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Friday, October 5, 2012

The Crime Watchamacallit Solution

Well, we now have the first developer blog for the Retribution update coming this winter. You can read all the details at this blog post by CCP Masterplan. As this affects every player in Eve Online in one way or another, I'm certain all of you have read it already. But if you haven't, please do. You can also read Jester's favorable discussion of the changes. For some reason he seems to know a lot about how Crime Watch (CW) works. Why is that? O.o

I am pleased to see the charts detailing what actions trigger which response. In over four years of playing Eve Online I've never seen such a succinct record of what will get you into trouble with the authorities. Most of what I've learned has been from blogs and in-game events where the consequences were shown first hand but many times not what triggered them in the first place. To say my education was piecemeal is to commit a gross miscalculation of the effectiveness of that educational system.

At least by providing a concrete list of don'ts and their associated penalties, CCP is giving us a tool by which to make more informed decisions. This is a win even if no changes were coming and the spreadsheet only detailed the current convoluted system. Having a document is a big step forward. The gaudy icons help too. To be honest, I'm aghast that CCP didn't have this from the beginning. It seems like such a logical thing for a developer to develop. But that's the past and we won't dwell on it.

Reading through the new system, I definitely see ways players might game it. I'll give it some thought and, if my concerns seem solid enough, I'll visit the official forum and make some suggestions. I encourage all of you to do the same. It is the only way we will get a system that works for all of us - pirate and carebear alike.

However, amongst all the details I do believe I see the downfall of this update. CCP Masterplan picked his own poison. He says,
"If we were making a theme park game where your actions are tightly circumscribed this could be problematic, but thankfully we're making a pretty open-ended sandbox, which gives us developers a lot of confidence that you players will find new ways to do old things pretty quickly."
The emphasis is mine. I agree wholeheartedly with this statement. Us players will find new ways to do the old things quickly. In other words, I have no doubt players will quickly game this new CW system to their advantage. It's still a complicated equation of if-then-else conditions and that makes it vulnerable to gaming. There is a better way.

In the United States, crime has been on the down turn for decades even while police forces have become smaller and smaller. Why has this been? Many attribute it to the use of Neighborhood Watch and other citizen engagement plans. Some time ago, law enforcement realized no matter how many cops there are, they can't be everywhere at once. Those that live in a neighborhood are there all the time. They have far more eyes on the problem than the police department.

The point for Eve Online isn't that in-game crime will decrease if players report it. It isn't that the servers can't be everywhere at once unlike the police. The relevancy is that policing is more efficient and effective when those with the most at stake do the leg work. They have the motivation to make it happen. They are personally involved.

In that vein, I still feel that a player oriented rather than a Big Brother oriented CW is the best way to go. The servers will never understand how we play the game. They will always fail to anticipate the deviousness of the human mind. They will always fail to stop abuse.

So while I don't dislike the three statuses. And I don't dislike most of the penalties. I will dislike any system without links between CW and the new Bounty System that put control of CW into the hands of the players. Eve Online is far bigger than its code. The code is not enough. The sooner CCP embraces that reality the sooner things will really start to improve. We'll have to wait until the Bounty System dev post to find out if that's begun. I have my fingers crossed (but I'm not betting any ISK on it.)

Fly Careful

1 comment:

  1. I too have been keeping up w/ Jester, you, the dev and my other fav blogs and I find it... "Interesting..." as NONE of this pertains to negsec, IE W-space...

    (1) Crimewatch has 'no knowledge' of what happens in wormhole space... and
    (b) CONCORD has no jurisdiction or even a presence there... LOL!


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