Thursday, June 12, 2014

Design or Nature

War and War Decs are one of those constant topics in Eve. It came up a lot during my talk with Eve Uni. Several people who voted for me who are high sec residents talked with me about war decs. I've stated my opinions about them before as well as the frustration about them.

Fighting and war are very different things. 7-2 fights and Sov Null wages War. Reading Jacabon's blog he asked a question:
"Why is a computer game designed to be so unfun at times that you need to take a break from the game to play another game?"
And I wanted to answer, but I keep getting security errors when I try. So, I decided to write out my answer here instead.
Is it that Eve is designed to be unfun or is it the end effect of a game that does not declare a winner?
My thought was that most games declare a winner. The timer is up. The match is over. The finish line is reached. In Eve, we have a war that we wage be it the button in game or a decision made amid the group. From there, the war is waged and we have to figure out how to wage it.

We're pretty good at waging war. Doctrines. Logistics. Schedules. Goals. We've turned it into an art. Eve can fuel wars. Doctrines are selected by the availability of hulls. The optimal fit may not be a fit that can support the war. It is discarded. Finances are measured. Time is decided upon and a commitment is made.

We're not so good at ending war. Because, Eve has no end. There is no flag for the winner. There is no red 'loser' splashed across the screen. And I wonder if that freedom has created the relentlessness. With no measurable goals people tale measures assure themselves of the win.

I think it is we, as people, who are designed to be unfun and Eve, by not quantifying war, brings out that part of our nature.

16 comments:

  1. I may try to write a reply to this. It's got my mental juices flowing. I think you're pretty accurate with the human nature part.

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  2. Losing is almost never fun.

    Different personalities have different experiences with the threat of loss. Some enjoy the challenge. Others don't. The threat of loss is a drain on our emotional (and financial) reserves.

    Winning in the face of adversity is fun.

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  3. Not sure what's up with my blog. Are you trying to insert 50 hyperlinks? I know it doesn't like that.

    A game shouldn't involve people quitting due to losing. Admittedly, in a lot of mmo's losing is impossible, so eve is unique in that regard. I probably need more time to think on it to straighten my thoughts out (I've canned several draft follow up posts) but I hate seeing people leave the game due to burnout especially when for the most part it seems to be by design.

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    1. Fan auto correct and "fixing" my name

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    2. Chrome tells me it has a security error when I try to post my response and then I was struggling with another browser and just decided to post a response. Hope you don't mind me tackling it this way.

      And I think 'by design' is not the correct thought path but the lack of goal or focus for our wars is one of the reasons they are so, very, very devastating and leads to all of the negatives you have listed.

      I also think it is why war decs are so frustrating and why all of our thoughts for revamps and such are much, much more designed. :)

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  4. I think there's not enough challenge from the AI itself. If we were all in more danger of *the game itself* killing us, we might not be so intent on (or might not have so much free time for) killing each other. :-)

    I'm hoping the new stargates will bring the most frightening, intelligent, and unpredictable AIs ever seen. Stuff to scare the bejeebers out of us and keep us busy for a long, long time.

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    1. If that happens, 2 or 3 months tops. That's how long it took 'good' people to figure out how to reliably beat sleepers with the minimum amount of people in the least amount of time.

      Problem is AI can never be challenging to humans for very long for the simple reason it can't innovate and we can. And even if the AI was to be written by say the 20 best AI devs in the world all their skill and genius would still pale before the combined ingenuity of tens of thousands of EVE players. So yeah 2 or 3 months tops if they go that road :P

      The reason PvP is so enjoyable to many of us, is precisely because only other humans can really challenge us because they like us can adapt and innovate on the fly.

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    2. Well it would be hard to implement well but that's more to do with the way eve's combat works than anything else. Restrict participants and make the numbers and timings tight enough along with complex mechanics and pve can be extremely difficult. The main problem, outside of eve not playing well with twitch mechanics, is any content that is legitimately that hard would almost surely require very expensive fits to clear, which makes dozens of wipes kinda harsh to say the least.

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    3. All twitch mechanics do is turn off older gamers. It's a poor way to balance games in this day and age where many players are over 30 or much older even (EVE average is over 30 anyway).

      I'd like to claim differently but I simply don't have the relexes any more that allowed my to beat Kid Icarus, back when :) I don't like being locked out of content simply because I'm not in my teens or twenties anymore :P

      Decades of mmo gaming have however taught me that anything considered 'legitimately hard' at its inception is often considered trivial only a few months later. Incursions were like that when introduced, I still remember all those overconfident blinged out tengu's warping in to explode in mere seconds ^_^

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    4. I'm not a big fan of twitch either however if you want hard content you have to stop an overwhelming majority of your playerbase from clearing it somehow. Are you fine being locked out of content for reasons that have nothing to do with reflexes? Does it have to be something you can change?

      On the flip side if you make something too strategic and theorycrafting heavy I've found you quickly run into longevity problems as it's very easy to just replicate what people before you have done.

      To be sure many things that a given mmos playerbase consider hard will no longer be thought of as hard relitively quickly. In many cases I've found this to be because it wasn't, by a broad standard, really very hard to start with and the community just wasn't used to it. In some cases the difficulty was almost entirely in knowing how it works. Although not very relevant to eve many other games also have either content nerfed or gear power inflated to make previously hard content easy.

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  5. Lots of other mmos have quite similar war systems that, for the most part, work fine. The difference is in eve when a war target kills you, you lose whatever you're flying. This means that people who in other mmos would at least try to fight (because why the hell not) or just shrug off deaths and go do something slightly different are more inclined to spin ships, play something else or just leave for an npc corp.

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  6. The term “War” is a terrible misnomer for much of what happens in Hi-Sec. If Concord are the space police, wardeccing is simply a bribe to get them to look the other way while performing dirty deeds. Sometimes this bribery is used to set up friendly rivalries (RvB), sometimes it may actually be used to settle disputes, but in my experience it’s usually more like going to the authorities and buying your hunter’s license. On occasion predators may bite off more than they can chew but it’s atypical. If you’re unsure whether a specific prey’s gonna provide good sport, you don’t buy the license.

    So, while there’s nothing purposely asymmetric in the mechanics, in practice the result is almost always lopsided. Hunters “win” when they kill and consume their prey. Prey “win” when they survive (often to be hunted another day). I don’t suspect many animals like being prey. Rather they just endure it. Humans are no different.

    CCP has made attempts to enable prey to turn the tables on their hunters (mercenary market) but again, while there’s nothing purposely asymmetric in the mechanics, in practice the results end up lopsided. Hi-Sec mercenary groups often coordinate with each other to avoid unpleasant merc on merc conflict just like real life hunters often wear orange vests to make sure they are shooting at the deer rather than each other.

    Mike Azariah’s 2012 peace-dec post (http://mikeazariah.wordpress.com/2012/02/29/peace-dec/) gets at the lopsided situation in a particularly amusing way. There may be a jewel of asymmetric competition hidden away in his post but I’ve yet to successfully ferret one out.

    DireNecessity

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    1. With apologies, I’m going to respond to my own post to belabor a point. Wardecs *are* about something (see three possibilities listed above). In practice Concord is a policing institution, a thoroughly corrupt policing institution. In as much as Concord is the space police, Hi-Sec wardeccers are criminals bribing the space police (delivering the bribe well-nigh makes you a criminal). What’s missing is a functional way for non-combative capsuleers to bribe Concord as well. If Concord can be bribed to look the other way one would think they could be bribed to pay extra close attention as well.

      DireNecessity

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  7. War in eve is a misconception. It is a tool for people who want to fight, to force others into fighting or more common have someone to slaughter. War should never be viable for just the sake of war. It is a tool to force someone to accept your political view and surrender to it. But in Eve, it is just made to shoot someone and preferred someone who's not shooting back or highly outnumbered.
    In order to declare a winner or a looser in a war we would need goals that are in the interest of both parties. If the goal was simply set to “destroy X million isk in ships” it would still be only a goal for the aggressor. A goal like “we are suppressing your presence in region Y” would be a goal, both parties can fight for. (maybe limit it to constellation) If you are living in that region you can counter that war by still being present. And you win the war if you presence is stronger than that of your enemy. Maybe measured in “time in space” (not under POS) for activities like mining, hauling or killing stuff. If the aggressor doesn't force you to stop activity he looses the war. If he is successful, he can offer you a peace treaty, like “pay me 200m each month for the next 3 month” or “deliver us XY Ships of that kind”.
    This would open the doors for high sec fighters to collect protection money in some regions of space. Adding a mechanic to make them exclusive so if you are paying money to entity X you can't be targeted by Y. If Y want to take over the region he has to fight X and drive him off. That would result in a Fighters vs. Fighters scenario and would there for be a lot more like war.
    If you now limit the war to the region or constellation those people who don't want to fight, can avoid it by simply leaving the region of war seeking a new home in another region of space.

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  8. For me the issue of War Decs in EVE is that they have no point.

    IRL War is ONLY waged due to political and social pressures. The need for liebensraum, 'living space' for your population... the need for resources, water, arable land, gold, etc. IRL War is never waged just for the Lulz... but in EVE, it is.

    The point of 99+% of War Decs is to grief carebears (PvE centric players) and noobs. But even when I was in SYJ (a very strong, 700+ member, PvP centric Wormhole Alliance at the time) we got War Decced. Those Deccers camped Amarr and Jita in the hopes of getting expensive Hauler kills... they docked up and fled local when we showed up in any numbers in PvP ships.

    The worst are, of course, the noob griefers... the guys who War Dec noob corps because they are easy kills. We were grief decced back in our early days... we just handled it very differently than the majority of new players. (1) my sons had been ingame more than a year, and (2) we knew EVE was not your grandaddys MMO...

    We understood things here were different and this was one of the things that could, and did, happen. We also got lucky... because we we dint cry, whine and cuss in local and we logoff or dint rage quit and because we DID undock and fight back (even though we lost) all of that garnered us some respect... and the War Deccer was a OMC (one man corp) so the Dec was dropped and the deccer became one of our best friends... but that is very very rare.

    Most Thempark players who come to EVE are not prepared at all for the 'Loss is Real' aspect of EVE and the pervasive non-consensual PvP... and War Decs seem like a real slap in the face... Hisec is supposed to be safer than the rest of the game, yet a simple payoff to CONCORD and blam... you can be shot ANYWHERE and for NO good reason at all... none other than it makes the griefers laugh.

    And that is a shitty reason... really shitty.

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  9. As people here have said, the problem is that wardecs are not about anything. (This is, generally, a feature, because you can wardec for any reason you like. Sandbox! But it is a bad mechanic when the wardec is a search for easy targets.) Even if you are willing to surrender, there's no way to force it (besides dissolution of the corp), and neither does surrendering bring any security. The wardeccer can accept your surrender/ISK then dec you again 24 hours later.

    The problems with wardecs all flow from a fundamental problem, which is that wardecs make no sense. Here you have this all-powerful police force, which blows up any aggressive ship. But it accepts payments to allow groups to attack each other for a while. Why? Why does Concord want wars? How does a military test advance their goals? When you can answer that, you have an answer to how to fix wardecs. Or at least you have a line of inquiry that can, hopefully, bear fruit.

    For example, I proposed some time ago that wardecs are Concord's method of privatized tax collection. (Unfortunately this was before I started my own blog; I put it on Poe's blog and he deleted it. Some tangential discussion http://www.minerbumping.com/2013/04/the-case-for-wardecs.html?showComment=1364926157879#c1463688926800724155>here.) The goal was to squeeze ISK out of capsuleer corps. The means was to allow them to fight, requiring the losing corps to pay tribute both to the winner and Concord. Now, there's still a lot about this idea that does not make much sense -- if Concord can put your money in escrow, they can just tax you. But it still points in a direction for how to change wardecs to solve many problems with the current system.

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