Friday, August 8, 2014

Breaking the Malcanis law

The Malcanis law says "Whenever a mechanics change is proposed on behalf of ‘new players’, that change is always to the overwhelming advantage of richer, older players." It can be extended to "introducing anything new", not just game mechanics. My mining mission idea was originally explored to give newbie miners a better income than belt mining and it turned into a multibox madness I'm using myself. The law seems inescapable, as any change that is good for someone is necessarily better for someone who uses it more.

There are countless mechanics change proposals, each explained as "helping newbies" while the real - and usually obvious - reason is helping the guy who made the proposal. The perfect example is The Mittani trying to nerf supers because he is lagging behind in the race. This can be fixed by demanding people to only make proposals that are openly good for themselves. We are players too, we have the right to make demands for ourselves.

However it doesn't change the fact that the game needs new players and they are currently not coming. But how to make changes if they always serve veterans more, therefore hurting the newbies we want to help. Well, there was already an occasion when the Malcanis law was broken: when New Player Experience was overhauled. Why? Because NPE was used by newbies but veterans had no reason to use it even after the remake. Similarly if you post a good guide, you help newbies, but not to veterans as they already know the information within. So we can formulate the anti-Malcanis criteria: a newbie friendly change affects an area important to newbies but irrelevant to veterans.

Dumbing down the game is not like that, as Blizzard learned the hard way. If we'd remove suicide ganking in highsec, the multibox-haulers would gain much more than the newbie whose Venture was once ganked for lols.

However we can nerf methods where newbies are targeted and veterans are not, simply because they know about it already. Removing margin trading scam would be a good example. It wouldn't hurt the game as no veteran vs veteran interaction involves margin trading scam, as all veterans know about it. Making highsec safe corporations that are just rebranded NPC corps with NPC tax and no awox or wardec are another example. No veteran ever joins a highsec corporation, only newbies do it due to the "MMOs are more fun with friends" thing. Veterans use altcorps or NPC corp alts in highsec, just look how Red Frog operates.

The above ones are examples. The real point is how the devs must think in order to help newbies: find areas and activities where only newbies operate and fix those.

15 comments:

lowrads said...

New players aren't suffering from perceived risk as much as they are being turned off by a perceived lack of opportunity.

The most common thing people want to be in this game are mercenaries. Almost no one becomes this. Even if isk was an effectual source of stimulus in guiding the actions of other players, opportunities for entrepreneurs to profitably employ the talents of other players, especially new players, are quite scarce. 90% of those are just farming corps.

Player infrastructure, the fingerprint of most player organizations in the game, requires a high entry cost in social organization to allow interaction. Unfortunately, it boils down to an I/O operation of invulnerability/removal where interaction is concerned. A more successful model would have a spectrum of interactions, most far less dramatic, that would be accessible to groups of players of various degrees of organization, or even marginal effects by solitary individuals.

Reasonable objectives are the moxie of leaders for fleets of any size. Profitable and dynamic objectives generate virtuous, and not so virtuous, cycles.

Anonymous said...

Nerfing margin trade would also kill legitimate use of margin trade..

Also, you have to be in the game for a while before you can afford to fall for such scam. I don't think it's nooblets who fall for it mostly

Gevlon said...

No. In the legitimate use of Margin Trade your orders do *not* fail, since you wanted to buy the stuff.

Most victims are dumb newbies who got a few billion from buying PLEX-es. This is why CCP explicitly banned advising buying PLEX-es during scams.

Anonymous said...

No. In the legitimate use of Margin Trade your orders do *not* fail, since you wanted to buy the stuff.
The order can fail. You don't always have the isk, that's the whole point of the margin trade skill. If there's an unusually high supply the order would still fail.

Most victims are dumb newbies who got a few billion from buying PLEX-es.
You're going to need to provide proof of this claim, because this appears to just be made up.

This is why CCP explicitly banned advising buying PLEX-es during scams.
No, CCP banned buying plexes, because if you scam someone into buying a plex which you steal, you've scammed them out of real money, which in a fair few countries is illegal (essentially it boils down to you scamming them into buying you a plex). CCP outlawed that so they didn't end up dealing with court cases over it.

Art Hornbie said...

Perhaps if newer players made suggestions the "Malcanis Law" wouldn't be broken?

As @GamerChick42 suggested a short while ago, try talking to the newer player.

Gevlon said...

A newb making a suggestion doesn't make it better or except from the Malcanis law.

For example newb might say: "mining is boring fix it". They do and now we have one happy newb mining an hour and hundreds of multibox-miners mining 12 hours a day at the veteran.

Anonymous said...

"Most victims are dumb newbies who got a few billion from buying PLEX-es. "

No they are not, any more than victims of contract scams are newbies.

Check the age/corp history next time. People with tens of billions are not newbies, let alone hundreds of billions, and especially when they are 5 years old or more.

The margin trade scam is just like the contract scam...it relies on the victim thinking they are fucking over the scammer.

Also, you can bust margin scams, making a very tidy profit sometimes.

Anonymous said...

Use it or lose it type of sov. mechanic would work in the favor of newer players that want to try sov. Like half of the non-rented CFC, and N3 space would turn into sovless space.

Anonymous said...


"As @GamerChick42 suggested a short while ago, try talking to the newer player."

The problem is that a noob, by definition, doesn't know enough about the game to make an intelligent suggestion towards improving it.

maxim said...

It is possible to make mining less boring without making it more efficient (therefore not rewarding multiboxers for it)

My main problem with Eve is that the game expects new people to make up their goals as they go along without doing anything at all to teach them about how EveVerse actually works.

Thus, most players are unable to formulate a goal and are just fumbling along to get ISK for the new shiny until they get bored. And most of those that are able to formulate a goal, end up with something that's both stupid and unrealistic like "i'll make my own corp and OWN NULLSEC mwahahahaha".

The least Eve could do about it is point all new players in general direction of EveUni and the like, but ... that would be giving dev preference to a player-owned entity :(

mugg said...

I think making mining less boring would hurt multiboxers, but most non-multiboxing people I've spoke that mine say they enjoy it. If thy wanted to play the game then they got tons of other things they can mine other than asteroids, ice and gas.

Lucas Kell said...

"Use it or lose it type of sov. mechanic would work in the favor of newer players that want to try sov. Like half of the non-rented CFC, and N3 space would turn into sovless space."
You say this, but a 30k player coalition would have no trouble spreading out if we needed to. We only don't because we don't need to. Conversely, we could hellcamp a small alliance out of their sov with relative ease. We wouldn't even need to structure bash, it would be divine.

maxim said...

Mining does require a fair amount of attention and decision-making as far as optimization within a single ship is concerned.
It is just that, after a point, all of these get pretty mechanical and algorithmic.

From there, a small subset of players can enter a sort of meditative Zen state, in which they flow through these algorithms for the sake of flow. However, a much larger subset of players just gets bored.

Druur Monakh said...

@Lucas Maybe a "Use it or lose it" approach wouldn't ultimately change how 0.0 is held today. But it could make things interesting for a while.

"we could hellcamp a small alliance out of their sov with relative ease." True that. But can you hell-camp ten small alliances at once? A hundred?

Do you actually care whether or not you hold sov, as long as you get engaging gameplay out of it?

Anonymous said...

The problem, as I see it as a new player, is a combination of things.

The biggest one is the bridge between established communities and new players. "New Player Friendly, Currently Recruiting" does not mean what it says within Eve far too frequently. Many corporations are honest enough to set SP minimums. 8m. 10m. Options are therefore limited to the self-declared 'newbie' corps or to one of the hisec mining/industrial ones.

I don't think the stasis within player controlled areas is helping either - "help us grind out the rent to pay our overlords who own everything we use!" may not strike a chord with the types of player willing to dive into the game at the moment.

The new players are still coming in - they're clearly visible if you look in the right places and filter out the alts and the trolls and the bots. But the game right now seems to be terrible at moving them on from hisec mining or even into group play in an MMO.

Not sure what the right answer may be, but it sure as hell isn't driving them into a 'safe' reservation and making that gap even bigger.

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