Tobold's Blog
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Interview with Louis Cyphre from EVIL ONLINE

In our ongoing discussion on whether game companies can be evil, I welcome Louis Cyphre from Hellware, developers of the upcoming massively multiplayer online role-playing game EVIL ONLINE for an interview. Louis, can you tell us something about EVIL ONLINE?

Louis Cyphre: Our motto is: "Real evil, real emotions". EVIL ONLINE does away with the boring and repetitive do-goodery of typical MMORPGs, in which the players are forever condemned to perform helpful chores for NPCs. Instead we offer player the opportunity to crush your enemies, see them driven before you... and to hear the lamentation of their women!

Tobold: So EVIL ONLINE is a PvP-only game?

Louis Cyphre: PvP-centric. We found that there are no real emotions involved when interacting with NPCs. We have quests in which you can be cruel to NPCs and torture them, but in the end there is nothing as exhilarating as making a real other player cry. We do have PvE areas that give n00bs a false sense of security, only to make it doubly bitter when they are betrayed and assassinated there.

Tobold: What other features than combat does EVIL ONLINE have?

Louis Cyphre: Well, we learned a lot from the real world: Simple violence is just a minor evil. To really get to somebody, you need to appeal to his greed. Thus we have an extensive player-run economy with crafting, trading, and all sorts of financial instruments. In addition we have a political system. These systems together offer extensive opportunities for all sorts of treachery and scams. Which by the way are made legal in EVIL ONLINE through our terms of service.

Tobold: Speaking of which, there are some really strange terms in your terms of service, about players selling their soul.

Louis Cyphre: (peeling an egg) You know, some religions think that the egg is the symbol of the soul, did you know that? (takes a bite out of the egg) That part is completely optional, a quite favourable deal for the best status items from the item store.

Tobold: So, back to the initial question: Are game companies evil?

Louis Cyphre: We are just giving players what they want. Do you know any successful games which are about pacifism, harmony, and working together for a greater good? We here at Hellware are convinced that EVIL ONLINE will be a smash hit, because players *want* to hurt other players emotionally and clearly demonstrate their own superiority. But we are offering a sandbox game, if the players use it to commit evil, it isn't our company that is evil, but the players.

Tobold: Thank you for that interview.

[NEWSFLASH: Shortly after the interview I got the message that EVIL ONLINE was cancelled. An Icelandic judge had ruled that the game in both name and content infringed upon the intellectual property of a local company.]
I chuckled up some cheerios as I was reading "Evil Online" this morning.

Only thing I wonder about, though - do you really think that the really-real "EVIL ONLINE" is played for this reason (quoting you):

"here at Hellware we are convinced that EVIL ONLINE will be a smash hit, because players *want* to hurt other players emotionally and clearly demonstrate their own superiority."

I think most people play the real "EVIL ONLINE" for the challenge of competing against other people. That's why people play sports. The act of competing isn't some kind of Nietzschean effort to be "the man" and "demonstrate superiority" over the rest of humankind; it's because a lot of people are hardwired to want to compete. PvP in an MMO taps into this directly, and is a great outlet for those of us (including yours truly) that like to express this urge in a game, as opposed to doing the same on a golf course or bowling alley.

Wanting to compete versus others is a quintessential part of being human Games don't have to offer PvP to appeal to this sense of competition; I would even grant that in PvE games, you're "competing" against something - it's just a "something" that is more static and objective, like a puzzle (that's all a raid is, really), versus human competition that is far more subjective, dynamic, and unfair. But, some people like that, and it goes with the territory. After all, how do you think the unranked schmuck that has to play Roger Fedderer or Nadal in round 1 at Wimbledon feels? No doubt, he's not feeling good about it, in the same way that people in high-sec space that get ganked feel about that "unfairness". But when you play a game that includes unfairness as part of the rules, it's what you have to deal with.
Ben. being competitive doesn't force you to also be a griefer.
I think that in the beginning people play EVIL Online for all the stuff it allows you to do. It's just that after you advance you get immensely bored and the only interesting to do is becoming a griefer. It's not proving superiority, it's just the game giving you the choice between being bored or evil with nothing in between.

That partially why I stopped playing the game.

I can't really find the reason tough, why of all games you attack EVE so frequently. I mean, I played it until a couple of weeks ago and I was pretty fed up with a lot of it for a year now, but I can't think of a reason why you would exaggerate EVE's negative features other than that you are somehow biased/hold a personal grudge against it. I mean, you have a full choice of topics, why focus on "Eve Sucks"?Care to shed some light on that?
Agreed, but most of the people who enjoy PvP (and even EVE Online) aren't griefers.

I'd also note that griefing isn't exclusive to PvP / Sandbox games. While PvE games have done a lot to try and limit the influence of a griefer, griefing still exists. Camping a named mob, spamming the AH, etc.

That type of player is unfortunately present everywhere. If anything, at least in a sandbox game you can fight back! :)

My long-winded question was really this: Tongue-in-check parody aside, is that what people really think of EVE Online? Most of the Capsuleers in New Eden are pretty boring people that just like to go out and pew-pew every night, not die-hard scammers, suicide gankers, and the like :)
Ben - the unranked guy probably feels pretty good about making it that far, and trying his damndest even if the odds were against him. It probably helps that Federer and Nadal both understand the concept of sportsmanship - there really isn't room in professional tennis for heaping abuse on other players when they beat them. And that's because being an arrogant, offensive little prick to other players has nothing to do with being "competitive", it's to do with the number of MMO players who are emotional inadequates taking their frustrations about being picked on at school out in the only arena where they can feel they are bigger than somebody else.
Ha ha.

I'd play that, sorry it was cancelled.
Well, when I tried EVE I thought it was fairly dull, had a really obnoxious UI, but a nice wide open sandbox feel.

From the outside, most of the news stories that come out about EVE are about colossal griefing experiments. To which keen EVE players seem to respond with "Yes! Our game is so awesome because it allows unlimited griefing! You carebears cannot understand the greatness that is EVE and our amazing griefer heaven." So you can see where the view comes from.

Also: a griefer is generally a griefer because you can't fight back.
I have to reject the notion that competing with another human means trying to make them suffer.

Golf is an excellent example. There is nothing you can do to even affect your opponent's play, and yet it is still a competition.

I would also point to Alterac Valley back in TBC. All it was at the time was a race to take down respective raid bosses. Teams ignored each other almost entirely.

And yet it was by far the most popular BG, more popular than all other BGs combined at the time. Sadly, Blizzard took no lesson at all from that, and we still have yet to see competitive PvE.
Eh, I guess we all missed the point of the post :)

The post does not really attack EVE. The post is there just to ridicule the notion of Game Companies being EVIL. If you take a look at the interview, it's all pretty much impossible.

There is no Louis Cyphre type of character in CCP pulling all the strings and making the game look evil. The EVILness of the game is purely coincidential (and by that I mean - player perception chenged in a way noone at CCP predicred) and an effect of the combined powers of bad assumptions made during the development process, bad marketing strategies and general misplanning. But what this post states clearly is that there are no evil entities in any game company.
@epic.ben: I guess I simply do not believe that most people want a fair fight in EVE. I am absolutely confident that most people on the EO forums do not want one. If you post something on the E Online forums about making it easier for new players to acquire skills or avoid combat when outgunned, you will see how little sportsmanship and fair fights are valued.

One of the new diversions is organized suicide ganking of unarmed mining ships.

There was a fairly recent QEN which showed that pilot deaths in 0.0 tended to be players with under two years play time. (Or 24 x $15 as cynics would say)

I love the sandbox of EVE. I love the sophistication, how well diminishing returns work. I love that it is persistent; you don't need to regrind for a new tier that is exactly like last quarter's previous tier.

But a game that is by and for grievers is never going to be more than an interesting niche. Which, considering how many unique things EO has, is a sad waste.
Disclaimer: anecdotal stories do not prove anything. Still,

Event A: I recently explained on a MineThings forum as to why i thought the new banker profession might end poorly for some.

Event B: from my RSS reader today


Game companies are not "good" or "evil." But they do own responsibility for the environment they promote in their game and on their, God help them, forums.
"One of the new diversions is organized suicide ganking of unarmed mining ships."

Not new.

EVE is about the reality of the social interactions, disregarding the fact that it's a spaceship game. Social interactions are never symmetrical. There are always going to be imbalances in any social encounter, EVE is about that, if that's not your idea of fun then you don't have to play it.
I am a fan boy of Eve and I did not take this as an attack on the game. It was funny because it DID contain some basic truths (I especially liked the part with the egg) and I think that this game would appeal to some players on this pretend basis.


For every griefer, kill the other guy, wave my e-peen about player there are the new players, the miners, the PvE players and the groups that have different goals. Look at fleets of 40+ in incursions, not corps, just cooperative PvE content. Look at the podcasts and blogs and even (shudder) fan-fiction and fan performance podcast and satire.

Great piece, Tobold, just great.

I'd argue that it isn't too much about the reality of social interaction. More like the reality of social interactions between teenagers in puberty. Those do grief and harass each other, but most of them shed that kind of behavior sometime around age 25 in my experience. Plus, whats missing in the reality of interaction in Eve is the possibility of physical consequences. If you went into a bar in real life and repeated some choice parts of the smack talk many Eve-Players seem to enjoy so much you would most likely get thrown out at best and leave the bar on a stretcher at worst. That consequence is what usually makes even really rude people behave somewhat (while normal people manage it even without such dire consequences). If you take away the possibility of such consequences, social behavior becomes unbalanced. Thats why most games try to restore the balance with a host of measures to impede griefing.
My turn to be evil.

Now enjoy having your day wasted as you click through links.

I think I'd give Evil Online a quick play, but only if it had an overpriced real money shop.
Dandy and all, but - the real reason why it was cancelled?
Cyphre shied from competing against Heart Games' soon-to-be-released happy bunny wonderland online!

[/irony] There's an obvious demand for an environment in which players can ruthlessly fight over power. Not surprisingly, companies (i.e., people working and deciding in these companies) meet this demand.
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