The carebear and the ganker, best friends forever.

In somewhat of a continuation from yesterday’s post, and with the idea sparked after reading MBP’s post here, today’s topic aims to examine why so many PvE ‘carebears’ play PvP-focused MMOs, using EVE Online as the example. Not since Ultima Online has a mass market MMO had as harsh a death penalty as EVE Online has, nor has the PvP been less consensual, as literally you could lose your ship at any moment. And yet with exactly that environment, why do some many PvE players exist in what on the surface looks like a hardcore PvP game?

To me it comes down to something rather simple, PvE players need PvP players, even if those very PvP players make life more difficult for them at times. Without the PvP players blowing each other up, making travel dangerous, limiting access to certain areas, and raising the demand of PvP-focused items, EVE’s economy would spiral into WoW territory, where a single mod does all the work for you, and were gold has lost 99% of its value. While it’s impossible to pinpoint the exact percentage of PvP players compared to PvE players in EVE, it’s a safe bet to say there are more ‘carebears’ than PvPers. Something that on the surface is rather surprising in a game that’s almost sole ‘end-game’ is massive PvP. But it goes deeper than just maintaining an interesting economy.

Crafting in most MMOs is a sideshow at best, and complete trash on average, yet in EVE it’s the basis for countless Corporations (guilds), and numerous pilots are almost exclusively focused on crafting. Not just one or two months of grinding out a crafting profession, I’m talking years of playing a character who does nothing but crafting-related activities. And the real kicker? Some of the most powerful individuals in EVE are crafters and other pure ‘carebear’ pilots, as their focus on wealth allows them to hire the best mercenaries to deal with any ‘issues’ that might arise, or makes them highly sought after by PvP-minded Corps/Pilots in need of supplies or production.

How many PvE players dream of becoming a market mogul, feared by killers due to the trading empire they have built from the ground up? PvP goes beyond just who does the most damage swinging a sword, yet in too many MMO’s that’s exactly the extent of it. In a game like EVE, the ‘carebears’ also engage in PvP, it’s just behind the scenes. They do battle with buy orders, finding rare spots to mine ore before someone else does, and undercutting the competition to force them out of your trading area. Rather than just mass selling all your drops to some NPC, the pilots in EVE must find the best possible place to sell their items, and those conditions are 100% player controlled. There are no NPC’s who stand around and accept all the useless junk you want to dump on them for some quick profit.

There are countless other factors that play into the equation, but the basis remains the same; in order to maintain a healthy, vibrant virtual world (not a hop on, go for an on-rails ride), you need to empower both the PvPer and the ‘carebear’. The smartest, most dedicated players should rise to the top, regardless if they focus on mining or ganking. Ignore one, and soon both sides suffer.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in EVE Online, MMO design, PvP, World of Warcraft. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to The carebear and the ganker, best friends forever.

  1. mandrill says:

    Its an argument that I use often, when a pirate tries to insult me or someone else by calling them a ‘carebear’. I’ll paraphrase my speil here:

    “You like that ship you fly? You like having Tech II guns to fit to it? You like having ammo to fire from it? You wouldn’t have any of that without carebears. Without carebears you would have nothing to shoot and nothing to shoot at it. So STFU and go blow stuff up to your heart’s content, just remember where your ammo comes from, n00b”

    What I’d like to see in EVE is the option to refuse to sell to people, say you put a sell order on the market, you have no say over who buys your stuff. I’d like to be able to hit the people who use ‘carebear’ as an insult where it hurts, by denying them a source of goodies. Then maybe they’d appreciate the hard work that goes into supplying them with said goodies.

  2. sid67 says:

    Syncaine wrote:
    in order to maintain a healthy, vibrant virtual world (not a hop on, go for an on-rails ride), you need to empower both the PvPer and the ‘carebear’.

    I can’t help but notice that this sentiment seems contradicts your opinion that:

    “Because if carebear Joey likes Warhammer for its fun questing, crafting, and easy solo nature, that means everyone looking forward to Warhammer for it’s impact PvP will hate it. They don’t mix people, and you know what, THAT’S OK!”
    — Syncaine, see original post

    “It’s a PvP game, and as with any GOOD PvP-focused game, you have to make sacrifices on the PvE end to get good PvP. I really don’t think that point is debatable either, games either get PvE or PvP right, or they try to do both and everything ends up meh.”
    — Syncaine, see original post

    I’m not trying to nitpick you or call you a hypocrite, but I think your current post about Eve illustrates the point perfectly that Keen and I both emphasized the last time this topic came up about WAR. The point we made at the time was that is no reason why we can’t expect both PvE and PvP to exist in the same game. In a WoW-like game, the only thing holding us back from achieving this goal is developers unwillingness to move away from a proven model.

  3. Bonedead says:

    I don’t know if that is 100% true mandrill. I consider myself quite the asshole PvPer. But for some reason I fuckin love crafting. I think it is because I love being self sufficient and hate relying on others. Maybe I am the exception to the rule. I do agree with you when I don’t think about myself though.

    I wanna call you a carebear just for that idea though, you carebear!!11 Heh. I mean it isn’t like you want to supply them with goodies, you want money, amirite?

  4. syncaine says:

    Well it’s two separate issues Sid, especially since WAR looks to be an on-rails game, rather than a virtual world like EVE. The mix does not work in a theme park, but it’s crucial in a sandbox.

    Plus EVE does make a lot of sacrifices in the area of PvE. It has no raids, no real boss mobs, no unique loot. The actual PvE stuff in EVE (missions, mining) sucks. Mining is super boring, missions are all basically the same. The reason they are fun is because they take place in the world of EVE, and not in WoW. Everything else about EVE makes the actual activity of mining not only worthwhile, but at times far more rewarding than downing a raid boss and getting your epic. That does not really explain it well, but hopefully you get my point. The grand scheme of EVE is miles ahead of the short-term fun bursts of WoW or the like.

    How that all relates to WAR is another topic, as generally RvR is a ‘grand scheme’ type of deal, while all the PQ and such will be the short term theme park stuff. And all that said, both gameplay types are very viable. I love logging into LoTRO and just following the pre-set path of questing, but I also love being able to log into EVE and each time say ‘ok, out of the 100 options I have, what do I want to focus on today’.

    • uttaus says:

      There is one more reason carebears flock to Eve despite it pvp nature. The game is beautiful and allows for people who have the fantasy of flying around in space ships from the small frigate to the large battleship to experience that fantasy.
      No MMO out there gives players that option.

      All it will take is one good carebear MMO with similar set up and beauty to pull thousands maybe tens of thousands of players away from Eve.
      I enjoy playing eve and usually after about 3 months I feel like helping someone and find my self duped and ganked. Now that is’nt the gankers fault it was my fault for trusting someone in eve. But what is their fault is the gloating and assholish behavior.

      I’m a carebear and ill likely go back again and again but if a decent care bear version of Eve ever came out I would give my goodby to Eve forever.

  5. sid67 says:

    All true, Syncaine and your point that the Eve world is a sandbox, rather than on rails is well taken. My position however, is that these things can co-exist if done properly, rails or no rails. I believe what makes this work in Eve is the fact that they just don’t co-exist, they are co-dependent. Things get destroyed and things get created. You need players to do both in order to have a thriving eco-system.

    As I understand WAR, the PvE objectives will support the war effort and vice versa, some PvE objectives will be unavailable unless PvP advances the war effort. While not a direct corollary to the Eve example, I do think this demonstrates a similar co-dependency between PvE and PvP.

    That being said, I’m not saying that WAR will satisfy both PvE and PvP markets. I’m only saying that it’s not outside the realm of possibility that a game can get both aspects right and we shouldn’t set our expectations so low that we don’t demand such a game from developers.

  6. syncaine says:

    Here is the problem with the co-dependence in a theme park. If I kill someone in WAR, they die, but they don’t lose the epic gear they have, or anything else that they would need to replace. They don’t lose enough money to prevent them from charging back at me. The time/effort to ‘gear up’ in a theme park is far longer than in a sandbox (generally of course) simply due to the nature of the design. You have to stretch those aspects out in a theme park, as that is all they offer. A theme park would not work well if after every ride, you had to work your way back up to riding it. Players want to hop on instantly, and be able to repeat the ride as many times as they wish. Which in a theme park, works well.

    In EVE, if a rival fleet shows up to take territory, and they get destroyed, it’s going to take some time for them to recover enough to mount another fleet. EVE would be a disaster if I could fly my most expensive ship and ram it into anything I want, and if I die, I just get returned to a station without harm. The entire game would collapse.

    As for the PvE objectives in WAR, what I see happening is that same PvP group that just opened that objective will go into the PvE version and have at it. So in a way, they are tied together, but it’s not the very clear separation that a fleet Op and a mining Op is in EVE. In WAR the same characters will do everything (all rides), in EVE each segment favors specialization (while also allowing for jack-of-all-trades to function on a lesser degree)

  7. mbp says:

    Don’t forget Syncaine that the PVPers in EVE need the PVEers just as much as vice versa. As Mandrill points out without them you would have no shiny new ships to blow up. You are right though that the beautiful synergy between the economy and the endless war is a big part of what makes Eve what it is.

    I don’t think it is the full answer though as to why there are so many carebears in EVE. What about the mission runners? While they benefit from being able to sell their loot to the war economy I think they would be just as happy to sell it to npc vendors. I think the real answer is that there is a complex series of motivations at play. Speaking personally I am doing the whole carebear mission running thing myself. I doubt it will keep me entertained all that much longer but I can still remember the adrenaline rush I got the first time I ran a gate camp and the downer I got the first time I got podded. Those emotional highs and lows mean something to me and are a big part of the reason I play EVE.

  8. mandrill says:

    @Bonedead:
    I also know alot of hardcore PvPers who make their own stuff, it does make more sense purely from an economic standpoint. If, however you want to focus your character on combat skills (as I am doing with my current toon) training up the necessary skills is less of a priority than being able to hold your own in a firefight.

    The other aspect is that even carebears are taking part in PvP, Syncaine says, the difference being that it is totally transparent to them. Their victories are economic ones rather than combat ones. Even if a miner just mines ans sells minerals, this has an impact on the success of other miners due to the nature of the markets. Everyone in EVE is a PvPer really, if you think about it.

  9. Pingback: Hardcore Casual: Carebears Vs Ganker | UC2

  10. syncaine says:

    I agree MBP, the fact that EVE is so open and allows you to change up your game style so freely is what keeps everyone interested, be it mission runners or PvPers. On any day, a ‘carebear’ might decide to PvP fit a ship and head out into low-sec to see what he can find. Just like Corps leave 0.0 space and go back to Empire to rebuild.

  11. Ripline says:

    Most of the major pvp oriented alliances also run a large industry on the side, so it’s certainly not mutually exclusive. The rare and often fought over moon minerals come to mind. Though in case of the deep 0.0 space there’s more factors to it, starting with logistics. If you live in Paragon Soul or such in the arse end of galaxy, moving battleship hulls around is just too damn painful unless you’re one of the heavies and can just jump bridge freighter convoys around (based out from Delve myself).
    The current situation reminds me a lot of the early 19th century colonial era, gunboat diplomacy and the race for resources and all, with the fringe areas shipping in valuable raw materials to civilization in exchange for guns and booze.

  12. Jason says:

    Saw a post today titled “highsec ganking”, a supposed 3-year veteran lost $15 BILLION (yes with a B) of modules in a Buzzard in high-sec (0.7) to a three-BS gang from Illuminati (gate-camping). There’s probably a story behind the story there, how these guys scored so big and what a duffus this guy was for hauling so much.

    Yeah I know EvE is harsh but honestly that’s screwed up, man.

  13. syncaine says:

    What’s screwed up, that he actually lost 15b, or that he was flying 15b worth of stuff?

    Because honestly he deserves to take the hit by moving so much stuff at once and basically asking for it. That’s what I actually like about EVE, it punishes people for playing stupid, which is exactly what flying 15b of modules without protection is.

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