Friday, March 1, 2013

The Non-Consensual Non Debate

I was going to write a comments on Poetic's post today, but it got so long I decided to just make it a post of my own. You can read his original post here.

First, what is a sandbox?

Wikipedia defines a sandbox (in our context) as an "Open World [...] where a player can roam freely [...] and is given considerable freedom in choosing how or when to approach objectives."

Wikipedia further states that "in a true 'sandbox,' the player has tools to modify the world themselves and create how they play."

"The sandbox is a metaphor for real life. Nobody gets to go through life in a bubble. We are interacting with people every day, in some form or another, whether we want to or not. Interactions are inescapable. Like life, like EVE, in a sense."
"They want to play EVE as though it were a solo game. These are anti-sandbox people." 

Actually, what is and is not sandbox behavior, in terms of game design, has nothing to do with player interactions. Minecraft is a true blue sandbox game whether you play multiplayer or solo. It changes nothing.

While it can be argued that more interaction creates more desirable gameplay, I do not think that you can redefine what 'sandbox' means, and then proclaim that people are anti-sandbox because they do not hold up to your version of it.

 "what gets my goat are the people [...]who feel that they deserve their own little sandbox, and that they should be allowed to dictate all of their interactions with the rest of the playerbase."
Is not saying that people should be more social, in and of itself a dictation of their interactions with the rest of the playerbase?

To not be allowed to dictate our interactions is to be forced or guided, which is the opposite of sandbox gameplay.

"Let's be honest."
Okay. You champion non-consensual pvp, and yet you have chosen the most consensual pvp gameplay in EVE --Faction War. Not only do FW pilots have to actively sign up for a militia in order to engage in the consensual war, but due to the nature of FW plexes they can pick and choose their fights --running away if something threatening lands on their plex gate, and even determining what ship size they would prefer to fight by the size plex they choose to fight in.

You, as a Fweddit pilot, take it one step further by refusing to base in the warzone. Preferring your safe home in Egghlende to a warzone base that could potentially force you to fight to defend your assets.

You, are what people would call a hypocrite. The only non-consensual activity you really seem to want is that which you can inflict upon other people, while remaining in the safety of your own, very consensual situation.


1. There is no such thing as non-consensual anything in EVE. It's a video game for goodness sake, and as a sandbox, no one is forcing you to do anything. There are consequences for actions, and risk associated with various gameplay. The real debate is not about this so-called 'non-consensual' pvp, or about CCP ruining the sandbox by making a 'pvp-free' zone.

The issue is one of risk vs. reward.

I think the anonymous commenter on Poe's post may have had it right when he said that Poe is fighting windmills with his obsessive dialog against CCP removing non-consensual pvp from the game.

2. This being said, I do not think CCP should create a 'pvp-free' zone, or make high-sec perfectly safe for miners. But, nor do I think they will ever do that.

It has been my experience over the past few years that CCP likes to solve problems by introducing new and interesting gameplay. Creating a pvp-free zone might appease a certain set of people, but it's ultimately a passive approach that offers nothing of real value to the game. I'm not sure it would be CCP's style...

3.   While I'm pretty hard on Poe in this post, I agree with the 'sense' of what he's getting at.  I don't want EVE to become a cartoon. I don't want it to become 'easier' or less dark, or have little safe zones. But I think we need to step beyond the vagueness of raging about non-consensual pvp and throwing around sandbox jargon to make our ideas seem more legitimate.

We need concrete ideas. Concrete reasons why specific solutions could be good or bad. What is a SPECIFIC idea for something that could help player retention, or make the game more interesting to new players?

If we can't do this then we just become the 'them' that Poetic talks about:
" ... they create nothing, they give nothing to the game, nobody even knows they exist, except for their complaining."


  1. That was a good read.

    You are one of the few that pointed out the real solution for any problem in EVE: Innovation.

    EVE players have been waiting for a long time to CCP come back with something new in game play, so we can stop having these same boring discussions about miners and gankers in areas that CCP say it wont touch anyway.

    Want to increase player retention? Stop talking about some of the most boring activities in EVE like they were the core of the game. Mining, suicide ganking, PVE, High Sec? Please!

    Can we please talk on how to make LS more inclusive so more people would move there and have fun with us?

    Sorry about the ranting.

    1. Generally, real innovation in an MMO means the MMO dies shortly thereafter. There are many competing theories as to why this is true. While many of them have much merit, the restaurant theory is the simplest. Basically, 90% of all restaurants fail, and fail quickly. Achieving a successful mix of attributes is not easy--and restaurants which achieve them then generally leave them pretty much unchanged for 20-30 years, printing money all the while. (If someone hits that magic 10%, they wouldn't dare risk changing things and having a 90% chance of landing on failure--and if they do, they go out of business) This is why people still bother to open restaurants, despite the 90% failure rate. If they succeed, they make a lot of money with no more change or risk required. MMO's are a lot like restaurants in this regard...most of them fail, but when they succeed, they make a lot of money. However, because MMO's don't provide food, but tell a story, there's a perceived need for new stories, and fresh new mechanics. This is more like a movie--but of course movies are much like restaurants. The thing is, movie sequels which do well are nearly always exact copies of the first movie. when movie people get the idea in their head that the sequels have to be different, they usually fail.

      So, a themepark MMO is more like a movie, churning out sequels, which are all the same. A sandbox MMO is more like a restaurant, churning out new mechanics and areas, which are like new dishes, still in the exact same style/location/price range as the old dishes. they're pretty similar to each other, but a good restaurant still lasts 10x longer than a good movie franchise. It's a fairly extended triple analogy, but it has the advantage of extreme simplicity, and of describing the actual facts and not some imagined rose-colored vision of the MMO world.

      So--do I want innovation in EVE online? No. I want a pos revamp, and I want a rebalance of nullsec/low/highsec to be more like it used to be. I want an improved interface, but in terms of game balance and fundamentals, I want the opposite of innovation. I want to go backwards at high speed. What's generally perceived as the best innovation in EVE recently? Wormholes. What makes wormholes so good? Is it that gameplay in a wormhole has a similar feel to playing in the null of 6 years ago, with more difficult logistics and harder information gathering? The best received expansions/patches in WoW were the ones that made it feel more like vanilla WoW, etc.

    2. Rammerstein, do you have a blog? Please link if you have, that would be an awesome read.

      We have discussed some stuff in comments in other people's blog before and it's amazing how we see the same thing and come with different conclusions. Also, if you live near NZ we should deffinitly have a beer together, good conversation would emerge for sure.

      I disagree with your analogy with restaurants as even McDonalds can claim dozens of innovations throughout the years and is still a sucessful restaurant, and as for movies, think trilogy instead of sequals, same feel, different stories.

      As for innovation, think Time Dilatation instead of all those hundreds of treads by the best minds in EVE at the time to fix lag. All those treads died after TD was implemented, do you remember what were the best suggestions at the time? There were two currents: Limit size of gangs and multicore processors to process commands in a single star system. Innovation killed those arguments.

      Now we have two groups again, the one's that want a buff to Null industry and a nerf to HS, with all their POS revamps and risk and reward balance and the group that don't see a problem at all and think is fine the way it is and want buffs to PVE.

      I think a third way is better, something new but that has the same EVE feel, I'm not a game designer, but how about move moon goo to planets in a revamped PI system linked to planetary Districts so players could farm it and you could bombard from orbit? Botton up income to the corp an alliances in the form of taxes, farms that need defending, targets for small gangs, etc... Also buff the stations in Null so they can manufacture and invent in a higher capacit than HS, so tech II production stays in Null in the hands of players and leave Tech I stuff to HS.

      It's a crude idea of course, but can be expanded. You still remember the time when Null was ful of warriors, and carebears were despised, now we come to the age of the spreadsheet nerds and they kicked all the warriors off Null. And they want to (argh) mine, and build stuff.

      Nostalgia is clouding your judgment my friend.

    3. No blog yet, and I'm as far from NZ as I could possibly be (California).

      "I disagree with your analogy with restaurants as even McDonalds can claim dozens of innovations throughout the years and is still a sucessful restaurant, and as for movies, think trilogy instead of sequals, same feel, different stories. "

      Same feel, different story--it doesn't seem like you're disagreeing with the meat of my point at all, tbh, just expressing it slightly differently.

      Super successful trilogy: Star Wars 4-6. Same feel, different stories, but fundamentally the same story in every movie.

      Failure trilogy: The matrix: Same feel, different stories, too different, and intentionally so. The first matrix movie is the same basic plot as the star movies, actually (basic hero cycle). The second and third Matrix movies are basically a college class in 20th century philosophy, illustrated by having each theory represented by a character in an action movie. Predictably, this was not a critical success. There are a number of philosophical references in the first Matrix movie, but all overlaid over that hero-cycle foundation, unlike the sequels.

      "It's a crude idea of course, but can be expanded. You still remember the time when Null was ful of warriors, and carebears were despised, now we come to the age of the spreadsheet nerds and they kicked all the warriors off Null. And they want to (argh) mine, and build stuff."

      Exactly, a game system is introduced, players form a society in the system, which goes through stages and reaches a steady state equilibrium. People want the game designers to introduce a change in the system that will result in the society going through all those stages again, in the same order as before. This isn't innovation, this is a way of introducing a reset from a new starting point, that strikes a balance between going through the stages as it would after a full reset, while still allowing people to keep some of their progress from before--with some minor cosmetic changes that allow people the illusion that they're not repeating what came before. Most expansions in MMOs, while trumpeting various innovations, function in fact much more like a car tune-up, in which gear and NPC partial resets return the MMO to a smoother idle. Your 'innovation' falls into this category.

      "Nostalgia is clouding your judgment my friend."

      I'm sure I have more than my share of nostalgia, but the people whose judgement is clouded are the people pretending they don't have it and that they want innovation and not a partial reset.

  2. Pretty much sums up my thoughts when I read Poe's post.

    I honestly believe that the next large step CCP needs to take to bring in a truly large number of players (when compared with the current dribble) is to completely revamp PvE content that can be done solo. Incusrions went a long way in group PvE (even though it currently needs some un-nerfing to bring it back). Now they need to work on content that can be done by players who do not have the time, or desire, to try and fit in with another group in order to play the game. There is nothing wrong with solo players, or attempting to draw them to the game. It will not destroy Eve. And creating solo content does not require that we create "safe" areas either. It can be done with the current mechanics perfectly fine. No one has ever said that solo play means other players cannot come in and still smash your sandcastle. It just means that you do not need to try and be accepted by some group in order for you to have fun.

    At the end of the day, a larger variety of, and higher quality, content means more players means a better, healthier, Eve. And this can all be done without ruining Eve's dark "soul".

  3. You very correctly slam Poetic for the hypocrisy of a FW player calling out anyone for avoiding non-consensual PvP.

    However, I believe that your argument against his ideas is pretty semantical, and that your semantics intentionally obscure the point. The EVE "sandbox", rather than just being what an individual player chooses to do with the game mechanics, is the entire shard. Minecraft is a sandbox whether MP or SP, certainly, but each server represents its own sandbox. Being able to kick someone else's sandcastle or whatever down is an inherent part of being within one sandbox. Each barrier placed between players and their ability to affect one another is a decrease in the "sandboxiness" of TQ.

    Also, there is still such a thing as non-consensual. Accepting a risk is not the same as accepting the consequence directly; the ganked miner in no way consents to the rapid delivery of Void into his barge's structure. I think this distinction is very important.

    1. but we don not play on different servers therfore there is no litlle sandboxes to kick over just one big one

    2. I agree completely! That's why it would matter if miners were made all but completely safe from ganking.

  4. Specific ideas that would help player retention...

    New players, especially those that haven't found themselves a corp, die in shitfit ships due lack of knowledge. I believe that CCP should make more information available to new players about how to fit ships.

    The starter NPC corporations should be hardcoded sample builds along with a little description next to each build explaining it. The Caldari starter NPC corp should contain PvE fits for a merlin, a kestrel, a Corax and a Cormorant. It should also contain PvP fits for the those ships. Also a tanked badger and a tanked venture.

    Somehow the tutorials need to inform the new player about these corp fittings.

    If highsec miner ganking is still a problem then additional sample fits of more tanked mining ships should be added.

    These fits should also all be available on wiki.eveonline and there should be links to these fits on the killmail that is sent in game.

    Don't change the sandbox, just give people (specifically newbies who haven't joined players corporations) access to more information so that they are better able to survive in the sandbox.

  5. "While it can be argued that more interaction creates more desirable gameplay, I do not think that you can redefine what 'sandbox' means, and then proclaim that people are anti-sandbox because they do not hold up to your version of it."

    If the original definition is taken from Wikipedia, which references as support for the ideas and quotes that you have chosen a badly written 2008 article from, then yes, yes, one can "redefine" what sandbox means and then proclaim that people are anti-sandbox because they do not hold up to one's definition of it. God almighty, yes one can! No. Just no. The article which is given as support for your wikipedia excerpt, reference (1) on that wikipedia page, lists World of Warcraft as an example of a sandbox MMO. Seriously? Did you read that link? Wikipedia is extremely wonderful for finding trivia. If you want to back up a claim of hypocrisy or some philosophical argument, click through to the provided references and quote them instead. would you have been comfortable quoting as an impartial reference to define that term? If no, why does some anonymous person summarizing a horrible article into a 3 sentence disaster make it more acceptable? If yes,

    Throwing that horrible link aside, any real discussion of what makes a Sandbox game has to distinguish between Sandbox solo games, and Sandbox MMOs. A bunch of people playing solo sandbox games which are linked together without any real interaction is not a Sandbox MMO.

    As to what you said specifically about Poetic: You take one sentence and derive a bunch of contradictions from it, and then hurl accusations of hypocrisy. This is not very charitable. A more rational approach would be to give Poe a chance to clarify whether this one sentence was merely badly stated, or actual hypocrisy. Hypocrisy consists of violating a clearly professed belief, not in merely speaking unclearly. Now real hypocrisy would be if Poe were advocating having concord blow up neutrals who attack FW participants in lowsec, while simultaneously advocating to lower concord protection in highsec. Since this isn't true, much of your argument about the consensual nature of FW seems a bit incoherent, as you don't mention that the danger from neutrals in lowsec is high enough to make any claim of hypocrisy relative to the danger from randoms in highsec laughable. I do agree with you that Poe would be better served to tighten up his terminology, though.

  6. as an mostly never leave HiSec CareBear, I would hate it if HiSec became safe - its that other player threat that keeps it interesting

  7. Great post, the only problem is that if you look at the contingent of people running for the CSM and even look at CCP's actions over the past few expansions you can see that there is a shift (whether it is significant I cannot say) in the direction of a safer high sec. If you consider people like Ripard Teg and Trebor Daehdoow (who I truly respect otherwise) and his belief that non-consensual war decs should be removed, and given that both of these men will likely be on the next CSM then... I truly worry about the future of my beloved game.

    Consider this... before Trebor used the Winter summit to lobby his position on war decs, you generally did not have much discussion on the subject. Now? A quick look at your blog, Poetic's, the major podcasts, the eve forums, and you can see that this subject is consuming the headlines in the the "mainstream" EVE media.

    This idea is getting traction.