Human Behavior in the Era of Chaos


Header art by Redline XIII

“Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in event of success.” – advertisement in a London paper for the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, according to legend.

Antarctica is probably as close to an unforgiving, frozen hellscape as one can get. In the vast desert of snow, hypothermia was the expedition’s constant companion. To cross the Antarctic continent by land would take a lot of preparation, teamwork, and determination. However, all the preparation in the world didn’t help Ernest Shackleton and his team when things went straight to hell.

All of the men selected were determined. Out of the thousands that had volunteered, Shackleton had narrowed his teams down to 28 men each on 2 ships. There was not a weakling among them.

However, when the first ship got caught in ice and sank, Shackleton knew they would survive together or not at all. When a seaman named John Vincent was reported to be bullying some of the other members on the crew, Shackleton demoted him.

The greatest story of camaraderie, still retold a century later is about the spilled milk of Lionel Greenstreet. Milk was essential for the men in the expedition. All the food was. It takes calories to keep warm. So, when Greenstreet spilled his milk one day, seeing all of go away on the snow and ice, he became quite upset. Silently, and without prompting, each of the 7 other men in the tent rose to poor some of their milk into Greenstreet’s mug. Each of them had a little less, but they all had the same amount.

The Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition failed in its goal of crossing the Antarctic continent by land. Despite that failure, it remains one of the greatest feats of human endurance in the history books. Not a single man under Shackleton’s command died, despite the loss of their ship.

Okay. Great. What Does This Have to do With EVE?

“EVE if up to me, would be a very harsh, dark, dystopian place where bad stuff happens; EVE should be an absolute hellscape of terribleness.” -CCP Falcon

EVE Online has been traditionally called a “Sandbox MMO” by the players. Unlike the “Amusement Park MMOs” like World of Warcraft, in a sandbox MMO, the game is there and players can do what they want with it. Players set their own goals, go where they want, and do what they want. In an amusement park MMO, like WoW, developers keep having to add in content as the old ones get beaten. It takes a lot of developer time to do this. If EVE was not a sandbox, CCP would not have been able to throw money away on other failed projects because they would have had to pay more developers to keep adding in more content.

EVE has sometimes taken on some amusement park qualities, like Incursions and Abyssal Sites.

In a sandbox MMO, most of the content has to come from interactions with other players. It has to. There are always more players than developers. Anything a developer designs, assuming they do it honestly–i.e., there is a solution–a player will solve. I know from experience; I used to run Drifter Hives with a small group of really good pilots. Once CCP found out from one of my pilots (who was bored at how easy it was) how we were doing it without losses, they changed the AI. Which really didn’t stop my group, to be honest.

Because of this sandbox quality, any awfulness in the game needs to come from other players. This is actually a pretty good plan. People are awful to each other. EVE encourages this further by allowing, even encouraging scamming, theft, lying, spying, and more. Someone made terroristic threats about cutting off another player’s hands in the real world, and some EVE players thought a ban was too much of a punishment. We are all awful players in an awful game.

Engineering Human Behaviour

CCP has two choices in order to make EVE an absolute hellscape of terribleness. Either the players make it a hellscape, or the game does. CCP has been trying to go the latter route. First, they introduced Drifters attacking structures all over null sec. After that, they introduced the Blackout.

There are two very telling results from these changes. The first one is that all the null sec power brokers got together in a discord room for the first time and worked together. CCP had attacked all of null sec, and nothing makes for better friendships than spending time in the same foxhole. Of course, there is not likely to be an outbreak of total peace in null sec, not yet. The second result is a huge drop in the Peak Concurrent User numbers and null sec activity.

When faced with adversity, like Shackleton and his team, humans tend to come together, work more as a team. A company from Iceland–not exactly a land flowing with milk and honey–should know this. When the land is trying to kill you, no one has time for murder. When Drifters are reinforcing structures all in null sec, no one has time for wars.

When faced with adversity, some people just leave. Not everyone has the stamina or desire to continue on. EVE Online is a video game; it’s entertainment. It’s supposed to be fun. There are certainly activities that are difficult, and everyone likes overcoming challenges. Plenty of rich idiots climb Mount Everest every year, after all. However, a hellscape or terribleness doesn’t exactly sound fun. As the joke goes, no Warhammer 40k fan wishes to go to that universe.

If CCP does introduce game mechanics that make the game a hellscape, players will fight the NPCs and game, rather than each other. If they make the game a hellscape, players will leave.

However, if CCP makes living in null sec easier and wars more rewarding, like I said before, there will be more conflict. I am not talking about the idiots in cloaky, nullified Lokis flying about that get upset when people warp off when they come into system; I am talking about actual wars.

Fuck Small Gang. There. I Said It.

Null sec is not for small gang PVP. If people want to do that, go someplace else. I hear low sec is nice this time of year. As I wrote before, sov null is for civilizations. When a group of armed bandits show up in a country and start shooting things up, they get introduced to the military. See: Pancho Villa. When a small gang shows up to kill ratters or miners, the local super fleet shows up.

This is working as intended. It’s very easy to get PVP in null sec. Anyone at all can get into a supercapital fight with really no effort. It’s simple. Go to Delve, tackle a supercapital ratter or some Rorquals. Once that has happened, wait for the cyno to go up. Some supercapitals and other caps will jump in. After that, light your own cyno and jump your own super fleet in. That’s the next B-R5 battle right there.

Null sec is not safe. CONCORD doesn’t respond when PVP engagements happen. Any security that one might perceive in null sec exists as the dedicated result of players spending manhours to keep it safe.

While I am going to give the blackout a pass on judgement, I am going to point out the Emperor’s saggy ball sack when it comes to the new cyno changes. Capitals and cynos are not oppressive; not everyone deserves a chance of victory. If someone is willing to drop 500 billion ISK to save a Rorqual, then buddy, pony up the same.

PANIC is not perfect; supercapitals need a balance pass. However, anyone that thinks they and a few other pilots can bumblefuck around null and not get hammered by overwhelmingly-powerful defense fleets should fuck right the fuck off.


Recently, CCP Hellmar—aka CEO Hilmar Pétursson—has been playing EVE Online. This is fantastic; more CCP developers should play their game. However, all the changes so far have been to make null sec more like wormhole space: no local and less cynos.

With no respect to wormholers: you do not matter to null sec. To use my previous civilizations analogy, wormholes are like barbarian camps; they show up and make life a little inconvenient until they get closed. Even our low sec neighbors matter to us more than wormholers. For me personally, if wormholes were removed from the game entirely, I don’t think that I would notice at all. If I did notice, I certainly wouldn’t care.

That said, making null sec more like wormhole space is some pants-on-head stupidity. Wormhole space already exists! If players want to play with those rules, they can move to wormhole space. I don’t give a shit if Hilmar thinks wormhole space is the cat’s pajamas. No part of the game is for everyone. Removing CONCORD from high sec to make it more like low sec would be just as dumb as removing local from null sec.

I am sure that a CEO like Hilmar has heard of the Dunning-Kruger Effect. Briefly, the Dunning-Kruger Effect says that a novice will rate their knowledge and ability the same as an expert. Someone with a middling amount of experience realizes how much they don’t know.

After 6 or so months of playing EVE in wormholes, Hilmar has come to the forefront to make drastic changes to EVE. Dear reader, I leave you to your own conclusions there.

Useless Flailing

Right now, CCP Hellmar is doing his best impression of Mel Brook’s character from Blazing Saddles, Governor William J. Le Petomane: “We’ve got to protect our phoney-baloney jobs, gentlemen! We must do something about this immediately! Immediately, immediately!” He’s admitted in public interviews that he has no idea what the proposed changes will do. He’s also reportedly admonished CCP Rise for soliciting feedback from the community about changes. There are circumstances where doing something, anything, immediately is called for. However, with almost 6 thousand less on the Peak Concurrent User number, blind jumping might result in catastrophe.

Generally speaking, people will always act in their best interest.  If CCP doesn’t recognize this, players will lose their interest in EVE.  CCP has it within them to fix EVE, to make it better than it ever was. However, it’s going to take the humility of one CEO to do this. CCP Hellmar is not an expert when it comes to EVE Online, and he never will be.  He should stop having opinions on the game and stick to running the company. No one actually cares what his twenty year old vision for EVE was. Players always have and always will forge their own path.

UPDATE: CCP Rise has clarified that Hilmar’s reaction regarding the cyno announcement was not in any way an admonishment or disciplinary. As Rise is someone who has been working tirelessly to make EVE better, and done his best to be responsive to player concerns, for his entire tenure at CCP, this is welcome news here at INN, and we thank Rise for that clarification. -Ed.

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  • Same goes for the, “But what about the small-group sovholders???” crowd: small alliances shouldn’t reasonably expect to compete in the sov game. If there’s excess space leftover somewhere that you can claim, great. If not, go to lowsec. There’s zero sense trying to balance sov mechanics so that “The Little Guy(TM)” can compete with the Goonswarms and Panfams of the world: you can have those kinds of arbitrary mechanics or you can have a sandbox. You can’t have both.

    September 14, 2019 at 7:18 AM
    • Guilford Australis Ganthrithor

      Apparently CCP has never considered that most nullsec players have aggregated into coalitions because that’s how most nullsec players want to play the game. That’s what you get in a sandbox. People end up doing whatever a majority of them want. Mind-blowing concept, I know.

      September 14, 2019 at 1:59 PM
    • Romulus Loches Ganthrithor

      So I’m gonna go with the Civilizations analogy with this one; City States.

      September 15, 2019 at 12:09 AM
      • You mean the ones that exist solely at the discretion of the real empires and eat shit as soon as they become inconvenient? I’m not saying smaller groups can’t exist in nullsec: I’m saying they can’t reasonably expect to compete with bigger groups in a strategic conflict.

        September 15, 2019 at 12:53 AM
        • Romulus Loches Ganthrithor

          Ummm, I think you just spelled out what I was trying to merely imply…

          September 15, 2019 at 4:44 AM
    • Alaric Faelen Ganthrithor

      Actually, this is another unintended consequence of CCP trying to break up the big blocs.
      We used to be far more independent even as members of these huge blocs. When CCP tried to break up the sov blocs by only allowing the sov owner to defend entosis attacks, it forced the “main” sov holding alliance to dissolve all the lower alliances and fold everyone into a single mega-alliance.

      Before Fozziesov we still had strong alliance cultures across the CFC (and I’m sure it was the same for NC/PL). I was in EXE in Cloud Ring, members of the CFC but (from a line member’s perspective) operated almost wholly independent from GoonSwarm, Space Monkey Alliance, TEST (at the time also in the CFC), Co2, etc… We had a common defense to our north, but we did our own thing for the most part. We had our own wars, our own deployments in search of content, our own FC’s, our own comms, our own forums etc. We could fly freely around CFC space but unless you were a big time player, mostly didn’t interact much with that huge bloc of people. We’d put ook ook in SMA local when we passed thru…..
      I was technically a Goon for over a year before I step foot in Deklein.

      But now CCP forced everyone to be part of monolithic alliances to appease their stupid sov mechanics. Gone are the days of blue donuts only being held together by the meta-game. Gone are the days of only a little bit of space being sufficient. CCP has made Sov an ‘all or nothing’ game. You are either a giant super power, or crowded out of the play pen. That’s not our fault- we don’t write the code.

      Even though we were part of this much larger bloc- we didn’t FEEL as big before FozzieSov. Everyone still operated pretty much on the alliance scale for everything but major invasions or, in the case of the Fountain War, a civil war backed by an enemy super power.
      We were limited by what our individual alliance could get from a ping. EXE being a bit smaller, couldn’t field 200 man fleets like we do now with a mega-alliance structure. We operated smaller, and our targets were smaller.
      It was– the very thing CCP keeps saying they want. They had it, and then CCP changed it.

      September 15, 2019 at 4:29 AM
  • Guilford Australis

    No one ever questions the Reddit axiom that a 100-member null/lowsec/WH alliance should be able to challenge a 2000-member (or 20,000 member) null alliance with impunity, but it is rather ludicrous, isn’t it?

    Sort of like going to High Point on a football scholarship, whining to the NCAA that you can’t compete on even footing with USC, and then lobbying for a bunch of asinine, totally arbitrary handicaps on the big schools so your little derpy Division 2A team can pretend to be good at the game.

    September 14, 2019 at 8:28 AM
    • I talked about this very point in the article I wrote after this. There are at least two more of mine that are in the queue. I think I am actually writing faster than INN can publish them.

      September 14, 2019 at 4:57 PM
      • Romulus Loches Alizabeth

        They are making you break them into smaller articles so you don’t just have a massive thesis paper at the end.

        September 15, 2019 at 12:11 AM
      • Xandryll Alizabeth

        I look forward to the additional articles you have then!

        September 15, 2019 at 3:24 AM
  • Erick Asmock

    Whoa! What a spot on final 2 paragraphs.

    September 14, 2019 at 11:38 AM
  • Garreth Vlox

    “anyone that thinks they and a few other pilots can bumblefuck around
    null and not get hammered by overwhelmingly-powerful defense fleets
    should fuck right the fuck off.”
    I love this, mainly because its true, but also because a lot of people seem to think they can do exactly that and if they get dropped on CCP should just change the rules so they can’t be dropped on.

    September 14, 2019 at 7:03 PM
    • Xandryll Garreth Vlox

      Agreed. I also really enjoyed the part where the recipe for the next B-R was given. Bait out Delve supercapital ships and then counter drop with supercapital ships. Currently, and especially in the blackout chaos era which is soon to be past tense, Eve gank roams are either small ships or cloaky ships. Gankers want easy, little to no risk ganks of blinged out Rorquals or supercapital ships that will die a quick, salt filled death. Ratters want easy, little to no risk PVE with high bounty ticks. Those two types of people are the exact same except one is doing PVP and the other is doing PVE. When is the last time a force roamed from lowsec to a well organized null region that was in search of a stand up brawl? And for CCP to respond to: when was the last time that roam and fight which occurred resulted in an attention getting news article to bring new people to the game?

      September 15, 2019 at 3:36 AM
  • Alaric Faelen

    Flailing around is a perfect description of CCP’s development process. Even with a disaster like Incarna, it was wrong headed and stupid but at least it was the result of a lot of thought and planning. CCP just seems to be completely lost right now. Throwing everything at the wall hoping something sticks that pleases their Korean overlords.
    They aren’t developing the game any more . There used to be these two big expansions a year that people looked forward to- some were better than others and a couple were total disasters….but it always expanded the game. It’s been a long time since CCP really expanded Eve. Now every ‘big’ change to Eve is just nerfing the players, not expanding the game universe or gameplay.

    September 15, 2019 at 3:35 AM
    • Guilford Australis Alaric Faelen

      We’ve had only two significant expansions in the past three years (Citadel and Invasion). With most development resources going toward the New Player Experience, it’s not hard to understand why other areas of the game are stagnating. Nerfs are easy, cheap, and require very little development effort. But players want new experiences. Simply watching the existing mechanics become harder artificially through nerfs isn’t enough.

      September 15, 2019 at 1:00 PM
  • Taxea

    I think the trick was to stop ‘people ratting under their super-umbrellas’ from ruining the economy?
    What they actually did? – Fucked miners. Needing a new cyno-alt, some fax-alt.
    So taking into account that i have to pay for these alts.. it’s not worth the effort.
    So what do? Dockig up roqs and supers. Undocking Vexors and closing accounts i dont need anymore.
    What we got then? Less minerals, even more isk in the system and last less payed accounts. Brilliant move CCP.

    September 15, 2019 at 10:54 AM
    • Arrendis Taxea

      Ratting and mining numbers were already trending downward before the Blackout, so if that was their goal, all they had to do was wait. But waiting wouldn’t have caused any buzz.

      September 15, 2019 at 10:05 PM
  • Daniel Muñoz

    Hi there, over the years i has been reading this web, first time i post. Im player from 2005. today 41 yold :p. First thanks for your always realistic approach, and your amazing work, that keep me interested in the news and the game, hope my English goes well. Imo, not a humble one, eve is dead, and it is because of skill injector. This was the “blue pill or a red pill” way to improve or kill the game. Asakai times are gone they will not come back. In the AGE OF INJECTOR the new player can sit in titan, can even buy one, but they have no shit idea how to use it, CCP answer, invulnerable citadel, timers, and more nasty nerfs. They want to make it eve fast, but they just are not creating content, best example. Just 2 extra races in 15 years, jovians never come. Man is just to move pixels from A to B and mix, you have Triglavian pretty simple. Short term, CCP cares not enough, they are like a bad singer from 90s who makes a hit, but all other songs are fail, like other ccp games were they are really wasting time, the problem is not the devs is person who direct the company, i saw a bold old fat viking on youtube today, maybe him. EVE needs love, not nerfs. They still have time to save it, or it “become shadow and dust.” Thanks for reading.

    September 15, 2019 at 4:10 PM
  • “He’s admitted in public interviews that he has no idea what the proposed changes will do. He’s also reportedly admonished CCP Rise for soliciting feedback from the community about changes. ”

    -citation please.

    September 16, 2019 at 5:35 AM
    • Rhivre Matterall

      Citation 1: The interview with Messner
      Citation 2: The Rise interview

      September 16, 2019 at 5:53 AM
      • Pretty sure he said similar things in the fireside chat at EVE Home as well.

        September 16, 2019 at 11:08 PM
        • Arrendis NoizyGamer

          Yep, he did.

          September 17, 2019 at 5:27 AM
    • Arrendis Matterall

      “The Chaos Era is a little bit like that. We are not smart enough—nobody is smart enough—to understand what we might find. It’s not even the exercise of trying to predict what it is. You just have to have the courage to walk into the chaos.”

      Also, 35:50

      Exactly what Rise meant by ‘the big boss man was… kinda disappointed that we warned people’, and how to interpret his tone of voice at the time… well, as someone recently told me, that’s a matter of opinion, and the author in this case expressed hers.

      September 16, 2019 at 6:21 AM
      • You Arrendis, Alisabeth, Rhivre and Noizy are all incorrect about Hilmar admonishing or in anyway punishing devs for soliciting feedback. That is completely false and you know it. I proved it and I hope you make a retraction.

        update: oh you did retract it. Good job.

        September 20, 2019 at 12:46 AM
        • Arrendis Matterall

          In fact, I added the update as soon as you gave me Rise’s statement. A full hour before you posted that comment. And, you know, before you got all holier-than-thou at me in two different conversations, because just being a massive prick in the convo you and I were having wasn’t enough.

          September 20, 2019 at 5:15 AM
        • Rhivre Matterall

          I wish to interject here and ask what your citation for

          That is completely false and you know it.


          September 20, 2019 at 5:20 AM
  • Caleb Ayrania

    Blasphemer, you dont have faith in our lords and saviors? I do admit lately I have also felt like they have been reenacting some pythonesque skit about the New Edens Liberation People Front. They seem to be very focused on making shiny toys and trying to insert themselves and their design in the sandbox. As you perfectly point out that is exactly what is turning the sandbox into cement. EVE is an ecosystem game of PVE and PVP symbiosis and competition, when you introduce dumb things they will act as invasive species and the result will be ecological PLAYER EXTIRPATION.

    The mere irony of “local extinction” and colony collapse concepts is profound.

    September 16, 2019 at 7:04 AM
  • Nietzsche

    This write it up is pure GOLD…..thank you for making me smile….I only hope that someone from CCP will read and fcking understand this.

    again, thank you

    September 19, 2019 at 1:38 PM