Community differences and evolution in a PvP world

One major contrast I see between the player base in EVE and the one in DarkFall is permanence, alliance loyalty, and the ability to recover and continue the fight. As I was reading the 0.0 activity report in EON, I was surprised and amazed at how many of the alliance names I recognized despite the fact that I have not been following the game for a few years now. In addition to this, I was also surprised to read the different approach to each conflict, and that even in major battles the conflict was between a set group of enemies rather than everyone showing up like in DarkFall. Now some of these changes can easily be explained by differences in game design, but I certainly don’t believe this is the only contributing factor, and this leaves me wondering why the territory conquest game is so different in the two games.

The first set of questions I have is whether EVE has always been like this, or was it closer to what DF is today in its early years? Did clans/corps and alliances raise and fall as quickly? Did key figures come and go as they do in DF? Was CCP still figuring out exactly how they want 0.0 to play out like Aventurine has in their first year of patching? And overall, is the stability and longevity of EVE’s major players more a tribute to the game design itself, or due to an environment where worthy foes are always around, always trying to one-up each other?

I ask this because I believe such stability and permanence is key to keeping a negative-sum PvP game going, and while DF has exceeded the expectations of many, it’s certainly still very much a niche game even when compared to subscription-based MMOs not called WoW. Tough defeats happen in both games, but I think what EVE has going for it right now that DF lacks in many ways is a solid community to retain those who end up defeated. In DF right now, when your clan or alliance gets crushed, there is not much to fall back on to regroup, and many times those defeats are both absolute (in terms of holdings) and swift, which I think leads many to quit. Obviously for the long-term health of any MMO, finding a way to retain those players is key, and in EVE I believe the community itself, rather than some CCP-lead development, is that difference.

What I’m left wondering is if Aventurine needs to do something major to help grow such a solid community, or if this is something that naturally happens in this style of MMO?

About SynCaine

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

21 Responses to Community differences and evolution in a PvP world

  1. Jordan says:

    Eve…so many cool things going for it like the community and politics, but it just isn’t for me.

    I tried it maybe 5 years ago and could never get over the fact that my avatar was a little spaceship and i was permanently stuck in 3rd-person isometric view. It felt like i was playing a multi-player Zaxxon or something. If i ever get into a space mmoprg it’d have to be with a human avatar that then gets into a space ship and then i’d be looking out that spaceship in 1st person view instead of down at a little 3d spaceship in third person. it just felt strange…i think forced isometric views make it impossible for me to get immersed in a mmorpg world/universe, which i why i could never play UO and instead waited on EQ.

  2. Max says:

    I think the “natural” way is for games to die. Badly designed and badly implemented game just die faster. Same way shadowbane did .

    For MMO to merely keep its subscription numbers it has to have ability to constantly attract new players. And not only that but the rate should be higher than the churn rate. Badly designed games not only alienate new players but also make old ones quit.
    WoW manages to keep their subscriptions numbers high for two reason -a) it constantly attracts hordes of new players, b)it is a great game for those who like it so their retention rate is very high

    Only puzzled why EvE is still relatively strong as several systems are badly designed in there (such as skill system), but I think the player run economy might be a big factor -it was first and to date only game with almost completely player run eco. And it was relatively unknown game, over time it attracted new players simply by advertising . So its found its niche and manages to inform its potential players about its existence

    Which by the way darkfall could do too (its still relatively obscure game -so more players could be gained by advertising) but I think the DF quality is overall below the level which would keep churn rate in balance.

    • Zensun says:

      “Only puzzled why EvE is still relatively strong as several systems are badly designed in there (such as skill system)”

      That’s quite ironic, given that the skill system is well designed and balanced and probably a key part of EVE’s continued success.

  3. sid67 says:

    I would hazard to guess that the reason DF is so much more volatile is that the pacing is different.

    Taking a new region in EVE is a long arduous endeavor that takes weeks to setup and coordinate. Those types of engagements require some lasting relationship.

    In DF, you could take a city or hamlet very quickly. And likewise, any “battle” for that city or hamlet would be immediate and possibly even involve neutral parties.

    The result is that the EVE universe is more static and slower to change than the DF world. In order to make an impact in EVE, you need to have a longer and more strategic view.

    The result is stronger relationships. The tradeoff is that there is less “action” and it feels a bit more stale.

    In a way, DF has more in common with WAR’s RvR system than EVE’s sovereignty system.

  4. mbp says:

    I think a huge part of EVE’s success is that even though it is a hardcore pvp game it also attracts a lot of people who don’t pvp at all. PVP is only one layer in a complex world. All these layers have mutual dependencies which makes the whole greater than the sum of its parts. As one trivial example consider how PVPers need manufacturers to produce the ships they fly while manufacturers need pvpers to blow up the same ships and create new demand.

    I have never played Darkfall but I get the impression it has never really tried to attract non-pvpers and I think that is a mistake. I suspect you need a healthy influx of carebears into the game to give it longevity. EVE has shown that you don’t need to guarantee the carebears total safety and you don’t even have to protect them from their own naivety. You just have to give them a role to play that is as important to the game as pvp and give them ways of limiting their exposure to risk.

  5. Tauren Warlock says:

    I think that one reason that alliances last as long as they do is the existence of high security space. Alliances and corps that get pushed out of their space can hide under Concord’s umbrella and for a while while they earn some cash, rebuild and plan their next move. I’m very much an outsider to Darkfall but it seems like alliances that get driven out end up dissolving in most cases.

    Also I take some offense to the idea that EVE’s skill system is poorly designed. I recently went back to WoW for a new character PVE tour of the old world ahead of the Cataclysm re-vamp. It wasn’t long before I wanted to try to visit a zone that was instant death for me (mobs 5 levels higher than me out of 80 total). If it was like Eve I could have logged of and done something else while my character trained. Since it was Wow I could either go back a zone and grind the same boring mobs for several more hours, or log off and unsubscribe. I chose the later.

    I guess I’m just one of the 330k that have seen a better way.

    • defconquell says:

      Any skill system that rewards you the same amount for logging out vs. playing the game is flawed. Remove boring mob grinding and design unique quests for each skill in EvE that doubles the skillup speed only for that skill.

      For example, let’s say you want to speed up ice mining. You would have to fly to the ice mining specialist in a specific solar system, pick up a quest with a nice little story to go with it, save his buddy who got stranded on an ice asteroid while bringing a friend to fight off the pirates infected with space herpes. Nice loot drops, giving the friend incentive to come along and ride shotgun.

      For more important or key skills, take the quest chain into low-sec so you have the additional twist of PvP gankage. Currently L5s have pitiful risk/reward. Offering a drop that reduces skill time would revitalize this.

      • Zensun says:

        “Any skill system that rewards you the same amount for logging out vs. playing the game is flawed.”

        I think that statement exposes an extreme misunderstanding of the system and is a sign that you don’t actually play.

        I imagine if you took a poll of people that have played for a year or more, the vast majority are in favour of the system, which doesn’t require ‘grinding’ to skill up.

        And a player that simply queues up skills and logs out (or buys a skilled character off eBay) isn’t going to be completely ineffective compared to a player with an equally skilled character who actually plays.

      • Tauren Warlock says:

        It sounds like a chore and (because of the combat element) like a chore that requires skills unrelated to the goal. I like Eve how it is.

        I do agree that the level 5s and low sec activities in general could use a profitability boost. And if it was a drop the ice miner could just go buy the thing in Jita.

  6. coppertopper says:

    “I think that one reason that alliances last as long as they do is the existence of high security space. ”

    That’s what I was thinking as well. Without somewhere to set roots down, there will never be permanence in Darkfall.

  7. Vlonk says:

    Another important side effect of the safezone in the middle of the Eve universe is the raised aggressiveness in the turf wars.

    I think if a safe(r) area in Darkfall would exist the extremely urgent need to be a part of a BIG alliance would become less important.

    While in Eve you essentially have a safe haven to live in in Darkfall that is a rather puny circle around the dreaded towers ,-)

    • Hirvox says:

      While in Eve you essentially have a safe haven to live in in Darkfall that is a rather puny circle around the dreaded towers.
      This is mostly caused by the stargates acting as chokepoints. Secure the few gates leading to your constellations/regions, and the majority of your systems will be safer than highsec. Accomplishing the same in a fantasy game is hard without splintering the map into a million valleys/islands/caves/whatever.

  8. Scott says:

    The large playerbase, and the relatively safe haven of hi-sec are conductive to allowing corporations and players to recouperate after being defeated.

    About the only time you see someone leave is if they ganked and lose everything due to their own ignorance or stupidity, no loss there.. or their corp is completely and utterly destroyed scattering them and their corp back to hi-sec where they don’t have the will anymore to start back up again in another corp.

  9. Stabs says:

    I think the key to Eve’s keeping people is that losing everything still leaves you with enough that you have an interest in playing on.

    The principal element is the skills. You may be bitter that your space empire collapsed but if your 50 million skill points makes you a demigod then you may as well keep playing.

    Even if you’re so burned out you can’t face logging in to shoot someone it’s still attractive to log in and keep that skill queue going.

    That plus a legalised RMT system that means veteran players tend to have alts some of which may not be adversely affected by the collapse of your main’s alliance and a safe zone in which ro rebuild.

  10. Tom says:

    Funny how many of the comments completely ignore the blog post and just bloviate on their likes/dislikes of Eve.

    Anyway .. to the point. I don’t know DarkFall so forgive any incorrect assumptions. But I know that in Eve, the losses from a defeat can be ameliorated. Everyone has access to 100% secure storage and revenue in Empire space. When corps lose their 0.0 space, they retreat to Empire where they rebuild and plot their return. With jump clones .. it couldn’t be easier to “relocate.”

    The economy is also a nice cushion. Access to almost everything from T1-T3 can be had at major Empire hubs.

    The only things that are truly lost are large-scale infrastructure and any hard to replace items that cannot be evacuated .. even then it can be touch and go. I remember a story of Intrepid Crossing evacuating from their long-time base in the Drone Regions .. they had a small ship caught in a gate camp with billions worth of researched blueprints .. that loss was surely punishing .. but again. That’s an alliance loss .. much less personal.

    • SynCaine says:

      Thanks for sticking to the topic Tom, appreciate it.

      Good info on the EVE side of things. Seems that the overall concept of Empire is what keeps people from ragequitting when beat. Now to flesh out just WHY Empire works and how that idea could be translated to DF.

      • Tom says:

        Empire space ala DarkFall would be interesting but difficult to implement I think. First, let’s do away with the notion that Empire space is safe. It’s just controlled .. you can still declare war, suicide gank and can-flip to your heart’s content.

        DarkFall empire would need an enforcement mechanism ala Concord – break the law? almost instant destruction. That might be difficult to justify in a fantasy world without straining credulity. Someone above mentioned the function of Eve gates and choke points .. again something that could be done in SciFi space setting but really difficult in a land-based fantasy map (that is without throwing up unsatisfying walls everywhere).

        I’ve got a more radical suggestion that I’ll post in another comment.

  11. Quietside says:

    Cut down on fast travel, improve the pve, crafting and social elements.

    Provide larger ‘preserves’ in which players and landless clans can operate with little fear of being griefed.

    Make cities harder to maintain (to cut down on empty cities held as port locations) and better to hold and improve. Add incentives to open your city up to non-allied clans like crafting station fees, bindstone fees and ‘taxes’. Make clan and player vendors easier to get and use. Add ‘trainer’ npcs as an available city upgrade, granting an experience buff to the approriate skill (narrowing some of the numbers gap that newbs often feel is huge).

    Add benefits and incentives for clan types that add to the atmosphere of the game (Specializations for clans if you will).

    Add opportunities to obtain rare resources outside of city walls, but never in the ‘safe(r)’ areas (mines inside the walls seem very strange anyway IMO)to allow landless clans to build resources without being entirely at the mercy of veteran clans.

    Give players the ability to create the equivalent of POS’s. Say perhaps an Outpost, customizable to include a merchant, a local bank (lootable) and a number of guardian mobs that respond on the same rules that towers use.

    These things might go a long way toward making DF more accessible to players, while adding sand to the box rather than making arbitrary changes to the mechanics of the game.

  12. D says:

    Isn’t EVE more of a territory conquest game, where as Darkfall is more of a city-state conquest?

    The significance is that losing part of your territory doesnt mean losing it all?(question mark because i dont play eve). Where as in Darkfall losing your city is big, becuase you lose it and easy access to everything around it in one couple hour siege, even if you have other holdings to fall back on it sucks.

    • grammarye says:

      A major alliance war in EVE will typically take weeks or months, barring massive sabotage or other intelligence warfare that brings the entire alliance down from within.

      Prior to the recent sovereignty changes, a single Player Owned Station siege (of which a large space-holding alliance might maintain tens or hundreds) could take as long as 2-3 days. These days it’s harder to tell, but it’s definitely a long-term thing. There are measures in place to avoid any timezone advantages which usually mean territory changing hands is always at least a full 24h period.

  13. grammarye says:

    I would argue the skill discussion is on-topic because of the community effects that design decision causes, even if a lot of non-EVE players don’t get how it actually works. I don’t play Darkfall so I don’t know how closely related the two systems are, though I know it also uses a skills system.

    A brief precis for anyone that doesn’t know: each EVE skill has a rank determining how long training for it takes, and each player has any given skill at a given level from 0-5. Training is of diminishing returns, so training level 1 might take 10 minutes giving a 1% boost, training level 5 might take a week but only changing that % boost from 4% (level 4) to 5% (level 5). Training occurs regardless of whether you’re logged in or not. To train all skills in EVE to level 5 takes roughly 10-15 years. Yes really.

    This system allows people of very different character ages to be as good as anyone else in the game at specific skills. In a month or two of play I can fly a frigate (smallest ship class) as well as anyone else in the game ever (as far as game skills are concerned; actual player skill is of course a different question).

    Why is this significant? There is effectively no levelling or classes in EVE. This means that anyone, of any age, can participate in holding territory or doing some related activity that they like to do, if they have trained the appropriate skills. You can be very specialised or very general, and it’s all a matter of how long you’re prepared to train & make money. You can be confident that any player next to you won’t have the exact same skillset and thus with a bit of thought about what you train, you can contribute something unique or sought-after to a given scenario.

    Thus players can, despite the hurdles, go straight out, join a 0.0 alliance (or more likely one of their pets), and contribute. They can integrate into a community, be assisted, build their experience, and with a little luck have fun enough to stick around for years. You can go solo of course; I tend to, but it’s a very different experience & more industry-oriented.

    Empire is a fairly vital concept; it allows trade & recovery in ways that a completely unsafe area like Low Security does not. You don’t get functioning economies with trade bazaars forming in a warzone. CONCORD allows free trade and relatively safe movement of goods. The Null Security alliances do form some markets within their own individual borders, but inter-alliance trade is minimal when placed relative to Empire. It’s also a different mindset. You don’t build weapons and then put them up for sale to your neighbouring enemy, at least not without a very high markup ;)

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