The Case for Fixing the Corp Finder

Porkbutte 2017-04-20

Welcome to EVE! If you have put in the effort to make it through the new player tutorials, and have stuck with your NPC corporation long enough to realize you don’t want to be in a non-player corporation, stepping out into the vast ocean of player-run corporations can be overwhelming and daunting. Thankfully, CCP has included a useful tool in EVE for helping you find what player corporation might be a good fit  – if you know how to use it. However, like anything else in EVE, knowing, is the real challenge.

A lot of massively multiplayer games in the last few years have tailored themselves to the solo/casual player, but it is next to impossible for most to play EVE as a solo experience. While CCP continues to make strides towards improving the artificial intelligence for NPCs, and adding more “randomized” events to NPC space, a vast majority of the game’s allure still resides in players interacting with other players. Holding space, influencing faction warfare, running incursions, building huge quantities of ships, and of course, blowing up huge quantities of ships – all of these are very hard to do solo or without some sort of measure of protection that can only be found by grouping with other players.  

At 2015’s Fanfest in Iceland, CCP Rise released stats showing that players who are “ganked” in the safer part of space, high-security space, are more likely to stay with the game and join player groups. This came as quite a surprise as denizens of highsec often complain that ganking is ruining the game and is one of the main reasons people quit. What CCP discovered was that a lot of players involved in ganking and griefing open conversations with one another which would often lead to the victim player being invited to join the gankers and learn EVE with them. These conversations are interesting, whether they happen at first to say, “Hey you blew me up! F*** you…” they can often lead to teaching one of EVE Online’s most valuable lessons, while also providing a solution in displaying that nowhere in the game is safe – that it is best to group with other players and not fly alone.  Regardless of how these interactions play out, the one clear theme that comes out of them is the impression that flying in groups is much more ideal than flying alone. This is the thought that leads players to search for a group that might suit them. To do that, the corporation finder will need to be used. So let’s take a look.

What Works

EVE Online’s corporation finder is great when compared to pretty much every other MMO guild finder based on the simple fact that players have to manually submit their corporation on a regular basis in order to be listed in it. This means that groups being shown are active (for the most part).

(Note: Working as intended: in typical Brave fashion, Cagali, CEO of BNI forgot to pay his recruitment bill this month.)

Of course, the downside to that is that leadership in the corporation has to actually remember to pay for their corp-recruitment ad in order to be featured in the corporation finder. This is not a huge deal, considering you can just look a corporation up on people and places and find their description page which will usually have their recruitment info on it. But this is one of those things that veteran players will know that new players might not be keen on.

The corporation finder also has some great selection fields to choose from. While most games only offer a selection between PVE or PVP styles, EVE selects for much more, including whether or not the group is new player friendly or allows friendly fire (shooting at fellow corporation members) and what part of space they operate in – high sec, low sec, null sec, and worm holes.  The corporation is also allowed to put links in their ads that will take players to external websites that might have more information about them like karmafleet.org (shameless plug).

All of these features are pretty straight forward, but anyone with experience will know that there are some major challenges in how it works.

What Doesn’t Work

Like any guild-finder in any massively multiplayer game of the last twenty years, EVE Online’s corporation-finder has its problems. Take a look.

I entered in all the information that applies to me as a player: English speaking, USTZ, wants a lot of different types of gameplay and likes large groups of 1000+ players. Despite all this information, the corporation which I founded, KarmaFleet, is only a 44% match for me, while Pandemic Horde, and two other of Goonswarm’s corporations, rank higher: Ascendance and PLA. Ascendance and Pandemic Horde make sense, but PLA? One of Goonswarm’s most recent corporations, the People’s Liberation Army is a glorious corporation with some of the most diehard EVE players I’ve ever encountered. The only problem is that they (mostly) speak Chinese.

As an experiment, enter your own corporation requirements in the finder and see what pops up. The more I started playing around with it, the more intrigued I was in the corporations I was finding.

Lying, it seems, is rampant in the corporation finder. Groups tout their experience in doing “everything in EVE” but, in taking the time to look up a group’s activity level on zkillboard.com you’ll often find that a group that says they do “everything” will typically only have kills in certain parts of space. Then, there is also the hilarious aspect of groups that say they PVP, yet have nothing but mining barge losses (which I suppose is not completely wrong since they are technically PVP’ing). Take some time and browse the corporations in the corporation finder, check their ad’s language against what they actually do. Killboards can tell a lot more about a group than whether or not they are good or bad at PVP. They are a great way to see if a group is being honest about who they are.

The newbie-friendly checkbox is also a way corporations can lie about who they recruit. In the above example, a player can have 4 million skillpoints and can still be classified as “new”, but 4 million skillpoints represents about sixty days of playing EVE. While a player can always inject 4 million skillpoints and apply to this corporation, it probably will not end up well for the player or the corporation that recruited them.

On top of that, there is the mechanic for the corporation finder to act both as an “activity check” and a “money sink.”  The activity check comes in by forcing corporation leaders to renew their ad whenever the select period of time is over, which at maximum is 28 days.  The “money sink” comes in when the corporation leadership pays for the ad space as a means of removing chunks of in-game currency from the game. This is a mechanic found in most MMOs as a means to curb inflation and is found most in repair costs or listing items on the auction house. However, at only 7.5 million ISK for a 28-day advert, it is safe to say that the ISK cost is somewhat meaningless. So how can it improve?

Solutions

To start getting more from the in-game corporation finder right now, visit these helpful out-of-game websites that players have built over the years. They compile data about corporations directly from the game’s API:

https://zkillboard.com/ – zKillboard is a treasure trove of information about anything and everything in EVE. Not only does it list ships being destroyed and who they belonged to, it also lists the date and time the ship was destroyed as well as listing items that may not be player driven, but can deliver killmails as well such as player owned starbases, citadels, and engineering complexes.  If a corporation says they do “a thing” zKillboard will be the best way to verify if what they say is true.

http://evemaps.dotlan.net/ – Dotlan is a fantastic tool that is all about maps, navigation, and so much more.  Looking up a corporation on Dotlan will reveal whether or not they hold sovereignty in nullsec, what their member statistics are like, who the CEO is, as well as whatever is attached to the corporation’s in game description panel, which will also include similar information to what is in the corporation’s in game advert with maybe more specifics.

https://evewho.com/ – EVEwho is a tool that that is great out-of-game method for finding information on individual players in EVE.  It can also be utilized to look up corporations (similar to dotlan but without the map information), but it’s biggest strength is being streamlined and easy to use.

Thanks to the flexibility of EVE’s API, player-devs have created numerous tools to solve challenges that do not have in game solutions – jump bridge navigators, loyalty point calculators, player API checkers, and wormhole trackers are just some of the many tools that exist outside of the game that many have said throughout the years, “gee, it would be nice to have this stuff in-game”. Or, at least, something that points to these tools. Of course, there are reasons these tools don’t exist in the game and probably never will. Some of it is probably due to dedicating resources to actually work on such tools and some of it is probably tangled up in CCP’s mess of “legacy code.” Regardless, it would be nice to see more signs pointing towards these awesome tools to, at least, let players know they exist. For example, in Blizzard’s World of Warcraft, if a player is stuck on a quest chain, Blizzard’s in-game support recommends going to third-party websites like wowhead.com. In EVE Online, this could manifest in many ways, but regardless of how CCP implements this tool, the important part is that new players discover it.

A more complicated fix is to redesign the corporation finder to implement more accurate metrics on how it delivers search results.  Get rid of the arbitrary “ISK Sink” mechanic that forces corporation leaders to re-list their ad every 28 days and move to a system that delivers search results based on raw activity instead.  CCP has much more data than what is on external web apps and can weigh corps in ways players cannot.  Using metrics like ore, ice, and gas that the group has collected in addition to NPC kills, Incursion NPC kills, wormhole NPC kills, exploration sites visited, ships built, jump freighters jumped, and player kills are all great indicators of how active a corporation actually is.  Then, weighing that data based on what a player is looking for – size of corporation, time zone, area of operation, and playstyle – could further refine results. Those that bubble up should emphasize activity level in each of these categories and, in a perfect world, give corporations an incentive to be active.

Ultimately, the goal here is to drive player interaction. Regardless of all the tiny ways this can happen, the important thing is to keep the discussion going.  The new tutorial that CCP Ghost’s team has produced is, by far, its best iteration. The challenge ahead is in connecting the dots between a new player in an NPC world and how that player gets involved with one of the only virtual galaxies that is run by players.

Let your voice be heard! Submit your own article to Imperium News here!

Would you like to join the Imperium News staff? Find out how!

Comments

  • Gigi Bellon

    For me one big problem is the lack of languages you can select for the corp advert, for example there are not many Italians playing this game, but I am one and I should be able to tell other people that I’m making an Italian corp in the language selection

    April 20, 2017 at 7:09 am
  • Pew Pew

    “The new tutorial that CCP Ghost’s team has produced is, by far, its best iteration.”

    I recently played through the tutorial and while I agree this is the best it’s been I personally think it’s completely wrong for EVE and gives the wrong impression.

    Basically it lets you know that EVE is a voice acted adventure game with lots of linear handholding. And then of course you realise that it is 100% not that at all and I think this is a huge mistake. It would be like if Super Mario had 5 minutes of point and click adventure at the beginning followed by all the platforming. People who like platforming would get turned off and people who like point and click would end up disappointed.

    IMO the best way to have people work together is to have the tutorial be a problem you can only solve by working together. So you are trapped in a wormhole with only new players and you all have to build ships and do missions to get enough strength to bust past the guards at the wormhole (say a load of NPC ships).

    Make it hard enough that no one can solo their way out and there you go. It will force people into a fleet and into working together and into trading with each other etc.

    Then they are very likely to want to find a corp afterwards because they have already had an experience of working together. Moreover they’re more likely to use chat to ask about things and find the out of game resources etc and make a go of the game. In general I think the corp finder should just say “Google It!”

    In general I think the vibe of EVE’s tutorial should be “you aren’t tough enough to hack this game, go away, we don’t want you”. Because the people who are fired up by that and want to prove it’s not true at the ones we want.

    April 20, 2017 at 9:24 am
    • Daito Endashi Pew Pew

      The idea is nice, but very difficult to execute. Do you pour all new players into the same npc-guarded wh? Then all of them get out at once when those who are more advanced win the fight. Even when the more advanced players have been there for weeks and the newer players just registered minutes ago.
      Do you put all those who registered, for example, in the same week into the same wh? Then being in a relatively ‘inactive’ week could possibly keep you from getting out, since there’s noone around to fleet up with and beat the npc-guards, essentially trapping you in there.

      Not to forget that a big part of Eve is its freedom, which would be strongly restricted by trapping you in that wh and forcing you to work with a given set of players to get out.
      I can imagine that some players don’t even care about getting out lol

      April 20, 2017 at 1:00 pm
      • Pew Pew Daito Endashi

        Yes all players should go into the same wormhole. It should have 1 station with 1 ore belt and some missions. So you can mine to get resources or do missions to get blueprints and a bit of cash. Then you have to make your own ship.

        There’s no instructions about the wormhole, it’s just a warpable object in your overview.

        If there is a fleet going there to try and breakout and you go along for the ride then yes you can get out. However this requires, at least, that you listened to local and joined in with the others a little bit. You also have to know how to warp to things etc.

        Probably a lot of long time players would make an alt and hang out in the newbe wormhole and tell people about how to get out and help them get blueprints etc.

        But that’s exactly the point. Getting help from other players is exactly what people are meant to be learning.

        There could even be a comedy set of instructions. Like an overseer tells you “mine more ore and gift it to me” and asks you to just go out, get ore, and then just gift it to them. If you do this you get XP. Every 10^n units of ore you hit level n. Nothing happens. There’s no point in levelling up. The overseer just keeps telling you not to think, not to act independently and just to keep mining ore.

        To get to the game proper the new player has to collaborate with other human players and break away from what the game itself is telling them to do. They have to find a new direction and make a group to help them go down it. Perfect training for EVE.

        Anyone who is happy in the overseers prison could stay there forever, why not?

        April 20, 2017 at 1:33 pm
        • Rhivre Pew Pew

          Interesting idea, although PuG fleets don’t seem like a good way to get new players to stick with the game

          April 20, 2017 at 2:40 pm
  • Skarrog

    While I agree that the Adverts could include more data and could have a better quality listing the following paragraph has woken the EVE paranoia in me:

    “Using metrics like ore, ice, and gas
    that the group has collected in addition to NPC kills, Incursion NPC
    kills, wormhole NPC kills, exploration sites visited, ships built, jump
    freighters jumped, and player kills are all great indicators of how
    active a corporation actually is.”

    As a veteran the moment I read these sentences, my first thought was “What a wonderful way to scan which corp to gank next. Let’s see who mines a lot, we could get us some nicely fattened Rorquals or hey look this corp is very incursion active, let’s get us some bling.”

    The base suggestion is good, it is most certain that flaunting that you do something without actually doing it should be undermined but the advert should not be means to spy on other corps to terrorize them.

    April 20, 2017 at 11:19 am
    • Markonius Porkbutte Skarrog

      Yeah that’s certainly something that can happen but with so many targets already flagging themselves – like publicly viewable citadel timers – what more is there to really lose? If a corp is active and that is a driver for conflict, isn’t that a good thing?

      April 20, 2017 at 2:14 pm
  • Xenuria

    They also need to add an option to filter out corps you are blacklisted from.

    April 20, 2017 at 2:38 pm