For the Greater Good

It’s not often that I find myself disagreeing with James 315 and DJ FunkyBacon. Both advocate things I value highly in Eve: personal responsibility, content creation and keeping Eve unforgiving for the lazy and unengaged. So it was with a sense of guilt that I read the Corporations & Alliances section of the CSM9 Summer Minutes. Try as I might, I couldn’t condemn the removal of unrestrained intra-corp aggression, effectively murdering the safari mechanic. Was I going soft? Had I spent too much time in Carebearistan and become infected with hisec Ebola? Funky was making solid points in opposition and I knew James’s inevitable treatise would make a compelling argument too. Quite the pickle. So I sat on it. (The thought, not the pickle. Eww.) This momentary weakness would pass, I would once again find myself in lockstep with those two giants of the Eve blogosphere and I could retain my gold Hisec Scoundrel card. Except it didn’t, and I haven’t, and I possibly can’t. I stand before you a couple of weeks older and no less convinced that dickpunching safaris is a Good Thing. As a firm proponent of hisec misbehaviour, that makes me relatively unique, possibly delusional and certainly conflicted. A perfect opportunity for a post. But wait: safaris? Minutes? Whaaaa? Let’s take Fraulein Maria’s advice and start at the beginning. It is, after all, a very good place to start. What is (or more accurately, was) a Safari? Many people have heard of awoxing, which is the murdering of, or facilitation of the murder of blues; named after a particularly shameless proponent of said murder, one Awox. Join a corp, shoot blues, provide warp-ins and light cynos on top of blue fleets for your red friends, collect tears. It’s most of the reason recruiting in Eve is like this: cad-20120625-8bb4c A safari is essentially the same thing; the term popularised as far as I know by the Belligerent Undesirables community. By convention, and to somewhat differentiate them from a generic awox, safaris are hisec awoxes utilising the Concord mechanics that allow corp members to attack each other freely. Concord tend to interfere with the “provide warp-in” approach, and cynos are a no-go in hisec, so the safari proponent tends to rely on his own guns and possibly neutral logistics; which remain to this day hilariously broken for intra-corp violence purposes. Reverse safaris follow a similar pattern, where hisec CEOs recruit members with the express intention of killing them and taking their stuff. :snicker: Now cut to the recently released minutes from the Council of Stellar Management 9 Summer Summit in September this year. CCPs Masterplan, Fozzie and Bettik outlined their plan to remove the ability for corp members to freely attack each other in hisec. The purpose of doing this is to encourage players to join player corporations rather than rot in NPC corps; for CCP have data (which agrees with well understood principles of MMO retention) that players who engage with other players tend to be retained longer and more easily. Retention means revenue, and revenue means the Eve servers stay on and CCP devs have jobs. Tickety boo. With the removal of these mechanics, while classical awoxing remains, safaris and reverse safaris are dead. With them go fun gameplay options for rascals and regular entertainment for their audience. To be clear, this makes me sad. My own safari provided me an “I was there” moment that I’ll remember until, as genetics would predict, Alzheimers or myocardial infarction claim me. But as we were widely encouraged to appreciate with the recent nerfs to long distance travel in Phoebe, what seems like (and to be fair, is) a massive nerf must sometimes be accepted for the greater good. Unlike the exhumer buffs and numerous other nerfs to hisec shenanigans, this one actually has merit for the good of the game. Allow me to explain. Back to retention: I disagree with the oft-quoted CCP Soundwave who famously said:

“… there are customers that you can lose in a good way and there’s customers that you can lose in a bad way…”

Every customer lost is a customer not paying for the servers for my (and your) benefit. Every customer lost is a person who tells ten other people that Eve is a Bad Game. Every customer lost represents a loss of complexity, one or more threads pulled from the tapestry of New Eden. Miner, pirate, “toxic”, F1 monkey, guys who get it and guys who don’t; you are all people for me to shoot, bump, sell to, buy from, outwit, be blown up by and sperged at by. Even Mr Skillqueue Online pays dev wages. So retain all the things. And we know that player corps (and thus MMO interaction) are fundamental to retention. The goal is right. Does the implementation achieve the goal? Well, to answer that I need to dive into Herzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene Theory. You see way back in the 1950s Freddy Herzberg postulated that job satisfaction and job dissatisfaction act independently of each other. That is to say that some things motivate you when they are done well (e.g. recognition) and others demotivate you when they are done badly (e.g. work conditions) but the reverse isn’t necessarily true; e.g. lack of recognition doesn’t necessarily demotivate, and good working conditions don’t necessarily motivate. You can overcome demotivators by leveraging motivators, but you can’t motivate by removing demotivators. All very obvious-sounding stuff for MBAs to make powerpoints about. Back to spaceships: by murdering the safari, CCP have axed a real impediment for people to enter player corporations. That is to say that they have removed a demotivator. Those with blingy ships need worry less about being bluefucked and hisec CEOs can recruit with gay abandon. So far so froody. But – and this is a big, Kardashian but – safaris are not the only demotivator in hisec corps. They are one of the majors, don’t get me wrong; and their removal is a necessary digit in the combination for unlocking an NPC corp exodus. But thanks to good old Freddy we understand that removal of a demotivator is not the same as motivating; and it is going to take one hell of a motivator to overcome the elephant in the room: wardecs. That woke you up, didn’t it? It scared me to write it. I can almost feel you perched ready to explode with pirate rage and carebear delight depending on my next paragraph. Thankfully, this is where James 315, Funky and I start to merge again. Opinion is consistent that the biggest demotivator for joining player corps in hisec is wardecs, that wardecs are fundamental to Eve as we know it, and that alone, the safari nerf will not achieve its aim. What is needed is a serious motivator – a stick to go with the safari carrot – to make NPC corps unattractive enough to risk wardecs; because the motivation is not there now, even with the safari nerf.
That stick is – must be – tax. Make it hurt. Not 11%; 50% tax on ISK incomes, LP, refining, hell even on the base cost of mined ore and looted items for players in NPC corps. Every single ISK or asset faucet should be cut in half. Make it clear that NPC corps are only for new players and those between player corps. Make them untenable for long term play except for cyno and hauler alts. Before the safari nerf the isolationist response to this would be to form a 1-man corp, which doesn’t achieve the retention aim. But with the combination of both changes, the best option becomes joining a large, active, organised corp. The sort of corp that will protect, educate and deter wardecs. The sort with intel channels and organised ops and competent leadership. In short, the sort of corp which retains players. I’m at peace with myself now. I don’t support the safari nerf because safaris are bad, or because people might quit if they get awoxed, or because grr pirates; I support it because it is an essential part of getting people out of NPC corps.  But I don’t support it as a standalone nerf with no followup, because it won’t achieve the aim by itself.  Without followup that actively pushes people out of NPC corps, all those fine words about retention will be revealed as just so much CCP misdirection, all the critics will be vindicated and I will join them. How did the song go? “We’re CCP / we march on fearlessly / excellent is what we strive to be”. You have the right idea on retention, CCP. Now read your Herzberg, grab your sack and drop the NPC tax bomb to finish the job. Fearlessly. For the Greater Good.  
Tags: awox, ganking, Huey, retention, safari, wardecs

About the author


Blackhuey splits his time between hisec and nullsec, and enjoys creating content in both. He likes that feeling when a plan comes together, and dislikes people who get mad about being beaten at spaceships.

  • Dunk Dinkle

    Nice post, but remember that AWOXing still works fine in low sec and null. It’s only in high sec where it’s gone. If low & null are too scary for AWOXers, well there’s not much to say other than HTFU.

    Regarding wardecs, the current system is broken. No incentive for those being decced to fight back. The war deccers get to determine all aspects of the engagement, when, where, who, how long. The defenders get no control and no reward. In the risk/reward equation, it makes sense to simple avoid the wardec. It clearly makes economic sense to hop into an NPC corp to avoid war decs and Eve is all about taking the optimal path.

    Again, plenty of corps in low and null sec would welcome the war dec corps coming to fight, but then it might be an even fight…

    • Kamar Raimo

      ” If low & null are too scary for AWOXers, well there’s not much to say other than HTFU.” Something I would generally say to all those so-called PVPers in highsec who mainly prey on clueless noobs and carebears who don’t know how to fight back properly.

  • Cosmo

    You’re right on most points, but you have to pull back. If you get someone in Brave, they won’t necessarily connect. They’ll stay in their highsec and mine veldspar in their frigs. Sure, they may get a pull to check out GE8, but there’s no real guarantee they’ll follow that.

    You need to create interaction between people, but not at a disservice, but as a service.

    Take War Thunder’s example, even Battlefields. When you join, you’re attached to a squad, in War Thunder, to 2-3 other players in a small platoon, which if you help, protect, and shoot their enemies, you get a huge boost in income and xp. Everything can start from a simple “hey, thanks, that guy almost got me”.

    My idea is to group up players in the NPC corps. Push them to do stuff together and then just wait until they take off to form their own corp. This is part of a larger paper but do give this some thought.

  • Bill Bones

    50% tax if you don’t join a player corp is a better reason to leave the game than to join a player corp.

    I will let you figure why on your own.

    • blackhuey

      Vastly more people will say they will leave than actually do.

    • Saint Michael’s Soul

      So differentiate between starter corps and NPC corps and you’ve solved this problem. Give new players up to a month absolutely tax free in the starter corp to encourage a bit of saving and then give them warnings a week, a couple of days and then a day in advance of their trial running out that they will need to join a player corporation OR they will be moved to the high tax NPC corp. I like this 50% tax idea.

      • Unusual Suspect

        Oppressive actions against customers you want to keep are bad in general. Forcing them into the meta-game is bad as well.

  • daniel

    i just had a friend over, showed him eve a bit, somehow we came to that topic and i told him about the awoxing thing, and he was totaly “how cool is that!”.
    it might be possible that a handful of players will stay because they never get shot at, but think of the amount of players that would stay because this game gives them total freedom. i assume these are players who will stay much longer and with dedication – mustn’t necessarily be griefers, but players in general.
    on the other hand the safari mechanic not only provided (fun) content to the attacker, but the defender as well – the recruiter having to do a proper background check, actually having to think up an interview strategy and so on, giving him the feeling of actually doing something meaningful instead of just clicking the accept.invitation.without.a.worry-button.
    one should also mention that ccp never undertook an effort to educate it’s playerbase on how to be properly cautious. also, it is somehow telling that ccp (the minutes) didn’t provide any kind of (hard or soft) numbers on how they assume this nerf will affect subscriptions. how many player have they really lost because of safari.griefing?

    the real danger is the domino effect. what was canflipping yesterday became awoxing today and might become ganking tomorrow – and let’s face it, scamming is a problem too.
    ask yourself, has the canflipping nerf have had any impact on subscriptions?

  • Xary

    I don’t think a tool like taxes will be what works. 20% is bad almost no player Corp goes over that unless for a good reasons. People on hi sec who don’t join player Corp either one don’t know how to find one with there game style or two don’t want to play with others. There are people who like to play mmos alone you can’t change that. I do how ever think that Ccp need to find a way to show players great new bro corps like eve unie and RvB. I think that a small change would be more smaller npc corps. With all the new players for that month put together. Giving you people to play and chat with that are in the same places with you. Also maybe a new bro help channel with a enforced no trolling police. But you have to except that some people don’t like pvp or mostly losing. I think that the hard part for ever new player and old is getting over losing and getting use to it.

  • Red Teufel

    I don’t mind removing highsec awoxing. Gives the little guys a chance to learn and grow without getting curb stomped and losing all their assets in seconds.

  • derp

    What is your opinion of Marmite and those other corps that do nothing but wardec anyone until they find a juicy target?

    • blackhuey

      Perfectly valid gameplay, and I say that as a member of an alliance that’s seemingly perma-decced by Marmite. They avoid any organised resistance, they’re only looking for the half-asleep dude who undocks his new Vindi or Anshar from Jita without checking for decs.

  • lowrads

    I see no reason why hauler alts need to have a secure place in the order of things. They cause more economic and geopolitical distortion than mission runners. Worse, they remove a valid and viable occasion for players to find engagement with one another. Not many people remember the classic convoy of early EVE.

    I’d suggest docking fees and gate fees at a bare minimum. In a perfect world, these fees would be collected from corporate wallets, and anyone that didn’t have one would be barred from using gates between regions. Ideally, there could be a cutoff threshold so frigates remain untouched, or make 1.0 systems freely navigable.

  • Easy Esky

    So close, yet still so far. The question to be answered is why do people leave the NPC corp? An exercise I leave for the student.

  • Guest

    Why not just ditch non-consensual wardecs altogether, except for destroying PoCos and POSs?

    Normal highsec mechanics are perfect: you can shoot anybody you wish, but CONCORD blows you up, you get a 15min timer and you lose sec status. All easily tweakable mechanics (timer, sec status loss, tank vs. gank, CONCORD response times, etc.).

    Non-consensual wardecs just mess with otherwise perfect mechanics. Because if you have some ISKies to spare, you can freely attack any Corp like if you were in null or w-space (much easier than in lowsec, btw, since you don’t even have to worry about gate/station guns). Makes no sense!

    What’s the purpose of non-consensual wardecs, anyway? We all know perfectly well that people that want to avoid PVP will simply stay docked or leave corp.

    Either we clearly state we don’t want non-PVPers in the game, or non-consensual wardecs need to go.

    I’m a PVPer, btw, but I’m a fan of straightforward mechanics. Want to PVP? Get out of highsec. Want to own space-assets? Be preparep to defend them. Want to just do PVE in highsec? Then you just need to avoid ganks and you should be fine.

    If necessary to balance a more favourable highsec risk/reward, just nerf highsec rewards a bit (missions, rocks, incursions, …).

  • Unusual Suspect

    The problem with player corps is … they are run by other players. So forcing players to follow the rules of other players or suffer from unacceptable penalties, is a bad move. There must be room for the solo player who makes space friends but loves his independence and freedom to do whatever he wants without following a wannabe space dictator.

    • Saint Michael’s Soul

      Absolutely nothing keeps someone in a bad corp, you’re free to move as you wish and find somewhere that suits your playing style. You may get lucky with your first corp, you may need to move 20 times before you find somewhere good.

  • Endiron

    Just a suggestion, to dissuade dudes from rotting in NPC corps; for reasons… (insert lore reason) CCP modifies the NPC corp names along the lines of, Perkone Douchebags United Corp, or Brutor Tribe Spunktard Losers and Caldari Lame-ass Provisions?

    • blackhuey

      I like it. Probably should extend that to the FW factions as well…

  • Kitty

    Or… instead of adding tax to NPC corps…. just make them wardeccable… people will leave NPC corp in droves