Greedy Goblin

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Inverse ransom

I'm a strict supporter of profitable pirating. The smart shall exploit the dumb and the lazy. Also, I believe that the rise of profitable pirates can decrease the amount of griefers more than anything else. Players tend to go for rewards, and if there is a clear way to get ISK while doing PvP, most will do so and only the most obnoxious persons (opposed to characters) would keep going for "tears".

In EVE it's hard to be a profitable pirate. The act of piracy is a strongly negative sum action. The destroyed ship loses its hull, and you can salvage back about 30% or something via salvaging, if you happen to have a salvager ship around. The modules and the cargo has about 50% chance to drop. If we assume that the fittings and cargo costs as much as the ship (which is a good rule of thumb) the pirate gains 40% of the value the target loses.

Of course there is a system to increase the pie: ransoms. The pirate demands ransom and let the target go. If the target worth 100M and he demands 70M, he gets 30M more than by destroying the ship and the target loses 30M less than he would if his ship would be destroyed. Win-win.

Except there is absolutely no reason for the pirate to honor his promise. The optimal action is to take the ransom and destroy the ship. Due to this, the optimal action of the target is not paying ransom, therefore we got a nice game theory trap where everyone does what is optimal for him, providing the worst global outcome (largest loss to target, smallest gain to pirate).

Behold my idea, the inverse ransom, which solves this situation and makes pirating much more profitable: the pirate tackles the ship and initiate communication, both via direct chat and on local with something like "Yarr, this is pirate X, talk to me landlubber or feel my wrath!". Roleplaying text is always recommended since it distances people from the game. The more likely the target views the situation ingame rather than "that person tries to defeat my person", the more likely he'll cooperate.

The pirate then makes his offer: "Yarr, the mighty pirate captain has caught another mouse! You have two options little mouse, fight/self destruct and lose your ship AND your pod OR make some ISK to recover your losses. Interested or want to die?" The target will most probably tells that he is interested.

Then the pirate presents his offer: "I pay you up front 66% of the value of your hull! Yes, I, the mighty pirate pay you little mouse! In return you leave your ship and run away with your capsule. If you destroy your ship instead of leaving it, I'll kill your pod and put your name on the list of bad mice and from now on me and my mates will kill and podkill you when we can. What will you say?"

If the target has more than one brain cells, he says yes, and the pirate pays him. There is a chance that he won't leave his ship, but it's small as the pirate already shown him reason and goodwill (as far as a pirate can go) and also he doesn't want to lose his implants. Probably he'll just drop ship and runs away with his capsule.

Assuming that the target worth 50M in hull and 50M in fits+cargo, the pirate pays 33.3M and gains 100M, which is 23.3M profit over the kill loot, while the target lost "only" 66.6M instead of 100.

Insurance can mess it up, as the target may be better off taking the insurance payout than the pirates money. In most cases however the difference between the payout and the pirate money isn't enough to cover the losses of the implants, and probably most targets won't even think of insurance when tackled by a pirate. Also, if someone is dumb enough to be captured in lowsec, he is dumb enough to not being insured.

Another interesting case can be when the target is a hauler where the value of the hull is nothing compared to the value of the hold. That value cannot be insured and totally lost to the player, while 50% is lost to the pirate. So this case the pirate can offer 25% of the cargo. Also the chance of either party scamming the other can be decreased by trading in turns, for example with a dumb T1 pilot who went to lowsec with 1B cargo:
  1. The pirate gives him 50M and demands him to jettison 200M worth cargo
  2. The pirate gives him 100M and demands jettisoning 400M worth cargo
  3. The pirate gives him 100M and demands jettisoning the rest of the cargo
  4. The pirate gives him 66% hull cost and demands leaving the ship

I think this idea can give a rise to "honorable" pirate corps that are known to not podkill anyone leaving his ship, decreasing griefing significantly while increasing the amount of players involved in PvP. That's really a win-win.

Business report: 3.92B (0.4B gifts) Remember that you can participate in our EVE conversations and soon group activities on the "goblinworks" channel.


Azuriel said...

I'd take the pirate's ISK, make them use ammo to destroy the ship, and let them pod me for the security downgrade (assuming I couldn't get away in the pod).

Your "solution" makes piracy more profitable, which will inevitably lead to the "smart target" getting tackled more often in the future. It is only win-win for nihilists.

Gevlon said...

Don't be stupid please! You get yourself podded to protect 400K other players you don't even know.

Celery Man said...

This is quite an interesting idea. I remember the times in the past when there were more respectable pirates who would as a group respect ransoms for the greater good. I didn't get involved, but it was comforting to know.

Dangphat said...

Ok so you have maximum insurance of your hull, you get offered x amount of money which will cover a bit of your modules, and the whole time this has been going on you have been looking for escape routes.

Alternatively the group of thrashers blow up the pray without any questions and bring in their salvager alt.

VIncent Trevane said...

The best outcome: Start a piracy escrow corp. Here is how it works:

Pirate ransoms target. Target pays ransom to escrow corp. Pirate submits limited api key to escrow corp so they can see their killmails. Corp checks no killmails for target, pays pirate and takes 10%.

In fact, I think I'll set that up.

Gevlon said...

@Vincent: his buddy kill the target, the original pirate has no kill mail so he gets the ransom and the the kill.

Azuriel said...

Don't be stupid please! You get yourself podded to protect 400K other players you don't even know.

No, not for people I don't know. For me. Because now, suddenly, there are more pirates due to pirating becoming more profitable. You already stated that piracy wasn't that profitable before, and surely that is a contributing factor to a lower-state of piracy overall.

Besides, the ideal game theory state requires the threat of running into those same pirates again later. If I never do, passing up the option of taking their ISK and forcing them to blow me up anyway would be stupid.

Finally, I don't know if you meant it to be ironic, but given that pirates serve no purpose in the EVE world other than to "spread the wealth around," you are advocating rent-seeking behavior.

Anonymous said...

Interesting theory, but a bit resource intensive to learn flying all those ship types that may or may not be worth it.

If they play for time long enough, you can easily become the one ransomed because the "buddies" drop on you.

Anonymous said...

I wish there are more pirates in high sec. I wish that noone transporting more than 100 mil is safe. This will undoubtedly filter all the idiots very fast and the game will become funnier - more wardecs on pirate corps, ship escort etc.

AureoBroker said...

Sadly, a point is out.
EVE's economy relies on four pillars:
- Gathering.
- Producing.
- Trading.

Even if the interested parties gain something out of it, the economy as a whole may get worse.
piracy would get better, though.

Also, pirates rarely bother with flying the target's ship, unless it's worth something.

Anonymous said...

The most profitable way with ransoms is indeed ransom and kill your target.

But you also have to do some social engineering amongst your fellow pirates: convince them that the best way to ransom is to honor those ransoms. If you succeed you have a universe full of honorable pirates, that honor ransoms. Victims that pay the ransoms because the chance of getting it honored is high.

And you: the guy that laughs and gets max profit by not honoring ransoms.

Bozzor said...

Interesting, but even if i, personally, wanna do this, will do it on 1 bil+ ship value (hull and mods and rigs), which comes down to faction BS, capitals and SCaps.

However, i prefer the short way : destroy the mofo, loot and salvage him.
Why would i wanna do this?
1.I get a KM, raising my "fame";
2.I blow up the ship fast (not going to waste time necogiating a deal that might even not be possible, ending up with blowing up the guy anyway, but in longer time);
3.I get loot and salvage;
4.I will talk to the guy after, promising him i will NOT blow up his ships in the future if i caught him again, asking for a "tax" of 30% of any other future ship he uses to go thru my systems, or at least 10 mil (he might use a crap 3 mil cruiser - a tax of 1 mil ISK is laughable).

A former gamer coming out of retirement said...

Your post demonstrates that you have little to no experience of piracy in low-sec. I cannot speak for all pirates but for can for myself as a pirate.

Piracy is usually a quick and bloody affair. One does not catch and point a target, then conduct negotiations. The target if we assume it isn't a noob will be fighting for his life while you are sitting there waiting for them to respond to your convo...

Couple your convo suggestion with the fact that 60% of people reject a convo in a combat situation, and of the remaining 40%, 75% will tell you to F*** off or not speak your language.

We do already encourage people to eject from their hulls in some cases and let them go in their Pods. Where a Pod is caught by a member of our Corp, which is in most situations in low-sec avoidable and a ransom agreed it is honoured 100% of the time. No exceptions.

Pirates are not going to start paying people for the privelige of taking their ship.

The thrill of combat and adrenaline drives many a pirate, simply catching a ship will not do, we want to see explosions and to test our skills and piloting ability against worthy adversaries.

Peter Petermann said...

ransoming people for their ships even offering small amounts of isk aint really that profitable - back in my pirate days we did that a hand full of times, but usually its to high of a risk.
gatecampers can do that to some extend, and i know of a few who did - but if your doing belt piracy you have a shit ton of risks involved, usually you want to hit, scoop, run - so you need one more character (and as someone who does solo piwacy you usually have 2 or 3 logged in already (scout + combat ship, sometimes dedicated tackler aswell) which means you need one more account, and you need to watch even more clients.
Also your "loot" character needs to be able to fly the specific ship, and he cant be used for agressing or he will be blinky which makes it hard to get a (most likely horrible fitted) ship to a safe place for sale.

the cargo drop has similar problems, you need a hauler to pickup the jetcanned stuff, you also need a very good idea of what the cargo might be worth, then you need to haul and sell it somewhere else.

in all cases the longer you have to discuss with people about their ransom, or the longer you have to keep 'em tackled for example for them counting freight - the higher the risk for yourself.

About Pirate corps - most pirate corps that are arround for a while honor their ransoms and have punishment for members who dont.

However you should not confuse pirates or gatecampers

Anonymous said...

Yarr, I'm in receipt of your silver, sailor!

But you are not rowin' my great, grand ship out of here filthy pirate scum!

Ye have two options now, yarr! Watch as I selfdestruct and lose your ISK or join me on voice and sing some opera for me.


Anonymous said...

Problem lies in the fact that in the situation after the pirate would transfer the ISK, his prey still has no incentive to eject. His ship is lost either way, and any promises to spare his pod are worthless; the pirate can still try to catch the pod after he ejects, and loses nothing by doing so.

Anonymous said...

You're forgetting the primary appeal of PVP, the killmail.

That killmail is worth more to the 'pirate' than most T1 hulls..

Wormhole Ninja said...

That's entirely too complicated.

What's to stop me from getting tackled(as bait), taking your money, and then brining in my support to blow you up?

I think Piracy just needs a more target rich environment, not some convoluted scheme to make them rich. CCP needs to give more people a reason to go into low-sec.

Anonymous said...

I think a better term for this would be hostile takeover. Happens everyday in "real life".

Anonymous said...

Well, I am not playing EVE for that long, but it is my understanding and (up to now) experience that your chance to escape in your pod is not bad (some ships lost, but never podded).

So I would take the ISK, self-destruct the ship and try to escape in the pod.

Well, actually no. I wouldn't be able to take the ISK, because I'd reject the convo (as it's usually just fishing for tears).

Anonymous said...

From the perspective of the victim, under your proposed solution, the optimal way would be to accept the ISK payment from the pirate, then self-destruct.

For me, the victim, the ship is lost either way. However, by blowing up my ship, I make piracy less profitable, thus lessening my risk of meeting the pirate in the future.

Sure, there's a risk of getting pod-killed, but that risk is also there when I eject. What's going to stop the pirate from doing so? His good nature? Please.

Anonymous said...

If a pirate is acting professional, it's usually worth paying a ransom; they'll usually honor it. If the pirate is gloating or smack talking I don't bother; they'll probably blow you up anyways, and I wouldn't give them the pleasure of a ransom anyways.

Of course, I'm mostly going by experience from a few years back; the simple truth is that it's very easy to avoid pirates if you're careful and know what you're doing.

Anonymous said...

It's usually fairly easy to get away with your pod even in lowsec - so that isn't a concern.

Unless they are set up specifically to catch pods and get really lucky, or you get really unlucky.