Risky Business

Brendan Drain (Nyphur to his friends) over at Massively recently covered the dire news of 38 studios collapse. It’s an interesting read, but dont disappear just yet because I also want to contrast that article with the recent hullabaloo over the ‘infinite’ Hulkageddon sponsored by GoonSwarm Alliance and The Mittani.


Many players (well ok – SOME -players) are up in arms over the apparent wanton destruction being wreaked across high security space.  Apparently this is ‘bad for the game’, but is it?

Traditional MMO design says you keep your new players safe and warm, to be slowly nurtured into the game and heavily protected from what ever player inspired ganks might lurk out in the darkness.  In fact traditional MMO design fences in PVP into specific zones of play: its not an opt out, its an opt in.  Which brings us to the next observation: traditional MMOs aren’t doing so well.

Contrary to what common sense might suggest (don’t hurt noobs & carebears or they’ll leave the game) EVE defies the excepted wisdom and continues to grow.  In fact the only point where EVE has wobbled on its axis was when CCP catered to a more ‘fluffy’ experience with Incarna.  EVE, it seems, is truly different.

Blockbuster titles like SWTOR have showed initial spurts of growth but this (according to any observation of its recent server mergers) has fallen off the perennial cliff.  Why?  The answer, I believe, is that ‘carebearing’ in EVE is anything but: in fact it might be better to describe such players as survivors. Normally such a term would seem degrading or denigrating but in this instance the miners and mission runners of EVE aught to be applauded because they choose to exist in a game universe with consequences and risk.  Things – ships, modules, minerals, stations, etc – have value in EVE.  That value is created, on a personal level, because those things can be lost.

The inevitable realisation that players of those ‘other’ MMOs come to is that, no matter how pretty the graphics or how deep the npc story line none of it truly matters.  Exist in the game or leave it: in those MMOs the universe simply doesn’t care, your arrival and passing goes largely unnoticed.  Within EVE however your efforts are not inconsequential no matter how small or how trivial.

EVEs mechanics are not without fault, and some (probably rightly) argue that the dice are heavily loaded in favour of those conducting the suicide ganks in Empire space, but the dice aren’t loaded to such an extent that players cannot find opportunities to prosper or to beat their erstwhile attacks.  Take the humble Skiff. The what? Well yes you can be forgiven for not bringing that particular vessel to mind instantly but the Skiff has some rather useful attributes. Its a small mining vessel, limited to an extent compared to the rock crunching power of the Hulk but the little Skiff has (amongst other attributes) the handy bonus of +2 warp strength.

With two low slots a miner could quite easily achieve a warp strength value of 4: requiring no less than 5 warp disruption points to be applied.  And its small signature radius means an attacker needs not only to be loaded up with scrams but also needs to lock pretty darn fast.  In fact so versatile and agile is this forgotten mining ship that you can (with a modicum of risk) use it to mine in more hazardous regions of space like low sec.

But no matter what clever ruse players use to avoid the predatory attentions of the gankers its worth remembering the first law of EVE.  Im constantly surprised by players who decry the loss of this ship or the other and it is clear they have forgotten that foremost law (or perhaps have never heard it expounded daily as it was in my early capsuleer career.  Its a law that applies not least to EVE, but perhaps also to those in charge of the purse strings.

Never risk what you cant afford to lose.


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