Is EVE Online a Gankbox?

Syp has been angsty about the “gank culture” of EVE Online this week.  He started on Twitter.

Then he turned that into a post on Massively OP where he declared EVE Online to have a “gankbox” culture.

I had to go look up “gankbox,” as this was a new term to me.  According to Massively OP:

Gankboxes are sandboxes that place such an emphasis on unrestricted free-for-all PvP that ganking comes to dominate the entire game, to the detriment of the rest of the world design.

As somebody coming up on eleven years of playing the game, that does not describe EVE Online to me at all.  New Eden is not a place of unrestricted, free-for-all PvP.  Sure, out in the wilds of null sec space or in wormholes you can shoot at other players without consequence, but in low security and high security space, where Neville Smit tells me most of New Eden plays, there certainly are restrictions on PvP.

In low sec you have guns on gates and stations that will shoot at people who initiate combat, there are suspect timers and kill rights that make people who shoot you vulnerable to attack even in high sec space, and the whole security status system that can make travel to high sec a dicey proposition if you sec status gets too low.

And that is low sec space, which hosts faction warfare, where people are alleged to be shooting each other all the time.

In high sec space, CONCORD lands on you and blows up your ship if you just start shooting at other people, something that I would call a pretty serious restriction on PvP.  Somebody has to declare war on you to shoot you without restriction in high sec, and they can’t do that if you’re still in an NPC corporation.

Which, of course, isn’t to say that people don’t get blown up in high sec space.  It happens all the time.  I’ve been on both ends of that.  I have been blown up traveling the space lanes of high sec.  And I have helped blow other people up as part of Burn Jita and Burn Amarr in the past.

An Obelisk freighter goes up

And suicide ganking is a thing in high sec space every day.  But it has restrictions and it can be avoided with some care.  People engage in it as a for-profit venture, so simply making sure it isn’t profitable to gank you goes a long way to making your journey a success.  You can start by getting the hell away from Jita.  As the center of commerce in New Eden, it attracts all the bad elements, so the further you go from it, the quieter and safer things tend to become.

But the term “gankbox” seems completely off base.  Ganking does not dominate the game.  I live in Delve, PvP barely dominates the game.  We mostly mine, shoot NPCs, build things, and sell them to each other, as the monthly economic report demonstrates.

I will cop to EVE Online have a bad reputation however.  It has provided some cringe worthy moments in gaming.  And even I called out the game’s reputation as one of the top five problems I feel the game has.

But a reputation isn’t reality, it is a perception.  You aren’t going to get ganked and scammed by Goons the moment you undock into the tutorial in your noob ship.  Syp couldn’t have “looked” and the gank culture, because it doesn’t exist as he describes it.  He just let one aspect of the game’s reputation color his point of view.

Sure, people get blown up and get mad, as in this classic Reddit post.  But you’ll note two things in that thread.  The first is the pilot’s disregard for security status, and thus his own safety.  Second is that down in the comments he eventually says he is over his moment of frustration.  Life in New Eden, and on Reddit, where flaws get magnified 100x.

For all of that though, I will predict that Syp wouldn’t like EVE Online.  He seemed to get a bit flustered by RuneScape, which at least follows some recognizable MMORPG conventions.  EVE is just plain right-angles to reality confusing if you’re coming from other games in the genre.

Back to my top five problems post, the game’s name, age, and reputation stop people from playing, but it is the the user interface, the complexity of gear, and (my bonus item) the horrible, mis-used, and sometimes arcane terminology common within the game are much more likely to be a real issue than the game’s reputation.

EVE Online is a place where veterans of the game learn about features by accident all the time.  I saw this gem just the other day.  I don’t have to undock to tinker with overview settings.  Who knew?  For a new user it can be confusing as hell.  And that doesn’t even get into the sandbox nature of the game where, once you’re done with the tutorial, the game leaves you to figure out what you want to do.

All of which is me picking on Syp, which he probably doesn’t deserve.  But I would like to see him try the game and reject it for one of it many real flaws rather than running away due to a flaw he thinks it might have. (Also, his posts on Massively OP about EVE might use the games terminology correctly more often.)

When I think of ganking and annoying player behavior, my mind always goes to WoW.  I have experienced a lot more direct bad user behavior in Azeroth than in New Eden.  But I play EVE and not WoW currently.

To round back to the post topic, do you think EVE Online is a “gankbox” or not?

Addendum: Inventory Full, Endgame Viable, and Contains Moderate Peril all have words on PvP as well.

 

30 thoughts on “Is EVE Online a Gankbox?

  1. Toldain

    Well, I’m a guy who, once upon a time, wrote a bunch of blog posts with the title “I Came Here To Be Podkilled”. Which was my way of saying that having your day absolutely ruined by some random stranger is something that can happen in EVE Online, and you have to accept that coming in.

    Mind you, it still burns when it happens, as Gaff said to me once.

    As to whether that makes it a “gankbox”, it’s hard to say. There’s a lot of focus on killing other people by a lot of people. And then there are all those, such as myself, who really, really love that moment when they just tried to gank you in your Iteron V in nullsec but failed because you knew your shit and kept your cool. You burned to the gate, started aligning and waited for them to aggress before you jumped through. Glory!

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  2. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Toldain – As somebody who has died every single time I have activated a weapons system in a solo situation (my one solo kill was ruined when somebody else landed on grid and helped me) I can speak to the glory of just getting away.

    Probably the hardest hurdle for many new players is accepting that you’re going to lose ships, even when you do everything right. But when you learn the tricks, you’ll lose them a lot less often. (And you’ll feel even more dumb when you knew what the right thing to do was, but you did the wrong thing anyway because what were the odds?)

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  3. Malcolm Shinhwa

    There is a certain segment of the gaming population that cannot accept open world PVP where losses matter. I call that segment “The Majority of Gamers”. I’ve even seen COD types play an MMO where they suddenly have something they could actually lose and start crying about it. EVE just about has the market to itself in that area and their sales show it. The market for that experience is, I’m sad to say, low.

    Most games that allow open world PVP have nerfed it into the ground, made the loss meaningless, or made it entirely possible to play without any non-consensual sexy time. Black Desert Online nerfed its US version to lesson (maybe even do away with?) the consequences of losing a fight you didn’t start. Elite:Dangerous allows you to play every bit of the game without worry about PVP. Guild Wars 2 even made it so you didn’t need to get map completion in the WvW zone to craft legendaries because of the segment that wanted absolutely nothing to do with open world PVP, even when it was trivially easy to complete without killing or being killed.

    I’m frankly shocked that CCP hasn’t caved. I fully expected Hisec to be Trammelized long ago. They’ve nerfed the crap out of hisec ganking, but you can still get your ship blown up if you do the stupid. Good on CCP.

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  4. Azuriel

    On the one hand, it’s a bit silly to call EVE a “gankbox.” As you’ve said, there are many mechanisms built into the game to discourage ganking in certain areas; the existence of such rules at all dispels the notion of “free-for-all” PvP. Empire space is pretty big and one can spend all their time there with only occasional problems. Compare that to some other PvP MMOs where you are only ever safe in towns, and all resources/quests/mobs are outside of them.

    On the other hand… pretend that PvP is disabled entirely in EVE. Is there a “game” left? Player conflict is the entire point, and the driving factor behind every design. There are plenty of people who just mine all day and play with spreadsheets, but they only get to do so because there is an engine of need created from killing other players in space.

    Ultimately, I’d say EVE is more of a Ganky Sandbox than a Sandy Gankbox. If someone has no interest in “affecting the world around them” (read: killing other players), then EVE probably isn’t for them. It certainly doesn’t excite me in any way, which is why whenever I get the inclination to mindlessly farm mats, I’ll boot up GW2 or something.

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  5. Malcolm Shinhwa

    Since you mentioned it Wilhelm I just had to leave this story of my very first, and still one of the few, solo kills I got against a prepared opponent who knew I was coming*:

    I had wardec’d a hisec corp and after picking off a few of their miners they started coming after me with actual combat ships. I was in a Hurricane (the best ship I could fly,hahaha) and the other guy was in an Harbinger. I had no idea what a Harbinger was. But I was New Order and if there is one thing we know, its how to play station games. So I’m sitting at the station and he starts shooting me. I immediately dock.

    I docked because I had to google what the heck was a “Harbinger” and look at the combat log to see what he was shooting me with. Then, I swear this is true, I had to google the right ammo to use.

    I put the right hardeners on, right ammo in the guns and undocked. We gunned it out right there on the station. I had all the things overheated and was so far into structure I had preselected a celestial to warp my pod to when he exploded. He told me in chat that my multispectral jammer hit him twice during the fight. If I hadn’t had that, I would have definitely lost. We gf’d in local and parted frenimies.

    Anyway, I don’t have a blog, and I’ve always wanted to tell that story :).

    * My killboard shows several solo kills in WH space, but by then I knew the power of a boosting alt, so they weren’t really ever solo.

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  6. anypo8

    Getting tired of being blown up is definitely one of the main reasons I don’t log into EVE so much anymore. It was definitely much less of a thing when I was hanging with Goons, but now that I’m in Signal Cartel I do get tired of being a target.

    I agree that *gankbox* is overblown, but if I were King of EVE (Bob help us all) there are some things I would change. Wardecs would go, as a mechanic that is punitive to those wanting to engage socially by forming a corp (except a gank corp). The bounty system would be scrapped. Concord response time would be a maximum of 10s across all of HS. The rules about ownership would be changed to allow anyone to freely pick up anything left floating in space without incurring any flags. Autopilot would land on gate rather than 15km out. Gate guns would become much stronger.

    One of the problems WoW has suffered over the years is PC creep: the NPCs that were initially nigh-invulnerable are now pretty meh. I quit WoW at the start of Cataclysm for a variety of reasons, but a major one was that on my Horde-dominated server Stormwind would be raided at least once a day and all the NPCs slaughtered. It broke suspension of disbelief and was really inconveniencing for our Alliance.

    Right now, the gankers of EVE have things wired to the point that they can gatecamp and miner-bump and freighter-gank with relative impunity: low risk, ok reward. I’d love to see this pushed back in both high-security and low-security space. Lowsec in particular is a wasteland because it currently enjoys neither the limited protections of highsec nor the rich rewards of null. It would be nice to see it become something more, I think.

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  7. Dirk MacGirk (@dirkmacgirk)

    absolutely not a gankbox. too big to be a gankbox and too many other possible targets. You might get randomly ganked in those areas where combat is discouraged, but it’s a higher probability that you made yourself into a gank victim by being the fattest, slowest sheep in the herd.

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  8. Bhagpuss

    Syp has Stargrace’s MMOQuests blog in his blog reader just like I do so he must surely have read her sporadic posts about her forays into EVE, where she mostly talks about mining, running missions and “looking forward to some relaxing time”. She makes EVE sound like the most laid-back, chilled out MMO ever. I can’t recall ever hearing her talk about PvP at all.

    Then again, Stargrace plays Wurm Online and the way she describes player behavior there sometimes makes Grr Goons sound like a mild disagreement over whether to put the milk in first or last at a vicar’s tea party so maybe she’s not such a great example after all. But Noizy at The Nosey Gamer rarely seems to fight anyone either and you seem manage to get from one end of the galaxy to the other without losing a ship more often than not…

    I have never played EVE but it certainly isn’t a fear of ganking that puts me off. I just don’t much like spaceships. I’ve been ganked plenty of times in other MMOs and while it did scare me a bit a decade and a half ago, that was in EverQuest where there was something to lose. I think think Malcolm Shinhwa is pretty much on the money in his comment above: the market for games that allow regular, significant losses through non-consensual PvP is very limited.

    Remove the losses, though, and the market grows a lot larger. I get ganked several times a day in GW2’s WvW. I play a Staff Ele and if I get caught out alone my chances of surviving are close to zero. I mostly just stand there and let them kill me. Then I waypoint and carry on with whatever I was doing. Whether I’d consider EVE to be a gankbox would depend on how much of an interruption being ganked actually was. If it takes more than a couple of minutes to get up and running again then yes, it would put me off – if it happened often.

    I suppose I should download the thing now it’s free and find out for myself…

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  9. SynCaine

    Item destruction isn’t directly ganking though, especially when you consider the vast majority of wealth destroyed is in fleet combat, not random encounters.

    To the topic overall, yea, the perception of some for EVE is that its all ganking, in large part because that’s all they know of PvP in MMOs. The truth is, in all likelihood, that EVE has the lowest amount of actual ganking for any MMO that allows PvP, as a percentage of total PvP activity in a game.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Dirk MacGirk (@dirkmacgirk)

    @syncaine excellent point. It feels kind of personal when it happens to you, especially if you spend all your time in places where “ganking” is what happens as opposed to where everyone is just considered a hostile. But overall, actual ganking or even wardec-related kills are probably a small portion of EVE for a game that allows PVP.

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  11. Griddlebone

    “All of which is me picking on Syp, which he probably doesn’t deserve.”

    He got paid to write literal nonsense. Most of MassivelyOP could do with more picking, not less.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. pkudude99

    I played for 3.5 years from 2008 to 2011.

    I was killed by other players 3x — ran into a gate camp when I was trying to ferry a frigate up through nullsec without a scout, 1x in lowsec when I was doing a 2/10 complex in a Kestrel, saw the Wolf on d-scan and knew I should bug out, but stayed to finish off that 1 more bandit……. and caught…., and finally I lost a hauler on my PI alt in null when I wasn’t paying as much attention to the intel channels as I should have, so I got pinned by a ‘ceptor then his friends came and got me a few minutes later.

    Never got podded, and my losses were 2 frigates, and a cheap hauler carrying a single day’s run of PI, so only about 50 million in the hold, so…. total losses of maybe 100 million between all 3 kills, if even that much, and none of it was in hi-sec at all.

    Granted I spent about 2 years in hisec before jumping in to null, but my CNR and later my Tengu were both blinged out to be worth more than 2 billion apiece, so I would have been a fat ganker’s target…. if a ganker had ever targeted me.

    So yeah…. no gankbox for me.

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  13. Dire Necessity

    I don’t believe Justin Olivetti (Syp in the tweet) is thinking very deeply about things. Quoting from his Massively OP piece: “but I can’t get past the seeming gankbox culture that exudes from every story I hear about this title and the notable personalities that are promoted in it.” He’s really not talking about EVE as typically played at all, he’s talking about the stories he hears about EVE.

    Like many EVE players, I’ve puttered around highsec for years and never been ganked. At the same time I’ve also puttered around highsec and attempted (sometimes successfully) to gank. If you totaled up the time involved it’s probably 98% no gank and 2% gank but if you listen to the stories I’ll tell people about EVE you’d think ganking (or heroically avoiding ganking) took up 98% of my play time. “Just completed a another cargo run. T’was uneventful” is not an exciting story. Unexciting stories don’t get told.

    Olivetti seems to be drawing an objective claim (EVE is a gankbox) out of a quirky human psychological preference for certain kinds of narrative.

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  14. zaphod6502

    Let’s not forget who we are talking about here .. Syp .. who jumps from one MMO to the next almost on an hourly basis. Plus he is super casual and a carebear (in every sense of the word).

    During my 9-10 years or so in EvE I was only truly ganked three times. The rest of my deaths were organised forays with my old corp when we were allied with Goons, my time as an agent in CODE, and finally my last two years in the game with my old pirate corp Stay Frosty.

    Rest of the time was basically industry and hurry up and waiting for operations. The game is very zen-like most of the time.

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  15. tithian

    I’m pretty certain that for a lot of people (including Syp) any form of PvP outisde of queued content=ganking. For someone who thinks that, then yeah EVE is a huge gankbox.

    As someone that lived in Low-sec for a while (that was years ago, mind you) doing industry as a main money maker, it’s pretty obvious that PvP is the main driving force behind a lot (most?) of the aspects of the game, in such a way that it dictates your schedule and even whether you can play at all, some times. When the only two ‘pipes’ to high-sec are camped, there’s not much you can do about it and you can forget those trade runs. When there are neutrals or a hostile militia (or a militia, at all) roaming, you’re either fighting or fleeing in a station. Those gate guns you mentioned, yeah those are completely irrelevant. And my main money maker was making things consumed by the same PvPers hunting me down. NPC null is also pretty much the same, although a lot more cutthroat (I stayed in Curse a good 6 months in an Angel RP corp – hey don’t judge me! – and got into a bit of booster production/smuggling as well). PvP was key there, as well. Actually, PvP was THE game, either participating or learning how to run away.

    Your perception of the game may be coming from being in a huge coalition in ‘deep’ null sec, and in many cases that space is a lot safer than even high-sec (barring the occasional eviction :p). I recall my time in the Drone regions almost a decade ago, and it was the epitome of safe PvE (that was before the buff the drone rats). The main reason I left was boredom, not extreme ganks. But also keep in mind that people in your situation are the minority, whereas most people fly around in small irrelevant corps in high-sec.

    “But you can stay in HS and neve get ganked”, I hear you say. Yes, one can safely stay in high sec and never get ganked (although during my time we had to dodge a lot of decs) ; but by doing so he is essentially skipping out on 90% of the game that is tucked away out of reach. At that point you may as well just not bother at all. In the end, the core of the game is PvP and if you are looking for a PvE sandbox experience (which Syp obviously does), then EVE very much looks like a gankbox indeed. The alternative is staying in the cordoned limited area where instead of sand you are given a bucket and a handful of gravel.

    Also mind you, for a lot of people the frequency of ganking is irrelevant. The possibility of it and the severity of the consequences is a much larger reason for building the perception that game X is a gankbox. I’m pretty certain I was killed a lot more times in Black Desert than in EVE, yet I consider BD a lot more PvE-Sandbox-y and friendlier to non-combatants.

    Sorry for the wall of text.

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  16. GainsGoblin

    just ignore Syp
    he can be entertaining but he has a pathological fear of pvp or even challenging pve content
    just look at the games he does stick with
    foe example,in marvel heroes, which is far from the hardest game ever, according to his own blog he never passed the cosmic trial, that 98% of the playerbase pass within weeks of picking up the game
    his real problem is not with “ganking”, it’s just his way to say that he knows he lacks skill to stand against human players
    which is ok, let him enjoy his pve welfare loot type games and the lovely lovely costumes

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  17. Gevlon

    tithian is getting close but not exact.

    PvP battle: you have an in-game reason to fight, you seek to complete an in-game objective. Your opponent expects you to come and prepare

    ganking: your only reason to fight is out of game (tears, fame, “cool” video or simply not being bored). Your “opponent” is unaware that he is your opponent until you open fire. This applies to the miner ganker just as well as the 200 men fleet who goes to someone else’s timer to “third party” without intention to capture the system.

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  18. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @tithian – I was not arguing that there is no ganking in EVE Online, I was asking if assigning the term “Gankbox” to the game, as Syp did, is justified.

    Gankboxes are sandboxes that place such an emphasis on unrestricted free-for-all PvP that ganking comes to dominate the entire game, to the detriment of the rest of the world design.

    Are you saying that the definition applies?

    @Gevlon – To open with, “gank” to me carries with it a one-sided nature. The epitome of ganking to me is a level cap player on a WoW PvP server killing low levels and NPCs in a low level zone. Yes, he gets no in-game benefits from doing it, but what makes it a gank is the helplessness of his victims and that the mechanics of the game that do nothing to stop nor sanction him in any way.

    Following that, I am not sure I can get on board with your definition of ganking. Under that suicide ganking a freighter in high sec space isn’t ganking at all because there is a reason for it; profit. MiniLuv, for example, makes money because they only blow things up if they will make more money on the loot from the wreck than they will lose in ships. Yet I get the feeling the freighter pilot would disagree.

    Meanwhile, if TEST and CO2 are fighting PL and NCDot over an objective and the Imperium shows up in any numbers to shoot targets of opportunity… to third party… that is a gank. But I would argue that shooting our foes in null sec, and all four entities pose some threat to us, is always justified, if only to diminish their capacity to attack us even in a small way.

    And where does that leave so many of the low sec corps? Are Rixx Javix and Ripard Teg just gankers because they have fights and blow up ships for fun?

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  19. Gevlon

    @Wilhelm: the gank victims in EVE are helpless because they want something to be done (haul or build a citadel or mine) while the gankers want nothing but pass time. Even if they evade the gank, even if they reship and blow up the worthless ships of the attackers, their objectives are unfinished while the gankers lose nothing as they value nothing “lol its SRP-ed and we had fun”

    Yes, I think Rixx and Ripard are just pompitous gankers.

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  20. Gevlon

    No, it’s not, it’s competition. It also offers a way for the “weak” to protect himself: don’t fly (place in space) what you can’t defend. A competitive pirate attacks the overfilled transports, the competitive conqueror takes lucrative land from the owner.

    The miner ganker blows up your 1M venture with a 10M catalyst for lulz and the bored fleet blows up your small citadel in worthless land in the hope that you’ll cry in the forum. There is nothing you can do about it.

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  21. Hordling

    Eve. I suppose this type of opinion is fostered by the legion of people who tried the game, spent all the resources they earned in the first 20 hours of playing the game outfitting the perfect mining ship and lost it within 20 minutes of entering low sec to get the “good” ore. Facing starting over, they left the game instead and hate their experience to this day. Substitute hauling or yellow wreck looting or scam victim, or budding PVPer for miner and you have the picture.
    It’s not a problem, it’s the thing that makes this game unique and compelling. Other games with no consequences you just shrug and continue from the graveyard or waypoint. Who killed you – who cares?
    Only in Eve could the goon Loyalannon ganking a PI alt hauler in Aufay lead to the fall of the Imperium two years later. And I did go back and scoop most of the biomass, but I hated goons from that day forward and when World War Bee started I joined Horde to kill goons. Now they live in Delve, the score has been settled.

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  22. BANNED

    yeah it’s a fuking gankbox when you have people like you and others defending it for being a gankbox. sadly what most people dont understand is the gankbox is a consequence of inherent bad game design. fortunately if you decide to spare some time & money the game becomes a bit better, unfortunately you have to spend too much time and money to have it acceptably better. I’m well aware the defenders of argus will come in an try to point out I’m a noob, but I rest my case I don’t see the point of a game to waste so much time for so little fun.

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  23. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @BANNED – So what you’re saying is that you had a bad time so it is a gankbox? Because I am pretty sure I was saying it wasn’t a gankbox per the definition, so that bit of logic just doesn’t fly.

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  24. BANNED

    no, that’s just your erronated conclusion(or gank defending). yeah the game it’s not gankbox per se, but major part of its mechanic lead to ganking thus is majorly a gankbox. there are only 2 ways to defend agains it: pay(have better ship/skills) or grind(wait/fly around/waste time) without any of those being a strategy leaves the game a gankbox p2w.

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  25. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @BANNED – My conclusion sounds spot-on so far. And now you’re saying because you couldn’t defeat anybody and everybody as a day one player, so the game is pay to win? And after your bad experience you feel you have to run around and spread the word about how horrible the game is… to what, save people from it? Believe me, the game’s reputation precedes you. This whole post is essentially about the game’s reputation, if you had not noticed.

    Meanwhile even you admit the game isn’t a gank box. That one can be ganked does not make it so. As for pay to win, define “winning.” The game is full of people who paid and lost. Having money, or even an abundance of skill points, doesn’t guarantee a win and shiny, blinged out ships die every day to much cheaper ones. Plenty of high skill point characters get blown up every day too.

    By the way, there is a third option that even your absolutist point of view ought to see; join a corp. Find other people to fly with who will help you. I mean, you can play the game solo. I did that for the most part for my first five years. But you end up having to learn a lot of the game the hard way… which generally involves your ship getting blown up.

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  26. Pingback: WoW is gankbox, EVE is not | Hardcore Casual

  27. Z

    The idea that you can avoid ganks with a little care in hisec is laughably outdated. It used to be that the loss/drop ratio protected you in the main. That is no longer the case and hasn’t been for a very long time. I encourage you to join red frog and see what I mean.

    Like

  28. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Z – So you’re saying that if I use Red Frog, I have better not stint on collateral?

    Seriously, I’ve been using various services to ship things in and out of null sec for six years, during war and during peace, to our home and out to deployments, and I have never once had a shipment go missing. At the height of the Casino War I was able to ship all my stuff out of VFK-IV without a hitch.

    Or, to look at it from another direction, if things were as bad as you imply, Red Frog would need to charge a lot more or go out of business. And then you go look at say Charon kill mails on zKillboard and what do you think the most common configuration for low slots is? Three reinforced bulkheads? Nah, three cargo expanders!

    Yes, if somebody wants your ship dead badly enough, it is going to die. But if you’re going to make it easy for them, and profitable to boot, then your odds are pretty slim.

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