Thursday, January 19, 2012

Blog Banter 32 - for the children

"This month's Blog Banter comes from Drackarn of Sand, Cider and Spaceships. He has foolishly chosen to poke the hornet's nest that is the non-consensual PvP debate. Whilst you read his question, I'll be finding a safe place to hide.

A quick view of the Eve Online forums can always find someone complaining about being suicide ganked, whining about some scam they fell for or other such tears. With the Goons' Ice Interdiction claiming a vast amount of mining ships, there were calls for an "opt out of PvP" option.
Should this happen? Should people be able to opt-out of PvP in Eve Online. Should CONCORD prevent crime rather than just handing out justice after the event? Or do the hi-sec population already have too much protection from the scum and villainy that inhabits the game?"

*update* a list of other blog responses to the queston raised above, can be found at Freebooted.

Raise the price of nonconsensual PVP

After the Goons’ ice interdiction and their recent promise of a much more devastating ‘victory lap’ through highsec, we are again confronted with the question: should CCP do something about nonconsensual PVP? Should it be possible in New Eden to opt out of PVP altogether?

Eve Online has a reputation of being notoriously difficult. One of the hardest parts to understand - for inexperienced pilots anyway - are the aggression mechanics. This allows older, more experienced pilots to can flip or can bait newbie pilots - or they can resort to just suicide ganking them; that doesn't mean much to the older, more experienced pilot. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I find very little to defend in this practice. It is no sport, it doesn’t require intelligence or courage, it isn’t ‘educating the n00bs’. In my opinion, it’s just griefing, nothing more. There’s no reasonable way a  n00b miner can defend himself against these practices; it’s either accept that you’re being robbed, or lose your ship. 
I know for a fact that these practices have cost CCP subscribers. I have personally known several pilots who ended their fresh subscriptions (or never converted trial to paying subscription) after losing ships this way or hearing about such losses. Heck, if I hadn’t been accepted in a good newbie corp, I would have quit too, after losing my first, hard earned, shiny new Incursus to a griefer.

Yet the whole premise of New Eden is, that there is no safety, ever. It is a harsh, cold place and that is by design; it’s not by accident. It remains a single shard sandbox, fraught with danger. CONCORD was not meant to prevent crime there; not easily anyway. Let's not dumb down Eve Online even further, shall we?

Compromise: raise the stakes
Coming from a carebear background, I have a lot of sympathy for my less experienced brethren in highsec. Implementing some extra protection for them does appeal to my sense of fairness - and it would be good for CCP’s baseline as well. Yet I wouldn’t want to fundamentally change New Eden to accomplish it. But I can think of a few measures that would at least level the playing field somewhat.

For instance some extra protection, in the first 12 weeks (or 8, or 10.. please debate) of being a pod pilot. Let's determine a 'graduation age': below that, you're afforded some extra protection, if you're older than that, nothing changes when compared to the situation now. 
After the graduation period ends, the n00b pilot receives a note stating he has completed his basic training and should now be aware of all the dangers out there. The note contains a link to a evelopedia page on piracy, such as this one. No extra protection is now available for the graduated pilot.

So what kind of extra protection am I thinking about? Suicide ganking n00bs is now a very one sided event, as I mentioned above, and I propose to level the playing field somewhat, by making sure the griefer/ganker gets to feel the pain too. The ganker should have to think about his action: is this kill really worth it, or not?  The first step in this direction was removing insurance payout; let's take this line of thought a little further. I propose raising the security status penalties for ship killings under specific circumstances: when the pilot is below the graduation age, and the security status of the system is higher than 0.6 (or 0.5, 0.7.. up for debate), the security standings penalty is significantly raised. Penalties would be stackable: killing a mining vessel in 1.0, piloted by a pilot fresh out of trial, should carry a much more severe penalty than, for instance, killing an eight week old ratter in 0.8. Killing a two week old cyno alt in lowsec or nullsec should not carry (extra) penalties at all.

Added to this - and perhaps this should be implemented for all kinds of highsec ganks, not only for n00b bashing - the offending pilot should feel some real pain: a fine, and doing some jail time seems appropriate. So, no jumping/undocking for at least 24 hours after a suicide gank; ISK fines to you or your corp's wallet. 
I'd like to see some ISK compensation for the victim too, preferrably via the insurance route, but am struggling to find a way that would allow something like that to be implemented without being exploited immediately. Suggestions are welcome..
To prevent gankers from working with throwaway characters: the griefing/ganking character is 'on probation' and can't be biomassed or sold for at least two (four?) weeks. 

To prevent can flipping/baiting, I would simply suggest the ability to set a password on any jettisoned can. Anyone still can baited after that is just lazy and deserves some punishment :)

Pro and con
The upside of this (or a similar) approach would be, that nonconsensual PVP would still be available - but at a much steeper price to the ganker; this would be something you can't do too often before a character (or an account) becomes totally useless.The gank should really be worth it!

A downside is, that it's quite a convoluted system, a tad difficult to understand and implement without making it exploitable somehow. I'm sure, however, that the experienced game devs at CCP have ways around that. 

Another downside; certain high sec areas would - at least for younger pilots -become temporary save havens. They’ll probably flock around the few meager belts available there, without venturing outside too much. Will the youngsters muster the courage to exit the reservation? 

My final concern with any protection measure is: how will the griefers/gankers exploit it to their profit? This is something that needs to be thought of. 


Mat Westhorpe said...

This is one of the most balanced and even-handed banters I've read on this topic. Nice one.

(Either that or it's a sublime troll). ;)

Maria Wingtips said...

Thanks Stan! I usually don't troll, so you're free to take it seriously :)