Greedy Goblin

Friday, March 25, 2016

Whaletopia: Greed is good

Yesterday I proved that a non-paying player is worthless to CCP after SP trading. This means that if you are good in any field of PVE (even simple ratting), your preferences and wishes weight zero in game design. Same goes for traders, profitable pirates and anyone who PLEX-es his account, which covers most of the veteran players.

Who is left? Well, there are always casuals who subscribe one account and play when they have time. I'm sure CCP loves them and wants to cater to them, but it's easier to say than done. Casuals are common only in their limited playtime and limited investment into the game. A Goon who logs in a few times a week when a large fleet ping goes out is a casual. The highsec miner who doesn't even mine enough to PLEX his account is a casual too. Same for the guy who roams lowsec every weekend and barely logs in on weekdays. Casuals are present in every walks of life of EVE, so you can't target them with improvements. You can - and every designer does - improve the game overall, since better content and UI serves all players, including casuals. But "make a better game" isn't a 5-minutes task like giving 33% hull resist to freighters to cater to the owners against gankers.

Who is left after both skilled veterans and casuals are crossed out? Whales who are buying the 28 pack PLEX-es! You think CCP don't focus on them? Well, a few years ago telling scam marks to buy PLEX was bannable, and now:

What whales do? What every gaming whale do, buy characters, SP and assets with their money using the in-game PLEX market. But EVE isn't "every game". You buy gold in World of Tanks and instantly you are sitting in a good tank using overpowered gold ammo. You buy ISK in EVE and you are sitting in your clone station while everyone else are laughing on your officer fit abomination loss. This won't make whales return customers, nor will it inspire anyone to become a whale.

Of course CCP could go an extra mile to teach whales about the basics of EVE. For example a GM could convo them and walk them over the pitfalls. Above all: point them towards a good player corporation that will help and instruct them. This way hilarious losses can be avoided. However the good player corporations live by their caution and care. A whale who just spent $1000 on a game doesn't want to hear "dock up guys, we can't engage that" or "burn out of the bubble, warp between safes until you can log off". A whale doesn't want to fly a Cormorant or bomber, doesn't want to scout, doesn't want to check killboards to decide if he can win. No, a whale wants to roll like a boss and "pwn the n00bs" like he can do in the pay-to-win games where being a whale is possible. The whale won't be raging at CCP if he finds a way to a good corp, but he'll be disappointed by the lack of power he got for his money. Even if he gets hooked on EVE and stays, he'll surely follow the advice of his corpmates: "don't be a whale, you can't buy power in EVE".

However there are two alliances in EVE where you can roll like a boss and pwn if you are rich and not completely retarded: Goonswarm and Pandemic Legion. As these groups can out-escalate everyone except each other, someone flying a supercapital or titan while keeping the most basic rules can practically never die while racking up kills in stupid numbers. Sure, most of them will be heavily inflated 100-men kills or smartbombed cheap crap, but this is what a whale want, to look down on the n00bs who can't afford big ships and to pwn them. A whale in PL or GSF is a happy whale.

Anyone can join Karmafleet or Pandemic Horde, so the whale doesn't have to know people or follow rules. If you apply to one of these corps, spend your stupid amount of money and learn the basics, you become an invincible killing machine, the dream of every whale!

But there is a problem. These Whaletopias only exist as long as their alliances are undefeated. Goons are getting their asses kicked, losing fleets and systems left and right. I have no doubt that after they are defeated, the community hate/envy will turn on PL. There are awful lot of good PvP-ers looking for a challenge, the top dog will always be attacked just because he is the top dog. The top war of 2015 features Goons and not on the winning side. Sure, MoA+OOS rarely kill titans, but if they exterminate the F1 pushing casuals and PLEX-ers, soon the whales become undefended by the blob.

I don't know if there actually is an "unholy pact" in which Goon and PL leaders approached CCP with the offer "make us unbeatable and in turn we'll welcome your whales". It is probable that a CCP analyst simply found that joining Karmafleet or PH gives the highest chance for a whale to stay in the game and spend again. Either way, CCP decided that Goons and PL must not go down like BoB or IT or TEST or BRAVE. They can't be destroyed or evicted even temporarily since the whales will not understand the change of times and keep flying like a boss after they can't and die. Goons and PL must be strong forever to preserve the Whaletopias. Hence CCP decided to give them an absolutely game-breaking advantage: New Jita that will provide them more income than what all ratters could farm together. Again: while it's tempting to imagine The Mittani sitting with CCP Falcon, plotting how could they betray you in the spirit of greed is good, it's probable that GSF/PL leaders don't even know that it's CCP and not their own adaptation skill that gives them a boost after each patch.

By the way the current war of PL on Goons isn't happening now by mistake. They aren't paying TEST for nothing (no, it's not IWI or me paying them, it's PL). As soon as New Jita is built, the peace must be restored, as a war would scare users away from New Jita. The last thing Grath and Gobbins want to see on the grid of their trading citadel is 500 angry, evicted Goons who have nowhere else to be. The goal of the current war is to force The Mittani to accept a deal like "30% from New Jita and BotLord rules restored". A month ago he would laugh on such offer, now that he is losing fleets and systems left and right will accept. If the campaign goes really well, he might even accept 10%, just so he can keep his regions where his eyeballs rat (remember, the PLEX-er is worthless to CCP, but a valuable adclicker for TMC).

Either way, the game will be over, two whaletopias will rule forever unchallenged, feeding their whales for the only thing CCP cares for in this game: their income.


maxim said...

If all of this is indeed not a misinterpretation, then maybe it's really time for Eve to be over? It had a good run, but everything needs to end sometime.

I am still not buying into that picture, though. Basically, i find it hard to imagine a game designer work his wiki handle that would go ahead with implementing New Jita without considering ISK sinks to offset all the new ISK in the economy.

There needs to be something more afoot. Because if there is not, then it is not only Eve that is dead, but CCP itself.

Gevlon said...

What new ISK? New Jita isn't a faucet, it's a money transfer from literally everybody to the owning cartel.

And no, CCP isn't dead. I'm sure they are making much more $ since the SP trade than they did before. And with all the happy whales they'll be making even more.

You seem to believe in karma or justice or something. But there is none. The bigger scoundrel you are, the richer you get, because people gladly eat your propaganda as long as it makes them look bad. The PLEX-er and casual PL and Goons will gladly believe that they are the undefeatable because of their own awesomeness and not because CCP gave them an unmatchable income source.

Unknown said...

You highlight a possible scenario and a valid issue about upcoming larger passive incomes.

Yet, I fail to see any constructive proposition to try to address it. Combined with your campaign to make sure the CSM is fully controlled by those NS blocs, what are you trying to achieve exactly?

Gevlon said...

@Borat: I'm not sure I have any. I think EVE will unstoppably go into yet another pay-to-pwn game where whales are catered to.

I'm certain that CSM never served other purpose than legitimizing what would happen anyway and help null groups to capitalize on it even better. I'm sure that the only proper response to CSM is boycott. I'm afraid the same can be told to EVE (where boycott obviously means quitting)

Anonymous said...

Question, with the Emporium losses against the Allied forces of lowsec and soon provi.
How will this effect the core (space) of the Emporium, the Goonies swarm federation ?

Gevlon said...

Some allies will be liquidated (SMA first). The useful corps will be absorbed. Some regions (Fade&PB, maybe Vale and Fade) abandoned. The rest will hold. The allies simply not winning fast enough and as soon as Citadels is deployed, PL will sign peace treaty with Goons.

maxim said...

Regarding "new isk" - i guess it is a problem with my choice of words. New Jita will function by returning back into the game economy all the ISK that were previously spend on NPC fees. This will result in a significant reduction in cumalitive amount of ISK sinks. This, in turn, will inevitably lead to all sorts of runaway processes in the economy.
I am struggling to imagine a competent game developer that doesn't understand that and doesn't cover for that in some way. Either CCP is incompetent (which i find possible, but unlikely), or we are missing something.

As for "karma" - I don't really believe in karma. I just know that money are ultimately little more than paper (and nowadays not even that) and tend to run out quickly after you stop doing anything that is actually worthwhile. If situation inside CCP is indeed as bad as you describe, they will con people for maybe a year or two more, and then it will be lights out. Saw it happen to many game studios.

Gevlon said...

@maxim: you didn't read the original post where I first found New Jita

They increased transaction tax EXACTLY to cover old tax + old broker fee. So they are planning to push ALL trade to Goon citadels. Actually if the players don't go to Goon citadels, the new broker fee will sink so much ISK that the economy will collapse.

maxim said...

I see. I did actually miss that bit. Now it makes more sense.
Well, i'm glad i'm not playing Eve right now :D. This is a fun experiment to spectate, but i wouldn't want to be in the middle of it.

At this junction, the only hope for Eve to not become "eternal peace simulator" seems to be in the notion that maybe this citadel-holding coalition of "everyone who is important" won't really be stable. At least, that's what i'd be banking on if i was to make a decision to go forward with that kind of system as a game-designer. Seems like a great time to be an Eve-diplomat or spy :D

Provi Miner said...

I am not so sure, This appears to be a case of fortress Europe where goons pl build a economic wall. the basic problem with fortress Europe is the same as with the maginot line, hardens wall, the great wall, the economic super power of the US from 1945 through the 2000's at first it appears to be an impossible obstacle. However the barbarians will keep testing it working on it. And either they will identify a weak spot or they will simply go around it. The big difference is this is eve vs RL. Just as bob was crushed from the inside and in part because they waged a grudge war that they shouldn't have. Eternal peace (pax citadel if you will) will fall some what from incompetence (BR-5 was a quirk someone forgot to log in for 5 min and make sure a bill was paid). some will be because even if PL and goons create "pax citadel" everyone else will have a target to shoot. sure the whale can log in and pawn with his titan, But what about the whale who logs into his titan no realizing the pos ran out of fuel to be tackled. Much like the moa campaign of unlimited small scale aggression that will continue to hound the whales, forcing them to fleet up only to find no target. We know how this ends all "pax" come to an end and it will be interesting to see how this ends. PL and goons with everything you credit them for are still hampered by numbers (not I win numbers). This allows the barbarians to grow stronger and yes there will be lost legions, there will be Canine's, there will be Antioch's, there will be end runs though Belgium there will be landings at Normandy, there will be more efficient cheaper better products that will suck the PAX and turn it into junk. Remember PL and goons still can not out number or out fight the barbarians in high sec. BS is the limit.

Unknown said...

@Gevlon: This is a very gloomy picture that I do not share. If anything CCP has proven they can keep information close to their chest, even from the CSM when needs be, to balance their game against the blocs. It was obvious with the jump fatigue changes, as well as their reaction to the attempt from Sion to hijack focus groups. We may not have the full picture of what is coming.

Anonymous said...

GM's are to provide technical support and assistance to players, they aren't there to provide guidance and to answer questions, that's why CCP have the ISD program and ISD already contact new players to provide assistance and coaching.