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Real Life before EVE – A travesty in MMO treatment of players

Rich Richman here. The opinions expressed in the article are my own and do not represent any group, corporation, alliance, or entity except myself.

On the 24th of April 2020 CCP released Forsaken Fortress. One of the most controversial updates in EVE Online for it’s removal of the sacred mechanic of asset safety. The update had mixed reactions; whilst the concept was universally praised, it’s execution was castigated for it’s mismanagement and long term damage to the community.

A common phrase in EVE Online is “Real life before EVE”. This quote is considered sacred and observed by the highest ranking dictators to the lowest level rank and file. Any group in EVE that directs their members to put the game ahead of their real lives is regarded as a group to avoid association with.

In my own corporation, we’ve offhandedly stated that we’ll summarily kick someone if they put EVE before real life in an egregious way. It’s part of our health policy and moral code. If you missed the birth of your child because you wanted to kill a carrier, you’re out. However the updates and changes to Forsaken Fortress showed that putting your real life before EVE now has tangible consequences.

Previously, in later half of 2015 with the release tetherable citadels, CCP Ytterbium released a dev-blog article titled “I feel safe in Citadel City”. In this article, it covered extensively that assets in citadels are safe.

Whilst one of the core philosophies in EVE is that acquired resources can be lost, player built outposts was an exception made by CCP. This was made to encourage their use against NPC stations and player outposts. On destruction, personal assets were kept safe and secure.

Players were told if your items were left in a citadel and you lost access or the citadel was destroyed, your items are safe. It has been like this for nearly 5 years and, with that fateful update, we unravel the safety it provided and opened a hole for people to pillage the wealth that is high security space.

Because of the mechanic of high security space, the primarily more risk adverse and casual nature that it facilitates most high security players often feel comfortable flying around in ships worth several billions without fear of death. And they don’t fear death because any aggressor has a limited time to engage them non-consensually before immediate wrath and retribution by CONCORD.

As players feel less fear (particularly in systems greater than 0.6 and 0.7 security) and the relatively peaceful nature for most players, wealth kept in high-sec rarely bleeds out except in cases of a coordinated gank, a suspect bait, or death by non-player causes.

Many players made extensive use of the myriad of public structures for their services and convenience, there was an extensive amount of assets stored in these structures as they were completely safe and their assets under asset safety protection (should it be destroyed or access revoked). Or at least until the update.

Many, many players received little to no warning that their assets were at risk. Plenty of emails were sent for the latest skins and updates. But for many players, not a single email to warn them of what was to come.

Shortly afterwards, hundreds of high-security and rental region structures were kept an eye on. Some groups were accused of using the Singularity Test Server to scout out structures and identify ones with valuable stored assets. Once those structures became abandoned, they were swiftly brought down and its contents torn apart by vultures. Assets of players whom have taken a break or quit became up for grabs. Tournament ships, T2 BPOs, and personal caches were pilfered.

Players would come back to find their assets gone. Localised groups such as Muh Zkill (Delve) and Hard Knocks (former HKASS Drone region rental accounts) began bringing down abandoned structures in their respective regions, gaining billions of isk in otherwise secure assets. Eventually, Goonswarm Federation would even become complicit in killing their own abandoned structures to loot their former members as a method of reclaiming wealth.

For those players however, these are assets that should have been completely safe that are taken away from them because they decided not to play EVE.

This update was heavily criticised in it’s execution. The premise of reducing structure spam and helping clear out structures quickly was praised, but like many of EVE’s recent updates they are “Good ideas, poorly executed”.

Some of the wealthiest players in game, such as multiple tournament ship owner David Zeta and tournament player Tikktokk Tokkzikk spoke out against this. Even those that benefitted such as Hard Knocks have members whom have spoken out against the treatment of players this way.

These players, whose heavy PVP focus live the philosophy of “Harden the f*** up” all agreed that a loss of assets through no fault of your own is not something to harden over. A loss occurs because you undocked and put yourself at risk. But this wasn’t a loss by their fault. They followed every decision right and still the loss was forced by the hands of poor developer foresight.What should have happened, was grandfathered asset safety for all players before this update.

Recently during this month, more changes were made which would further damage the philosphy of “Real Life before EVE”.

Following the Triglavian invasions of several empire space systems, a new region was created to isolate them called Pochven. This region is inaccessible to nearly all of the players currently playing EVE Online. Only a small percentage of players have any kind of access (never mind full access). To make matters worse, the systems are extremely hostile to anyone without proper access.

These systems are also a mix of high and low security systems. A mixture of the most obscure and out of the way, to strategic and important systems throughout the history of EVE. Gateways between trade hubs and all important asset safety stations.

Those whom had citadels there now find the asset safety disabled completely just like wormholes. Those whose assets would otherwise be recoverable via asset safety now find their assets in a system that is difficult to access and dangerous to traverse, making recovery nearly impossible. For those players who return to the game to find their hard work and their assets gone through no fault of their own will have to make a decision.

For some players, this will be too much. And they will leave the game quietly, never to return. A total betrayal of many of EVE’s old players. To punish them for putting life before EVE.

Is this how EVE’s players should be treated?

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