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Good Grief! Belated Blog Banter 20

Welcome to the twentieth installment of the EVE Blog Banter, the monthly EVE Online blogging extravaganza created by CrazyKinux. The EVE Blog Banter involves an enthusiastic group of gaming bloggers, a common topic within the realm of EVE Online, and a week to post articles pertaining to the said topic. The resulting articles can either be short or quite extensive, either funny or dead serious, but are always a great fun to read! Any questions about the EVE Blog Banter should be directed to crazykinux@gmail.com. Check out other EVE Blog Banter articles at the bottom of this post!

With the recent completion of the 3rd installment of the Hulkageddon last month,@CyberinEVE, author of Hands Off, My Loots!, asks: “Griefing is a very big part of EVE.  Ninja Salvaging, Suicide Ganking, Trolling, and Scamming are all a very large part of the game.  What do you think about all these things?  You can talk about one, or all…but just let us know your overall opinion on Griefing, and any recommendations you may have to change it if you think it’s needed.”

I realize that this is quite late and ordinarily, I’d just have not posted on it. But as a goon, this is not really an optional topic. I don’t think I can just give this banter a miss. We’re the brand name of grief in Eve online. Our ticker is even named after a piece of ascii art that we use, as we put it in our own internal phrasing, to “shit up local.” :condi:

So I had to say, well something. And I hate to disappoint, but I have no stories of glorious pubbie tears. Honestly, I view very little of what goes on in Eve, even what we do at our worst, as actually griefing.

Griefing, to me, is about destroying the ability of someone to play a game unrelated to the game itself–since player conflict in all its myriad ways is the game then almost nothing in Eve can really be categorized as grief. If it has a useful in game purpose, then it’s by definition not griefing.

Here’s an example of grief. When I tried Lineage 2 in the US open beta, players were camping the newbie spawn points. You’d materialize in the game and immediately be killed. You’d then respawn at the same place and be again killed. Again and again.  That’s griefing. What one commentator calls “Baby Killing.” It’s destroying the game. It didn’t matter that their characters got guard killed. They just rolled new ones to keep the grief going.

You really don’t see people in Eve doing this. There’s no cloud of cruisers and destroyers waiting outside the newbie stations to repeatedly nuke newbships. That kind of idiocy just doesn’t happen in Eve. The worst people manage is a few dumb empire wars against Eve University.

Why does player conflict in Eve not count as grief in my mind? First, most player conflict is avoidable with a minimum of common sense and knowledge about the game. Second, almost every system that could allow griefing in Eve, also enables some other form of legitimate and often fascinating gameplay. And more than anything, in Eve more than in any other game, your reputation matters and follows you.

An example of a system that can be used for good or ill. I can contract ships to a corp member to bring into nulsec for me and I can either ask for an escrow to be posted or not. I trust them and they’re doing it at a discount so I do not. They can take it all for themselves, but they don’t. Instead, they offer a far cheaper service than would be available were we all to require escrows. The tools are there to protect myself with an escrow. The freedom is there to choose not to do so. How do you know who to trust? You use your brain. The one thing Eve has gotten right is reputation. Your reputation, your corp history, and your killboard follow you no matter where you go in the Eve universe. I’m a goon, you think someone is going to invite me into their corp and give me roles on the corp wallet and hangar? If they do, they’re daft. The skill system assures that as you go forward in your Eve career, your character becomes more and more valuable and is less and less disposable. Your paper trail grows with your player character skills.  This is in sharp sharp contrast to games like UO where a PK griefer could simply delete the character and macro another to 100% skill in a short time.

And that’s how most systems work in Eve. There are checks and balances. You have a security status, and pirates first turn yellow, then flashy red. Systems that provide the chance to hurt someone also create gameplay opportunities. You can’t have industrial espionage and corporate infiltration without the ability of people to steal on and individual basis.

There is, of course, suicide ganking. Since this does exploit the space between the checks and balances, it’s probably the closest thing you can come to griefing in Eve. I don’t think I’m going to surprise anyone by saying that I support it. But I probably will surprise some people in saying that I think right now, that the economics of it could use some tweaking against those of us who suicide gank. I think from a game balance perspective, it’s just a little too easy to take a very cheap ship and make an absolute fortune off of marginal kills. But that’s about balance not that the ability should be there. Let me be clear, if some genius undocks with a thousand real world dollars worth of plex in their frigate’s cargo hold. Well. “Boom, sooner or later. BOOM!” I’m all for that. There should be consequences for acting stupidly.

Spamming local? Yes, there are times it can be out of control, but the problem with what is and isn’t in bounds is that it’s subjective. And spamming and commentary on message boards is a vital and important part of Eve. The biggest weapon in inter-alliance warfare is the ability to get your pilots to log in or not. The Northern Coalition defeated the South this spring far more by morale than by any sort of economic or military victory and a huge part of this was their very effective BFF campaign, which among other things relied on spamming BFF whenever and whereever they encountered southern forces. Spamming local works. Similarly, my own alliance uses crude and rude spamming of local as a calling card. It gives us a certain reputation and distinguishes us from the crowd.

But most of all, this just can’t be hammered home more: The real consequences of any action are to your reputation. Eve is a game where your reputation matters. You can buy more ships, you can even buy isk. You can’t just grind up new characters quickly (or worse macro them up) like you can in so many other games. Your character’s corporate history travels with him or her and killboards report each and every kill even years in the past. This changes everything and is a huge source of accountability for players.

Griefing in Eve? It’s not grief. It’s just the sandbox.

Other Blog Banters on this subject:

My Loot Your Tears

Confessions of a Closet Carebear

A Merry Life and a Short One

Planet Risk

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