Tyler Durden: You're not your job. You're not how much money you have in the bank. You're not the car you drive. You're not the contents of your wallet. You're not your fucking khakis. You're the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.
As I said yesterday, on the surface comparing EVE to Fight Club makes perfect sense because EVE is all about angry men beating the crap out of one other out of a lack of more constructive goals or opportunities. Still, you can't talk about Fight Club without talking about its screed against consumerism. Tyler Durden points out that people are being goaded by advertising to do jobs they hate to acquire piles of stuff that they don't need.
And that's also EVE all over. All of us are in some way doing jobs that we hate to acquire piles of stuff that we don't need. If you doubt it, check out your hangar sometime, be honest with yourself, and count up how many of the ships in there that you actually fly regularly. Unless you're remarkably disciplined or have done a bro-sale recently, the fraction is probably pretty small. Often, we want some of those obscure ships "just to have one" or "just in case I need it." And we probably got all of those ships by participating in some in-game activity that we hate, whether that involved shooting little red crosses, turning big rocks into little rocks, or dealing with EVE's oh-so-charming industry system.
So we're simultaneously Fight Club... and everything Fight Club despises. All at once. Gotta love this game.
But the fun thing about this is that no matter how much stuff we accumulate in-game, there exist only three types of EVE Online players:
- those that proudly acknowledge being ultra-rich;
- a small group in the middle; and,
- those that despairingly bemoan how poor they are.
Just ask them. They'll tell you how poor they are. When you object, they will say "but I only have a few hundred million liquid ISK" or other somesuch nonsense. Meanwhile, they're sitting on tens or hundreds of billions of ISK in ships, modules, implants, and PLEXes. And if you call them rich for this reason, they'll dismiss the accusation. Sure, there are lots and lots of people in this group that are actually poor. But we're increasingly entering an age of EVE where truly new players are becoming a rarity. But more about them in a second, because there a really important consideration for this topic.
The vast bulk of EVE players -- and if you're reading this, you're probably among this group -- would never describe themselves as rich, yet have hangars full of ships that they rarely fly... and are working feverishly toward acquiring the next ship or three that they desire for their growing fleet. Or at the very least, they're saving up to buy this or that pimp module for this or that ship.
Now don't get me wrong and don't get defensive: I'm not saying this is negative, necessarily. It's just how EVE is. The acquisition of stuff was built right into the DNA of the game. I was reading an interesting thread on FHC the other day about the early days of the game. It was funny to hear players talking about buying the first Moa BPO or being rich enough to buy their first battleship and when that happened. So consumerism's been around since EVE Day One. What wasn't built in was the risk aversion that a lot of EVE players have come to be known for, but even that's kind of a side effect. It just comes back to the Fight Club theme: lacking constructive goals or opportunities, men will seek out other ways to measure and test themselves against each other. The scorecard that is evidenced through full hangars, full module cans, and a fat ISK balance is one of the ways for EVE players to do that. Losing ships reduces your score, whether you measure yourself by ISK balance, hangar size, or K/D efficiency.
This is something that CCP has been struggling with for the last couple of years, as passive income sources grow ever-larger and the player base shifts toward a stable mix of veterans that have min-maxed the hell out of the various means of acquiring personal wealth in New Eden. Rote Kapelle was lucky enough to pick up a CVA FC in the last couple of days, and something that he wrote in his CVA resignation letter applies here:
There is no "poor" in Eve anymore: Incursions, cobalt buff, wormholes, forsaken hubs, mag sites, 10/10s, lowsec L4 mission blitzing... it's all available...Bet a lot of people who read that letter in CVA objected to to being told there's "no poor in EVE any more." ;-)
"Players are always richer than you think," goes this argument in Reyk. The CSM arguing this very point to CCP at the May Summit certainly reinforces this view. And like every good lie, there's a kernel of truth in it.
Yeah, that's right. I said lie.
Because sooner or later, if EVE if going to survive, we're going to need a large influx of brand new players. So those that are arguing "nerf all the income sources" are not doing anything except arguing for sowing the seeds of the game's eventual destruction. Inflation is driving up the price of commodities, ships, and mods all over the game; we've all seen it. Combine that with the pushing down of brand new player incomes that's come from L4 mission nerfs and player events like miner ganking and bumping and you're left with quite the little chicken-egg problem. Which is a big reason why cheap ships like frigates and cruisers are being buffed like crazy. But more about that another time.
In the meantime, as CCP makes their plans for 2013, they have to keep this dichotomy in mind and pick their battles with care. Anything that they do to try to break the cycle of consumerism and risk aversion that is part of EVE's DNA also threatens to make the EVE early game a stultifying, horribly long experience that nobody will want to go through. They need to give new players good enough income sources to have a hope of catching up... without making those income sources so good that the vets jump on them. So I expect we're going to see them try to build in EVE's new income sources first before they take away some of the old ones. And they'll look for ways to allow new players to grief veterans. The bounty system is a pretty good example of both of these.
And sooner or later, I suspect we're going to view CCP's own version of Project Mayhem in one form or another.
Tyler Durden: It's getting exciting now, two and one-half. Think of everything we've accomplished, man. Out these windows, we will view the collapse of financial history. One step closer to economic equilibrium.
(1) Note to self: blog about the 85-15 rule sometime.