Safety Forever

Apparently, CCP intends to change security status mechanics. The specifics are uncertain, and difficult to verify. I can only condemn CCP’s professional incompetence, as they have neither confirmed nor discussed what is already public knowledge. They have created an environment dominated by speculative rumors.

CCP is likely to remove the ability for gankers to tether, unless they purchase security tags (which will increase in price). This will substantially increase the cost of Highsec ganking.

Ignorant developers, like CCP Strudelwaffen, claim ganking was possible before tether. Therefore, the removal does not pose a problem. This uninformed opinion indicates no awareness of the many nerfs to ganking. Autopiloting has changed, hitpoints have changed, bumping has changed, and ganking has changed. By definition, negative security status gankers cannot loiter in space. If they cannot tether, they cannot kill many targets, which require gankers to be prealigned at a specific location. Nor can gankers be expected to purchase security tags, as most ganking does not generate sufficient profit to justify additional expense.

An existing game mechanic is being removed, and placed behind a paywall. There is no skill in swiping a credit card, and no skill alters the mathematics which already render most ganks unprofitable. CCP has recently increased subscription prices, and I don’t know any ganker who is willing to pay even more. Although I may continue, many gankers will not. Ultimately, EvE will have fewer players.

An additional change, unconfirmed but likely, is that individuals with low security status may be unable to dock in high security stations. This will place another mechanic behind a paywall. In the real world, I understand that pirates are not allowed to operate within the port of New York. We have effective security, for obvious reasons. However, EvE Online has always been a game about piracy. The removal of the means by which pirates operate is an end to the game itself. If EvE Online is no longer a game about piracy, then it is no longer EvE Online.

It also appears CCP will prevent alpha characters from ganking. Their safety setting will be permanently locked. This means gankers like Lewak, who already quit the game, will never return. I see no reason these individuals should be removed from the game. I have personally never ganked on an alpha account, and I don’t know any ganker who abuses alpha accounts. Therefore, I see no justification for this change, which simply reduces the number of individuals who play the game.

Furthermore, it appears CCP intends to prevent low security pirates from docking with a criminal timer. In places like Tama and Amamake, this will decrease active gameplay. This is once again a nerf to piracy. It appears CCP intends to protect faction war roleplayers, by disrupting unscripted PvP engagements. The game is thus being converted from an open world, to an instanced environment.

The consequences will be significant. For example, there is an economy involving Highsec freight. Freighter pilots associated with groups like Red Frog and PushX earn fees from the transport of cargo through dangerous locations like Uedama. Their skill is rewarded with isk. However, as Highsec ganking declines, the danger of Uedama will decrease. There will be less risk, and less reward. It will be easier to AFK autopilot, and players will have no incentive to employ professional haulers. Experienced haulers will inevitably be replaced by literal bots.

The same is true for Highsec mining. No ganker will purchase security tags to gank a barge. I will not do it. This means Highsec miners will have less risk, less incentive to engage in active alert gameplay, and less reason to refrain from maximum yield. As the supply of ore increases, the price will decline. As ganking declines, destruction declines, and the demand for ore declines. The isk/hr profit from Highsec mining will decrease. Many newbro miners will perish, as they will be unable to compete with swarms of bittervet Hulks and Mackinaws.

A safe Highsec is not a profitable Highsec. New players will join the game, and quit. How many hours will it take to PLEX? They will see that the game is a tiresome grind, which requires time rather than skill. Although miners desire safety, what they really want is profit, and profit only comes through scarcity. Risk is the sole factor which ensures that miners can earn a meaningful income, and further reductions to ganking will devastate the economy. Indeed, if you kill all the wolves, the deer population will become environmentally unsustainable.

I am aware my objection delights antiganking trolls, who enjoy ganker “tears”. The antigankers see this as a win, because they are retarded, and don’t recognize their doom. The antiganking community needs gankers. They derive income, by obsessively following gankers and looting wrecks. Tethering provides antigankers with a station to attack. However, after NPC police evict the gankers, antigankers will no longer have content. Nerfs to ganking are also nerfs to antiganking. CCP is literally replacing the antiganking community with NPCs. It is astounding that CCP is replacing actual human players with artificial bots.

At no point have I ever called for the removal of mining, or even a nerf to mining. Likewise, I’ve never called for a buff to ganking or piracy. The status quo, as it existed, was a fair game balance. Highsec miners were at risk of being ganked, and the ganking ship would automatically be destroyed by NPC bots, even if the miner was too lazy or incompetent to fight back. Shifting this balance will not increase player retention, and it will have an adverse impact.

Highsec gankers teach new players how to survive. When CCP prevents us from ganking, this means a wayward pilot cannot learn an important lesson. They will not learn until they are a more valuable target. Their initial loss will not be a million isk, or a billion isk, but five billion or fifty billion isk. Miners will operate in illusive safety, slowly gaining wealth, and adding increasingly expensive modules. They will then lose everything in an instant, and quit the game.

In the past, I have criticized the argument that Highsec ganking must be conducted for profit. Carebears like MacGybo and Hateless argue that ganking must be done for isk, and it is griefing to gank an unprofitable target. I certainly disagree. Early losses, of cheap Ventures and unfit Tayras, teach new players how to play. These players would be more likely to quit, following a more significant loss. If players are protected from loss, they cannot learn, and CCP is setting them up for failure. If you are truly concerned about retention, it is for-profit ganking which is more likely to cause players to quit.

For-profit ganking is not more ethical than non-profit ganking, and arguably it is less ethical, as the victim experiences greater loss. Now, don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying that I think there is anything wrong about PvP in a video game, or that MacGybo is genuinely unethical. I think for-profit ganking is acceptable gameplay. However, if you want to allege that non-profit ganking is unethical (which MacGybo does), then taking large sums of isk from a new player is obviously a more egregious offense. I would have to gank a single Venture twenty-nine thousand times, to equal the damage that MacGybo did to Ionel beck.

MacGybo is deliberately preying on new players, whereas a Venture ganker is performing a non-profit educational service. New players must be exposed to risk, in order to learn fundamental game mechanics. Unfortunately, by nerfing non-profit ganking, CCP is not going to eliminate the “trauma” of loss. They are merely going to ensure that inevitable loss is far more significant when it does occur, and the shocked miner will undoubtedly be more upset.

This change suggests that CCP developers no longer understand what originally made EvE Online a success. People did not play EvE Online for casual safe grinding. They played for continual danger and drama. Complaining and whining and crying are indicators of a healthy PvP environment. Salt is a natural emotional response, which stimulates meaningful gameplay. However, if CCP puts the players to sleep, then the game will die. Nobody enjoys boredom.

Meanwhile, carebears are demanding one more nerf.

What is next?

One thought on “Safety Forever”

  1. Thanks for a thoughtfully penned blogpost, Aiko.

    I don’t think most folks realise what a comprehensive grasp you have of EVE matters, or how much you care about the game. This post nails it.

    Cheque in post.

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