Wednesday, December 2, 2015

117 Billion ISK... and Send Mittens my Regards.

~or “EVE Needs Bad Guys…”

I have been surfing and linking and reading the posts and reddit threads and pastebin dumps and notehub posts about the Imperium Viceroyalty Program… and I was concerned about what I was reading… initially.

I will admit to being of a somewhat ‘grr goons‘ turn of mind, though definitely a lower case version more like grr goons lite™, nothing like the full bore Gobblinish “GRR GOONS” mindset nor of the far moar tinfoil & trollish “GRR RMTing GOONS” of the Dimmy Snetterton set.

My personal take on Mittens, Goons and their antics is more based on the simple fact that I just don’t like liars and cheats and scammers on general principle and the new Viceroyalty Pogrom is nothing more than the same play that was made on my home corp wayyy back when we were just noobs. That was nothing moar than a straightforward EVE style Hisec WarDec Protection Racket. This Viceroyalty thing is just the same racket all dressed up and being played out on a much larger stage for moar ISK in Null & Lowsec.

While I am at best luke warm about Goons the majority of the time, and at worst case a little worried about their impact on our great game every so often based on specific cases I have always said that no matter what else you say about them, they do create content and as Bad Guys go, we could have far worse… and EVE needs good Bad Guys.

EVE needs ‘good’ Bad Guys?” “Are you fuked in the head?” I hear your frown and mumble… Yes, and No.

Think about it… in all other MMO’s (that I know of) the Bad Guys are normally fairly powerful, hard but not impossible to kill, NPC “Bosses” and their less powerful though usually numerous horde of mindless minions. And yes we do have Sansha Koveki, and Bloody Omar and all the somewhat LOLable thousands upon thousands of pirate and faction NPC’s we take contracts on to kill for their bounties, but none of them, not even the Sleepers or hell, not even the Drifters are “The Big Bad Guys” of EVE. NPCs are not and cannot be the Final Dungeon Boss in our game… no, in EVE it is all about the players, about Emergent Player Behavior, and so man must fulfill this role…

In New Eden, nihil inimicius quam sibi ipse is a cold hard truth. In EVE Man must be his own worst enemy, we have no one else. We have to provide our own Dungeon Bosses with their Horde of Minions to revile and strive against. And Mittens and his gang are just that, and they don’t even just accept the role… they play it with dedication, serious effort and, one must say, with gusto.

Why? Well… somebody has to.

As I understand it, Goons did not originally start off as Bad Guys in EVE. From what I have read and heard they started out as most of us do, players just playing the game. Not intending to be asshats or Bad Men much less THE Bad Guys of EVE. Yes they started out centered around a core of players from the Something Awful forums and that became a ’thing’ for them.

Being “Community Born”, as Mittens calls it has obviously contributed to their disassociation from the “EVE Born”, IE the rest of us. This has helped to foster a mindset of “us” against “them” with ‘them’ being everyone not a Goon. And that made it far far easier for the Mittani to take the steps into spying and subversion and for the line troops to follow he who became Darth Mittens and with him to embrace the Dark Side, and all that goes with it.

Their descent into evil was something that also grew out of the war against BoB and in general their desire and the fight to take and hold Sov in nullsec. And yes, once they decided to put on the Black Hat of the Bad Guys, they surely didn’t do it in half measures now did they? No, in for a penny, in for a pound as they say. And so, here we are… living and dying in a New Eden that has real life booygmen… and this is not, necessarily, a bad thing.

I had a discussion with a friend and co-worker who has been a long time WoW player and who joined us in EVE about 6 months ago because WoW had become, well, boring for him. He gave it a good try, had me and another co-worker who also joined us in EVE, pulling for him. I gave him the PLEX I got for him subbing, so ISK was not a major issue for him… But EVE is a niche game, a very niche game, and he is simply not a highly social or a PVP centric player. Now he is flying in Elite Dangerous and while he is enjoying it, he says he still struggles to find a reason to play… One of, if not the most important aspects for gamers about gaming is why do we play?

For most games it comes as Instant Gratification in the form of an adrenaline rush from the Dev created content. But EVE is not an Instant Gratification game, it is the Long Game… but interestingly because Risk and Loss are Real in EVE, the adrenaline rush in PVP and sometimes even in PVE combat can be far far better. We all know the main problem with Dev created content is that it takes veteran players just days or even hours to burn through content that can take years to create, and then, no matter how good it is, it’s over. Look at WoW’s last big expansion… My friend completed it in one week… just one godsdamned week!

In EVE we need the Devs to care for and maintain the sandbox, to keep the sand clean, to craft the NPC Lore, to keep making the toys we need and want to build and play with, and destroy. We also do need them to create the work we do… the mining, market, BPOs, missions, sites, belts and interactions with the NPCs that inhabit this great verse with us… We do all of this in order to make the ISK we need so we can afford to lose what we fly when we fight. ALL of the Dev created content in EVE is the background and sets and props we use in living out our stories, creating our history, creating the player’s Lore.

No group of Devs could ever begin to write or code the Lore and content we MAKE every single day. And say what you will… the Mittani, Goonswarm Federation and their Allies are creating Lore and Content in EVE… Lore and Content for all those who want to get involved and take part on either side, Lore and Content for those who will work to profit from it and Lore and Content for those who will change their plans and game play to avoid it…

After my friend completed the new WoW content in one week he asked himself, “Now what do I do?” “Run it again? but why? for what reason, to what purpose?” And that is the crux issue here. Why do we log on? what are we fighting for? what do we get out of it?

Grr Goons, Good Fights and a reason to undock… that’s what.
And our War Cry? 117 BILLION ISK!!!… LOL

Fly reckless and see you in the Sky =/|)=


  1. This is a very good post, and you do raise a good point about the need for villains. Having a narrative that gives us something to struggle for, something to hate, is a very good thing, and helps us stay engaged. It gets us to care about the game in a way that simply logging in to play a video game doesn't. The narrative vindicates the promise of an MMO.

    The thing I'm struggling with is... Is the Goon style of playing the game good for the health of the game? Sure, they help to get a good hate on, but when you have that hate, what happens? When they hit your assets, they bring so many numbers that no one can hope to win. They weaponize boredom. They actively encourage you to log off. They make fighting them so frustrating that while you theoretically want to beat them, in practice fighting them is horribly boring and un-fun. They're like that really good hockey player who wants to play street hockey with you because he wants to slap-shot you in the fact with his incredibly accurate, powerful shot, not because he wants anyone to enjoy the game.

    More than that, though, I've seen entire groups of players leave null-sec because the CFC waves its' collective dick around any time anyone seems to be having fun. Like a dinosaur after the comet, they're so desperate to find content that they eat through the local prey stock. Thousands of players have left the game because of them, if not tens of thousands. Null-sec is the ghetto it is because of the CFC.

    And I say this as a person who is responsible for being a party to it.

    I've definitely come around to believe that the continued existence of the CFC as a single, cohesive entity will mean the death of a meaningful Eve. Sure, the game itself will linger on, but the CFC has crowded out so many players and has consolidated content. The thought process of people considering starting up a null empire has been reduced to, "...and if we're successful at becoming relevant, the CFC will curbstomp us into the ground. What's the point?"

    And even within the CFC, the "content" they create is one-sided blob massacres, hot-dropping, or high-sec ganking... all punctuated by a lack of risk and an inevitable conclusion from the on-set. That's not engaging, it's disengaging and causes people to simply quit in frustration. They create content, sure... dead-end content that doesn't even satisfy their members - look at declining numbers and fleet participation among CFC members - they're horribly bored, and this viceroy situation only verifies it.

    The CFC is a net-negative to the game by a wide degree. If CCP was smart, they would take the reputation hit among players and do anything they can to forcibly break it up. Their revenue stream, I believe, depends upon it.

    1. ”I've definitely come around to believe that the continued existence of the CFC as a single, cohesive entity will mean the death of a meaningful Eve.”

      Well Tal, you have far better knowledge than I on the CFC/Goons and their internal ways and means so I bow to your judgement. I think our only real hope is if Mittens come to realize that the game he and his Goons are playing now IS ruining THE game… not just our game.

  2. Nice new insulting name for me, I see. You stay classy.

    In any case, you have omitted one huge fact. In any of the dev-created PvE situations that you mention in other games, players CAN beat them, though it may take some real effort.

    Once, some years ago, goons could have been defeated by a massive collective effort. Though they had not lost, they were clearly worried with Black Legion hammering away at them with the other groups. So they bought off BL, and the rest is Kickstarter history. goon leadership learned from that moment. They have continued to direct CCP to make changes to the game mechanics until goon's hegemony is complete within the game, and their control outside the game is unsurpassed.

    Today, NO ONE can defeat goons. They have won Eve. And now, with an impotent CCP looking away, goon leadership milks the game for every RL coin they can.

    Let me make it clear. I admire the brilliance of goon leadership. They are highly intelligent, experts at human interaction, and masters at long-term planning. They are of course, ruthless sociopaths as well. I figure most of them would be highly effective senior management on Wall Street. But bottom line, they are killing the game.

    It is no surprise that activity in the game and subs are cratering. People realize the futility of trying to carve out any space without the blessing of goons or the russians. The game is rigged now, and people know it, so they quit. The game has become boring, because there ARE limits on what players can do. They may not be limits based on dev-created PvE structures, but the goon-imposed limits are limits nonetheless.

    A South Park episode always comes to mind. It is the one where a player has become so good at WoW even the Blizzard dev's and executives can't beat him. To beat him, Blizzard has to cheat and give one of the kid's fathers some ridiculous sword. We are at that point now in Eve. The only way to save Eve is to destroy goons and the game mechanics that support them.

    I have listed before how simple it would be to take the legs out from goons, which means killing off all the game mechanics that support their cash flows. I am not going to go into them again, but if CCP wiped out all supercaps in the game, and at the same time trashed the game mechanics that support goons and the russians, we would likely see a very vibrant game re-appear.

    1. ”Nice new insulting name for me, I see. You stay classy.” well, I do my bit… =]

      ”In any of the dev-created PvE situations that you mention in other games, players CAN beat them, though it may take some real effort.”

      Yeah… That is the only part I did not go into in my post because I wanted it to be positive. Tal said the exact same thing only with different words… The Final Dungeon Bosses and their Hordes of Minions in other MMO’s can and eventually do get beat… in this way, Mittens and Goons are, so far, different in EVE. And I have no answer for this… I got nothing.

      And my issue with you still stands unchanged as long as you do this …

      ”They have continued to direct CCP to make changes to the game mechanics until goon's hegemony is complete within the game, and their control outside the game is unsurpassed.”

      I hate when you spout unsupported BS like this. Show me the verified pastebin of a convo with Hilmar telling Andie to do whatever Alex says and I’ll back off… until then you have NO proof and it’s all just tinfoil and ugly pipedreams.

      I am not going to answer to your comment point by point… but may I ask you to think on something? I am not asking for a response.

      Do you really believe, or even just want to run the very real risk that CCP could afford to keep the servers online and the Devs at work if Goons (and evidentially you are adding the Russians) as a whole, or even if just a majority of them decided the EVE was not worth playing anymore because CCP had wiped out all supercaps and trashed the game mechanics that they relied on?

      We saw what happened to the PCU after the jump changes… imagine how far it will drop if you got your way Vince…

      I seriously doubt CCP is so flush with RW ISK that they can afford with that kind of a reduction in income… they would possibly have to operate at a loss until they could find a way to get back in the black on the ledgers… Few if any companies in the world have that fat a wallet. Wanna risk it all Vince? Will that make you happy?

    2. To your last point:

      To borrow a term that many use today, goons are a cancer. You have two choices: You can let it continue to progress and kill the entire body, or you can try to kill it. Sometimes killing it is as "benign" (and I use that term very poorly here) as chemo, sometimes you have to cut it out to save the body.

      Now, would CCP survive the radical surgery if all goons up and quit? It would be a tough pill to swallow, but I am betting we would see a huge surge in players returning.

      Now, the damage that would come from that would be horrific. Code would surge in ranks 10-fold, and try to kill anything that moves. And that is when the servers are up, because the DDoS attacks CCP has endured in the past will pale in comparison to what goons will launch from a russian base, or any other country with similar laws with regard to internet attacks.

      But eventually, if CCP had brains and the willpower, they could very likely weather the storm. Unfortunately, the other option is what they will take, which is doing nothing, and letting Eve slowly die, while CCP milks it for every last coin they can.

    3. I disagree… but not vehemently so. Yes, Goons as they exist now and as they play the game now are not healthy for the game as a whole. But keep in mind, they, like every single gamer or group of gamers in the world, are playing to win. No one plays any game in order to lose and ATM, in EVE, due to their willingness to work together, due to their shared feelings of “us” vs “them”, one of the strongest social binding forces, they are, as you say, extremely hard to beat, but not impossible to beat…

      ALL of the rest of the playerbase out numbers them hugely… but ‘we’ simply don’t want beat them badly enough to join together in large enough numbers to beat them. This is simply human politics in a game mirroring real life politics… as is almost always the case, the side with the greater numbers usually prevails.

      My issue with Gevlon is he is virulent and negative no one wants to follow him… and you, dear Vinny, are in some ways worse, you are shaking your fist at the sky and screaming at the gods to fix this for you… but CCP wants to see us to fix it uourselves… and NO ONE is gonna follow you anywhere.

      However… we, the EVE Playerbase as a whole, did have a shot at it once… It being banding together to curbstomp Goons… and yes, CCP quickly closed that loophole. What loophole? Remember the Goonwar against Jade Constantine of 2012?

      This was after the Wardec changes, the new Ally System. Jade quickly made the War mutual by declaring War on Goons, this locked them both into the War the only way out being a mutual agreement between The Star Fraction and Goons to end the war… and with the new Ally System, Jade wasn’t going to do that, what he did was ask for help… from everybody.

      As Jester put it (post here)… he asked for allies. Lots of allies. In fact, he asked pretty much everyone in EVE that wasn't a Goon to be his ally.

      This caused, again I’ll let Jester say it… ” In the first 48 hours of this unexpectedly massive "foreverwar", the Goons started losing ships at a hysterical rate. Suddenly realizing that they had a tiger by the tail and finding that they couldn't cast off the mutual war chains linking them to The Star Fraction without using the new surrender mechanics, the Goons did something rather un-Goon-like. They panicked.” They cried to CCP and CCP blinked and backed off on thins mechanic… fast and hard.

      Now I know you dear Vince will use this as proof that CCP is in Goons pocket… I disagree as I can think of other reasons CCP would have backed off… but it is an unpleasant and ugly worry point in CCP’s relationship with the playerbase as a whole, no doubt about it.

      But avoiding the tinfoil, this type of ally mechanic or some variant that allows the players NOT already in a large Alliance to band together against a larger foe… this could be the key CCP needs to fix Goons… if they only had the balls to let us use it… us being all the players the Goons are trying to ruin the game for.

    4. OK, so you are saying that the game mechanic that may have caused the downfall of goons was quickly reversed. Whether goons told CCP to pull the plug or not is irrelevant. The bottom line is that it was pulled, and the situation in game today is that goons are the only true superpower left, and unassailable.

      As for CCP waiting for the players to rise up and defeat the goons, that is not happening. That is crystal clear. So yeah, I am indeed shaking my fists at the CCP gods and shouting "You idiots, are you truly that blind and stubborn? Are you truly that in love with this laissez faire mantra that you are willing to watch your game, and your livelihood, sink into oblivion?"

      We have reached a point that no one can, or will, stand up to the goons, and wipe them out. If PL, the russians, Test, Brave, or whatever power bloc you choose, all got together, and somehow managed to maintain an alliance, would they have the firepower and organization to defeat the goons. I mean burn out every goon structure, totally wipe out every ISK production site, and then have the willpower to stand vigilant for god knows how long to ensure that all goon reserves have been exhausted?

      I think not. The only group that can are the "gods I scream at". And they seem more than happy to let goons keep on rolling. Or, they are utterly terrified of goons, as I have stated before.

    5. My own take is that "Goons were bound to happen". Someone would win all wars and become effectively unbeatable, unless the game had very thought out mechanics and developer cheating in place to avert that. Someone had to become the US Army of EVE, a unbeatable PvP force. And then PvP would be dead.

      In that scenario, CCP would have two choices. Either destroy the unstoppable PvP force and reset the PvP game, or just let it rot in boredom until the winners were tired of their victory, left the game and became small enough so someoen else destroy them and resets the PvP game.

      Option 1 is bad because the message is that CCP as a "neutral party" is against the winners. Option 2 is bad because the game may stagnate and die as PvP rots before being reborn.

      The solution, of course, was to secure a sufficient population through other means than nullsec PvP. Say, PvE. Or WiS. So when the PvP leg eventually crumbled, the game still could hold its own until PvP reignited.

      But now? PvE is in even worst shape than PvP. WiS is dead to all effects but a few lines of code in the client. And the US Army of EVE now moves to wage a unwinnable war on boredom.

      This is the end of the beginning of the end for nullsec PvP. If people fight back, the death will be slow. If they just quit, the death will be fast.

      But there's no way out of the corner in which CCP painted themselves. We gave them money for years, waiting for our content. And CCP just cared of PvP. Well then, enjoy the fruits. Reap what you sow. Who's gonna pay to be rotflstomped by bored veterans with unstoppable might?

    6. I think you guys are overestimating the importance of the goons. Seriously, I go by my business with very little interaction or bother from them.

      If blobbing and the boredom things is really the issue why isn't everybody shitting all over PL as well? Were they not the quintessential hot droppers that ruined every good capital fight? Tallest trees?

      As for changing the mechanics to nuke a well organised alliance? Been there, tried that. That very organization skill meant that the goons adapted and everybody else did not. Of course the "solution" to that "problem" is more of the same? I'm not convinced.

      Cancer? Like Tur says, declaring war on a large part of your member base is probably not a good idea... especially if it is not even clear that cancer exists...

      Nature abhors a vacuum. Without meaningful enemies eventually even the CFC will crumble. Who knows maybe the horde grows and it crushes it. Maybe the drama lama swings by and internal strife gets it. Its the way of all empires. BOB (Band of Brothers, not the god of wormholes), Rome, Persia, Soviets... CFC... just a matter of time.

      This is why I am so bemused by Gevlon - like George Soros' "attack" on the Bank of England. He didn't cause it - just saw the situation for what it was and capitalised on it - lent his weight to push an already teetering body over the edge. Similarly Gevlon claims he personally foiled kickstarter attempts (never mind that they were so overly ambitious they were doomed from the start). And mark my words, when the CFC inevitably fragments he will be there to claim the credit.

      Good on him an you, but really no action needed to reach that objective...

      So grrr goons yes.. fine... if you want... but I'm not investing too much time and energy into that. Too concerned about where my next ISK is comming from ;-)

    7. Vince 5:37
      No… I am saying that “a” game mechanic that might have given the rest of the players in EVE the power to effectively fight the Goons, was quickly reversed.

      And yes, whether Goons told CCP to pull the plug or not is irrelevant. The bottom line is that it was pulled, and the situation in game today is that Goons are still extremely effective at large scale war making in EVE... and in the current meta, unless enough players band together, yes they are to a great degree undefeatable by the existing player groups.

      And I sincerely do not believe that CCP is willing to watch their game and livelihood, sink into oblivion… I believe CCP Seagull made that emphatically clear.

      And I believe there are a number of reasons CCP has not, and may not, make changes specifically against Goons… and it has nothing to do with CCP being more than happy to let goons keep on rolling or being utterly terrified of them either. To CCP, Goons may be many things, but in the end, they are customers, paying customers. Some of the reasons I can think of for CCP to not act ‘against’ any specific group in the game (for reasons other than EULA or ToS violations)(and don’t you say one godsdamned word about RMT, unless you have PROOF you hear me?!) are…

      (1) Finances.
      CCP needs every account. With or without goons EVE Online is a for profit business, Period.

      (2) Precedence.
      If they take a stand for or against any single or group of playerbased organizations, simply because that organization plays the game better than anyone else, that is an extremely bad position to put themselves in… especially in light of the sandbox / emergent player behavior ideal, IE the basic of EVE.

      (3) Fairness.
      Defined as unbiased decision making as regards whole playerbase.
      Hand in hand with #1, they cannot afford to alienate anyone from joining or playing EVE by being seen as ‘taking sides’, in the long run that would hurt their business more than anything else.

      And yes… I am even more concerned now than I was before that CCP ‘blinked’ and re-balanced the Wardec Ally System, seemingly in favor of Goons… this set a very very bad precedence and I feel CCP needs to address this. I think there need to be a lot more discussion on this, a helluva lot more.

    8. Angry… I’ll post your comments, but you are almost as bad as Vince. The fix is not to Trammel the fuck out of EVE… they did that to Ultima Online and it was a travesty. No, PVP is not THE issues, it’s YOUR issue… and you are not the game.

      If you really feel this way, put your money where your mouth is. Unsub and quit. But if you do, you better stop talking about EVE as you will have given up any right to have any say at all. Otherwise at least try to come up with solutions instead of whining…

    9. AoS… I too have nothing whatsoever to do with Goons… their effect on my game is in the meta only so far, and not a lot at that. They do give me stuff to write about though… gotta hand that to em.

      People aren’t shitting on PL because no one in PL ever said, “We are not here to ruin the game, we are here to ruin your game.” because they are not… they are simply playing their game, and quite well at that.

      I do so hope you are right. That eventually Mittens will no longer be able to come up with the bread and circuses the line goons need and the CFC (cause that’s what it IS) will finally failscade into history, it is the way of things...

      And I too, like you, fly and die with my friends… and that is what the game is for me, and why I undock… and why I will keep on undocking. =]

    10. Tur, I don't want EVE become a PvE server. Yet until the Goons are gone, nullsec PvP will be effectively dead. Sooner if people abandon hope and quit, and later if they oppose the Goons... for how long? Months? A year? But eventually it all will be "grow until the Goons come to crush you. Want to rinse and repeat or go play something esle?" Nullsec has been killed by the victors. And thanks to CCP's best efforts to prioritize PvP, that leaves little reasons to play EVE Online.

      Wormholes will keep going on. Lowsec will keep going on. But those are small fry compared to the nullsec gorilla and the PvE mammoth. How small can become the server population before failcascading?

      Solutions? As I said, CCP can't destroy the Goons. And probably they won't like what will happen to their company if they're to wait until the Goons fade and someone kills the rotting beast and starts its quest to glory. Not doing anything is not an option.

      Not all is lost, though. CCP still can use their development plans to provide an alternative to nullsec PvP. Player structures and new space may be open to grab for even an army of one, and their mechanics may just make ineffective to be a nullsec victor. New space may be open to noobs an highseccers and PvErs, rather than be blocked behind nullsec gates that require a thousand men to build and defend while the Goons don't come to stomp over them.

      Seriously. Our best hope is what we don't know of what CCP is already developing. It may be -better be- completely differet of all we learned and know.

      Because if the new space and player owned gates favor or require the kind of gameplay stemming from nullsec (big alliances and Goons), they will be stillborn and CCP will be up to very rough times.

      Try to imagine if the only way to owe a gate and acces the new space was to pay a Goon viceroy... good luck marketing that to new players. :/

      The part of me which unsubbed two years ago would laugh manically, specially if CCP Seagull lost her job over the destruction of EVE Online.

      Yet the part of me which mourns for not having any reason to come back would wheep like a little girl over the loss of EVE Online.

  3. Love this blog. Read it everytime a new post is made. Being totally honest it just popped up on my Google feed one day after i had done some Google searches for EVE. I played EVE a few years ago and joined one of the many Goon Squads. At the time a good friend of mine was all about EVE and basically coached me into playing. Reading you blogs makes me want to get back into it. Keep up the good work!

    1. Thank you. I am always a bit surprised and deeply gratified when someone is moved enough by a post to take the time to comment. Especially when it is enjoyed or it stirs something up in their thinking.

      EVE can always use more pilots man... =]

  4. First time reader. A good post and some excellent replies. I will add to my reading lsit :)

    1. I am, as always, flattered and honored that anyone finds my blatherings here interesting enough to read and sometimes even take the time to put fingers to keyboard and join in the discussion.

      Thank you... =]


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