Toldain Talks

Because reading me sure beats working!


Toldain started as an Everquest character. I've played him in EQ2, WoW, Vanguard, LOTRO, and Zork Online. And then EVE Online, where I'm 3 million years old, rather than my usual 3000. Currently I'm mostly playing DDO. But I still have fabulous red hair. In RL, I am a software developer who has worked on networked games, but not MMORPGS.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Wilhelm2451 has posted about Hulkageddon, offering some fixes that might discourage this behavior. I must demur, but first I offer some background.

For those of you who don't play Eve, this was a contest organized around who could kill the most Hulks over a weeklong period. Hulkageddon is the sort of emergent behavior that I believe the game design in Eve is intended to promote.

Hulks are the premier mining ship. Mining is the primary way that all the minerals needed to make ships and fittings in Eve. These minerals can also be garnered by reprocessing stuff that is looted off of wrecks. But I don't think that's nearly as efficient as mining with a large mining ship.

As it turns out, mining in high-security systems is about as exciting as watching paint dry, though it is lucrative. This leads to people mining while AFK, or even using mods or bots to mine (this is prohibited by the EULA, by the way, but hard to catch, as it is in other games). Also, it's not easy to put good defenses on the Hulk, and doing so will probably detract, if only a little, from it's mining volume potential.

Mining in Eve consists of cuddling up to an asteroid, and turning on "mining lasers" that chip off the ore and deposit it in you cargo hold. Since holds typically fill up way too fast, miners will use giant containers in space to hold the ore, and a freighter type vessel to haul it to a station for refinement and sale. This might be an alt on a second account or a friend.

The next factor that makes Hulkageddon possible is insurance, which is a strange but important part of Eve's design. You may buy insurance for any ship you own. There is a variety of levels of insurance available for each ship. The smallest payout also has the largest payout ratio, of perhaps 6:1 for payout:premium. The payouts are fixed and do not change with the economy.

The economy in Eve is fairly depressed at the moment. Raw material prices are down and most ship prices are down. Many battleships sell so cheaply that the price of one plus the price of the top insurance premium is a million or more ISK less than the insurance payout that results when your battleship gets blown up.

This leads to "insurance fraud" where pilots buy ships, fit them with a target painter, undock and target paint the station. This counts as an act of aggression, and the station kills them. Dock, and repeat. I think killing rats in 0.0 would be a faster way of making ISK, but to each its own. And here's the thing. I think the game designers like the fact that there is insurance fraud. They are quite interested in emergent behavior, in seeing players do interesting and differentiated things based on a few choices.

By the way, I think the insurance structure ensures a vibrant PvP sector. Losing a ship isn't that big a deal, though you have to go through the trouble of getting another one. I think, therefore that the insurance system will stay the way it is.

However, a Hulk is a Tech 2 ship, and like most T2 ships, the insurance payout doesn't even begin to cover the replacement cost. Hulks are very expensive.

I don't really understand why people aren't "rational" economic actors in EVE. I have observed people who made and sold items for so cheap that one could buy them, reprocess them for minerals and sell the minerals, making money. I don't understand why they do that, but I'm willing to take advantage.

Ok, so people are mining their way to ever lower mineral prices, and manufacturing Tech I items to aggravate a glut in many cases.

Ok, so here's what Wilhelm said:

And you can take the cliche attitudes that people throw around in EVE. Don’t fly what you cannot afford to lose. Don’t ever assume you are safe outside of a station. Don’t AFK. EVE is about PvP. Sandbox, landmines, blah blah blah.

But all that amounts to is throwing a teaspoon of kitty litter over the steaming cow turd that is the loophole in the way things work in EVE Online.

Here's the thing. This, in my opinion, is not a loophole. It's meant to be that way. Insurance is meant to facilitate free PvP play, as long as you are using T1 ships. If CCP were to follow Will's suggestion and make no insurance payouts on CONCORD kills, then a whole new form of griefing would break out: baiting noobs into aggressing you so they lose their ship AND all their money. And how would this work in lowsec? Would any hits on you during a Global Criminal Countdown cancel your insurance policy? This would utterly smother lowsec pvp, which I think is contrary to the game design goals.

Hulkageddon, in my opinion, is a response to the above factors: AFK mining, crashing mineral prices, expensive Hulks, the insurance structure and one other thing: the human propensity for predatory behavior.

I have been the target of predatory attacks on several occasions (see "I came here to be podkilled"). Predators are not looking for a fair fight, they are looking for a kill that is as easy as possible, with as little risk to themselves as possible. I've been engaged in fights which were a bit more "fair" in that both parties engaged with full knowledge, yet each was striving for every advantage.

Being the target of a predatory attack isn't fun, even when it's in a videogame. For me, it strikes at the self worth. Usually I can't go back to playing without doing something to calm myself back down (often that takes the form of writing about it, for your entertainment and my therapy.)

My personal thing is that I want to face that danger. I want to overcome it. To operate in spite of my fears. The attraction of lowsec and nullsec is that the danger keeps others away, which makes the payoffs bigger. I've used lowsec materials research lines before, there's much less of a wait. Fewer people scan for signatures in lowsec systems, for good reason.

In nullsec, there is predatory behavior, but it's different. We know who the enemy is, it's anyone who isn't a friend. At least that's the assumption. And as a statistical thing, it's pretty accurate.

Anyway, I came here to be podkilled. But that doesn't mean I'm not going to try my darndest to take you down.

I think all human beings have a "predator mode". Some keep it safely locked up and never, ever, let it come out to play. I respect that choice, I respect it a lot. I don't share it.

Let me be clear. I haven't and I don't think I ever will engage in suicide ganking of players I don't know. Or even ganking for no reason other than I want the killcount.

A revenge suicide gank, on the other hand, is on the table. I have a few people on my list that I'd happily lose a destroyer to blow up.

I see clear economic motives for a Hulkageddon. Hulk manufacturers, for one thing, or those with large mineral stockpiles, for another, might both be interested in blowing up some Hulks, and put up the money through a front man.

By so doing, they enlist the predator instinct in other players, and get them to commit admitted terrorist acts. Kind of like real life, isn't it? You don't see Osama Bin Laden out there getting on airplanes with bombs in his pants, do you? No, he gets someone else, someone who frankly, isn't quite well, to do his work for him.

I get why some might not find it fun, though. I really do. It isn't fair, it isn't nice. Not in the least. It's not supposed to be. And personally, this lights a fire in me. I want to succeed in spite of the gankers and scammers. The best revenge is living well. Revenge is a dish best served cold, etc, etc. That's the fun for me. I don't want them to change a thing.



Anonymous Brian 'Psychochild' Green said...

I don't really understand why people aren't "rational" economic actors in EVE.

For a lot of the same reasons they're not in offline life. Plus, for some people "it's just a game" so it doesn't make sense for them to do something they may not really enjoy to get a bit of extra cash. I suspect this isn't quite so common in EVE, though.

I have a friend who just doesn't like to use the AH in games. I think a large part of it is that he doesn't want to bother to learn how to maximize profits even in this simple case; yet, he's happy grinding out daily quests at an alarming rate. :P

9:35 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home