CZ Minutes: Killing Numbers

Last week in the CZ Minutes we discussed the symbiotic relationship EVE shares with 3rd-party applications. The most widespread of these are arguably the various types of killboards; from zKillboard and EVE-Kill to custom alliance killboards with all manner of statistics and tools for analysis. The community’s addiction to stats and spreadsheets has a dark side however. When efficiency trumps enjoyment the fun of playing EVE is at times sacrificed in the name of reputation and respect. The question is simple: are killboards good for EVE? Are they the decade-long legacy of EVE’s history, or an unnecessary detriment to the enjoyment of the game itself? Xander: In a game where ‘success’ is such a nebulous concept, people crave concrete touchstones. There aren’t many in Eve. Wallet would be one I can think of and another would be killboard stats. Of course, they don’t tell the full story but they do give some indication of the competence of a pilot, whether he flies solo, small gang or big fleet fights, what he flies and what he tends to engage. KB stats can be gamed, manipulated or interpreted too of course but they are substantially more concrete than most of the alternatives. As such, I think they are a necessary evil. Niden: I don’t see killboards an ‘evil’ at all, but I do think they’re still stuck in the stone-age. Killboards are like alcohol: to be used responsibly. Efficiency is all well and good up to a certain level, after that it becomes an addiction that kills the fun. I don’t perceive it to be that much of a problem amongst the people I fly with though. For many of us the killboard is our legacy and our face to the world. When people see Villore Accords in local or a recruitment channel, and don’t know who we are, the first thing they’ll do is check out our killboard. When I’m flying solo the killboard is part of the game, you check out fits to form strategies and stats to estimate your chances against a particular opponent. Killing a player with twice as many kills as you is an achievement you would not be aware of if it wasn’t for killboards. It adds an important layer to the game. How the data from kills is used and analyzed is archaic however. Killboards could be the storytellers and history-holders of EVE so much more than they are today. Joran: I think Eve is a game about reputation and respect, and not so much fun at all. I’m not saying there aren’t plenty of people who play the game to have fun, but to be fair, if I really want fun, I’ll go play Hearthstone or DoTA. Eve is a game for hardcore gamers who not only want the fun but want a bit extra, as well. In that sense I think even the premise is a bit flawed, as killboards are inextricably part of Eve, fun or not. Niden is correct that there’s plenty of room for improvement in available features. Niden: That’s actually a good point Joran, I hadn’t really seen it in that light before, but you’re right. EVE is a game of reputation and respect, along with the fun. I think the EVE players’ personal stance towards that reputation and respect is the key issue. All forms of reputation and respect can be seen as a game, albeit a serious one. The question becomes; are you doing it out of fear or enthusiasm? Acquiring respect or love from the world around you is tied into survival instinct and pack behaviour, and for some people that connection is too strong while playing EVE, forcing them to endure great personal sacrifice to essentially shore up an existential insecurity. dead_owned_wreck Tarek: Personally I use killboards as a sort of balancing tool. If my efficiency is high I know that I can afford to lose a few ships in a reckless way. That’s when I go and try out a new fit or tactic without much consideration. Otherwise I don’t really fret about them. I have had a lot of other experiences with killboard stats though. Corps that kick you if your efficiency isn’t high enough, or won’t even accept you as a member. There are even those who start gimping fits for combat fleets just so they can keep the ISK value of their losses low and other kinds of obsessions. If you view the game in the way Joran describes, then those statistics can become meaningful. Mercenaries also use them to calculate their success and determine their prices for contracts. That makes sense, but I am rather sceptical about the dick measuring that goes on sometimes. Especially if you look at the killboard of the average nullbear. They might have kills valuing in the trillions and very few losses of the occasional ratting ship, but none of their kills were achieved by doing anything else than participating in a stratops fleet or structure shoots. In the end I still consider them valuable for intel just like Niden has said. Being able to get an impression about a recruit or opponent with respect to their PVP behaviour can be very useful. Mangala: Once upon a time I used killboards like many others do, as a way to measure my “success” as a PvP pilot. I would take losses to heart and pretty much fap over big wins. I really wasn’t a fan of losses so for the longest time never flew alone – hey there is safety in numbers right!  That helped keep my efficiency looking good regardless of my activity.  Then I joined RvB and suddenly personal killboard stats did not matter as much, as I was in what is a killmail factory. You cannot care too much about killmails in our environment as they come so often. Although they help us award medals to people so killboards are useful there. What I use killboards for now – beyond tracking the good times Ganked has over on our killboard – is mostly as an intel tool. Check out what potential opposition flies and kills with (and their losses so I can work ammo choices more efficiently for my fleets), where they operate and the sort of average fleet sizes (tend to have to guestimate logi unless they whore gun or bring combat drones though) my group is likely to face and so on. For that part of EVE, killboards are well worth their weight in gold, just not for the chest beating, “rararar look at me, I R OZOM” crowd that thinks stats matter beyond showing how active you as a pilot are. Saying all that, I do admin all the RvB killboards and have for years, I spend more of my time making sure they work for those self proclaimed stats whores than I do looking at them myself, so I suppose I facilitate the sort of attitude we all see when it comes to killboards.
Tags: cz minutes, killboard, pvp

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12 year EVE veteran, Snuffed Out scumbag, writer, graphic artist, producer, Editor-in-Chief of Crossing Zebras and the second most influential player in EVE, according to EVE Onion.