WoW player and iconic carebear Tobold’s recent attempt to ‘get’ EVE (or as is clear to anyone reading between the lines, and pointed out countless times in comments, simple experience it on a surface level in order to bash it and the overall gaming style) has confirmed something I’ve suspected for a long time now; kid players really need to stay in their kid games and leave the adults to play in theirs.
Relax, there is more to it than just that bit-o-flamebait, and by kids I’m talking more mentality than actual age, as plenty of ‘kids’ can act as adults, and very clearly lots of adults still require parental supervision to have a good time.
Take this post for example, where Tobold is complaining about the ‘bullies’ of EVE shooting him down when he entered controlled 0.0 space, and how he thinks EVE would be much better with parental supervision making sure everyone plays nice and everything is fair. Examples attempting to compare EVE to soccer are included in the comments, but really this part is all you need to understand just how far off Tobold really is:
You enter null sec space, other players will shoot you down, not just your ship, but also your pod. For no reason other than that they can and for no crime other than you being there. There is no strategic challenge in this sort of PvP, it is simply ganking.
I’m sure anyone who actually gets EVE just threw up a bit in their mouth over just how incredibly wrong not only the ‘ganking’ part is, but also how wrong the part about “no strategic challenge” is, but let’s continue.
A major component of a sandbox experience is that the players, not the devs, determine many of the rules everyone plays by, and that the environment itself is more world-like rather than a simple collection of activities. Want to make your piece of 0.0 open to everyone? You can do that, just like you can make it instantly KoS. Want to live in 0.0, you can do that as well, but unfortunately that will require you actually talking to others in an MMO and working with them.
Tobold’s take on what happened to him is exactly how any solo-hero reacts to something that disrupts their own activity in an online game: Why me. Every so often I get a similar reaction when I kill a gatherer in DarkFall; the all too familiar “why?” message from the victim. My response is usually “Welcome to DarkFall”, but the fact that the player even asked tells me all I need to know about how long that players is going to be around. It’s the wrong mentality, and its one that unless you change and adapt, you won’t ever ‘get’ the game.
Let’s take the above-mentioned 0.0 trip and play it out through the eyes of someone who DOES get a sandbox. First, you don’t just randomly fly out to potentially hostile space unless you are looking for a fight or to see how quickly you are going to die. If you want to conduct some business in that space, you know to contact the local owners and work something out. This happens all the time, and most of those ‘bullies’ will be more than willing to deal with you. In DarkFall, traders come to player cities all the time, even if that very same player raided the city the day before, just like he will the day after. All those terrible ‘griefers and bullies’ that only play for the ‘lulz’ won’t touch the trader, even in a game with full loot and no hard-coded ‘parental rule’ to stop them.
Second, anyone who gets the sandbox will know how a cheap frigate looks when entering 0.0. They get that you look like a spy or a scout, they get that if they let you pass because you in your little frigate don’t stand a chance, they are not doing their job in keep the space safe. The player entering knows about the world beyond his own character, he knows which sections are KoS and which are kill reds only. Point being, both sides get it. The gate crew is not griefing you for lulz, just like the frigate pilot is not shocked or angry that he gets shot down, nor does he view his killers as ‘bullying’ him. But in order to get this, you have to put in a little more effort into the game than just logging in and playing in your own little solo-hero bubble. That works in kids games that keep you safe with plenty of parental supervision to guide you from one controlled activity to the next, keeping everyone away from you unless you specifically ask, but it does not work in a virtual world run by the players, and everyone actually playing gets that.
It’s because of this mentality that I’m glad most solo-heroes don’t last long in a sandbox. They bring nothing but whining and cries for mommy (Trammel), they will likely never contribute anything positive to the community or progression of the world, not to mention the fact that there are plenty of other environments for them to go play in already. And as both CCP and Aventurine have shown over the years, you don’t need millions of players to churn out content at or above the level of a mass-market game, so having a smaller but more in-touch community is more of a bonus than an issue. So long as the servers stay up and the devs get paid, everything is peachy in the terrible, cruel, and unfair land of sandbox MMOs.
Bit of friendly advice: next time don’t come looking for mommy to give you a guided tour of the sights and sounds of the world, you might end up getting ‘bullied’. But to all those ready to play a game where people do keep score, where skill and smarts do matter, and where being a part of the community means more than double-clicking an icon and typing in your password, welcome. Just please don’t ask “why” when I cut you down.