My Evil Half-Brother Speaks: No Risk, All Reward

My main EVE Online character, Neville Smit, has a dark secret - he has a half-brother, Angra Mainyu Smit. While Neville is generally kindly and easy-going, Angra is not. Nev likes to hang out mostly in hi-sec - Angra prefers the seamy underside of null space. Nev likes to make and build things - Angra delights in killing innocents and doing unspeakably bad things to their corpses, which he collects in a walk-in freezer in the back of his quarters.

The following is a record of their latest brother-to-brother chat....


Nev: Hey, half-bro - it's been a while. How's it going?

Angra: Just fine, Mister Carebear. I'm in a very good mood today.

Angra Mainyu Smit - Nev's evil half-brother

Angra Mainyu Smit - Nev's evil half-brother

Uh oh - what'd you do this time?

Nothing. Not a thing. The forces of the universe just seem to be going my way - big time.

What do you mean?

Haven't you heard? High sec industry is dying, man. Dead. And I'm gonna be sooooo rich.

What the hell are you babbling about?

Oh, you don't know? Heh heh heh! Wow, you are going to love this. Let me tell you about the greatest thing to happen in New Eden, ever.

It seems that there are some big changes coming to industry. The limited slots in stations for manufacturing and research jobs - they're all going away. They figured out a way to scale for an unlimited number of jobs now.

Really? That sounds pretty cool, actually. No more waiting for free slots in stations?

Yep - any job you submit will start right away.

Wow - that would be awesome. What's the catch?

Well, now instead of paying a flat fee for station manufacturing or research jobs, you pay a sliding scale, depending on how many jobs are running there. The busier the station, the more you pay.

Uh oh, now I see why you are happy about this. High sec stations are generally busy, so that means pilots will pay more to use those, right?

Exactly - you might see the price of manufacturing go up by 14 percent. What do you think of that, Mister Carebear?

That is really going to hurt margins - in fact, it might make manufacturing of some things totally unprofitable. Oh, this is bad. Very bad.

Hee hee! The look on your face - priceless. And wait until you hear the rest of it.

*sigh* There's more bad news?

Bad for you, but great for me. The returns on manufacturing in null security space are about to go through the roof.

What? How so?

Somebody up there likes me, I guess. The Forces That Be say that if you live in null sec, you should make more ISK. Everything about industry is getting restructured to make that a permanent reality.

Hold on - so, if I want to make any real money as an industrialist, I have to go to null sec? Are you sure about this?

Hey, Mister Carebear, I don't make the rules. I just enjoy how it's going all my way. Hee hee!

How does this make any sense at all?

That's the best part! It doesn't! The idea is that null sec is "high risk", right? So, high risk should get high reward. High sec space is low risk - so no more rewards for you!

OK, I kind of get that manufacturing in null sec should be more lucrative, but how does that justify destroying industry in high sec?

Because The Forces That Be have decided that all the real pilots that matter live in 0.0 - I've been telling you this for years. Maybe now you'll get the message and finally join me there.

And become a drone to the null power blocs out there? Just pressing my F1 trigger on command, in blob fleets so huge that the very fabric of space-time gets slowed down to a crawl? No, thank you.

It is inevitable, brother. Your carebear days are over. Resistance is futile. You will become One Of Us.

Man, you are creepy sometimes.

I do my best.

You could at least stop grinning at me like that. I really don't want to go to 0.0. I was making a decent living here in high sec, even if the margins weren't great - at least they weren't terrible. This is really going to screw up everything.

Now, now - don't get too upset. Let me tell you a secret, brother. Let me whisper it to you.

The truth is: there isn't really any risk in null sec. Hasn't been any in a long time.

Huh? But I thought The Forces That Be said...

Dude, they are so out of touch, The Forces That Be have no idea what it's really like in null these days. The truth is, a lot of the periphery is carebear heaven now. Join a big alliance, and you can rat and mine and mission and run anoms all day long, and just roll in all the cash. And now, with the manufacturing changes coming, you'll be able to make some decent ISK that way, too. It's a never-ending gold mine. How do you think I afford to lose so many ships?

So really, in null, it's no risk, and all the rewards - but in high sec, it's low risk, and no rewards now?

You got it! So, when are you moving out to join me?

Hmmm, I don't know. This is really depressing. You know, if things go like you say they are going. I'm not sure what to do. Maybe I should just retire.

What? You're just giving up? Why would you do that?

Sometimes you just need to know when to quit, half-bro. Maybe this is the right time to do that.

But that's insane! I just told you what a great scam we've got going on in null sec these days! This is the time to go out there, give up all this high sec carebearing nonsense, and become a real pilot! What is wrong with you?

Nothing. Nothing at all. I just know who I really am. It seems The Forces That Be have forgotten that. Or maybe they just don't care. Either way, I can tell when the deck is stacked against me - it's best to just walk away from that kind of game. You know what I mean?

I really do not understand you sometimes. Not at all.

Same here, half-bro - I still love you anyway.

Whatever. Are you really just going to quit?

Not right away. I'll see how things settle out with these changes first. If it gets as bad as you say... yeah, I'll probably just retire.

Hmmm. OK, then. Can I have your stuff?

Heh, we'll see, half-bro. We'll see.

Fly safe. o7

Nice Guys Finish Last

In the fall of 2009, I was mining veldspar in a belt somewhere near Aldrat, the EVE University home system. I had fitted a Navitas frigate (the dedicated Gallente mining ship back then) to crunch some 'roids while I studied Halada's Mining Guide, the best tome at the time for learning the subtle nuances of successful purveyors of ore and minerals.

Ah, the good old days, before ORE Venture frigates...

Ah, the good old days, before ORE Venture frigates...

Surprisingly, I enjoyed mining in high sec space. It was dull work, certainly. Other than dispatching a drone to fend off a rat every once in a while, not much happened as my mining laser hummed. But with each passing second, my cargo hold filled with ore, and I was earning some ISK with relatively little risk, so I was content. Besides, it gave me time to study the details of EVE Online - and as a brand new player, there were a lot of details to study.

One day, as my little Navitas was digesting rocks, a convo request suddenly appeared on my screen. A Catalyst had warped into the belt, and after selecting "Show Info" on the pilot, my heart sank.

"Oh, crap - a Goon," I muttered to myself. "This can't be good."

Though I had been playing EVE Online for only a couple of months, I had heard of Goonswarm's notoriety in corp chat, along with dire warnings to avoid them and their chaotic preponderance for ganking players just for mirth. My Navitas had no tank, and I didn't stand a chance against a destroyer fitted for vaporizing neophytes like me. I clicked the "accept" option, and held my breath.

"Hello there, little noob," the Goon said, orbiting my ship at optimum blaster range. "What are you doing in that cute ship?"

Oh, hello, Mr. Goon, sir. Nice ship you have there.

Oh, hello, Mr. Goon, sir. Nice ship you have there.

Though I was reading text on the screen, his smirk came through loud and clear.

"Just trying to make some ISK," I typed back, expecting searing hot death at any moment. "I'm brand new to the game. I see you've been playing for a year?"

Perhaps my naivete softened the Goon's heart - I don't know. But he didn't blow me out of the sky.

"Yeah, about that long," he replied. "Why are you mining? It's a lot easier to make ISK by being a complete asshole in this game."

We chatted a bit about ganking and scamming, and to my surprise, the Goon was open and somewhat friendly. I heard later that he had killed some other miners in the same system, so I'm not sure why he decided to let me live that day - perhaps he took my questions as a compliment. I recorded his contact info, and asked him if he'd mind if I sought his advice in the future. He agreed and flew off.

I'll never forget that encounter, or the Goon's guidance: It's a lot easier to make ISK by being a complete asshole in this game. He was sincere in his advice, and perhaps he wanted me to join him in his marauding ways.

It was at that precise moment that I decided, once and for all, how I was going to play EVE Online.

I had joined EVE Online fully aware that it encouraged and rewarded disreputable behavior. But I discovered something highly motivating about the Goon's advice: It's a lot easier to make ISK by being a complete asshole in this game.

When I started playing EVE Online, it wasn't because I was looking for something easy. In fact, it was the complexity and challenge of EVE Online that first drew me to the game. "EVE is hard," the CCP Games' advertisements said. The challenge of overcoming the vertical cliff of EVE Online's infamous learning curve appealed to me.

And so, if it was "easier to be an asshole" in EVE Online, I decided to be the opposite. I resolved to play EVE Online as one of the "good guys" - a white hat - maybe even a hero, despite the odds. I knew I was picking a harder path to success - perhaps a longer, more difficult, and much less lucrative one. My Goon friend would be disappointed in me.

But I like a real challenge. That's why I play EVE Online.

White Knights of New Eden

There are a few nice characters in EVE Online - and their rarity gives them special celebrity status.

The most famous example is Chribba, of course, who has amassed great wealth in the game, not by scamming and cheating, but by doing precisely the opposite - by earning it through dedicated work, indefatigable persistence, and adherence to honorable behavior. As a result, he is now the most trusted man in New Eden, providing escrow services for some of the largest and most sensitive transactions in EVE Online. His reputation is sterling.

Chribba is my hero - and I'll have the pleasure of interviewing him on our public Mumble server on March 21 at 18:30 EVE time - all are invited.

On March 15, EVE University celebrated the 10th anniversary of its founding by Morning Maniac. During a recent interview, he described his intention for establishing an altruistic institution where new players could learn about the game.

"If you look at the big names in EVE and the people with the big wallets and the big reputations," he says, "they are not earned because they were particularly good at firing guns or missiles; it's because they are good at dealing with people, have good ideas, and make them work ... It's really the guy behind the computer."

There are other examples of EVE Online players who succeed by being devoted to the welfare of other players in the game, but I think they are a very small minority, unfortunately. New Eden could use more white knights like Chribba and Morning Maniac.

Built to Last

After my brief encounter with the Goon, I sent him a question every once in a while about game mechanics - his answers were short, but useful. But after a few weeks, he stopped replying. I figured he had just grown weary of my inane queries.

I learned much later that my Goon friend had simply left of the game. In 2012, I was sharing a beer with some null sec friends at Fanfest, one of whom had started in Goonswarm. I told him about my first meeting with a Goon. "I remember that guy," he said. "He joined EVE about the same time as I did, but he got bored and dropped out."

I was disappointed. I was hoping to reconnect and tell him how our brief encounter had influenced me - a perfect example of the butterfly effect at work.

Five years later, I continue to play EVE Online, logging in on one or more characters nearly every day. It has become a highly satisfying hobby. Though my in-game enterprises pale woefully in comparison to Chribba's, I am quite pleased with my modest ISK-earning efforts - from trading, hauling, inventing and manufacturing Tech II items, and some occasional mission-running or exploration. I now possess a few billion ISK in the bank, and several times that in other assets. I've become an avid collector of ships and weird EVE items.

Having some wealth in the game also lets me do some crazy risky things from time to time, too. The first law of EVE - Never Fly What You Cannot Afford to Lose - isn't something I worry about anymore, which is very liberating.

More importantly, I've discovered that my most rewarding EVE Online experiences come from sharing knowledge with new players, and helping them get started successfully - just as Morning Maniac envisioned over ten years ago.

Egoists and Altruists

Over the last half-decade, I've seen literally thousands of players come and go - and they all seem to fall into one of two types:

  • Egoists - they are centered on themselves and the gratification of their own desires over those of others. They derive satisfaction from the game solely to the degree that they can serve their own self interests, without regard for any other players.
  • Altruists - they are unselfishly concerned for or devoted to the welfare of others, above all other considerations. They derive satisfaction from the game to the degree that they can contribute to the success of other players.

Of course, there are blends of these types - this is a spectrum of two extremes, not a binary proposition. I don't deny that I act in my own self interest, sometimes.

Altruism2.jpg

But what I have witnessed is that pure egoists - those who think that "winning EVE" means being a complete jerk to everyone else, for their own self-gratification only - don't last very long. No one really wants to play with them. And the more egoistic they are, the shorter their lifespan in EVE Online.

Altruists, however, tend to last a lot longer, provided that they can withstand assaults by egoistic players. Altruists build things that last - not just modules and ships, but corporations, infrastructure, culture, alliances and coalitions. They seek to make things that are bigger than themselves, and be part of enterprises that expand beyond their own narrow, initial vision.

The altruists in EVE Online are the ones who endure, because they have an infinite number and variety of other players from whom to derive their own satisfaction. The egoists - the real "assholes" in EVE Online - have only themselves to draw upon, and are therefore always inherently limited in vision and resources. Egoists get bored easily, and eventually drop out. Altruists constantly discover new and bigger vistas to strive for, and they build for the future.

Nice Guys Finish Last

If you ever find yourself getting bored in EVE Online, reflect for a moment about how you are playing the game. Every so often, I ask myself, "What's next?" And then I set a new goal, and start working towards it - it's amazing what you can discover along the way. Five years ago, I wanted to amass enough ISK that I could be fearless about whatever I wanted to do in the game. I succeeded, but on the way, I found a new and better goal: helping other players develop the same fearless attitude, and thereby have more fun.

It's a shame that my Goon friend did not develop a little more altruism. He certainly had the opportunity - just as he affected my decision for my preferred style of play, so I could have given him a chance to help develop a new player, and find another way to enjoy the game. But when you only see EVE Online as the "domain of assholes", it's hard to see beyond your own egoism, and that can get very dull, very quickly.

Eventually, the altruists will inherit New Eden. It is inevitable. Nice guys finish last.

Fly safe! o7

My Evil Half-Brother Speaks #1: For the Lulz

My main EVE Online character, Neville Smit, has a dark secret - he has a half-brother, Angra Mainyu Smit. While Neville is generally kindly and easy-going, Angra is not. Nev likes to hang out mostly in hi-sec - Angra prefers the seamy underside of null space. Nev likes to make and build things - Angra delights in killing innocents and doing unspeakably bad things to their corpses, which he collects in a walk-in freezer in the back of his quarters.

Nev and Angra have a strange relationship. Nev respects Angra, but he doesn't trust him. Angra likes to write Nev letters, for some unknown reason - long, rambling letters, which each read like a mad manifesto composed during a fever dream. They don't talk much - just at family reunions and holidays - which Angra always attends, oddly. The following is a record of their latest chat....


Nev: So, how's it going, half-bro?

Angra: You know I hate being called that, Mister Carebear. It goes alright. I killed another brand new noob yesterday.

Angra Mainyu Smit - Nev's evil half-brother

Angra Mainyu Smit - Nev's evil half-brother

Dude - you can't keep killing new pilots like that - I keep telling you.

Whatever. Besides, I was bored.

Where were you this time?

Duripant, outside the noob school. You always know when the fresh ones undock - always in a capsule. Like going outside naked. Heheheh - yeah, naked, and so vulnerable...

You're kind of creeping me out, half-bro.

The problem with killing a brand new noob is that they pop so easy, and they just regen back in station. They don't even know how to say anything in Local yet, so there aren't any delicious tears. They just get confused. I should convo them before I pop them - I gotta remember to do that next time. That'd be amusing.

*sigh* You got CONCORDed again, of course.

Yeah, but that's just part of the game. Nuttin' they can do until it's all over. Lost a Catalyst - big deal. I got a hangar full of 'em.

Man, you must go through a lot of clones.

Yeah, but they're cutting the price on those - didn't you hear? 30 percent off, starting next month. And low-sec rats are dropping some kind of new tags - you can trade 'em in to CONCORD and all is forgiven - they don't care who turns 'em in, I guess. I'll be ganking noobs and carebears all over the place. Oh, yeah, it's going to be awesome.

You seem really excited about this. Is this why you left null sec? I hear everyone is blue to everyone else out there now.

That's just a stupid myth! Some crazy idea made up by ignorant carebears like you - just to make you feel better about staying in high sec. You pretend it's all peaceful and boring in null, just like living in your nice, safe CONCORD-protected shell - you think it's all the same. What a laugh - only real pilots fly in 0.0, man.

I see - so, why not go back to null and do some real fighting, instead of killing noobs and carebears in high sec?

What? Where's the fun in that? Fighting real pilots with skill and experience? I might really lose some ships then.

But you *always* lose ships when you gank in high sec. CONCORD, remember?

Well, yeah, but they're always cheap, crappy ships, so who cares? And the lulz - oh, man - the lulz! Besides, I'm doing those noobs a favor.

How do you figure that?

Look, space is a dangerous place, right? It's the nature of the universe. Trying to pretend that anywhere in space is safe is going against nature. So, I need to remind those people of their rightful place.

By ganking them.

Exactly. Or better still, by making them pay for their ignorance.

You mean extorting ISK out of them - protection money.

Only the high sec miners. They're all ignorant sheep. Someone needs to shepherd them - and slaughter a few from time to time. Heheheh...

You know I'm a miner in high sec, right?

Don't remind me. How do you live with yourself?

Maybe I just have different measures of success than you.

Now who's talking crazy? You just don't know what flying in New Eden is really supposed to be like.

OK, enlighten me - what's it supposed to be like?

Fine - imagine there isn't any ice or minerals in high sec - nothing to mine. It's in all in the periphery, in null, where it belongs. Where the real pilots fly. The carebears don't deserve it. The money is way too easy in high sec.

Even better, imagine this: the entire cluster, with no empire - no high sec at all. 0.0 everywhere - and no CONCORD. No rules. Nothing but fights everywhere. And nothing to stop me from killing every carebear I find.

That's paradise, man. The ironic thing is, that's the way it really is - people just don't know it yet.

What do you mean?

High sec is a totally artificial thing. The goal of the universe is to let action emerge like it's supposed to emerge - naturally, from our basic instincts. And that's not gathering and building things - it's subjugating the weak and ignorant. And if carebears don't see things the way they are supposed to see them, then I have to pop them. It's my sacred obligation.

I see - so the only pilots worthy of being a capsuleer are those that see the universe your way. I'll bet you get a few arguments on that point.

My rule is that anyone who disagrees with me must shoulder the burden of proof alone, regardless of who speaks first. So, I have won every argument I've ever had.

Interesting perspective - you should go into politics. You'd go far, I'll bet.

Don't troll me. You know, I did think about running for office. I would have been guaranteed a win, of course, because I'm so popular. But then I'd have to compromise and get along with other people, which just sucks. I'd rather just gank people for the lulz, and tell the noobs it's for a greater cause. Saving highsec isn't easy. There will be times when it will take extraordinary courage and resolve.

And you have lots of both, of course.

Heh - you're pretty funny, Mister Carebear. I think we both know the real answer to that.

Yes, we do, half-bro - I still love you anyway.

Whatever.

Fly safe. o7