Why Jester Was Wrong

The other day I was in Jita, I only go about once a month for supplies, and watching the ticker of local scrolling by - when I decided to try an experiment.  I started by posting a simple refrain in amongst the scammers - "I am staying in Eve forever, send me your ISK" and variations on that theme.

I set myself a 20 post limit and watched to see what would happen. In twenty minutes I had made 450m ISK and met some very nice new people.

If you, like me, happened to be a regular reader of the now dark Jester's Trek - then you are aware of the rather large axe-grinding in regards to griefing that Ripard was doing after his CSM term expired. He rather famously led the charge to get players banned and generally tried to rally the idea that griefing was causing the death of Eve. I called him out about the public nature of his campaign in this post, so my position on that issue is well known. I mention all of that so no one thinks I'm being a "johnny-come-lately" on this issue.

I will state emphatically that I am opposed to ANY in-game play, style, or grind, making its way into the real world. As I suspect 99.99% of all players are. If I met any Eve players in real life I'd buy them a drink and we'd be spending our time talking about Eve and life. My Eve does not transcend my own life.

But I will also state that the grief culture is not responsible for the flat-line subscription numbers. Grief culture is not driving away players. Grief culture, like any other aspect of Eve, is easily avoidable. Both in-game and out-of-game. So, as an easy to avoid aspect of Eve, it is not inherently a threat to anyone. (To the .001% for whom it represents a legitimate threat, reporting features are available. In the past six years I have used those features myself many, many times. Without resorting to writing a blog post about them. CCP has, in my humble opinion, an excellent zero tolerance standard and response to these issues.)

In-game griefing is easy to avoid. Don't want to be ganked? Then learn to stay aligned, find some friends to fly with, learn the game mechanics, don't fly what you can't afford to lose, there are so many ways to develop the skills needed to make this never happen in your game. My alt has spent five years moving my stuff thru Null regions, Low sec and everywhere else in-between. She has been killed once by a gate camping smart bomber, and that time her transport was empty.

Out-of-game griefing is also easy to avoid. Simply don't participate. If you can't take the heat stay out of the kitchen. Eve is a game that does not require you to visit public forums, post on Reddit, or anywhere else for that matter. In fact I'd argue that enjoyment of Eve is directly proportional to the amount of time you DON'T spend on those sites. I read them sometimes, but generally avoid them. And I personally don't have anything against those that do enjoy such places. The trick, as always, is in finding your own place. (In fact I have a certain level of admiration for some forum posters, they are masters of their art.)

Having said all of that, there is an aspect of truth about the "perception" of Eve as a negative place. In my own way I have taken this aspect as a personal challenge and it is one of the primary goals of this blog to work on changing that perception. In-game over the years it has challenged me to run events, to take time to manage and sponsor DeathRaces, Frigate Free For Alls, and many other pro-Eve events designed to bring some level of enjoyment to more and more players. It also inspired much of what Stay Frosty and now A Band Apart stand for, and brought many, many players both young and old, into the fold. In other words, I have spent a lot of effort and time putting my money where my mouth is.

I love Eve. Else I wouldn't be able to do what I do. But I also know Eve is not for everyone. It will never be as popular as other games. There are those that prefer the simple pleasure of Kerbal Space for example. (A game I also enjoy, as much as I do Words for Friends, or Boom Beach, or The Last of Us, or Half-Life, or any of the dozens of other games I also play regularly.)

If someone breaks the rules they are dealt with. But griefing is not the problem. Griefing is part of the sandbox. And like all aspects of that sandbox it is the players choice to participate, enable, or dismiss those aspects that they find don't work for them. I don't want everyone to be a Pirate. And I respect those that choose to do other things, to mine, to serve Null masters, to hide in High Sec, to explore, to do whatever it is that they find enjoyable. More power to them. Eve is a better place for the sake of variety.

There are trees. But there is also a forest. Sometimes it can be difficult to see the forest for all of those damn trees in the way.

Eve is better now than it has ever been before. Are there parts of the game that demand improvement? Of course. And we will all continue to fight to see those aspects improved. And I will continue my own fight, in my own way, to get the word out to as many people as I can - come play Eve. It isn't like anything else.

It isn't defined by anyone - other than you.





28 comments:

  1. I get what you're saying, Rixx, but...I have anecdotal numbers to directly refute what you say. Well, some of it, anyway. In the main, I agree with the gist of your post, but...griefing HAS driven players away. My own corp lost newbies because of griefing.

    I, too, didn't agree with a lot of things Jester said, but I did like his stance on the worst of the griefers. Those people are people I would not associate with IRL, no matter how 'good' they came across. But, yes, having spent 3 years in the game, and having tried to bring in newbies from other games, I do agree that the griefing, in and of itself, is not why we can't attract new players.

    The reason is that the game doesn't do near enough to hit players over the head with a "THIS IS NOT A THEMEPARK MMO" stick. Seriously. We lost 2/3rds of a recent crop of newbies because of it. Parenthetically, we also lose newbies with the focus on advertising the big null fleet fights, because, well, most older players can't do that stuff, let alone the new guys. And once they realize how long it'll take (skilling up, maing isk, trying to join a null corp, etc), they leave.

    Oh, and you're right about enjoyment = not reading EvE sites. I've recently cut way, way back, and my enjoyment of the game has gone way, way up because of it :)

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    1. I would never in a million years make the argument that griefing hasn't driven some players away from Eve, much like boredom, skill grinding, bitter vets, bad tutorials, and horrible PvE content have. I just don't subscribe to griefing being the defining problem. I honestly do not know anyone, and I know a lot of players, that support the worst of the griefers. Or what they bring to the game. Standing up against them is the easiest road to take. The harder road is doing something about it.

      If you are running a corp, then you are among those trying to do something about it where it counts.

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  2. I had known about Eve for many years before I finally decided to start playing a year ago. I loved the idea of an online spaceship game but what put me off for all those years was the "rumour" that it was just too damn hard. You undock - You die ! That was what the Internet was saying. I finally saw that that was very very wrong.
    Its word of mouth like that, that stops people from trying it.
    I can not honestly understand how one could try Eve and decide to give up just because he happened to be blown up a couple or times. Thats what this game is about.
    Once killed someone mining in low sec and his reaction was " I am giving up on Eve". Was it my fault that I attacked a valid target or his ? Eve is so great just because it gives everyone the freedom to approach it any way he wants. People need to start exercising their judgment once in a while.

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  3. When I started playing Eve in 2005, there wasn't much griefing. The game was about wars, not about making hi sec dangerous. The line that griefing can be avoided is a straw man. New players shouldn't have to research a game for weeks on how to play it in order to survive a 2 week trial account. Yes it's easy enough to avoid the asshats, but new players don't have the knowledge to do so, and often only learn the hard way.

    Eve has the perception of a griefer's paradise, and until that perception is changed, it will fail to attract new subs. Your post made me think of a real life issue that is similar. I've lived in my neighborhood for 16 years, and I've always felt it was decent. Recently there have been a few shootings and several stabbings due to a gang dispute. None of these incidents were random, all of them targeted and gang related, however, now people avoid my neighborhood because they think it's unsafe. Eve has this same problem. Even though the majority of people playing Eve are great, the griefers and their victims are usually the vocal ones, and this perception will continue until the griefing is dealt with. Especially since griefers prey on new players, since most of the older ones know how to avoid/ignore them.

    I had a much better response before but it didn't post, sorry if this isn't too coherent.

    -350

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    1. I knew nothing about Eve when I started playing and I avoided most of the tutorials, other than the basics. I can still remember thinking I'd have to slow boat over to the gate. And even then, I managed to avoid being killed until I wandered into Low Sec to see what it was all about. And I found out the hard way.

      The new players I've encountered over the last year especially have been intelligent, knowledgeable, and eager to learn. But certainly Eve has a problem with perception and that is concerning.

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  4. I got into EVE because of the 'undock = death' thing. I used to play a lot of Dwarf Fortress, and I'd come to enjoy the process of learning through repeated failure, and that's what got me into EVE, after years of reading about it in the news or whatever.

    I suspect that this specific form of madness is relatively rare. It's basically DF for the strategy guys, EVE for the chess-would-be-better-with-lasers guys, and Dark Souls for the folk with good reaction times and a love of swords: all niche games with dedicated fans. And hell, I dropped DF for the prettier, easier game that is EVE. I can't help but wonder how much of EVE's former and potential subscription base has been lost to Dark Souls.

    I do think, though, that the best thing a new player can get in EVE is a few decent friends, and then an explosion. Just lose something early, and have a bunch of people tell you "we all lose ships. It happens. Dust yourself off, tell us what happened, we'll help you make a better ship for the job, and you'll be fine."
    And truth be told, most of us bitter old vets want a chance to talk about how in our day we did L4s in Drakes, uphill both ways, in the snow... so why not take on newbies?

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    1. We take new players in Stay Frosty and A Band Apart, even though I generally try to tell them up front how hard the Pirate life is, they usually decide to come anyway. Getting new players engaged is one of Eve's biggest challenges imo and something that more players need to step up to the plate for.

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    2. In my experience, it's not the "learning through repeated failure" that discourages players and drives them away. Rather, it is the time spent grinding to replace each "failure," just so you can go out and fail again as you learn.

      A defining characteristic of EVE has always been that loss has meaning, because it has cost and value. This is the side effect of that characteristic; if there is too much "meaning" to a loss, it can be difficult to want to work hard doing something unfun (mining, missioning, etc.) just so you can lose again.

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  5. To be honest I dont really understand what "griefing" means. I stayed in High Sec for my first month of play, then went to Null Sec and returned to High Sec on and off for a month of two to run missions. Never met anyone that tried to "grief" me in any other way than blow up the small collection of pixels that made up my spaceship... And that was to be expected. No one could hurt me more. Are there people that hand over their entire fortune to strangers? Are there people that follow complete strangers down dark alleys? Basic street smarts also apply in New Eden.
    Everything goes in New Eden and thats how it should stay . As long as it stays in New Eden. If there are people that come into the game expecting rainbows, unicorns and puppies with big lovable eyes , its their fault and no one elses.

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    1. Griefing takes many forms, but essentially it is when normal game play takes a personal turn. When the attacker specifically targets you personally, or your specific play-style, and does whatever they can to prevent you from engaging in that play-style. Imagine being ganked in your mining barge every single time you undock, for days and days. That is only one example.

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    2. There are some Anon commenters that actually bring something to the table, and then there are the other ones.

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    3. I'm sorry, I thought such a generic post deserved nothing more. It's like reading copy paste from the forums GD.

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    4. Well don't read it then. You obviously came back twice.

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    5. I was responding to Reeds comment not your blog post.

      Though I don't agree with much of you blog post it is your blog and I respect that. I for one commend Jester and people like him for their dedication to the game and making it a better place for new players. This includes what you guys are doing with Stay Frosty.

      His last blog words may hurt some of his readers enthusiasm for the game initially, this will pass for most of them. He said what he feelt and hopfully someone feels motivated to pick up his fight after him. I feel he doesn't owe his readers or supporters anything at this point. He served his time, stood up for what he believed in and got shat on for showing a backbone.

      Right now I just want to get back to the game and enjoy some of the Kronos changes.

      This whole thing is making me quite irritable. Reed, please accept my apology for responding like a troll earlier.

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  6. Eve is a niche game. Therefore, only a few will actually stay and enjoy it. I think many players now in days are just used to the easy mode of most games out there. Basically, you die and respawn as nothing happened. They come to Eve, they spend a week grinding for a ship. Then in a matter of seconds someone kills them so happens? They quit.

    If there is anything that made me leave Eve the first time I started playing was certainly not griefing. But just the fact that I couldn't find a newbie friendly pvp corp.

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  7. "Then learn to stay aligned, find some friends to fly with, learn the game mechanics, don't fly what you can't afford to lose, there are so many ways to develop the skills needed to make this never happen in your game."

    I had been thinking about this very topic today as it pertains to new players, specifically of the high-sec variety. EVE is especially harsh to them. Consider the new player who is looking to make some ISK to advance his game. After all, you can't do anything in the game without ISK and your choices as very new players (without the benevolence of some other entity) are essentially mine or PvE.

    What is your counter to the n+1 group that choose to take out your ship? Align? Maybe it helps, maybe not, your time to react is very very short. Learn the mechanics? Any amount of mechanics won't help when they bring enough ships to take you out before CONCORD arrives. Don't fly what you can't afford to lose? As a new player, you can't afford to lose anything.

    There is very little to counter the gank squad of high sec if they are determined. They are funded by 3rd parties giving them unlimited funds against relatively new characters with few sources of income. Bloody James above makes basically the same point. A PvE oriented player ganked/griefed has no counter. You can hardly even band together and fight them off. They're already "dead" as far as EVE is concerned when CONCORD pops them.

    Makes me think that EVE needs a "safety lock" high-sec only deployable that prevents engagement with a player while on grid. Then the PvE player *can* do something to protect themselves from large gang that can stomp them into the ground at any time and the gang has to do more than bring n+1 ships to destroy the newest of EVE players. I'll wait for the cries of the non-consentual PvPers to rail against such an idea. It is a shame that their personal "safety lock" is already built into the game as CONCORD that removes any chance of retaliation and that those they prey on have no such option.

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    1. I once wrote an entire series on this subject which ended on the idea of Sanctuary Rookie Systems: http://eveoganda.blogspot.com/2011/11/2012-sanctuary-rookie-mini-games.html

      In 2012 this problem was even worse than it is today, there are even more newb-friendly organizations today then we had back then. Believe me, I do understand the plight of the young player and both in and out of game I am trying to do all I can to help them. I still remember what it was like losing the only two ships I had and being broke, and nearly quitting Eve because of it.

      There are solutions that I believe would not affect the sandbox and allow new players a better chance to establish themselves before becoming cannon fodder. I've proposed many over the years, so far none of them have gained traction with CCP. So I went and started my own corporation and alliance to at least give some players a viable option.

      It is after all, one thing that all of us can actually do.

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  8. Yep. Swing and a miss from Rixx. Griefing has *always* driven away players in large numbers, and don't anyone try to tell me that corps, alliances and the game itself weren't sold to us on that basis. Until the past year, it seems, other factors established an equilibrium in favor of modestly increasing subscriptions. No one's saying that griefing has necessarily gotten worse, but whatever else CCP and the player base have been up to is no longer making up for it (and other factors that chase off players).

    Griefing has always been a problem as well as a feature. We're having the discussion only because it seems we've run out of ways to avoid facing up to the fact.

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    1. You have no actual data to back up anything that you just said. Granted, no one is arguing that griefing isnt an issue - it obviously is. Other issues are engagement, learning, tasks, skills and other challenges.

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    2. Well, despite the lack of data, it's funny that we still agree that griefing is "obviously" an issue. Perhaps a dearth of actual data isn't the excuse you're looking for?

      The other issues are not defended by the HTFU fundamentalists in CCP and the player base, and can be touched by devs without triggering similar threadnaughts.

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    3. I'm not looking for "excuses", but holding a placard that says the End is Nigh doesn't mean the world is ending. People have been predicting the death of Eve since before I started playing and strangely enough, it remains.

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    4. To be honest though... how many of those years was CCP hiding subscription numbers?

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  9. some anti-griefing ideas (without breaking sandbox):
    1. wardecced corp can cal for help everyone in local (like fleet advert) for limited time, fee is based on member count so smaller corp pays less
    2. big red button CALL CONCORD u can press any time (also before gank) but ypu must pay for unjustified use
    3. big yellow button calling other players for help, creates a warpable beacon, anyone warping to it recives limited engagement timer, also cannot agress victim - only agresors
    4. possibility of avoiding wardecc but at some cost or disadvantage to corp (something like newbe corp with limited abilities)

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  10. I feel eve still has a way to go but its by far the best MMORPG out there as its the only one your ment to play for years. That was the original point of the MMORPG a RPG that u never stop playing that you never truly max. In a post wow world however we are fed multiplayer rpgs that are more of theme parks. Imo as long ass ccp keeps improving that game we will see more subs. Eve is in transition right now make no mistake. After last fanfest i feel more optimistic about the direction of eve its headed even farther away from the theme park. As for hester i think the guy just got burnt out. Let him.play the game. I just hope he leaves the trek up with all its guides and fotws. Maybe even a Garth post once or twice a year would be pretty awesome.

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  11. Well... 200M of that isk you so collected came from me personally, and that was after I'd made damn sure the character you were (initially) begging for isk from was very plausibly a Rixx alt. You really should work on your marketing skills a little.
    Having said that I still very much appreciate the trouble you go through making this blog happen and making your various events happen.

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    1. Well I still appreciate it. And I only have one alt which is the CEO of another Corp in the same Alliance. Figured that made it pretty easy to tell.

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