Greedy Goblin

Monday, March 12, 2012

Carebears and bots walk hand in hand

Considering that EVE is supposed to be a harsh competitive world, it is surprisingly not. While there is easier to be competitive than in WoW for example, most players gain their wealth doing carebear stuff. The purpose of such features is to allow bad players to have something to do and progress in the game, preventing the baddies from canceling subscription. The perfect example of such features is farming "heroics" in WoW for valor points: the task can be completed literally on /follow. Let's try to give exact criteria for the "baddie friendly carebear" feature:
  1. It gives the players a task and rewards him for performing it.
  2. The task is readily available in unlimited amount when the player wants it
  3. The player can pick the difficulty of the task or the task is trivial (though maybe time-consuming)
  4. The task does not include any kind of competition from other players and no player is motivated to stop the one doing it (random griefing doesn't count, he is not after you because of your mission)
  5. The activity has no other effect on the game world than rewarding the player. You sell no ore, you perform no service or harm to another player, you just got some ISK/wowgold from an NPC.
The most important thing to recognize is that farming limited spawns (resources or mobs) is not carebear, even in a game with no PvP: the target is limited, so the farmers are competing with each other for the loot in two ways, at first by actually getting the spawn, secondly at the marketplace where the loot sells low due to oversupply. The reason why farming is replaced by quests/missions in MMOs is exactly to protect the baddies from competition with other players. No matter how many people run random HCs in WoW or missions in EVE, there is always a next instance, and there are unlimited rewards available to anyone, which is only mitigated by overall game world inflation (ISK in EVE, ilvl in WoW).

However it has a very nasty side-effect: botting. If a task is easy but boring, better let a bot do it. So these functions are used by bots (or AFK players without technical bot program) to create ingame wealth to illegally sell it or boost their real character with power it shouldn't have.

In WoW practically every game feature is carebear as they are available in unlimited amount of instances, they have absolutely zero impact on the world, besides rewarding the player and they are totally uncompetitive. Even random BG is such function, despite formally being direct PvP: you don't have to compete for rewards as you get honor points even if you did 0 damage, 0 healing, 0 objective cap and your team lost. Only arenas and RBGs are competitive and top raiding was made competitive by players creating third party toplists.

Considering that EVE is supposed to be a "harsh world where you shape the galaxy", the amount of baddie (and bot) friendly features are overwhelming. Most people are "carebears", gaining their wealth from missioning or ratting (grinding mob spawns which are available in every difficulty in unlimited amount). No wonder that botting in EVE is even more prevalent than in WoW. In WoW you can't sell most gear and everyone swims in gold so botting is usually done by players who want to increase the power of their own character without playing. Since you can buy anything from ISK, including game time, botting ISK is profitable so it's rampart.

WoW cannot be "saved" as it is purposefully carebear friendly. However EVE is not. Officially. Jester is looking for an elegant solution to stop botting, here you go:
  • Get rid of all mission agents above lvl 1. Lvl 1 is good for 1 week newbies to learn the ropes, everyone else should be doing something real. The Navy Raven bought from LPs is no less "welfare epic" than the valor-point given WoW loot.
  • Limit the availability of random NPC pirates (beside those who belong to lvl1 security missions). Seriously, why do the Guristas have endless support of pilots and ships? I'm damn sure that millions of them are slaughtered every month.  They should have a limited resource count and should be able to set up operations according to this. If they are low on resources, they can't start new deadspace operations or incursions.
  • Seriously rework mining into its own minigame that requires constant player attention, making botting hard. Like you switch in asteroid view, you must target components of that asteroid, blindly mining all makes you hit low-yield parts or even explosive gas clusters that damage your ship or blow the asteroid into useless little pieces in the space.
If we do these, the following options remain for a pilot to gain wealth:
  • Mining: it's affecting other players as provide the backbone of the economy: materials. It is in competition with other miners and pirate players going after them
  • Trading/manufacturing: it's also affecting other players via providing them buys and sells and it is in competition with other traders/industrialists
  • Hauling: it's affecting other players due equalizing prices between regions, it's in competition with other haulers and pirate players going after them
  • Pirating: it's affecting other players obviously and it's in competition with other pirates and fighters
  • Profitable fighting: it's affecting the life of miners and haulers they escort for a price or as members of their corporation, and clearly affecting the life (or rather death) of the pirates. They compete with other fighters for the jobs and with pirates and fighters of enemy corps for survival
  • System ownership: it's affecting the whole playerbase (see the running theme here?) and provide service to everyone, place to mine for miners, to trade for traders, to haul from and to for haulers, jobs for mercenaries. It's in competition with other system owners which is resolved in epic battles (or hidden political moves)
  • Exploring: it's affecting the life of the miners who use the grav/ladar site locations, the traders who buy the salvaged stuff and the wormhole corporations who use WH locations. They are in competition with other explores (and the pirates who hunt them like everyone else out there)
Since everything would be PvP (either battle or market/political competition), botting would end overnight, I mean good luck botting PvP! It would also solve a problem that is permanently on CSM discussions: the "highsec carebears" having too much protection. With these changes being a "highsec bear" would be equal to "being broke", so only true newbies would do that. Everyone else would have to engage in some form of PvP (combat, market, politics) if they ever want to fly anything bigger than the starter mission destroyer.

What will happen to xXxipopulolxXx who don't want to mine Veldspar, don't want to haul, too dumb to trade and has 1:3 kill:death? I mean, he just wants to jump on the "awsom ship" he grinded missions for to "hav som pvp fun lol", how could he have fun (undeserved feeling of greatness) now? By buying ISK for PLEX! Which is a win-win-win for them, the good players who sold the ISK and CCP as PLEX cost more than subscription.

Clarification: carebear is not equal to M&S. It's an extreme risk and competition aversion, overall "let's all be friends" attitude and not lazyness or stupidity (though correlation exists). M&S need a huge kick in the butt, carebears just need a little push. Also, "hard" doesn't stop boting since the worst thing that can happen with a bot trying hard task is that it fails to do so and stand there empty. Competition stops boting since there the dumb bot can lose your ship which is worse than not boting and staying docked when not there.

PS: how could you gain faction standing without missions? You could donate ISK to the faction, or join the militia and kill enemy faction militia members, gaining the ISK value of the destroyed enemy as donation. (You should be able to be in a corp and a faction militia in the same time, assuming the corp and the faction has positive standing).

Where would the ISK enter to the playerbase without missions showering welfare ISK? NPC corporations could buy minerals, products and sleeper loot for a fixed low price. The factions could also place bounties on enemy militia pilots who killed lot of their militia.

PS2: quick business update: 1.16 B (500M gift). The reason for the lack of increase is spending 184.5M on books for myself.

PS3: the pug update: BWD HM 5/6 now as the hunter couldn't kite and the mages had no frost spec. Seriously, what's the odds of 2 mages having no frost spec?


Vincent Trevane said...

While I like a lot of the elements of your proposal, it goes too far. Highsec is a worthwhile place some of the time for players and people should be able to make ok isk there. Not great isk, like highsec exploration. Not amazing isk, like incursions.

Mika Hirvonen said...

Eve does have PvP-aware bots in nullsec. If a player that's not in the whitelist enters the system, the bots flee automatically. Once the human enemy tires of waiting or is dealt with by the nullsec alliance hired to protect the bots, the bots return and resume their work.

Anonymous said...

If CCP decided they wanted a majority of their customers to go away, wouldn't it be a lot simpler to just make all of hisec into low sec? It would accomplish the goal of fewer customer with a lot less programming changes. Approximately zero of the people in high sec do not know that 0.0 exists; they just choose to be in hisec.

Clockwork said...

Last I heard (quite some time ago) the vast majority of EVE players are the "carebears" that never leave if you gut it, then I have a feeling the game would drop down to 50k subscriptions within a few weeks.

You're average carebear is not someone who just doesn't PvP because they never tried, they are a carebear because they do not WANT to PvP. Certainly there are those players that just need a little push, but there are just as many for whom that little push sends them to a different game, not into PvP.

They could try a lesser version of your plan; reduce the amount of minerals gained from high-sec asteroids, reduce the bounty from missions/pirates (and spawn rates), and make PvP a better way to get money (as you suggested). When I left they hadn't done this, but they could add an "Escort" contract, which involves meeting your escort at a designated Station, then accompanying them (never being more than X (100?) km away for more than a few seconds) and getting paid when they dock at the final station (if the pilot leaves their ship for reasons other than it being destroyed or docks at another station the payment is automatic).

Anonymous said...

Try to imagine what will happen to the economy of EvE with those changes. I will make some wild guesses, feel free to correct.

If we remove mission running above lvl 1 you have to:

- Think of another way to obtain high end stuff (implants, BPC, faction ammo, faction items...). All those things are now gathered with LP from missions.

- Think of another way to produce all those Tech 1 stuff that comes from missions as loot and as salvage materials

- Think of reduced money income that comes from missions - 30+ % of the whole EvE economy IMO

If we force mining in low sec it will become several times more expensive to get those materials and all the prices will go up with a significant amount. This, combined with reduced income flow will devastate the economy and it will drop from capitalism to medieval "we produce all that we spend" model.

It will become impossible for a new or even medium time pilot to survive outside of the big corps.

And botting will not end overnight but will become much more spread - all the corps that hold 0.0 will bot-mine 24/7 the ore that they have.

I'm surprised that such a post comes from someone that have knowledge of economics.

Gevlon said...

@Anonymous: exactly because everything is abundant now, there is no competition and nothing really matters. You blown up your ship? Big deal, you rat some more and in a Navy Raven again in no time.

Mining is done by bots mostly because no one else should bother as the prices are low. Mining as a human player is a waste of time if you go for ISK (of course if you roleplay as Chribba, that's a different issue).

Implants and such are easy to fix, they could be purchased with ISK.

"we produce all that we spend" IS THE ECONOMY. The whole real world crisis comes from the idea that we can consume something that we did not produce.

In games, even in the "harsh" EVE, most of the production is done by NPCs, all we have to do is get to their good graces and they give it to us.

Anonymous said...

Surely all your suggestions do is move the botting to null sec. So it doesn't stop it, just move it.

Anonymous said...


Every mining bot I've seen in hi sec vacuums up veldspar. That said, the market doesn't induce players to mine in lowsec. hedbergite, jaspet, and hemorphite are all lowsec ores and depending on what region you're in, kernite is also lowsec (except Caldari space).

With two accounts, I can pull in about 2,250m3 of ore every minute using two Hulks. Now, this is an estimate figure where one Hulk is jetcan mining non-stop (except to move when there's no further roids around) while the other character swaps between mining in a Hulk and transporting all that ore to a station. It's a style of mining which I believe is only surpassed in total yield by running three accounts and adding an Orca leaving the two Hulks to constantly mine while the Orca hauls.

Based on current Dodixie prices: 17.7m/hr from Veldspar
15.3m/hr from Scordite
20.9m/hr from Pyroxeres
18.8m/hr from Plagioclase
10.4m/hr from Omber
18.7m/hr from Kernite
23.8m/hr from Jaspet
23.2m/hr from Hemorphite
24.5m/hr from Hedbergite
13.1m/hr from Gneiss
21.5m/hr from Ochre
12.7m/hr from Spodumain
27.2m/hr from Crokite
32.9m/hr from Bistot
44.4m/hr from Arkonor
27.8m/hr from Mercoxit

Here's the rub. I'm not going to do jetcan mining in lowsec space. That's monumentally stupid. I'm going to end up putting cargo expansions on the Hulk and running back to the station when my hold is full so I'm losing a lot of time by making more trips that I could have saved by jetcanning. If I sit the 2nd character in an Iteron V to minimize the number of trips the low sec ores are definitely less profitable than the hi-sec stuff.

I don't think reducing the amount of ore in asteroids is going to help much to get players to move to low-sec. Bots or Orca teams (I'm intentionally ignoring a large number of corp members) are really the only groups capable of stripping all the belts in a decent system. The system that I mine in (when I do it) has about 12-15 belts in it. All I ever see is veldspar bots and it takes me about 2-3 hours to mine out all the plagioclase in a belt. That's ignoring the scordite or veldspar. If I'm bored that day I can clear out 4 belts on my own which just happens to be how many belts I have bookmarks setup for to facilitate mining. Reduce the yields from belts by half and it means I'll expand to probably 2-3 more belts.

I wouldn't say that mining is lower revenue. My options right now are Lv4 missions or mining. Now I may not be doing the most lucrative missions but the ones that I'm doing is lower revenue than mining. On average I'll earn about 4m from bounty and about 1.7m from the mission itself so around 5.7m + salvage and I can do about 1.5 per hour so about 8.55m/hr from missioning versus the 18-20m/hr I get from mining. I honestly don't know if the salvage I get is enough to bring my revenue up to the point that it's on par with mining. I do know that I spend far less time moving goods between point A and B for selling. I still have 19 trips in my industrial just to finish moving the 420m worth of minerals I have stockpiled.

Fox said...

Lets say CCP just did the moving of minerals to low sec. The miners who go down there will be destroyed pretty quickly by pirates and roams. With those ships destroyed they will need to replace them. How do you replace them? Why by building more. Except you need minerals that those rocks provide to build them. Mineral prices would have already skyrocketed and now that ships are disappearing their price will go up since there is a larger demand. Making them too expensive for the average player. While the botters and big alliances would be fine since they will have the incomes and ability to make or buy more. Moving the rocks to low sec would only hurt regular players, and when I say regular players, I mean those who do casual pvp and some sort of income making activity.

The economy in Eve is great because of all the elements. If we made NPCs sell implants for a flat isk cost then things would have no value except for what the programmers thought would work. Playing the market would be harder because there would be less things to sell. There would be less player involvement.

There shouldn't be a "solution" implemented that would make a game have less.

Taking game play away isn't a solution

Gevlon said...

@Fox: ever considered escorting those miners? Wouldn't that be gameplay for MORE people than now? They could do meaningful PvP and earn money (the one the miner pays) by doing PvP, instead of doing missions to NPCs and then do some foolish roam when everyone shoots everyone for no point.

Missions and ratting is not gameplay. It's welfare that the designers give you.

Bobbins said...

I think the Bots would be less effected by moving mining to lowsec. They don't mind being hassled 24/7 as people do.

Care said...

If I can think of a thing more boring than mining rocks, than it is guarding those that are doing it.

As for the miner, paying for escorts... let's say taking out a ratting ship into the drone regions seems a much more viable option now.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why does it hurt you, if some people want to be carebears. I like pvp in eve, but if I'd be forced to do it EVERYTIME I'd cancel my sub instantly. After I lost my Revelation, I stayed in highsec for months, because I like the game, without the constant clusterfuck of PVP-ing, too.

Face it, there are other aspects of EVE that people like and you don't, destroying their gameplay experience won't benefit yours.

Anonymous said...

I'd suggest making missions level 1-3, where 1 takes Frigates, dessies, 2 takes Cruisers and battlecruisers, while 3 takes battlecruisers/battleships. The reason for this spread is to expose players to those common levels of ships, allowing them to get a feel for the differences among the major ship classes. Of course, this would mean limiting rewards from 2 and 3 to keep them in line with level 1s. There is still PLENTY to learn without putting a newbie in a battleship fleet without him ever getting vaguely familiar with how to fit or fly them (the missions would be catered to present the player with problems concerning that level of ship)

The answer to your NPC question is quite simple: They have clones too. :P I'm okay with toning down ratting as an isk faucet though.

For mining, I think you need to leave a smattering of the good stuff laced within the veld/scordite, so players' wallets actually feel what those go for and might be inclined to move to more riskier fields. You're baiting the miners to participate in higher-risk areas without making high-sec a significant source of high end ore.

If you want to curb all of this high-sec activity further, we could actually set the 4 factions to non-volunteer war for a period of time per month (2 weeks on, 2 weeks off, for instance)

Armond said...

I mained mage through all of wrath. If a fight needed a frost spec, I didn't say "oh sorry I don't have a frost spec" - I went and got myself a frost spec. Make sure your mages actually have dual spec... I can't think of any other reason why they wouldn't have frost spec or be able to go get one. If you have reforgelite, going frost spec is as simple as dumping your useless arcane spec and/or your PvP spec, reforging your current gear to something approximating frost's stat priorities, and switching back at the end of the night. 500g isn't a big deal to save potentially hours of wipes.

In short, it's not a case of "I don't have a frost spec", it's a case of "I'm too stupid or lazy to get one".

Anonymous said...

When I ran missions - like 2 years ago - the good ISK/hour ratio was 20 mil ISK per hour per account.

If you make less, you are not doing it right - you are slow or you don't pick the right LP/ISK items etc.

20 Mil per hour is the median that measures your place in the EvE universe - make more and you shine, make less and you should improve.

With 2 accounts running missions I would make no less than 35 mil per hour with semi-AFK play.

@Gevlon - I have considered escorting miners. The thing is - that is impossible. Here is an example.

In order to lower the fixed cost of the escort (they won't charge you less for escorting 2 ships than 20) you need to maximize the number of miners. So let say you have 10 Hulks working. The guarding force should be no less than 20 ships from all classes - you need scouts, you need jammers, maybe logistics, you need DPS-ers, you need Command ships etc.

All this must be prepared in advance, all the 30 people ready to play, have enough time etc. Now imagine that you have just started and you see several hostile ship entering the system. What should you do? Variant 1 - you move away the Hulks (where?) and prepare to fight. But no one attacks you for 10 minutes, 20 minutes... All the guys are waiting, Hulks are not working. How long can you wait?? Variant 2 - you ignore them and keep working. You risk 15 (or more?) billion in ships for having a mining OP that will gather 2 Billion in materials. So if you fail one out of five times you are in trouble - and believe me, you will get killed a lot more than 1 out of 5 times.

Casares said...

You are living in a stable country within the EU. You are working for a corporation without any ambition to rise in the hirachy past your current position. And you recently exchanged all your fluid wealth into us dollars and _physically_ deposited them in a bank safe.

And you are talking about risk aversion?

Why don't you move to some more vivid country, founding your own enterprise?

And if you answered that question, then consider why people actually play GAMES. And maybe you will understand why even non-M&S might call points 1-5 a positive list.

Gevlon said...

@Casares: In real life you have one life. You must have food and savings to health care. It's smart to play safe. But in a GAME why not be a bit wilder? I mean why do you want a game being more boring than real life?

Casares said...

"I mean why do you want a game being more boring than real life?"

Coming from somebody who has been playing WoW for 4 years now ...

But ok, let's not get personal.

Some people play games for the adrenaline rush, some play it for the opposite (relaxing), and a lot play it for something in-between. I have never understood why people need to call other players names just because they play differently: "carebear", "baddie" etc. for the relaxing approach, "griefer", "psychopath" etc. for the other side.

To get back to EVE: how do those carebears even affect you? Move to low/null-sec and you will never see one again. Case solved.

Steel said...

@Casares - It's a sandbox. Everything affects everything else.

Anonymous said...

@ Armond "If you have reforgelite, going frost spec is as simple as dumping your useless arcane spec and/or your PvP spec"

Useless arcane spec? Au contraire. You clearly have no experience with mage in 4.3 HC. In 4.2 HC every mage rolled arcane, then in start 4.3 fire was OP but is now nerfed again, and even then for some fights you need to be arcane. Arcane is more useful than frost, and is competitive with fire. Arcane is OK on Ultraxion HC, very good on ship HC, and required on Spine HC. We require our mages to have an arcane spec for Spine HC (+ pref forge for it) because we don't want to rely on RNG from crit to get that combustion up. Frost, OTOH. Well we had one of our mages soak Morchok HC in the beginning of 4.3 because we had nobody else who could do it. He had to respec his OS for that.

Would you respec in a PuG? I probably would, provided I could play the spec (ever considered he is not able to play the frost spec?). I especially would if the group was worth it (= effort worth it?) and my OS was frost PvP (because then you don't have to screw around with your bars too much).

"You are living in a stable country within the EU."

No he does not. He lives in Hungary. Hungary is not economically stable.

Anonymous said...

Any game that is PvP-only is a game I will not play. There are just as many idiots who PvP as there are who don't but the PvP idiots are far more annoying than the M&S idiots.

Anonymous said...

You're either pretty ignorant to eve or kind of an idiot. Most of the suggestions you made simply move more power and control into a small number of hands that control nullsec, or ruins the game for people who simply want to have a good time (you know, what a game is supposed to be).

1) About mining and botting. The majority of botting is PVE based (drones) and not mining. This is always been known and a cause for mining being mostly useless.

2. And once you have sovereignty in a system (implying you have enough people to control and monitor a system) you are more safe mining / ratting in null then you ever will be in high sec (or non-stop bot). Mining in null sec and get attacked by a player? No problem, everyone in your corp, system, fleet can run to your aid. Get attacked in a 20 person mining op in high sec? Everyone has to stand around and watch. If a pirate corp of 5 - 10 players come into the system and drop of 20 - 30 ships at a station with a med lab they can gank every single miner in your op over and over again because no one else can attack them. Now every player in the op is stuck in station, or lost 200m+ isk.

Nearly everything you discuss about being broken are things that focus on players who have been playing for less than a year. which is the POINT. If you focus on any career other than pvp you can hardly surive in wh, null, low let alone use any of the skills you've trained. the very nature of high sec is for people to play and enjoy the game for the first 6 - 12 months and null being the 12 - whenever game.

Ruining the game by trying for force everyone to play in null sec just shows how much you don't understand about this game and also shows how biased you are on game play sytles outside of pvp.

Gevlon said...

Post updated and the low-sec mining idea was replaced by an anti-botting idea.

I did not consider that nullsec is safer than lowsec and also that mining is already competitive, with other miners.