Thursday, April 12, 2012

Blog Banter 35: The Public Perception of EVE Online

Now approaching its tenth year, the EVE Online player community has matured into an intricate and multi-faceted society viewed with envy by other game developers, but is frequently regarded with suspicion by the wider gaming community. Is this perception deserved? Should "The Nation of EVE" be concerned by its public identity and if so how might that be improved? What influence will the integration of the DUST 514 community have on this culture in the future?

[Unrelated and random bonus question sponsored by EVE News 24: What single button would you recommend be included on an EVE-specific keyboard?]

Public perception eh? Well I think there are a number of differing perceptions out there and you cannot just lump them into one. I think I've come across four different public perceptions I can write about. Firstly you have the one I had myself which stopped me downloading Eve for a year or two after I first found out about the game.....

Eve is Hard and the Veterans Will Always be Better Than You!
It was around 2006 or 2007 I first heard of Eve Online. There was a review in a PC gaming magazine that caught my eye. It sounded a good game, as a fan of the games Privateer and Elite, I was interested. Then towards the end I read a line which was something like "....however, as in Eve skills are trained on purely a time basis, uncapped and with no grinding, you will never catch up to players who have been playing since 2003". WTF? So I'll never be able to compete against the veterans. Sod that for a game of soldiers! What's the point playing a game that you'll never be able to compete with those who played it for a year or two before you?

In 2008 I built a new PC and wanted something to test it out with. I had no idea what made me choose Eve, may be I saw some advert or something, but I did download it and was instantly hooked. But that magazine article, which is clearly wrong and a new character can compete with a bitter-vet, put me off for a few years. We know Eve is hard, and CCP are even using that in their marketing.

Eve On-What? I've Never Heard of it!
The most common response I get. Even with gamers, Eve Online is generally not that well known. Some might say it's a niche game, but a niche game with a loyal following. Compared to World of Warcraft's 8 million peak subscribers, Eve's 340,000 (ish) peak is much smaller. It's not a big game and therefore is not as well known both inside the gaming community and especially outside it. Now try explaining Eve to someone who doesn't know the game. The sheer vastness and openness of the sandbox can make it difficult to describe!

Eve is Boring and Really Just Spreadsheets in Space.
I think this video review covers this incorrect perception very, very well!

Eve is Full of Ebil Scum Bags Who Want to Be Horrible to You and the GM's Won't Protect You!
So I'm assuming this is the perception the banter was aiming at. Go to Jita, go on, go to Jita right now. Have a look in local at the contracts being posted. How many are legit? Those minerals being almost "given away", two PLEX for a great price, the Navy Issue Battleship being sold at a steal! Until you look at them and realise it's not 500,000 units of the mineral as the guy is saying, its 50,000. Those two PLEX turn out to be one PLEX and that Navy Issue Battleship has nothing Navy Issue about it at all.

Eve's reputation has served me well. I expect every bugger in game to try and rip me off, so other than buying an 8,888,888 ISK shuttle from the general market as a noob, I'm not fallen for any others.... so far. However, in game people do scam each other, steal from corporations and alliances, stab their friends in the back and can be generally shitty to their fellow man. And whilst these people are in the minority, it's the nasty guys that make the news. Take this years Fanfest, there was a lot of love being spread about but what made the news? Mittensgate!

And may be that's the problem. The news is made in Eve from the nasty acts in the sandbox. The billions stolen in corp theft, the scams, the destruction of expensive ships that people have worked hard to get. We advertise the sandbox that allows you to create wonderful "sand-sculptures", and then shout loudly and excitably about it when someone stomps through and kicks them down.
The DUST514 Community
The banter question asked at the end "What influence will the integration of the DUST 514 community have on this culture in the future". Now this is going to be interesting. Eve is NOT a game for casual players. Console FPS's ARE games for casual players. How are these two different player styles going to mix? With a wider audience (FPS games attract a wide range of people, niche games about important internet spaceships don't) will DUST have a community like Eve? Unlikely, and its more probable that any real DUST community that is formed will be formed by current Eve players. I don't see DUST having an impact on the perception of the game. DUST will have one community and reputation, Eve another. I consider that these potentially different communities will not get "lumped" together and will remain separate.

The public perception of Eve Online is generally far from reality. Those who have properly tried Eve and immersed themselves into the game know the truth. You cannot experience Eve Online solo in a 14-day trial, you need to get in a player corp and make some new friends and let them help you. Eve is an amazing game, but only if you invest in it. You get out, what you put in!

The wider public perception of Eve is that it is a difficult game, requiring a lot of time, investment and sitting around doing nothing whilst legions of nasty people plot to kick over your sandcastle.
Now the big thing is, do we actively seek to dispel this perception in our in and out-of-game lives, or do we reinforce it?

[Unrelated and random bonus question sponsored by EVE News 24: What single button would you recommend be included on an EVE-specific keyboard?]

This is obviously from @sindelpellion's Tweets about how Razer should create a Eve Online special edition keyboard. Luckily I wrote a blog about what keys it should have yesterday. My favorites being "Start forum whine", "Hot Drop O'Clock", "Initiate Brave Sir Robin Manoeuvre" and "Childish Smack Talk". But given that the question is "what single button", I'll have to go with.....

A button that can be customised within the client to warp to a specific place. You could set it for the sun at 50km, planet 1 at 0, planet 2 at 100km. So if you are happily plinking away at a POS and suddenly a cyno is popped and the sun is blotted out by supers, hit the button. You are scrammed, webbed and have 20 of your dearest enemies shooting you. Place finger on the button ready to get your pod out as your ship melts and DIAF.

The "Initiate Brave Sir Robin Manoeuvre" button - saving your implants, and ass, in one key press.

Other Banters on this topic....


  1. Good post, well written! I think it's interesting that we both independantly came to a lot of the same conclusions, broadly speaking.

    There is one key point I would disagree with and that's the one on console FPSers (and by proxy, Dust players) being casual gamers. If you play a new CoD for example on launch, there will be noobs everywhere. If you wait 6 months and go back on, the server population will be anything but casual. This is particularly relevant for Dust with CCP planning on making it a long-lasting, persistent, 'hardcore' FPS.

    Either way, I agree that I expect the two communities will not have much overlap. I'm just not certain if Dust will reflect positively or negatively on EVE in the long term. I suspect the latter but hope not.