Is The EVE Online blogosphere dying?

You may have noticed that we haven’t seen or heard that much from the EVE Online blogosphere recently. And it turns out that there may be a reason for that.

Some EVE bloggers are concerned that the blogosphere around the unique space game is dying – killed, amongst other things, by the best-known EVE player of all, The Mittani, and his new site TheMittani.com.

Rixx at Evoganda is one of those people, and he explains what he believes has happened

“Heck, do we even need bloggers anymore? The fact is that The Mittani site has added weight to a side of the coin that didn’t really exist three years ago. More and more bloggers are joining the ranks of that news service, add that to EveNews24 and others and you have a very powerful brain drain that has been sucking the need for bloggers away for months now.

The Mittani has killed Eve Blogging. Why read thru dozens of sites when you can just visit one? You get features, news, opinion, and the unquestionable loyalty of the largest single block of players in-game, fed daily thru forum support that rivals none other.”

Of course, other games have professionally-run blogging/news sites that don’t strangle their blogospheres – notably WoW, of course, with WoW Insider and MMO Champion prominent as TheMittani equivalents. But EVE is both smaller and very different to other MMOs – and WoW Insider isn’t run by a guild that claims a massive percentage of the game’s players.

But that still doesn’t mean EVE blogging is doomed – or so Stan at Freebooted says, in a rebuttal post that looks at the other reasons things might be a bit quiet in the EVESphere right now

“I think TheMittani.com is a magnificent thing. There is regular, high-quality content to be found there and, as Rixx says, several bloggers are focusing the lion’s share of their efforts on providing content there, Marc Scaurus amongst them. EVE News 24 continues to deliver and has even had a facelift to keep up with the Joneses.

But that doesn’t mean that all that there is to say has been said. Far from it. Not every blogger will be producing material that fits a commercial news site. As new bloggers hone their craft, they may not feel ready for the challenge but may aim to contribute in the future. It’s all part of the same grand ecosystem. Bloggers are a unique breed and I’m sure a community of independent blogs will continue to thrive in the EVE metasphere.”

Stan has a great point, of course. Whilst there’s even one blogger writing about EVE – and I can’t imagine that ever not being the case whilst the game’s still active – there’s still an EVE blogosphere.

But what will happen now? Will The Mittani continue to dominate the EVE universe? Or will bloggers rise from the ashes and find ways to adapt to their new world?

What do you think?

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Has EVE crossed the moral line – forever?

Has EVE Online irrevocably crossed a moral line, to become a game where in-character PvP will necessarily extend to out-of-character, real world attacks?

Sounds like a pretty extreme stance to take. But that’s the argument that Jester of Jester’s Trek – one of the best-known, longest-running EVE blogs in existence – is making today. Upon being asked if he thinks EVE will ever cross the moral line, he responds, eloquently and with many examples, that we’ve passed that point several years ago

“It’s in our rear view mirror. EVE passed the line several years ago. Further, we’re never going to get back on the right side of the line. EVE is always going to be a game where nasty in-game behavior sometimes crosses the line into nasty out-of-game behavior. This behavior is built into EVE’s DNA.

Why yes, that is a stark answer. But it’s true nonetheless.

Nasty in-game behavior crossing the line into nasty out-of-game behavior is something that’s been going on for years. Hell, when I first started thinking about getting into the 0.0 sov war myself, one of the first stories on this line I heard about was a Russian player who wanted to cut the power to the house of a Titan-flying player. Is it true? Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. But it feels true and doesn’t generate a lot of disbelief. “CCP often touts this sort of thing with the bland marketing lingo of ‘player generated content.’,” Mittens said three years ago.

And you know what? They still do. “EVE players are the nicest people in the world,” Hilmar said at this year’s Fanfest, “because they get all their nastiness out of them in game.” I think we all recall what happened that same day. And it didn’t happen in game.”

For those who aren’t aware, the incident that Jester is referring to here is one in which Alexander “The Mittani” Gianturco, one of EVE’s best-known players, called for his followers to harass a mentally ill player into suicide.

This is pretty powerful, scary stuff – all the more so because it’s coming from Jester, who is a respected source on all things EVE. And he’s happy to supply examples, too – plenty of them – along with explanations of just why EVE can take people to such unpleasant places.

Of course, EVE isn’t always like this – there are plenty of players who enjoy it without taking their aggression outside the game. But nonetheless, it’s disturbing to hear Jester say that out-of-game actions are an inevitable part of EVE’s makeup. Does that mean that the entire MMO is beyond the pale? Should it even continue to run? Or is this out-of-game spillover just an unpleasant consequence of a fascinating hobby, like broken bones in snowboarding or concussions in boxing?

What do you think?

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When The Goons Declare War On You

What do you do when the best-known Corporation in EVE, the Goonswarm, declares war on your tiny three-person corporation? Is it time to give up?

Apparently not. Mabrick, a self-described “carebear” player in EVE Online, was targeted by the Goons for all-out war. In a fascinating post, he describes the ways he managed to continue playing whilst literally thousands of players were gunning for him, before going on to discuss the motivations of the people who were doing so

“To wit, all habits take the from of a cue, a response and a reward. This is the habit cycle. For the Goons one could say the reward is a good fight. Or, you could say it is juicy tears. Or, you could say it is fame/infamy. Those would all be wrong. It has to be something everyone within Goons shares or the alliance wouldn’t exist at all. So what is it? Let’s analyze the cue and it’ll give us the answer we seek.

When does Homo Goonus act out? When are they the most Goon like? Others have mentioned this so it isn’t too hard to figure. When they get bored. The cue for the Homo Goonus habit cycle is plain boredom. They have to do something about it. Simple uh? Cues don’t have to be elaborate at all.

So, what is the reward? That’s right, the elimination of boredom! See, it really is simple. And what are the responses that get Homo Goonus from cue to reward? Right again! Burn Jita, Hulkageddon and declaring war on high-sec carebears are all responses to the cue of boredom intended to bring about the reward or, in this case, the end of boredom.”

Mabrick’s discussion of how to survive an all-out war is fascinating, in particular, and will probably be useful reading for many EVE players in the future.

Meanwhile, the Nozy Gamer discusses the fallout of the Goonswarm’s war on “high-sec” (high-security, aka safer, areas in EVE), and their declarations of war on specific bloggers like Mabrick

“I have to say that the target selection for the Ministry of Love has been, shall we say, questionable. Sure, in propaganda value going after morons like Krixtal Icefluxor not only looks good but does the entire Eve Online community a huge favor and probably deserves some sort of commendation. But the target selection needs some work.

The poster child for bad target selection is Mabrick, the blogger who writes Mabrick’s Mumblings. I’m still trying to figure out what The Mittani (and yes, I’m convinced The Mittani was involved in the target selection) was thinking when he chose Mabrick for retribution. Does he have so much contempt for high sec dwellers that he automatically assumes they all will wilt under his glaze and either bow down to him or slink away from the game? As you can read from Mabrick’s post today about the lessons he learned from the Goons’ war on his 3 man corporation, Mabrick didn’t fit the profile that the Ministry should look for, at least at this point in the Ministry’s development.

The war on Mabrick reminded me of President Obama’s war on Fox News back in 2009. When someone with that much power goes after someone whose business is using pixels to disseminate information, some of that power is distributed to the target. The decision to end the war against Mabrick was the correct decision in order to limit the damage the Ministry of Love did to itself. Given that The Mittani, unlike U.S. politicians, tends to learn from his mistakes, I don’t expect to see a repeat of that performance.”

As always, the politics of EVE are fascinating – and it’s interesting to see the Goons on the back foot twice in the recent past. Could it be that the tide’s turning in EVE? Or will the Goons stage a comeback?

What do you think of the Goons declaring war on bloggers?

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Life In EVE – The Pleasant Present and the Storm That’s Coming

With WoW winding down pre-expansion, several MMOs are rapidly picking up more interest – and much to my surprise, one of them’s the ultra-hardcore PvP simulationist space MMO EVE Online. Several prominent bloggers are currently writing about their experiences in EVEspace, and there’s some really interesting stuff coming out from it.

First up, whilst The Ancient Gaming Noob has been EVEing for a while now, his latest post about the near future of EVE has interest and implications outside the game itself, as it touches on the Goonswarm’s reaction to their leader, the Mittani, being banned for 30 days – plus an upcoming change to the economy and TAGN’s prediction of the interaction of the two –

“The first event, the burning of Jita, is being cast as a “Free The Mittani” party and is scheduled to coincide with the lifting of his 30 day ban from the game on April 28th.

Anyway, this Jita event was originally scheduled as a celebration should The Mittani receive more than 10K votes in the CSM elections, but after he was banned, it became a welcome back event. And a test.

The supposed test being to see who CCP will react to this sort of thing. If it goes off without hindrance from CCP, EVE will be declared to be the same old EVE (for good or ill, depending on your point of view), while if CCP does step in to limit or otherwise block some or all of the event, it will be a sign that there is a new world order in EVE Online.”

One of the things that’s really fascinating about EVE – from a safe distance – is that it’s the first time a virtual world has ever seen an in-game struggle for dominance. Normally, we’d assume that the developers of a game are effectively Gods of that world, but as the Mittani and the Goonswarm’s case shows, it’s more complicated than that.

But people keep telling me that EVE’s not all about high-level politics and PvP that’s more entertaining to read about than participate in – and Flosch of Random Waypoint makes a good dent in proving that with his recent posts about life as a n00b in EVE University. Today, he writes about the experience of taking lessons in EVE U – and subsequently making mistakes with what he’s learned…

“After two jumps, our scout reported unusually high activity in the low-sec system we wanted to visit as part of the training. Ooooh, pirates! We gotta shoot pirates?

Sadly, no. It turned out that, while we weren’t quite sure what exactly was going on, it was definitely a size or two too large for our fleet. There were a carrier, another capital ship, and a lot of support gathered in that system. It seemed they were quite nervous when they realized there was a 45-people fleet sitting one system over – we got the occasional scouts checking in on what the hell we were doing sitting at that gate.”

EVE continues to be a fascinating environment. I’m not sure I want to venture back into it any time soon, but it’s probably the most interesting and in some ways most advanced MMO out there, and I’m always keen to see what happens next…

Have you used the lull to check out EVE?

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EVE’s at it again as the Goons (claim to) have taken over

Ah, EVE Online. The game I have no intention of actually playing again, but that I love to read about.

Today, it’s all about the democracy in the Icelandic HQ of the Elite-on-steroids space trading game, as the Goonswarm, one of the biggest Corporations (read guilds) in the game, and also scions of the infamous website Something Awful, claim to have infiltrated and controlled the game’s developers. Stabbed Up reports :

CCP has a policy to recruit from its player base where possible. There’s a lot of sense to this as it assures a supply of knowledgeable committed staff. Notably they recently recruited former Goon CEO Darius Johnson to be in charge of their security.

…So there are senior Goons in very powerful positions inside CCP. The Goons have adopted the same policy of infiltration and subversion towards the actual real world games company and the player council as they famously adopted in-game towards their play opponents.”

Stabs’ piece is a really interesting overview of the situation. Apparently the Goons are treating the metagame of EVE as just an extension of the actual game – they’re infiltrating, subverting and dominating in just the same way that they do in-game, with the intention of dominating and – so they say – destroying the game.

It’s all very interesting stuff. For starters, is what The Mittani (the Goonswarm’s representative) saying actually true? They’re engaged in a complex and very real-world equivalent game of disinformation and spying – it’s entirely likely that the reason they’re saying these things is not simply to gloat.

Is it perhaps an attempt to punish a Goon within the structure who hasn’t done as he was supposed to? Now that The Mittani’s outed the ex-Goon CCP employees, it’s hard to see how CCP won’t have to act against them in some way.

Is it an attempt to make the playerbase, or some subset of it, think that the Goons have more control than they do?

Is it a double-bluff?

One thing’s certain, though – antics like this are going to make other companies a lot less likely to invite players to directly influence their games. Tobold writes that it’s the failure of MMO democracy :

“Any other company thinking about player representatives will see this, and decide that the effort isn’t worth the bother. Anybody elected will only ever represent the most powerful alliance of players, never the silent majority. And if anything, companies have learned by now that they need to listen less to their most hardcore players, not more, to be successful and drive revenue.”

What do you think? Any ideas what’s going on?

All quotes taken directly from the relevant articles.

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