Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Rambling: Organic Mechanics

TL;DR: I'm frustrated and this is frustrated ramblings.

I have been thinking about 'risk' a lot. I'm disliking the word because I'm feeling that it is used as a club of justification. It can always be moved around. It is utterly flexible. And with that endless, and utter flexibility it becomes a useless measurement.

I believe that we have to want to play the game. I have a lot of interesting discussion and chats with people. But, what I always bring to teh table is a simple question. Will someone enjoy playing this? No matter how elegant, complex, or sensible a mechanic, if the answer to that is, "Fuck this noise!" and the player walks away, is that mechanic actually good for the game?

I argue with Vov a lot about what he considers risk free movement of high value items. I consider the time, investment, planning, and caution used to achieve that movement to be a fine countermeasure. If I play my cards correctly, my chances of being caught become so low that I'm willing to now take the remainder of the risk. My point in these arguments is that until I can mitigate the risk to a level that I will take, I will not take the risk. Hence back to the problem of, "Fuck this noise."

You cannot make people do things. You cannot make them take risks that you feel are reasonable and they do not. You cannot make them accept what you consider reasonable. You can however allow them to figure out a way to work around it. Solve it. Create avenues where thought can create a situation where that person makes a choice.

I believe that it is an incorrect assumption to believe that everything and everyone in Eve functions on a direct ISK to activity balance. Be that time. Be that ship loss. Be that hauling, markets, or PvP. I think it is incorrect to use ISK per hour as the ultimate way to define things. However, these have become, for the most part, accepted units of measurement in the game. They are tangible and they are definable. Eve gives us no units of measurement so people have created their own.

But, I didn't join the game to participate in someone elses opinion of in game money to my activities. I reject the concept of ISK per hour. I reject using ISK to define why I do what I do in this game. And I reject it simply because it isn't fun for me. I don't play spreadsheets on line. I have ISK simply because making in game money makes me happy. It has in every game I've ever played.

I do what I do because I want to do it. I feel that a lot of people are the same. But, the measurement scale created by the players and used in Eve does not allow for that.  It doesn't let you do things just because you want to without a grudging acceptance of the fact that you won't be sensible.

But if we were all sensible, would anything ever happen?

The other day I died and lost a Sleipnir. I died after catching a Charon who was trying to make it to high sec. That Charon had decided that the support fleet and distance was enough to mitigate the potential risk of being caught by a fleet that could stop it. It happens that the fleet stopped it. In the stopping of the Charon, I was in a position where I was captured by a fleet that would not have crossed my path. That fleet also killed the Charon. The Charon would never have met that fleet, nor would I, if we had not crossed paths.

Now, if that Charon had made it to high sec, someone would have said that it was risk free because there were webs to grab them and scouts in the system and it should have been fine. If I had made it back from my complex it would have been that it was easy and riskless to just go two systems and do a complex for a potential payout that never happened. If the incoming fleet had not found ether they would have been bored, found no war targets to kill, and wandered off to do something else.

No amount of risk vs reward balance can create this organic situation. This exists because people where given a series of decisions to make in an environment where others had a series of decisions to make. They were not laid before each other, measured, and then handed out.

It may just be that I am arguing with myself. I am certainly venting some. Yet, I find it hard to accept that I feel that I have to justify doing things in a recreational game just because I want to do them or like the results. I do that enough in my life. I balance my pay against what I can do. I balance the time off that I take vs the time off that I gain. I may just be obstinate but I don't find that a pleasant

And results are simply measured. I can see them. Whatever that is is worth my time. If I stop, it will fade. In a way it is world building. Something that I have always been fascinated with. It is more interesting to me then the most complex equations of ISK vs gain and lost. If I find it so fascinating then the risk must be what to balance my interest and activities?

In a game composed of the interactions of players, intentionally, directly, indirectly, and unintentionally, it seems silly that we just slap on labels, absolute definitions, and walk off. Or, it is just that I find it so.


  1. I think that your opinion is slowly gaining traction in Eve. Alliances used to care deeply about being "isk efficient". While that does still exist there are more and more alternatives.

    Brave Newbies for instance focus on fun per hour instead of isk. Goonswarm lost a titan but immediately said it was a fun fight and would do it again.

    Weighing things in isk is probably common because its easy to measure like you said. But don't get too frustrated! People are starting to swing towards enjoyment instead of profit more and more!

  2. I can't imagine anyone saying that flying a Charon anywhere in low sec ever is risk free. It is always very risky, even with webs. And I am one of those who argues (perhaps annoyingly and pointlessly) that risk matters.

    ISK efficiency isn't important to me. or to most players, I suspect. It is just something that is talked about because ISK is necessary. I think for almost everyone, the actual measure they play by already *is* fun efficiency -- this is by no means revolutionary. But in order to do that, some amount of ISK is normally required. Because most players do not particularly enjoy the activities that generate ISK, it is important to them to be time efficient when doing so.

    Maybe CCP should make ISK like skill points -- you get it over time no matter what you do.

    1. Then ISK would be meaningless. The fact that we can have long complex discussions about it says it has some meaning and greater value to things. We each just have our own interpretation of what that meaning and greater value seems to be.

  3. You can reject ISK defining what you do in the game all you want, but you can't reject it being part of what you do in the game. Or if you do, please blog about it because it would be interesting. The various "EVE from scratch" enterprises that I have read about in the past mostly seem like dismal Pioneer Days exercises -- perhaps you could bring it to life.

    1. But I dont reject ISK. I like ISK. But I don't Carr for winning or losing or choosing based off of ISK making something worth it according to someone else.

      It is the argument that a group fights and holds the field but loses because their ships lost were more expensive. Even if they don't care the ISK lost is forced upon the out come and their view and outcome ignored. That drives me nuts.

      What if I enjoyed the fight? What if I enjoyed earning the ISK back and the adventures that entailed. The ISK exists where something else might.

      Profitable projects srr fun but they are only one thing. Not everything.

      I made my first billion in my second or third month. I learned a lot. I do a better job now. ButbI have never announced a desire to start from scratch.

  4. Yeah, I hate the "lost the ISK war", too. We're a small group, so sometimes we'll take on a much larger fleet and consider it a victory if we destroy one or two of their ships before they destroy all of us. Assuming we think we can accomplish it, we usually *will* target their more valuable ships, just because we think they will feel that more, but we don't actually tally the ISK killed or lost.

    I'm interested to understand what it was about the proposed JF nerf that felt the worst to you, personally. Just that it was going to be a lot harder to do what you were doing, to the point that it wouldn't be fun anymore?

    1. The JF nerf didn't hurt me. At 5LY I had to do two jumps instead of one in Sujarento and Bosena functioned the same. Snuff Box does not do nomadic travelling. I already have a very restricted JF usage that I imposed on myself simply to decrease my risk. I don't take my JF to Jita and through Udema, etc.

      My frustration has nothing to do with 'how Sugar plays Eve'. Sugar's Eve was and still is fine. Sugar did and does belong to corporations that would come assist her as a support fleet as well. If anything I could have blown people off because the changes were fine for me.

  5. You aren't the only one that just wants to play and do stuff and doesn't need to measure it in either ISK or Kills per hour.

    Random thought: It seems to me a fair number of the former MUD players I run into are of a similar mindset. I wonder if there is any kind of correlation there...

    - Than

    1. It very well may be. I know that how I started in gaming defines me just as much as what I like to play. For a long time I only played RTS and God games. They are still me favorites.

  6. Fun per hour is the only matrix I use. Hell I'll log in to Eve just so that I can chat along with the DJs from Eve Radio and never undock. I play the game the way I want to - not the way others think I should. Stay the course Sugar, you're doing great!

    1. I had a long discussion with someone about what 'fun' even means the other day. I find a lot of things I do in Eve enjoyable for reasons such as their results. Stocking my market is not fun. Knowing that people will be able to fit and fly and fight because of my market is fun. There for stocking is enjoyable for what will happen once I am done vs the actual act being pleasant to do.

  7. The things I enjoy doing in EVE tend to cost ISK. Therefore, the ISK/hour of any ISK making activities I engage in determines how much time I have to spend doing "work" in EVE, and how much time I have left for fun in EVE. A high ISK/hour ratio means I can afford to spend more time doing fun things, or I can fly bigger/more expensive stuff during those fun activities. So for someone like me, ISK/hour is a very important metric.

    1. And that makes sense. I tend to enjoy the things that I do to make money in Eve as well.

      So, when we each came across our loss what do you say to me?

  8. For me it has never been about ISK or really even Risk or Risk Aversion as defined by so many here... It is about time well spent. Well spent with my sons... well spent with the friends I have made here... and I define 'well spent', as you say, in that I "enjoyed" it.

    Like most I don't like losing... when I was new I hated it, but because I could not 'afford' a lot of losses... at the same time I have always greatly enjoyed the Loss is Real and Constant Danger that is inherent in EVE...

    People give things value proportionate to the amount of effort involved and the subjective value they have for them. Hence, for me, I do not measure the value of my things or activities in EVE in ISK... ISK is simply a means to an end. ISK per hour is simply a unit of measurement until my next ship or implants set... I have had 1 billlion ISK in my wallet exactly only once... It was when I was in nullsec and the only reason I made it to 1b ISK was cause I could not easily get to Jita... and when I did come back, it dint last long. =]

    ISK never stays in my wallet long, it does me no good there because for me, the real value I perceive and receive in our game is in the struggle against the odds solo and with friends, and the enjoyment I get from that.

    No other game has held me like EVE due to it's close ties to RL in this way. Loss is Real and can happen anytime... and I can also be the agent of that loss and uncontrollable timing... and I like that, a lot.

    Risk, Risk Aversion and Fun are all also very subjective terms...
    one man's "OMG Fun!" is always another man's "Fuck this noise!"... imagine how boring it would be if not hmmm? =]

  9. I've gotten pushback on this front as well. I once dared to suggest that the minerals I had mined and refined myself were "free" insofar as the cost of an item when determining an appropriate sell price. I was told that I was doing it completely wrong if I thought that.

    There's an assumption that time must equal money. And while I do see this point, I choose to object. I enjoy mining as part of my gameplay. I choose to train skills and outfit ships with the intent of spending some significant portion of my time mining.

    I've chosen to engage in this activity because I enjoy it and it enables further types of gameplay that I enjoy. When I price a sell order, I won't price below (or even near if I can help it) the valuation of the input materials I used to produce the item I'm selling, unless I'm forced to by the market. Because I don't like getting less than I could have.

    But even if I were to price below the valuation of the input, I'd still be making a profit. The time spent collecting that ore and refining it into minerals has already given me a return in the aforementioned enjoyment and gameplay enabling.

    To me, that time does not represent a cost in isk that I must then make up in order to be profitable. I've spent zero isk in accumulating these materials, only time. And while time=money is a useful metric in determining one's efficiency, the reality is a bit more complicated.

    TL;DR you can take your isk/hour pretentiousness and shove it

    1. The issue with the whole minerals I mine are free mentality is that if you price the finished product at less than what you could sell the raw materials then you are simply better off selling the raw materials or looking for a more profitable item to make. If you already spent the time gathering the materials you might as well do less work and make more isk. That's my point of view at least.

    2. My answer to the opportunity cost mavens (the ones that say the mins you mine are not free) is that they are only not free if I would have been doing something else with that character. More often than not, if that character wasn't out mining, for example, they'd be doing nothing.

      So if the choice for a particular player is go out mining or don't go out at all, then those mins really are free.

      Do what's fun for you and don't let other players try to force their version of correctness on you (unless you're making actual technical mistakes, of course).

  10. What most people who have commented so far seem to agree on is having fun is the most important. Which is good because last I checked,this was a game. To some, perfecting standings to max out isk/hr rates is fun, as that is what their goal is. Great for them, I wish them luck. For others, going out shooting random rats while chatting with their buddies is fun. it puts some coin in the pocket while perhaps causing a fight. The only time I ever pressed Isk/hr on anyone is if they cry poor. If you can afford the ships you want (normal ships, as we all want Kitanas...) then however you make/steal your isk, no concern to me. The moment you wine you can't afford the blah blah blah that the fleet is asking for, as long as it is not an unrealistic request, then I might have attempted to discuss money making ways and such. I was never overly rich in the game, but for the most part I could afford what was needed, and always had back up assets (I'm a bit of a hoarder) that could always be cashed out if the need was there. For most people,that is the only goal, be comfortable with what they have, if they mine, then make sure they can afford mining equipment, if they PVP, make sure they can afford those ships. After that, it's all gravy

  11. “In a game composed of the interactions of players, intentionally, directly, indirectly, and unintentionally, it seems silly that we just slap on labels, absolute definitions, and walk off.”

    Oh Sugar I feel for you. You’re dancing in nothing less than the imposition of order on chaos.

    “In the beginning was the word.” (John 1:1) We humans are born into a blooming, buzzing confusion of sensory data and through physical development and enculturation we impose order (“the word”) on that chaos. Sure chaos sets some limitations on the words we're able to impose but within those very broad bounds, my word needn’t be your word, their word needn’t be our word, the word isn’t really *the* word. No, it’s just *a* word. Eve is no different.

    Risk v Reward, ISK/Hr, Opportunity Cost, Fun/Hr . . . “You say so.” (Mark 15:2)

    Sandboxes are not tidy.

    1. Completely agreed, and good wordsmithing there...

      And of late, I find myself referring to it a as sandpit moar and moar... cause it's oft not quite so welcoming and friendly seeming, as a sandbox... but I like it thataway... =]

  12. never really been on board with the risk vs reward metric which gets applied as a lever to "the other guy's fun". I can point mining, when it earned next to nothing (in the era of drone poo and mission meta zero) and suicide ganks were insurable. No one ever point pointed to risk vs reward metric as a gauge. When miners would post about the low income they would be told "its the way of the market" or "go do missions instead".

    When the game changed and market followed, magically we have risk vs reward used in justification for the narrow and obsessive focus to disrupt mining.