Monday, December 5, 2011

Taking My Ball Home!

Edit: For a nice dose of schadenfreude, read through the comments on this one.

There has been a lot of talk lately about high sec players and how they ruin Eve for everyone else.  I find the volume of chatter unsurprising, given the resent Ivy League and Goonswarm Shrugged antics.  What I do find surprising is the lengths to which each side goes to delegitimize the other side, and using the “Eve is  a Sandbox!” argument to make the point.

A sandbox game is in general a game where the world is laid out for players with rules and mechanics to govern interaction, but without an endgame provided by the developer.  I would posit another fundamental assumption of sandbox style games is that if the mechanics allow for something to occur, then it is a valid play style unless it is explicitly addressed by the developers.  In other words, every play-style that a player can engage in is valid, until restricted.

So it seems very funny and shortsighted to claim pirates are bad or miners are evil just because you think the mechanics of the game favor or hinder a play-style.  The fact that you can mine, and the fact that you can gank shows that both play-styles are valid.  So is a market trader that never levels the station, the missioner that grinds for hours and the Sov warrior who does whatever it is that sov warriors spend their time doing.

My assumption is that anyone who tries to argue that a play-style is completely invalid and should be spurned or banned is in fact one a few sort of people.  The first is the person who got burned by another player.  The second is someone who cannot, likely for ability reasons, compete with other players in a specific play-style, and so seek to disparage it.  The last, and alternatingly most entertaining or insidious one is the true griefer, who plays games not for the game in front of them, but the metagame of making someone else angry.  I don’t want to get into semantics of competitors versus griefers, save to say there is a difference.

And these reasons come through in the arguments often seen against pirates and miners.  They have no basis in actual mechanics, and devolve into ad-hominem attacks on the players themselves.  Miners have no souls and might as well be the bots they claim to hate.  Pirates are horrible people with no hearts who are probably social miscreants in real life and shouldn’t be allowed to play.  One of these arguments is meant to inspire angry forum posts, and the other fails to grasp the inherent meanness built into the human race, but both miss the point of the sandbox.

What makes Eve interesting is the fact that it encourages both play-styles, even though they are openly antagonistic to one another.  And both styles are generated by the players.  If miners, carebears or pirates were eliminated, Eve would fail.  Each plays a vital role in the ecosystem, and pays for subs.  So if you want to debate fairness of mechanics, or imbalances that push players in a certain direction please be my guest.  The sandbox should be constantly tuned to increase  and balance player options, thereby generating more play-style options!  But if you just want to use personal attacks, well, I suppose everyone loves to feed the trolls now and again.


  1. Assuming pirates are somehow a product of the 'inherent meanness built into the human race' and linking to the internet fuckwad theory is showing a bit of bias and dishonesty. It seems like you're doing exactly what you rail against in this post, but you've found a way to feel superior to both.

    'Pirates are bad people but a necessary part of the game' is not a more enlightened position than simply 'pirates are bad people!'. Games are games: killing a ship is not substantially different than taking a chess piece. How long you spent getting that chess piece into the place you wanted it really isn't relevant.

  2. Fair enough. I guess my mental distinction / conceit works something like this: If someone's idea of fun is frustrating another person's liesure play, they are fundamentally getting off on being a dick to another person. We call griefers such for a reason. However, I think that is a natural state of human beings, so it is to be expected. Further, if you choose to engage in a game that is so predicated on allowing that style of play, you cannot decry the presence of such play, only the mechanics by which it occurs and the ethos used by those that perpetrate it. The corollary is that those who choose pirating are being false when they decry the play of non-pirates, as they are disparaging the very players that in large part make their leisure activity possible.

    Maybe that makes sense. Even if I find a playstyle personally distasteful, doesn't mean I think it should go away, especially in a sandbox game.

  3. Put it this way: I play online chess. When I play, I try to win. If someone gets upset because they lost, I'm not going to feel bad about that. If they get so mad that they never play online chess again, well, I'm just going to think they're being silly and childish. Most people would agree.

    Eve is the same idea, just with different mechanics. I get it that people think things like suicide ganks are broken, or maybe the penalties for pirating are too light. I may disagree, but it's an honest discussion and something that's worth talking about.

    When people, instead, say what amounts to "I'm upset because I 'lost' to you, you must be a sociopath and a griefer because you've ruined my fun" - then that's just not a conversation worth having. Like getting upset about a chess game, it's childish and silly. You win some and you lose some.

    I think this is primarily a problem because those people don't see Eve 'as a whole' as the game they are playing. Instead, they see their particular slice of Eve, like mission running, as the game in itself.

    I think the problem with your way of thinking is that you assume that just because another's idea of fun frustrated your (or another's) leisure play then their of fun must be disrupting another's leisure play. There is a distinction there.

    For example, I'm a pirate. I'd love to explode your ship and take your stuff - because it's fun to be a pirate and because 'human' targets are much more challenging and intelligent (usually). But I've never failed to offer help and advice when asked, even to people I've just exploded. I genuinely want others to enjoy the game, even if they're on the receiving end of my auto-cannons. More than that, I think piracy and such adds value and interesting choices to the game for everyone. It's risk that defines Eve more than anything else.

  4. I think we agree more than we disagree and my writing is failing :(. Your second paragraph is what I was trying to get at. But to try and forge on: There are many situations (anything on the edges or outside of highsec) where players take the game into their own hands. Piracy in low and null is fine in my opinion. I would argue that all PvP in low or null is actually consensual, much like your chess game.

    To address paragraph four and five, I do have a prejudice here. While you may be rational and level-headed and give advice and be open to debates about mechanics, there is a portion of the player-base that specifically targets people to disrupt their activities in order to annoy them. The chess example would be someone coming in and swatting the pieces on the board. I don't have a link to specifically back me up, but I think one of the largest Alliances in the game is based on this line of thinking, and I think you may know to whom I am referring.

    Regardless of all the debate, thanks for taking the time to respond :).

  5. After thinking about that lat comment I wrote, I suppose I am rationalizing to a degree. There are some play styles I do find illegitimate, I am just using different semantics to explain why I find them that way, and how to address them. Go, go rationalization and hypocrisy!