Thursday, 20 May 2010

Eve Online: Corporate friction in nullsec

After an intesting debate arose over on the Mule's site about whether carebears are bad for a space-holding Alliance I'd like to float a few ideas.

The position of the hardcore pvpers is summed up by Logan as The Carebear Disease. His notion is that once your elite pvp alliance grows to the point where you start mass recruiting you'll inevitably get carebears and the presence of carebears will cause your hardcore pvpers to leave (and perhaps find a position where they can shoot you out of revenge).

Now Eve is a sandbox game with a player base who are proud that a great diversity of options are open to players. Fleets, unlike WOW raids, are open-ended so you can add an unlimited number of players and, setting the social dimension aside, each extra person, no matter how weak or how casual increases your firepower and your total hit points.

So why the fuck are people emo-rage quitting their alliance, hell even coming back to shoot them in vengeance, when their alliance grows?

The answer is one that will be familiar to WoW raiders who've seen guilds fissure along hardcore v casual lines.


To a hardcore pvper he is an elite hero defending space valiantly against enemies. More he is a veteran and a leader, someone whose words should be heeded by lesser players.

He sees himself as:

However to the player who has just joined the corp and is busy finding his feet in 0,0 he comes across as this:

(for anyone who doesn't get the reference the F13 thread on Derek Smart is an entertaining read).

The disconnect between these two perspectives is what causes space-holding alliances to fissure. The elite pvp hardcore (who see themselves as Patton) find it increasingly infuriating that their calls for everyone to rally and come fight are ignored. The carebears are both appalled and amused that sperglords in their alliance are freaking out in evemails about participation.

The simplest solution, the Mule's solution, Logan's solution, is to never accept non-participation. If you're needed you come. People like this differ on whether it's acceptable to ship down. In my previous corp not only were you required to come you were required to come in a fleet fit battleship. This was a problem for me because I couldn't actually fly any of the fleet fits. It was also, I eventually discovered, not corp policy, just some extremist laying down his own version of the law without reference to anyone else. As a gullible newbie however I believed him and so didn't participate until I had cross-trained.

The problem with elite pvp alliances is they don't ultimately win. This is what beats them:

That's an advert for Goonfleet but it applies to many alliances who take a newbie-welcoming approach. Numbers are very effective in Eve. Large numbers of participating players will beat small elite crews.

The key is to integrate your casuals while retaining your hardcore.

The Goons did this with their rather unique culture. As long as watching alliance members squabbled with each other and posted chat logs of pubbie whines both newbie and veteran united in being entertained.

IT, formerly an elite pvpers' alliance called BoB, is now an effective force of newbies and veterans who are bonded by a belief that they're in the strongest space-holding alliance in the game.

The Northern Coalition blends carebears with pvpers by being primarily defensive. When attacked nearly everyone comes to help but when not attacked almost everyone is happy to carebear and rat and mine peacefully deep in secure nullsec systems protected by distance, intel channels, and the everyone can turn pvp in a pinch mentality. It's simply not worth anyone's time to jump 50 systems to kill one or two sleepy miners then get ganked by a hastily assembled local posse. The NC players simply don't see themselves as "elite pvpers" in the way that people who don't carebear at all and just fly around killing people all the time do.

So while the hatred of non-participants is acceptable in a small elite pvp corp those corps are niche and self-limiting. To grow you have to integrate your hardcores and your casuals, your rich guys who spend $200 a month on replacement HACs with your F2Pers who spend long hours ratting to pay for their subs, your forward planners with the guys who only notice they're broke when their last ship blows up.

It's a cultural thing. It's about deciding that you're ok with not everyone in your alliance being able to play at your high level of personal achievement.

And if you're not ok with that - well don't worry, holding space isn't everything, your pro kill/death ratio will keep you warm out in the cold wastes between the stars.


  1. While not an EVE player due to lack of funds free to be paying subscription fees, I can still relate to the concepts shown. Looks to me like you've done a very good job of covering the issue.

    While it may have a corporate name, the fact is any MMO guild/fleet/etc is a volunteer organization. You're not paying anyone real life money to be there (or I hope you're not), and in the case of subscription MMOs they're paying RL money themselves. There's always going to be a set of people who do with their time what seems most suitable for them. It's just a fact of life that there will always be a smaller core of people who do most of the work in any organization, virtual or reality.

  2. One point I would note: In my (admittedly limited) experience, the Goons were actually somewhat unique in their attitude of "bring what you can." Many times in my alliance, when we have major ops that even see corps switching to 100% tax rates for the duration to get the carebears out of their asteroid belts and anomalies and into fleet, some of those players come in Ravens at best, or small T1 ships at worst, and then get ridiculed for coming to help in what they have. Hell, I remember my early days and I flat out refused to even live in nullsec until I could fit a battlecruiser, after a similar incident where I was told to either get in something "more effective or just log off" when I showed up for a CTA fleet in a Caracal - at the time, the only ship I had in nullsec! Yes, I know there were other issues - shield tank vs. hull tank, missiles vs. turrets, but the point is the same. Some alliances may be more understanding than others regarding what ships folks that aren't PVP proficient bring, and all it may take is just one FC who doesn't bother to ask if someone *has* anything more PVP-centric before taking the attitude of "get better ship, here's a kick from fleet". At that point, the 'bear may just basically ignore PVP as a whole, and then you have the whole non-participation issue rear its head.

  3. I don't think the Goons are that unique. In the NC fleets get divided into Caps, Battleships (with logis) and Battlecruisers and below.

    If you turned up in a Caracal you just get roam/gate guard duty with the battlecruiser fleet.

    There's a fair amount of snark within individual corps and alliances but it varies a lot and didn't seem to be a problem for the coalition.

    I joined fleets in H-W with battleship, battlecruiser and Tech 1 frigates and no one commented even when I put "X punisher" in the fleet channel.

    My own alliance is really laid back - people bring good ships because we want to kick ass, not because some nerd is mocking us.

  4. Read the mules piece and this is one of the better replies to it. Very good writing and analysis.