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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Poster Child

I started playing League of Legends (LoL) last year because I wanted to see what several million players found so compelling about it. That and the tournaments I was watching on Twitch were excellent entertainment and did a good job at marketing. So I created an account and joined my first versus AI beginners match on Summoner's Rift. It went pretty much as you'd expect. I did nothing right. I was a total noob. I was a feeder.

Feed - To repeatedly die to the enemy team (whether through lack of skill or intentionally) giving them gold and experience. A player that does this is a Feeder.

I remember one of my first games vividly. There were three other players just as experienced as I was, i.e. total noobs. There was one who was not. It was a very difficult game. In fact, the Bots actually managed to destroy one of our inhibitors. It was touch and go there for awhile, but we eventually won the match. It took over an hour and the bots had a higher kill total than we did. For those of you who are not familiar with LoL, suffice it to say we were bad - very, very bad. After the game was over and we exited to the recap screen, the one player who was not very bad began to berate the rest of us. He said things like we should give up on LoL, we should kill ourselves... we should go back to World of Warcraft.

Now, in LoL, there is the Honor system. This is a mechanism by which players can either commend fellow players, or flag them as abusive. To this day, he is the only player I have ever given a negative rating to. I don't know if he plays any more, but I can tell you players with an overall negative rating don't get invited to the really fun groups and I drop out of any bot matches that include them. It just isn't worth my time. Since my early days, I have grown out of being a feeder. Just last night I had a rather good series of games (for me) with 17 champion kills, 21 assists and only 1 death in three games. I was playing with friends, it was a casual game and yes, it was against bots. We were just practicing, but we were having great fun. Over the months they taught me how to not be a feeder and laughed about it the whole time.

So why have I told you all this? I've told you all this because of the 44 billion ISK Raven story that is making the rounds in the EVE Online community. If you haven't seen it yet go read I'll not link it here, you know how to find it. The gist of the story is some poor noob with money to burn bought a bunch of PLEX, Officer fit a Navy Raven in Jita and was promptly ganked when he undocked. This story made all the rounds from what I've seen. It was featured on after all. In fact, it wasn't enough this noob was ganked. Goonswarm then delivered the coup de grace by scamming another uber expensive ship out of the noob, and this time it had nine PLEX in the cargo hold. The headline loudly proclaimed, "Go Back to WoW."

You know that last article I wrote? The one about CCP and EVE Online having a perception problem? Thanks for proving my point. It's bad enough new players fear veteran players as this reply tweet to my post so accurately points out,

but heap on that what Dinsdale Pirhannha adds,

Sorry, but the biggest problem with Eve IS the fact that CCP revels in the fact that it’s hardcore player base does eat it’s own.

and you have a recipe for stagnation that is nearly impossible to overcome it seems. That is why EVE Online subscriptions are flat and games like LoL and WoW have followings in the millions. You know, CCP must really hate having to cater to the gank squads and scammers when they think about how much money Blizzard takes in every month through WoW subscriptions. (CCP's 7 million dollars in monthly subscription revenue (500k players times $14 approximately, the real total is likely far less) looks absolutely anemic compared with Blizzard's 70 million (7 million players times $10 a month and that's a low-ball.)) The fact most EVE Online players who think of themselves as l33t believe there is absolutely nothing wrong with ganking a noob, and Jimblidge is a noob, out of hundreds of dollars, and then stealing hundreds more, sadly reinforces what Tone Kravanga and Dinsdale Pirhannha point out.

Jimblidge is not the poster child of bad EVE Online playing. He is the poster child for everything that is wrong with this game. We pretend EVE is this great and wonderful community, but frankly it isn't. It's insular and self-serving, filled with unfriendly people who claim "it's just a game" when they act out their antisocial desires. They perpetuate this wrong headed idea that Jimblidge deserved what he got because he was stupid. He was not stupid. He was perhaps naive and likely ignorant, but neither one of those conditions labels him as deserving of what he got. It is not wrong to be naive or stupid. It IS wrong to victimize such people IMO. He is the victim here, not those who claim he should go back to WoW because he somehow reduces the greatness of "our game." That last is the wanking sort of attitude I wrote of yesterday, where EVE players congratulate themselves for being the most badass gamers ever simply because they can blow up noobs and scam them out of hundreds of dollars.

I enjoy playing LoL because of the people I've discovered there who call you a feeder not out of derisive name calling, but as a teaching point on what you are doing wrong and how it negatively affects the rest of the team. It becomes a positive teaching point, even in the few PvP games I've played. That makes me feel included, not ostracized for being stupid. This feeling is not restricted to just me. There is a strong community of helpers in LoL that EVE Uni cannot even begin to match. It's based on this fundamental proposition. Everyone in LoL starts as a feeder. If you say you didn't you are probably lying. Even the pros admit they began as feeders. Every feeder deserves to get help because it benefits everyone. In turn they pay it forward. In EVE we all start out as naive and ignorant like Jimblidge, but unfortunately there is only paying it back in this game.

I'd like to think that some group like EVE Uni or Brave Newbies may step up and try to educate Jimblidge. But since he's been ganked and then scammed, I'm not sure he'd be willing to trust them. And more's the pity. We eat our young: that has been said many times before. We need to stop. One day a better Internet spaceship game will come along. Perhaps it will be Star Citizen. I don't know. But who do you think pledged the nearly 40 million so far raised by it's kickstarter? It's from guys like Jimblidge who want to play Internet spaceships, have the money to buy into it, but find EVE Online to be as off putting as cat shit on your dinner plate. These types of players all want the same thing. Here it is in Jimblidge's own words,



If these players don't get it from EVE Online, they will take their money and go where they can get it. You l33ts may say good riddance; they're not a fit for this game. But when "they" are the majority, that attitude only means you are willing to accept a trivial role in the future of online gaming. Is that really what CCP wants? I don't think so. But it's all they'll get from those who think it's acceptable to victimize the Jimblidges of the gaming world.


  1. The more I've considered this issue, the more I believe that EVE could use a real "high-security" zone. Many blogs recently have touted the "everything is PvP" in EVE stance. This, in its essence, is true. Markets, manufacturing, and combat all incorporate other players. Some would argue that mission running goes against this philosophy and is purely PvE but it cannot be by nature of the current EVE universe. But should there be something that is?

    The question becomes, do you cater to players who do not want to play PvP in EVE? Problems like the one of the 44B Raven loss (and to some degree the subsequent scam) come from one player wanting to play a PvE game inside a PvP game. The idea has been floated before of "newbie" protected areas that lack any type of PvP mechanic. I think this idea has merit and is not too far removed from existing lore where you could have the protective nature of CONCORD (or whatever law making power) make it impossible for capsuler on capsuler combat. Make a set of space, now the new 1.0 where everyone starts, completely PvP free but limit what ships can fly there, what modules can be used there, and ultimately set a ceiling on how far you can progress. This could be handled simply by not allowing various skillbooks to be available in this space. No faction, deadspace, or officer modules, maybe even no T2. Missions are handed out by CONCORD or the powers that be for LP only. Make everything purchased in these systems an LP store that only exists in this space. My thoughts here are that it eliminates any kind of direct ISK faucet being created by hordes of PvE only "high-sec" players farming missions. Certainly the items bought would have ISK value and could be shipped out but hopefully the higher level thinkers in the EVE economics side of the house would have a way to keep that in balance. You could even go so far as to incorporate a "matchmaking" type service where users wanting to engage in a particular style of mission are fleeted together by a CONCORD officer and sent on their way.

    Once you leave this space you cannot return making it impossible for outside "real EVE" players to influence what happens inside. Everything in EVE then is 0.9 or lower and when you leave, you are given stern warnings about your exposure to combat as well as rewards for venturing outside of the protective womb.

    I'm sure to the veterans of EVE this feels like coddling, or making EVE into too much of the themepark MMO but then again, if you don't have a ticket to get into the themepark, what difference does it make that it exists? In the end, you could end up fostering a whole group of EVE players that *want* to venture into the unknown feeling prepared for it and giving all those veterans some truly good content instead.

  2. I agree with the gist of you statement, but I don't think Jim was a good example. He didn't really seem to respect the game or the unique challenges associated with learning to play EVE. It appears, he just wanted to use RL $$ to play the game in EZ mode. I know CCP would be happy to take his money (and more like him - willing to throw hundreds at a trial), but I don't think what he wanted was good for the game.

    I am not really even sure how you can research the game enough to buy PLEX and a Navy Raven with all the trimmings without also bothering to learn just a little bit about how it all fits together.

    Finally, his attitude was a lot different than yours. You left "negative feedback" in LOL for someone who deserved it. This guy wanted to use his RL position to gain RL revenge on the people who took away his fun. Big difference.

    So I don't think he is necessarily a good example, even if I do agree with the core point that you are trying to make.

  3. The thing about that article, for me, was that it was completely jaw-dropping. I didn't know people like that existed. The story itself is a terrible train wreck, but I couldn't look away because I was having trouble comprehending the difference of worldviews, or that someone who has that set of desires would be here in the first place.

    Some things that confused me about that guy:
    1. I try to do what I consider due diligence on games before buying them. This is, for me, so I don't have too big a pile of games lying around that I'm not playing. Obviously, this guy has enough spare money that he doesn't worry about that, but I'm just confused how he ended up here with such alien expectations. (I'm also enough of a min-maxer that I abandoned my first free trial because I rolled a character who was useless for the first two months because I researched how to make a long-term-performant character and then discovered it meant not having fun at the beginning.)
    2. I don't actually understand why he wanted to play EVE like that. The PvE content really isn't that great in EVE. I know this is an old saw, but it's really true. I can barely stand shooting red crosses anymore unless I'm with people, after grinding missions when I first played, and incursions actually got boring as soon as I figured out how to not fail at them. I guess it's the only spaceship game in town, but... is it really just as bad in games like World of Warcraft? (Why did he stop playing WoW anyway?) If most MMOs have PvE content this shitty, I'd go back to single-player and co-op games, honestly.

    I guess I'm kind of okay, at least for now, with EVE being a niche game. The things that make EVE special are the people who make it a living, breathing universe. People like you, with your manufacturing operation, and (somewhat self-centerdly) me, where, while I fly combat ships many days, my primary line of work these days seems to be space trucking. People like the ones who staff the bureaucracy that The Mittani has apparently built out of what used to be a very low-bus-number leadership organization in Goonswarm. People like the ones living in Providence who strongly believe in NRDS and make it one of the weirder places in EVE. Ironically, much of this also seems to be the people who feed the punchline of "EVE is a second job you pay for the privilege of having." People like the victim in that story add subscription money, so I can see why CCP would want them to play, but... I'm not sure why they're here. Maybe I've just bought into the "EVE is a terrible game" meme too much, even as it is my primary hobby.

    (I'll admit I bought into Star Citizen early, which actually violated (1) for me, but I bought in for the same package you did (except I have LTI on my Freelancer...), and I like flying things (while being terrible at it, tbh) so this one really was on a hope. On the other hand, I also got Sword of the Stars II and I've barely played that compared to the 100+ hours I've put into the original SotS.)

  4. What if part of the New Space that is discovered in the Summer release is a pure PvE universe? Make it a pocket of space where 44B isk Ravens can happily shoot red Xs forever. Once inside Nobody can ever return/interact with the old universe.

  5. BraverthananyoneelseMarch 5, 2014 at 4:06 PM

    And where is the problem when this perception? I am a new player with less than a year. Nearly our entire group of real-life friends is now playing Eve. We lost faction fit battleships, Exhumers etc... But you know what? We didn't blame the game or the players because we KNEW that is was entire our fault . Bad fits, mistakes, missing knowledge etc...

    Of course we were a little bit down after a stupid loss but we just did HTFU.

    Eve is an harsh and bitter mistress. And that is a good thing. Because it makes it an unique and rare gem. Change this and EveO will be just another Themepark like at all these awful WoW clones like Rift, LotRO, Warhammer etc...

    Of course this means that Eve will never be a mainstream success like WoW. Better it dies with 2 players and 250.000 alts than being twisted to ponyland xD

    For all the other players, well there will be StarCitizien etc :-) While I backed it and hope that it will be good (because spaceships <3 and WingCommander), SC will never get me so excited and engaged like EveO.

  6. Dinsdale PirannhaMarch 5, 2014 at 11:36 PM

    There a ton of things that CCP could do to improve the New Player Experience, limiting the griefing in the game as one of them. But powers that be at CCP choose not to. Maybe money is really not that important to them, and maybe it is actually true that the leaders at CCP are really Vikings, who are more than happy to build a game that meshes with their sensibilities, rather than optimize profits.

    I simply can't get inside their heads. I am certain they recognize that the the attrition rate of new players is huge. But they seem unwilling to do anything to fix it, or are simply too terrified of what the null sec / griefer player base would do if CCP actually took steps to rectify the situation.

  7. I’d have more sympathy for him if he didn’t threaten RL consequences. If he wants to throw fat cash at a PVP game it’s his money, but he could at least be grown up about it. Also, if he’s going to make threats then he can stick his neck out and make them explicit. Since he knows full well that it’s wrong for him to do it, he gets all smarmy and passive-aggressive instead. Players like him are one reason why I gave up on WoW pretty quickly, and I stuck to PVE in WoW.
    The Mittani article is a train wreck, unsurprisingly, and I agree with your assessment of their attitude. More broadly, there’s a sense that PVE should be min/maxed to the greatest extent possible, and anyone who seems to be enjoying it or playing around with it, or even just fumbling around and learning the hard way, should be punished and then ridiculed–which is a very WoW way to look at PVE, I have to say. I note that TMC’s bingo card has “mix of buffer and active tank” as one of their squares, but Jester regularly chastises ganked mission boats for a lack of buffer. This is one of the tricks, of course: what the Navy Raven pilots are actually doing “wrong” is flying ships that earn their gankers a good income, and the rest is just victim-blaming. The fact that different people give you different advice just makes the victim-blaming more effective, because it ensures that if you’re the victim you’re always wrong–and to be clear, I’m not alleging a conspiracy here, I’m just saying that the lack of consensus about what to do right just makes it worse. For what it’s worth, my take is that if you fit an LSE and three Extenders, they’ll just bring more Tornadoes if your likely loot drop is worth the additional cost–which on fits like this guy’s, it is–so “fit buffer” is terrible advice. Jester even posts an example of this without it ever occurring to him that it moots the advice he hands out on a regular basis. Goldilee’s advice to never keep a shiny ship in one system for more than a day, scout, and switch agents frequently is more useful, largely because it comes from someone who does PVE in an active-tanked shiny ship without getting ganked.
    One of the things I like about WH space is that, while it’s far more lethal, the people themselves are more chill and more friendly, and while you still see ridiculous fits (seriously: we killed a deadspace fit stealth bomber with a Retriever once!) at least the complete lack of security means that you’re always fit and prepared.
    I honestly wonder what would change if the tutorial made it abundantly clear that CONCORD doesn’t protect anyone or prevent anything. They just kill the first person to shoot outside of a war dec or a duel.

  8. Okay, before I chime in I want to be clear that I'm not a ganker and preying on newbies or noobs in hi sec has never appeared on my EVE agenda, nor will it ever to be honest. With that being said, I fully support everyone's ability to pull off a gank in hi sec - if you undock with a hold full of PLEX or a ship bling fit with officer mods then you should be fully prepared to lose it too. Don't undock what you can't affordto lose - this is the mantra that every new player should be repeating every time they log in.

    I'd love CCP to flash the "Don't undock ...." message on every new player's screen for the first month or so. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said the player concerned was naive and ignorant - the real question is what are CCP prepared to do to lessen the culture shock, ignorance & naivity that new players may experience when just starting out on their EVE career?

  9. Why is this game full of so many empathy-less psychopaths?

    Reading that GSF Recruiter scamming this guy made me think to myself, "scum scum scum. This is the sort of guy who scams the life savings from a retiree and pats himself on the back about it. Why would you scam a guy who basically deals with the underbelly of society all week, and wants to chill out in EVE-unless you are psychopathic scum????"

    Yeah. Eve has a perception problem. And it's well deserved. Seriously, this story and the comments I've read both here and elsewhere makes me wonder what kind of world I'm in. Really disheartening to see the subtle "it's the victim's fault" attitude, instead of a little empathy for the guy. Sheesh.

  10. I’ve killed about 5 real noobs last week in low sec after killing a noob I convo them and try to help them. Because they are trying. Tbh if ur gonna spend 40b on a sub cap this isn’t the game for you. The community here LIKES that you have to be able to read or u might get scammed. since when do u need 10mil subs to make money ne way????? Afaik only one game had that many and that had more to do with mr. T than gameplay. If u dont like the harsh dark universe that is eve u dont have to play.

  11. I don't know why it attracts people who make RL threats over a game. Your guess is as good as mine.

    And while I won't dispute that the GSF scammer made sure that he would pack up and leave the game (with TMC then following up with "don't let the door hit you on the way out"), and that's not good, there's a very difficult question buried in this story: how do you make a game appealing to people who enjoy the challenge of surviving by their wits without making it very unpleasant for people who don't want to? How do you make it so that doing good is contextual, meaningful and consequential without allowing the freedom to be bad?

    This guy wasn't a completely clueless newbie, either. He did enough research to put together a mission boat that, absent all the purple, is a solid fit. He seemed to have some sense of what he was getting into, he just thought he could bluster his way out of it. Without casting aspersions at WoW, that might genuinely be the better game for him. You can deck yourself out in all the shinies, PVE to your heart's content, never get ganked on the PVE servers, and never get scammed anywhere.

  12. I don't quite get what problem you are trying to highlight. You could switch League of Legends and EVE Online around in your post and not see much difference.

    In one game, you were berated as a newb and told to back to WoW. In another game, someone else was berated as a newb and told to go back to WoW. In one game, you found a group of friends to play with that guided you through the early stages, in the other game the same happens all the time.

    Picking a poor example in one and a good example in the other shows nothing about any perception problem.

  13. LoL. 10 players battle it out in hour long matches. One team wins, one loses. This is happening simultaneously across hundreds of thousands of identical games.

    WoW. A few thousand people play on their server doing quests and raids. This is happening simultaneously across many shards. These occurrences are not unique.

    EVE. 45,000 people at any one time are occupying an online galaxy where you can do anything to any other player that the game mechanics will allow. CCP will not slap your hand and ban you if you keep it in the game. This is pretty unique as far as any online game goes. Changing this would rob the world of something very special. Finally I'd like to point out that whilst EvE may only have a fraction of the player base of other MMOs, in no other MMO can you interact with all the other people in the world who play the game. Eve has a larger, more lived-in universe with a greater continuity than any other MMO could hope for. There are bad eggs, such as the Goonswarm recruiter, but without them we'd just have another forgettable spreadsheet simulator.

  14. Amen brother.
    Without debating how justified it is for griefers to grief if we are to experiment total freedom, lets point out that the same people complain about the lack of new interesting features in the game.
    That’s the obvious part for me: Griefers lack vision.
    Here’s how it goes on a quiet Friday on HTFU land:
    - “Bouhouhou, CCP made another feature-less expansion with only boring stuff and ship balance! I’m so bored…”
    - “Oh lookee here, a wallet-warrior noob that just spilled hundreds of $$ in the game. What should we do?”
    - “He’s a noob with tons of money. We could straighten him out and teach him a trick or two so he would stick around and spend more $$ in the game.”
    - “Are you nuts? This would go against the ‘Eve is unforgiving’ reputation we have to maintain. Let’s blow the sucker out and then have a laugh and insult him to top it off.”
    - “Hey where did he go?”
    - “Dunno. Something in the local about an incoming unsub…”
    - “Too bad. CCP could have used some money. Now what we’re gonna do?”
    - “Bouhouhou, I’m so bored. There was not even one new feature worth playing with in the last expansion…”
    Regardless of how moral or not that approach to the game can be, it is insultingly short-sighted.
    Griefers will ride their freedom to the grave of this game and then move on to parasite another one.
    Next time you hear one complaining about the lack of novelty in the game, tell them to HTFU.

  15. I think we both know who really calls the shots at CCP, and it's not anyone actually employed by CCP. At least not officially.


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