Hulks and Roleplay

The war between the naive high-security miners and the goons who suicide them continues – apparently in perpetuum.  I don’t specifically care for either group much.  The miners bore me with their whining about “security” and the gankers bore me since they represent the anonymous and self righteous mass that makes up 90% of online (and RL) populace.  And as a Wormhole Dweller and non-industrialist, I don’t care much for mining anyway.  So, this little drama should not bother me.

But it does and I wondered why and I only now figured out, why.  It has nothing to do with the unfairness of the fight.  After all, I like shooting at unarmed ships.  That’s part of EVE Online as much as its  spreadsheet appeal.  You don’t like it, find another game.  In fact, I like that miners need to deploy organization, wits and some coordination to their game.  Creativity is never bad.  What really bothers me is something different.  It is the “suicide” mechanic of the gankers that creates the appearance of an exploit rather than a game mechanic.  Let me explain:

Science fiction stories – and EVE is noting but a big, interactive science fiction story – rely on altered parameters of the world.  We have railguns, laser weapons and mining lasers as part of this environment and work with the tools that we are given to create our corner in the universe.  Good science fiction is internally consistent.  I.e. you can make up rules, new laws of physics etc but they have to mesh into a consistent and – somewhat – believable whole.  Otherwise the immersion is broken and bad science fiction is riddled with that problem.  For example, in EVE Online, Concord represents the police force that prevents and punishes crimes.  Attacking others in “High security” space is a crime.  So, someone attacks a miner, police ships come and destroy it – before the miner is destroyed hopefully but certainly afterwards.  It is supposed to work as a preventative and a punitive mechanism at the same time.   It just doesn’t.  The punishment that is dished out is – in ISK terms – negligible for an alliance or even a motivated player.  The “Police” is powerless as the perpetrator doesn’t have a high enough risk to contemplate.

This is not internally consistent with the environment we play in.  In other words, the suicide tactics of the Brainless Ones is anathema to the laws of the world we created.  I mean, how many thousands of non-capsuleers have died for the whims of The Mittani? Wouldn’t there me mass industrial actions among the crews?  Wouldn’t Concord not understand the very basic mechanics and adapt to the strategies?  We demand better AI from our NPC rats, where is the AI of Concord? I am really not a RP player – I have a ton of respect for those who make it work for them – but I rebel against game elements that are internally not consistent and break the immersion.  And suicide ganking is one of them.

Now what?  CCP wanted to make it difficult and expensive to commit crimes in high security space.  Now it is dirt-easy and virtually free of consequence.  The fact that it is called “High Security” and that a powerless police arrives eventually creates the illusion of safety that the miners desire.  So, I put it to CCP, if they actually wanted a real “High Security” environment, they have to create one.  This means, make the police much faster (park them on all belts), improve tanks on miners and so on.  Is that desirable?  I personally don’t thing so.  But it would delineate the high-security from low.  And, at the same time, make mining in low sec much more profitable than mining in high sec, same way as CCP basically killed PI in high sec.

The bottom line is, we do participate inside a RP environment whether we want to or not. We all adhere to the given rules of the universe but unlike the physical laws CCP is at the power to change the physical laws.  The conflict we have currently between the miners and the gankers is caused by an invalid and outdated expectation of what the laws of the our universe are.

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6 responses to “Hulks and Roleplay

  1. While CCP may continue to make criminal activity more difficult, the only answer to organized ganking would have to be systemic changes and there is no desire within CCP to change game mechanics to preclude suicidal behavior.

    If you undock anywhere, you can be killed, for absolutely no reason whatsoever. That is fundamental to the gameplay experience in Eve. CCP may just be better off renaming “HiSec” to “BetterSec” or something similar to reduce new-player misunderstanding of that risk. A reactive “police” force is never going to provide any kind of defense, whether it is player-driven or NPC-driven.

    Reading the latest ship balancing devblog, it sounds like CCP has finally realized miners should get some kind of better defense against solo suicide-ganking and can-flipping. The changes seem to point to increased hardening and larger ore bays, but we’ll have to wait and see what changes actually make it through.

    My take on the RP back-story concerning crews is they are being paid an astronomical amount to man capsuleer ships. So much so that the possibility of death is mitigated by the almighty ISK. It obviously won’t motivate every dirt-dweller, but really how many people are aboard these ships anyway. Mining hulls have minimal crews as do most vessels used in suicide operations.

    • Good points. I do agree that anything that undocks should be fair game to some extent – I never advocated a truly zero-risk zone. What is the problem here is not that ships are being shot at but that the expectations of miners and gankers about “security” diverge. But those expectations are not immutable. They are completely under CCP control. In the current system, it _looks like_ that CCP promises invulnerability and fails to deliver since gankers exploit the risk / benefit relationship. Why does nobody cry “foul” when a Hulk gets blown up in low or nullsec? Because the Hulk pilot was under no illusion of security.

      Your point on renaming “High security” is valid, although “high” is not the same as “complete”. There is more to that than just the name. Mining is a long-winded, repetitive task that can only be done while watching a movie, curing cancer or other during other worthwhile RL activities. This turns miners into sitting ducks. If mining was as exciting as – for example – running missions, the mining profession would be very different. Why not bring about some extremely expensive cloaky, ninja mining ship that locks an asteroid, blows it up with one blast and hoovers up (compressed!) fragments before disappearing again? All of a sudden, miners would sneak into low sec and learn the stealthy craft.

      Fiddling with mining frigs and some tank does nothing. The gankers just bring more firepower since ISK is free to them. Instead of 1 Catalyst, it will take 5 Tornados. Ok, so Mittani raises the bounty on those ships to 100 million each. Whatever. As long as ISK is free and security standing is a joke, the situation will not materially change.

      With respect to the RP side of things. I have a hard time thinking that crews sign up for a ganker who blew up his fifth ship that day. Eventually, no amount of ISk can attract the crew – unless we get some kind of RP explanation that they (mostly) all get rescued. Mme. Thalys below lists a raft of RP issues I never thought about… All of them break the immersion and eventually could and should be looked at by CCP.

      • The crew argument is intuitively valid, but can be explained away. A capsuleer can control a ship’s movement and it’s defensive and offensive systems. On a normal trip you would still need a crew to operate support systems and do all kinds of other maintenance that make the ship run better. A suicide ganker, however, would just have to warp to a target, fly straight at it and let lose with a few volleys that usually do not even spend all of the loaded ammo.

        Such a simple task should be possible for a solo capsuleer even when flying a battleship.

        I agree with the general reasoning though. I can see how crews would sign on even with a reckless capsuleer because of the possibly high rewards (makes you wonder what part of your income actually goes to them … maybe they are included in the ship’s price or so) If someone were a known suicide ganker, who would sign up for a mission that involves certain death?

  2. If you’d go full on realism of crime and punishment, then the consequence should probably be that you can not leave the system where you committed such a crime. The same actually would apply to faction standing. i.e. why would the Amarr Navy shoot me, but the Imperial gate operators wave me through?

    Stations would probably also react in a way. Sure many are run by corporations who have their own jurisdictions (at least the Caldari ones do) but stations that are run by government authorities like the Federal Navy … would they just allow a criminal capsuleer to dock without impounding the ship?

    Imagine the RL analogy of shooting someone across the street from a government building and then just hop in there to have a coffee in their cafeteria. I’m sure nobody would bother you at all 🙂

    The question is how playable it would make the game. I did suggest before that gates and stations should lock out suicide gankers until their timer expires. Whether they should also lock out everyone with negative sec status or faction standing is another thing though.

    In FW they now do have such a system, and that is weird in itself. If the Caldari militia take over a system from the Gallente, then you can’t dock there anymore or clone jump into the station if you’re on the Gallente side. You can however fly to any Caldari highsec system and dock there freely. How does that make sense?

    I’m honestly not sure about the consequences if such a thing were implemented. Mobility would be very restricted for many players, and the only feasible way to kill someone in highsec would be to declare war on them. It would be more realistic though.

    • Mme. Thalys, you should work for CCP. In 6 paragraphs you listed more messy game mechanics than I would have come up with in weeks of pondering. Together they strengthen my conviction that EVE is and was a brilliantly conceived and very shoddily implemented hackjob that grew too fast to allow for real thought on mechanics. Software projects can be like that and the slapped together POS mechanics, Wardec, security and sovereignty mechanics are a testimony to CCP’s great vision and inability of project / product management. And I love them for it. I played WoW for years. Polished, pretty, easy, clean, no bugs. No challenge. No fun.

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