Tuesday 15 March 2011

Heroes v Villains

As previously explained, when I started out in Eve I was a total clueless carebear who ran missions in highsec for many years and avoided any form of pvp like it was the plague.

When my corporation eventually suffered the trauma of a high-sec war-dec, in which we were soundly thrashed, it never once occurred to me to think of the aggressors as griefers or bad people. I knew, and accepted, that this activity was a part of the game and I went on to learn many lessons about game-mechanics (albeit the hard way) thanks to that war. I may not have enjoyed the experience, but there was nothing wrong, bad or evil about it, no matter how much I hated having my pve ships exploded.

Sadly, amongst the wider carebear community, high-sec war-deccers are regularly accused of being griefers or people who simply don’t have any respect for the way others wish to play Eve. Of course you can add many other people to that list of so called villians; such as suicide gankers, ninja salvagers, corp thieves, scammers and so on.

Loren Gallen is one of the most decent gents you could possibly wish to meet in Eve Online. He is also very well known for blowing up mission running faction war-targets in their own high-sec. I remember Loren once sharing an eve-mail he had received from one such high-sec victim. It consisted of a pretty vile wall of offensive words and accusations. All that from an apparently peace loving individual who took great offence at having his carebearing activity so rudely interrupted.

But if this person had simply done a bit of homework on Factional Warfare before undocking his shiny in complete ignorance, then the whole situation would have been avoided. Exploitation and EULA breaking aside - the same thing could probably be said for most of the people who accuse others of so called griefer activity.

For example CCP have made it very clear, time and again and all over the forums, that salvage has no owner. Yet if you spend some time in any mission hub, you are soon guaranteed to see an argument in local over ninja-salvage activity. This is usually accompanied by accusations and abusive language flying in from the so called victims.

CCP doesn’t want you to log into Eve and feel safe. CCP doesn’t want you to be surrounded by serenity and peace. However so many people fail to understand this and simply expect mechanics to be bent around their own personal desire to keep themselves unhindered by other players.

The saddest part of this is that people who refuse to open their eyes to the full potential of Eve fail to see so many amazing things that are possible within the sandbox.

A few weeks ago my other half was docking up his alt in Dodixie when he drew my attention to something happening on his screen. I scooted over to watch the show on his computer. Here we had a freighter, from an NPC corp, tackled and being attacked by 2 light ships from a player corporation. We assumed they must have had kill rights on the neutral guy and giggled to ourselves as he desperately spammed local for remote reps whilst trying to burn back within docking range of the station.

A couple of people soon started bumping the freighter towards the station, whilst others bumped him away. Then 2 Dominix pilots answered the plea for aid and started remote repping him. The aggressors turned their attention to the Domis and blew them both up pretty quickly before returning their attention to the freighter. So now things start to look even more interesting than a simple case of “idiot about to lose a freighter”.

The freighter goes over half armour but a logistic ship, from a well-known tear-loving-corporation, now undocks, reps him back up and then docks again without being shot at. Then there was the mysterious Macherial pilot from the same corp as the aggressors who would bump the freighter, point it, then dock back up without bothering to shoot him. When questioned in local said he had mysteriously lost aggression rights. Hmm!

Speculation in local comes round to the idea that this is actually an elaborate scam to get people to remote rep the freighter so that they could be blown up. And as time goes on it certainly looks like this is indeed the case and several people fall for the whole thing whilst trying to save the fake freighter victim.

Stuff like this is the gold-dust of New Eden. Hilarious, deceptive and full of mischief. And more importantly – it is good! This is exactly what Eve is all about and the people who don’t get this need to educate themselves and embrace the art of getting even, not the art of whining about their failures.

So, who are the real bad guys in New Eden?

Well even amongst the pvp minded in Eve there are many levels of acceptance on what others deem appropriate or “right” in terms of game play, for example honouring 1v1s.

There are a couple of recent blog posts that illustrate this point further. First would be Laedy’s description of how she has many good friends in-game, but would not hesitate to shoot them in the face if they presented themselves as a target - and how some people cannot quite stomach the idea of this. The second is a post from Helicity Boson on piracy and honouring ransoms, and how some people simply detest being asked to pay one so much they would rather deny the aggressors a pod mail than save their expensive implants.

Another example comes from my own personal experience. SOTF started out as a very “clean” pvp corp, strictly shooting only war targets and flashy pirates. Anything else would have gone against our “good guy” nature. However as time went on shooting neutrals not only became necessary but also more acceptable. We were a pvp corp after all, why should we not be engaging whomever we wish in our low-sec stomping grounds?

As our corp grew in numbers and experience we also began charging local industrial corporations to keep their POSs up in our home systems and even charged several corps for blue status with us. This is something we would not have dreamed of doing 2 years ago; now it simply made a lot more sense and we enjoyed trying out such ideas.

Our perception of the game, and what was “right” for us changed. But through all of this we held true to a certain code of honour. We would always keep our word and stay true to anything we had agreed on. Others may disagree but for us this was how we now defined ourselves as “good guys” rather than the specific mechanics by which we played the game.

So, are we villains because we popped a few neutrals and threw our weight around? Or are we heroes for embracing the potential of what we could actually achieve in Eve?

Spying and Corp infiltration certainly bring the whole grey area of what is good and what is bad into focus. At first I loathed all spies, having seen how it contributed to the downfall of Faction War. But as I learned more, particularly when hearing stories about players engaged in long-term Corp and Alliance infiltration, I realised that this is actually a fascinating area of game play and one which is quite unique to Eve.

CCP clearly wants Eve to be a “grey area” game, with no straight forward right or wrong – simply the choices a player chooses to make on his journey through New Eden.

Mazzilliu of Pandemic Legion recently took part in an Interview (and thanks again to Laedy for highlighting this) in which she discusses griefing and meta-gaming types of activity. She really hit the nail on the head for me when she talked of how much richer our environment is because of this type of game-play. There is no other MMO where such activity is as much a part of the game as the actual in-game mechanics, and we all have a much more diverse and interesting game environment because of it.

So for me the true heroes of New Even are the boundary pushers, the people who think outside the box and the people who are not afraid to upset the applecart in order to pull off something daring, incredible or hilarious.

And the villains? Well they are the ignorant players who expect mechanics to change to shield them from the rest of the community. They are the carebears who don’t prepare for the inevitable. They are the idiots who expect reward with no risk. The villains are the people who fail to understand the sandbox and all that is really possible in Eve.


  1. Completely agree with everyone you say Eelis, and it saddens me that certain people just don't even TRY to understand Eve, though they pay for it every month.

    Wanting WoW in space is all very well but if you want that, don't play Eve.


  2. Welcome to the dark side. Muahahahahhaha

    Totally agree. One of my happiest days in eve was turning pirate. A whole new world opens up. Especially when you realize that many of those evil horrible pirate types are actually pretty cool, chill, fun people to fly with - generally more so than the good guys tbh.

  3. Super article Eelis. It is exactly this style of meta-gaming that makes EVE Online so special and unique. I have a few new ideas to bring back to the corp as well for reading this :p

  4. Very eloquently stated, nice post!

    As much as I hate the article itself, EVE, in my opinion, is a prime example of Sirlin's famous "Playing to Win" concept. Those who think that salvage is theres, or that can-flipping is an exploit, etc., are all playing with an imaginary set of rules that limits their own success in the game.

    Amusingly, things like honoring ransoms and 1v1s are also just strategies that have more benefits in the long term, and are therefore the most favorable. The Bastards have to maintain a spotless record of honoring ransoms to ensure that our victims are willing to trust us to honor one in the future, it's not a matter of arbitrarily deciding when to be a jerk and when to be nice.

    Actions in EVE have very little to do with how nice someone may or may not be, although sometimes I do feel a little bad if I take advantage/blow up/ransom/whatever someone who is obviously clueless, but I often try to help them to understand whatever mechanic caused their misfortune afterwards, if they let me.

  5. Great post Eelis - really good reading