Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Its Just a Game

Every so often, I feel the need to remind people of a vital fact about EVE, its just a game.

Now, its obviously a very addictive game for many of us, and it is complicated by the fact that we develop friendships and a sense of camraderie with other players, but it is still just a video game.  I oftentimes see people get incredibly invested, to the point of actually hating other players in the game. No matter what someone has done, I don't think I've ever hated another player.  I will admit that they irritate me sometimes, but never to the point of hate.

This type of thinking even extends into groups, where group A hates group B, etc.., and the players in those groups start to demonize or dehumanize their opponents.  I have groups that I would happily blow up in space, and I really like some of the people in those groups.

 I see people create fake twitters, facebooks, etc... and spend good amounts of time attacking each other, not over good fights, but actually over their feelins about the other person, and I have to ask, why?  Is it really worth the time investment to try and marginalize someone over pixels?

Thursday, February 23, 2012


With CCP's announcement that they are redoing wardecs, I wanted to share some thoughts.

People seem to discuss wardecs with an “ideal” wardec in their mind, and assume all decs are like this. To see one possible issue with wardecs, lets look at a wardec between two corps. (based on real events)

Corp A is a small group of friends. They are relatively new to the game (<1 year), and like to run missions, mine, etc… Maybe every so often they will try some w-space and get involved in pew-pew. Mostly, they enjoy spending their time playing with one another.  The corp hangars and wallets give them a convenient way to share items and isk with each other. They typically fly in a pocket of a few systems.

Corp B is 1 guy.  It’s a 20m SP alt of an experienced player.  The main is unknown.  

Corp B decides to dec Corp A for the lolz. They didn’t do anything to him, he just saw 2 of them in hulks one day and was bored.  Plus, corp on corp wardecs are dirt cheap.  And he doesn’t just fly around space looking for them.  He has an unknown npc corp alt in a cov-ops run locators, probe out enemies, etc..  Only when he has a warp-in does the actual character in the deccing corp login, warp to the target, and kill it.  He doesn’t stick around for “goodfights”. He logs in, gets a kill, and logs out. If his target has backup, he has a neutral RR alt ready to login and rescue him, along with some friends running neutral RR.

What is Corp As response to this type of wardec?  They could fleet up, but then Corp B just won’t log in the combat character.  They’re fairly casual players, so they don’t have the numbers to always have a fleet going, and even if they get 2-3 guys, they can’t break the neutral RR. It also requires that they stop their normal operations (mining, missions, etc..) and just sit around in a combat fleet. 

What about hiring mercs?  Well, corp B wouldn’t be bothered by mercs. He doesn’t log in for that, its just an alt.  He’ll just play his main until he sees a moment of vulnerability to take advanatage of.  And what merc corp is going to fly permanent combat cover 24/7 in sufficient numbers to protect corp A if they want to mine or mission? The worst part is, they begin to understand that they are never safe.  If he isn't logged in, it means nothing. His alt(s) could easily be monitoring them at any given moment.

There is no effective combat response they can use.  Oh, they could move to somewhere else in high-sec, but he can just follow with no risk (alts or courier contracts to move ships, and a fast moving ship to move the character into position). They could move to low-sec, 0.0, or w-space, but that isn’t the style of play they want.  They don’t want to join a major group (0.0), and a group of their experience and size would be torn apart in low-sec.  They could do 0.0, but they are casual players that don’t want the logistics of living permanently in a hole. They could dissolve the corp, but most people seem to want any reforms of the war-dec system geared to prevent them from doing this.  They usually just wait until corp B gets bored while they don’t play, dissolve the corp, or quit playing eve all together if it goes on too long.

Now, corp B has put some planning into what he does, but does it really take much skill? No. Its something he does because its easy and entertaining. 

How do we design a system that allows for actual combat in high-sec, but involves more aspects of warfare then this?  Something that brings politics, logistics, tactics, and strategy into play? Something where no one is completely safe, but it also isn’t a pay for easy kills type mechanic?

You could say that no-one should form a corp if they aren't ready to handle it, but its somewhat niave to assume that all corps will start completely combat ready for any threat.  Do we expect any corp that forms to be ready to fight off a prolonged assault by (insert major corporation here) from day one?  No. We expect them to handle threats proportional to their skills, and to grow in skills, experience,and maybe players over time. We need a system were small corps can evolve, starting with that small group of friends, and maybe becoming a 200 person strong combat corp in 0.0 two years later.
Now, there is a place for all players to be vulnerable, and for no one to be completely safe, even in highsec.  Decs for the lolz have their place in the culture of eve, but how does it get balanced to give some power to the other corp as well? CCP has their work cut out for them to design a robust system that really enhances EVE’s gameplay, makes combat possible for all corporations, but balances aggressor/defender at the same time.

I am interested to see what approach they decide to take.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Secrets of "The Blob"

A lot of times, E-UNI gets charged with doing nothing but "blobbing".  I thought I'd take a second to talk about this criticism.

First, I've noticed that the definition of "a blob" depends on who is doing the talking.  A 20 person gang considers the 25 person gang "a blob" (if they lose to it.  If they win, they won in "the face of superior numbers"), while the solo guy considers 5 a blob.  For now, we'll just go with the definition of "more people than I have."  Tied into this concept is the idea that people should bring just enough ships to fight their target, and no more.  However, this isn't always that easy. First off, it would assume that you know what you'll be fighting when you start forming your gang, and most of ours are just the "roam till you find something" sort of gang.  Second, if you did know what you'll be fighting ahead of time, its probably a strategic target, and why wouldn't you bring enough forces to improve your chances to win? Lastly, it comes from a perspective of goodfights, and that definition tends to change depending on the playstyle of the person saying it.

However, these arguments neglect the main contributing factor to our "blobs"; simple fact that we're a large corporation.  When someone makes an "x up for fleet" type comment in corp chat, they could easily be swarmed by 20-50 x's. Other times, it might only be 5-10.  Those FCs usually take everyone.  They don't tell people who are interested in pvp to sit this one out, they say "sure, join the pew-pew".

Now, would I prefer to see more focused small-gangs? Yes.  There is definitely a place for more selective types of gangs, and there should be more in the Uni. They are a great way to teach some different tactics and approaches to pvp.  However, we will (and should) always have open regular open pvp fleets where we take all comers.  This is the best way for our new players to go out, shoot at an enemy, maybe tackle a gate (oops), and discover the wonders of blowing someone up or being blown up.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

EUNI- A Different Type of Corporation

One of the major problems I see when people discuss E-UNI is that they look at it as just another corp/alliance in EVE.  This makes them view it with the same lens with which all other entities are judged, while the goal is completely different.
E-UNI doesn’t try to be a typical corporation.  We don’t focus on PVP, PVE, Industry, etc…  Most of the corp doesn’t focus on teaching (mostly older more knowledgeable players do).  We focus on community.  Our goal is to try and create an environment that will support new players into sticking with Eve, which is hard for new players without some sort of group to play with or people to support them. 
Our players start out knowing little about Eve, what types of gameplay they can try, or if they’ll enjoy them.  Over time most of them find that there is an aspect of Eve that they have come to love, or a group of players that they enjoy hanging out with.  These people move on and enjoy the game as they want.  Sometimes they move on to a different corp/alliance to try their new playstyle.  Other times, a group will leave and form their own corp.  This is exactly what we want.  We are one of the few entities in Eve that wants to see our players leave us for other groups.
Some of our players will find that the goal of E-UNI matches what they want to do in Eve and will stay with us.  These players move on into mentoring, running hangars, leading fleets, teaching classes, or just hanging out in chat or mumble and sharing their knowledge.  That’s perfectly fine with us. We need these types of individuals to run the corp, and we aren’t about forcing people to do certain activities.  We want each player to learn the basics of eve, and move on to doing what they want in their eve life.  If being in E-UNI is that playstyle, good for them.
The best part of this system is the number of these players that continue to hang out on our forums, drop by our mumble, and share their hard won lessons with the next crop of students.  Some of the best and most instructional posts on our boards come from these ex-members (no, I’m not naming names. I don’t want to start a flame war or upset someone if I forget them), and it’s a great benefit for our students.  How many corps in eve allow their ex-members access to most of their forums or voice comms? Our students get to hear advice on small-gang work from people who do it every day in Eve, some of whom are taking time away from being directors of their own corp.  If they want to learn about wormholes, wormhole dwellers answer their questions or take them into the depths of w-space for a spin.  They see 0.0 players rehash battles and tactics (with the occasional flaming) across the board. In other words, they see many different aspects of Eve, not just a single one. At this point, we have ex-members spread across every playstyle, many of whom are actively trying to support and attract new members to join their segment of eve. 
This is our mission…to form a community that goes beyond corp and political lines…beyond carebear vs pvper…a community that focuses on the game we all love and to share the love of that game with new players. The in-game corp structure is just a mechanic that facilitates our true purpose, forming a great gaming community to help people get into Eve.