Monday, October 20, 2014

In-game conflict and game-monetizing

The writers participating in the "save the blue doughnut" campaign on the Goon propaganda site often cite that finding fights will be harder. This isn't true, fights will happen more often. Actually currently the most fights in EVE happen in highsec between gankers and miners/haulers. Fight needs a conflict when the goals of two people are mutually exclusive. The miner wants to mine without caring for anything but his yield. The ganker wants to fill his killboard. Only one can succeed.

LolPvP is when bored players play with the combat system of the game for enjoyment. Duels front of Orgrimmar and frigroams come to mind. There is no other goal than wasting time and "winning" can't be defined. It doesn't matter who won the duel, both participants had fun and the one who lost his ship can't care less.

As I wrote many times, lolPvP is included into practically all games, usually matched with better PvE and support than EVE. Participating in EVE lolPvP will never be as fun as a WoW battleground. EVE has the unique selling point of offering conflict. Other games tone conflict down as much as they can. Sure, just one team can win in a World of Tanks battle and winning is preferred over losing due to higher rewards, but the matchmaker makes sure that your winrate is around 50%, so a loss is merely a ticket for a win. EVE on the other hand allows full conflict, where the loser suffers heavy losses while the winner claims huge reward (a good suicide gank loot can make even traders envious).

Conflict is the unique selling point in EVE: I can't perform whatever I wish, as other players have conflicting interest and I need to defeat them first. This is the dark universe CCP promised (as social people consider selfishness dark and evil).

To understand the position of those who have out-of-game interests (PLEX-affiliate money, ad-clicks, RMT) we have to make something clear: if you get ISK from RMT or PLEX buy, you are bad in EVE. Hell, if you pay a dime to CCP instead of just PLEX-ing your account, you are bad in EVE. If you don't have an adblocker and scriptblocker installed, you are bad in Internet. In case of real conflict, these "being bad" people would be beaten back to highsec or out of the game, replaced by competitive players coming from other games. This case the only ISK buyers would be random casuals in highsec, who - due to their isolation from the community - would buy ISK by PLEX purchases from CCP or Amazon or other main seller and not from affiliates or RMT-ers.

So to have people who keep viewing their ads, clicking their PLEX-links and use their RMT-ers, they need a community of bad players in nullsec. The monetizers need to protect them from being beaten back to highsec, which can only be done by removing conflict and replacing it with lolPvP. The blue doughnut served that well. The RMT-ers of the East and the affiliate+ad link owners of the West agreed to not attack each other, letting bots and M&S both stay in nullsec.

The real players (whose in-game actions weren't driven by out-of-game reasons) were simply pushed out of Sov-null by the combined might of the game monetizers. They stayed top damage dealers, which isn't that hard if you consider that they are the only ones who intend to deal damage instead of just blow up frigs. Why did they lose to the monetizers? Because the monetizers have no trust issues as they are bound by real money. No spy can get among them and they can trust on the greed of the other one. While the real players are the majority, they cannot build large organizations due to trust issues. Combined they are much stronger than the monetizers, but they are never combined, but small independents who shoot each other too.

The jump changes make it impossible for the game monetizers to be everywhere at the same time, therefore making them unable to crush down multiple independent small groups, effectively ending their reign. The renter-farms of the east will fall (I'll write a post how, renters have no need to worry) along with the M&S hives of the West.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Weekend minipost: breaking news morons

YA0 is safe for Goons.

However the really big one managed to get his titan out of tackle with little HP left and warped it to a tower.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The value of ganking in games

Tobold is out against Open World PvP in several posts, most recently just linking other posts against it. While there are obviously other reasons to engage than ganking, it would be madness to claim that ganking doesn't exist. Those who like Open World PvP usually belittle ganking and focus on the positives of the feature, allowing real conflict between goal oriented opponents. I won't do that now. I'm protecting ganking itself as a valuable feature, a character-building experience on both sides.

People often experience normal distribution of features. The height of the people in a class are normally distributed around the average. Some people are a bit shorter, some are taller, but most people are +-10% in height from the average. Same goes for IQ, physical strength and so on. The weightlifting World Record is merely 3x higher than what an average man can lift. We inherently get used to the idea that people have little variance in them, our performance differences are mere percents and even the best of the best is in the same magnitude as us.

This is a comforting belief, but completely untrue. In the USA, the top 1% owns about 35% of the total wealth, while the middle 20% (the "average guy") owns 4%, therefore the top 1% is 175x more rich. 1% of the Americans is 3 million people, so we aren't talking about exceptional guys here. People like Bill Gates own more than whole countries and affect our life to a bigger extent. Most of you reading this post is using a Microsoft or an Apple product, made by two exceptional people. This is the true world we live in and we should aspire for such goals. Being "above average" is no longer an acceptable goal. Hell, in several countries slightly above average income doesn't get you out of the poverty level!

Games, by enforcing "fair matches" or giving out welfare are enforcing the belief of equality. In World of Tanks your stats are kept close to the average by the cheating matchmaker. While you can hold a massacre in a WoW battleground, no one cares as even the AFK-er gets honor points for his "performance". This is an evil teaching, poisoning the mind of young people against meritocracy.

Ganking on the other hand is a liberating experience. When I was ganking in EVE, I alone caused 123B damage in a month. The destruction graph reports 477T for a year, calculating with 100K actual players, that's 0.4B/month/players. The targets - despite they were players with equal opportunity - fell before me like trashmobs. They were unable to defend or avenge themselves. I walked among them like a god. Obviously I was no god, they were horribly dumb for being AFK in an untanked mining ship and an expensive pod. Also, I got bored of my "godness" after 2 months and couldn't gank yet another moron. But the point is that by skill I could outperform them by several magnitudes, just like Bill Gates outperforms the average guy. I believe everyone should perform a ganking spree to get first hand experience from the truth: you can be thousand times stronger than an average guy.

PS: Have you donated to Mordus Angels this month? If not, look at this glorious battle report where brave MoA pilots dashed to rescue the besieged Guristas. You can keep our heroes in ships! Remember, 35 million innocent NPCs were massacred in September by the minions of Evil! You can end this genocide! Donate now!

PS2: a bunch of smartbombing battleships managed to grab 1.5M loot. Nothing to see here, move along!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The "newbie friendly" Goonwaffe

After the previous post, I made a much more comprehensive analysis, using the July kills, Aug-Sept kills, July losses, Aug losses, Sept losses and birthday data (not complete, many had to be loaded manually). This analysis shows every Goonwaffe pilot who had any killboard activity in July-Sept and born before this period.

At first, let's look at the birthday distribution of pilots who were active in this period:

There clearly are new pilots in Goonwaffe, 104 out of 1010 was born in the latest half year. Still, the vast majority of pilots are old, the average birthday is 2010-06-16. It's interesting that large number of new pilots started to appear in 2013 and this trend seems steady. Let's look at their performance against non-blues, after placing them into 5 age groups, divided by the red lines. If N pilots killed a ship, they all got 1/N kill and Value/N ISK:

So far it doesn't look bad. They fly cheaper ships than average and have less kills, but that's expected. But instead of averages, let's look at the performance of the individual newbies (every bar is one of the 104 newbies):
It's not a long shot that the few above-average "newbies" are actually new alts made for frig PvP. The rest show what really awaits the new players in GoonWaffe. If we add that GoonWaffe had 2500 pilots and only 1010 had any PvP activity during 3 months, it doesn't take a genius to figure out where the bright eyed newbies ended up: in the anomalies, making the leadership rich.

PS: I guess some of them had their first "fun frigate fight" is this battle.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Highsec corps: risk versus no reward (and a suggestion to fix it)

There is a significant problem in highsec: being in a player corp instead of NPC corp or 1-man corp brings serious risk to your head: you can be wardecced or awoxed, practically losing CONCORD protection. Why is it a problem? Because there is no reward to compensate for this risk. Joining a player corp provides access to nothing new that the player didn't have in the NPC/1-man corp (NPC tax is small and can-be avoided by a 1-man corp).

Sure, theoretically there are rewards. Only player corps can own Nullsec sov, anchor towers anywhere, own POCOs and many other things. But the corps and players in question aren't planning (or capable) to do any of these. They just want to do missions or mine solo while socializing with "friends". So in rights and obligations the highsec corps are equal to Goonwaffe, Burning Napalm or Sniggerdly, while in practical activity they are equal to the NPC corps.

You can say that such players shouldn't enjoy EVE, but you are wrong. Everyone is entitled to play and enjoy a video game. The difference between "WoW-like" and real games is that not everyone is entitled to win it. These players - unless they step up their play - are not entitled to own space or even structures. They aren't entitled to get rich, nor earn enough to buy a PLEX and play for free. But they are entitled to hang out with their friends while playing EVE.

The solution isn't what highsec "content creators" suggest: making NPC tax much higher and lock players into wardecced corps. It is bad idea because it would make hiding profitable. Don't talk, don't participate, don't create any content or someone might notice you, wardec you and then you can't play for a week. Players should be encouraged to become content creators.

The solution is providing extra incentives to not only join a corp but fight for it. Let me outline a suggestion. At first, one should be able to create a "friendly corp", safe from wardecs and awoxes, paying the NPC tax. The members would be practically equal to NPC corp members, having the same rights and obligations while enjoying the company of their friends.

However safe corps couldn't own structures in space and a new structure would worth owning: "highsec industrial office". It's anchored by the empires first, by a planet. Anyone can warp to it and anyone can shoot it. It has twice the HP of a POCO and the same reinforcement mechanics. If it's damaged to 1 HP, it flips to the ownership of the last hitter corp and can be repped to become operational. Owning a HIO would allow corp (not alliance) members to accept L4 missions and mine asteroids other than veldspar in the system. Anyone else accepting a mission would flag him to suspect (thief) and remains flagged until the mission is removed from his journal. Mining anything but veldspar would trigger a 15 min suspect flag. So only the owners of the system could mine and mission in it. Obviously they need to be in a wardeccable corp.

Please note that you can't tax or rent a HIO, so while RvB could capture lot of HIOs, they wouldn't have any income from it, unless they mission or mine themselves. Those who own no HIO can only mission or mine in unclaimed systems (where the HIO is owned by an Empire). They can also run L1-3 agents, mine veldspar, accept career, storyline, COSMOS and other specialty agents or do exploration.

This system would reward joining a real player corporation that fight highsec wars to protect their system, without creating incentives for creating a blue highsec.

PS: welcome a new contestant for the Branch Bounty!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Null ratting vs Highsec missioning

Null ratting has lower ISK/hour than running level 4 missions in highsec. Considering that the latter can be done without danger of PvP (unless you go purple), this is serious design problem and nullsec posters rightfully call for fixing it.

Except they are totally wrong. CCP didn't make L4s inherently more profitable than null ratting. Actually they provide different kind of rewards (LP vs ISK bounties) and the market valued the L4s above null ratting. The market says, null ratting is easier than running L4s. You can disagree, but the market is always right. If L4s wouldn't be harder, null ratters would just switch to it, decreasing ISK and increasing LP production, therefore decreasing the relative profitability of missions. If everyone would run missions, LP would be dirt cheap, therefore missions would have horrible income/hour, just like veldspar mining. When I found a way to farm lot of Thukker LP easily, I ruined its price, as a proof that the market guarantees that things worth exactly as much as they should.

Why is null ratting easier? Because of multiboxed AFK Ishtars, (super)carrier ratting and botting. Highsec missions need active participation, therefore a non-botter player can run one, maybe two security missioner pilots. Botting in highsec is problematic because awful lot of players are around and they gladly report you. On the other hand, you can have as many AFK ratters as your computer can handle and most alliances explicitly forbid petitioning blues.

I run multiboxed mining missions myself, while running a solo miner in mining missions would be dumb. Why? Because the income per pilot per hour is about 30M, pitiful, it's only profitable if you heavily multibox. Just like nullsec ratting, they become much more profitable than security missions if you run them properly mechanized, meaning stupid amount of multiboxing and lot of computer-time.

The "highsec missions earn more" complaint actually means "for a normal player, there is more income in the security missioning profession than in null ratting or mining missions, since these are taken by multiboxers and botters".

The solution is - obviously - changing the game in a way that makes multiboxing harder and strike harder on botters. Nerfing highsec missions wouldn't help the normal nullsec players as their competitors aren't the highsec missioners (they produce LP, not ISK), but their own alliance mates running 10+ accounts 10+ hours a day.

Since CCP just went nuclear over force projection, I'd remind lurking devs to my farming-fatigue idea.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Jump changes will remove "fun" from nullsec - finally

FearlessLittleToaster was one of the Goons who sent me nice mails during the "nice Goons" campaign (the italics are his quote):

Anyway, he is a propagandist working for their site. He just published a piece, as part of the "Save the Blue Doughnut from Greyscale" campaign. His main point is "Most players see EVE as a source of amusement, not a job. Getting into your ship and flying off to blow up somebody else, or even just get in a proper scrap and losing, is the "fun part" of EVE for most who choose to live in 0.0. Making isk in order to buy ships to lose, or to pay for an account via plex, is the part of the game that gives value to the ships that explode and makes EVE matter. By drastically increasing the time it takes to move long distances, CCP has made it harder to do both these activities - without providing any corresponding benefit."

He is right. The jump changes makes "having fun" in nullsec almost impossible. Finally!

There are awful lot of games where you can "have fun". Call of Duty is a perfect example. So is World of Tanks. Both allow instant, no-consequence bloodshed. They are pretty well made and earned lot higher income than CCP from the "for fun" kids. So did World of Warcraft with its everyone-gets-honor battlegrounds and "you can't kick this AFK-er for 4 more hours" lowest difficulty raids. EVE has no chance against them in the "for fun" theater.

EVE survives on being different. It has consequences. If you fail, that's not a 20 secs respawn timer, but losing an expensive ship and maybe the battle, along with the Sov or station it was about. In EVE - according to the lore and PR - only the strong and smart can prevail. CCP devs hold on to that. Yet, what we see is the opposite: frig-lolling, "fun roams" and absolutely no fighting in nullsec. Why? Because the weirdest form of emergent gameplay happened. A group of players turned out to be sort-of-devs and nerfed the game for the same purpose as every games are nerfed: to allow bad players to linger on and provide them real money income in form of PLEX affiliate links, recruit-a-friend bonuses, ad-clicks and probably illicit RMT.

By deciding not to fight, they turned nullsec into space-WoW, where the land is formally owned by "The Alliance" and "The Horde", who are at war according to the lore, yet no warfare happens. In this setting the fleets could be filled with drooling morons who are worthless for the in-game activity, only kept for their out-of-game payments. If the fleet loses because of them, their leaders have no more reason to care than King Varian Wrynn cares about the alliance players losing Arathi Basin again. The Mittani and Vince/Grath are sitting atop their thrones as faction leaders, giving out quests and enabling pointless lolling to the players. They literally turned their coalitions into a themepark-game: you can do stuff for fun but you can't change or affect anything.

CCP realized that the NPC Orcs of WoW are more likely to form an army and invade Westfall than N3/PL invading CFC space. They also see that these coalitions together gank smaller and upcoming alliances, so they did the best they could: nerfed long-range travel that allows the empires to hit with full force anywhere. Now small but competent groups can fight locally, facing only locally living Sov-holders. They can chase the "for fun" players back where they belong: to highsec to make ISK and to lowsec to roam for their "fun".

I urge you to realize that "you can't find fun fights anymore" is a necessity for having a game of consequences, as "fun fight" is a non-consequence event. The owners have to fight the invaders - not because it's fun - but because they lose their money moons and can't rat if they don't. Nullsec belongs to the strongest and smartest and not to friglolling droolers who just want to "shoot stuff". EVE needs to be a dark and unique game to survive. The players who try it out must find this and not quit after a month, disillusioned by finding drooling morons and slackers brawling in reimbursed frigs for fun.

CCP must realize that the empire-holding, CSM-swinger, PLEX-affiliate people are financially interested in nerfing EVE into space-WoW and everything they say is poison to the game, especially if they say it together, like they did with the document of shame. They know that they destroy the game in the process, but as they aren't owners of the IP, they can't care less. They cash out on it while it lasts and leave for their next business afterwards.

We don't know if the jump changes are enough. But we know that even in the darkest days of the blue boughnut, groups defied the status quo and killed trillions of ISK worth of them. They have leaders who defied the tempting offers of the game-monetizers to have a share of the income if they join them. EVE isn't lost as long as there is one who says "I want to win this game" instead of "I want to earn a burger-flipper-level salary from it". If CCP sticks to this and fights the game-monetizers, the subscriber numbers will grow, as there will be reason to play: to win.

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