For the best experience use full HD.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Time for War, eh Mates?

Started reading about the Mate War on Through Newb Eyes this morning. If you haven't already read about it, please start there.

I soon had tears running down I was laughing so hard at the transcripts presented. People at work thought I'd gone off the deep end. I tried to explain, but they just kept looking at me in that way people do when they don't know if they should call the asylum or not. I'm still chuckling as I type this.

I love this game. Good on you mates for standing up for your right to use the word properly!

Fly careful.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Nosy Gamer Twist on new Exhumers

Nosy Gamer has become one of my favorite reads. Though he isn't strictly an Eve blogger, his penchant for making good points with valid statistics is worth reading regardless of the game. The fact that he delves into the world of Botters and posts all sorts of juicy tears about them getting flailed by Team Security is just icing.

His latest post gives a good analysis of the Exhumer changes now on SiSi. Head over and give it a read. It'll give you an idea on how to use the ships once the changes go to Trinity Tranquility (damn you auto-correct!) Besides, it's better than anything I've come up with!


Fly careful.

Friday, July 27, 2012

We are the Cogs of a Social Engine


There is a new interview with Eve’s senior producer, Jon Lander, over on Gamasutra. It is a good read though some of it is rehash of where CCP went wrong last year and how the company has course corrected. The rest is both alarming and reassuring at the same time.

The most interesting quote, IMO, is, “[EVE] isn’t a game, EVE is a social engine.” I’ve heard words like this before. I don’t quite know how I feel about the statement. I think I’d like to spend my 200th Eve post mumbling about some of my ruminations on it.

To make sense of it, I have to decide what a social engine is first.  There is no definition of one that I can find. To take it literally though, it is a device by which a social engineer can influence society in the same way a lawn mower is used by a home owner to keep the grass short. Influencing society is what a social engineer does. This alarmed me. I’d already been suspicious of CCP trying this sort of manipulation on capsuleers since the much disliked Incarna. Had CCP really not seen the errors of its ways? Were they still manipulating Eve players for some business reason not strictly related to Internet spaceships?

To answer that, I have to ask myself what motivates CCP. Is it to have a fun and enjoyable Internet spaceship game, or is it to be a successful business. I come down on the successful business side of that question. If CCP is not first a successful business, the rest is irrelevant.

To that end, what does CCP need to be a successful business – or more accurately, a more successful business? I don’t think it is Eve Online. Eve Online is a revenue earner for certain. Subscription numbers are rising again, if slowly. I don’t really see this on Tranquility but that does not include the Chinese server that is separate from the rest of us (I wish it wasn’t President Hu.) Taken together they most certainly show subscription growth in active accounts.

But I don’t see Eve Online as being a growth venture for CCP. That is what Dust 514 is. In that regard, it is more important for the success of the business than Eve Online. If I were running CCP, I would certainly apply social engineering via my social engine to get capsuleers more into a social frame of reference to support that project.

In short, I’d stir the pot and create a hornet’s nest of conflict. As I’ve said before, that is what Dust 514 is all about. There is too much there to be coincidental. I know how high level planning sessions go from my own personal experience. But don’t take my wild speculation on that. To quote the interview, “We’ve got a theme. We’ve got some business goals.” (Emphasis mine.) What are those? The article spells it out plainly, “one that will drive the movement of players and resources in the game, even those who don’t engage in PvP combat.” (Emphasis mine again.)

Do you still think Mabrick is full of crap? Does it rile you to think CCP is manipulating “your” game? Don’t be. This social engine is unlike any engine you’ve seen.

There is great benefit for us in this manipulation… and at this juncture, perhaps friendly encouragement is a better term. You see, I don’t think this is done with the least bit of malice on CCPs part. Quite the contrary I’ll wager. Though I’d like them to be a bit more honest with themselves (and us) about the fact that it exists, this friendly encouragement is taking CCP and Eve Online in the best possible direction.

Firstly, anything that enables CCP to grow as a business is good for all of us. Remember how sad we all were last summer when the result of our distain for Incarna was the loss of so many jobs? If you don’t feel even a shred of quilt about that you are niggardly and should be ashamed. This bit of social engineering that is Inferno should go a long way toward making amends for those decisions (from all sides, unsubscriber and hubrisite alike) that made those layoffs necessary.  If it helps Dust 514 to become successful, if it allows some of those jobs to return, it will be worth it. It will not remove the guilt, but it will make it easier to live with.

Another benefit coming from this friendly encouragement is a more robust player community. I’ve been playing Eve online for over four years. In the past three months or so, I have had more interactions with other capsuleers than I’d wager I had over all the other months. There have been people I disagreed with. There have been people who disagreed with me. There have been people who even agreed with me. There have been incredible acts of support.

I will never forget the night Karn Prime jumped his Drake through three gates to fly escort for Keiko, my Orca, as I made my Planetary Interaction run while MABMM was war-decced by Goonswarm. For lack of a better term, letters of support came from many unexpected directions. I have made new friends, learned to respect my adversaries (even though I malign them constantly,) and generally have a more concrete connection to those with whom I share this game. Believe me, that isn’t a bad thing.

Today I feel like I am truly a citizen of New Eden rather than just a tenant of Essence. It makes me feel good. That is strange considering the heart of that connection is a long running discord with null-sec alliances and specifically Goonswarm. But there you have it. I may never see eye-to-eye with them, but I am getting to know them better. They will undoubtedly say I need to work on that a lot more, but at least there is more of a connection than before. And it is all moving in the right direction from the friendly encouragement perspective.

Lastly, in order to guide us, CCP has to know us. I have to concede the company seems to have embraced this at last. This is perhaps the only really good thing that came from last summer’s turmoil. And though Mr. Lander stated it’s not their game anymore, I feel he is incorrect. Before Incarna, it was CCP’s game. Now it belongs to all of us – CCP and customer alike. That is the healthiest form of business relationship and one I whole heartedly support – even if I have to PvP (gods I can’t believe I just typed that.)

So that’s the other side of the social engine mechanism. In this instance, it’s one of those machines that functions both ways. From one side, it delivers behavioral modifications designed to meet business success goals. From the other side, it delivers feedback on how those modifications are best implemented. And overall, it keeps the conversations flowing from top to bottom, bottom to top and, perhaps more importantly, from side to side. We are all in this together now – even when we agree to disagree.

For tl;dr, I can’t put it better than Mr. Lander did,
"We build a social engine that people actually love, hate, despise each other, love each other, backstab each other, and play the good Samaritan. People know each other, and there is this history. They feel a big emotional attachment to that, and that keeps them coming."
I certainly hope so.

Fly careful.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Barge Changes now on SiSi!

Some days it just sucks being on the west coast of North America.

I got this link from Morphisat's Blog and am sharing the wealth:

http://www.reddit.com/r/Eve/comments/x2nlc/new_mining_barges_with_fitting_details_from_sisi/

Kudos to Nuadi for putting this together so quickly!

My first impression? Gods, I love the tank on these barges! The Skiff shows an Eve HP of over 86k. Even a nano-fit Skiff has much thank as my current Hulk. Well, that really throws a wrench onto the gears of perma-geddon. I can already hear the wails...

The Ore holds are looking good too. No longer does a miner need an alt (or trusted buddy) with an Iteron V to haul out the ore. These barges can haul.

As soon as I can get onto SiSi (5 more hours at least damn it) I may have more to say.

Until then...

Fly Careful.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Carebears Keep Out!

I read with some interest the report on Eve News24 last week about the change to NCDOT recruitment practices. In a nut shell, they only want proven killers in their alliance. This means perspective members must have quadruple digit kill stats among several other requirements including a 35 million SP requirement. I wasn't very troubled about this because they oppose Goonswarm and the Deklein Coalition.

This evidently did not go unnoticed in the coalition, specifically Fatal Ascension. Today I received this, "Just this weekend, 2 corps left on their own (they were asked to go), 2 or 3 more were told to merge with other corps, like [my old corps] did, and a couple were outright booted. Total of 7 corps changed status. Interestingly, they were all at the bottom of the alliance killboards." The pilots in the booted or asked to leave corporations were given an ultimatum, join a new corp higher up the kill-board or get out. DOTLAN seems to confirm this report.

And the difference between being part of the in crowd and part of the out crowd in FA is staggering. My friend says, "They talk about setting up POSs in the system we are going to call home in Pure Blind where FA jsut [sic] set up a new station. A permanent station. IT's amazing the difference between a corp in good standing and a corp on probation all the time."

So what is really going on here? I'm glad you asked. I can't really speak to the inner politics of null-sec or rumors of war. That would be out of line with the purpose of this blog. What I can discuss is the possible consequence of these sorts of requirements on Eve Online and the Industrialist community in general.

Now we have FA, though not so forthright in their proclamations, dumping low-kill corps and filtering out the Industrialists as they go. The same correspondence that brought me the news from within FA also stated that many of the pilots that moved to new corps did so because they had considerable assets in Fade they need to get out and no guarantee was given they could do so later. For an Industrialist you might as well put a gun to their head. We are all about assets. They are our livelihood.

But how will those large alliances make ISK you ask? Automatically is my answer. Moon mining is mostly that now. It requires a little upkeep but it certainly is not a full time job. With most of the null-sec alliances signed up for the Organization of Technetium Exporting Corporations (OTEC) or passively supporting the goals of OTEC, there is no more need to worry about ISK. In just a few short months OTEC has managed to almost double the price of key T2 components and perma-geddon has almost doubled the price of ice isotopes.

Null-sec alliances no longer have to worry about their coffers. As my friend points out, "At the same time, Pure Blind (our space) has more tech moons than any place else in EVE. FA has tons of ISK from this stuff." They can either keep the pre-OTEC cash flow going nicely with almost no work required or nearly double it with part-time work. It may even be that all the l33t PvPers have alts that run this stuff for them to pay for their PvP habit. Who am I to really say.

What I can say is that these policies, by two of the biggest alliances in null-sec, are patently Industrialist unfriendly. Goonswarm is frankly no different. TEST may have their carebears but they too are a PvP alliance. I don't think many can argue with these observations.

The alliances that control null-sec are creating a climate where full-time Industrialists are not wanted nor tolerated. A true carebear will probably never have a 1000+ kill-board. That's not what we find fun in Eve Online. I personally will never have a 1000+ kill-board - there is no reward for me in blowing someone up. I've had enough of that RL. That precludes me outright from one of the most prominent null-sec alliances in the game - period. This puts industrialists between a big rock (CCP) and a large hard place (NCDOT, FA, Goonswarm, TEST.)

There is a feeling within the EvE community that the game is at a crossroads. I share this feeling, but not in the way most feel it. These latest developments have me worried about viable future playing styles within Eve Online. It is clear to me that CCP favors conflict. It's what Dust 514 and Inferno are all about. Dust 514 requires a New Eden burning like Jita never burned. In an age where CCP is trying to push as many experienced players as possible out of high-sec, we now have these alliances, who control much of the space we industrialists could move to, saying in effect, "keep out, we don't want you!" What's a hard working industrialist to do?

Fly careful.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Do I belong in High-sec?

For quite some time now, I've seen a pattern. It’s not GSF and TEST sweeping all before them. It isn't an uptick in grief-play. It isn't any pattern players themselves have wrought. This pattern indicates to me something more insidious. It is changing the very nature of the game we all love. I've mentioned my concerns about this before and recently. It's time to throw it down on the table and discuss why, if I’m right, it's "terrible" for Mabrick but probably good for New Eden (and maybe even Mabrick.)

I alluded to this pattern yesterday. It’s encapsulated by the “more risk more ISK” program. That line has all the earmarks of propaganda. It’s short, jingoistic, easy to remember and appeals to a basic desire - making gads of ISK. As far as jingles go, it ranks right up there with “loose lips sink ships.”

Propaganda, at its very root, is an attempt to change how people think. “Loose lips sink ships” was an effort to get people to become aware spies could overhear their discussions of letters received from deployed relatives and use that information to kill them. In the United States at least, the government had to overcome decades of isolationism and not thinking about non-Americans. Uncle Sam used the “loose lips sink ships” jingle to change the American psyche in ways it had never been bent.

So, if “more risk more ISK” is propaganda, what mindset is it trying to change? What’s the purpose of it? After giving this considerable thought, I’ve concluded it’s to entice/drive experienced players out of high security space. And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, there are some really good reasons to so.

By dropping the amount of ISK that a high-sec dweller like me can earn, they are souring the proverbial milk. Working harder for less ISK is extremely unappealing. With every dev blog, it becomes harder and harder for me to maintain my profit margins. Without good profit margins, there is no incentive other than security to remain in high-sec.

And speaking of security, the new war declaration system really makes security problematic. It certainly encourages those who are already inclined to attack high-sec industrialists to become bolder about it. I think the perma-geddon declared against high-sec miners quite clearly illustrates this trend.

Another change that weakened the attraction of high-sec industry was the datacore change in the invention process. Not only are they charging high-sec industrialists for traditionally obtained datacores, they have created a system of easy LP farming through Faction Warfare that further reduces the value of datacores. In fact, it is so easy to farm LP I’ve read one week old capsuleers can even do it in crap-fit T1 frigates. That’s disgusting – from a hard working high-sec industrialist perspective.

Then there is the first Technetium “fix.” The alchemy change doesn’t help high-sec manufacturers. I think I covered that well enough last post so I’ll spare you the details here.

Taking all this together and not forgetting the so called 20% tax increase for high-sec PI, the pattern emerges. Profit margins are down in high-sec and up everywhere else. The reason for this has not actually been discussed. All we are told is “more risk more isk.” That’s disingenuous at best.

So why is CCP doing this? I believe the answer is Dust 514. No, that’s not a stretch of imagination. Hear me out.

The basic premise of Dust 514 is that a bunch of mercenaries conquers or defends planets for capsuleers. What planets? Certainly not high-sec planets! Those are all still firmly under the control of NPCs. That leaves the contestable planets in null-sec, low-sec and WH space.

What else is needed to make Dust 514 work? Well, there actually has to be capsuleers who want to contest those planets. Dust 514 will not work if Goonswarm controls all these planets. There must be war in New Eden (does that sound like an Inferno jingle to you?) or CCP doesn’t make a dime from Dust 514.

Not only must there be war, but the combatants must also be wealthy. The more mercenaries they can hire the more Dust 514 revenue CCP gets. It’s a synergy effect.

Eve Online will enable Dust 514 to exist. Dust 514 will drive future development in Eve Online in return. That future isn’t about mining barge changes or Technetium fixes or even internet spaceships in so far as they don’t serve the broader goal. The broader goal is planetary conflict. The future is war, but not in space. The future is Dust 514.

So is that a bad thing? I suppose that depends on your own preconceptions but I’m inclined to say it is not. It may be the only thing keeping Eve Online alive in fact. We’ve all seen the subscription numbers for Eve Online. To say they are not good is to commit a massive understatement. There hasn’t been any real growth in subscriptions in years. If CCP isn’t concerned about this… never mind, they are smart enough to be concerned. You should be too.

If Dust is successful, if planetary defense/conquest takes off like many think it will, Eve Online becomes a critical cog in that machine. CCP can’t pull Eve Online out of that mix. It will kill their bread and butter – the free-to-play but pay-to-win Dust 514.

The only thing that CCP can’t directly control is where capsuleers make their home. To be blunt, they need us all out of high-sec. They need us all fighting each other. And I’ll admit this only once: they need five more The Mittani driving that migration (intelligent, copious ambition and unfettered megalomania.)

This of course means the end of Mabrick Mining and Manufacturing as it has existed. If what I’ve just said is true, even a little, I can’t expect to make a living or have much fun in high-sec. High-sec will become the realm of rookies and those who only want to walk around in stations and chat (yes, I still believe that is coming.) So what is a high-sec carebear to do?

Well, I won’t tell you right now. Suffice it to say that all is not lost. If you don’t have a plan, within a plan, within a plan you are doing something wrong. I plan on doing something right. And if I’m lucky, it won’t look like I capitulated.

Fly careful.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Alchemy: the supposed transformation industry.

UPDATE 7/26/12: CCP comes through. It may not help high-sec industrialists enough but it's better than a 2x4 upside the brain housing group. You can get a great run down on the changes at A Scientist's Life in Eve (click link.)

CCP Fozzie (I <3 your name, man) today released his first developer post titled Tech is Fine L2P. Fortunately, this is a joke. Tech 2 production is not fine. For many of us, Tech 2 production is no longer a viable industry. Thanks to the Technetium Cartel, the price of Technetium derived modules has skyrocketed. If you can afford the high prices and pass the increase off to your customers, you could continue to earn a somewhat reduced living (hint, customers don't like to absorb the entire cost increase.) But there are some modules that just aren't available in enough quantity for everyone. That brings production to a screeching halt - believe me, I know.

CCP Fozzie clearly explains this is a game design issue. He claims CPP will resolve it over the next several updates starting soon. Putting aside all the obvious comments about this confirming certain views of the behavior that precipitated this dev blog, I want to discuss how it will 1) resolve the issue and 2) not really resolve the issue.

Alchemy is a nice solution. It will work similar to how invention worked to break the stranglehold on T2 production instigated by the BPO lottery system. Since I became a capsuleer after the original lotteries, I had almost no chance of getting into T2 production by myself. There was far more demand for T2 BPOs than any of the owners were even remotely interested in supplying unless you were already wealthy enough to make it worth their while. That excluded many industrialists from the T2 manufacturing business. 

Thus, CCP came up with an alternative route to T2 BPOs. Does this sound familiar? Anyway, invention is a laborious process. As the current situation shows us, those that have monopolies are disinclined to give them up. Invention changed the dynamic and gave the little guys an end-run. If I was willing to work a little harder, I could make a business out of T2 manufacturing and did. So did many others. Invention was a success as can be seen in Blake’s post on K162 two days ago. Because of this, there is no reason to believe that alchemy won’t work.

But it won’t take manufacturing back to where it was before the Technetium embargoes. Those days are long gone. It will still exclude the little guy. Read CCP Fozzie’s post carefully. He says, “Alchemy will kick in as a pressure valve in case prices of any moon mineral spike. As long as prices remain low there is no need to bypass the original mineral.” Translation: it will cost more to run the reactions than to buy the Technetium at a non-manipulated price. Just because CCP is giving non-OTEC manufactures the ability to restart their lines doesn’t mean it will be at the profit margins we enjoyed previously. It won’t be.

Then there is what CCP Fozzie doesn’t address. He completely leaves out the unmentioned requirement for alchemy. Where do reactions like alchemy run? Currently they only run in Player Owned Stations. Feel free to correct me if I am wrong (and I’m sure you will,) but to take advantage of this option you’ll have to have access to a POS. If you are in high-sec, you can forget ever making a profit by this route. As soon as it’s discovered you are an alchemist, someone will declare war against you and destroy your production capability. At a measly 50 mIsk cost for small corporations like mine, this is like taking candy from a baby. Believe me, there are those in New Eden that live for doing that.

And even if CCP decides to allow reactions within NPC stations, I am certain they will be at very unattractive prices and severely nerfed just like CCP has recently done to invention vis-a-vis data cores. There they also handed the “reward” to those taking the most “risk.” I’ve read the reports though. LP farming has no risks. I’m starting to seriously doubt the “greater reward for more risk” mantra.

So where does this current change leave the high-sec industrialist? Still at the mercy of null-sec corporations who will control the alchemy process just like they control moon goo I’m sad to say. CCP has stated again and again, including this post, they want the rewards to go to those who take the risks. That’s starting to sound like a copout. What I see is CCP trying to drive players into larger and larger corporations and alliances. Their marketing department spends their entire budget on emphasizing the social aspect of Eve Online. The developers are now spending all their time trying to force socialization through their mantra “more reward for more risk.” It seems obvious enough to me. It’s CCP’s call though. It’s their product. 

I just want to know when are they going to start being honest with those of us that prefer the lone wolf style of play? When will they stop pretending that they care for all the small corporations and the independent Industrialists that populate high-sec? They’ve really designed this change to allow –A- and NCDOT and the like to resist Goonswarm Federation and the rest of the Deklein Coalition. There is nothing in it for the rest of us – unless we want to sell our souls to someone else.

Fly careful.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

What would Eve be without Goonswarm?


Is Eve a great novel? Is it a book you just can't put down? All of you are reading this because, to one degree or another, you feel that Eve is a great story you can't put down. So what makes that happen? Why are we sucked into this game to the extent we are willing to spend much of our free time not only playing it, but reading about what else is going on in New Eden? To answer that question we need to understand what makes a great story. Then we need to apply that understanding to Eve.

Though there is some debate about this, and the specifics can be hotly contested, there are four basic elements that make a great story. They are plot, characters, setting, and theme. These four elements are the threads from which all great novels are woven.

As an example, let's analyze how these threads intertwine in the Science Fiction classic Dune, by Frank Herbert.

The plot of Dune goes something like this. The duplicitous Emperor Shaddam IV plots with the evil House Harkonnen to wipe out the noble House Atriedes and seize the planet Arrakis, called Dune, with all its Spice wealth for themselves. They lure House Atriedes to Dune where, with the help of a traitor, they defeat it through villainous treachery. Fortunately, the Duke's son and his mother escape, find hundreds of thousands of other repressed citizens (most of whom are trained warriors) and eventually retake Arrakis, kill the Harkonnens and reveal the Emperor’s illegal role in the war forcing him to abdicate. This is a very rough plot outline but it is accurate.

To make this plot work, Dune has many memorable characters. There is the noble Duke Leto Atriedes and his devoted concubine Lady Jessica. There is his intelligent and gifted son Paul, known as Maud Dib. There is also the nasty Baron Vladimir Harkonnen and his equally horrid nephews Glossu “Beast” Rabban and Feyd-Rautha Rabban. There is the go-lucky troubadour Gurney Halleck, the serious spy-master Duncan Idaho and the traitorous Doctor Yueh. These are just a few of the memorable characters in Dune, all of them necessary actors to move the plot forward.

Then there is the setting: Arrakis, desert planet, Dune. It is a vast and pitiless desert inhabited by God's Faithful and protected by the giant sandworms. No rain has ever fallen on Dune. That alone makes it stand out as a setting. Then there are the vast seas of sand and the fortress like rocky places. The entire planet reinforces the dire nature of Paul’s and Jessica’s struggle to reclaim what is rightfully theirs and exact revenge on those who took it from them. As the Fremen say, "God created Arrakis to train the faithful." Frank Herbert uses Arrakis to highlight the righteousness of his protagonist's struggle.

Then there is the theme. Without a theme all other elements are meaningless. There must be a point to the struggle. The theme can be as simple as good versus evil though both those concepts are relative. In Dune, one could say that is the theme. It is perhaps more accurate to state the theme as righteousness overcoming injustice. There are also many sub-themes in Dune. Great stories are chock full of various themes; each explored to one extent or another.

When it comes to Eve Online, we make the plot up as we go. CCP does not do this for us. We are also the characters, though there are a few notable exceptions like Sansha Kuvakei. The only aspect of this story that doesn’t directly involve capsuleers is the setting. CCP provides the 5431 known star systems and 2498 wormhole systems as our setting. Lastly, there are themes. CCP provides the kernel, the start, of some themes. I believe the most notable would be Faction Warfare. Beyond this though, it is completely up to us, the players, to set the themes. That is perhaps the truest measure of a sandbox environment.

And when you grok all this, you have to realize the question really isn’t whether Eve is a great story or not. The question really is what have we done to make Eve a great story? We are the characters of the book. We drive the plots. We determine the themes. If we do nothing, Eve is nothing. Like all other MMOs, it will eventually grow repetitive and we’ll all walk away from it as some of us have done dozens of times before.

So like a great novel, like Dune, there must be struggle. There must be an antagonist and a protagonist. All plots, all scenes, all themes derive from that confrontation. The confrontation must have ramifications that extend beyond the primary characters. There must be something huge at stake. Failure must have dire consequences. If Paul “Maud Dib” Atriedes had died when he drank worm bile, all space travel would have been subject to the diseased and disgusting Harkonnen’s merciless administration. No one really wanted that, not even the Emperor. He went along with it because he could control Vladimir Harkonnen where he could not control Duke Leto.

And that’s were Goonswarm comes in. They are the current Harkonnen threat in our great novel. Once you have the arch villain, the hero matters. Without an arch villain, the hero is just another guy trying to make a buck. There is no story worth telling. This struggle against Goonswarm has spawned dozens of sub-plots. You read about one of them here.

Before Goonswarm set their sights on my livelihood by forming the Technitium Cartel, I was just another carebear laboring in obscurity somewhere in Empire space. I eked out an existence that few cared to know about. Then an antagonist confronted me. They made it impossible for me to turn a profit by their market PVP that they themselves characterize as griefing. (See my last post. Does that answer your question Gevlar?) I decided to resist. The Goons lowered the proverbial boom on me. Suddenly I’m in a David versus Goliath themed sub-plot. Soon other capsuleers start to notice my plight - not because I was any different from before but because there was now a plot, some “interesting” characters, a setting and a theme worth reading about.

This happened again in the Delve war. The plot thickened as they say in the industry. More characters became involved. The setting changed, it became larger. The theme was still David versus Goliath but it was also more. How many of you desperately wanted to see Goonswarm and TEST fail? Now it appears they are moving on Catch and possibly Providence. How many of you are now even more determined to stop them? We are driving our own story to greatness because of Goonswarm’s depredations.

That’s how it works. I stand against Goonswarm. I do so because great stories need protagonists to cross foils with the antagonists. If we all became Goons, Eve would be just another ho-hum MMO from which everyone would eventually walk away. But Eve lives and we are immersed in fascinating times. No one yet knows how this will end. Will capsuleers unite to counter Pax Goon or will the known universe fall? Must we bow down to The Mittani? We don’t know yet but I for one am eager to forge ahead and find out. That is what makes Eve real and Goonswarm, as the antagonist, is integral to the greatness we’ve created.

Fly Careful



Monday, July 16, 2012

Is Goonswarm simply misunderstood?

I've read a few comments posted by Goon sympathizers that object to my vilifying Goonswarm. To be sure, comments like this are in the minority but they do exist. Could I be wrong? Could Goonswarm be just a bunch of widely misunderstood capsuleers? Or, are they a bunch of griefers as I've led my readers to believe? Let's try and answer that question shall we.

For those that do not know, Goons recruit on the web site Something Awful. In fact, to become a Goon, they require all perspective members to have an account with this web site for at least three months. They also do their recruiting through Something Awful. Here is their 2012 recruiting post done the end of last year.

Goonwaffe Newbie Drive 2012

They start their plea for bad press with this statement, "Goonswarm was born of grief and shaped for the infliction of misery." That's a really straight forward statement. They grief and inflict misery. The opening paragraph goes on to say how it was done to them, so now they do it back even better. But that's just a bunch of rationalization. They simply reaped what they sowed. They are not the victims here though they'd lead you to believe otherwise.

Is that an objection I can already sense forming? Stop! There is evidence that they have always been griefers and it comes from the most damning source: their own recruitment post.
"That time is past. We have returned to our roots. Take a look at the official Eve Online forums and you will find page after page of threads complaining that we are ruining the game for miners, industrialists, mission-runners and more. Our victims lose scores of hours and tens of thousands of dollars' worth of the tedious, dreary effort they have put themselves through every time we strike, and they simply cannot comprehend why or how it occurred."
In this one paragraph they as much as admit Goonswarm has always been about griefing. There is no other interpretation for "returned to our roots." They are proud of it. The relish the idea that they have irritated other Eve players and cost them "tens of thousands of dollars." This certainly fits the definition. Wikipedia says,
"A griefer is a player in a multiplayer video game who deliberately irritates and harasses other players."
Need more proof? They sum their efforts using a chart. They call it the "grief index." There is no mistaking what Goonswarm is. In their own words they are about griefing. If they tell you anything else, remind them that they are not recruiting based on those other ideals. They recruit griefers. Their advertisement is quite explicit about that.

Want more evidence? Okay, straight from their recruitment post.
  • "Goonswarm Federation 2012: A Grief Odyssey"
  • "In order to destroyed [sic] the treasured possessions of others, Eve give [sic] you the ability to fly spaceships."
  • "The only way you could get a more immediate and satisfying capability to hurt your opponents in meaningful ways would be if they voluntarily wired electrodes to their scrotums and let you deliver repeated shocks to their testes."
  • "There was no fair fight, because we don't care about fair fights."
  • "Simultaneously, many goons are involved in a highly successful campaign of griefing aimed at choking off the supply of certain vital goods used to fuel the production of many advanced items needed in the game."
So, do you still not believe that Goonswarm is about griefing? Here is another paragraph from their recruitment post.
"You want to kill things and hurt people. Shush... I know you do: it's OK. Things that belong to real people who will usually be very upset, and will very often tell you so. If you are even moderately lucky then occasionally they will be so upset that they tell you that they will hunt you down and kill you, and you will then get them banned for life. Goonswarm is built to help Goons have fun in Eve. Fun just like this."
So what Goonswarm wants to do is make someone so mad that in the heat of emotion they make a DIAF threat just like Helicity Boson. Then they file a petition and get the true victim banned for life. That's "fun just like this." It's more like the ultimate grief.
Considering that all this is in their own words, the only conclusion is that Goonswarm is a bunch of griefers. You are what you recruit. They started as griefers and they continue to be griefers - and they're proud of it.

Fly careful.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

What's in a name?

I've been playing MMOs since 1997. Before then, I participated in MUDs and before THAT there was AD&D. I have seen a LOT of character names, from the pure role play to the, "I think I'm so bad ass I'm gonna pick a name that will leave no doubt of it - KillUAll."

That last sort of name is the type of name I hate most. It's presumptuous to the point of arrogance as well as stupid. If I was a Goon, I'd gank you just to prove you aren't all that. You'd cry juicy tears, threaten me with your invisible friend the null-sec main that fly's a titan and then rage log. I just hope the invisible friend has a better name.

So what is a good name you ask? Well, I'm going to tell you. But first, let's quickly cover what I believe does not make a good name. This is my own opinion. Yours no doubt varies - especially if you fit one of these categories below.
  • See above.
  • Any name based on a known celebrity. (Think Justin Bieber.)
  • Any name based on a body part. (Really, we all have one that's gender proper and yours isn't that special.)
  • Any name based on an established Sci-Fi character unless as a pun. (As if you were even close to that cool.)
  • Random letter and/or number combinations. (Do you have the imagination to really play this game?)
  • Any name that includes an unwarranted title. (Unless it is a pun!)
  • Any name based on a historical person, country or empire... (")_(")
I am certain that I left some out. Please feel free to make additions in the comments. I won't mind if you even include mine though you'd be wrong about that. Anyway, here is what I feel makes a good name (mostly in no particular order.)
  • Nicknames that you've always used. (It provides continuity if you run into someone you've gamed with before. Yeah, I had to list this one first because hey - it's me and it's been in near constant use for a decade and a half!)
  • Clever word plays that would not normally be associated together. (Like the last line of a really good haiku.)
  • Puns which do not violate any of the no-nos listed above. (Who doesn't like a good pun? Ever seen a name that just made you chuckle?)
  • Solid Role Play names. (This is just a gaming standard and it won't ever go away.)
  • Everyday people names. (We ARE the 99% after all.)
  • Declarative and/or self-descriptive names that do not go against the list above. (Unless you can prove it and are willing to post evidence publicly so there is absolutely no doubt.)
  • Just absurdly funny. (Especially if it can be interpreted NOT as intended.)
  • Any combination of the above.
Did I miss any? I'm sure I did. You can add those in the comments as well. I'm always on the lookout for a good naming convention. (Or just a small social gathering if the people are really smart.)

And just so you don't think there really is no point to all this, here are some good names I've collected over the last two weeks in New Eden in and why I think they are good names. Enjoy!

Ladyofsacrifice - I want to know what she's willing to sacrifice.
Bigsack0weed - Who stole all the weed?
Trance Cendant - I wish I was.
Obiwancannabis9 - I guess he really was a farmer after all.
flearider - No doubt.
Motivated threyshrod - Whatever the hell he is he certainly is motivated!
argvark - Clever.
Runny EITiberon - Need a tissue?
TroutSlayer - ROTFLMAO
Spoomer - I'm so sorry.
Forget Myface - Done!
Miserable Orlenard - At least he's honest.
General Fancypants - Aren't they all?
Pritimanic - What out for the down side!
Enslaved Mistress - I SO hope this is declarative.
Obscure Cronenwerth - This one tickled my ivories.
Cheri Marashino Asanari - This one just rolls off the tongue.
Sia Layda - Much better than CU L8R, which I have also seen.
Sissy Trissy - Nice rhyme but is it true?
Rockshok - Look out 'roids!
Diabolic Excavator - Be careful, he'll steal your backhoe!
SirWiggles PenyFarthing - SirWiggles, do I really need to say more?
Dav TheUnwashed - Thanks goodness pods are sealed.
Habberblaster Fasterdasher - Just say it three times fast.
Justaboot - I wonder if he's steel toed?
Feersum Endjinns - Where!?

If you've seen any names that made you look twice, chuckle or LOL, please throw them into the comments. I'd love to see them. Thanks!

Fly careful.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Further Thoughts on the Mining Barge Changes

It's been about a month since the blog post on mining barge changes by CCP Ytterbium. I've had a couple requests to do a followup. Now that I've had a chance to do some thinking on the matter, I've a few observations I'd like to make.

I am more convinced than ever that these changes will again make mining a valuable and worthwhile endeavor for industrialists. However, it will not do so for all industrialists. For instance, there are not enough changes to the high-end mining barges to really make much of a difference to a miner of my skills. I am all Vs across the board in hi-sec mining skills. The limited changes to the Hulk will not make much difference to me.

However, it will make a difference to mining in general. Dedicated ore capacities will allow miners to properly fit their ships and still earn a living. They may not, but after the changes they won't have the excuse of their cargo holds being too small. They will also have no reason not to use their low slots for tanking modules. I currently fly a shield tanked and cap stable Hulk with 31k EHP. That should be the standard for every miner.

And on the subject of tank, the Procurer and Skiff will become the lone wolf miner ship of choice so long as CCP follows through on their "battleship-like EHP." The ISK to hour ratio will be less but that should put an end to 1 mISK gank Catalysts. That will certainly help the newer miners who don't yet have the defensive skills to finesse tank their barge or the awareness of local that will allow them to avoid potentially disastrous encounters. And those who predate on miners will have to upgrade to a 100 mISK hull if they still want those kill-mails. I don't think that's too much of a sacrifice. Currently it is just too easy to pop a miner. If the EHP is too much, I am certain CCP will dial it back so that gankers can pursue their elected play style with no more risk than the miner faces.

The middle ships, the Procurer hull, will likely be my happy medium. I will happily accept the slower mining rate for that added EHP. It'll give me more time to adore the beauty that is New Eden. The only thing that remains to be seen is how the ore hold stacks up to the 8000 m3 cargo hold in the Hulk I currently fly.

Of all these, the ships that intrigue me most are the mining frigates. The will be entry level for the rookies but I think they will find a following with old hands like me. The reason goes like this. In nature, there are two dominant ways of insuring survival when you are not the predator. One is to be the Rhino: so big, tough and dangerous that no one wants to mess with you. The other way is to be the Wildebeest. By themselves, no Wildebeest can defeat a determined lion. If they roam singly they will all eventually be picked off and eaten. However, by forming a large herd, they ensure the survival of most herd members. There will be an unlucky few dragged down and eaten but once the herd gets moving only stupid lions give chase. The dust, the thundering hooves and the jostling bodies are more than enough deterrent to make the lion look elsewhere.

So it could be with mining frigates. Individually they are easily popped. In large groups, they can ravage an asteroid field like locust and then move on. Perhaps a few are brought down but the larger whole continues. A mining roam would then be possible and probably even fun. They will go after the valuable ores. The ones that are heavily protected. Say I find a nice wormhole and get 20 of my buddies to dive through it in mining frigates. Would most of us be able to make it out with valuable ore to pay for the inevitable losses? Wormholers are notoriously lone wolfish. They could only pop one or two of us before the rest fled. This tactic might also work in null sec when you don't have sov. What would a hundred (five hundred?) mining frigate fleet look like and how much ore could it steal from an opposing alliance before they could respond in force? Even warp bubbles might not allow defenders to pop them all. I think it'd be very interesting to find out how survivable herd tactics are in Eve when your only intent is to swipe and run.

The last comment I got on my previous post about the changes concerned market prices. Adam Varian conjectured that prices would rise a bit and then level out. I don't think this will happen across the board with all barges. Any price increase is likely to be a manifestation of increased demand. Speculators will certainly begin this price increase before the update, providing BPOs remain unchanged (and there is nothing to indicate that they won't.) However, these are not new pew-pew ships. Huge speculation buys are unwarranted and those who guess wrong will lose ISK when prices go back down after the change. Those that guessed correctly will earn some small profit. So what's the correct guess?

The Covetor hulled vessels will still perform the same role as today outside high-sec. The miner will operate in a relatively safe area and will have Orca support and protection just an intel channel away. Maximizing yield will still be the operational call to arms as others can haul away the ore. In high-sec they will fall out of favor as too expensive. I think demand (and therefore prices) of these barges will go down.

The frigate hulls cost so little now that it is fairly irrelevant what their price does. I could be wrong. The demand might be astronomical. But it will take time for miners to figure out how to best use these ships so nothing will happen straight away. After that, it takes so little time to build a frigate I think manufacturers will easily keep up with the demand. No price increase will come.

The Procurer and Retriever hulls will become more desirable to high-sec miners that currently use a Hulk for it's capacity and tank. This will happen for two reasons. The high-sec miner will get better defensive capabilities and a larger ore hold. It also won't make much difference in their ISK per hour since their rate is already low. They'll make up most of the loss by not having to dock as often. Back and forth time is wasted profit and every miner knows this (or should.) I'll predict a modest uptick in demand for these hulls.

All in all though, there will be less demand for barges as losses decrease across the board. Miners will have better defenses and those that hunt them will move on to easier prey. The big losers in this change may be those who manufacture the barges for a living. But they are experienced industrialists. They will move on to more profitable hulls. After all, it really doesn't matter what you make so long as the margin is right.

Of course, I could be as easily wrong as right. That's the thing about speculation. It's just trying to guess what the herd will do based on limited behavioral knowledge. In this case, nothing like this has ever come along by which to make comparisons. That makes my speculation mostly wild-ass guesswork. Anyone else have speculations of their own they'd like to share along with your reasoning?

Fly careful.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Best Reply Ever - Seriously.

I am going to do something I've not done before. I'm going to draw attention to one of the best replies I've ever read - anywhere. It's from my recently syndicated post on Eve News24 (and yes, I know it was formatted for crap - sorry R, won't happen again.)

Matt E flies for TEST. What he has to say about that is important. We all get swept up in the politics of the roles we assume (yes, I act out a role- that's what ROLE PLAY is,)  but we must never forget what is truly important: having fun. We all need to take a deep breath, remind ourselves this is a game, and understand the guy in the other ship isn't a real enemy - s/he is just a human being trying to have some fun.

Here are Matt's insightful comments on just how that's done for him, in its entirety and edited only for spelling (link here.)
"The PVP side in EVE isn't as cut and dried as you make it seem. Nor are the reasons that people fight. While there are many EVE corps out there that are all about the kill board stats, TEST, Goons and the CFC in general aren't among them. In fact, if you care even a little bit about your kill board, I would suggest staying as far from the CFC as you can possibly get. To the point of perhaps playing a different game. It is that much of a detriment for you if you are facing off against any entity inside the CFC. If you care about KB stats, every loss is a moral blow where to the CFC a loss is just another happy pilot who got to get into some pew pew! They give no fucks about their KB Stats. Dotlan and the slope are the only stats that matter.
One thing that you seem to be missing is that TEST views kill board warriors with the same contempt that they hold dedicated carebears and for much the same reasons. Both groups are risk adverse and, in my view at least, detrimental to an organization's ability to survive. Carebears won't undock because they are afraid of losing something and the killboard warriors won't undock unless they are assured of a win. There is only one currency that matters in EVE, and it isn't isk, it isn't ships and it isn't tech. It is active pilots who are willing to log in! If you have groups that will only do so under very restrictive conditions like KB Warriors and Carebears, then you have a major organizational problem.
The motivations of TEST and GOONS are probably the easiest to figure out of any entity in EVE. Both groups exist to provide a community for their members to play together. That is the prime and only reason for them to exist.
Next you have to realize that the "Carebear lifestyle" that you are so fond of simply has always been impossible for both groups. I can only speak from direct experience with Dreddit and TEST, but it is my understanding that Goons experienced nearly identical treatment. What happened in the case of Dreddit is that they were war deced from the very first day of their existence. By the end of their first month, that had grown to 4 or 5 continuous war decs by the supportive pubbies of Empire. At this time, there were rules in Dreddit against scamming, rules even about talking in local or smack talk at all! What they got in return was unending hostility and derision. So in order just to actually play this game. In order to give their industrialists a place to build stuff, their miners a place to mine and their ratters a place to rat they had to fight and fight hard from the very get go. If you go into an organization with that kind of history with the attitude that you don't want to fight, you can't expect a warm reception. Nor will you find support of that attitude from an organization with that history externally. The kind of play style that you advocate would have ment that Dreddit would never have made it past their first month and TEST wouldn't have happened at all. Your ideals are suicide and you seem to be eternally disappointed when your opponent doesn't do the honourable thing and shoot themselves in the head. Everyone said that Dreddit would go no where and the TEST was a dead end and most of those people would agree with what you say in your blog now. The reality is that there are all play styles represented inside the CFC.

What you experience external to the CFC with things like Hulkageadon and Burn Jita and the like can be summed up as "Narrative" and nothing else. Goons don't exist to make you miserable, they exist to give their members a place to play where they won't be persecuted endlessly. What you are seeing is their leadership doing things to keep their members engaged and logging in. Leadership in the CFC revolves around insuring that your members ALWAYS have something to do and friends to do it with. That means that events like Burn Jita are popular and a good way to drive group activity and build cohesion. They also serve as recruitment platforms as events like that tend to really drive new members to sign up. The fact that it makes you miserable is just a bonus really. The tears, hair pulling and wild speculation from people who, as the poster above put it "Lack the context even to insult us properly" is eternally amusing."
Thank you Matt for taking the time to explain all this to a carebear. I feel you, as my son would say. Now, to all my readers I say this. Stop abusing each other. We are all doing this for fun an LULZ. When I "slam" GSF it's for that reason and that reason alone. I don't hate them. I actually have a great deal of respect for them and for many of the reasons Matt outlines. There's a good reason GSF has been around so long. So oppose them in game (as I have chosen to do,) but treat them respectfully otherwise. They deserve no less. (Same goes for you too GSF.)

Fly careful.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Goons, if you can't take the heat please get out of the fire.

I don't do much Twitter work. I'm not the type to give a moment-by-moment monologue of my activities. I also find the format to be substandard for my purposes. There is a place for Twitter in this multiverse but blogging isn't it. I don't even throw links into the Twitter sphere any more. It just isn't that good of an advertisement media.

One thing I do concerning Twitter is respond to mentions. So it was I received this post last week,
Elecktra Blue ‏@Azael_F0X
@Mabrick Honestly, your latest blog concerning Goonswarm is the worst article yet, you are beginning to sound like Fiddler's Edge
To which I responded,
Mabrick ‏@Mabrick
@Azael_F0X Perhaps... But my traffic stats for the blog is through the roof. *cheesy grin*
And that garnered this response,
Elecktra Blue ‏@Azael_F0X@Mabrick So basically you admit to journalistic sensationalism, as long as we are both being honest here #tweetfleet #eveonline
Now, this illustrates clearly the issue with using such a limited medium like Twitter. There is no way to adequately address an observation like this using Twitter. The format is far too short. Fortunately I have a blog. It is more than adequate to address this observation.

So, is Mabrick's Mumblings a sensationalist blog? Yeah, it is. By definition, sensationalism[1] is,
a type of editorial bias in mass media in which events and topics in news stories and pieces are over-hyped to increase viewership or readership numbers Sensationalism may include reporting about generally insignificant matters and events that don't influence overall society and biased presentations of newsworthy topics in a sensationalist, trivial or tabloid manner.
That is, in fact, one of the things I do with Mabrick's Mumblings. It is very interesting when you have a blog and you see that all your topical posts get a very ho-hum response and all your controversial pieces shoot through the roof. As proof of this fact, I offer these statistics.
These are my top 10 all time most popular posts as measured in number of page views. Throw out the Eve UI post as there are a lot of views from people looking for fighter cockpit pictures for some reason. Of the remaining nine, seven are posts about the Goons. They are obviously the desired topic of the moment. That gives me something I can use: sensationalism as a weapon.

But first, some background is in order. The Goons started this. They began by waging an economic war that threatened my livelihood and every other industrialist in New Eden. Notice my second biggest draw is the post Reward for my Hard Work is all I Ever Wanted. The Goons threw a big monkey wrench into that now didn't they? So, strike one it was.

Then, the Goons bank rolled Hulkageddon. Once again they were the provocateurs. That was not a good month to be an industrialist, but it was only a month. After that things would become normal again, right? Wrong! The Mittani decided to make Hulkageddon forever. That was strike two. That's when I decided to try and bolster my fellow industrialists by pointing out that nothing really lasts forever in my post The Legacy of The Mittani (4th most popular.)

Because of this post, Goon Swarm Federation (GSF,) the largest alliance in all New Eden, declared war against Mabrick Mining and Manufacturing - then a corporation of two. For such a large organization, they are very thin skinned. They had made threats for weeks about doing just this to those who dared say anything bad about them. That reminds me of Scientology but that is not the topic of this post. I knew there was a danger when I wrote the post. And indeed, the Goons fulfilled my low expectations. That was the third strike, and to mangle a metaphor, the gloves came off.

Now, I can't fight GSF ship for ship, but I can bring my "pen" to bare. They don't like the bad press? Too bad, I don't like being war decced. However, I accept that as part of the game. The Goons need to get real too. If they don't want the negative press they can always change how they behave. What's that Goon Swarm? You don't want to change. Then harden the frack up. You're going to get bad press when you screw around with me. I'm not going to match your thousand ship fleets, but in this medium we are equal. No amount of QQ from you will stop me.

But the facts are, I'd rather write posts about the mining barge changes that are coming (9th most popular post.) I find much more satisfaction in comments left there than some of the claptrap I get with Goon posts. To be sure, there are a few interesting comments left on those posts - but it's not where my heart is. I am an industrialist. I make things. I like blogging about making things. Blogging about Goons is not my idea of fun.

So here's the deal Goons. You leave me alone and I'll leave you alone. You stop declaring war against me and my way of life, and I'll put away the +4 Sword of Sensationalism. Otherwise, get used to the literary abuse.

Fly careful.


[1] This is not to be confused with Yellow Journalism. This blog does not dip to that low. In order to be Yellow Journalism, these five (5) aspects must be met.
  1. scare headlines in large print, often of minor news
  2. lavish use of pictures, or imaginary drawings
  3. use of faked interviews, misleading headlines, pseudoscience, and a parade of false learning from so-called experts
  4. emphasis on full-color Sunday supplements, usually with comic strips
  5. dramatic sympathy with the "underdog" against the system.
I typically don't use pictures and they are certainly not lavish when I do. I never fake interviews, use misleading headlines, use pseudoscience (quite the contrary) or use "outside experts." All opinions are my own. And I almost never blog on Sundays, today being an exception. If you must have a comic strip here is one of which I am quite fond. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Why the Goons Stick Together

Has anyone reading this ever heard of the Hadza? For those that haven't, the Hadza are one of the last true hunter-gatherer societies in the world. They live in Tanzania. They are a fascinating people whose society hasn't really change since the neolithic.

One thing that scientists are very curious about is whether "modern" human behaviors exist in Hadza society.[1] They want to understand if we act as we do because of modern living or if the behaviors are older than civilization. It has long been assumed that humans began large scale cooperation at the dawn of cities, roughly when agriculture began. The assumption goes that cooperation arose because combining everyone's harvest and then doling it out during the winter months gave everyone a better chance at surviving. This eventually allowed positions within the society to arise that did not contribute directly to survival - e.g. politicians and salesmen. However, not all agree with this vision of prehistory. Some maintain it is human nature to cooperate. Science needs to test the cooperation hypothesis and Hadza society is an excellent test subject.

The study took the form of giving each Hadza a valuable resource - honey. Honey is prized among the Hadza as it is in many so called primitive cultures. First, the study participants were asked to pick three people they'd like to be with in their next band from all the Hadza. Next, each person in the study was given three small tubes of honey. They were asked who they'd most like to share their honey with. This mapped their social structure - their Friends List as it were.

After this was done, each was given four more tubules of honey. They were then told they could keep the honey or contribute it anonymously to a communal stock pile. For every tubule in the common pile, the researchers would add two more - tripling the amount - and redistribute the stockpile equally to all. The researches designed this test to see who were the freeloaders. If a Hadza kept their four tubules and still participated in the redistribution to come they were deemed freeloaders and not cooperators. What did the Hadza do?

You can find out by reading this article: Tanzania's Hadza group sheds light on ancient social networks. See, I don't make this stuff up! Here is an NIH article as well and you can read about the actual study here.

So what does this have to do with Eve? Well, we all act this way. It is part of the human condition. Most of us cooperate and the rest are freeloaders. Now, I am not saying that all Goons are freeloaders and all carebears are cooperators. That would be as wrong as thinking all Hadza within a band were one way or the  other. They aren't. There is a valid comparison though.

To make the comparison you need to know this: honey isn't the coveted resource in Eve culture (duh.) Fun is. That is what we all value. It is what we want above all else when we log in. We may call it relaxation or some other euphemism but it is all for fun. To this end, the Goons have publicly stated their idea of fun is to "ruin your game." This crass pleasure at other's expense is just like the Hadza who kept their honey and got the redistribution as well. The Goons are the Eve freeloaders, having fun by taking it from all the others.

On the other hand, this carebear's idea of fun is creating something I know will be used by others within Eve.[2] I add to the common stockpile because I believe the reward will be greater than the sum of all the contributions. That is why this blog exists. It's part of my contribution. At it's root, I believe this is the carebear way of thinking. Within our Eve community, this is the manifestation of the cooperator.

But as interesting as all this is, what really made me say, "ah ha!" was the fact that each Hadza sought out and associated with like minded individuals - even the freeloaders. The researchers don't quite understand this dynamic but evidently freeloaders find solace with other freeloaders. That realization was my final puzzle-piece to understanding why the Goons exist.

If, as many carebears see Goons, they are anarchists bent on destroying Eve society, the Goons should have fail-cascaded long ago. They couldn't have remained organized against the pressure of their own internal motivations. But as it seems they are freeloaders, taking fun but not contributing it, they remain - sticking together like honey.[3] And society allows freeloaders. Though they do not contribute, they also seem to do no lasting harm. That's how humans work. And though it seems counter intuitive, scientist suspect there is an as yet undiscovered alternative survival strategy behind it.

Lastly, the final make-me-raise-my-eyebrow observation that came from the Hadza study concerned the ratio of freeloaders to cooperators. It is surmised the ratio is much the same in modern society (where it is hard to quantify) as it is in Hadza society. Care to have a guess at what that ratio seems to be?

Fly careful.

[1] So, to make sure everyone understands, I am not a psychologist nor do I have a degree in sociology. These observations are only my opinion. YMMV.
[2] And curiously, perhaps antagonizing the Goons and giving them someone to war-dec is also a contribution.
[3] I just couldn't resist that metaphorical pun!

Monday, July 2, 2012

How Games Allow us to Shed our RL Shackles

A long time ago, in the years before the Internet, a decade after the Enterprise's first five year mission, my father bought a book for me while we were on vacation. The title? The Dungeon Master's Guide. I consumed the book in less than 24 hours. Then I re-read it. Then I studied it. That vacation I poured through that book. My future was remolded that summer in ways I could never have imagined. The book, unbeknownst to me, gave me the tool do something more than just play the game. Sure, I liked playing AD&D, but what I really liked was watching people play AD&D - and the DM gets a front row seat.

When people play games they become something they could never be in real life: honest. We lie in the course of everyday life all the time. We lie at work to convince the boss there is no place else we'd rather be. We lie to our families to convince them there is nothing more important to us than them.[1] We lie to ourselves when we pretend job and family is what really makes us happy. We lie about over eating. We lie about drinking too much. We lie about lusting after the neighbor. We lie all the time.

This state of perpetual lies is so pervasive it's become normal. It is the socially acceptable thing to do. There is only one place it tends to fall away for most people: when they can "pretend" to be someone else. Don't believe that's true? Go read Internet comments on just about anything for 30 minutes and then come back. I'll wait.

See what I mean. On the Internet, everyone's an expert and opinions are as good as fact. That's the honesty of it, we all believe our opinions are the correct ones. The other guy is full of crap. We may debate a person politely face to face, but we get downright ugly when we can allow our honest nature to surface.

That's what I discovered when I became a Dungeon Master. If you really want to know someone, what makes them tick and how their mind works, study them while they play a game.

Here's a case in point. I had a friend in school named Joe.[2] Joe was a good guy. He was nice. In fact, he was so nice that it came out as practically saintly. The guy didn't seem to have a selfish bone in his body. He was always willing to lend a hand, run an errand, take that extra duty shift on the long weekend so you could get away from the stress. Nice guy eh? Actually, he was so self-absorbed he was practically narcissistic.

By watching Joe play AD&D, I soon realized that Joe's pretty-boy-doesn't-have-a-scar-on-him-he's-so-good 12th lever fighter was really who he thought he was. Ray was practically a narcissist. The reason he didn't have a girlfriend or take weekend passes was that he was in love with himself. He was always with the person he wanted to be with most. And that is how his fighter was. We HATED that character.

One day I decided I'd had enough of Joe's fighter and his peccadilloes. I decided he'd have to prove how perfect he was by making perfect decisions every encounter. The only thing left of Joe's beloved self-portrait that session was a nose and Joe had to role very high indeed for even that much. Guess what happened? Yep, rage quit and oh boy how. I've never seen a temper tantrum as bad from a gamer. There was stomping and throwing and name calling and almost physical blows at one point. Joe had been part of our group for over three years and yet he left and never returned. Remind you of any Eve players you know or might have heard about?

Absolute honesty is inappropriate in a civilized world. From the white lie to telling your dying father it'll be okay, we live in a constant state of dishonesty - pretending to be the people everyone else (and we) think we should be. And there's my point. People say they do what they do in Eve because it's a safe place to act in ways they never would in real life. I agree. We're a lot more honest. What you do in Eve is a truer reflection of your inner soul than you realize.

Fly careful.

[1] Hey, people are instinctively selfish and our own happiness is more important to us than anyone else's including our mother's. This is something that Machiavelli, Locke, Rousseau and others all agree on to one degree or another so get over the statement already.

[2] Name changed because societal norms dictate I lie here.