Saturday, April 14, 2012

BB #35 All bark or all bite?

The Public Perception of EVE Online

Now approaching its tenth year, the EVE Online player community has matured into an intricate and multi-faceted society viewed with envy by other game developers, but is frequently regarded with suspicion by the wider gaming community. Is this perception deserved? Should "The Nation of EVE" be concerned by its public identity and if so how might that be improved? What influence will the integration of the DUST 514 community have on this culture in the future?

[Unrelated and random bonus question sponsored by EVE News 24: What single button would you recommend be included on an EVE-specific keyboard?]

'Frequently regarded with suspicion'... Not sure that I believe that as much as the rest of the statement. I think that the reputation eve has it has earned. The reputation of Eve has been a long time in the making and for the most part the game deserves it!

Playing eve is like playing with all your friends behind a wall of mean. I think that the culture in eve is unique, for every out and out asshole I've run into, in any of the facets of the game I've found another 10 or 20 who devote themselves to the game and the people in the game. For instance, as a noob I was killed by a pirate in lowsec, I convoed him, upset and he calmly text-walked me through what I was doing wrong and how to adjust my fit from terrible into just barely passable.

Let's imagine a corp and or alliance without their own forums, and/or killboards, and/or teamspeak. It's tough to find these days, and to be honest, I hardly consider corps and alliances serious before they have their own killboard, forums, AND teamspeak.

These services are usually hosted either for free or for a small, and usually in-game fee, provided by corp mates, alliance mates and other gamers. Hosted for the community and their friends, not just to cheat, scam and hurt other players.

Day after day I am exposed to new apps, like, in-game gambling apps, out of game fitting apps, skill monitoring apps, iphone and andriod apps. All those are developed by the community, or rather by specific members of the community who work pretty hard to keep these applications, killboards, etc up to date with the current game. In other online games they tend to follow the image below, more lurkers than contributors, and just begging to find ways to get more people involved. Eve might not be the complete opposite of the pyramid, but it is not anywhere that bad.

Sure Eve has it's share of bad publicity, most recently the Mittani thing at Fanfest, but even before then, massive corp thefts, stories of betrayal, not to mention the summer of rage, or Jita riots. It all relates back to the community. Part of our perception is that we are a little fanatic, and very involved, in fact I would say that we, as a community, has won best online gaming community at least twice that I can remember.

As a whole the community is amazingly involved, because of the unique nature of the game, the complexity, the depth and breadth available inside of Eve. People are very attached to this game, like I am, that they speak loudly about it, to pretty much everyone who will listen. Talking to outsiders, they may speak of the stories of loss and hate, but that's only because it best displays how this game is different, and they make the best stories. Especially vs "This one time at a gate camp..."

Here is the point; Eve isn't everyone's game, nor will it ever be, regardless of the perception given to the game. Eve is cold and cruel at times but filled with a great group of people, behind a wall on anonymity. It allows the things that you can't do anywhere else, and it publicizes those differences.

Should the "Nation of Eve" be concerned? No, simply put, not at all. Could things be made better? Yes, but players who are going to survive in Eve enjoy the deep nature of the game. Make no mistake, when I say could things be made better, I mean the early player experience, mechanics here and there, Faction war, etc etc and NOT should the perception of the community be changed.

The real test will be the integration of Eve with the FPS community that will likely drive DUST 514. Eve already has a tough, dark image. It walks the fine line between somewhat mature teasing, high expectations and enjoyment of politics and deception (and spreadsheets in space) while on the other side of that line is just outright assholery. Most FPS's are so deeply in the assholery camp that it might threaten to pull Eve that way and ruin tender balance the community currently enjoys.

Overall the separation of Eve, largely from the DUST camp, short the interaction between commanders and DUST mercs, will work to mitigate the DUST communities influence on the greater Eve community. In the long run the Dust and Eve communities will have to learn to coexists and maybe  in the short run, but as things become more integrated, it will be tough to say what will happen.

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