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Rambling: Vestment

Often times, those of us who play Eve try to explain the concept of the game to others. We build this off of our experiences, interests, tastes, and activities. But, with such a vast game it is easy to forget that what we share are many pieces of a larger picture and no single one of us knows every single piece.

I've often struggled with the feeling of not fitting in. I like to socially PvP and find no pleasure in solo. Yet, I admire solo PvPers like one admires an artist or dancer of great skill and technique. But, I do not want to paint or dance as they do because I have no natural aptitude for it. Instead, I chortle over market orders gleeful and happy. And I feel a bit guilty that they thrill me so much. Have you seen the price of Medium Ancillary Current Routers? Exactly!

Talvorian Dex wrote a very pretty piece to newbies that Eve Hermit responded to. I happen to enjoy when bloggers bounce off of each other. It does not have to be every day but I am no stranger to writing responses. Talvorian Dex responded back to Eve Hermit and he included a line that I commented on:
"...diving into Eve with an intention of playing solo from the start is not an optimal way to approach the game for the first time."
Talvorian writes lovely blog posts and on this topic he explains his ideas out using reasonable, sensible, and understandable things. I understand where he is coming from and I absolutely disagree with him. Not because he is wrong in his conclusions but because I disagree with the scope of them.

I don't like the word optimal. It ignites every knee jerk, "You're not my real dad!" response in me.

I am not an optimal person. I fly Jaguars. I picked a Revelation for my dreadnought. I build complex projects for my own amusement. I tend to sell things at cost. I refuse any 'best' path that I think may bore me. I delight in all of the things I delight in without enjoying one thing more then the other. I don't like any of the best ships. Some days I'm more interested in market stocking then PvP.

It may simply be a matter of perception.

My concept of playing in low sec developed around the idea of social loners. Players who socialized with each other out of desire and enjoyment rather then need. They might spend hours in comparable silence. They made their ISK alone. They fought many battles alone. They did their own logistics, built their own ships, and are highly self sufficient. I build up my play style in Eve around those ideas of self sufficiency. I've learned to care for myself, fund my own projects, cover my own losses, and handle my own needs. I do not need my corporation. I like them. I want to be with them. But I can occupy myself quite well on my own. I interact with people because I want to interact with them.

I see Talvorian as this successful null sec PvP person with organization and planning and lots of corporation and alliance mates all done up in his nice jacket. I forget to comb my hair and may not know where I left my spaceship in the morning.

I see Eve Hermit as this successful, Zen like guy. The type you go looking for in lush forests full of mist and wolves. The one that in one word answers your question and vanishes. But he may leave you some berries since you ran out of supplies looking for him.

But we all log in because we choose to play Eve.

Eve has a very large, very quiet population that few of us who are vocal or public or engaged in the exterior community know. They play Eve. Many play Eve in technically poor ways. They over fit their ships. They grind level four missions. They are in one man corporations. They mine their own materials to build their ships and depress the market by their understanding of free minerals. They play Eve wrong in so far as one defines or sees playing a video game with any planning. And these players log in and do their Eve thing every single day. Should we assume that they are going, "Gosh this is so awful," as they log in do their thing and then go, "Thank god I can escape this optional activity I force upon myself in my aloneness every day. Wow."

If I were to go to them and tell them that they need to have fun and come to low sec so that they could get something out of their game by flying in PvP fleets with me what would they say? I don't know. Some might come. Some might not. But should I think that they are playing Eve wrong when they are retained and stay and enjoy the game?

It is one of those CSM topics when we discuss things like changing PvE or what can we do to make mining more interesting? At the same time as we look to improve Eve we have to remember that there are people who log in and play the 'boring' bits. They log in every day and play and log out. Day after day. Week after week. For years. There are a lot of people out there living in their little personal world of Eve and they are vested players.

Yes, we know that on average gathering people and getting them into groups retains them. I've spent the last weeks doing that. I've been doing catch and release with new players. I keep a few but most I send on their way to groups that will help, advise, and support them. I don't judge what they do. One wants to be a pirate, I have a chatroom for that. Another joined the Militia, I got them here there. A third has become a personal favorite. Four others just need help and they go off on their way. Still another becomes an explorer and has no interest in a corp. Oh, another PvPer... Its endless. Somewhere in there may be another scruffy uncombed blogger.

When you cast a net you get whatever is in the area. I've cast a net here and gotten myself, Talvorian, and Eve Hermit. We share a few basic things but I do not think that anyone would ever consider us the same type of player.

One of the beauties of Eve is that you can defy the norm. You can scream into the darkness and with your civilian laser carve a future for yourself just because you want it that way. I  happen to love that. It excites me as no other game does. I will build my kingdom out of shuttles and encourage those who wish to do nothing but look at the Nebula to do so.

So no... they isn't an optimal game Eve. Not that I can see. There is only each individuals game of Eve. Helped or not, only the individual can find it.


  1. Hmmm, there's also players who like to play 'solo' in a group. I count myself among them. I enjoy the social element of MMO's but I don't feel I have to be fleeted with my corp mates to experience it. In fact I dislike not being self-reliant when undocked most of the time.

    And I've spent the vast majority of my EVE career playing like that, I'm aware, have always been aware (ever since I was wee Kaeda nublet, I lasted 3 weeks in E-UNI before people drove me crazy) that it closes off certain avenues of play but I'm OK with that. And there's corporations who cater to that play style too. We sit on comms, we chatter, we exchange information, argue over fits, I've met a number of my peers in the flesh and we do all the myriad things other corporations do, but we mostly undock alone.

    I've tried doing the fleet/group thing twice (first in Agony and later in Calamitous Intent) and found I have no taste for it. It makes me belligerent mostly I found and I don't want to be :)

  2. I am always hoping that the player base will reach the point where they realize that there is no wrong way to play Eve, and take all that energy arguing over it and just play the game the way they want.

    1. The only wrong way is the way that causes you to leave the game after a month or two.

  3. 1. Your blog is fun to read.
    2. I miss Kaeda. He was lots of fun to never fly with.
    3. You may have inspired me to FC some new player gangs. ... Maybe.

  4. Talvorian and Hermit do provide an interesting discussion. Both, at some point, deliver advice:

    Eve Hermit, “Aimlessness kills your EVE experience.”

    Talvorian Dex, “. . . finding ways to quickly engage new player’s emotions should be the point of a new player’s experience. Nothing does that even half as effectively as bonding with other players.”

    What’s interesting, if you ask me, is that they are *interacting with each other* and that interaction happens to be about solo play. Very Sandboxy.

    What’s sad, if you ask me, is that despite his best efforts, Hermit isn’t quite able to get Talvorian to see the picture differently. Despite Talvorian’s generous acceptance that Hermit has a good point, Talvorian still holds onto the notion that some types of interactions are more genuine that others. Most specifically, that ‘in game’ interactions are the central ones while ‘out of game’ interactions are merely supplementary. While I won’t speak for Hermit, I do suspect he sees his ‘out of game’ interactions to be every bit as genuine as his ‘in game’ interactions.

    1. The video game as a sort of 21st century pub, club or society :)

      With EVE as merely the medium or common ground. Where all your friends who like spaceships, just like you, hangout and where you go after work/school or in the weekends to chill and chat and enjoy each others company and maybe meet some new people with similar interests.
      Much like a bunch of people who all like comedy might hang at the comedy club, or who all like rock music might meet at the local rock bar.

    2. First off, awesome post, and I'm glad we spurred some debate.

      Just to clarify...while I do use the term optimal, I'm talking about marketing... preconditioning players to, for insurance, view the scam they fall for as part of the game, not ruining the game.

      I'm talking about marketing for retention, not trial.  A terrible job is being done right now of converting trials to subscriptions, especially long term.  I think connections are the key.

      A lot of that post-signup conversion is done by getting players interacting with others and involved with the social aspect, which is an incredibly powerful motivator of Eve players as a group.

      And there are undeniably optimal and suboptimal ways to do that, based on providing an accurate, yet favorable tease of the game so new players aren't just interested in trying it out, but also primed to respond positively to the Eve's quirks. That's not being done now.

      I'm talking about answering this question: "What would we encourage ALL new players to do in their first month to get them to subscribe long term, if we had to set out one set of advice for everyone (which we do if giving general advice)?"  When you get one set of advice for everyone, you've got to live in "optimal".

    3. What would we encourage ALL new players to do in their first month to get them to subscribe long term, if we had to set out one set of advice for everyone (which we do if giving general advice)?

      That would make a good subject for a blog banter. I've been thinking about it a little recently because newbies ask pretty frequently "I did the tutorials, now what?"

    4. I don't think there can be one answer to that question, precisely because everyone is different and enjoys different things. The vast majority of answers I hear when the question is asked tend to favour one play style over another, while at the same time degrading all other play styles.

      And yes, I definitely agree that would be an awesome blog banter :0

    5. You're right, and that's the rub... Eve is very complex, and various parts of it appeal to different players.

      But CCP has no choice but to answer that specific question with its general marketing and non-targeted messaging to new customers. And for that, you need to go with whatever has been proven to successfully convert the most people. When customers are new, you simply don't know what they'll gravitate to, and you can't miss that initial opportunity to reach out to them.

      As I asked that question from my Marketing background, I come back to the player interactions. "This Is Eve" worked specifically because it highlighted the interactions and intricacies of player interaction. The passion came from interaction with others. And that passion was a dazzling success.

    6. Von, Tal & Sugar... I have sent off the links and reasons why this should be a BB to Kirith. =]

    7. "What would we encourage ALL new players to do in their first month to get them to subscribe long term, if we had to set out one set of advice for everyone (which we do if giving general advice)?"

      Get on the right end of a killmail.

    8. That is the problem Anon 3:57... not everyone WANTS to PvP... and you don't get that. VE is SO much MOAR than just Pew Pew... which is good and a big thing, just not ALL of it ok? And we need to advance ALL playstyles, not just the ones we prefer. And yes, by this I mean we have to respect even the risk adverse... (but we can still try and kill em...) =]

    9. The question didn't allow for a multifaceted answer.

      I think that the newbie experience already caters to players with no interest in PVP. They are taught how to find PVE and will inevitably have their sights already set on bigger, better and more tricked-out ships. They're already doing what they enjoy and have a traditional MMO progression path to follow.

      Perhaps newbies are not given the Rubix Cube and middle finger anymore but you still start at the bottom of the learning cliff with just a few million ISK from running the tutorial arcs. My advice is to start climbing.

      The newbie is in one of the cheapest ships in the game with no SP, friends and only rudimentary game knowledge at best. The troglodytes in NPC chat only reinforce the misconception that they cannot be useful in PVP without months of training and a flashy ship. In today's MMO climate, that is a very long time to ask somebody to pay for a subscription before they can start having real fun.

      Over the course of trying to get on the right end of a killmail, they will learn a lot about the game and shatter this misonception. Perhaps they'll end up as a hero tackler, in a logistics frigate or a griffin. Maybe they'll find an equally unqualified newbie and pirate them. Perhaps they will even kill someone in solo PVP, countering their ship in the rock/paper/scissors FW metagame. The most OP ship is friendship and in their quest to blood themselves they might even end up in a corp, with that social connection CCP believes is so vital for retention.

      They beat another player, they didn't simply farm bigger red crosses in what could otherwise have been a single-player game. They are no longer an algae feeder at the bottom of EVE's ecosystem and they aren't waiting until they have 'enough' ISK or 'enough' SP to 'start' doing PVP. They have now experienced the open-world, full loot PVP aspect of EVE and I think they will be much more likely to subscribe because they achieved something that meant something to another player.

  5. Beware the tyranny of the majority. Just because 51% of players are social extroverts, does not mean all policy should be dictated by the "most players" excuse.

    1. Correct.

      The hardest part is how do we find out what the quiet half thinks? Susan Black pointed it out a while back. We make decisions for everyone and we don't talk to many people because they don't participate or talk back.

      We use stats and metrics to figure out what they are doing but the why is missed. Missing the why of things worries me. It is to easy to wipe out small, devoted play styles. We also cannot stay static forever. It is a step and go process and one that I think we should take to the best of our abilities but with the thought and ability to step backwards and start again.


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