Greedy Goblin

Monday, February 4, 2013

There can't be competition without performance measurement

My solo kills post made lot of PvP-ers mad. You can see them raging on EN24, I cleared them up from here. They claim that mining barge kills don't count. The problem isn't their definition of "real" PvP. It's the lack of it.

One thing is sure, PvP is competitive play. But to have a competition, we must be able to compare performances. There are lot of measurement attempts on EVE PvP: number of kills, kill-death ratio, ISK destroyed, ISK ratio. Zkillboard has some "points" and several alliances evaluate their members based on some form of PvP performance. We can argue for and against all of them, but each of them gives a numerical performance review on everyone.

Those who babble about "thrill of the hunt" and "worthy opponent" and such, can't give such exact number. So if we follow their opinion, we simply will be unable to compare two players. Of course they are ready for the answer: let these two do a 1v1 and we'll know who is better. It's not a bad answer, but to make it work, we need official tournaments. Without clear rules and an external power to enforce them we get what every fool got who accepted an 1v1 challenge: being cheated and ganked.

Imagine an ideal world where people in 1v1 aren't using booster alts, scanners on the gate to know the enemy fitting to fit hard counter and turning it 1v10 if still not winning. Would these matches help? Not really, because they only measure the limited number of participants. While in these ideal matches the winner is better than the loser, we can't place them on a global ranking. This is a common problem in WoW, where the best guy of a casual guild applies to a HC guild and they find him totally useless and beyond help. In EVE - exactly because of lack of official performance measurement - this can go unnoticed for long. However reality at the end hits, the most remarkable event was the "so elite" NC. wardeccing RvB to smash them for insulting one of their directors with the horrible word "mate". You probably know how it went.

I'm not saying that every performance measurement is good or even useful. For example the "total kills" and "ISK destroyed" fields of zkillboard are next to useless since they aren't zero-sum. If 1001 smartbombing Rifters, each with 1M price tag gather and fire their smartbombs, every participant will get 1000 kills and 1B damage done. I'm sure that every ship destruction must create exactly one kill and not more (of course it can be in a form of 1/n kills to everyone). Similarly ISK destroyed must be split between the killers instead of everyone getting the full sum.

However the "true PvP-ers" who don't have a globally usable performance measurement aren't wrong in their position. They simply have no position to argue with. What they have is the feeling "I'm having fun blowing up frigs" and they try to rationalize it to be meaningful, great and competitive. If only they'd say "I'm having fun blowing up frigs like others having fun collecting minipets in WoW" we wouldn't have an argument. But for some reason they insist that blowing up frigs in lowsec is somehow more elite than trying to tame a squirrel in Elvyn Forest. From the fact that they blow up frigs and T1 cruisers they come to the conclusion that they are "badass PvP-ers" who have every right to look down on "highsec carebears". I'm not saying that they are wrong. I'm merely saying that to claim that, they have to come up with numbers. And if someone get higher numbers than them, they have accept that guy being better than them instead of coming up with excuses why his kills don't count.

Finally some numbers about PvP, our organization, the New Order has a killboard, let's see our performance in the last 3 months. Since some agents are living in nullsec and just podjump to us, their nullsec kills mess up with the ISK calculation as the killboards give them full value if they do 0.001% on a titan. So let's just stick to barges and exhumers:
Month Barge Exhumer
November 13 10
December 301 632
January 377 924

Since we aren't cooperating with any other entity, all these kills are 100% New Order kills. Unfortunately we don't have numbers for players because if we add the kills of the members up, we get something like 5000 kills. Someone could really write a program that gets the kills from Zkillboard API and distribute them among the killers. I mean if 3 pilots kill 1, doing 50-25-25% damages, they should get 0.5, 0.25, 0.25 kills. Factoring the ISK destroyed (not the looted, that allows inflating numbers) with the same ratios, we would get individual kills and individual ISK destroyed. I think these numbers would be the best to compare PvP-ers.

To help us gather data if you are in the New Order movement, please submit your kill-log API to both and

Finally some fun: "true PvP-ers" claim my kills don't count because the enemy had no guns. This one had guns. A disgruntled miner coming for revenge... with this pod.

PS: for the first time since my removal, I wish I could be on TEST forums again to see how they welcome their newest bro.


Anonymous said...

'true' PvPers, I suspect, is another "Gevlon Construction" - a strawman that you build and then defeat whilst puffing out your shirt and proclaiming your own intellect and intellegence. This is a fairly typical pattern for your posts.

One thing you fail to realise is that 'true' PvPers probably do not care about 'meaningful performance metrics'. I can look at a killboard and determine, with a fair degree of accuracy, how 'good' a pilot is - based on how he fights, who he hunts with, what he goes up against, what he risks, how often he loses and so forth.

Raw numbers are little more then an interesting footnote.

If you look beyond the numbers you can quickly see that 1000 rifters racking up a billion HP damage is ... exactly that. You can see the "kill mail whores" very easilly. You can see the blobs.

A kill mail and a kill board tell you a vast number of things about a battle. The numbers are in no way the most important or most interesting part.

Dejara Thoris said...

A modified killboard score has been tried, you may want to start with this:

Gevlon said...

@Anonymous: The "true PvP"-er isn't my brainchild, it's YOU. The guy who claims, that he is in the position of authority to judge how "good" the pilot is, ignoring all kind of objective statistics.

Anonymous said...

I ignore statistics where the are irrelevant.

Lets use an analogy. Determine who is the better musician, Britney Spears or JS Bach.

Of course we cod look at irrelevant numbers like money earned or weeks in the top 10 and conclude Ms Spears I'd clearly the better musical talent. Alternatively we ca. Examine the artifacts of their careers and deeply analyze their comparative skill and understanding of the craft.

Likewise, I can look at kill numbers, kd ratios or isk won vs lost and rank players accordingly - however deeper analysis of comparative gang size, load outs, previous unrelated kills, fitting patterns etc to identify the cheep hanks and blobs from the genuinely deadly pilots in eve.

Essentially the statistics are an irrelevant red herring and do nothing to rank the competitive. It is simply unnecessary to rely on these stats and is infant not going to tell you much if anything about how good someone is

Anonymous said...

What makes you think that a "true" pvper is someone who blows up the maximum amount of t1 frigates and cruisers in low-sec?

There are no available "objective statistics" that would show you a whether a player is a good pvper or not - EVE has neither a battle recorder nor a World of Logs and looking at a killmail you have no idea if the enemy was afk, what OGBs and implant sets were used, how close the fight was, if there was more than one enemy, ...

But just because you the data to determine whether a pvp pilot is good is not readily available to you does not mean that all pvp pilots are equal.

A good solo pvper does not wait for someone to challenge him to a 1v1 - one of his core skills is to create winnable fights from situations that look hopeless on first glance.
What sets him apart from other players is his informed risk-taking, his decision-making process during battle and the very low amount of avoidable mistakes he makes.
Note how "the number of his killmails" does not feature in this list.

In the absence of better data you often have to look at a pilot's killboard to get some impression of his capabilities.
But you don't look at a killboard to notice kills, deaths, % isk efficiency - you look at individual kills/losses (losses are far more interesting than kills as they tell you more about the sort of opponents he does engage) and use your own pvp experience and whatever the revealed fittings, damage taken numbers, ... tell you to create a mental image of the fight. "How could this battle have gone down to produce this result? What mistakes/misjudgements did the loser probably make?"
Even in the absence of detailed data you can use your experience and intuition to fill in the gaps to some degree.

It needs to be pointed out that the vast majority of EVE players are absolutely awful at pvp as they never practice it enough to make any real progress (time to get an engagement and ISK cost are probably the limiting factors). Many "impossible" killmails result from slam dunks against pilots who simply have no idea what they are doing (remember the arbitrator/blackops kills).

However, this also makes solo pvp viable as it allows a competent pvp pilot (who is putting in Gladwell's 10,000 hours of practice time) to fight from a theoretical disadvantage (outnumbered, outshipped, ...) and still win.
If the average level of competency among EVE pvpers were comparable to, say, that of WoW arena players (who get a lot more practice time per hour of playtime) then solo pvp would soon be reduced to 1v1s.

Maybe this video (which explains a few pvp engagements step by step) helps you to understand why I claim that the decision making process is what makes a good pvper and why it is so hard to measure.

Debra Tao said...

Killboards are a good metric of a player's activity and experience. However killboards don't only provide observers with the number of kills and efficiency, they provide readers with a lot more than that...

It's fairly easy to detect people that are only shooting POS, suicide ganking a lot, only doing mass fleet and so on. A recruiter in PL, NCdot or any ~elite pvp~ alliance knows that and will take a deep look at the killboard. For instance kil2 has a shitt efficiency yet everyone know that he is good at pvp... Try o get in any ~elite pvp~ alliance and see what happens.

You have choosed to declare war on ~elite pvp~ that's not really surprising considering that you love so much test and their propaganda, it's just sad that you aren't trying to be rationnal anymore, you are just following propaganda... test and now James315.

Gevlon said...

@Debra Tao: I can't tell that Kil2 is good because I've never heard of him. Along with 95% of the EVE players.

@Anonymous: Bach had much more listeners during the centuries than Britney, so he has a numerical proof of being better. Of course Britney has centuries to catch up, but we can agree that she won't.

However if you claim that some obscure composer who is only known to opera fans vs Britney, then yes, Britney wins.

Debra Tao said...

Maybe if CCP has hired kil2 that's good enough as a proof that he is decent at pvp ?

Also try to get into PL, NCdot or really any ~elite pvp~ alliance... yeah what a surprise they won't let you in cuz your kilboard is shit no matter what. Hint : suicide ganking in high sec isn't a solid pvp experience.

Gevlon said...

@Debra: you claim that every CCP dev is an elite PvP-er?

The "try to get into PL or other elite alliance" argument is circular. They are "elite" because they recruit the "elite". It lacks any outside proof that the members (or the alliance itself) is elite, because you gave no objective definition of elite.

Also, you insist to call NC. "elite" despite they were beaten by both Goons in sov war and RvB in highsec war. Doesn't that make RvB and Goons "more elite"?

Debra Tao said...

CCP hasn't hired Kil2 because he is good at programming or whatever... have i ever claimed that every CCP devs is good at pvp ? I hope you are trying to troll me here...

PL, NCdot are good at pvp because they aren't afraid to use expensive doctrines, do a lot of small gang warfare and they still manage to have a good efficiency.

Sov warfare isn't about being good at pvp it's about out blobbing your opponent. I don't see any decision making process here, experience doesn't really matter. You can notice that this war wasn't easy for the cfc and they lost a good number of supers due to their pilot inexperience and stupidity. They also lost an incredible number of fleets but at the end the blob was stronger, NCdot never thought they could defend against the cfc.

I lack inforamtions about the RvB thingy so i won't comment on that. But sov warfare isn't about being good at pvp, it's about supers, numbers and tidi.

Anonymous said...

There are several flaws in your reasoning. First, you imply that pvpers need a metric. Well, they don't usually. If someone fights for fun, he doesn't care to meaningless numbers on killboards. If he has fun fighting frig vs frig, then he's winning (his own) Eve - plain and simple. Second, to judge someone's pvp skills, you need to analyze his individual kills, not some killboard metrics like eff or isk destroyed. If I whore a kill on a titan in my velator, I will be be by your metrics elite pvper. That only proves killboard metrics are irrelevant. One needs to look at ever kill and understand the fight. That's a thing that cannot be expressed in numbers. That's exactly why someone ganking barges will have better numbers on KB but he will never be close to the skill of any Agony, Tusker or other pure pvp corp member.
And that's where we come to the heart of the problem - you believe only in numbers and try to fit them to situations, which cannot be expressed solely by numbers. That approach works fine for trading, industry etc. but doesn't work where the the level of abstraction is much higher. Take for example - can you read what the fight was all about? Can you tell why it is worth way more (in terms of skill and fun) than someone ganking a 200m barge with a cat? If/when you understand this, then you will understand pvp.

Kana Casul said...

@Anonymous: Gevlon has killed barge and pod worth 3 billion and has fun doing it, your "l33t pvp" player killed assault frigate worth 30 mil. and probably also has some fun. Gevlon still waaaay ahead of you in terms of isk, and on one level in terms of fun, so how he is not "elite", but frigate killer is?

Anonymous said...

@Kana Casul

I'm not arguing that Gevlon didn't have fun - he most likely did. I'm arguing that his definition of fun measured by numbers is not what most of the pvpers define as fun or 'elite pvp'. I'm also arguing that having a real frigate fight requires more pvp skill (both in and out of game) then ganking a barge. I see that you used isk loss as an argument. I think I already showed how irrelevant this is. There is no leaderboard in eve. Most pvpers don't care if you killed billions in barges, when you didn't kill anything that shot back. It's fun for gankers, but it's not real Eve pvp. What do you think would be the outcome if Gevlon took his blaster cat against any kiting frig? All numbers suggest he would win it without effort. But in reality, he would be turned to scrap wondering what happened. And that's the true beauty of Eve pvp - every fight needs high level of understanding, which no metric can define.
Side note - please stop using the term 'elite pvp' - it's just stupid.

Debra Tao said...

@ Kana : you don't have to use any skill or experience to kill a high sec miner. I agree that sometimes you can kill as easily a stupid pilot in low sec or null but most of the time killing an AF in low/null require more skill/experience.

One is like killing pigs, the other one is PvP.

Bobbins said...

Since losing ships and equipment in eve actually hurts why would anyone PvP in an even fight. When someone PvPs they must believe they WILL win and the easiest way to do that is make the fight 'unfair'.

PvPing (Ganking) mining ships is different as you don't have guns to fight with. It is more an economic fight where even in death the miner can win after all in a successful gank all the players lose their ships.

Anonymous said...

In my very limited experience, lowsec PvP is just about who has more SP and ISK. There are cases where people die due to stupidity - but that's about it. PvP skill caps out soon enough once you realize the capabilities of ships and learn to judge relative performance, then start to employ tactics that play to your strengths and exploit the opponent's weakness. After that, it's just seeing who can fork out more ISK for faction modules, booster alts, etc.

Sugar Kyle said...

And that is why your experience is very limited Anon who said" "In my very limited experience, lowsec PvP is just about who has more SP and ISK. There are cases where people die due to stupidity - but that's about it. PvP skill caps out soon enough once you realize the capabilities of ships and learn to judge relative performance, then start to employ tactics that play to your strengths and exploit the opponent's weakness. After that, it's just seeing who can fork out more ISK for faction modules, booster alts, etc."

Johnicholas Hines said...

ELO is a neato system for tracking skill of some sport players. The foundations of ELO are first, that the ELO number estimates the players' skill based on the evidence of their record and second, that the ELO numbers predict (probabilistically) who would win in a game.

It's possible that we might be able to create many different ELO-like systems for Eve, each variant based on different "sports" within Eve. For example, it might be interesting to have a "race to a billion" sport, where two people make newbie characters and try to make a billion ISK faster than the other player. Another sport might be fleet-vs-fleet with some ISK measurement of the price of each fleet, including the piloting characters.

I like the variety of evaluation functions. However, the variety of different sports, different rule-systems that you could evaluate yourself with does almost-inevitably mean that everyone has their own pet rule-system according to which they probably do pretty well.

Anonymous said...

..Gevlon, who is more skilled? The UFC fighter who has a 30-20 record? Or the school yard bully who has beat up thousands of nerds and never lost a fight?

Who is more skilled? The pig farmer who slaughters thousands of pigs a day and is never slaughtered by a pig? Or a USMC Marine who kills three enemy targets but is then killed himself?

Who is more skilled? A Lv 80 Rogue killing thousands ofLv 1-10 noobs in The Barrens and never losing? Or Ming (look him up) who goes out of his way to find and fight the best of the best, and ends up with a 60% win record?

In your view, the school yard bully, the pig farmer, and Xxarthaskidxx are the champions.

And to point out some of your hypocrisy, how often have you labeled Xxarthaskidxx an M&S for partaking in such a pointless activity as killing targets who have no hope of winning or drawing, only losing? You are Xxarthaskidxx in Eve, and your only defense is that you are justifying your actions by saying "mineral prices are rising."

What a complete joke, and I know that you are smart enough to not believe your own bull shit.

Azuriel said...

I think when most people talk about "elite PvP" or whatever, they are really talking about PvP that 1) demonstrates personal skill, and 2) involves serious risk. You are correct that in the absence of a sort of objective tournament-esque environment, it's difficult/impossible to measure 1). That said, in regards to 2), your suicide ganking of miners really comes across as bragging of "Arathi Basin bridge kills." Less, even, because the people fighting on the bridge are fighting back. Maybe more like ganking low-level flagged characters sitting in contested cities.

It is an impressive number of "peoples' days ruined," but as even you note, it's not particularly skillful or demonstrative of anything other than a willingness to die shooting AFK players. So... grats? At least now you will have no excuse to look down on the bridge-killers anymore.

Anonymous said...

People need to stop judging and comparing epeen kills. Its ridiculous in a game like EVE. Everything is open season whether you are a 1 day old character or a 7 year bitter vet or an AFK miner.

Also why the criticism of Gevlon? He's posting a blog about his experiences in EVE. Might I say he's put more effort into the game in his short time playing than most of the bittervets posting here.

I expect much of this criticism has come from his association with New Order. Big deal. New Order has breathed life back into this game in the ast couple of months. Learn to embrace it and close thy mouths.

Gevlon said...

@Anonymous and Azuriel: you missed the point. I'm not saying that I'm more skilled. I'm saying that EVE is generally not a good "skill" game (e-sport) and practically no one has the right to brag about personal skill.

The pig farmer vs marine is the way they look at themselves, however they are like bear hunters. While the bear has the theoretical chance to fight back, they create situations where it can't really win. PL hotdrops or lowsec gatecamps aren't things where you can lose, despite the enemy has claws.

Tournaments are needed exactly to make the enemy has equal chance.

Maxim Preobrazhenskiy said...

The problem with "true PvP" notion seems to be the fact that a "true PvPer" thinks himself in a position of authority to judge how good a pilot is, according to his subjective view of "good"...

Not sure i understand why it is the problem, though.

So there is a small amount of people out there, who have this idea of what "true PvPer" really is, and they have a measure of agreement amongst themselves on the notion.

This agreement allows them to form a community that exerts some share of influence on the Eve-world. I can only conclude that this influence is somewhat problematic.

Possibly, Eve would be a better game if people in it didn't use subjective metrics to measure PvP.

Well then, how better? What metrics can you really suggest? You have to admit that neither amount of ships destroyed, nor ISK destroyed bears direct relevance to how good a specific pilot, or how good of a gaming experience he can provide to the opposing side in a PvP gaming scenario.

"True PvP" is a service. A way to spend time for two or more people, that is governed by subjective laws of "true PvP" conduct and is therefore enjoyable for all involved parties. "True PvPer" is someone who is perceived to be able to provide this service. This perception is no more objective than, say, a perception of a good receptionist.

Therefore, the interesting questions here are these:
Do want to be perceived as someone who is able to provide this service? What's in it for you? Is it an asocial benefit, or social?

Anonymous said...

I disagree with your "all mining ships blown up were blown up by the new order"

I know test enjoys suicide ganking miners (And indeed, will rarely form up and kill miners), along with "disco bombing" ice miners.

Do they have ANYTHING to do with the new order? No. They're going out there, and blowing stuff up for the lolz. You're also forgetting losses to wartargets, which happens. Again, outside of the new order... and not to mention goons.

Maybe 60% of the kills, tops, are new-order related. The rest are people blowing up ships because they can.