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Friday, October 19, 2012

The End of Single Member Corporations

About a week ago Gamasutra published an article featuring information from a talk CCP senior game designer Matthew Woodward gave at GDC Online. In the talk, he cited three pillars to making a compelling sandbox game that will keep players subscribed and drive revenue. The last is my phrase, not his, but it's what he really means IMO when he states, "If you do this well, people will play your game forever. People will pay for it forever." (emphasis mine)

The three pillars he gives are social, goal-driven and emergent gameplay. We have all heard these words used to describe Eve Online for years now. CCP stepped up using them after the Incarna debacle. It seems to be part and parcel to their realignment after that harsh summer. What does this really mean for us?

And before I continue, I'd like to address a misconception some of the commenters have about the concept of socializing. The lack of socializing is not being antisocial. Being antisocial is still a valid form of socialization. It's just the negative of social in the way black is the inverse of white. The lack of socialization is unsocial. Please keep that in mind as you read on.

Social (or equally antisocial)

This is the most important one for us the player. The reason is, it will drive the other two. In a departure from my perceived dislike of all things Goonswarm, I have to say that they seem to get this pillar in ways a lot of corporations and alliances don't. It's easy to hate Goonswarm because of the havoc they create, but what enables them to do it time and again is their highly social approach to the game. By their own recruitment policies, you do not become a member of Goonswarm without qualifying out of game first. This is clearly stated in their wiki. To quote for those who want the tl;dr,
"GoonWaffe is NOT a publicly recruiting corporation. We are all members of the Something Awful forums, or well-known friends of someone who is a member. To join GoonWaffe you MUST either be a member of the Something Awful forums and have been an active member for at least 3 months, or you must have a sponsor who is a GoonWaffe member of good standing who is willing to vouch for you, meets the above requirement, and has been a member of GoonWaffe for 30 days. If you do not meet the above requirements then you can not join."
Now, there are some really good security reasons to have such a policy I'm sure - but where the rubber meets the road it means their members are already socialized. It becomes part of their attitude toward the game. Instead of asking themselves, "what can I do" they are more inclined to ask "what will we do."

And this isn't just restricted to Goonswarm. Since anyone reading this no doubt reads Jester's Trek, you know Ripard Teg is a member of Rote Kapelle. Those folks definitely "hang." And let's not forget Rixx Javix and the Tuskers, another group that "hangs." And then there is Eve University and Red versus Blue. They are the other side of the social circle in Eve Online - not as selective perhaps but certainly just as socially oriented.

"So what's your point?" you ask. Well, as much as it pains me to say it, because I did it for four years and liked it, don't be a damn unsocial carebear. You can be a carebear, but join an industrial corp. If you are dead set (pun intended) on a personal corporation, join an industrial alliance. Either way, talk with people. Mine with people. Do things with PEOPLE. You'd be surprised what will eventually happen.

Look at what Rote Kapelle is doing in Syndicate. Agree or disagree, they are making Eve Online more fun even for the folks they are attacking. I already see some Faction Warfare pilots starting to go after LP farmers because the LP farmers just don't have the "right stuff." Will the Tuskers decide to do something coordinated about them before the coming nerf? It'd certainly be interesting if they tried. And that leads directly to the other two pillars.

Goals and Emergent Gameplay

As I understand it, Rote Kapelle's goal is to make Syndicate into a roaming paradise again. Or perhaps to simply get more GF. Regardless, this is not a CCP provided goal though I am certain the devs in Iceland are very, very happy. They didn't have to create any content whatsoever for this event. All they needed is for a group of well trained and highly social pilots to decide they would take things into their own gun sights.

Can you say the same thing was not true of Burn Jita? What about the Jita Riots last summer? Or better yet, go read Poetic Stanziel's latest on the ice interdictions. Guess what, the goons are back. It didn't take long for those highly social goons to figure out they weren't nerfed out of the game after all (though I am a bit disappointed it took them this long. *wink* )

These are all examples of player set goals and emergent gameplay completely driven by player socialization.  That is our responsibility folks. If we want Eve Online to be forever, it is completely up to us. CCP can provide the hardware, they can provide the client and they can provide the framework. It is up to us to keep it alive and that won't happen if we are unsocial.

Over the last month, I have been slowly changing my opinion of what CCP is trying to accomplish with their talk of nerfing high-sec. It isn't that they want to drive players out of high-sec. I now believe their true goal is to drive the single player corporation out of the game - or more generally discourage the lone wolf  playstyle. And you know what, I'm not upset about it. As Mr. Woodward says,
"Mining is boring; mining with friends and beer is fun because you can sit there and do nothing and have fun."
Can anyone disagree with this statement? And when CCP does begin to make high-sec more costly for highly trained lone wolf industrialists, will they not band together and take to fleet mining ops for both safety's sake and, more importantly, profit's sake? I do hope so. And like the Goonswarm ice interdictors, they will discover they aren't nerfed out of the game afterall.

Fly Careful


  1. You forget most people are assholes in this game. Good luck getting your mining fleet ops and stuff working.

    CCP can take the solo out of the game, but they can't take the asshole out of the players, so I doubt the game will be too "social".

    1. I'm not sure why you're still playing if you really feel that way. Lol. It's surprisingly easy to build up trust. Even in a game where people are conditioned to not trust each other. How do you think Corp theft happens?

  2. My only reason for having a one man corporation at the moment is that the current corporation controls make it a requirement to do extensive background checks on individuals you only know in-game or severely restrict what such pilots are allowed to do within an industrial corporation. The UI and tools for corporation management are horrendous and are an impediment to forming strong corporations. Goonswarm very definitely does thing that form strong corporation/alliance bonds but look at the lengths they go to do so. That simply isn't what most people wanting to socialize are interested in within a game. I'm not going to put more time into background checking people than I do into actually playing the game.

  3. Great article. The only friends I talk to every day are the ones that live hundreds of miles (and further) away: the ones I game with. And those people keep me playing games that I would have lost interest in a long time ago. If that's CCP's strategy, it's a good one.

    On a side note: I suspect the Goons had a plan to adapt to the "mining buff" far earlier than you presume. If they wanted to drive down the price of ice -- to stockpile it before they drove it back up again -- having a bunch of Goons bitching about the "ganker nerf" on the forums seems like an obvious strategy.

    1. Re: Goons

      Of that I have no doubt. You did see the *wink* right? *grin*

    2. It's interesting how Goon metagaming interfaces with their "news" site. They've reported for a few months how it's pointless to gank miners which of course has had an effect on speculators. As speculators released stocks isotope prices sunk under 500 isk. Goons bought out Jita and announced an interdiction. Isotopes are on their way back over 1000 and at some point soon Goons will cash out, put the Catalysts away and start "reporting" on their "news" site about suicide ganking being "impossible" causing the price to drift back down again.

      Don't get me wrong, I like the site and sometimes the writing is superb. But they're not averse to outright lying to achieve game advantage.

    3. As a writer for and one of the guys in charge of the 2 week miner gank spree that wrapped this week, I can tell you that you are dumb and extremely paranoid. We wanted to try something different after ganking 1.75trillion isk in freighters over the period of two months. We put in buys on a Saturday. Started ganking the day before, announced the tiny interdiction the following Thursday or Wednesday, I can't remember. Then we ganked for another week and a half, then dumped the Ice/Topes we bought 2 weeks before.

      The thing that people were complaining about, and it wasn't mainly goons, because we can do things in groups: Solo miner ganking in a destroyer is dead, unless you have two accounts to gank with.

      Two dudes thought up this Ice Interdiction 2.0. We set up for 2 weeks, and executed for 2 weeks. We organized a tiny (150 member) special interest group, and only did about 85bil in damage. Out of those 150, I have about 40-50 unique pilots that were actually active in these ganks. About 466 things died, which is not a lot, but for 2 weeks, it is pretty ok for that small group.

      Other than that idiotic blip, this was a fantastic entry back onto your road to better posting mabrick. I will show this to my highsec solo miner friend, maybe he'll join an industrial group and have fun.

  4. It's a bit loaded to ask if anyone can disagree with it. Instead, I'll offer my own statement, "mining is boring; mining while I'm grading papers, missioning on my alt or running nosec gate camps means I never think about how boring the mining is and my PLEX is still paid for."

    I play semi-solo for a reason; I don't want to have a confab every time I decide to whatever it is I've decided to do. There are good sides to playing in a group, but finding a group that fits is difficult. Just one asshole is enough to get me to move on. I play to enjoy myself, not to be forced into awkward or disagreeable social situations.

    1. Mojo & DJS kinda hits it on the head there... (and 9bab... is an ID10T and probably an asshole in RL) Yup.

      It is not that most people are assholes, most aren't, it would be really great to have the Corp Mngmnt system revamped with some better security tools, but that would reduce the 'emergent' spying and corp theft etc., et al which (for better or worse depending on yer perspective) is a part of EVE.

      It is not that people are basically social or unsocial or antisocial or prosocial or intersocial or hypersocial or socialble or just wanna go to a social (look it up)... it is that everyone has TRUST ISSUES.

      Gods know we in HBHI do. The Directors are family and RL friends. But... there are ways to bring in new people, and it IS very worth the effort DJS... having a few more guys in corp is bar none, hands down vastly better, especially for as us as we are a WH corp a kinda limited in resources (hard to call for help when yer not IN New Eden per se...) =]

    2. I have run a corporation with over 50 active accounts in null sec as part of various alliances. The amount of work that requires is so great that everyone I have seen in that position, myself included has burned out in about a year. The tools that CCP has created have not in any way kept up with the needs of the players. The biggest fear anyone in that position has is that you make the mistake that puts roles into the hands of someone that puts all your work in jeopardy.

      The really excellent alliance level and corp level websites, forums, and comms are a testament to the dedication of a lot of EVE fans (and the shear effort that I have seen the Goons put into them is impressive). However, over 5 years I have come to feel that CCP is far to cavalier about the failures of the UI and their lack of real support for the features that are in place in the background of EVE. Features that really are vital for creating the content we all enjoy.

      I am in a one man corp now ... refreshing my love of EVE in a WH and working with others --- just not within the same corporation.

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  6. I FULLY disagree. If mining is not fun but talking with friends is, then why should one play EVE instead of be out with friends?

    If the socialization has nothing to do with EVE itself, why should one pay for EVE? Mining is STILL a lonely action, the presence of fleet members add nothing to the act of mining. One can socialize without the game. If the source of fun is socialization, where is the added value from having an EVE subscription?

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    2. Uh... really Gev? Really? Are you that short sighted? "If the source of fun is socialization, where is the added value from having an EVE subscription?"

      Uh... SPACESHIPS; BEAUTIFUL PANORAMIC SPACE VISTAS; FLYING SPACESHIPS; Making ISK (end product of the 'act of mining'); making ISK mining "with" friends (sounds like you may not understand that one)... and lastly but not least, HANGING OUT WITH 'FRIENDS' FROM ALL OVER THE GODSDAMNED WORLD... which you CANNOT do in BFE, UNLESS you are online in an MMO.

      The friends I 'socialize' and fly with every night, whether mining, or running my PI to market, killing Sleepers or trying to hunt down people in our hole or raiding in others, are in London, Seattle WA, Oregon, Charleston SC... and I am tucked away out in the woods 30 mins from Richmond VA.

      There is your added value... right there. Jezuz Gev get a grip.

  7. This is silly, one-man corp is not something you can just stop - single players don't get the better interface parts without it in trade or other places. Not that that is a reason that you can not stop it.

    IMO, sandbox is cool, but the emergence is more important and if it's truly emergent, it's close to real. In my reality, I roll in a one man corp and if I didn't' have a cool corp mate like I do now in my game corp that would be solo too.


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