CCP Masterplan: "We're looking at changing three things before the end of the year. First is the intra-corp aggression rules. At the moment, all members can now freely aggress each other. We are looking to change this so that being in the same member corp does not give you the right to legally kill your corp mates. The main goal of this is to make recruitment safer for the recruiter and the recruitee. And it will remove the fact that you currently cannot mitigate the risk of recruiting someone, which makes people not recruit."Yes, it's the long-awaited nerf to awoxing. You see, highsec wasn't safe enough, and we needed One More Nerf™ to protect the carebears. This will come as little surprise to my readers. This isn't the first, second, or tenth time my predictions about the direction of highsec have come true. The other forms of highsec PvP have been nerfed on a regular basis, but awoxing went unscathed until now. To make up for lost time, CCP decided to remove it from the game completely, rather than subject it to incremental nerfs.
The news, quoted above, arrived on page 78 of the minutes, in the innocuously titled "Corporations and Alliances" section. Awoxing--also commonly referred to as the "safari"--has been around since EVE began 11 years ago. One of the first things any EVE player learns is that members of the same corp can shoot each other freely in highsec. A highsec awoxer joins a corp specifically so he can shoot his corpmates. Reverse-awoxing (or the reverse-safari), where a CEO invites someone into his corp with the intention of shooting him, will also be eliminated by the change.
If you've ever enjoyed reading stories about a 10-hour hero who joins a corp and kills an Orca, or someone who holds their CEO hostage for a medal, you might have considered getting another account for awoxing. Move quickly or don't bother. The days of the safari are coming to an end.
Of course, people use the corpmate-shooting feature for things besides awoxing. New players are taught how to fight by practicing within their own corp. No longer. When the CSM learned about CCP's intention to remove this ability, they were a little concerned. From the meeting minutes...
Managa Solaris [an RvB fleet commander]: "The Free For Alls and Fleet balancing would be screwed for us. On the other hand, it would encourage focus on the war."When CCP added the duel feature, they did away with limited-engagement can-flipping. Duels are now the justification for removing the ability to awox, as well. One wonders what changes the upcoming "dojo" feature will be used to justify. But as Ali Aras pointed out, the duel feature isn't really suited for corp fleet practice. CCP Fozzie thinks it will be easy to tell everyone in EVE not to shoot their corp members anymore, and to teach them to open up a series of duels. It would be even easier to let people continue to shoot their corpmates, as they've done for the past decade--but that might lead to dead carebears.
DJ Funky Bacon: "Being able to shoot corpmates has been key to practicing PvP with each other."
Ali Aras: "It is also a method and how I first learned to PvP."
CCP Bettik: "Right, and I think a lot of corporations do that. But we have duels."
Ali Aras: "It is tough even on a smaller scale. We have one person jumping through a gate and people practicing tackling maneuvers and spiraling maneuvers before we had access to a null sec system to do this securely."
CCP Fozzie: "You can do some of this by just having people open a limited engagement duel. If there is only one person and he is shooting back at them it is very easy to open up a series of duels."
CCP Bettik: "What sold me on this point was we are teaching people that it's safer in an NPC corporation than a player corporation. We know that it is better for them to join a player corporation, but we want to make sure that people can get into a corporation. We know that there is a social barrier for some and some people have truly bad experiences. However, this is about the person that joins a corp and suddenly they are dead and they don't know what happened."CCP Bettik points out that the possibility of an awox makes it more dangerous to be a member of a player corp. This has always been true, though: Player corps can be wardecced, while NPC corps can't. Player corps are supposed to be more risky than NPC corps. That's how they were designed. In exchange for the risks of joining a player corp, you can get a lower tax rate and numerous other benefits. Bettik's logic for the removal of awoxing can be used--and has been used, frequently--to argue for the removal of non-consensual wardecs. After all, wardecs are a bigger and more common danger for player corps than awoxes are. Plenty of players stay in an NPC corp to avoid wardecs. Few give awoxes much thought.
DJ Funkybacon: "Can we not educate people against this instead of changing mechanics? There are some legitimate uses to corpos being able to shoot each other. To kill that in favor of a small part of the community trying to shoot newer folks seems silly."Thankfully, DJ FunkyBacon is on the CSM to serve as the representative of lowsec players and people who have common sense.
Sion Kumitomo: "Realistically, the people who are being affected are newer people in high sec. When you have a situation where you have people inviting people into a corporation, in a place called high sec, which is essentially safe in many ways. When their entire interaction with the game is trying to learn it and you have people specifically targeting them because they do not know. We have discussed this extensively as the CSM before I posted on the internal threads about it. It is almost unanimous that we think it is a good idea."
DJ FunkyBacon: "Newer people in high sec and dumb people are not the same. When you get to the point that your four billion ISK mission ship is getting AWOXed I don’t think you are new anymore. I don't know anyone who invited noobs in tristans to their corp so that they could gank them."
CCP Fozzie: "To address Funky's comment about dumb people. I really don't think that you can assume that someone who joins a group in an online game, and doesn't assume immediately that means that person gets immunity from all of the game's normal consequences for shooting them, is dumb. That's the game being dumb and the player being normal and smart.Bizarrely, CCP Fozzie thinks a player who knows about the ability to shoot corpmates in is a "type of super user". I have another name for them: "Person who's been in a player corp for more than five minutes." Corbexx points out that highsec players don't want to hear or learn new stuff. Yet this change will require every highsec player to learn that they'll be CONCORDed if they shoot corpmates from now on. And they'll need to learn how to use duels. How does this change help low-info users, again?
Corbexx: "A lot of high sec people wish to play on their own. They do not want to interact with other people. They just want to get on and play. They don't read forums. They want to relax and do what they want to do. Even if you put notices that you can go and learn about corp roles they are not going to learn it."
CCP Fozzie: "This is an aspect that you can play for years and never encounter. Not all of us are that type of super user. It is the game not acting in a reasonable way that a reasonable human being would understand."
DJ FunkyBacon disagrees.
Another paradox is that Fozzie thinks the removal of corp-shooting will somehow make EVE Online more user-friendly and intuitive for new players. Let's play a little game to see how Fozzie's logic holds up. Choose which of the following is more user-friendly and intuitive for new players:
(A) Telling new players that you can freely shoot corpmates in highsec, just as they have for the past decade.
(B) Telling all new players who joined the game prior to the change that they can no longer shoot corpmates in highsec, telling all new players who joined the game after the change that their older corpmates are wrong if they say otherwise, and teaching everyone how to open up a series of duels with each other so they can practice PvP.
Officially, "B" is the correct answer. I wonder how many people will accidentally CONCORD themselves once the system gets more user-friendly.
Ali Aras: "Anecdotally, it has also retained different people in the game. People are attracted to it. For people who are attracted to this particular kind of infiltration gameplay."Ah, the old "this nerf isn't a big deal because highsec still isn't 100% safe yet" line. When people called for nerfs to suicide ganking, they said it was fine because wardecs were still possible; nerfs to wardecs are fine because people can still suicide gank. Before today, they also used to say griefers shouldn't complain about nerfs to ganking/wardecs because they could still engage in can-flipping and awoxing. Besides, only One More Nerf™ is needed. We promise this is the last one, for real this time. You don't believe in that slippery slope fallacy, do you?
Sion Kumitomo: "You can still do that in null sec, low sec, and wormholes."
CCP Fozzie: "You can do it in high sec to, just in different ways. Suicide gankings."
CCP FoxFour: "The idea that this is the only way to cause harm by joining a corporation does not exist. You can join a corporation and still assassinate someone. You can convince them to give you assets. You can convince them to go through a low sec gate. You can convince them to go mission in an expensive ship and suicide gank them."
CCP Fozzie: "You can still war dec them."
Sugar Kyle: "They can still be ganked by mission gankers and stuff and they shouldn’t think that high sec is safe."
CCP Bettik: "Ganking still remains. We know that people who quit from this are people who will never try Eve again because they feel violated."People who quit due to awoxes are carebears. These are the same people who send death threats when someone ganks their Retriever. They feel violated when it rains.
Mike Azariah: "You said the guy in the blinged out Golem is ganked. But those are often noobs who have purchased a character and ship with PLEX. I have met these people who are only three weeks old. They can still be new players."As usual, highsec PvP is be nerfed under the pretense of protecting new players. (Think of the children!) Everyone knows this is nonsense. Blingy mission runners and Orca pilots aren't new players. People don't awox in the hopes of killing rookie ships and tech I frigates. It used to be that EVE celebrated ganks performed against the Pay-To-Win types, people who used real money to buy expensive ships they didn't know how to fly. Now the Pay-To-Win players are such a precious resource that they must be protected by removing gameplay. A blingy Golem might be a new player, so the rules need to be rewritten to make highsec even safer for them. If they lose a ship, they might quit. We certainly can't risk that, given their extraordinary contributions to the community.
CCP Bettik: "I don't think it is the length of time that matters, but the experience. I don't see a difference between losing a Venture or a Golem. It is a person who walks into a situation he did not understand and he loses."
Sion Kumitomo: "This is one of the few areas where I can see that Malcanis' Law does not apply."
CCP Fozzie: "Malcanis' Law applies to pretty much everything and that makes it useless."
CCP Fozzie: "We feel for the griefers who are affected by this but they will do fine."Fortunately, CCP Fozzie reassures us that the griefers will be fine. Of course, people were fine with corp-shooting for the past decade, so "fine" is a pretty easy standard to meet. As for those who enjoyed awoxing, they can go do something else (until that gets nerfed, too).
I know a lot of people reading this are going to be asking, "What happened to CCP Fozzie? Didn't he used to be smart?" Fozzie specializes in ship balancing. He's an expert on that subject. He probably knows every ship bonus by heart. The problem with Fozzie is that he seems to be equally confident in dealing with a subject he knows nothing about. There's no other way to explain his comments here.
Some feel this change is justified because it will make recruiters more willing to accept newbies. The Mittani himself once opined that the removal of highsec awoxing would give CCP a boost in subscription revenues. If newbies are able to get into a player corp, they're more likely to stick around. That means more money for CCP.
In fact, there are already literally thousands of corps in highsec that accept everyone who applies. They'll take anyone. They beg for recruits. Some corps actually pay people to join. If a newbie wants to join a player corp, they will, and they do.
"But James 315," you say. "Those are bad corps. They have lousy leaders and sit around AFK mining all day. They teach newbies that EVE is boring. We want newbies to join good corps, worthwhile corps, ones that show newbies EVE can be fun. Those corps don't accept newbies, for fear of awoxers."
Fair enough. One small problem: About 99% of those good, worthwhile corps operate in lowsec, nullsec, and wormhole space. The removal of highsec awoxing has no effect on them whatsoever, so their recruitment policies will not change.
As for the small number of worthwhile highsec corps, those are highsec PvP corps. The PvE-only corps are all the same, and are all boring, whether they take newbies or not. Among the highsec corps who do PvP, some already take newbies. The ones who don't take newbies fall into one or both of the following categories:
Group #1. They have skillpoint requirements. They only take people who have money and ships and already know how to fight. They're not interested in training new players.
Group #2. They restrict access because they don't want spies, corp thieves, or awoxers.
The removal of awoxing has no effect on Group #1. The removal of awoxing won't open up Group #2, either. A new player can still be a spy or corp thief, so they won't be allowed into the corp. After the change, there won't be a threat of awoxing, but here's the thing--highsec PvP corps aren't threatened by newbie awoxers. Suppose you managed to sneak your 10-hour hero into The Marmite Collective, for instance. You open fire with your Catalyst and what happens? They laugh at you and pop your ship.
Highsec awoxing is different from low/null/worm awoxing. Consider this exchange from the minutes:
Corbexx: "And they can still attack low sec groups, and wormhole groups, and null sec groups, and kill their corpmates."I was pleasantly surprised by Ali Aras throughout this section of the minutes. She actually seemed to know what she was talking about. That might sound like damning with faint praise, but within the context of CSM minutes, it's about the biggest compliment I can give.
Ali Aras: "It's a different dynamic."
Corbexx: "It's the same thing. You're infiltrating a corp to grief it."
In low/null/worm, a newbie awoxer can train into a tackle ship and hold someone down while his main (or friends), in a highly-skilled character, provides the firepower. This is what Awox, the original awoxer, did. You can't do this with a newbie awoxer in highsec, because the attackers must all be a member of the corp.
In low/null/worm, a newbie awoxer can cause diplomatic incidents by attacking blues. Again, this is what Awox did. You can't do this in highsec, because shooting blues gets you CONCORDed.
In highsec, the awoxer must play the role of tackle and firepower. Newbie awoxers pose a threat to only one kind of highsec corp: One filled with nothing but defenseless, unarmed carebears. If you bring your new Catalyst pilot to a mining op, a single defense ship will prevent you from awoxing. But if they're all pure PvE players, you can attack their Orca (unless he has drones) or possibly a freighter.
In other words, newbie awoxers in highsec can only do damage to the same kind of bad, boring corp that already takes every member who applies. Highsec corps won't change their hiring practices. If they don't take newbies today, they won't take them after the change. They'll continue to enforce their skillpoint requirements or screening against spies and corp thieves.
CCP won't make an extra dollar or euro as a result of this change. Real talk incoming: Making highsec safer isn't the way for CCP to get more money. If CCP wants more money, it should stop wasting millions of dollars on obvious losers like Dust 514 (lackluster FPS in oversaturated market, on obsolete console), Incarna (mostly vaporware), and World of Darkness (entirely vaporware). Don't blame EVE players for CCP's financial state. Also, drop the new player fetish. EVE is 11 years old. It's no spring chicken. The "new players" CCP wants to attract are people who tried EVE years ago and didn't like it. If you want new players, make a new game.
The irony here is that awoxers are a small, but proud, community. There aren't many of them, and their annihilation won't make highsec much safer anyway. As I said earlier, carebears who choose NPC corps do it to avoid wardecs, not awoxers. The removal of awoxing is, frankly, a sign of desperation--they're running out of things to nerf. As the last several years have shown, nerfing highsec aggression doesn't bring any extra money to CCP.
It's the awoxers themselves, people like Psychotic Monk, who will feel the effects. They won't have their favorite activity in EVE anymore. But highsec only needed One More Nerf™ to make carebears safe, so no one else should worry.
One small prediction, though: After awoxing is removed, carebears will still complain about getting killed in highsec.