Thursday, December 4, 2014

Learning Anti-Social Behavior

One of the truths in EVE Online passed down through the ages is that EVE is more fun when played with others.  I'll even agree that one should join a really good corporation at least once to get a feel for everything EVE has to offer.  Yet, I've now played in my one person corporation for over 4 1/2 years and don't see myself joining another corporation anytime soon.  Here's the dirty little secret.  EVE taught me to play by myself.

In the other two MMOs I played before EVE, World of Warcraft and EverQuest 2, I always belonged to a guild.  I joined a guild in WoW when I hit level 17 and stayed in it until I was kicked out for lack of raiding at the then level cap of 60.  Shortly afterward, I quit WoW.  In EQ2, I spent the time from around level 20 to level 40 in one guild, then the guild broke up.  I found another guild and stayed in that one from level 42 to level 80 until the drama llama showed up and I left for EVE.  Basically, I'd been in a guild in one game or another for almost the entire 4 years I'd played MMOs up to that point.

Then I started EVE.  The starter NPC corporation was a pretty bad place, but I had done my research and knew I wanted to join EVE University, so I tolerated the crap until I could get into a real corp.  I had fun, so much fun that I started a second account.  That's where my path to solo play began.

That second starter NPC corp was worse than the first.  The corp had people in it that enjoyed picking on others.  I'm talking they enjoyed trolling people out of the game.  I tried to get one player to join the Uni, but he'd had enough and just unsubbed.  I couldn't take the environment any longer.  If that was my first account, I would have cancelled my account myself and walked away from EVE.  But since I did have Rosewalker in EVE University already, I took a different path.

One day Wandering Rose was mining in a Retriever and a recruiter showed up in the system.  In short order, I saw an escape from NPC corp hell and joined his corp.  I lasted less than five days.  The corp I joined was in a bit of trouble with alliance leadership and instituted a policy in which anyone who was suicide ganked would have to pay a fine.  Yeah, right.  I left, but not before someone tried to tell me that the corp would teach me how not to get ganked.  Yeah, right.

I entered a new NPC corp and basically turned corp chat off.  In the meantime, Rosewalker left the Uni after a 5 1/2 month stay and joined a factional warfare corp.  Unfortunately, I wound up the only member in the U.S. time zone and never flew with anyone.  I flew around in Amamake and the surrounding systems until I lost my Cheetah.  At that point, I realized I couldn't afford to play in factional warfare and dropped corp.

Before I left my FW corp, I knew I needed to create my own corp.  I refused to reenter an NPC corp.  I would rather quit.  So Wandering Rose created a corp and Rosewalker joined her the next day.

Interestingly enough, my bad experiences with corp in EVE carried over into other games.  I haven't joined a guild in any other game I've played in the past five years, although I was going to join a friend's free company in Final Fantasy XIV.  The only reason I didn't was due to Square Enix shutting down the server to new accounts the day before I bought the game.

In EVE's defense, I'm not sure if the game made me anti-social or just picky.  In both WoW and EQ2, I didn't join guilds until I'd either had a long talk with a recruiter or grouped with a corp member so I knew I'd be compatible with the guild.  In every other game since, I just get blind invites.  Well, except in FFXIV where I turned down an invite from someone I met, but that was because my subscription was going to end in a few days and I had already determined I wasn't going to resub.  So perhaps EVE hasn't soured me on group play after all.

Don't get me wrong.  I still think new players should get out of the NPC corps as soon as possible.  Finding a good corp is preferred.  I know my time in EVE University probably is the reason I'm still playing after five years.  But I should add that I've managed to survive 4 1/2 years in my one person corp.  Then again, I've managed to engage with the community through the blog and Twitter, so I'm probably a really weird case.  So go out and join a player-run corp.  Just remember that playing solo is not necessarily the end of the world.


  1. And this is a really good outcome. I'd argue that the formative experience of joining E-UNI and getting out of that starter corp significantly increased the likelihood of you playing long-term, to the extent that it worked.

    Don't get me wrong... playing solo is definitely a viable, fun, and engaging equilibrium state, but I just don't think it can be an origin state as well... not with the retention rate Eve has currently.

    Glad you stayed, and glad you enjoy the game!

  2. Nosy,

    You sort of make this distinction but I believe it needs emphasis so I’ll repeat it. Solo does not equal anti-social. Being in game quiet but out of game talkative is not being anti-social at all. Your interactions via twitter and this blog most certainly count as social activity. You’re a very community minded social player Nosy. Don’t let anyone frame you otherwise.

    When we think about how to get people engaged in Eve we shouldn’t limit ourselves to only joining a corporation that’s involved in concurrent group activities (fleet roams for example). While fleet activity is wonderfully social it’s not the only type of social. Other types of social exist. This type of social (blogs and comments and twitter) is every bit as real and engagement producing valuable as concurrent group activity.
    For those of us drawn to solo play (for whatever reason) asynchronous social interaction is highly valued.

    Eve is every bit as much like golf (a solo sport) as it is like basketball (a group sport). CCP is entirely correct to emphasize Eve’s social aspects as player interaction is a necessary component of a single-shard sand box but that shouldn’t mean one solitary arrow pointing at group play. How often do people play golf alone?

  3. I've only been in EVE for a little over a year now. During that time I've not had the sort of troubles you've had. Sure, I was in an NPC corps for a spell initially, but it was a simple task to find a good corp online in-game. I did some checking on corps, and then sent convo's to recruiters. The two corps I've been in were both done with way and in each case they were great decisions.

    The NPC corps I've been in were Brutor Tribe and TLF as well as your basic Gallente and Caldari ones. I've been lucky not to run into players trolling and griefing on those channels.

  4. Own corp = no drama. You can come and go as you please. Do whatever you wish, when you wish in within the available frameworks. Take risks, dock up when decced, either/either. There are advantages in other words.

    I wonder if the social element of EvE is something one chooses and the decrying of solo play is misguided at best. After all, you won't always be online when your corpmates or alliance are. The other end of the spectrum from solo play is that you can't do anything without being in a fleet... which ironically enough is more often forced upon you in low/null sec.
    Lastly, and in context, there is no practical difference between a L4 mission runner and someone chaining rats in the hope of that (insert appropriate rat) domination spawn. Both can be, and are often done by, a single pilot.

    In other words, putting down any one play style is somewhat shortsighted, especially when in EvE it's very much a case of cool, now what shall I/we do today...?

  5. I'd suggest that a little effort by CCP in removing trolls from the NPC corps will make life better for everyone. A little effort by experienced players in providing useful advice and encouraging NPC corp members to participate in group activities (especially excursions in cheap ships to lowsec and nullsec) will be even more valuable.

    By making NOC corps less player-retention-negative, we will have more people hanging around longer, and simultaneously raise the bar for player corporations: "to attract new players, you have to be better than this."

    At least that is how it works in my head.