so far in making an MMOG a real success. In the end, a game like this lives or dies on the quality of the social and gameplay interactions within its playerbase, and right now, it seems a significant portion of the players are taking great pleasure and pride in behavior that will drive away rather than draw in players, and that, to me, just seems like a recipe for failure.

7 comments:

Ilea Celentay said...

Seems to me your just unlucky. As a new player I was never randomly killed for "laughs" except when I either woundered into Low-sec, or went on adventures in 0.0...

Maybe an increasing amount of new players are getting "unlucky", I couldn't say.

Bekka Jae said...

I disagree...no one's that unlucky. This is a proactive thing that's being done by the Griefateers.

The first time I played, it was gatecamps, everywhere. Griefers just sat on gates and waited until players wanted to leave a system and picked them off one by one.

Since at the time "Warp to 0" didn't exist, they had plenty of time during the victim's approach to the gate to take them out, and there was nothing the victim could do about it except perhaps flee right back to the station they came from.

What I saw happening quite often in those days was systems having every gate camped, essentially locking it down and prohibiting travel to all but perhaps the most powerful or those allied with the campers. For most, the only way out of the system was to be podded, but, of course, if the victim's clone happened to be based in that system (I don't believe Jump Clones were available yet, either)...

It's not a matter of luck. These griefers are proactively preying those less able to fight back, not for real in-game goals such as territory or cargo, but just because griefing is entertaining for them.

It's not luck when it's entirely proactive and intentional like this is.

Anonymous said...

Well, if youd holla at me in game, i am good at flying into the rescue :P -Davin Intaki

Bekka Jae said...

Davin,

I'll remember that for next time.

I'm going to be shifting in-game priorities for a little while though...new post coming shortly on this topic.

EVE downtime = Extra-long blog post ;)

Bekka

Anonymous said...

Nice analysis about your average EVE griefer. I just wonder why it is so hard to play in sandbox and play in ethically right way? I just cannot believe that 90% from EVE community are sadistics who enjoy only when they make other players unhappy.
I have played EVE online 3 years now and I am fascinated still, how and why your average EVE player gets regressed to child's level so easily.
Yours X2

Bekka Jae said...

X2,

I often wonder the same thing myself. Yeah sure, it's a game and all that, but there's just no excuse for this sort of thing, IMHO, especially when it hurts this game we all love.

It would just be nice to see some people look beyond their own needs of the moment to also take into account the needs of the game as a whole. If this game gets a bad enough rep to eventually lose enough players to fail and go under, then we all lose, forever and always.

Hopefully, one day those who still need to come to this understanding will, and will conduct themselves in a way that preserves and protects this game we all love so much.

Bekka

quik90 said...

AFAIK choosing to play Eve, is a chance to play in an anarchic environment which ideologically, is light years away from the responsibility-stunting nanny state in which I reside in RL.

When piloting around Tranquility I have great control over my prosperity, career development and security. This is a big part of the appeal. Nobody is holding my hand here, and I have the keys to my success and survival. Yes there are sickos out there, but the pay-off for living alongside griefers, is when you give them a taste of their own medicine. Rules that you were taught at school such as "two wrongs dont make a right" really dont apply to eve (or afaik any where else for that matter).

If you want to be protected from the school bully and pampered with essentially meaningless warm fuzzy feelings of progression, you've really come to the wrong place. EVE is not for you, and don’t expect that it ever will be.

To parallel your choice of MMORPG with RL, its like taking a holiday in Iraq and bithcing about why you were abducted, tortured and executed. You may perceive it to be "wrong", but don't let your perception influence you expectations. The environment will not change just because you are unprepared or unable to look after yourself. To be frank, people without an "agenda", dont give a **** what you expect.

I advise that you prepare to confront what you are dealing with, educate yourself, make friends, practice, grit your teeth and be strong. Herein lies the satisfaction of Eve.

In this respect my tips for Eve and RL are identical. I would wish you luck, but ultimately you will have to make that for yourself.