Greedy Goblin

Friday, March 23, 2012

The lack of new blood in EVE

Jester was thinking about the lack of new blood in EVE. He isn't alone in this. The people guess that it's the "too hard" or "there is one style left (the min-maxed)" are the reasons.

This is a topic where I can write from experience, as a 6 weeks old newbie. EVE is not hard to start at all. Maybe holding 0.0 is hard, maybe getting to the top of killboards is hard, maybe financing a war is hard, but starting the game, getting your starter ventures and first ships is easy as WoW. The same applies to the min-maxing. Maybe the titan-killer fleets need to be min-maxed, but you can do starter stuff in practically anything that flies. I literally hauled 1B/month profit with a Badger II and a T1 frigate, both fitted with modules below 1M.

Funnily, the one who got closest to the truth is The Mittani, who wrote that there are "community born" people who knew other players before started playing, probably exactly to play with them and there are "EVE-born" ones who started playing EVE as a game and met people there. The "EVE-born" players has it hard way all the time: they start poor and alone in the highsec, knowing nothing about the game and can only trust in their hard-earned resume, while the community-born ones join their buddies at day 1, can learn from veterans and showered with ISK.

While he mentioned the problem, did not notice which part is important in it. The problem is not that it's hard to progress without knowing anyone, it's not. The problem for an EVE-born newbie is loneliness. If I, the preacher of anti-sociality call something lonely, you can be sure it is. During my 6 weeks of EVE life I encountered people three times. Of course it's not true in the sense that the buyers and sellers of the goods I trade and the ones who ganked me at a low-sec gate were people too. However if they were bots or NPCs, I couldn't tell the difference. To make it worse, both of my human interactions were "community born", as they happened with members of my chat channel "goblinworks" which couldn't exist without this blog, which is just as an outside-EVE community as, the birthplace of the goons. All interactions were short: I paid them 10-10M for completing me a L3 security storyline mission that I got after distribution ones, which they performed with their battleships in 3 minutes. We also chat on this channel about economics and EVE mechanics but this is also unpersonal, I could read the same information on a Wiki.

Social people derive fun from social experiences. They are weird people, I mean how could any idiotic chit-chat be more fun than this:

However the socials won't change and if the game want to have them, the game must change.

What makes the starting experience lonely? At first that you don't need any people to progress. Missions, ratting, trading, hauling, exploring are the activities available to new players. You can't do either of them in a group. The fact that endgame operations will need group won't help newbies. They are lonely now.

Secondly, unlike in WoW, there is no visible indicator of progress out of "the grind". WoW leveling game is also lonely, even if you can spice it up with random dungeons and battlegrounds. But you see the "dings" showing how far from you from the other people. They say that "the fun begins at max level". I disagree, exactly because I'm not social. For someone who derives fun from other people, the statement is obviously true. In EVE there is no such indicator. Also, you can't grind harder to get the necessary skills to be acceptable for a 0.0 corporation, as skills come in real time. So as a newbie you are not only alone, but you can't even see the way out of it, and you can be sure you won't get out in the next 3-6 months.

Thirdly, the scamming and non-consensual PvP make new players look suspicious. They can be scammer alts. My only human interactions, when people helped me for a price with the L3 securities would be impossible without my "community born" nature. If I'd spam some open channel for such help, everyone would assume that I'm a ganking bait.

How to fix these, without destroying what makes EVE EVE? Above all, the solo nature of early play must be changed. The missions must be either completely removed, or reworked into some group activity. They should be acceptable and completable for a fleet of 3. 3 is more than 2, which is a bad number (your fault, no yours!), but not too big to let one just AFK leech. Mining could also be more preferred, due to it's group nature. An UI interface for jetcan-selling would be wonderful to help that: the one who places the container sets a price. Anyone opening the crate is given a dialog box telling "this can contains Y pieces of Z and costs X ISK (W ISK for one piece)" and he can pick "pay" and "steal". This would remove the overhead of mining operations and allow pickup-group mining. Since there isn't much to do during mining, people could socialize.

Red vs Blue and the Faction Warfare are also great places to let a newbie start. They should get more developer support (voted for Hans, that's all I can do here, I won't fire a gun in my EVE life besides starter and storyline missions).

Finally my suggestion is to allow the creation of "peaceful corporations". They would be exactly like the starter NPC corporations: can't get into war, can't own 0.0, pay fixed 11% tax to CONCORD. But it would allow players to start their way into corporation life and be with like-minded people. The current NPC corporation chat is the mixture idiotic spam and scamming spam, everyone starts his EVE life by turning that abomination off. New players are not welcomed in real corporations as they can't contribute and can be spies, while the corporations that would take them are either scams or a "we take every1 and hepl new friends lol" idiocies that are no different from the NPC corps besides can be wardecced. A "peaceful corporation" could be governed the same way as real corporations, providing structure and a friendly atmosphere.

While I'm not starting a corporation yet, exactly because of wardecs (and to let you scam without second account), I recalculated my plans about the Perception-willpower remap once again, prioritizing the Orca over the Charon so I'll be able to run proper mining fleets in 6 weeks. And will do so, even if its ISK/hour is below my normal. I'll get my Basilisk in 4 months, then I'll join and even lead incursions. This timescale is mind-boggling from someone coming from WoW where knowing what you'll do the next day is considered decent planning.

The point: I think I found another purpose in EVE, because the old one (surviving in this "harsh and evil world") turned out to be trivial, despite many people considering it hard. The new purpose: to prove that an asocial, profit-oriented organization is more welcoming to people than the friendly social ones in a realistic environment. In most games the friendly social groups are supported by design choices that make profitable betrayal impossible (you can't loot the corpse of a groupmate you lured into a gank in WoW) and/or punished by GMs. The games also remove the costs of leeching (if one guy does a dungeon on /follow, you don't get less valor point than 4-manning it, his points are generated independently). In EVE and the real world you can be hurt by letting "bad" people into your circles, so people rather go solo (and whine about it). I'm going to prove that being an unfriendly, unhelpful, money-counting goblin is the best way to get into mutually positive relationship with people when you could be hurt.

Remember that you can already participate on the goblinworks channel, discussing info and finding groups.
Business report: buy+sell+cash = 1.75B (0.49B gift)

And to make sure you are never without morons, take this one! If you see such, please send me comments. I won't publish them, but include it to next days morons of the day!

PS: my girlfriend found her interest in the game, exploration. She scanned down a wormhole, and against my advices, entered. Of course it was populated. But the guarding player just escorted her out and even explained what a WH corp doing there. Another proof that in EVE most people are not griefers. I mean he wouldn't even lose sec status in WH space but instead of killing her, spent some time educating the newbie. 


spinksville said...

Are there any friendly social groups in EVE (I mean, that would be friendly to newbies)? I always got the impression that there weren't.

IO said...

To Spinksville: yes there are. The largest one is called EVE University.

Goons also are quite friendly to their newbies if they come from SA forums.

Kuon said...

The whole Skills/Training system is interesting way of gating content so that for force to substribed for that length of to get access to that content. Sort of like the raid lockout times, but over a much larger timescale.

Imagine if you had to plan you 4 months ahead before you were able to use the high enough level gear to take down end game raid bosses.

Theo Larke said...

Regarding your idea of "Peaceful Corps": EvE being EvE, an alliance, Dec Shield, has taken advantage of the wardec mechanics to offer a service that seems to be similar to what you suggested, for a price:

Apparently, this is not an exploit:

chewy said...

" prove that an asocial, profit-oriented organization is more welcoming to people than the friendly social ones in a realistic environment.."

I wondered how long it would be before you were back on what seems to be your life long quest to prove "asocial is better".

Most of your post (which I did enjoy) goes to great lengths to tell us how lonely EVE can be and then you announce plans to create an organisation to prove asocial is more welcoming, surely a contradiction ?

Why would you care that an organisation is more welcoming, other than to encourage members ? Encouraging members can have at least two motivations: To gain profit from their membership or to alleviate the loneliness.

Steel said...

Well, I did warn you that EVE is the worst single player game ever made. Even Mittens wrote some older articles about how horrifically lonely and boring solo play in EVE is.

Coming strictly from a 0.0 level perspective (aka 'the great game'): I have realized that the great game is not about spaceships, it's about people, and messing with people. Rivalries, hate, cruelty, propaganda, endless drama, politics, espionage, psychological warfare, leadership, the entire metagame. There is more 'game' in forums, jabber, comms then there is actually in game, flying spaceships. This is pretty much the engine that drives the war and the entire narratives. There are people here who have been fighting and despising each other for years. It's slightly different from WoW where you had random queues with complete strangers across realms that you never see again...

Take the game map itself. In WoW at least there was intricately designed immersive environments - in eve you just have a bunch of coordinates in an abstract blank space and a bunch of standard image templates thrown around. It's the human context that defines it: that one system is a busy market hub; that other one is pirate bay central; that zone is a hotspot for pvp, a prosperous empire, or an empty desert where no one ever goes. It's all about the people.

Also not true that you can't be hired by high level corps and alliances as a newbie. You just need to search, have patience, find the right one, and know what you want. What worked for me is that before I even installed the game, I had read a ton about EVE, mechanics, politics, metagame. I knew exactly what I wanted to do, and what I didn't want to do. Two weeks later I was in nullsec, a month later I was flying in strategic ops in 1000man fleets. Everything in EvE is a game layer - including knowing beforehand what you want to do.

Anyways, why won't you fire a gun in your EVE career? What's with the don't hurt a fly attitude suddenly?

Clockwork said...

I don't think anyone ever said that it was all that hard to start up EVE and play space-tycoon...the people complaining about EVE being "hard" are the people that want to login and blow up internet spaceships and don't want to spend X hours hauling minerals and skillbooks around the galaxy to pay for it.

As for fun...some people talk about the big game or why Amarr are overpowered, others watch a number get bigger...whatever releases the Dopamine for them.

Gevlon said...

@Steel: firing a gun needs two things: gun skills and gunship skills. I have neither and find investing half year into them inacceptable. I hesitated long before I committed 6 weeks for the Basilisk, but finally decided that no able ship would lock me out of too much content.

@Chewy: my purpose in REAL LIFE, my "big goal in life", the one where even limited success would make me feel an accomplished person is to turn these social monkeys into thinking human beings.

Babar said...

For many people, the best way to play eve is probably to pay the 10$ to join SA, _don't_ post in the Eve thread, but make more than a 100 posts in other threads, then apply to GoonWaffe after 3 months.

This lets you into one of the biggest alliances in the game, gives you access to maybe the best Eve wiki there is, tons of veterans who love to help newbies, and you can fight in 1000+ fights from day 1 in your newbie frigate, and actually be useful.

The best thing CCP has done with Eve, is make it possible to contribute in a meaningful way in large scale, end-game pvp from day 1. Sure you'll be more useful the longer you play, but tackling is fun and necessary and actually does matter.

Anonymous said...

EVE is hard. As hard as *you* want it to be.

That's what a lot of vets say about the game, newbies often just adapt the first sentence.

I usually explain EVE like my other favorite game, Go: 5 minutes to learn, a lifetime to master.

EVE has a lot of very simple rules and mechanics, yet the way they work together in the sandbox make it incredibly hard to align all together.

Take production for example. Your previous post was partly correct, but had quite some huge flaws in it. (And tbh. still has if you look at it from a "higher" point of view, since most of T1 can be produced by newcomers, finding the best profit items/timeframe is the key, your calcs don't consider the amount of volume tradeable/timeframe, etc.). Tie that into invention, mineral processing, logistics, and you're on the next "tier" of EVE, if you want to do so.

Another example is mining: Sure, mining can be soloed, or you build a mining operation (as you did). The next tier might be, with help of corp mechanics, getting people to mine for your production branch, fusing these branches together. Or maybe specializing a hauling branch to get those minerals where they are needed for premium prices.

You mentioned incursions, which is nothing else than the next tier of mission running, but incursions introduce more mechanics and different tactics, just like everything in EVE.

Finally, my personal "top tier" for now would be merging my operations into a corp (or even alliance), with processes working together, streamlined for efficiency, a good running ISK making machine. And mind you, you don't need skilled workers for some jobs, it's just a matter of providing them with a correct work environment. So in a sense, we're actually providing them with work opportunities to make themselves useful. I don't care if they lololol all day while sucking on rocks, because the only contact is via contract for the minerals between me and my corp pet CEO. Of course, some of these unskilled workers advance, and then it may be time to consider moving them to a more fitting position, if there is one open.

Same for PvP: PvP is astonishingly simple in EVE... good PvP is not. It's not just "take gun, lock, fire". Both work, but think about traversal tracking, signature radiuses, gang composition and boosting... and there comes another level of gameplay.

HighSec/LowSec/Null: Same thing, actually. HighSec can be easy or hard (POSes, WarDecs, Corp Management),

LowSec might have a curve (Getting there, mostly) but after that it's all isk and games. Next tier? Setting up POS and "defending" your LowSec against intruders. (No sharing of the pie!)

NullSec: Same thing, with Sov added.

I could just go "meh, miners go mine, and producers go produce" or I can set up processes that these people work upon, just like your mining op plans are.

All in all: The sandbox is what you make of it.

Kana said...

@Babar: I was always wondering - what life expectancy of "day 1 frigate tackler" in 1000 blob fight? Can you point to some blogs or articles? Is it realy that "fun" and "meaningful"?

Fade Toblack said...

"Missions, ratting, trading, hauling, exploring are the activities available to new players. You can't do either of them in a group."

In three years of playing I've done an awful lot of missioning and exploration - but very little of it was solo. Yes you can run a lot of the sites solo, but you can run a lot of them faster in a small group.

Trading and hauling is more of a solo activity, but again by being smart there can be advantages to working in a small group.

Anonymous said...

@Kana: You are not expected to survive. You are expected to die a lot and leave your wrecks close to the enemy so your fleet can jump on you.

@Babar: You should consider yourself lucky if you happen to be in 1000+ blob battle once or twice in your EvE lifetime. This means that:
- you are part of corp that can wield such force and you have a goal to pursue.
- you are against equally large that have goal to fight with you

95% of the population will only talk about such battles but will never be in one.

IO said...

@ Fade
Of course you can do them in groups, but they are primarily designed for solo play. I.e. only one person can accept/submit mission (and warp to acceleration gates).

Actually such battles are quite often lately with large conflicts in the north and south, and also with introduction of TiDi. I have been in quite some of them (I am in one of CFC alliances).

There are currently 3 blocks that could deploy such forces: CFC, Raiden.+NC.+Evoke+Init., and AAA block. The fourth player - DRF - died just couple weeks ago, so I would expect less big scale battles at least in south.

Babar said...

Fade: You'll die a lot, but at least GSF encourages you to die a lot, and gives out free, fitted frigates to new players, as many as you need. So you die, get podded, go into a new frigate and go out again. Big blob fights is a lot about warping around, trying to engage at the correct distance and getting an advantage. If you have 5-10 newbees in frigates, and the all wrap scramble something, that means 5-10 enemies can't warp off, and will die. Do this a few times, and it actually matters.

My point about GSF is that is one of the few, big active alliances that encourage and allow new players to join in their major ops. Frigate pilots are always welcome, in any fleet, no matter what ops they go to.

This isn't to promote GSF, but if big, null sec battles is your thing, then going for GSF is probably the fastest way to get there.

Just how meaningful a frigate in major ops really is is debateable I guess, but at least you're actually doing something that contributes. A level 10 in completely useless in a WoW raid, and does more harm than good. This is not the case in Eve. Even if you fail to tackle anything, you still get to experience the major battles without causing harm.

Michael said...

Eve can be lonely. The issue is that when presented with another player, the correct reaction is fear. Is this player going to try to hurt me? To steal from me? To scam me? People actively seek out systems with fewer people in it, to get away from the stress of worrying that everyone you see wants to hurt you.

In other games, the reaction ranges from annoyance that they're killing mobs you need and slowing you down, to curiosity about whether they'd want to group, to truly being pleased because the two of you together can get stuff done you couldn't alone.

In EVE, the idea of seeing another player show up in your mission/wh/belt and being pleased is almost laughable. It's not proper to be pleased, it's proper to be worried and afraid.

The only way I can see forced grouping for pve content being a good idea is if you simultaneously make it so that in high sec you're unable to steal or attack each other for any reason. But I don't think you'd want that, so you have to let the solo players play, or you can expect them to leave.

Fade Toblack said...

@Babar it was Kana that asked about frigs in large fleets ;-)

@Kana you can see what difference a frig can make first-hand - join an RvB Ganked null-sec roam (they're open to anybody, any ship welcome.) You'll lose a few of them, and probably a few pods too, but after a few roams, you can be one of the people that catch targets until the rest of the fleet arrives.

Péter Zoltán said...

Solo EVE isn't much more boring than taking part of LFD/LFR groups in wow, all honestly. That was my thought yesterday evening during my n+1th boring warp jump.

Anonymous said...

grouping in eve can work when killing fleetmates gives little reward and colaboration gives a much greater reward than soloing to reward for the additional efforts
and risks of lolikilluforfun

For that we need a setup with cheap ships that can take down big pray. You could for that purpose fit tank,heal,dps fittings

in normal missions aggro is simply kept by the first agressor. So one who tanks, one who heals him with remote repper and finally additional dps ships

this has all to work in frigs otherwise noobs won't get fast enough access or they risk getting killed as ships get expensive enough to bother

Anonymous said...

Another strategy is EVE Offline. You just passively train skills without undocking, I think one of the devs said they subscribed to EVE and then played counterstrike for 2 months while training. So if you want to be a slacker, then EVE allows you to skill up with the least effort by far of any MMO. And of course you can always just buy a pilot with years of skills.

Virtually everything is BoE, combined with no achievements, means that there is nothing to distinguish who worked hard and who just spent $. WHich is quite nice actually. Nobody riding their new mounts in Ironforge; since everyone knows the EVE ship could have just been purchased, there is less ego. Besides it could be destroyed so quickly.

Many forum trolls (or worse they believe it) say EVE is an MMO and you should play with other people. My reaction is that if I wanted to play with other people, EVE is the absolute last game I would want to do that in. The scams and griefing are not universal but are quite common.

Ignatius Hood said...

I'll speak on this. I was very fortunate when I started to run across a recruiter for the Corp I'm in. He was out mining while station trading. Getting in with those guys was the best thing I could have done. They taught me alot, but even in the beginning when I wasn't very skilled there were guys in a corp chat channel to talk to. Sometimes thats all you really need.

Also I was fortunate enough to run across folks from time to time only to happy to help out a noob with this or that. Almost always free of charge and one guy even gave me some ISK to buy better implants! Something I do anytime I can tbh now that I can afford it.

Anonymous said...

My corp is a WH corp, and we've escorted out plenty of lost newbies without any undue cruelty. Of course if they do something foolish like fire on us first, then they get sent back to highsec the less friendly way.

Wonder if it was us. o_O