The fundamental decision facing CCP is whether or not they should try to boost subscription revenues by transforming EVE into a carebear-friendly theme park MMO. Some people think there's too much non-consensual PvP in EVE. They think it's unfair that powerful players and alliances can attack weaker ones. They think this is "griefing", and that it drives people to cancel subscriptions. The answer to this "problem", they say, is to reduce non-consensual PvP in EVE, and to shift the game toward mutual PvP.
I have occasionally read posts on Jester's Trek. Some of them are even good. That's why I find it disappointing to be in a position where I must inform you that Ripard Teg is one of the people I described in the preceding paragraph. He is firmly in the carebear camp, and not just a little bit.
Earlier this month, I wrote about the CSM minutes, and called your attention to the CSM members who openly opposed the existence of non-mutual wardecs. Despite the fact that wardecs have been repeatedly nerfed to make highsec safer, CSM member Trebor Daehdoow (and others) called for the elimination of wardecs as we know them. You should only be able to declare war on people if they give you permission, they said, because it's fair, and prevents alliances from attacking enemies they can easily defeat.
Ripard Teg is a strong supporter of Trebor's. He hopes Trebor will run, and plans to save one of his own votes to cast for Trebor (the remaining votes being cast in favor of himself). Ripard's support for Trebor is a big red flag, but that's not the reason you shouldn't vote for him. Instead, I'd like to direct your attention to one of Ripard's most recent blog posts.
In a post entitled "Ganking isn't PvP and never was", Ripard explains why he thinks it's not such a good thing that people can shoot at someone's spaceships without their consent. Everyone in EVE has probably heard the old saying that when you undock in a ship, you consent to PvP. Ripard disagrees:
I'm currently rereading Alex Haley's Roots and was struck by several passages written from the perspective of white slave-holders whose characters argue slavery is both good for the slaves and a moral good in and of itself. The slaves have cause to disagree. The argument being made about "undocking equals consent" is rather similar...I applaud Ripard for his effort to re-broaden his horizons by rereading Roots, but I think he has the wrong idea. The fact that there is no perfectly safe space in EVE, and the fact that PvP is good for EVE, really has little to do with slavery. But Ripard goes on to make a more pointed analogy about the "victims" of suicide ganking:
At the time, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth, plus much proselytizing on how the victims could have prevented this fate (wearing a longer skirt, a higher neck line, and not so much perfume, perhaps?).Ripard's hyperbole shouldn't shock the readers of MinerBumping, who are accustomed to seeing things like miners who compare ganking to the Holocaust. Yes, Ripard is a more articulate, well-known version of the carebears who call you Hitler when you shoot their Retrievers.
But it's not the hyperbolic analogy that I want to call your attention to, but rather its logic. The substance of Ripard's argument is that in the same way women shouldn't need to alter their clothing to avoid sexual assault, a miner shouldn't need to fit a tank to avoid being ganked. Miners shouldn't need to scan, watch local, mine in safer systems, or mine in groups with defense ships. They shouldn't need to do these things, because regardless, decent EVE players won't gank a miner, in the same way that decent human beings won't rape a woman regardless of her clothing.
Ripard's position is more extreme than that of the "moderate miners" who claim they only want to limit ganking, not eliminate it. Moderate miners always argue for "one more nerf" because they think it's too easy to gank. (Of course, they always think it's too easy, no matter how often it's been nerfed, so they effectively argue for its elimination.) Yet moderate miners will admit that miners should at least try to fit a tank, and that going AFK in a 200 million isk ship with nothing but a Civilian Shield Booster is probably not a good idea. By contrast, Ripard thinks it's blaming the victim to suggest such a thing. He's on the extreme end of the carebear camp, though better at hiding it than most of his fellow travelers.
Now let's take a closer look at the root of Ripard's problem--what he perceives as the unfairness of EVE:
To me, the interesting thing about the argument that un-docking serves as consent to PvP is that the people who make this argument invariably make it from a position of enormous strength. They have all the power in the relationship: all the knowledge, all the power, all the training, all the money... everything! They are quite literally level 80 players preying on level 1 players and seeing nothing wrong with the relationship at all.You can see from Ripard's comment that he fundamentally does not understand the nature of power in EVE. To understand where Ripard goes wrong, I'd like to share a brief story from my earliest days in EVE, all the way back in January 2006. On my first day in the game, I did what most people do: I went through the tutorial and tried to figure out at least enough about the game to maneuver my ship around and complete the basic missions. On my second day in EVE, I went to lowsec.
Going into the game, it was my understanding that there was no isk to be made in highsec, and that nullsec was too well-guarded for a new player to enter. I was wrong on both counts, but I had no way of knowing that, so I got into a Bantam mining frigate to ninja-mine in lowsec asteroid belts. I quickly decided that killing the rats would be more fun than mining the ore. Within a week I was throwing missiles around in a Caracal cruiser. I knew to keep an eye on local, since anyone could kill me. Most of the time, people who appeared in local were just passing through. And at the moment I became complacent, assuming I could warp away if pirates appeared, I got ganked. My Caracal went boom.
The Ripards of the world would say the incident proved their point. I had no chance, because the pirates had the knowledge, the skillpoints, the money, the ships. But the story doesn't end there, because I didn't unsub from the game, cursing its unfairness. It never occurred to me that the game was unfair, or that I should quit. Instead, using almost every last isk in my wallet, I purchased another Caracal. I was determined to take passersby in local more seriously, and I replaced my damage mods with Warp Core Stabilizers.
My second Caracal didn't die. I went through lowsec belts ninja-ratting at will. And when pirates got too fresh on the gates, they discovered--much to their chagrin--that I was fitting Warp Core Stabilizers. As I escaped, it was they who howled about the unfairness of it all. According to Ripard, the pirates had "everything", but did they? I was willing to sacrifice damage mods (to a ratter, this is essentially yield) to protect myself from pirates. Pirates, on the other hand, were not willing to sacrifice an extra midslot for another scrambler. So even though I had nothing in Ripard's view, I won, and the people who had everything lost.
Miners are not defenseless. A mining barge is unlikely to defeat a combat ship in a 1v1 battle, true. A pigeon is unlikely to beat a cat in a 1v1, and a gazelle won't fare well against a lion in a 1v1. So why do pigeons and gazelles still exist, and for that matter, why do mining barges blanket highsec? Because their defense is to avoid getting into a situation where they're trapped in single combat against those who can beat them at it.
Now let's set the record straight about non-consensual PvP. Not only is it PvP, not only is it fair and legitimate, it's 100% essential to the game. If you're in a money-making ship, you're prey. You can succeed at evading your predators, or you can fail at it. When you fail, your ship needs to blow up. We can't have a game where the pirates need permission to attack you, because you'll never give them permission. Likewise, the pirates won't give permission to be attacked when they get ambushed by a more powerful force.
It goes back to the idea of the PvP food chain. You need something to form the base of the chain, ships that don't stand much chance against an attacker. It's not always a mining ship or hauler. It can even be a titan. According to the official reports about the big supercap brawl from the other day, the whole thing started when a Goon FC accidentally jumped his titan to a cyno rather than sending his fleet to it. The titan found itself ambushed by Pandemic Legion. At this point, the titan was just as defenseless against his attackers as a mining ship. He stood no chance; it was classic non-consensual PvP.
Then the Goons sent in a much larger force to back up the titan and kill the Pandemic Legion ambush party. Again, non-consensual PvP. If they didn't have reinforcements, PL might have said, in a Ripard version of EVE, "We decline to engage in mutual PvP, because you brought too many ships. See you tomorrow, or not." But because we're not in a theme park MMO (yet), PL instead sent out a call to everyone with a ship and a desire to kill Goons. Now the Goons were heavily outnumbered. Once more, non-consensual PvP took place, and several hundred billion isk evaporated.
Consider that it all took place because some people in PL decided to take advantage of a poor, defenseless titan who pressed the wrong button and stood no chance against them. The titan wasn't "defenseless", of course. The defense was to not push the wrong button in the first place. Great battles are built on mistakes, though. You don't need to be defenseless to be caught.
The PvP food chain requires that someone has the potential to be caught some of the time, from the miner to the pirate to the defense gang to the pirate ambush to the defense fleet. Each is trying to gain an overwhelming advantage against its prey, while avoiding being caught by its own predators. This is not a flaw in the game; it's the whole point of the game.
I know that some carebears will say that they would prefer not to take part in the multiplayer, PvP aspect of the game. Their opinion is no more valid than the guy who plays a multiplayer FPS to take a stroll through the battlefield without getting shot at.
Yes, it's a sandbox, and no, your AFK Mackinaw doesn't get to be invincible.
Ripard claims to be concerned about poor, defenseless noobies (like my week-old Caracal) being preyed upon by powerful, experienced pilots:
Am I exaggerating to make a point? Maybe just a little. But... just maybe I'm not exaggerating at all. This sort of thing happens every single day in EVE and most of us have just come to accept it -- and the cost it wreaks in player unsubs -- as part of the game. The question that started the philosophical debate: should we? I still don't know.The reality, of course, is that people with hundreds of millions of isk to spend on a mining ship, and often hundreds of millions more on implants, are not noobies. They frequently have plenty of money and skillpoints. But do they defend themselves? Some do. Others choose not to. And that's why Ripard's rape analogy is so important: In Ripard's mind, the miners shouldn't need to defend themselves. Rather, it's the "griefers" who need to stop picking on weaker players.
Ripard's premise about ganking not really being PvP is silly. Conceptually, it's as absurd as saying ratting and mission-running aren't really PvE because the player always wins. You overpower the rats, which is unfair. Maybe PvE should be nerfed, so the NPCs have a fighting chance.
So what's the point of taking such a ridiculous position? There's only one reason for Ripard's effort to undermine the legitimacy of ganking: If ganking isn't PvP, then there's nothing wrong with removing it from the game. If it's not valid to attack the poor, defenseless miners, then why not nerf it into oblivion, or even ban it?
One thing that jumped out at me from the CSM minutes that I didn't mention in my earlier post was a statistic listed on page 104:
"For reasons that are left as an exercise to the reader, Exhumers are now blowing up at historically low rates."Aggression is drying up across highsec. It's been nerfed over and over. Yet many on the CSM were busy arguing for the elimination of wardecs and other sources of "unfairness". This is what I warned you all about from the beginning. It wasn't just the impending nerfs of 2011 and 2012 that I opposed, it was all of the nerfs that would continue to be imposed in the future. If you share Ripard's view that it's unfair and illegitimate for the strong to attack the weak, then such attacks shouldn't be nerfed once, but nerfed until they no longer occur at all. If it's horribly unjust and griefing to shoot a miner, why stop when you reach "historically low levels"?
On occasion, Ripard attempts to soften his position by saying he hasn't fully made up his mind on the "philosophical debate" about whether non-consensual PvP should occur. Going by what he's written, his mind looks to be pretty well made up. After all, why would he run for the CSM if he didn't know which side of the debate he was on? Either he's against aggression, or he's running for the CSM without knowing what he stands for. In either case, he doesn't deserve your vote.
CCP may or may not listen to the CSM's suggestions about new features for the game. But I think they do pay some attention to the vote results. When people like Ripard get votes, it sends the message that EVE players don't want "unfair" PvP in the game. The more Ripard Tegs that get elected to the CSM, the more support it gives to those in CCP who would make mutual combat the only combat in EVE.
If EVE is doomed to a theme park future, let's not do anything to speed up the process. Cast not one vote for the carebears.