Monday, April 22, 2013

Reasonable Foreseeability

In the wake of Burn Jita 2, I have a few thoughts:
  • Who plays Eve, but ignores the metagame?
  • How do haulers, one of the most at-risk groups to events like BJ2, manage to ignore it?
  • What responsibility does CCP have to players in regards to known events that CCP is not actually causing?
I'm fairly sure the answers to the first two are something like "many" and "through dumb luck".  But the anser to the third is not clear.  One very angry pilot posted the following in part of a draft letter he plans to send CCP, and posted on the forums:

"Lack of capacity in Jita causing a large amount of ships (likely on autopilot) containing vast wealth to be stuck on the gates around the system."

In the larger context of the letter, he was implying CCP's lack of ability to meet player demand for access to a system was responsible for a large number of the deaths in Burn Jita 2.  This made me stop and think for few minutes.  What we have here is a player trying to apply a real world legal principle to Eve online, a game made on a pile of interconnected rules that are constantly gamed for profit and entertainment.  A lot like the real rules in real legal settings.

The principle in question is that of "reasonable foreseeability".  For those unfamiliar, this rule is often applied in cases where negligence of one party results in some sort of harm to another.  For example, if I own a store, and I have flooded floor, and fail to notify customers of this, and then a customer injures themselves by slipping and falling on the floor, I am in some part culpable for the injury, as it was reasonably foreseeable that someone could have an accident, and I failed to warn the customer.  As long as a situation exists where the first party could reasonably anticipate harm based on action or inaction, that party has a duty to inform or reduce the risk.

So did CCP fail to reasonably foresee many of the ships losses in Jita?  On one side, you can argue that any pilot using autopilot to travel is removing blame from CCP.  By letting the computer just move you around and failing to pay attention, you are allowing other players to do what they will in your absence.  You could also argue that no hauler, on autopilot or manual pilot, had a chance to make it through the gate camp because of the mechanics of hauler alignment, the power of alpha strikes, and the normal "after the fact" nature of CONCORD response.

On the other side, you can argue that in normal game functioning, in the vast majority of cases, autopilot will allow you to jump through just about any gate in the game.  System traffic causing gate locks is very rare, and not to be expected by a reasonable player.  CCP knew Burn Jita 2 would happen, so failing to reinforce the nodes for Jita and surrounding systems was negligent, and broke reasonable player expectations.  Further, if CCP knew about BJ2, and given the warning issued last year for Burn Jita, and this year for Luminaire, if no warning was issued this year, CCP ignored a situation they knew would occur.  They failed to act on a reasonably foreseeable harm to many players.

Eve is not a real legal system, nor is it governed by real legal principles.  Most of the rules in Eve relating to player aggression fall far short of the legal principles in many real world legal frameworks.  But we also know many people expect some sore of justice in Eve, and many players are angered when they perceive a loss to be unfair, out of their control, or if a loss can be perceived as CCP's fault.

I don't really blame CCP.  If you can't be bothered to keep up with the metagame in Eve, especially when it relates to large events that are public knowledge, then I have little sympathy.  Eve is known for these sorts of events.  But I'm an Eve blog writer and reader, so I'm in a minority of the player base that chooses to get into the metagame.

What do you think?  Did CCP fail in their duty to act on a reasonably forseeable situation?  Should all the ganked haulers HTFU?  I'm curious to hear some of your thoughts.


  1. I would be curious to know if CCP did in fact reinforce Jita, and thus have taken all reasonable action.

    That said, AFK auto-pilot? Bad choice. In fact, I think CCP might have something in the EULA about unattended game-play.

    1. Suppose the EULA does ban unattended game play. The existence of autopilot, which literally plays the game for you, seems to enable an activity that is not allowed. Rather odd, if true. I would wager there is no rule against unattended game play, but rather rules regarding substituting human interaction with another agent. But this is slowly turning into an examination of macros and botting, which I am wonderfully ignorant of.

      Your comment about reinforcing is also interesting. If CCP did reinforce the nodes, and then chose not to warn players as they had in previous situations, one could say they invited the event, and intended harm on those who were unaware.

  2. Jita has more than 1000 pilots in system at any one time so it is always on a reinforced node.

  3. What Anon said above. Jita always runs on the biggest node in the farm. As long as their physics engine only runs on one CPU, that's the best they can do. They're working on trying to make the physics engine distributed, but it's not easy and there's no delivery date. They're not even sure how feasible it is, they're just trying.

    The reference to "unattended gameplay" refers to macros and bots, not going AFK. That said, if you do go AFK, and your ship is in space, you should understand that you're taking your chances.

  4. CCP has no culpability in this. The company goes to great lengths to point out that Eve Online is a PvP game where anything can, and does, happen. My carebear status aside, I have no sympathy for the real rage bloggers out there who use autopilot and then don't get angry because they were popped. I personally almost never use autopilot, and when I do it is only in low population portions of my route so I can run to the loo. Anyone who uses it to go to Jita is an idiot in my book. Darwinian principles should prevail in such instances.

  5. Good comments all. I don't think CCP should be held accountable, but I wanted to play around with why someone would think they should be. To be fair, I think the metagame is an integral part of Eve, and not engaging in the metagame is like ignoring the flavor of your food and eating just for calories. You can do it, but it's just not the same.

    Aside, How much of a developed world statement is that?

  6. I think that it was fairly well known for any active players that burn Jita 2 was going to happen. If in the event that you somehow failed to get the memo and got to Jita only to find out that "holy crap something's going on and I can't get in" maybe you should turn around or dock, and not just sit there and spamming the jump button hoping to get in.

    There are other major trade hubs like Dodixie and Amarr that were not "burning". Pick another trade hub for the weekend, problem resolved.

    If I hear on the news that the corner of Broadway and Center will be reduced from three lanes to one lane for the weekend, I stay away from that intersection unless I want to deal with chaos. I don't drive to the intersection and then blame the city because they didn't close one lane at a time instead of two.

    I understand the "reasonable foreseeability" item you mention but I think stupid people need to be held accountable for stupid actions.

    I think George Carlin said it best:‎

    P.S. Love the blog, just found it today. I plan to go back and read a bunch of your posts.

    1. Thanks for the comments!

      As to your point that all active players knew about BJ2, I think the real debate there is what constitutes a "active player". Can we begin to assume that active players only include those that engage in the meta game (blogs/forums/other outside of game sources of info)? If so, then I would wager most players of Eve would not be considered active players.

      But yes, if a gate is closed, it may be a good idea to just leave. And given Eve's reputation, I think carrying or flying anything worth more than, say, half a billion in isk value comes with a heightened level of responsibility to engage in the meta. That number is arbitrary, but I think it conveys the point.

  7. I've been predicting :totallysafehisec: for almost 2 yrs now. Granted, I said :18months: at the time, but yeah. So my timeline's off, but eventually, someday... ;-)

    Then again, I'm the guy who would actually relish living in RL-lowsec, aka a 3rd world banana republic. >;-D