Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Soft and Hard Tools

On Christmas Day I wrote about the Corruption of Ideals. This was my own way of celebrating the relationships I have built in Eve. The acquisition of Robinton and Floyde have been nothing but good for 7-2. They are amazing players but more importantly they are amazing people. Their addition to my day is nothing but a net positive. I celebrate. I celebrate their fall from grace into my world. I celebrate selfishly for I have come to adore these two and the time that I have with them.

But with a theft comes a loss. That loss was not to me, for I am the thief. That loss was to the environment itself. Low sec is a place of constantly battles between people who are not allied. It is a place to hunt any who wander in and fail to defend themselves through awareness or strength.  It is semi-lawless space and because of that it is also semi-lawful. It is a place where almost everyone is a predator and every predator is prey.

A third or so of the members of 7-2 where once anti-pirates. And at one point in Eve's time frame, anti-pirates where very common. But many fall. The mechanics of the game fight against them. The nature of the game fights against them. Exhaustion claims them and game play drives them. Of course not all fall, but many do. The game doesn't support them after all. And, as I've been writing and writing and writing about low sec of late and casting around my net to scoop up the magical definition, I've started to ask what we are missing as much as what do we need.

There is an entire group of players who would like to fight more and who do not and cannot due to game mechanics. They are people who would love to become anti-pirates. It was my interactions with Faction Warfare that made me start thinking about this. Very often I heard that Faction Warfare gives a player a reason to fight. They can pick a side and have something to fight for and against. Not everyone who would fight or who would enjoy fighting wants to fight just to fight.

Outside of faction warfare, where do we have this? We have the anti-pirates. Those who would love to fight against the pirates. For we are outlaws, are we not? We have rejected the rules of high sec until high sec has rejected us back. We refuse to leave the empire but we live on the edge of it. We prey on anything that we can find, for good or for bad. Our own natural enemy is our own kind.

Should their be Vigilantes? White Kings? Those who seek to exterminate us?

When I first started writing my thoughts said that yes, it would be a natural balance. Good vs bad and et all. But before I moved into the range of directly supported vigilantes I had a little horrible vision. If there was a defined 'good' guy would that cause the current 'bad' guys to band together instead of continuing in their predatory state? I stopped toying with the idea of good and bad and started to wonder if it would unintentionally create sides and subconscious allies that would shatter the current predatory cycle.

My entire idea shattered into a thousand, unconnected letters and tumbled down around me.

I think that avoiding good and bad will always be the best decision. Instead, one should look at sides and decisions. One thing I dearly love is a good where the story of both sides is told simultaneously. For each side the other is evil and to each side they are good. I've often puzzled over Faction Warfare as one side insults the other (in good humor and not). But the why of it is quite simple. They are the other side. The not us. Non-FW low sec exists in a similar fashion. The us is the corporations and alliances. The them is everyone else.

And the reasons? Well they each belong to the person that has them. For whatever reason they have them. They are all part of the interpersonal matrix that makes Eve such an interesting game.

2 comments:

  1. "For we are outlaws, are we not? We have rejected the rules of high sec until high sec has rejected us back. We refuse to leave the empire but we live on the edge of it."

    That makes a satisfyingly thrilling narrative to wrap around the stories and gameplay of low-sec - which is not a bad thing, by any means - but for all practical purposes, it's simply not true.

    Going outlaw locks the character out of high sec, but the basic unit of EVE is the player. There's nothing stopping a player simultaneously being the flashiest of most-wanted, shoot-on-sight outlaws and a respected member of the high-sec community who is one of CONCORD's/the Empires' most trusted agents.

    In exchange for a certain amount of duplicated training (minimal if you just want a market/hauler/industry alt, larger if you actually want to fly combat ships in high-sec) and some extra work passing ISK and goods between multiple characters, virtually every 'consequence' of a pirate lifestyle in EVE can be shed at-will.

    Alternately, Tags-4-Sec prices outlaw status at roughly 30m ISK, and regaining access to 1.0 space at a bit over 200m ISK - very reasonable rates for redeeming someone who is supposedly one of the galaxy's most hardened criminals.

    All working as intended, of course - it's fairly clear that wade as EVE's career spectrum may be, 'good guy' is not an officially supported choice. But I personally think that's one of those 'things we are missing' - a division in low-sec more substantial than the choice between the minor inconvenience of raising sec-status and the similarly minor inconvenience of dealing with low sec-status.

    (And then I remember that this is EVE, and that designing anything more significant than our current watered-down sec-status and bounties without it being exploited to hell and back within a week of being implemented is a non-trivial challenge...)

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  2. There aren't any "good guys" in EVE, excepting perhaps carebears with missioned-up 5.0 sec and not a killmail to their name. Everybody else, apparently, falls on a spectrum with "bad gai" on one end, moving down to "worse gai", to "ultimate ebil gai". If that doesn't make a cynic of you, I dunno what will.

    EVE's "Criminal Justice" system is far too black-and-white. That's what causes your "nightmare scenario", and while the Retribution Crimewatch overhaul was a STEP in the right direction, it's but the first step of the proverbial "journey of a thousand miles".

    I'm really torn on this subject, because I would _LOOOOVE_ to see White Knight gameplay in lowsec, and especially hisec, recognized and given some buffs. The funny thing is that the same mechanics that "protect" players from the "bad gais" also protect the "bad gais" from potential White Knights, and as you said, basically nullify any reason for anyone to be a White Knight. Just going ahead and aggressing "bad gais" that aren't flashy at the moment will eventually make YOU flashy, and in a sense forces you to become what you supposedly are against.
    On the other hand, the realist in me sees that even if those "protection" mechanics were changed in favor of "more player control", that the "bad gais" would just find a way to "abuse" (to use your term) those mechanics into a "legal" way to aggress people. :-/

    I personally would like to be a somewhat "good gai", but EVE is like Spaceballs... "Ebil will always triumph because Good is bound by their sec status and gate-gun mechanics."

    Times like this, I really miss nullsec. :-(

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