Monday, July 7, 2014

War through Oatmeal Cookies

Sometimes you see  post that you can but stare at it in amazed wonder and doubt your grasp of reality. That was how I felt reading one post responding to CCP Greyscale's explanation of his industrial future. I read it and went, "Wow. What a wrong post." I didn't do much more than that. Someone with greater forum foo would rebut it and after all, people are often wrong on the internet. One cannot stop for them all.

However, his post worked in that it caught my attention and made me think. What we write and what we mean and how people react to it do not always line up. We may attempt to control the direction that they do lean but we are fortunate if people follow the pathway instead of bolting to the side, jumping the twelve foot wall to free fall into an prismatic ocean of their own events.

And, blame my recent dive into the depths of Eve these last months for the change it has had on my perception and thought processes. What and how I see Eve, what and how Eve is, and what and how Eve was started as are all very different. The later part of that triangle I used to not possess. Now I have it and I cannot help but give it weight to my thoughts.

Triangles are, after all, ridiculously strong.

So, this poster that I so casually judged as, "Wrong" started his post by saying that, "Eve is a PvP game and that is what CCP should focus on." PvP in this was the most true and brutal form of spaceship explosions. The moment those words are written, people will jump up and point out how Eve is not a PvP game. And I am often on that band wagon having a wide variety of things I like to do that are not Eve PvP. While we interact with players and outbid and undercut them in the market, mine their rocks when we mine, and in general affect each other in the day to day even if it is not a face to face interaction, we still most often focus on PvP as the destruction of spaceships.

That lead me to asking myself, "Was Eve created to be a game of warring player empires?" and the feeling that I get as I look through the developers blogs from Eve's early days is that Eve was always meant to be a game where killing each other would always be an option that people had. That it was part of the game but not that it was the game. And that ti did not become a focus for the game until those launch bugs had been shaken off and someone sat down and realized that a defined future goal was needed.

This entire cascading thought chain happened when I was supposed to be writing a report at work and was instead imbibing of a delicious oatmeal cookie. It may have been the energy provided that cinnamon dusted sweetness but I was also reading some of the 'fix sov' posts on Features and Ideas at the same time. These threads are about fixing Sov which is not a topic I am very useful for but one I find that I want to stay abreast of these days.

And there I am, oatmeal cookie nibbled in one hand, phone propped against my laptop reading a post and my report slowly getting worked on when I asked myself, "If CCP decided to create large scale player empire fought galactic warfare and combat after they decided to create their spaceship game maybe we're missing the foundations."

This came from a very blunt post in which the members of the great sov coalitions are pointed at for not wanting to fight each other. That is an easy thing to head nod to. "Go kill them till one of you is dead." But, as I nibbled my cookie and thought about the fact that many people wants a secure place in Eve to live and well... play Eve. That the response, "It is not worth it," exists or the complex and fascinating explanations on exactly why the path of the game's empires has been pointed in this direction do not move nor even tip towards the brutal senseless spaceship violence some long for is an interesting thing. None of that is big, gigantic war where thousands of people slug at each other and climb over the fallen bodies of their foes. It is now where ships explode and their corporation lurches forward even as destruction reigns around them as they scream defiance in the face of aggression even as blood streams down their bodies and tortured muscles buckle under the strain.

Yet, we seem to expect it. It has become a machine that moves other parts of the game. One does not have to be on the front lines to participate. Not with Eve's economy of player built ships and player gathered resources. If anything it gives a place for all of our creation to be consumed. That to is well known. The oft spat, "You'd not have a ship if it wasn't for me!" is well enough known.

It is still not the image of fief lords crouched atop their castle spire as the banners of their greatest enemies crest the hill at sunrise.  In every argument there is a discussion about conflict drivers. That was perhaps the last piece. We discuss how we have to incentivizing fighting. It suggests that the current state of diplomatic relations and business dealings on hold courses while chomping expensive cigars is the inevitable end. Instead of mass destruction and legions of homeless drones their owners shattered into a million bits of matter expanding outwards we are picking pink polo shirts and counting our swings. If we have to stop ourselves from making peace is that because we are not in the proper state to make war?

Sov was not in the game from day one. It came fairly quickly. Once it was in CCP put a lot of energy getting it off the ground. People were already attacking each other. The first buffs to NPC police and the creation of CONCORD all came because of the early ease of piracy in the space lanes and the casual, wanton killing of any one could find. But wonton killing for fun is still not galactic empires that spread across entire regions.

It has already been seen, with painful clarity, that the changes will have to be deep and structural. Bandages and glue will no longer replace the need for motor and stone. But CCP needs to lay a damn good foundation this time. I hope that they do. While sov may never be for me, I do admire it from a distance.

It was a pretty good oatmeal cookie. I pick the raises out of them as I nibble. I should try making them with cranberries. Who knows what I will come up with then.


  1. The first post you linked was the last post I read in that thread. I really believe that CCP needs to post a dev blog with words in ALL caps that forever state that EVE is a SANDBOX and despite all the hooplah about pvp over the years, it remains a sandbox.

    PVP honestly bores me. Let's talk about building something instead....

    1. I say we declare the four “Cs” of the sandbox:

      1) Coexistence
      Welcome to the single shard sandbox universe that is Eve. Playing the game demands you coexist with every other player in the Eve universe. (You may well observe someone else mining in the same field that you are mining in.) Being a single shard sandbox, coexistence occasionally grows to astounding proportions (see Jita).

      2) Cooperation
      Eve’s sandbox, being cleverly designed, will enable you to cooperate with other players for mutual benefit. (You, or another player, may well choose to share mining links improving yield for all participants.) You are not obligated to cooperate but choosing not do so may put you at comparative disadvantage with those who cooperate. Being a single shard sandbox, cooperation occasionally grows to astounding proportions.

      3) Competition
      Eve’s sandbox, being cleverly designed, will enable you to compete with other players. (You and your miner friends may choose to undersell the competition on the shared market.) You are not obligated to compete but be choosing not to compete may put you at comparative disadvantage with players that do compete (your ore won’t sell). Being a single shard sandbox, competition occasionally grows to astounding proportions.

      4) Conflict
      Eve’s sandbox, being cleverly designed, entails sharing space with other, possibly bellicose players who may choose to violence your boat, PvP your market niche, swindle your trust, etc. as they choose. You are not obligated to engage in conflict but be aware that in Eve freedom to does not equal freedom from. (You are free to mine peaceably but that choice does not obligate other players to allow you to mine peaceably. Freedom to be peaceable does not equal freedom from conflict.) Being a single shard sandbox, conflict occasionally grows to astounding proportions.

      Off the top of my head a good foundation must not only unreservedly support all four Cs but also allow players to entertainingly pick and choose among the four Cs as they see fit. This is no easy thing to achieve. (Mining, as running example, was chosen for convenience only.)

  2. A post on the industry changes I think offered unintentional wisdom on sov. The post caused me to realize if moving was necessary for industrial organizations it would more likely cause the larger ones to fail than the smaller. The posters phrase was along the lines of moving buildings would cause them to fall over in the cases of skyscrapers. Perhaps in this lies advice on how to fix null. Reduce jump and bridge ranges to half or less and deplete systems if they are heavily utilized and you may be well on the way to a solutiin. Something as simple as dynamically changing sec status of systems would do the trick. The more people living in a small area the faster they run it down and thus the organization must seek new pastures. These moves in turn would fracture larger organizations more than small ones thus creating a restoring force against the overly large and entrenched organizations which embrace stagnation for obvious reasons.

    1. The only outcome I can see from having regions deplete like that is to cause players to stop logging in. It would mean, in effect, forcing players in null to be nomads. That's not why people claim sov; they want to build their own permanent village.

      Change the way jump bridges and titan bridges and black ops bridges work? Sure. Instead of having systems deplete due to activity, though, I think we'd be better off moving to a system where sovereignty is kept, if not established, by maintaining a certain level of player activity. Use it or lose it, in other words.

      All this doom and gloom over the industry changes is way too premature. IRL, industry concentrates and breaks apart and concentrates again at different locations and in different configurations for a variety of reasons. Industry can sometimes be lured to the fringes by lower cost of operating, even though it costs more to ship. And, conversely, higher labour costs are sometimes worth it to remain where the infrastructure and easy access to markets are. Yes, there will be an adjustment period as people spread out their manufacturing, but instead of the death of industry, maybe what this will help to do is mark the rise of regional trade hubs to rival the Big Four.

      To address Sugar's main question of what is EvE meant to be, all the evidence clearly points to players shooting players and, eventually, player empires fighting player empires. But is EvE supposed to be more like an RTS or like a 4X game? I think it's supposed to be more of a 4X than an RTS and personally, if it goes to the RTS side, I'll move on. So, I suspect, will most of the playerbase that has made EvE, though it's also likely that EvE will attract the much larger group of people who don't want to what EvE is now.

    2. The idea of keeping or losing sov through activity is compelling. It would have interesting impacts on foreign wars if there was a need to maintain and defend home. To work it would also require decreasing mobility.

  3. CCP never had a 'vision', only piece meal rationalizations that focus on whatever patch they're completing that month. It's about as random and haphazard as their 'chronicles' strung out over the years.
    They have no basic understanding of how and why people play the game, even after years of CSM dramatics.

    How the heck can a company continue to ignore the corporate infrastructure, with it's insane fratricide, even after duel-popups were coded in and mostly used in starter systems vs n00bs?

    You'd be forgiven for assuming CCP had been infected by a parasitic mindcontrolling organism. lol

  4. Destructive PVP is proportional to boredom, and inversely proportional to consequence. It's not an accident that both Red vs. Blue and the various NPSI fleets (not to mention, incursion fleets) are full of null sec players. This is not fixable, because it's not a problem. It's just human nature. In fact, the players who do Leroy their ratting ships against roaming fleets, heedless of the danger, are laughed at, and their kill mails posted as ALODs. Risk management is an accepted and celebrated consequence of lossy PVP (doubly so in sov null, because you can lose stations and systems). Diplomacy is nothing if not high-level risk management (it can also save a tremendous amount of effort in terms of alliance logistics, troop rallying, and all that other work that falls overwhelminglyon the same handful of people in any alliance--another thing to consider). Large-scale combat has been motivated by propaganda and by accident more often than by anything else.

    As for Malcanis' point above, that goes directly here: (money quote: "in a later session UAxDEATH sneers that a trillion ISK [is] mere pocket change for a nullsec alliance (at which you could practically hear Alekseyev Karrde's jaw hit the floor)") That assertion, and some other interesting ones, are in the CSM7 winter minutes.

    That post points toward the root complaint, articulated several times on the forums by senior Goons, that it's ridiculous to expect anyone to build out an industrial backbone in nullsec when there are free, built-out, indestructible alternatives in high sec. It's always been *possible* to roll out nullsec industry at scale, but with a substantial up-front infrastructure investment and added risk, not to mention that you then have to compete with people using the free infrastructure and safer logistics of high sec. So, there's not much industry in nullsec. The appeal of building your own empire is nice, but risk management is paramount.

    It's time for CCP to stop treating that as a problem to solve and start looking at it as a basis for design. As long as they insist on making loss expensive, and to the extent that staging and logistics are painful, people will avoid open warfare. If they're bored, they'll boot up their RvB/NPSI fleet alt and go shoot things in a cheap ship. That's a given. What do you do with it?

    (Oh, and as for the guy you quoted: yes, some people have an evangelical faith in the power of forcing other people to accept their world view.)