Member of the EVE Tweet Fleet

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Of two minds

A conversation sometime in the last week got me thinking. About EVE and it's small/large player base. Posts by Tobold and others added food for thought. This is leavened by my own experiences and thoughts about the issues.

First some points of reference.

EVE has a large-ish PvP population. This is true it seems to be hitting the top end of the PvP population scale. When you figure with 330k players, if you take the populations of low sec and 0.0 you get 20-25% of the server population in those two zones. You can argue that the high sec PvP'res are balanced by the low/0.0 sec industrialists. So about 66k+ players could be considered PvPers. It's more complex than this since there are quite a few who do both carebear and pvp activities but as a rule of thumb it should do. If you compare to other PvP centric MMOs you'll find this is more than respectable.

EVE has a small overall population. Well yes compared to WoW. Also compared to the aspirations of the triple-A titles. On the other hand it's beaten the crap out of quite a few triple-A titles.

The issue.

In conversations with other pilots and when talking to potential EVE players the one thing that sticks out is that even though that can handle the fact that 0.0 and low sec are no holds barred pvp "zones", the biggest problem and the one that leads them to quit the game before it's even started is the ganking of newbies in high sec. Even when they have no problem with low sec or 0.0, they quit because of the legalized griefing that goes on in high sec and the lack of any ability to protect industrial assets short of towers (due to the isk barrier to entry newbies can't usually afford towers).

To me (and I know some will disagree and that's fine) this means that EVE is filtering out many more potential players in order to please a relative few. Thus lowering potential long term income for CCP. You can argue it anyway you like, but the truth is EVE allows griefing. Different people will have a different definition of where it's at but except for the griefers themselves everyone else agrees that there IS griefing in high sec.

Now for the of two minds part.

Then I have to consider the impact on the game of having even more players join EVE. We've reached the point where EVE is butting up against the edge of the technically possible. Full marks to CCP for staying the course with their one shard design, but the sad truth is that there's only so much population the server can handle without the larger fights lagging out horribly. There are some fundamental design issues and technology issues CCP has to overcome to push the bar higher at this point. So a large population increase would actually make things worse from the lag point of view, Jita and Fleet fights specifically.

This is why I'm of two minds. Not because I think that CCP sticking to their argument that EVE is supposed to be Dark and Dangerous is valid (you can do dark and dangerous without pandering to the griefers). But because it's a Darwinian way of keeping the population growth in check so that it matches the hardware growth of the server (or vaguely within spitting distance).


So in the end I'm ambivalent about the high sec griefers. One one hand they are legalized school yard bullies (and thus scum of the galaxy). On they other they keep the server population in control and keep the ratio of PvP players to carebears withing reason (which is needed for a non-deflationary economy). Incidentally I'm drawing a very big difference between Pirates in low sec and Griefers in high sec (not that there aren't pirates that also grief in high sec). Most of us really don't have much of an issue with low sec piracy as such.

So, what are your opinions on the subject?


Quincy Thibaud said...

Eve is already sharded - you just don't notice it. Each system is essentially a shard. The part they have in common is a central database, which is scaling issue, but not an insurmountable problem.

The lag problems they have now are due to too many pilots in one system (shard). This can be improved with more iron. That's why you see the "alert us if you think you'll have a big fleet fight in a system" message. They put that system (shard) on a bigger system.

Jita is another example of lag, one solution I heard the devs talk about was putting people in a station on another system (subshard).

Pigs fly just fine with sufficient thrust.

An easy way to cut down on suicide ganking or griefing in high sec is to eliminate insurance payments if you get Concorked. Or perhaps cap a payment to say 50,000 isk. This keeps a n00b from being penalized too harshly for trying to attack someone, and cuts down substantially the profit on ganking.

Anonymous said...

I think there are two kinds of (for lack of a better word) griefers in high-sec: suicide gankers and war deccers. To be honest, I don't think either of them are really stopping the brand new players from playing -- they're causing people who've been playing for a few months to wonder why they're playing.

I really think there ought to be no insurance payout for players who lose their ships to CONCORD; the "but a noob might do it" argument is crap -- there's a very clear warning before you do it, and even if they do make that mistake they'll never make it again.

As for high sec war deccers, I don't want to stop them; I just want to give people who oppose them (or would oppose them) the tools to do it. I wrote a little about the subject here.

Latro said...

I'm going to have to lean to the Darwin efect being a good thing for EvE. Flying safe is something every pilot should learn and learn quickly. High-sec is not safe, it is just safer. Even if insurance payments were reduced/eliminated, you would still see gankers doing it for fun, just with less profit. I am separating "griefers" from "gankers" here as it applies to EvE. The difference has been a topic of many long discussions over the years.

Tobold did dumb things and paid for it with his lost internet spaceship and ISKies. He could have learned from it or emoragequit and blog about it. He chose the latter. Many of us have done the former and are still around years later.

Letrange said...

@Quincy let's define a shard shall we? It's an entirely separate running server of the game universe such that a character created and running on one server can not ever meet up with a character created and running on another server. If you can encounter an other player's character on the server you're on, you're on the same shard. If you can't, you're on a different shard. Since no matter where you are in EVE I can fly to you EVE is effectively NOT sharded.

EVE also does not have instances (defined as areas where once a small group goes in, no one from the outside can interfere with them) - I'm sorry for those who think sites in EVE are instances - they are not, I can scan you down and join you - therefore you are not in an instance. Guildwars has instances. EVE does not.

Toldain said...

The comment I started writing got too long, and turned into a post. After several rewrites, that is.

Stabs said...

Many games have tried to make their game more WoW-like to get a slice of WoW's huge player base.

I don't think any have succeeded with SWG's NGE being the most famous failure.

What you're proposing is essentially a NGE, taking the harsh brutal game we know and love and turning it into a milder more newbie friendly game.

I simply don't think NGEs work.

I thought last year when I went back to SWG to try it again how fantastic it would be if the developers of SWG has really loved the game the way it originally was and worked on refining it rather than overwriting bits of it all the time.

Letrange said...

@stabs who were you directing that to? I wasn't proposing anything - more making an observation.

Toldain said...


FWIW, Everquest 2 went through a big NGE type change, maybe several depending on how you would like to count. As far as I can see, they were successful.

As a "for instance", Illusionists didn't have pets at first, crafting took WORT and had several steps to make a final product. Classes were on a branching path: Mage, Enchanter, Illusionist. All of that is gone, most of the powers were redesigned, armor that improved as you leveled is gone, too.

Kename Fin said...

@Letrange - Only because you brought it up:

EVE has instances. You've even blogged about them.

Random Epiphany

:) And I like my EVE farmed not sharded.

Mike said...

Regarding "griefers" in hisec, are we talking about wardeccers, suicide gankers or can flippers?

I would regard each of these things part of the learning process in eve. You can't be can flipped or suicide ganked if you take precautions.

Wardeccing can't be avoided in the same way but in my experience you have to have done something to warrant being wardecced (smack talk, fly around in juicy ships, etc)

Mandrill said...

@Latro: Tobold didn't emoragequit, he's still playing. He just got into a fight about it on his blog and lost :D

Letrange said...

@kename point although I was talking about those who claim that "deadspaces" are instances like they are in WoW or Guild wars.

Also @Quincy again, just clued in, those are not shards, those are zones in MMO terminology.