Category Archives: Meta
So after reading Ripard’s most recent this morning, I think he’s “walked back” a bit too far. I tend to agree with him that walking back is better than doubling down, which I’m just freaking tired of, but I think he’s backed up a bit too far. He says that boiled down to it, what the gifts represent is CCP providing an in-game advantage to Somer. And that it is wrong for them to do so no matter why they did.
Let me break it down how I see it. Somer has, for years, spent a lot of time and effort building the biggest lottery in EvE. They have certainly enriched themselves, which I have no problem with, and they have also spent considerable time and effort supporting other folks ventures whether it’s EvE Vegas, an in-game tournament like the Frigate Free For All or whatever. In recognition of this community support CCP rewarded them with the Ishukone Watch Scorpions, and concealed the fact.
Now I’m going to go onto a bit of a non sequitur. I’m going to talk about Pandemic Legion. Pandemic Legion has won 4 Alliance Tournaments. I believe they were 2nd in 2 of the ones they didn’t win. They busted their buts, they worked hard and they provided a ton of entertainment for the community. They also provided CCP with some marketing punch in the highly publicized tournament streams and videos. For this they have gotten a LOT of ships from CCP. These rewards were announced up front and they were well publicized.
Both of these organizations did something that was good for the game. They both provided something above and beyond what the normal schlub like you or me does to the game. They both give a small, but measurable, competitive advantage to the organization receiving them. There are a few key differences. Number one The AT rewards are well publicized, announced in advance, featured in vids even these days, and they are potent, potent ships, whereas Somer’s was cloaked in secrecy. Number two the AT is a highly structured event. Only so many people are allowed in, and only so many have a real chance at participating. The Somer giveaway was completely unstructured, with no fixed criteria at all.
I have a problem with some of the specifics. Somer’s reward should NOT have been secret. Ever. That it was even conceptualized that way is problematic enough. That it actually entered the game secretly was a disaster. It should have been a public reward, with a very open “Job-Well-Done” specifying the reasons CCP chose to reward Somer. I like the sandbox, but it’s not a pure sandbox and it will never be a pure sandbox. If CCP wants to reward behavior I think we should welcome it as long as everyone understands how it’s going to work. It doesn’t have to be a specific set of rules and competitions like the AT. That handcuffs CCP from recognizing acts and events that are meaningful that don’t involve CCP from start to finish. Here I’m thinking about groups like the Angel Project, which certainly wouldn’t mind a bit of help from CCP. EvE University, which has already gotten some support from CCP although nothing as material as a battleship flotilla.
It has to be open. CCP needs to put out a devblog saying “From time to time we can choose to reward individuals and groups who have gone above and beyond in service to our community. These rewards will take the form of ___________ and follow a general criteria of _________ although we reserve the right to recognize outstanding contributions to our community wherever and whenever we choose to offer them. This is not a goalpost, don’t call us saying ‘we’ve done this and this and this now hand us our ships’ it’s merely a statement that we can and will be rewarding those whose contributions to the community are truly above and beyond greatness. These will be freely given gifts, no strings attached, and they will be publicized as we see fit (and by that we mean not kept secret at all, I mean front page, maybe login screen)” only, you know, not written at 6AM by someone still half asleep and struggling to formulate full sentences.
What CCP needs to bring is structure and transparency. Not as much as with AT, but more than with “Somergate” (or “IshukoneWatchScorpionGate” for the masochists out there) to give an idea of roughly what the process is, and what kind of gifts we can expect to see given out. For the record I think the idea of re-skinned ships for prizes is great and cannot wait for CCP to start throwing them at bloggers to shut us whiners up for 5 minutes.
So Rixx Javix posted a piece on the threat that the gambling houses of EvE present to the community. I think he has some points. I also think he’s wide of the mark. The wealth being accumulated by the “Bankers” who should be more accurately called financiers. But that’s just a quibble. We’ll go with bankers.
For a long time it appeared that inflation was the biggest problem facing EvE. Now that problem seems to be less prevalent. Prices might fluctuate, but it isn’t an endless steep climb. Rixx is contending that these bankers consolidation of wealth, that their focused power in the hands of a shadowy few presents an immense threat to EvE. He also presents Plex as part of the problem. I’m going to deal with the second part very quickly, and very simply. He writes the sentence “Much like paying for game time with real world money” without realizing that… we all do that. Whether you pay with a Plex or your credit card, you pay for game time with real world money. The big difference is EvE allows you to pay for my game time (and please… feel free) I get what he’s saying, that that transference of payment, and the reciprocal transfer of wealth to the wallet-warrior is unabalancing, my main counterpoint is that people buy gold in every game with gold in it. EvE has a fantastic control in place, because there’s a very hard in-game cap on what people will buy, as a “carrot” and the righteous wrath of the banhammer as the “stick” to discourage people from the black market isk. Yes it’s the lesser of two evils argument. This is EvE, it’s all evil.
Now let’s talk about these bankers. Bankers. Financiers. Whatever you want to call them they can do a few things. They can invest their money to drive further profits. Somer markets like madmen. Seriously. Think about the prizes they give out. Bonus blinks, Bonks. Mega-blinks. All that stuff. That’s a lot of isk. What else do businesses do? They invest in their infrastructure. Umm… Think they need a lot more freighters? Think that’s what’s limiting their profits? Nope. They try to influence events in their favor. Ok, I could see them throwing some bribes around to destabilize things, foment a war or two to drive demand, but arguably bored people making isk and spinning in station would be better customers, so what influence do they pursue in their own interest?
Wealth itself is not inherently evil. The accumulation of wealth isn’t necessarily evil either. It’s not inherently good of course, but in an economy like EvE, where everyone truly does have the opportunity to pursue wealth, it is certainly not evil to see how many digits you can tack on to your wallet. The use of that wealth can be “evil” within the confines of the game, but again who really gets harmed? Even if you grief the ever living hell out of highsec, you’ve ruined a couple evenings for a couple people, and probably driven others to try something more fun than mining. Like watching paint dry. Or spreadsheet warrioring. Or blogging. Or PvP.
To me these bankers are content creators first and foremost. They add shade and nuance to a game that can always use more. I imagine anyone on their staff can plex their accounts as much as they want, for providing an in-game service to players which they literally line up for. I do admit that they probably have the isk to influence alliance activities. Probably to a scary degree. But how scary is it? No one is being coerced, and if people get duped and their pixels get blowed up… It’s pixels, we’ll be laughing about it when RANE takes over the north or whatever craziness happens in 6 months.
The ultimate power in this game is the ability to vote with your feet. The richest man in EvE can’t win a single fight against 5 guys that know what they are doing. I’m reminded of Stalin talking about the Pope, and wondering how many divisions he has. If Somer calls a holy war against the Goons… who rallies to their support? They can hire mercenaries, but the mercs are going to look long and hard at consequences. The days of Mercenary Coalition letting BoB bleed them out are so long gone and buried I doubt half the readers of this blog know what the hell I’m talking about. Sure Somer can finance whatever they want. They can buy a fleet of faction fit T3 cruisers, supercaps, AT ships, whatever. Who’s gonna fly them? Who’s gonna FC them? Better yet, if they come out of the shadows and piss people off, how long will it be before their source of isk dries up as people move to less controversial sources of entertainment in-game?
That’s not to say that it isn’t a concern. But the only people being hurt right now are the people who gamble too much of their isk. Who gamble what they can’t afford to lose, which should be an even bigger rule than not flying what you can’t afford to lose. Somer is making isk. Somer’s managers want to keep making isk so they will stay in the shadows where they are safe from the consequences of their own actions. If they come out, they expose themselves to the millstone that is EvE’s politics. The millstone that has ground away at the likes of BRUCE, BoB, RA, -A-. AAA, RA. and -A- again… NC, and many others. Why would they do that when they can keep doing what they are doing and count the trillions?
So TEST has had a bit of a rough go of it in Aridia. Down 1/3 of their members in fact. And if some were booted, many, even most, were not. In any organization the cream rises to the top. There it can be seen, observed, studied, and stolen. There are many who have left TEST who didn’t have the cojones to deal with the upheaval. There were far more who had better opportunities elsewhere, especially with as many frenemies as TEST had.
Of note to me is Di-Tron, formerly the core of Atlas. Enlightened Industries, a 2011 TEST corp. Ponywaffe, which joined Di-Tron in Insidious Empire, not to mention the numerous defections to Black Legion and the leadership that has abandoned ship. TEST is bleeding talent out of proportion with the numbers of players they’ve lost. Which is something of an achievement when you’ve lost 5000 members in the last week.
So today TEST announced that they would harass Fountain. The good news is they won’t be taxing their leaders by demanding that they set up safespots, they should have good ones already. The problem is TEST is announcing this while still pouring random liquids on the million house fires they have burning in Aridia. They thought they were stepping on a roach nest in the classy russians of Infernal Octopus, instead they got scorpions. But really who could forsee Russians fighting with determination and fury when defending their homelands? When has this ever happened before? They thought they’d get breathing room to recover their strength, in a region that has connections to *Deep Breath* Delve, Fountain, Khanid, Solitude, Genesis, and 2 jumps into Solitude takes you into Syndicate *Gasp*. But surely there’s no one that could set up a midpoint cyno in Khanid, Ertoo or Hophib for Titan Bridges. So having moved from the fire into the frying pan TEST has decided that dancing on the edge of the pan and dipping their toes in the fire is preferable to out and out frying pan treatment.
Edit: Apparently the folks of Infernal Octopus use this gif to show how well TEST has moved them out (other than whomping some POS towers)
Good luck with that.
TEST still has the solid for of (D)Redditors to keep the alliance extant, but beyond that their ability to project power is more on par with an alliance less than a quarter their size (yet still in the top 20 alliances size wise) their ability to SUSTAIN that power projection is practically nil. They are broke on many levels. Their leadership capital is probably damn near negative. Their personnel capitol is scraping the bottom for an alliance half their size. Their money capital is a well advertised nil. I wouldn’t trade places with Booda if he promised to not touch all the wallets exactly as they are. They still have their super fleet, and they have their name. They don’t have a name. They don’t have enough FCs to run any kinda of a fleet, their logistics is beyond a shambles, yet they will survive. They will get pounded. They might fall below 6000 members. If they purge inactives they might fall below 3000, and they will take body blows on the way. They cannot realistically hope to drive FA from fountain. They can only hope to take some heat off the frantically reorganizing nullbears in Aridia. Some of the heat. Not a lot because the Russians will be there, as will the rest of the Aridia locals. TEST has been lucky running 80 man fleets around to pop Infernal structures, that kind of fleet looks awfully tempting to many of the folks in the area.
TEST has launched a campaign in Fountain when I cannot believe for a second that they have any clue what capabilities they really have to bring to the field beyond shitposting. They need to establish leaders who will be there for more than a week. They need to take stock of what they really have, even if it means mass kickings of people who can’t be arsed to show up or even log in. They need to take the time to get people on the same page, get them organized and get them moving in a direction that makes sense. They need time to develop a fresh crop of folks. They need time for cream to rise to the top, and time away from the spotlight so it doesn’t get crapped on or stolen before it’s any good.
So with the battle of 6V over TEST has effectively lost any realistic hope of holding Fountain. They can launch strikes. Well, they will launch strikes, and they will whelp at least one more CFC fleet because this is EvE and that kind of thing happens, but Fountain will belong to whoever CFC hands it to and the R64 moons will go to Goons and their croniest of cronies. And yes that’s a word now. Deal with it.
TEST will retreat to Delve and face harassment from CFC, but no actual invasion. Delve is rather difficult to invade, not terribly worthwhile from what I understand of it’s wealth as far as an ALLIANCE is concerned, although it does have decent enough ratting and such to keep the nullbears quite happy. This hasn’t been a violation of the “Big Blue Doughnut” (actually more or a big blue crescent but whatevs) but it does represent a power shift. PL will go where the money is, I was surprised that they backed TEST to begin with and I will be surprised even more if they continue to work with them after this war. I’m not sure they’ll head straight to Goons though. I think they will want to see who ALL the movers and shakers are with the moon rebalance. They might head where there’s more action at first. In the long run, however, they will settle back into their erratic orbit with Goons and CFC as a whole.
Ironically we might see MORE supers in space once this desultory war winds down. As the coalitions fall away from each other the opportunities to use the Supers might look more and more tempting, especially as Goons grind down the last chunk of structures. Long-term I think Booda has to look at what he wants to do Vs. TEST alliance’s actual capabilities. He should have a really good idea of what they can actually do, how far they can project what kinds of power, and for how long. Now he has to match that with things that are fun and interesting and bring morale up.
CFC meanwhile can start hoarding money again. Also they can send me some
Currently there’s a bit of a row going on with Men’s Wearhouse, which ousted its founder over… something anyway. The company is being pretty cagey about it. The man literally built the company himself. He’s been the heart, soul, and visual representation of the company for longer than I’ve been alive. Ousting him has given a body blow to the stockholders, and created a lot of unnecessary drama. Fortunately it’s a robust, well put together company with plenty of names on the board, but it is pretty clear that ousting Zimmer was not a brilliant move.
So how does this apply to EvE? Let’s talk about the Mittani. He has become the face of Goonswarm. Without him the councils that run the swarm would just be another faceless mass lacking charisma and influence. The Mittani wears a mask allowing him to be “Big Brother” for the swarm. They love him, they are excited by his presence, and they are strengthened by his speaking, even if it’s anything but brilliant.
So… what happens if he leaves? What happens if he burns out HARD on EvE? What happens if his wife gets jealous of the real mistress? What happens if he tires of Goons but not EvE? This isn’t Darius Johnson. This is Mittens. This is THE goon. Losing him would be bad. Having him turn on them, as George Zimmer is turning on Men’s Wearhouse, would be a disaster. Partisans for Mittens would be torn, people that just wanted to be Goons would be angered at how he’s now killing the “brand”
Big men offer a huge benefit, but letting them get TOO big, letting them become the brand as it were, puts the brand in danger. The Mittani represents a huge resource for the goons, but as a lone leader he represents a weak point. He has to be Mittens all the time, he has to wear the mask, maintain the aura, and show up for the dog and pony shows.
This was shown up recently when Mittens declared war on TEST and then went to E3. He had a blast but the spin machine spun out of control, fleets were whelped and things just didn’t look right. Without the conductor waving his wand the orchestra played badly. Goonswarm needs to take a look at its face. Internally they have a council, they have leaders other than Mittens, but there’s no face but Mittens. He’s like a Big Brother who can royally fuck up, get drunk, hammer himself and get exorcised. He’s a Wizard of Oz who doesn’t even have much of a curtain at the moment.
The problem is figuring out how to do a better organization. Go with a Troika? Nominate a successor and have him stand up a bit more? Have the council members step up a bit more and really water things down? It’s not an easy solution. There’s downsides everywhere. I know one thing though, Goons needs to look long and hard at their options right now and prevent a disaster down the road.
Mittens came back from E3 to find his minions happily wagging their tails and jumping up and down on the doorstep pleased with the steaming pile of something they’d left on his bed. Some of the wiser minions had something to be proud about apparently, but there was plenty of crap to deal with.
Mittens came back from E3 needed to flog the success they’ve had, and to make light of the rather difficult issues they faced. He had to convince his minions to keep fighting the war the goons way. Careless of battles, careful of objectives. He had to get his FCs operating in a more disciplined fashion, he had to get his network of agents working in a coordinated fashion.
Mittens came back, and issued a long statement. He talked about the successes they’d had. He talked about the way goons fight. He talked about the goals and the strategies, and he set a new narrative. His partisans will back it (see HERE wfor details) his detractors will laugh at it (do I have to tell you how to find Reddit?)
There’s a lot to the goonswarm way of war. A whole lot. It’s not glorious in its early stages, it’s rough, it’s ugly, and it can be demoralizing. To keep it going the goons have to be cajoled, prodded, bribed, and sometimes all but forced into the fight. Fortunately they have wordsmiths, FCs, PILES of isk, and propagandists to spare.
Mittens has gained a handle on the narrative. He’s picked up the mantle of leadership and can now bring his own personal aura to bear on the situation. Maybe going to E3 wasn’t brilliant for The Mittani, but it didn’t end the war. Now the goons have to get to work. They have to control the narrative, they have to call their shots, and they have to break up the coalition facing them, loose as it is. They’ve made progress with BL, they’ve hammered on some of the issues with TEST’s policies, and they’ve done their “We don’t want the systems themselves anyway” routine. Now to see if they can make it play out the way they want.
Ok, so the big CFC / HBC 2.0 showdown is here. It’s here and it’s ugly. Goons were initially looking at a badly divided HBC, with weak leadership, confused allies, and unmotivated members. They had been having it all their way in Delve and were hooting over the fracturing of the once proud coalition. They invaded Fountain and found that PL was backing TEST, that TEST had its motivation, and that their doctrines were not all they were cooked up to be against what TEST had developed. Then TEST started gathering allies. As it turns out CFC and Goons especially have built quite the list of enemies over the years (whodathunkit) and that many of these people were champing at the bit to take a crack at them.
So CFC invades, and manages to cut a lot of the “fat” out of Fountain. They capture several systems, whelp and kill several fleets, and generally make at least a decent showing of things. Goons don’t so much steamroll their enemies as smother them. What they didn’t expect and what I didn’t expect was that TEST would hold out so firmly. TEST managed to pry back the clawing fingers of CFC, helped by a rather lackluster showing by many CFC alliances, and a tremendous showing in both Fountain and back in the North by alliances working with and for HBC 2.o.
So TEST has decided where their fortress will be and is busy piling up the corpses of CFC ships and pods. CFC is keeping the pressure up as best as they can, but it seems that some of the larger battles are involving a lot of CFC and very little of TEST. THIS fight didn’t exactly make TEST break a sweat. In fact they seem to have missed it altogether. This is a very bad sign for Goons, and a very good sign for TEST. Goons win by smothering, by making the fighting so not-fun for their enemies that they stop showing up. TEST doesn’t have to show up, the gleeful hordes eager to shatter the goon narrative are doing the heavy lifting for them in entire battles.
This isn’t to understate TEST’s achievements, or the road ahead for them. Goons don’t give up, Goons know how to win by losing, how to grind away at both the enemies capability and will to fight, and you can bet that things are in motion. There’s rumors that they’ve bribed Elo Knight on Reddit right now to basically go somewhere else and fight. Goons aren’t going to fight this whole war in space. Currently they are taking a pounding in the Meta arena, where they are traditionally strong. I doubt this will continue, whether it’s Elo or whoever, they will find a crack, drive a wedge into it and start pulling, TEST has to keep the momentum, and marshal their strength to be ready to fight themselves when the later onslaughts begin.
Finally TEST deserves enormous credit. Even 2 weeks ago it looked like HBC was dead and TEST would stand practically on their own, Booda and the TEST diplos deserve ENORMOUS credit for their work ensuring PL would work with them, coordinating with Pizza, 401k, and BL to get CFC stuck in its own beehive of enemies.
TEST have teamed up with friends old and new and shoved goons down in the mud, they need to kick them while they are down and watch their back while they do it because goons can backstab from anywhere.
So I had a little discussion with a couple of friends who have quit EvE for one reason or another. Some feel that they aren’t that great (You’re wrong buddy. Yes you.) Some just don’t have the time/money, but one of the comments really cut to the core of what makes EvE matter to me. The comment had to do with two things that broke EvE. Travel time and devastating losses. Travel Time does matter in EvE. Sometimes it is REALLY painful as well, but it makes strategy and tactics at the operational and strategic level possible. If you can instantly move then operational tactics and strategic operations are kind of useless. I don’t like moving freighters any more than the next guy but that’s what it is.
Devastating losses make EvE’s metagame “Real” without the prospect of a tough loss, achievements pale. A huge success is only possible where a real setback can occur. Without the possibility of some sort of setback, what have you really achieved? To give you an example, let’s look at a raid in a more “traditional” MMO. There’s considerable cachet to getting a “World First” kill, that is nailing his head to the wall before anyone else on your server. It’s a binary set, either you got him first or you didn’t. Ok cool, there’s something at stake, you can lose that run and lose out the e-honor. Now lets look 3 months down the road when people are pugging things. If you wipe on a raid you have to restart the fight. You incur a repair bill. If your party is bad enough you go home with whatever you managed to get on the previous bosses. Unless you have a REALLY terrible group you killed a couple of bosses, and quite possibly got some loot. That’s the size of your “Defeat”
EvE puts a price tag on defeat. If you live in empire you can lose what you fly. You can go out there, get hammered, blow up your ship, pod, everything in space. It can be rough. The first T3 I lost also cost me a headset. I’ve lost faction BS, nearly lost a Cap ship. Literally lost one in my assets window once for a couple months… these losses are part of EvE. For my money you cannot play the game to its fullest without standing in harms way electronically. This is because standing in harms way is where you put your enemy in harms way. You can only win big by putting ships at risk, and those victories are priceless. My old laptop still has a picture from my first PvP kill against poor Bezelebub. I still get a huge rush from pvp and it forms a real emotional watershed. Imagine the feeling of a world-first kill, only you can get it several nights a week, even on your own.
Other games let you risk assets, but not to the extent that EvE does. If you want to conquer empires you have to put one at risk. Take your stuff to null, get chased out and lose it all sometime, feel the impending terror of a full evac, feel the grinding defeat of a Goons offensive, and feel the triumph of pulling off a great trap, or even just soloing a player that should be much better than you. It’s not the same when you can respawn with all your gear, pay a tiny fee and get back to the killing. Battlegrounds where you can kill and die a dozen times just aren’t the same. Browser games where you can be chased out of an area, but not lose anything permanent, other than time just aren’t the same. I said it before, I’ll say it again, to win an empire, you have to risk an empire. To kill a ship you have to risk a ship. If you are smart you can minimize the risk, but you still have to put it out there.
Ok I wasn’t going to hare in on this. I really, really wasn’t. I don’t have much regard for Gevlon outside of the world of making (absolute fucktons) of money. The man is a sharp shark of a market warrior and his considerable mental gifts are very well focused on his primary goal of making piles of isk.
He is not remotely aware of the history of EvE, the power structures of the major alliances, or the motivations of anyone who doesn’t permanently have their wallet open to chortle over. Let me get to some details here. Recently our gobliny friend posted an op-ed claiming that the Mittani had made his first and last mistake during his declaration of war.
News flash: If it’s a mistake it has a lot of people who made the decision and it is FAR from the Goon’s first mistake.
Goons have a history of two things. Doing something that looks fantastically stupid and turning it into something brilliant; like abandoning all their Sov to kill BoB. This move had every pundit in the game laughing as they expected the Bees to get stomped, and find themselves completely homeless, hopeless, and friendless. Only it worked. BoB collapsed (with help) and the Goons found their strategy, and their spymaster, vindicated.
They also have a history of stupidly squandering success. For example forgetting to pay sov bills. For virtually all their sov. Yeah, goons did that once. It was a *bit* of a mistake.
Goons are also a TOUGH alliance. Their connection to this game (like that of TEST) has nothing to do with EvE, but instead through a massive community entirely outside of the game. If by some disaster Goons get crushed they won’t disintegrate like BoB, -A-, or so many alliances tied to EvE by only EvE. The worst the could conceivably happen would be some coalition members drop out. Some drop in activity. They won’t failcascade any more than they have the numerous times they’ve been chased out of various areas of EvE.
Let’s talk a bit about why Goons are so successful. They have a leader who makes statements, they have a leadership council that makes decisions. I’m guessing these guys would measure up pretty well to a professional military staff. I should know, I’ve been on one. They look at measurable facts, they develop doctrine for each situation, they plan logistics and have replacement ships ready both on their own and through the efforts of coalition members.
That’s the reason for this deployment in actuality; and the players know it. They need a new source of income to support their mammoth SRP. OTEC isn’t exactly controlling the T2 market like they used to. Diversifying their income flow is an absolute necessity and grabbing the moons of Fountain will get them R64 and R32 moons that will allow them to continue an SRP program that includes not only regular BS, but T3s, Fleet BS, and Capitals. You can’t replace them on the budget they are looking for so they approached their members, and their Coalition mates, and said “You want the largesse to continue? You want the gravy train? This is how we get it, show the fuck up.” That isn’t a mistake. That’s a straightforward decision. TEST has been reeling, suffering from leadership crises and the shattering of HBC. Now the non-surprise of PL coming to visit WITH CFC and AGAINST their former Coalition mates, TEST, not to mention the grinding battles launched when CFC deployed two of their “squads” to the south.
Now the CFC is coming with bells on. They have their super fleet, they have their Coalition lined up like good little ducklings, they have a clear and simple motivation of self interest in expanding their available resources. They might have to fight, and fight hard, but The Mittani & Co have had years to infiltrate TEST. Their counters will be picked up and dealt with, the leadership council of CFC will provide a constant flow of guidance and resources while TEST’s scratch team will struggle to keep pace.
The one thing that CFC needs from this, ironically, is good fights. Recently they’ve taken a bit of a pounding in their own turf from 401k and BL. Always being on the defensive is no fun, it doesn’t make people happy, it doesn’t satisfy them and it doesn’t seem like you are achieving much. Taking the offensive is usually far more popular with the legions. It gets them moving, they can see systems flip, they can see the disruption in their enemies, they can brag about their effectiveness with far more emphasis on real achievements that everyone can see. This can forge the newly shrunk Goonswarm and show them that they really are the hard core of the CFC, that they can compete, that they can measure up by their own metrics with their coalition members.
Gevlon would have you believe the greed will turn off the rank and file. It’s their greed that feeds the need for this campaign. They would have you feel that the CFC wave will crash against Fortress Fountain and withdraw, shattering Goons. Goons don’t shatter. Reverses strengthen them because of their shared culture, sense of persecution, and strong sense of community. Goons can be defeated, they can lose, they can be chased to lowsec, but it won’t happen while they are on the offensive. It will happen when they are on the defensive. When they get pounded after being inactive too long, after being off the offensive long enough for the rot to set in.
Gevlon knows his stuff in his arena. This isn’t his arena. This isn’t close to his arena. This isn’t within screaming distance of his arena.
So Dust 514 is out. Everything about it is pretty much… meh. It’s a fun game, an engaging one, but not terribly rewarding to play in the beginning, nor is it intuitive. It’s fun to read about. It’s interesting to see others play it well. It’s not really my cup of tea.
And I’m not the only one.
These numbers aren’t pretty. Two weeks after release and this game hasn’t exactly roared onto the scene. CCP needs this game to succeed. They need to show potential investors that they can do more, and compete. They need to show investors that they will get a payout predictably and this… this doesn’t show it. This isn’t enough customers, let alone paying customers, to recoup the money spent on Dust in years. Let alone the ongoing cost of maintaining it.
Why do I think CCP is struggling with Dust? Well, resources don’t help. They simply didn’t have enough to make a real first rate, first person MMOShooter. It’s an okay game, but it’s doomed against even the likes of Planetside because it struggles with very basic things. Like aiming controls.
Even if they got the fundamentals down, and made the game more playable for people who already love console shooters, look at the list at the beginning. Think about what all your friends who can’t stand EvE said about EvE. Now nod your heads. Baa like sheep while you are at it. That’s right people. CCP really made an EvE first person shooter. Right down to the core issues. That’s a problem. There’s no real competition for EvE’s niche. The ultra-dark, hardcore, sci-fi, sandbox MMO niche is rather vacant with only EvE chained up frothing at the mouth guarding it’s food bowl and a bunch of scared other developers wondering whether a couple nibbles of kibble is worth fighting the Cerberus guarding it. The first person shooter market is rather more like armies of well-disciplined soldiers armed to the teeth guarding their own farms with acres of food at stake. Sure there’s a TON more people out there than there are for EvE’s niche. How many of them aren’t already in one camp or another? How many are likely to wander in and get snared unawares?
Dust is a niche product trying to establish itself in a realm that is well staked out, well established, and with some baffling “advantages” that look like handicaps. I’m going to take a moment to talk about my favorite. The “Meta”
So Awoxing is a bit of a thing in EvE. Ok it’s a big thing in EvE. It’s not that big out of EvE so on the off chance that you like shooters and you are reading this I’ll describe it. An Awoxer is someone who joines a corp in EvE with the intention of killing its members for fun. Or profit. Mostly fun (and profit.) In other games this is horrendous. In EvE it is hilarious. And profitable. What does this have to do with shooters? Well I’ll tell you.
So now you can take over planets to support your EvE buddies. Of course you can also sabotage your enemies to ensure that you win your battles. The best way to do this is to infiltrate the enemy merc corp and awox the ever loving shit out of them. That’s right, joining their army to reduce their numbers and cripple their efforts. This is a simply infuriating tactic. For one thing Dust doesn’t let you pour 200 people into a fight like EvE. Or 2000 for that matter, so one person who is a double-agent can really upset things. 3 or 4 and it’s all over but the crying. This means that not having a good means of sniffing out spies and awoxers can really hurt your DUST corps in a hurry. Then there’s e-honor. FPS players LOVE their stats. They love their kill ratios, their damage ratios, everything. Throw them in a match where they get murdered to hell and gone by an awoxer and the bloom is off the rose fast. Overcoming your own losses to win the battle may sound glorious, but it stinks on the stat sheet most of the time.
This creates a first person shooter that basically appeals to EvE players. Rather than exposing a wider world to the opportunity to participate in the EvE Universe, the initial impact has been more like exposing the daring souls who choose to approach to the scum and villainy that we EvE players celebrate and the world applauds. From a safe distance. Like, behind the electric fences.
For EvE and DUST to coexist in a useful and meaningful way DUST players have to be exposed to the meta game. There’s simply no way for the games to overlap without backstabbing, face stabbing, and general shenanigans being part of regular events. HOWEVER this will limit the general appeal of DUST. People want the battles to be decided in the field, and that’s just not the way EvE is played. Major battles in EvE might be decided in the field, but no one leaves a really important fight to chance. People like The Mittani, Shadoo, and fallen giants like Sir Molle, Bobby Atlas and others all rise and fall based on their ability to win, then fight. They meta-game the shit out of events so that the enemy comes to the field in ruins, outclassed and without hope. That doesn’t sound like a first person shooter to me. That doesn’t sound like a casual game someone plops on the couch to play while waiting for their mac n cheese to finish.
DUST 514 isn’t doomed, but CCP needs to really figure out how to not only fix the basic mechanical problems that plague it, but how to get new types of players into the EvE universe, even at a remove from EvE itself. It’s not an easy problem, and there’s no easy answers, but if CCP is going to save DUST (and it needs saving) they have to come up with the answers and soon.