And the gankbox discussion continues. What I find most interesting about all of this is that it reveals just how little most people understand about MMO design, or even what they themselves want in an MMO.
Let’s talk about the root of the issue as it relates to EVE; that when you die, you lose your stuff. That kind of design is already fairly rare in MMOs, what with soulbound items being very common even in games that do allow some form of PvP. But not only do you lose stuff in EVE, the game takes 50% of what you lose and destroys it, with the other 50% being left behind to be potentially looted by someone else (or the wreck can be blown up for a 100% destruction result). Other than the brief time I pushed Aventurine to implement this system in Darkfall (lovingly called the ‘SynCaine tax’ by the community), I’m not aware of any MMO that has this kind of mechanic. In old-school UO, when you died, you dropped everything. In Asheron’s Call you dropped an item, but nothing was taken by the game. DAOC you lost nothing.
The game taking 50% of what should drop is a core sink in the economy, and given that EVE has not only the best economy in the genre, but no other MMO is even remotely close, and you would think more MMOs, especially sandbox ones, would have learned this from EVE’s tenure as the top sandbox over the last 10+ years. But here is where the lack of understanding kicks in.
For many, both players and designers, the economy in a game is only important to those who care about it, be they crafters or market watchers. That, of course, is terribly wrong thinking, as the economy impacts everyone, or at least should in a good sandbox MMO. A miner cares about the economy because without it, his efforts might be pointless (how many MMOs exist today where basic crafting inputs or outputs have basically zero value? That’s a game with a terrible economy.) A PvP’er cares about the economy, both because of how much it costs him to replace his ship, and also the value he is killing/destroying from someone else. Explorers that hunt rare sites for rare items can only continue to do so if those items remain rare, and that can’t be maintained without a properly balanced economy. I think you get the point. Without a solid economy, many core systems in an MMO collapse, and this problem is poorly ‘fixed’ by resetting everyone over and over (level increase, or expansion with more powerful items).
Then you have the definition of the term ‘gank’ itself, which originally meant a PvP encounter where one side has zero chance. PvP combat was defined by there being an actual fight, while a gank is a one-sided slaughter. Why the ganked occurred is secondary, and not really part of the definition. Easy examples of a gank are a high level WoW character killing a lower level one, or a gate camp in EVE catching a single pilot. That the gank in WoW accomplishes nothing but wasting someones time, while the EVE gate camp might be for strategic reasons doesn’t change the fact that both encounters are a gank rather than PvP combat.
Now lets bring back the Massively definition of a gankbox:
Gankboxes are sandboxes that place such an emphasis on unrestricted free-for-all PvP that ganking comes to dominate the entire game, to the detriment of the rest of the world design.
Does ganking dominate EVE? Not even close, considering the vast majority of ships destroyed are from PvP combat (fleet battles, low-sec roams, etc) rather than ganking. But even if we ignore that fact, ganking in EVE isn’t a detriment to the rest of the design, it a benefit. Without that sink in the economy, the game itself would collapse. I could easily argue that vanilla PvP WoW servers were far more of a gankbox than EVE has ever been, and this is easily supported by the fact that Blizzard made significant changes to the ruleset to ‘fix’ the problem (no killing of flight masters or quest givers, for example).
So if you have ever raged against an expansion or update resetting your progress, what you are really upset about is that your MMO of choice has a broken economy. Maybe ask the devs to allow some more ganking to fix it?
Now excuse me, I’ve got to get back to multiboxing my ratting carriers in ‘dying’ (with record profits) EVE, while watching CNN, the news networking ‘dying’ while having its highest ratings ever. Might also pre-order Albion, since they are offering an industry-first pre-order bonus. Oh how outrageous of them!