Friday, April 18, 2014

Rambling: It Hurts to Help

[TL:DR:Nature vs Nurture written at work lunch time]

Susan Black commented to me on twitter that the current POS changes seem to make industry more isolated. This is an echo of Lockefox's post the other day. It is also the exact same conversation I had with my capital ship building partner although we were discussing blueprint research more than anything else.

A few days ago I was having a small Q&A with some Dust players. Some of them were Eve players but most were not. They had many, many good ideas about the integration of Dust and Eve. I also shot down about 8/10ths of their ideas and apologized each time I did so. The reason that I shot down their ideas was not because the ideas were bad ideas but because their ideas would not work inside the actual reality of Eve Online.

In the usage of words such as "EFT warrior" comes from the fact that on paper and in space are two different worlds. They should not be but they are. This extends beyond fitting and fighting spaceships and moves into the basic interactions of Eve. Many ideas look fantastic on paper and fall apart upon implementation. An idea must be attacked before it can be accepted no matter how good it is. If we allow ourselves to be consumed by the positive we risk a great chance of being blinded by the realities.

In a perfect world, Eve would be composed of complete corporations. They would have people who did everything from resource gathering to industry to combat to logistics and management. A corporation would, in truth, be a full company that supported itself. Instead, Eve has spawned specialty corporations. This happened because they are the ones that tend to survive. Their members then branch out into independent side projects but everything rotates around the corporations specialty or niche. It doesn't seem to make much sense but it does seem to be a reality.

One reason is because Eve does punishes us for co-operating. I don't think it means to. I do not think that was ever the intent. To avoid instancing and avoid abuse when mixed with the early coding of the game it is what happened.  Now it is the nature of the beast and its nature is developed from the fact that we need stuff. We mission not just to (or rarely to for non-professional mission runners) play Eve. We do it for a greater goal. That goal may be ISK for PLEX, LP for items, standings, ISK for other projects, or whatever else but that goal is not the full and complete way to play Eve Online.

To expand. Incursions are the only type of missions that rewards everyone. I don't say they are the only one that rewards everyone equally. Currently, if I get a mission and split it with you we get the same amount. The problem is that I could earn that same amount without you. While, in incursions to earn that same amount I need all of those other people (for the most part). And there is a max inside of that. There has to be. The players will play right up to that max and then make it work. That's where the challenge comes in and that is good but I don't see anyone calling to double the size of incursion fleets and halve the rewards for communities sake.

Industry in Eve is multi-layered. It looks as if should be a group task with a group payout. However, like many things in eve that is not the reality of the situation. To gain self sustainability we wind up having to cut others out of the process. To split a mission is to do two times as many missions to equal the same gain. The split is not an automatic speed increase in doing the mission. That makes it a net loss. Industry is the same. To live off of the profits the individual has to take the entire burden upon themselves else the gains are not great enough to warrant the energy put into it.

Is it a fault issue? Are we trapped by our very nature or is the Utopian society and circumstances simply not obtainable? Trust is a big problem. "Someone can steal from me" is both the most fantastic and awful thing about Eve. It is also a ledge and it takes a lot of interpersonal communication, relationship, and decision making to jump off of.

There is also a matter of pride and independence. In my regularly polished soapbox of low level income in low sec comes the familiar scenario where a newer player is taken under the wing of an older player. They play assist at things. They are taken on level 4 and 5 missions. They are given splits from scanned down complexes. They get loot splits from PvP. They receive everything from being a member or being taken along by someone although they could not achieve any of those things alone. I happen to love this process but it is not a perfect process. I don't want to change it so much as that I'd like to improve other methods.

To change missions and allow players to combine their missions for a more incursion like payout (not so much higher but better than it is) if they have the exact same mission might be a possibility. The Sisters of Eve Epic Arc stands out to me here. The last few missions new players often ask for help. They have to. But, if two new players approached the mission together they would succeed. If they were able to combine their missions into one instead of two that is. Asking the help of vets is good but teaching them to work with each other would be as beneficial.

I think that my thoughts filter down to teamwork should be rewarded at a different rate than individual work but that it should be rewarded instead of an automatic halving or extreme trust giving. If one person wants to do everything they need to be rewarded for that work. But if two people want to work together they need not be discouraged. If three, it should be reasonable. If it scales up to 100 doing the task one could do than they get pittance.

I'm a bit of a dreamer about some things. I know that every idea had will not be agreed with and even those that are will be given an order of importance. But, I can still dream a bit. I don't want to take away what people have now I want to improve what they can do together. I don't want solo players to be forced to form groups (I'm looking at you failed scatter containers) and I don't want groups to be penalized for playing socially.

I'll keep dreaming of better.


  1. I like your, or the, idea about not punishing cooperation (to a reasonable point). Isn't that the mentality that brought us loot spewing after all? The concept of taking a task, any task, in eve saying "Yeah, this can be done solo, but the ideal number of people would be X" There being neither any restrictions or benefit from doing it with less people, while doing it with more would start subtracting from individual rewards. For an easy example let's take missions. Say the evaluation has the particular mission ranked for 3 players. Someone accept the mission from the group, and they are all given the exact same mission (emphasis). They are then free to split up and do the mission individually or as the group and receive the exact same payout. If on the other hand 5 are grouped up, only 3 people are given the mission and on hand in the summation of the 3 missions are added together then divided amongst the group. Only giving X (x being the rated number of players) missions to the group would be the key to prevent people from abusing this mechanism.

    Applying the same logic to other area's would increase the cooperation amongst players significantly I think. I'm pretty sure the mentality of "well, I could do it with Sam, but then I would get less isk" is pretty common. But I could be off the mark.

    1. I recently moved from HS to null, and thought the increase in mission difficulty would encourage more group cooperation. What I found was the exact opposite. People simply multibox. It's just so easy with drone assist. Three Dominix, assist drones to one Domi. Play on just one screen while keeping tabs on the other two Domi and rep as necessary. From what I read in the blogs, bots run most null sites with one raven. I guess they just warp out with too much damage.

      I like your ideas, though. Sounds like mini incursions.

    2. People are going to multibox and etc. So, might as well make an engaging way to do that for those who are not.

  2. I love your insights and hope you can bring them to the CSM. At some point, CCP may start listening to the voices of the players, and it would be nice if you were there to share your views. You got my vote.

    It certainly appears that CCP is going to present some grand design they believe will foster group industrial work (last dev blog). How do they expect this to work? You presented a good argument against group industrial work including, risk of theft, loss of profits, and other in game mechanics which push industrialists into solo or very small group play. I've had my own corp for over a year now, for just these reasons.

    This link clearly shows a decrease in the average number of players online when compared to the same month last year, and a declining number over the last two months. Does CCP believe that an industry shake up will increase these numbers? As an industrialist, I certainly do not feel more motivated. Others may feel differently, which I certainly respect.

    I was really surprised when I read this on Jester's site. I'm speechless and wonder what Eve is missing.

    --2 year industrialist

    1. At some point, CCP may start listening to the voices of the players... not to throw pebbles but... CCP does listen to the players, they do so more I believe than any other MMO Co. out there... If you feel they don't cause yer not getting what you want/believe is best just remember,for you and any 50 players who totally agree with you, there are 51 other players who totally disagree with you...

      Post ANY idea, no matter what on any forum and you will get +1ed and trolled both... CCP's problem is not listening, it's trying to quantify the good ideas from the but tonne of crap... and then trying to determine what, as Sugar so well pointed out, will actually WORK and not unintentionally break/nerf other gameplay...

      I have, from day one, felt some pity for the Devs at CCP... I pity anyone who has to deal with the likes of a large portion of the EVE playerbase... There are times it must be like running a daycare for spoiled uber rich special needs kids...

  3. The main problem with supporting cooperation is that people will just "cooperate" with their alts.

    Another Malcanis law problem: any solution that would be made to help the friendly people would actually help the multiboxers.

    1. Correct. If rewards are not better than if they do with their alts there can be a reasonable attempt at creating a method of doing something with two people that is more engaging and smoother for co-op to encourage all those people who are not alts who'd like to do things together.

      End of run on sentence.

    2. The only thing I can think of is creating profitable cooperation between a newbie and a veteran. So 2 veterans are still better off running 2 separate missions, but a newbie salvaging/looting/shooting frigs for the veteran would be better for both of them than the veteran running a lvl4 alone and the newbie running a lvl1 alone.

  4. Malleborn OptimusApril 20, 2014 at 4:45 AM

    To me the biggest issue is to have content for every stage in one's Eve career and for every playstyle. If someone wants to play mostly solo as a beginner, they should be able to - whether it's mining, being industrialist, trading, exploring, PvPing or whatever. But then again, there should also be rewards for working together - for small groups as well as for bigger groups no matter whether they are newbies or vets. In an ideal world everyone would find their own playstyle profitable enough to pursue what they like to do. Currently you often don't do things because they are not profitable - e.g. working together with others on your goals.

    I find the example with the spew cans funny, as I tried to do the sites with a friend because it's impossible to catch all alone. But then, we found that it cuts the rewards hard AND it's unnecessary, because there is often just a small amount of stuff that you really want, so you can focus on those cans because the other half of the cans is often not even a 1000th worth of the other half. So cutting the reward in half for catching the other half of the cans is an actual loss.

    I'd really love it if there were even more depth to the things you can do in Eve than there currently already is, 'cause I really wanna go out with my friend and do sites together because we enjoyed it when we did it, but it's currently not worth it. Things that don't require multiple ships, but multiple players. Because let's be honest, the above mentioned example of alt usage shows that the different ships don't have much to do. If there were actual tasks for multiple players PLUS additional income, there would be at least the incentive to do things together.