Tobold's Blog
Friday, April 16, 2010
Personal EVE news

I have news about my EVE playing, a good one and a bad one. The good one is that I joined a medium-sized corporation, after being invited by one of my readers. The bad news is that me playing EVE caused an unexpected amount of angry rage among some bloggers. Basically I'm being accused to play EVE only to be more convincingly able to badmouth it. Yeah, sure, as if I hadn't anything better to do than to explicitely try not to have fun in a game, just to spite the people who like that game.

Fact is that I do have fun, which is why I still keep playing. Learning how a game works is often fun, and there is a lot to learn in EVE Online. But that doesn't turn me into a mindless drone fanboi. Every game has good sides and bad sides, and sometimes things are neither good nor bad, but just different. I observe, I analyze, and I write about my experiences. If I make some statement about EVE like "mining is boring", you need to read that as "I tried mining and found it to be boring for me personally". Now I tend to have rather middle-of-the-road tastes in gaming, so you could also read it as "some new players trying mining in EVE find it boring". What you should definitely not read it as is "MMORPG guru Tobold made a final judgement about EVE and declared it is a bad game". I'm simply not as authorative as that, and never wanted to be. Even subscriptions numbers, flawed as they are as a measure of how good a game is, are a better indicator of whether a game is good or bad than any single blogger's opinion, reviews, and other posts, mine included.

I sometimes wonder whether video games are the new religion of our secular age. Some people really behave just like religious nutters about their favorite game, treating any open discussion about it as "blasphemy".

I do believe that by playing very different games and writing about them, I can give a larger view of the MMORPG genre and all its possible features in general. Not just a narrow question of whether game X is good or bad. But for example the discussion of whether a real time based advancement system is a good idea or a bad idea for any MMORPG, the disconnect some people feel when their advancement is independant of their actions vs. the freedom that not having to do anything specific to advance grants you. Or the question why for some people buying in-game currency with game time cards is acceptable, while buying a sparkly pony is evil. There has been some excellent discussion about questions like these on this blog this week, for which I want to thank all participants.

Nevertheless, as some rabid EVE players are out there, I had to decide not to make my character name nor the name of the corporation I joined public. The last thing I want is thanking the friendly people that invited me by getting them war dec'd by somebody who didn't like me writing anything else but glowing praise about EVE Online. It is worrying how much hate some people can produce over a completely unimportant issue like some feature in some video game.
I have admitted to being an EVE fanboy in the past and I am delighted that you are trying the game and writing about it.
There is nothing wrong with being a fan of any game. The question is how do you react to criticism of your favorite game? Counterargument or (virtual) death threats?
I have seen ads for EVE but never really looked into it. I had played such space sims as Dracova's Hellfighter, Freespace, and now X3, and I was surprised to find its quite similar to the X universe games, except its multi-player.

I have enjoyed hearing about it, and I might try it out if finances permit.

That being said, everyone is entitled to their opinions. Your page would have postings that reflect that. I see no reason for people to get so upset. I mean, if its that big of a deal, they would write it up on their blog, so people searching for information would see both sides of the coin.
Yeah, it is fine to like a game to the point of wanting to defend it, but rabid fanboy-ism is hardly the way to go about it.

Some fanboys take themselves way too seriously. Which, ironically, makes me NOT take them or their arguments seriously.
Wardecs come and wardecs go. You really can't let them affect how you interact with the rest of the internets. Besides they give us extra things to talk about (your blog hits a boring stretch? get wardeced and report on it - instant un-boring of blog)
I personally love EvE, but when you folks mention its downsides I admit they are clear to me as well. Its not impossible to be a fan of both WoW and EvE is it?

However, there is no doubt in my mind that each game does certain things much better.

Anyways, one thing I wanted to mention. Ive heard a few people groaning about how even though its supposed to be sandbox, whenever someone asks what they should do its "run missions, join a corp". This is for very simple and logical reasons.

If someone is at the point still (as a new player) where they don't have any idea what they want to do, or even what they can do; then the best thing they can do is run missions. This has the twofold effect of teaching them while segwaying nicely from other MMOs, and giving them a taste of different aspects of gameplay.

Likewise, joining a corp is the biggest step you take in EvE as it is the key to accomplishing greater things. Ever heard the phrase greater than the sum of its parts? Thats an EvE corp. Simply put, a corp allows you to experience gameplay you never could alone. In a dangerous world like EvE, you need strength in numbers.

You will find that the most boring activities (mining for example) can become much more profitable and fun with a corp. Running a 10 person mining session not only multiplies your haul (pooling resources like ships, skills, and cargo space is essential) but is usually pretty entertaining.

I remember times we'd lay claim to an asteroid belt and start our op. Then punk kids started infecting the system. We had our big ships either leave the system or go stealth, and left the small miners alone, so when the griefer showed up he had his shiny new ship blasted away. Its times like this, where a completely unexpected and unscripted moment makes you feel like you are really in this world, that I love EvE.
EVE mining is boring.

If there is some small danger it is less so. Mining in 0.7-0.6 in a cruiser isn't entirely horrible as the occasional rat fly by needing your combat drones gives you /something/ to do.

The only thing that makes a 2-3-4 hour mining op tolerable is the chatter on voice comms/in game chat channels.

The products of that mining are a lot less boring but significantly removed, as a reward, from the activity.
Maybe fanboism in general is the new secular religion of our age. It can get pretty nasty on articles with the apple vs windows comments. Definitely not just an MMO thing.

Constructive criticism is an idea that just eludes so many people on the interwebs. Your pretty much not accountable for anything you say so its a free for all.

I like EVE so I might not agree with some peoples assessment of it. Maybe I feel they've oversimplified things or are comparing apples & cantaloupe but nobody is going to take someone seriously if they can't coherently express that. In the end EVE like many MMO's fits a certain personality and play style and I'm fine with that.
People find it easy to have very broad and sweeping, adamant opinions about subjects that are actually nuanced, complex, and have room for significant intelligent debate and discussion. I try to avoid having serious discussions with these people because they are often unproductive and frustrating.
I mentioned on your first post, and in light of this post it bears mentioning again; I'm really curious about your EVE experiences. I'm a WoW player(becoming more and more bored with it), and EVE has always interested me. You doing this is a cheap way for my to "try" the game out.

I think most Eve players (those that aren't fresh on the bandwagon) are unconcerned with criticism. It's not perfect, and it has it's faults.

As reviewers have said over and over, Eve isn't for everyone, and I personally am glad it's not for everyone. Twitchy, button mashing, strobe-lit, attention deprived children need not apply.

When you stand to lose a couple weeks of in-game mission farming to replace a lost ship, you tend not to go off half-cocked.
What Mike said. I played EVE for about two plus years, it was a gorgeous game and complicated. Very much liked the idea of economic warfare (oh yes, it exists) as well as physical warfare, but going into low-sec space or (shudder) 0.0 space without a corp or on your own was so darned scary.

My biggest complaint (other than never quite getting into the PvP aspects) was that there wasn't enough N. Americans in the game. Time zone issues really matter, when you have a bunch of Europeans and Australians in the corp, kinda hard to synch up with them.

Oh, and taking hours to form up a gang, move into enemy territory just to find them holed up in a NPC station, waiting for action, and then going home. Not fun. So now I'm a WARHAMMER man.
Mike comes with his unassailable argument: If you don't like the game you are a twitchy, button mashing, strobe-lit, attention deprived child.

Speak of the devil.

Your drawing an incorrect conclusion from what I wrote. The demographic of an Eve player is going to differ from the demographic of a CS player. Eve is not constant in your face action... it's just not. If you go into it looking for that, you're going to be disappointed.

That doesn't mean if you were to construct a Venn, that there isn't some overlap in players - I'm certain there is. But for instance, I have a 10yo son that really enjoys WoW and Allods and has managed to reach max level in both. He likes the way Eve looks but it's a bit over his head and he simply doesn't have the attention space for it.

As for the 'speak of the devil' comment, I'm not sure I understand your implication.
I also have wondered about EVE
Online and enjoy reading this series. I agree with Drac that fanboyism may be the new religion of our time. Specifically, the worship of technology which seems to do so much. People have always worshiped the powerful and unknown, and tech fills the space nicely. What is strange to me is how some people know technology intimately but still worship it. My only explanation is that having invested so much time into something, they have wrapped up their identity and ego into it and are obligated to defend it to the death.
I go the other way. The wife and I tried EVE when it was pretty new, played it briefly, and quickly lost interest.

I've greatly enjoyed other sandbox games, and enjoyed Star Trek Online, but for some reason it just didn't click with us.

Perhaps it was the massive and intimidating scale, or the EVE-Offline factor - in any case, the game has my respect and I'm glad it's out there, but I don't think theirs much fun about it.
If you stay in a game or a community long enough, it's highly likely that you're still there because you're compatible with its conventions. That is, you're willing to take those conventions as given, and criticism of its fundamental premises comes off as alien.

If you're new to a game, and especially if you're exploring it from a journalistic or critical standpoint, the value of your comments is in shedding light on premises that an established community takes for granted.

In one sense they could tell you: it gets better, and don't pass judgment until you've seen more of the thing... but if that's all that new players (and playtesters) do, the design flaws in the early game (or pervasive through the entire game) go unchecked.

Admittedly, that's overintellectualizing it a bit... the reality is that people grow up in a self-reinforcing culture of brand loyalty, be it to their nation, their local sports team, their church/denomination, their video game console, or their preferred brand of shampoo. If you notice how local sports journalists transition into becoming national sports journalists, the hardest thing to crack is their partiality towards their home team - the same kind of support that may have been, for a very long time, the reason they got into the game.

(By the way, Tobold, if you're responding to criticisms you're getting from other bloggers, I think it's only fair that you link the posts you're clearly responding to: this one, for example, or this one. I disagree with them and I believe that you're playing EVE in good faith and out of genuine curiosity, but shoving your critics behind the curtain as "some bloggers" is really unfortunate.)
Games aren't the new religion, they're the new sports. Not that anyone in their right mind wants to sit and watch you play a game, but that people become emotionally invested and tie their self-esteem to the success or popularity of a particular team/game.

Maybe sports were the new religion, come to think of it. I am guessing it's some deep biological/social impulse that fills us with endorphins when we hear that some stranger has become a player of a game we like, a fan of a sports team we favor, or an adherent of our religion (which is, I would say, still around, but becoming outmoded.)

Wish there was a cure for it though, it makes for miserably stupid social interactions. :(
Actually, I wouldn't say only video games are the new zealot religion. It's more like everything these days has the potential to be that. Probably has something to do with overall trends towards increasing secularity and such.

People have a hard time admitting to themselves that they're wrong, or even could be wrong (after all, if I thought my opinion was wrong, it wouldn't be my opinion any more, something else would be). And most perceive the existence of a different point of view as meaning they could be wrong. Couple that with a black and white view of things, and you've got just about the right recipe.
Tobold, I think most people reading your blog understand how to interpret your take on games. I, for one, know that you are not an all-knowing video game god. I do respect your opinion and the fact that you always let readers know where you are coming from. It makes your blog very interesting.

Keep up the good work and write the way you want to.
Heh, so at least you now have more material for you "MMO communities and their crazy zealots" theories :) .

I guess an MMO needs these fanatics to spread the word, but i often wonder if it's not a bit like joining a Sanitarium when you join a community with alot of these objectivity, a bit of abandoning reason with a rabid tantrum streak if things don't go their way...
"Basically I'm being accused to play EVE only to be more convincingly able to badmouth it."

Huh? That's crazy?! I'm actually stunned people would think that.

I'm delighted you are trying EVE because it's generating some great articles and I love reading your thoughts on it.
I think the best way to retaliate against frothing Eve fanboys is to write a well-argued blog post on why Eve needs $25 sparkly pegasi in space.
Tobold, you should feel free to add me to your EVE address book and drop me line in game.
My two main characters are Jmarr Hyrgund and Rokkit Kween.

I won't ask you to reveal your in game name publically, that's just asking for greifers and trolls to bug you in game which can ruin the experience for many new players. I will also not reveal such information to anyone.

I've been playing on and off for a good wee while and am always open to helping out newcomers to the game.

I too can see both the good and the bad in EVE but still admit to being a fanboi, though not as rabid as some.
To be honest I think the people that have played Eve for quite a while have more a love/hate relationship with the game. They know what's wrong with it and certainly don't always agree with CCP.

No idea where those fanbois come from you're talking about, but take them with a grain of salt. It's fun to read about your adventures in Eve.
re "as if I hadn't anything better to do than to explicitely try not to have fun in a game, just to spite the people who like that game."

As silly as that sounds outside of EVE, it is quite common in EVE for people to take a security hit and lose a ship just to cause pain and suffering to another player. Someone with the EVE mindset but unfamiliar with you might ask themselves the question.

Anonymous, unaccountable internet actions do not bring out the best in people, as you saw with your comment experiments. The downside of EVE's dark and complicated sandbox is that it brings out the worst of the worst. It is certainly one of the reasons EVE will be a niche not mainstream game.
I think Tobold shouldn't care about who reads his blog. Either you're interested how and about what he writes or you don't.

If readers start to complain they can read someplace else. The lesson here is that if they complain they do care, so they like the blog but somehow disagree. fine with me, but that shouldn't force Tobold in a defensive state. This isn't blog wars, this is a site where we all read the interesting thoughts from Tobold to reflect what we think about the given topic.

I like Eve, I know all its downsides, and I had 3 tries over the years until I fell for Eve Online, so now I am running 2 accounts.

I got bored with mining, switched to trading and after making billions (which pay both of my accountsn now) I even got bored with missions.

So I reskill now to low sec PvP and support&logistics, which can be challenging as well. Finding the right corp to accept me is another challenge as I can't play every day.

So if you need a T3/Command Ship pilot and a logistics/trader jump freighter pilot let me know ;)
I play Eve. I've been playing for years. Still learning about it. Am I a fanboi? No, do I still try other games, other mmo's? Yes. (Got bored of STO in about 4 weeks...made admiral and realized there was nothing new to keep me. Still play Modern Warfare 2 occasionally, and there's Starcraft and EQ2 with my son.)
Human beings have a need to belong....

We also like to have our decisions reinforced, and any evidence to the contrary is to be ignored or resisted.

Fanboy behaviour is just a result of those two inherant human behaviours.

I've played eve for four years non-stop, and last year started playing wow (again) after a 3 year break.....

..... and I enjoy both!!!

As does my wife...

Fanboys in any form are just a pain in the neck (imho), trying to create a conflict where there is no need for one. Often a sign of immature attitudes....
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