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Friday, August 21, 2009

Pilot Attitude

Time to get off the "what I did" type of posts. Lets' take a look at pilot attitudes and how they affect their EVE experiences. Some analysis and conclusions about EVE's design will follow.

First a caveat: I'm going to look at two extremes of playing styles. The scary part is I can call up examples of both in my head.

Carebears: Although this is used to indicate combination of skill and attitude in most parlences for the purpose of this discussion I will be addressing more the skill emphasis rather than the attitude difference. For me the true mark of the carebear is that they emphasise skills that are either industrial in nature of PvE in nature. It is also marked by a distinct laser focus on the aspect of the game they are personally interested in. Because of this they are actualy very vulnerable to any interaction with other players. It no only interferes with confrontational encounters but also with their interactions with their fellow pilots. These types of pilots become so specialized that they are essentially useless (in their own minds) and any other form of play in EVE. Since they can't see their presence contributing to any group effort they blithely assume that they are better off not contributing to any other effort. These are the guys who always bring a PvE fit battle cruiser to scout a PvP situation and wonder why things go wrong. And since they never bother interacting with other players (because they don't see how they can contribute) they never learn from their mistakes.

Peeverps (PvPers): This is the other end of the scale. These are the guys who do nothing but specialize in combat. Most of these end up as pirates or in 0.0. These are the guys who realize that PvP calls for self discipline (mostly) and being able to work as a group. They tend to be highly focused in ship combat skills with an emphasis on those skills that are geared to PvP. The problem with these guys is that they are so specialized they again have limited options within eve. These are the guys who are always begging for isk. They are also the guys who can't do anything without a gang. They are also horribly offended when people are slow or not prepared at all moments to be in a gang killing other players. They are horribly offended by the carebears especially since their lack of presence in the group indicates a lack of willingness to prepare for combat. The carebears also thing these guys are a whiny bunch of emo-retards since they can't do anything alone and always whine that they need someone else around them even if that someone else is totally unsuited to what they want to do.

And there ladies and gentlemen is where 95% of the friction in EVE arises. PvP is a highly grouped activity in EVE. Although there is place for the solo combat pilot, the truth is that any significant combat in EVE is always large group based. The industrial side however - although it takes many different players to get things done at the scale of the EVE economy, most of us do our work in isolation from each other since the tools for coordination between the industrial elements of EVE are sorely lacking. The only true tool of cooperation (the market) is also it's primary tool of competition. PvE is HIGHLY SOLO work in EVE.

So you get a situation where new players mostly fall into the PvE side of things (with some exceptions) and then later on have to break their acquired bad habits in order to group effectively in the PvP side of things. The biggest problem is that there is no scaling benefit to working in PvE situations with others since all it does is dilute the rewards. This dilution of rewards is due to the time wasted coordinating any activity. In PvP the rewards for grouping are immediately evident: You win more often and/or are capable of tackling bigger enemies. Grouping in PvE always causes someone to make less as part of the group than they could solo. Sleeper sites are a nice step in the right direction since the rewards scale commensurately with the difficulty making it worth while grouping in PvE in order to increase the individual reward. But overall it is still better to work alone than in a group in industry.

In other games the way to solve this issue was to make sure it was always more rewarding to do a group activity than to do a solo activity especially in PvE. This is where EVE with it's current PvE design fails it's players horribly. You have two game mechanics (PvP and PvE) that reward the players for diametrically different behavior. This leads to enormous problems in getting the players to switch from one side to the other. I suspect it's also one of the contributing factors for the major imbalance between 0.0 and high sec.

The interesting thing is the effects of wormhole space operations realy do favor jack of all trades style of gameplay. The reasons for this are the variability of resources available mean that someone who is too specialized will find himself with sections of time where he has a very dis-satisfying experience. Mainly because the resource he is specialized to take advantage of is not available. JOATs on the other hand can always do something. The other thing is that you need to be mentally quick to switch over to PvP footing and good at threat analysis to determine when it's safe to stand down and go back to PvE. Pure PvP is useless as there is not usually enough to go around and they have to work to go chase it. Pure PvE is useless since they'd spend too much time quivering behind the POS shields. Wormhole space calls for a mixed style of game play for two reasons. The first is the mixed environment. The only reason to be IN wormhole space is resource extraction. But since there are vulnerable ships in there it gives a reason for the pirates and PvP'ers to come calling. The difference with high sec is the carebears have to learn to keep an eye out and how to transition from PvE to PvP and back again. The small size of the systems ability to support a set number of players also means that it is important for everyone to contribute to PvP when it happens. This means even if your only PvP capability is to fly a noob ship you can still provide scouting services in high sec (and it's not like you can continue mining while the pvp is on).

In the end in order to provide a better link between the PvE and PvP aspects of eve, CCP is going to need to keep coming up with ways like wormhole space to bridge the gap they themselves have created by their design decisions of the early years.


Anonymous said...

well crap I do not qualify on either front ;)...but just because I have my head screwed on straight ( IMO) this generalist ( who does lean quite a bit more towards PvP ) understands the dichotomy between these two primary camps...good post, I hope CCP takes thoughts likes this in consideration.

Tony "EVE's Weekend Warrior" said...

Letrange, you are 100% correct on your analysis from the way that I see it.

The incorporation of wormholes into the game is the biggest gap-bringer-together in the game thus far (both literally and metaphorically speaking), and it is not faction warfare at all.

Like you said, wormholes will let people of all nature try different activities that are available to them, at the same time the reward scales nicely.

Thank you for this revelation, however, I have to ask you this; if you had to pick on extreme end to work with for the rest of your EVE experience, which side would be more beneficial to you and why?

I will use your thoughts and idea to be based off of one of my blog post soon.

Anonymous said...

I work around the specialization aspect of the PVP / PVE problem you describe by having 2 accounts... 1 with a character that is entirely combat focused aside from the most basic of industry skills and 1 character focused entirely into science / industry ... I suspect the best of 0.0 warriors and pirates that are able to do the same if they can.

Unknown said...

WH did a good job at getting hardcore carebear to dip their toe in the shark infested waters, got shining examples of that in my alliance =). They do WH expeditions quite often but still don't want to go play in low-sec/0.0(I don't blame them tbh, lowsec can be annoying unless you gang the kitchen sink)

Missions that are procedurally generated would be a great help. Left 4 Dead is an example of this mechanic. An eve example that you could use is in WH space when a capship warps into plex more npc's spawn.
Instead of fixed amounts of npc's allways warping in at the exact same times, having variations in difficulty based on how easy/difficult the mission is for the individual/group would go a long way into making grouping for a mission a hell of a lot nicer.
The predictable missions can make it boring to solo but at the same time make it pointless to group, the cost of organizing group schedules >>>> the extra speed/income for completing mission(s).
I'd like to see missions that scale up the more people you bring(within reason of course)
Oh and smarter NPC's, bricks are smarter then the classic NPC's.

Benoit CozmikR5 Gauthier said...

/me wonders what caused this post...

Quivering Palm said...

I agree on most terms. Wormholes have created an opportunity for carebears who wouls like to do something more and/or are bored doing lvl4 missions over and over..

I remember myself saying that I would never train any mining related skills on this toon, but when we moved into our own wormhole system I quickly realized that mining is essential to be self-sustained for ammo/drones and ships, then got to learn PVP so I didn't get my but kicked everytime and gradualy begun to get a grip on many aspects of the game I previously didn't know they existed.

I'll make sure to mention this post on the show we'll cover the Carebear perspective as part of our "The Pros, The Cons and the Spiked Quafe" series in the Planet Risk Show

As for myself, as we say "we are evolving from Carebears to Newbs"

Unknown said...

but are that many carebears going into WH space? I think the big barrier for carebears is that they fear PVP.

A better way of encouraging group behaviour for carebears would be much harder missions for carebear mission runners. Ones where a single player could not feasibly run them alone.

I've had great fun working with corp mates in missions and would love missions that require a 3 or 4 man team to be successful.