Greedy Goblin

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Need to beat the NPC corp

I'm struggling with the "Just hang out and let's have fun" people in TEST, just like I had struggled with them all my MMO play. Today I try a different angle defeating them, removing opinionated elements.

EVE is a video game. Games are played for fun. If you are playing a game, you are having fun on average. Of course you can have upset moments, but the general experience must be fun or you simply stop playing. Every activity players do in the game is therefore fun for someone. If it's not, then no one plays that way and that aspect of the game dies unless devs fix it.

So "playing for fun" is a meaningless statement, since playing is fun. Of course we can take this statement as "I want to play in a way as I want in that moment". This is a valid statement and a valid form of playing. However the corp/alliance formed under the ethos of "everyone can do whatever he wants" has a problem: it's worse than the NPC corp. The NPC corp (or 1-man corp) is the ideal form of "do what you want": no one is capable of limiting your play. No one stops you from mining, ratting, missioning, gatecamping, roaming or whatever you have in your mind. A player corporation cannot be so completely free of interference. There are activities needed to be done and it forces players to do things even if they don't want to. Also, no player corp can be as big as the NPC corp. At the moment I'm writing this, the Science and Trade Institute has 4x more players online than TEST, the largest player alliance in the game. And STI is just one of the several identical NPC corps, so the amount of players you can randomly interact is much larger. The main problem with "for fun" corps is that they are naturally worse than the NPC corp.

The NPC corp isn't a corp. It's simply "the game". You can do everything in it that the game allows. "Having fun" is playing the game. The corp that allows and welcomes every activities is simply equal to the game itself. What is its recruitment slogan then? "Join us and play EVE"?

Of course the situation is different if you want to interact with people but in a repeating manner (having friends in-game). However to do so, you need to play similarly. You can't hang out with people if they are in different regions doing different things. Or actually you can, but then the game is just annoyance. Shut down the client and go to Jabber or Mumble and focus completely on each other! To interact with people in a game-relevant manner, you need to play in a connected way. If you want to play with an ice miner regularly, you need to be an ice miner or someone who uses ice. You can't have fun together with ice miners without somehow connecting to their defining activity (ice mining).

To have a regular fun with other people, you need to be in a player organization that plays in a structured way, either having a common goal or a common rule of conduct.


maxim said...

You are working with too broad definition of fun.

That line of reasoning eventually makes it necessary to accept that everything we do in life, including the un-fun stuff, is ultimately for fun.

This is not wrong, just not very useful.

The only things i can suggest at this point is familiarising yourself with some of more structured approaches to what fun is.

Specifically, the important concepts are:
- flow (read this book - )
- something called "aesthetics of play" ( way more than one book on this, but this video has good summary: )

Anonymous said...

Have you considered that people might be "playing for fun" in TEST for the same reason some people cheer on their country's, say, football team or whatever?

It gives them a feeling of participation, of somehow "having helped" with any successes, thus allowing them to claim a share of the glory without actually having contributed at all. "my team won the world cup", "my alliance conquered X region", you get the idea.

Anonymous said...

"You can't hang out with people if they are in different regions doing different things. Or actually you can, but then the game is just annoyance. Shut down the client and go to Jabber or Mumble and focus completely on each other!"

I think you are missing a crucial development here - it used to be that exactly this oog experience was the monopoly of large alliances.

I didn't join TEST because I am interested in building a space empire. I joined because I enjoyed hanging out on jabber and posting on the TEST forums. Just 1-2 years ago the only way to get that was by joining either TEST or Goonswarm which as you point out places certain restrictions on ones playstyle.

Nowadays zulusquad is independent from TEST and I haven't had a reason to be in TEST ever since. The people you meet on zulu IRC do play EVE, they talk mostly about EVE (and "internet culture") - but they don't fly in the same fleets.
I wouldn't want to hang out with these people if we didn't have EVE in common - most discussions about OOG topics (politics, religion, ...) are pretty awkward and not really enjoyable. But having someone to talk about your (diverse!) in-game experiences with is really nice and goes a long way towards preventing bittervet syndrome.

The existence of a this "unattached" community has changed the game significantly: in the past leaving your alliance over some grievance was literally excommunication. You were cut off from almost all your social contacts in EVE and on your own from one day to the next. It was a step that couldn't be taken lightly.
Today you get kicked from your alliance and alt-tab to zulu IRC to laugh about it or vent your frustration with exactly the same people you have been hanging out with for years. This makes it much easier to say goodbye to any of the large alliances (and all the crippling responsibilities that come with them) and imho TEST is currently feeling the full brunt of this development.

In contrast to Goblins, humans are social animals.