EVE Unbalanced: The Sandbox is a Lie

I recently came across a blog post titled “Be the Hero; Not the Villain” by Mabrick. Before reading further, go read his article first.

Here’s a quote:

…people who just want to have fun, not at someone else’s expense, are leaving the ship like rats.

I want to have fun in EVE Online. I do want to be some flavor of hero in New Eden. I want my corporation and my alliance to be something that allows other people to have fun, too. But my definition of fun is not “being a pirate”. It’s definitely not “ruining other people’s gameplay because lulz” (and let me be clear that I acknowledge players can be the villain/pirate/bad guy without also being assholes. Unfortunately, more and more the two seem to go hand-in-hand anyway).

The quote above was the most poignant part of Mabrick’s article for me because it’s true. People who came to EVE out of a love of science fiction, the cool graphics, and (back then) what was the promise of the “sandbox” are now leaving because they’re realizing the “sandbox” is actually a lie.

CCP once boasted that players could do or be anything in EVE Online. These days? We can still do or be anything in EVE…so long as we are the villain. Come build an empire! Sure…so long as we’re content to be considered pirates, anarchists, corrupt, etc.

Why is this? EVE is unbalanced. I don’t mean ship balancing or NPC AI or power projection or sov mechanics or any of that. The game itself is fundamentally unbalanced and simply doesn’t work as a true sandbox. It pretends to cater to players like me, but it’s actually very difficult—nigh impossible, really—to make any tangible headway as “the hero” (especially in more recent years) because of the game mechanics and CCP’s attitude. Apparently in Valkyrie CCP has decided the player doesn’t have any choice at all: be content to fight for the Guristas (PC Gamer, July 2014), or don’t play. Nice. So anybody who wants to be the hero in Valkyrie can get stuffed I guess…?

It’s Easier To Destroy Than To Create

I’ve been playing EVE Online since March 9, 2008. I don’t consider myself a “veteran” EVE player but six years is still a long time. From 2008 to 2010 I was what others disdainly term a “carebear”: all I did was hisec PVE combat missions. I saved the damsel a zillion times, always hoped for Worlds Collide, and groaned whenever my agents offered me faction missions. I basically never talked to any other player other than the guys in my corp. I was never suicide ganked. The “worst” that happened was dealing a few times with ninja salvagers. I once visited a newbie system to wait for a friend to undock his new character for the first time, and some other newbie randomly decided to shoot my Myrm while I was waiting. It was my first PVP encounter and the only time I’ve ever seen CONCORDOKKEN up close.

For the most part, back then EVE was pretty fun.

It wasn’t until I joined ILF in August of 2010 that I went to lowsec for the first time, tried PVP for the first time, started to get involved with roleplay and the EVE community, and generally actually decided I wanted to make something out of my time in this game. That was when I started writing [solpilot], went to fanfest for the first time, and otherwise really began to care about what I was doing. EVE stopped being a game and turned into a hobby.

There are basically two kinds of EVE players.
(That would be Sakaane on the left.)

But as I became more involved in “the community”, EVE became less fun. There was a player who harassed me both in and out of EVE as part of his wardec strategy. There was another player who berated me about my character, my corp, and my alliance to the point I actually questioned my integrity as a person. Occasionally I get gender-related slurs about my ability to play the game and effectively lead IPI and ILF. There’s often an undercurrent of disgust or disdain aimed at me and my guys: we are called pirates, anarchists, and other things I won’t repeat. There have been countless attempts to “wreck” IPI/ILF and our gameplay in the hope we’ll disband. In almost all cases the grief received actually comes down to disdain over how I choose to participate in the sandbox, and thus what IPI/ILF exists for. Which is not to be “the villain”.

At times I’ve been called IPI/ILF’s “den mother” and “Sakmommy” and various other things. I am protective of my guys, our RP, and what we’re trying to do in the game. At the same time, I have zero tolerance in my alliance for people acting like douchebags and being anything other than mature adults who know how to act with respect. Do unto others. I’d never thought about quitting EVE until I had to start repeatedly defending myself and my guys against the crap we get. It takes a lot of energy and dedication to keep going and rebuild every time someone comes along to kick down our sandcastle simply because they can. It’s even harder when I see the game developer actively promoting that kind of gameplay without doing much of anything to foster activities on the other side of the coin—the side I want to live on.

From where I sit, much of what EVE has become today is not “emergent” or fulfilling gameplay or roleplay. It’s nice people who want to build something for themselves and like-minded peers, tell some stories based on the lore, and have fun in a fair way, yet are constantly getting distracted and hindered in those goals because they must fend off bullies who have CCP’s permission to beat them down. The villains can do it because the game makes it easy to, and the players who want to be the heroes are forced to struggle with both hands tied behind their backs. Ever tried recruiting for a group that wants to be “the hero” rather than “the villain” when more and more CCP’s target audience is becoming the latter, and the former are considered a worthless investment of resources? Recruitment is the longest four letter word I know.

Newton’s Third Law

In real life, we probably have more heroes than villains. In fiction, we hope there are more heroes than villains because we generally want the good guys to win and everyone to live happily ever after when all is said and done.

On the whole, I believe that human beings, even ones with cybernetics implanted in them who are basically just sentient computer processing cores for the ships they fly, tend to want to resist the idea that harming another person on any level or in any fashion is good. Doesn’t matter if that other person is a newbie who has just undocked for the first time or is someone like me who has been around the block more than once.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand CCP’s vision that the cluster is intended to be a gritty, grim, dark, somewhat dystopian place. And sure, in every society without fail you will find more than a handful of people who fall somewhere into the villain category. But come on. With CCP’s attitude lately, and the way the game mechanics are structured, the game seems to be like this:

Villain overload!

Newton’s Third Law tells us that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, and I think this applies to more than just physics. So if there are so many villains in EVE, where are all the heroes?

Every player (roleplayer or not) who approaches the game with the idea that they want to position themselves somewhere to the right of the cliff in the above graph is in for a rude surprise. They have their work cut out for them and face a struggle that many will ultimately decide is not “fun” and subsequently quit in favor of something else more rewarding. So the heroes, well, a lot of them aren’t here. They’re playing other games.

In the lore, CCP says that over time capsuleers lose their grasp on humanity as if that’s some kind of justification for anyone being a douchebag, whether in-character or not. Personally, I think it’s just a weak excuse for crummy behavior. Maybe a certain (small) percentage of the capsuleer population would allow themselves to slip without protest into being murderous zombie ship brains that shoot anything that moves. Some human beings are truly despicable and get their kicks from doing some pretty sick things, so becoming a capsuleer would be seventh heaven for them. But the rest of the capsuleers? As a player I have a really hard time accepting my avatar is supposed to become dehumanized “just because that’s what happens”.

If the sandbox is still intended by CCP to be something where any player can play EVE to be anything and do whatever they want, and there are players like me who want to be “the hero” as the logical reaction to players who want to be “the villain”, the game needs to address both of those choices, plus the entire spectrum in between.

Too lean in the middle.

If EVE was like this, we’d have lots of horrible, despicable, godawful player villains that people would love to hate and pew the shit out of, plus lots of squeaky clean, player white knights in shining armor that people would love to hate and pew the shit out of. And varying amounts of other players in the middle.

In truth, this is probably a bit too Newton-law, Sith vs Jedi for CCP’s “grimdark” vision of New Eden because of all that sparkly rainbow sunshine hero goodness cropping up on the right side of the graph.

Just right?

What if EVE Online players could find themselves a home in the game somewhere along a curve that looked something like this? The curve still isn’t quite balanced; there are lots of villains and lots of people occupying the questionable portions of the spectrum, and little to no true “white knight” capsuleers.

As a wannabe hero, I could probably live with this. I could see myself positioning IPI/ILF somewhere between “Dark Hero” and “Hero”. We see injustice in Intaki and want to fix it, but because New Eden is a violent place, we have to adopt somewhat “unclean” methods that often leave the ships and corpses of the actual bad guys in our wake, but we are still, at the core, heroes saving our people for non-selfish reasons.

Alas, this isn’t possible in EVE today. Players can try to be in that green spectrum somewhere, but the game’s mechanics undermine every effort they make such that in the end they still end up looking like villains.

Talk Is Cheap

EVE is a PVP game. Even I, when I was a so-called carebear in hisec and had no interest in fighting other players at the time, knew I was in a PVP game and could be killed by anyone at any time. All the most famous stories that have come from the game center around player versus player mechanics to some degree, whether that means thousands of people blowing up thousands of other people, or one player infiltrating another group of players to nick their treasures out from under them. The reality is, if a corp or alliance wants to do or be anything grand in EVE, eventually it has to fight and outwit one or more players rather than just the computer.

In lowsec, outside of a wardec or only targeting players with criminal security status, nobody can PVP without wearing away their sec status. The player who fancies himself a hero gets no reward and is treated no differently for destroying a player pirate compared to the player pirate who destroys the player hero or other player pirates. They both get to scoop loot and have a kill report to show, and they both get their wrists slapped in the form of a sec hit. And that’s it.

Ugh. Why are players unilaterally punished for blowing up other players? That is dumb.

For the player who wants to be the villain, sec status below zero is a mark of pride, a way to boast just how badass that player is.

For the hero? Negative security status is a pain.

It isn’t enough to post a character bio that says, “I’m not a pirate”. It isn’t enough to have a website that outlines in detail how you plan to help the people of New Eden. It isn’t enough to write about anything on IGS—or any other forum, for that matter. Talk is cheap, people love to shitpost, and in EVE, “everybody” lies. “Everybody” might be a spy or a pirate, even me! (I’m not!) Everybody is the villain. Why? Because CCP forces every player that PVPs more than they PVE to have a sec status below zero. For a player trying to create an in-game experience as a hero, that negative sec is basically a megaphone that gets louder and louder as the sec gets lower and lower. Negative sec? No matter what you say, you must be a pirate because you kill other players! You’re a villain!

CONCORD Needs to Math

If negative sec is the hallmark of the PVP pirate, shouldn’t positive sec be the hallmark of the PVP hero? Why doesn’t CONCORD reward pilots for destroying other pilots who are villains?

In my mind, security status should only take a hit in three scenarios:

  • when a player destroys another player with sec status equal to or higher than their own (for example, -4.8 destroys -2.6);
  • when a player with sec status above zero destroys another player with sec status at or above zero (for example, +3.4 destroys +2.2 or +5.0); and
  • when a player gets caught transporting illegal goods past customs NPCs.

The hit for destroying a player should always be larger than the hit for trying to sneak past the NPCs. The size of the penalty should be proportionate to the difference in sec status between the players, meaning that someone at -5.0 destroying someone who is +5.0 should get a bigger hit than someone at -2.0 destroying someone who is only 0.0. The hit should be amplified for players with positive sec destroying other players with positive sec.

To balance this out, security status should only get a boost in three scenarios:

  • when a player destroys another player with sec status below theirs, provided the opponent’s sec status is not at or above zero (for example, +1.8 destroys -3.5);
  • when a player turns in tags for sec; and
  • when a player destroys bona fide pirate NPCs.

Like above, the boost for destroying a player should be larger than the boost for destroying pirate NPCs (or using tags). The size of the boost should be proportionate to the difference in sec status between the players, meaning that someone at +5.0 destroying someone who is -5.0 will get a bigger boost than someone at -2.0 destroying someone at -5.0.

And since some players get off on ganking newbies, I think all new players should come out of character creation with at least +5.0 sec to start with, so that under this kind of system anyone who ganks them in hisec not only gets COCORDOKKEN but also ends up with a super healthy chunk taken out of their own security status to drive them back into whatever wretched hole they crawled out of. If the new players want to make themselves into the villain right away, all they need to do is attack another positive sec player or two to start themselves down that road.

In such a system I also think the -10.0 sec cap should be removed. Players who really want to be the villain shouldn’t hit -10.0 and then just stay there. Their status should keep going down as a true reflection of their villainy, and also because anyone who ends up at -10.0 should still have the opportunity to shoot someone with sec lower than theirs to start grinding back up if they wanted, rather than being forced to use tags or PVE.

I’ve never seen anyone with +10.0 sec before but that shouldn’t be an upper cap either.

Why use sec status this way? As the hero, I’m not in the habit of attacking people with neutral or positive sec status. They are, in the eyes of CONCORD, “good people” or at the very least, “not bad people”. These are the people the hero wants to defend: they are probably miners, industrialists, explorers, haulers, traders, and combat pilots with a sense of honor. If I want to play the hero then I do want to make a habit of attacking people who habitually go after the people I want to defend. Those are the villains, the pirates, the scum…and CONCORD should reward me for being picky about my targets. I want my sec status to show how badass I am at killing the bad guys.

Faction “Loyalty”

There’s another side to being “the hero” or “the villain” in EVE that isn’t balanced. CCP has designed various groups with various motivations and goals for players to identify with or against. Because of this, on some level every EVE player has been touched by a bit of roleplay at some point, even if it went no further than preferring one race, empire, and/or faction over another simply because “this is cooler” or “these ships are better” or whatever.

The empires are, by design, all corrupt and imperfect in some fashion. Fair enough; no country or government on Earth is the picture of utopia either. Even if the empires are not shining beacons of peace and tranquility, they still inspire players to some level of loyalty and those players may think of themselves as the “good guys” because they are aligned with an empire. Or maybe they don’t. It’s a matter of individual perspective and that’s a good thing for the sandbox.

Lots of non-empire factions are obviously intended to be the villains: Serpentis, Sansha, Angels, Blood Raiders, Guristas, others. These pirate factions also inspire players to some level of loyalty. Those are the players who think it’s fun to be “the dirty pirate, arrrr”. Power to them.

But what about the rest? There are some black sheep factions mixed into the bunch. Sisters. ORE. Mordu’s. CONCORD. Maybe a few others. What happens to them? CCP jams almost all of these into the “pirate faction” category too. The ones that aren’t, like ORE, are just sort of stuck in places where I suppose CCP hopes nobody will notice.

Who is there for the player hero to identify with and be loyal to? Keeping in mind CCP’s “grimdark” vision, if none of the empires appeal, all anyone has left to pick from are the “pirate” factions. When Mordu’s was announced as the faction getting new ships, I know a lot of players (including myself and people in my alliance) were pretty excited. That is, until they had the “pirate” label slapped on them. Mordu’s is a respected mercenary/paramilitary group. Does that make them pirates? No.

Sisters might be a bit unclean, but are they pirates? No. ORE might be owned by the Serpentis now but are they themselves a bunch of dirty pirates? No.

CONCORD? Well…

They have Angry CONCORD Guy but being an idiot doesn’t make him a pirate.

The player hero who wants to choose one or more of these non-pirate “pirate” factions still has to somehow mitigate the “pirate” association especially when CCP spews crap like “NEWEST PIRATE FACTION IS MORDU’S” all over the playerbase. Apparently using a term like “Independent Faction” or simply “Non-Empire Faction” for these few groups would be really hard. But no! I forgot, CCP wants everyone to be the villain!

Not that being loyal to the chosen faction is in any way meaningful.

How hilarious is this? Why bother having standings at all if the NPCs don’t actually take them into account? Since CCP was able to do it for Faction Warfare and a few other specific scenarios, why doesn’t every NPC group consider a player’s standings? Wouldn’t it be nice if having positive Serpentis standings meant their belt or gate rats didn’t attack, and maybe even came to your defense against others with bad Serpentis standings? This would never apply to me, but I’m sure some player pirates out there would appreciate the visual reminder of the fruits of their PVE labors. I guess there really is no honor among thieves.

And don’t even get me started about the problems with bounty hunting.

Conclusion

Can anyone actually be a hero in EVE? We can try, but the odds are stacked against us right from the start, right from CCP down. Given CCP’s attitude, players in positions like mine either endure, subsisting on the few small achievements and victories we can get as player heroes while hoping for balance to come in the future, or we burn out. Maybe posts like mine and Mabrick’s and others will help affect change, maybe they won’t.

One thing I know for sure: I haven’t quit EVE yet because I am loath to give the villains the satisfaction of having beaten me.


Update: In addition to all the very fantastic comments I’ve received on this article, a few blog posts have been written that add to the conversation about “hero” gameplay in EVE Online:

Sugar Kyle: I want to be neutral
TurAmarth: Crime & Reward…

Recent Comments

  • Lord Bludgeon
    9 June 2020 - 6:27 AM · Reply

    It’s a sad commentary on what is apparently basic human nature… Being a complete a$$hat is so close under the surface of (unfortunately) most people that it’s easy to show your true colors when there is no “real-Life” consequence. I was quite content to run PVE’s, mine, research, and build; I’m a city-builder at heart and nothing ruins a good builder game like “Now with a military component!”. I belonged to a MYOB mining corporation (the name eludes me now, but a good bunch of folks) who helped me advance when I wasn’t off exploring by myself. I got ganked a few times but only in places where I probably shouldn’t have been by myself. I’ve been looking for a game “like EVE, but without the a$$hats” for some time. I am happy to see that Earth and Beyond has made a comeback, and Rebel Galaxy isn’t awful, but they lack the detail and immersion that EVE had. But I didn’t leave EVE because of the a$$hats; that’s just why I never went back to it.

    I don’t get the draw of a game you have to re-learn every 6 months or so, especially when YOU have to pay for the privilege and time to re-learn and re-tool. This point was particularly driven home when I took a short sabbatical and carelessly left my ship in a less-than-ideal area of low-sec. There was a massive update while I was away, and when I came back my killer missile cruiser had been utterly nerfed; my 8 high-end missile launchers were useless, as some twit at CCP decided this design shouldn’t have missile launchers at all and I was stuck with 1 laser turret and 8 useless (and expensive) missile launchers in my cargo bay, and several fairly dangerous gates to negotiate! Lots of time and ISK and actual cash disappears in a blink, through no fault of my own. I checked around, and sure enough they’d nerfed my cargo ships (capacities) also. I never left the station. I never returned to the game.

    What I’d like to see: 1) if you want to re-align a ship design, fine. Discontinue availability of the ship and it’s blueprints, but leave existing ships as is; attrition will take care of the remaining ships and most will be gone in time while those that remain will become expensive collector’s items. 2) Corporations – declare where on the above spectrum you lie, and take a sec hit for the left-end. Incorporate severe punishments for edging over the line. AND 3): Give +sec players a blueprint for a “smart-bomb” (remember Defender?) as a purely defensive weapon which will incapacitate any ship with -sec in a given radius and open their cargo-bays/weapons arrays to plunder. Give it a fair recharge time (to facilitate “Hit and Git”) , and let them determine if it’s worth the risk to stay to plunder the pirates. Maybe limit it’s use to 5 lvl sec areas and above.

    I do miss the game and the social interaction. It just lost on the scale of pros and cons and wasn’t worth my time anymore.

    • Cheyenne
      9 June 2020 - 10:28 AM · Reply

      Hey, thanks so much for your comment! It’s gratifying to know people are still reading this article.

      I completely agree with what you said about human nature. EVE has so many wonderful tools and potential in it, but is ruined by, as you say, the “military component”! If you’re still looking for an EVE-like game, I’ve been told by other players that Elite Dangerous scratches the same sort of itch and does exploration of all the “in between spaces” a lot better than EVE. I’ve never tried it myself but there are a lot of people in my timeline who swear by it.

      You make a very good point about having to pay to relearn the game every time they decide to retool things. I always sort of felt that the developers spent too much time tinkering with things that probably weren’t really broken, as well as redoing the graphics so very often, instead of working on actual new content. Could we have had Walking in Stations if so many people weren’t redrawing lines on models and thinking up ways to nerf ships like yours all the time? I don’t blame you for not coming back to the game after finding your ship nerfed the way you did. Where’s the fun in having to start over like that?

      Your other ideas are also quite good. I think it says a lot when players care enough about the game to bother having any ideas about the mechanics at all, rather than just going with the flow. I don’t play anymore either, and what I miss most is also the social interaction with my corp. One day I’ll try to get back to the unfinished RP for my character. But the rest? Like you, for me it just wasn’t worth staying on and putting up with it all.

  • Arcadian Knight
    16 January 2019 - 3:35 AM · Reply

    Whoa! Blast from the past. I commented (supportively) on that post all those years ago. “Great post!”

  • Zubon Tachi
    28 April 2015 - 8:33 PM · Reply

    I just came across your article and I completely agree with your assessment. I’m leaving the game after playing for only 3 months. CCP is really doing nothing to fix the broken game mechanics that have existed (or been accentuated) over the past decade. That’s the reason I didn’t join this game in past. I finally decided to give it a try, only to be disappointed. I had fancied trying to be a good guy bounty hunter, but there’s no way to play as any flavour of that character. The bounty system is a mess. Anyone can randomly place a bounty on you and you only collect a portion of the bounty that’s displayed. What about Concord being the one that places bounties for ship/player kills? Kill someone in high/low sec, get a bounty. What happens in null stays in null (who’s going to receive the crime reports anyway?). And of course, as you mentioned, the security status gong show. No wonder Eve is losing players. CCP is doing nothing to fix the game and add meaningful contend that would invite more people to come into this game and play the way they want to play (balanced against all of the other play styles, of course). There are easy fixes for this game, but CCP isn’t interested in implementing them.

    It’s either be a “carebear” in highsec doing woefully repetitive, uninteresting missions (or slightly less boring exploration) or be an asshole. Those are your two choices in this game. What a disappointment.

  • wenisman
    12 January 2015 - 3:07 AM · Reply

    too true!
    a lot of what you said is present in many other games too. I play DC Universe Online, and in that game your character can have a hero or villain morality. the only issue is that almost no one plays villain, since hero side has much more content even though the villain missions are often much more fun. imbalances like these are pretty game ruining I find. good post!

  • Hong WeiLoh
    27 August 2014 - 5:49 AM · Reply

    This, this, and so much more this!

    When I was first sketching out the idea for Harrier Company, I jokingly (which, in my parlance, means “srsly”) considered calling it “Hong’s Heroes” … so maybe “Hong’s Anti-/Dark Heroes” would’ve been more accurate, instead? It’s a moot point either way, since the Company has been extant for more than a year now.

    But you’re right: even being the “gray — between the Candle and the Star” guys, even being “RP super-ultra-mega-lite”, recruitment is damn near impossible.

    I bet you if I changed the corp to “Hong’s Dicks” with the byline that “we fuck assholes and pussies” (which is kind of the idea, all along), I’d be up to 500 members in no time flat. Rixx’s graphic design and writing talents aside — Stay Frosty is a hardcore pirate corp with 400+. The “good guys”? Lucky to have 40, at the height of their membership.

      • Cheyenne
        25 August 2014 - 1:41 AM · Reply

        I also get that a lot. Funny, my corp is going to be eight years old this December and we have always been headquartered in and operated primarily from lowsec. Pretty sure we already htfu’d.

        Wanting the game to provide wider and more varied options for gameplay really doesn’t have anything to do with me or anyone else needing to htfu, and everything to do with, you know, getting and keeping more people interested in playing, period.

        • Pyro
          25 August 2014 - 11:33 PM · Reply

          ok so then as a corp thats lived in lowsec for 8 years I have an even more difficult time understanding your position.

          On the one hand you want a sandbox – but you dont want anyone to throw sand at you or kick your sandcastle over. Well thats what happens in sandboxes, kids are a-holes.

          What makes eve great is the struggle. Without struggle its just another stupid game. Losing hurts, winning feels good. Fight or flight the sandbox is real.

        • Pyro
          26 August 2014 - 12:07 AM · Reply

          i also have issues with your chart – is it not possible to be both a hero and a villain? I fly logi for pirate faction warfarers so where do i fit in in your sandbox?
          Heroes and villains are objective and depend on perspective.

          Dont LET people talk down to you – be indy and be badass – make money – earn respect. Its possible until you giveup.

          edit
          for mysef I find the last graph in your article to be the most accurate. In fact we just recently chose our alliance name based on a certain.. catchphrase of our CEO- ‘C.Q.B Doing Gods work since 2014’

          • Cheyenne
            31 August 2014 - 2:35 AM · Reply

            I don’t think you fully understand the purpose of the article. I didn’t say anything about never having anyone “throw sand” or “kick my sandcastle over”—I said that the game in its current state makes it more difficult for corps like mine to recover and prosper when it happens. CCP’s marketing strategy and the in-game mechanics punish players like me: recruitment is incredibly difficult; sec is a misleading badge; pirates are rewarded and white knights are not. Of course our sandcastle is going to be kicked; that’s the whole point of the game—but EVE would do well to offer more balance and give players more equal opportunities no matter what side of the coin they want to play on.

            If villains are just supposed to prey on other villains all the time that’s a godawfully boring, narrow, and short-sighted approach, not a true sandbox, and chops out a whole segment of potential customers. We come to the game and give it a try, and most of us quit. More of us would stay for people like you to pew with, and pew more properly, if CCP widened their scope. Wouldn’t that be better for everyone who plays EVE? All this whining crap the so-called hardcore PVP pirates make over “lol carebears who can’t PVP”…well, maybe some of them would PVP more and even be better at it if they could feel rewarded for doing so rather than rammed down the pirate path too.

            The charts are just to illustrate a point, not to be taken so literally. Be whatever you want to be in EVE. THAT is what a sandbox is.

            That isn’t what CCP is currently selling.

  • Aegea/Shantetha
    20 August 2014 - 2:59 PM · Reply

    Eve is Unbalanced post is amazing, been feeling this same way for a long time. everyone should read it.

  • Adiaze Venasse
    20 August 2014 - 2:03 PM · Reply

    Fully agree with the article. While it won’t completely balance it, introducing ‘hero’ type bounty hunters will work into nearing the balance. I’m sure there are a lot of people who would like to be heroes. :)

    • Cheyenne
      20 August 2014 - 3:15 PM · Reply

      When I first started contemplating RP angles for my character I was very interested in pursuing bounty hunting, and still am, but the mechanic is still too broken to make it viable. :(

      • Nathan Lowell
        20 August 2014 - 3:33 PM · Reply

        The promise of Retribution was that the new bounty system would promote the role of bounty hunter.

        The practice of Retribution was that it gave griefers a new way to make newbies pee themselves by dropping 100k bounty on two day old characters. There’s no skill or art to it. You only need the spare cash and the willingness to be a dick.

        I’m willing to take the equipment/financial hit for being CONCORDed if I pre-empt a ganker. Adding insult to injury by lowering my security rating in the process makes Retribution a joke.

  • Jessy Corrales
    19 August 2014 - 9:31 AM · Reply

    Well this is very much expected in a game where there is no rules. I never expected to see good guys here in Eve and always assumed that everyone is a potential villain.

  • helena khan
    19 August 2014 - 9:09 AM · Reply

    While not quite addressing your very valid points, I do think there needs to be some sort of benefit for grinding status with NPC corporations.

    While probably more of a “lore” kind of consideration, there is nothing really outside cost/refining breaks. IMHO if you’re 8+, 9+ or even (heaven forbid) 10 status with an NPC corp, why shouldn’t there be some sort of tangible reward(s)?

    You are a valued and valuable asset, having proved yourself many hundreds of times and saved them much vexation and grief. You may have saved critical intellectual property, or assisted in putting one over on their megacorp rivals.

    Surely that deserves a little something extra…

  • BigBob
    19 August 2014 - 7:20 AM · Reply

    This was a very good read, although I don’t share your longing for heroes. I think “hero” and “villain” are strong words that heavily depend on the point of view. The point is not what is a good or bad way to play and between the lines you say this yourself. If they want to be a pirate, let them be. But there are two points.

    1) Freedom ends where I cut the freedom of others. If something that is possible through game mechanics becomes ultimately pointless because other players have to easy time destroying my way of playing, then something goes wrong. However I don’t think we are in that state. You can still be a miner in HighSec and make profit. You can move through LowSec and NullSec – under risk but you’re not definitely doomed.

    2) Immersion. Now this is something that all players who engage in RP (or are just interested in it without still having found their place, like me) will miss at some point. Even players that don’t care about RP might miss it when they rescue the Damsel the trillionth time. Aligning yourself to an NPC faction and giving this visible changes for your game experience (despite mission rewards and loyality points) would change the game experience in that players would become someone through their actions. If they don’t care they can still work for different factions, but if they do they could really find immersion – something that every great game or series or movie needs.

    About your proposal with the sec status: the ideas sound nice, however players can have multiple characters and multiple accounts. If someone wants to bash noobs out of fun they don’t need much training so they could easily train up an alt for this in – let’s say – 2 days. Yet I would love it if CCP looked into this direction. Immersion is something that this game of great opportunity still lacks.

  • TurAmarth
    19 August 2014 - 2:21 AM · Reply

    Hey, just found your blog via Sugar Kyles post…

    I hope you don’t mind but I basically swiped the whole section, “CONCORD Needs to Math”.

    All I can say is Kudos!!! This is an incredibly good idea and one that has he potential to fix a very real imbalance in EVE.

  • ReLoad
    19 August 2014 - 1:08 AM · Reply

    My initial reaction while reading the first paragraph was “one group’s villain is another’s hero” even if the game mechanics are truly skewed more towards destruction and general mayhem. The sec status proposal makes very good sense though. That’ll give a much better distinction of villain vs hero.

  • Nicomedes Yap
    18 August 2014 - 11:23 PM · Reply

    I haven’t read it all but I do like how they have already identified the problem with how EVE seems to skew your preference out of the chute. I want to have +10 standings and have player CONCORD FW :3

  • Art Hornbie
    18 August 2014 - 7:31 PM · Reply

    Great post!

    Your thoughts upset no apple carts yet have the potential to save the game. CCP should surely listen to you.

    I’m a “bloody-minded, determined newbie” who encounters encouragements to leave the game, too. You have made many positive suggestions. The game benefits from your presence.

    +1

  • Alexander Rodecape
    18 August 2014 - 7:15 PM · Reply

    They should change the sec status hit so that if you kill someone with a sec-status lower than yours it goes up by X factor times the difference or something.

  • Manny theMiner
    18 August 2014 - 2:14 PM · Reply

    I enjoyed this read… As someone whose spent years as an avid anti pirate that recently dropped status just for fun, I relate to the message.

  • Christian Tiberg
    18 August 2014 - 11:08 AM · Reply

    Had 5 accounts, was playing for a bit over 3y. Now they’re inactive and I can’t see CCP coming up with anything that’d make me reactivate…

  • Thomas Adams
    18 August 2014 - 3:58 AM · Reply

    It’s more to do with people all want to own the sandpit but aren’t willing to work with others to do so. Hence why major alliances in null are able to have the good things in life. Highsec corps could do the same but are more constantly targeted by other corps, pirates, awoxers, spies etc that most players (management roles or not) feel pressured almost back to the box corps. Some alliances living in high sec could fight against the common enemy but most chose to do their own thing. Hence why players feel like they are being pushed out.

    • Nathan Lowell
      19 August 2014 - 1:45 AM · Reply

      Highsec corps could do the same

      I believe this is a misconception. The materials (and scale) necessary to defend against the Null Sec giants don’t exist in HighSec.

      Try building a ship without megacyte or zydrine.

      Try getting advanced PI going in a 0.5 sector.

      The mechanics of the game are slanted against Empire, against any kind of HighSec-NullSec competition because NullSec can be independent of High but the reverse is not true.

      Sakaane makes a good point about the difference between White Hats and Black Hats re pvp as well. If I gank a ganker, it’s my security status that takes a hit. It’s my overview band that moves toward the yellow and red. It’s my hat that gets stained until, eventually, it turns black.

      That’s a game mechanic that gives those who want the negative security status an advantage. They only need to keep popping their friends (or alts) in LowSec in order to gain the ultimate prize of -10.

      This is not a game of brains, but of brawn. The argument that it takes brains to coordinate and effectively wield the brawn has some merit, but – as Brave has shown – you only need to get a big enough group of stupid people to fly in the same direction to get a victory.

      Contrary to the established value, greater risk seldom leads to greater reward. The game is geared to favor those who press for conquest, not those who are willing to take risks.

      I still like it. I’m not letting my accounts expire, but I’m learning to find satisfaction in the scraps left over from the null sec power blocks and in playing my game rather than theirs.

  • Kaeda
    17 August 2014 - 8:48 PM · Reply

    When I read you article I can’t help but get the feeling that you’re mostly frustrated that you can’t get recognition as hero via game mechanics. And I’m not sure that’s a reasonable expectation.
    I can’t speak for others but I’m at best morally ambiguous in EVE I don’t go out of my way to inflict harm but sometimes my current objective involves violence towards another player. It’s never with malign intent however. Guess I’d be somewhere between Anti-Hero & Sympathetic villain though I’m sure some people would say that because I consider any casualties made ‘collateral’ I’m actually the worst kind of villain.

    But ultimately none of that matters, how I define myself does. If nobody else ever sees me the way I see myself that’s fine. Because I play for me, not others.

    And from your article I get both the strong impression that you play primarily for ‘you & yours’ too. But you also seem to have this hope that somehow the game will hand you badge for doing something having a certain attitude towards other. I’m not sure that is what EVE is about, I think that New Eden just like the real Universe ultimately doesn’t care about individuals at all.

    Being a Hero isn’t ever easy and most heroes never get any recognition for being heroes. Even in the real world. Also one man’s hero is another man’s villain. And you can’t be a ‘proper’ hero without interacting with villains, not in a combat centric environment anyway.

    We become what we set out/pretend to be. Not what others label us as, that’s all external, and ultimately irrelevant. In my humble opinion anyway.

    Anyway I hope you can manage to rekindle you passion for EVE somehow.

  • Some Random eve Player
    17 August 2014 - 8:40 PM · Reply

    I will post here a quote from Matrix. I think it describe all eve-o playerbase (Agent Smith being CCP):

    “Agent Smith: Did you know that the first Matrix was designed to be a perfect human world? Where none suffered, where everyone would be happy. It was a disaster. No one would accept the program. Entire crops were lost. Some believed we lacked the programming language to describe your perfect world. But I believe that, as a species, human beings define their reality through suffering and misery. The perfect world was a dream that your primitive cerebrum kept trying to wake up from. Which is why the Matrix was redesigned to this: the peak of your civilization.”

    I think THIS is eve-o!

    ::

  • Nicole B.
    17 August 2014 - 6:39 PM · Reply

    Havent really found what I am looking for there… met some nice people though but we constantly found ourselves in trouble with griefers, pirates or other bad people.

    When we joined our Corp into an Alliance, Problems became even bigger. Just more Wardeccing and Politics was day to day buisness…

    Lost my interest eventually. I love the design of the game and what you can do… but its ruined by people that want to ruin other peoples experience. Sad thing is they are around every corner.

  • Alexander Rodecape
    17 August 2014 - 6:11 PM · Reply

    I’m not sure it’s a lie, it’s just time consuming as all hell to really dig into the sand.
    Does this chart mean that Villains get all the kisses, and everyone else just get hugs?

    • Ron Stevenson
      17 August 2014 - 6:49 PM · Reply

      No it (The chart) was a representation of how you can’t have a true sandbox if the objective of one group is overwhelming the objective of any other group. It’s a good read, you should take 15 minutes and see what she has to say.

  • Ron Stevenson
    17 August 2014 - 5:46 PM · Reply

    I feel your pain, 5 years in EVE, and I can count on my hands the number of people that attempt to play for ‘fun’, and not for the fun wrecking other peoples idea of fun.

    That statement would be insignificant if it wasn’t for the fact I maintain a strong presence in the Incursion community made up of probably over 1000 players.

    But I still log on, and every time I do, I look for likeminded people, I guess my ‘Tilting at windmills specialization’ is trained to V.

  • Devan Corvel
    17 August 2014 - 5:24 PM · Reply

    thanks! Your article really sums up my frustrations with Eve Online, why I haven’t played in a long time, and am tempted to unsub.

  • Black Isis
    17 August 2014 - 2:56 PM · Reply

    This article sums up pretty well why I have pretty much lost my taste for Eve over the last year or two, despite the fact that I still identify pretty heavily with the Eve community (at least certain parts of it). The fact that CCP is constantly pushing the lore and the game mechanics towards making any actual effort to engage with the game world pointless destroys immersion.

  • LuckyLuigi
    17 August 2014 - 8:29 AM · Reply

    Excellent article.

    There is a flaw in the security changes you propose I think. As players won’t care if they are -trillionbillion or -5 they can simply be used by other pirate friends to boost their security back to +.

    As a five year ex-player I agree with pretty much all of your spot on analysis. Sadly I doubt CCP will change the game’s mechanics for the simple reason that it is hard. Hard is expensive and CCP is broke. Easier to add some new ships and other window dressing.

    All I hope now is that Elite Dangerous or Star Citizen will have better mechanics.

  • Kailii Severasse
    17 August 2014 - 8:18 AM · Reply

    Great article. As someone who enjoys working for the sisters of eve, there is nothing worse than being labelled a villain/pirate

  • Subira Hakuli
    17 August 2014 - 8:12 AM · Reply

    Fantastic article! As a fellow stubborn carebear, this is exactly the kind of gameplay I would love to see.

  • Kinis Deren
    17 August 2014 - 7:03 AM · Reply

    excellent read. The good guy is a passive spectator in Eve Online. This reduces emergent game play overall

  • Rainfleet
    17 August 2014 - 5:52 AM · Reply

    The bears need to be organized. I’m talking about the lone chimera pilots and such. I suspect they don’t necessarily want to -win- anything–they just want to have a group to undock their stuff with. I’ve thought about seeking them out, and giving them a social experience… for a while. Outside of that, I don’t know how much could be done about the things you mention. Some of them would require a lot of people to change, not just mechanics or CCP.

  • Erun Talan
    17 August 2014 - 4:54 AM · Reply

    An excellent read ma’am, with a lot of ideas that would change New Eden in a massively positive way.

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