Monday, June 23, 2014

A Different Look At Loss In EVE

I'm in the process of removing my co-worker from my EVE Online corporation.  He hadn't logged in for a couple of months and he told me he was leaving.  With the kids growing up and working a lot of crazy hours, he just didn't have time anymore.  Oh, and he really didn't like the fact that players can lose their stuff in EVE.

No one can say he didn't wander into dangerous grounds.  His first loss was exploring in a wormhole and his second taking a Venture into low sec.  I think those two experiences soured him on the concept of EVE's death penalty.  Knowing that type of loss can happen intellectually and actually experiencing it are two different things.  EVE's death penalty is one of the things that makes EVE a niche game.

I think that one of the problems when other people log into EVE after playing other games is the concept of actually losing gear.  To them, really good gear means something.  To EVE players, our gear is almost all player-made and usually available in a trade hub for ISK.  That's why the first rule of EVE is: don't fly what you can't afford to lose.  For pilots of frigates and even cruisers, really good equipment is relatively cheap and, except for Catalysts during Burn Jita, usually readily available.

The thought that struck me as funny this morning is that raiders in World of Warcraft or other games don't blink at the thought of paying massive repair bills.  The effort of replacing a piece (or 7) or gear is what they find objectionable.  They've already put in the effort, why do they need to put in the effort again? 

I know losing my first couple of ships in EVE was a pretty daunting experience because of the time involved replacing the ship.  I was new and didn't have any backup ships already purchased and fitted.  In other games, I died, rezzed, paid a repair bill, and went on my way.  In EVE, I had to go shopping!  A pretty good incentive to not lose a ship.

Now, I have backups of my ships purchased so if someone kills me I can just go on my way.  That happened the last time I lost a Procurer.  The only thing I needed to do was take a few minutes to fit my replacement ship for ice mining instead of belt mining and I was on my way.  Which was good, because I made a deal with the guy who killed me so he'd let me continue ice mining.

I'd wager that a good percentage of those who PvP either already have a lot of ships ready to fly in case they lose their current ship or are in an alliance with a good market where the pilots can purchase replacement ships quickly.  In effect, those players have pre-paid the death penalty (unless podded, and many don't mind that) and can treat their losses like players in other MMORPGs treat their repair bills.

I think one tip experienced players can give new players is, if the player has a ship he/she likes, to purchase and fit a second one, just in case.  That would make losing a ship just a little less painful.


  1. "Your shops are disposable" is a common thing that is said. Breaking a new player from the attachment to their ship as an individual item of ultimate importance is one of the hardest steps.

  2. Yes, shopping and fitting a replacement ship is quite a hurdle (can easily take an hour or more, if you don't lose ships that often and depending on where you live).

    But I wanted to correct the notion that WoW raider losses are massive. They aren't (to most raiders). When I played last, the average hourly income (comparable to missioning in EVE) was enough to pay for about 10 deaths (in best gear). The equivalent in EVE is that you fly a cheap frigate, nothing else. If you want to fly something bigger, or just more refined, it becomes expensive quite fast.

    Or in other words: in WoW, the difference between your cheap and expensive loss, is at most an order of magnitude. In EVE, it's what, factor 1000?

    In games like WoW, Diablo3 or similar, if you play reasonably, your repair costs don't affect your gameplay. In EVE flying a BC as a newbie... you just lost everything. That just doesn't exist in WoW, you can die almost 10 times without effect, and even then, when your equipment is broken and you cannot use it anymore, repair costs are only a fraction from the effort it took to gather your stuff to start with. Earning your repair costs quasi-naked is a lot easier (there are high-level noncombat quests) than earning a BC by starting with a frigate again.

  3. Again and again and again... this is a main part of why EVE is so niche... Loss Is Real is one of the things that makes EVE a 'real' sandbox. Create a castle inna sandbox, 'nother kid kicks it down... it's GONE and you have no choice but to go through creating it ALL over again.

    It is also one of the things that makes EVE special and as I like to put it, a real virtuality... a virtual REALITY. Cause IRL you blow up a real thing and it's really GONE. This real life truth of loss from theft and destruction are mirrored in EVE... and that give us the same feelings towards loss and gain as IRL has too.

    IRL we accept that there are things that will get used up, or put at risk of damage or loss when used and so we plan accordingly. Things like the tires on our cars. We know these will be used up over time and we plan for this.

    In my case I have a Jeep and I go 4wheeling a lot. The tires on my jeep have special tread patterns, are far larger than normal car tires and are therefore quite expensive plus, due to how they are designed, softer rubber compound for grip and tread patters optimized for slow speed off road use, they do not last as long under normal high speed highway driving and need to be replaced more often that the smaller std. high speed optimized sedan tire.

    Also due to how they look, the tread pattern and size, off road tires have a lot to do with how a Jeep looks. They are not only functional and contribute heavily to the Jeeps off road capability but they also are part of 'pride of ownership'. A full set of 4 can cost upwards of several thousand dollars, a 'cheap' set usually runs $600 to $800 and yet we accept this as part of "how things work" IRL.

    EVE is like this... most (all??) other MMOs aren't. Loss Is Real is a reflection of IRL and Themepark players (the vast majority of the potential players for EVE) aren't looking to recreate the stresses they live with IRL in a game. They are looking to escape from all of that for a while... and never losing your stuff once you get it is a big thing.

    They just have to adjust to see the shops (and ships) as consumable commodities not permanent Symbols of Achievement. To equate this to other MMos... our ships are our 'arrows', the difference in EVE is we don't have an infinite number, we have to buy each and every one we use.

    I personally really don't ever want this to change either. I like the Loss Is Real aspect as it makes my PvP wins and the successful safe delivery of millions of ISK worth of PI goods to a hub all the more satisfying.

    I guess we're all a little weird that way... =]

  4. I think unavoidable loss is what turns many people from EVE. From my experience most losses occur because of other players this game. Simply put, the entire game seems to be based on make others lose more than you do, and because of that the game appeals only to certain kind of players. Playing smart and being careful is exciting at the beginning, but also boring. Trying anything risky and you will lose a ship or whatever else you have risked. This is unavoidable because of the way the game is setup. So no matter how smart or careful you are you will lose and that is what most cannot accept. Losing sucks.

  5. Another good reason to purchase and fit out a backup of your main ship is that it PROVES that you're not flying something you can't afford to lose. You can't lose your ship and be left unable to replace it if you've already bought the replacement!

  6. Whenever I make a Jita shopping trip I usually have a list of 5-6 hulls and all the modules or alternative modules I think they'll need. I then proceed to buy the things in stacks of 10-20 each.

    Hard for a newbie to drop that sort of isk, but it means other than the odd thing here and there I'm done for several months. It's had the side effect of making me question the age old practice of giving newbies isk though.

    Now I wonder if instead of giving them 100mil, I'd be better off buying them a stack of cheap disposable frigates, destroyers, or cruisers with fittings. Because invariably they spend the 100mil on one ship, then lose it quickly in a blaze of glory. That one big loss hurts, but if I give them a steady stream of replacements and say, "Go out and have fun.", they're probably more likely to learn how Eve really works.

  7. Just my 2 cents...

    ISK is free, time isn't. Paying a ship is easy, but replacing it is horribly expensive as it costs time. Time to go to a hub, time to find the stuff, time to buy it, time to assemble the fit, time to go back home... time when you're essentially wasting your time for no bloody reason. I rarely played EVE more than 1 hour a day, can you imagine spending 2 days just to replace a ship?

    EVE is like it is, and meaningful loss is meaningful... but sometimes it's just too meaningful. ISK comes back, ships come back, but leisure time never comes back.

  8. This has always been a flaw with the new player game design.

    The NPE has only one mission (at least the last time I did the NPE), in which you are forced to lose a ship deliberately. If the NPE included a pattern of losing more ships, even multiple ships per mission, then new players would be used to the concept, before jumping into a WH or roaming low-sec or accepting a duel.

    And, then the noob ships, which should also help ease new players into the concept of replacable loss, just aren't usable for anything. If they were better at actually doing something - PVE, PVP or whatever - then new players could still have fun without worrying about the loss.