The difficulty of depth

Jester’s excellent Fractal post is well worth reading, and it’s just one example of the deep, multilayered posts frequently made about EVE. If you read enough blogs with enough variety, I’m sure you have picked up on this as well. Posts about virtual worlds such as EVE tend to juggle a multitude of factors when considering a point, while a post about something like the WoW LFR changes is limited to just that single feature.

That’s not an accident. Blog posts work off what an MMO provides. Something as simple and compartmentalized as WoW is going to warrant simpler, more focused posts. Do you like the change? Yes/No and why. Something as intertwined as EVE offers the chance to write something like Fractal (which itself is fairly focused in the EVE-scale of things), and the discussion can often spiral into any number of sub-topics.

It’s also why something like the CSM makes sense in EVE, while it would be a total waste of time in WoW.

Comments such as this always make me laugh:

EVE [has a] large population of non PvP players supporting the economic survival of the PvP part

It’s not quite as silly as the 80% highsec chant, but its close.

There are no non-PvP players in EVE. It’s a PvP MMO. Just because someone is focused on mission running or manufacturing does not mean they are not playing a PvP MMO. EVE is not WoW where you can select which ride to go on, insulate yourself from everything else, and enjoy. Mission runners need (or will be reminded) to consider suicide gankers looking for targets flying something too expensive. Manufacturers have the best economy in an MMO to play in because of the sinks, balances, and risks that PvP provides. Traders have a job, in part, because moving something in EVE is a calculated risk thanks to the PvP factor.

In a virtual world, everything matters to everyone, whether you know it or not. In WoW, arena players don’t exist to raids, alt-players don’t exist to raiders, and econ people don’t exist at all because lulz WoW puppy economy.

It’s also why, as CCP states often, once EVE has its hooks in you, that’s it. Most vets never ‘quit’. They might go on a break, or their playtime will ebb and flow, but few ‘finish’ EVE and completely leave. There is just too much game for anyone to fully consume; in part because all of it is player-driven, but also because everything is tied together and changes in one area affect others.

And that’s hard to create, let alone balance. It requires a lot of buy-in from the power players that make such worlds spin, all while giving their cogs reasons to stick around as well. It also means not getting tricked into ‘get rich quick’ gimmicks like ‘fluff is content’ (Incarna), or believing that this massive other group of players would totally sign up if you just made life a little easier overall (Trammel, NGE) or add something to the formula without considering the total impact (ToA).

The reason MMO history has more examples of failures and mistakes than success stories is because getting it right is more difficult than perhaps anything else in gaming. Doubly so because Blizzard had the stars align for them with WoW and skewed the perception of success and how to attain it.

The correction process is a slow one. We’ll get there eventually though.


About SynCaine

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

25 Responses to The difficulty of depth

  1. The market/economy is an often overlooked player versus player arena. Yes, are not blowing other people up, but you are in direct competition and interacting with the rest of the population. There is no way to vendor things to get some quick ISK. You have to sell to players and, thanks to buy orders, there is competition both in selling things as well as buying things. Valuable items often have multiple buy orders competing for them.

    Relative to things like the WoW auction house, which you can easily avoid altogether, the EVE market is a game all itself.

    • evehermit says:

      Trade, manufacturing and exploration are all very much player v player. Incursions, if they were not so well organised, can be the same. Mining had more of that aspect in it when belts were not refreshed daily. You would sometimes have to travel several systems to find something to mine back then because other players had beat you to everything closer. People can certainly get too fixated on explosions when defining what player v player interaction is.

      • SynCaine says:

        Agree that non-explosion competition is still PvP.

        But even if you clone EVE but make highsec 100% safe (Trammel), you screw the formula up. Mining becomes a yield-only game, super-blinged mission boats become the end-game BiS chase, Incursion-griefing can’t be stopped, hauling becomes a bot-only activity, etc.

        Point being, ship explosions keep a lot of things in check, and do a lot more for the game than just allowing thousands in null blast each other. EA never understood this with Trammel, and UO has elves and ninjas now…

  2. Pingback: Mining PVP « Evehermit

  3. frogdiceinc says:

    It is too bad more people don’t quit, because then there’d actually be a point to joining the game as a new player.

    As it stands, you’re simply going to be fodder for the vets with a many year head start that the game is hard coded to prevent you from ever catching up.

    • Gavin says:

      That old chestnut again. If you played the game you would realise this isn’t true.

      Play the game, or don’t play the game, but sprouting off comments like this about a game you obviously don’t know very well doesn’t do anything useful.

      • frogdiceinc says:

        Its an old chestnut because it is true. The only people who deny it are groknards that want n00bs to show up and serve them as either fodder or lowly cogs in their corp. That doesn’t sound fun whatsoever, especially when it is many YEARS before one can hope to work their way out of it.

        • SynCaine says:

          Multiple members of my C6 WH corp would strongly disagree with you. As would the guy flying a carrier after only playing for about three months.

        • kamuka says:

          Bullshit. EvE balancing is RPS. Even if you bring a small rock you will eventually crush his huge scissors.

  4. Solf says:

    “There are no non-PvP players in EVE”
    I think this is a useless comment to make as it misses the point people are making about “lots of non-pvp players”.

    As one of those “non-pvp people” — let me elaborate. My stint in Eve was short-ish — I only got as far as doing level 4 missions in basic battleships (e.g. Raven). But for the time I was in there, I did “create content” for others via market participation at the very least (including a modest amount of market speculation, bp research and manufacturing).

    And you know what? In that entire time I felt (and I was as demonstrated by the lack of losses) perfectly safe from PvP *except* for a couple of times when I did unsafe things on purpose (once I went exploring into low/null-sec in a shuttle just for seeing the sights and once I went into low sec to do a mission in a cheap-cheap drake because I wondered how it is possible to kill me before I warp — for the record, I did die there because I wasn’t paying enough attention).

    And if I wouldn’t have been “safe” from PvP (for practical purposes), I probably wouldn’t have set foot into Eve — or wouldn’t spend even the modest amount of time I did in there.

    I think that when people people refer to “non-PvP players in Eve”, they refer to the players like me — those who have no interest in Eve pvp but who feel “safe enough” to do some pve-ing until they get bored. They might come and go — but they do create content for the hardcore population. And if you cut the 99+% safety of the highsec, I’d personally would bet on Eve dying.

    So I think people saying things like “EVE [has a] large population of non PvP players supporting the economic survival of the PvP part” are way more “right” than you are in asserting that they are wrong.

    And on the related subject of Eve market PvP — is it just me who found 0.01ISK game ridiculous? Worse yet, I couldn’t even penalize guys who insist on playing 0.01ISK game (by buying from those who don’t undercut by barest of minimums) because it is simply mechanically impossible in Eve (you always buy the cheapest available no matter what — unless that’s been changed). I found that beyond stupid which meant I couldn’t take “market game” seriously.

    • SynCaine says:

      Your off on the market thing. That’s not really how it works, and playing the .01 ISK game is trying to play WoW in EVE.

      That aside, it’s funny that you consider players like you to matter. EVE is ten years old. It has grown steadily over those ten years, and continues to do so. Do you really think it’s successful because it allows people like you to mess around for a month or so with missions, or because it hooks and retains players like me?

      • Solf says:

        Well, I’m not so sure I’m so far off on the 0.01ISK thing. Fact is — a lot of people do (did?) it. Another fact — you cannot NOT participate (you can’t buy from the more expensive supplier to penalize the 0.01ISK guy). Maybe, on some grand scale, it doesn’t matter — but it certainly mattered to me on the scale I was operating (and it was much more about me buying stuff rather than me selling stuff — in any game that supports it I don’t buy from 0.01ISK kind of guy).

        I dunno, I don’t think this whole story about abusing sorting order interface issue in what-are-they-called (stuff that players use to sell rare-ish stuff) is about economics/market at all — it’s more about abusing game bugs. Commodities is where the real economics / market game could’ve been — but somehow I didn’t see it happening without the 0.01ISK guys.

        On the “funny” stuff — I was somehow under impression that you haven’t been playing Eve for a looong time? You played some, then took a huge break, then back again for a short-ish stint in W-space and now you’re not playing again? I think I might’ve played longer than your last return to Eve lasted — or at least a comparable amount of time.

        I’m not going to pretend that I’ve created the same amount of player-content as you did. I certainly didn’t. But I did create some. And I’m willing to bet lots and lots of people like me did. Are you seriously suggesting that Eve wouldn’t lose boatloads of subs if it didn’t offer 99+% safety for those who want it? Or that these people who stick around 99+% safety almost all the time are not important to the game somehow?

        Note: I am in no way arguing against the point you’re making about “pvp threat” affecting things all around. I am merely saying that for lots and lots of players this is purely theoretical. And thus people saying “non-pvp pop supports pvp pop” do have a point.

        • SynCaine says:

          They don’t have a point. Just because they/you don’t see the impact the ‘all PvP’ setting has, does not mean it does not exist. 99% safe high-sec and 100% safe high-sec are not 1% different, they are total opposites. Someone not being aware that upgrading a mission ship past X amount of ISK does not mean the threat is not there, for example.

          About the market: .01 ISK’ing people is for the small fries in the market game. You end up spending a lot of time updating orders for ultimately small amounts of ISK (unless you have scripts running the updates in Jita). The contract sorting thing I linked to once was creative, and yes, the UI assisted with that, but the UI had been like that for years and no one figured that out until that guy did, and then we did a LOT of things right to make the ISK he made. If it was easy, others would have done it a long time ago (like the FW button orbiting for example, that was brainless ISK.)

          Anyway, real market activity depends on your ISK level, ability, and time. When it’s low (below 10b let’s say), you need to play in small ponds and carve out a niche, such as selling only a few specific items in a lesser region and trying to control that. As you build up, you move to bigger areas or higher traffic items. The top-end guys control large sections of the market due to brute force (the cartel that controls PLEX prices, for example). That’s very difficult for a large number of reasons, but insanely profitable if you are able to do it. That or you can just do what Gevlon does, hauling between markets whenever there is a discrepancy. It’s easy, brainless, and the amount of ISK you can make is decent if you have a lot of time and the will to grind it.

          As for my playtime, my main pilot has 70m SP, my second account has 55m, and my third has 30m. My main was started in 07, and most recently I was actively playing for just under a year, stopped in Oct or so (two accounts are still active right now for training). I’ll be back, perhaps sooner rather than later, depending on AV and DF:UW. So again, over the last ten years, is CCP better off attracting my kind, or yours?

        • Solf says:

          Oh no, 99+% safe is not total opposite of 100% safe. It’s much closer to being total opposite of 0% safe. Just because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not true :P

          With that said, as I already conceded, of course, lack of 100% safe is important to Eve. That doesn’t mean the other 99% don’t matter.

          And it is blindingly obvious that one Syncaine is more important to the game than one me. But the obvious hole in your logic is the availability of Syncaine-s and me-s. Somehow I don’t think there’s large supply of hardcore pvp-type, leader-type, blog-writing guys out there just dying to play Eve. Whereas I bet there’s quite a lot of people who wouldn’t mind messing around with spaceships and/or market for a while — as long as they can do it on their terms while being relatively safe from people messing around with them “just because”.

          And anyway — what this has to do with the original question? Which wasn’t hypothetical “what if”, but quite definite “what currently is”. Are you saying there aren’t LOTS of people playing Eve who want nothing to do with PvP? I mean, don’t Hulkageddon rivers of tears prove you completely wrong right there? Or are you saying there people don’t matter to the current game economy?

          On the market — and how are people interested in market PvP are supposed to bootstrap into “real world” 10b+ world then? Do they have any choice but to play 0.01ISK game? (let’s leave friends and pay-real-world-money ways out for the purpose of this discussion) And even if they do have other choice, does it mean that 0.01ISK game is a “good thing” in your opinion?

          And on the subject of untold millions of skill points — these matter little for this discussion. If you’re not actively playing, you’re not a part of the in-game economy (unless you’re buying skill books or plex maybe) and you don’t matter in the discussion of whether or not grand PvP activities are supported by loads of strictly-pve player types.

        • SynCaine says:

          The SP totals were just to show how much money CCP has gotten from me vs from you, since the topic was ‘who matters’, as well as showing how a game like EVE works for someone like me and for how long.

          And again, whether you are interested in PvP, be it ship-to-ship or otherwise, playing EVE means you are involved in PvP. Even something as simple as being in a system where a fight is happening makes you a factor. Are you friendly, an enemy, an alt spy, or a random? If EVE had 100% safe areas, that gameplay aspect would not happen.

          Getting to 10b is easy. I mean, Gevlon did it just hauling skillbooks. Its a grind, sure, but its not nearly as hard as people make it seem, But that 10b is only important if you need it. For most, they don’t, so instead of grinding skillbooks, they go out and PvP, run a corp, mess around in WH space, etc.

          The .01 ISK is what it is. Its only bad for those who don’t understand it, and has little to no impact on those who do. Just accept that in major markets, the bots will always beat you, and find other ways to play the market.

        • Solf says:

          Ah, but I’ve never claimed that PvE players don’t matter to PvP. The reverse is also not true — PvP matters to PvE players because it drives the market (at the very least).

          But at the same time, if you want to, you can PvE in Eve with basically no fear of PvP. And lots of people do. That’s the single point I am making (and all those who claim that PvP is supported by loads of PvE players who don’t give a damn about PvP — even if PvP indirectly benefits them via market forces and such).

          So, in my eyes, it’s true that lots of PvE-only players support PvP activities in Eve. It is also true the other way around — lots of PvP players support PvE activities in Eve. It’s a synergy. Take away “carebears paradise” and you’ll have a completely different game — and probably a worse game.

          And on the whole market thing, I think we basically agree. 0.01 game sucks and is a barrier to entry to those who just want to play the market a bit — you are either stuck playing 0.01 or you are stuck grinding 10b (which you say is easy, but it probably wouldn’t be easy for me — it wasn’t and I wasn’t anywhere near that kind of money when I played; and for the record, grinding hauling is not what I’d consider ‘easy’ — it’s not ‘skilled’ maybe, but it’s not ‘easy’ either, imo).

        • SynCaine says:

          If your only point is that people play EVE without understanding how they fit into the whole game, I agree. Ignorance is bliss and all that. But like I said, someone not understanding how EVE being a PvP game impacts them and how they impact others is very different from them actually NOT having an impact and being part of the PvP aspect.

          That’s why they are not PvE players. No one is. If you are logged in, you are a PvP factor for someone. That’s the true beauty of a virtual world like EVE; you cause waves to the entire world, even if your wave is just a tiny ripple (a low-cost mission runner). The definition of PvP being strictly limited to people who make ships explode is, well, wrong.

          (Also re-read your first comment; you can view all market orders for an item in a station/system/region, so if you want to buy from someone selling at a higher price, you can. The view I think you are talking about just shows you the lowest price in that station, which could be drastically higher than the system/region’s lowest price. If my assumption is correct, you really should go back and try the market again, you will see what I’m talking about in terms of opportunity in lower-traffic areas and the ability to carve out a niche. I did that for a bit, and its very entertaining.)

        • Solf says:

          Well, I guess it’s just a terminology problem then.

          (a) Lots of people play Eve without caring 1 bit about PvP. Whether out of willful ignorance or because they don’t care about PvP is irrelevant (what original quote wants to say).
          (b) Everyone who plays Eve is important for PvP in some way (what Syncaine wants to say; also what the original quote says when talking about pve supporting pvp).

          Both things true, there’s nothing to argue about.

          On the 0.01ISK thing — at least when I played — you could ‘bid’ on higher priced item (select higher-priced item, click buy). But what actually happened is you still bought from the cheapest lot (from the 0.01ISK guy) but you paid more money (so 0.01ISK guy actually won even more money if you tried to not play his game).

        • SynCaine says:

          I think you are right on the buying thing. But .01 ISK stuff only really happens in high-population areas. Go to a backwater system/region, and its not much of an issue (or at least you are not fighting bots).

    • Gavin says:

      I agree that reducing the highsec safety would chase players away. There are a lot of player who just do PvE stuff to make ISK which they then use for … honestly I have no idea what they use it for.

      Market PvP is a pain in the butt. I agree that the .01 iskers are very annoying.

      • Solf says:

        “honestly I have no idea what they use it for.”

        Well, I was using it to buy bigger ships to PvE with :)

        I was, most likely, “playing Eve wrong”. I wasn’t (and am not) interested in PvP for the sake of.. err… what is the sake of PvP in Eve on the grand scale? Holding some territory that can be used to grind better mats & isk in order to… what? Try and conquer the whole map? anyway… I wasn’t motivated to try Eve’s PvP. But I was curious to test out its PvE.

        Once I found a way to do level 4 missions relatively reliably by myself (starting from zero, no friendly alliances, think about it like playing some kind of Elite :)), I was ‘done’ with the game and quit.

        So Eve got out of me some sub money (might’ve been half a year or something) and some player-created content for other players — via market participation and me being killed in PvP a time or two.

        If Eve didn’t support this completely ‘carebear’ playstyle, it wouldn’t have had my ‘contribution’ however small comparatively that was. But I do think it’s likely there are many more ‘me’ dabbling in Eve than there are Syncaine-s. And probably both factions are important to the game’s long-term health.

  5. Gavin says:

    I think that CCP really needs to work out how to count players (not characters). I think it will be very interesting to get an idea of how many players are pure highsec players. I honestly suspect that the number is significantly lower than everyone believes.

    I play around in null and lowsec. I have 8 characters on 3 accounts and 5 of the characters are honest god fearing carebears.

  6. kalex716 says:

    Player Versus Player can have so many meanings…

    In EVE, every single thing relates to others, therefore everything is versus other players in some capacity.

    Even as a straight up mission miner, you are dumping goods for cheap on to a market that liquidates your stuff down to minerals, turns your minerals into guns and ammo, and then those guns and ammo are turned on to something else.

    Sometimes, rarely even, those very same guns are used to wax a mission runner in the wrong place at the wrong time… Can anyone in EVE claim innocence? Only those who do not undock.

  7. Pingback: Causation without Causality | Leo's Life

  8. João Carlos says:

    “There are no non-PvP players in EVE.”

    Syncaine have a serious problem with cognitive dissonance…

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