Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Elite Dangerous: WARNING! May contain pirates

Another one of my threads on the Frontier Forums devolved in to a PvP vs PvE shouting match. I don't mind much because they're fun (especially since I put some of the more uninteresting and annoying people on my ignore list*) but I can understand if some people find it tedious. Luckily, if people don't like it, they can just not read it! Isn't technology wonderful?

This made me think that perhaps it would be good to explain my position in the debate in relation to what appears to be two extremes.

First, we must avoid the fallacy of the middle ground, better known as the argument to moderation. Whether you like it or not, sometimes one side is just right and the other one is just wrong. It frustrates me when people who enter a debate and look to find the middle ground as they are not interested in truth, just not upsetting people. Unfortunately many Internet forum moderators fall in to this trap when dealing with conflict.

So, are the PvPers right to bemoan the existence of some cuddly people who don't like to engage in as much combat with other humans? Are the PvEers right to complain that their game will be ruined by psychopaths?

I think I am inclined towards the PvP crew simply because the PvE position is inconsistent and bordering on delusional.

The old Elite games were single player and featured ship-to-ship combat. The good news for fans of these single-player games is that this game mode is still supported; you can just remain in a single player group. However, the unique selling point of Elite Dangerous is that it now features a persistent, evolving world occupied by other players. Now it is possible to engage with fellow humans in exactly the same way we did with NPCs in previous games.

It has been argued by some PvE players that they want to get on with the task of mining, exploring or trading without the hassle of unwanted combat. However, this completely ignores the fact that they will most likely be operating in areas that contain dangerous NPCs that will engage them. To say they are happy to fight NPCs but not players is totally bizarre.

Once this objection is raised then there follows a bait and switch. All of a sudden the conversation will move to griefing which actually has very little to do with regular PvP. This conversation can get really ugly when there are various definitions of griefing being used and people usually just end up talking past each other. The only useful definition of griefing describes (hopefully) very rare events, whereas some of the more sensitive people seem to think any unwanted PvP is griefing (I kid you not).

Put simply: Elite is a space trading and combat sim. It's in the name of the genre for goodness-sake.

* Let me be clear: putting someone on my ignore list is a last resort. I never remove voices of disagreement from my feed simply because they disagree (I relish the debate!) However, as you'll find on every Internet forum, there exist individuals who can only be described (politely) as intelectually dishonest. These are the people who, instead of addressing any points or arguments you make, try to help correct typos or spelling mistakes, attack strawman positions or who quote you out of context so they can feel smart. And also the people who, once you've eviscerated all of their shaky reasoning for their position, declare everything "subjective" and everyone is entitled to an opinion. These people aren't interested in actually discussing the merits of anything, they just want to score points by being dishonest or obtuse.


  1. I don't think you're being fair to the PVE people. Though I agree to a large extent, the argument involves them wanting to have their cake (a full game with other people) and eating it (not having to actually interact with them).

    But a lot of the time, PvP does rapidly descend into griefing, as I said on my own post, bullying. This is where you KNOW the person you're attacking doesn't want this and you do it to them. Repeatedly. Delibrately. And the comms make it clear this is why. Bullying is never alright.

    And new players. PvPing against new players, ie. delibrately targetting new players because you know they don't have the equipment or the skills to beat you. Sadly both types of griefing are very very common, especially on that giant space game I'll probably sidle back into for a bit to blow off my billions of ISK as a pirate.


    1. "This is where you KNOW the person you're attacking doesn't want this and you do it to them. Repeatedly. Delibrately."
      This is where the term griefing is stretched. In a game that features piracy and theft what is wrong with killing someone against their will (obviously, it's piracy) deliberately and even on multiple occasions? Nothing. If there is bullying comms then that is another matter and should be dealt with. Hopefully the ignore lists FD have mentioned can help deal with that.

      "And new players. PvPing against new players, ie. delibrately targetting new players because you know they don't have the equipment or the skills to beat you."
      Picking on noobs is stretching it too. Whereas the noobs may not like it, if there is something to be gained by doing it then it is perfectly fine. To create artificial protection for noobs is a PR exercise to make the game more welcome. Luckily it can be done in a way that fits with the Elite Universe and Frontier are going to to be doing just that with secure core systems. So it's not something I'm worried about, more just another bogey man that gets pulled out whenever the grieifing conversation happens.

  2. Both aren't arguments that are 'pulled out whenever there's a griefing conversation' they're real concerns and issues that I've seen regularly on EVE. And just because they're used in these discussions doesn't make them illegitimate points. Bullying is never alright.

    1. I never said bullying was alright, I believe quite the contrary.

      I think there is a tendency to conflate aggressive PvP and bullying, with the grey bit in the middle being labelled grieifing. This is why everyone talks past each other on the subject.

  3. I'm really not. PvP is fine, non-consensual PvP is fine. But there /is/ a line. People aren't willing to draw lines, but when PvP becomes personal to aggravate the person being killed consistently, it's gone from non-consensual PvP to bullying. I really have no issue with PvP, I'm a (bad) PvPer. It's where i play to enjoy the game. What I don't like is when people take joy and pleasure in causing other people's play experience to be consistently negative. That is bullying. And because it's online in a game people see it as alright.

    1. What I'm trying to say is that we need to separate out the intent from the actions/consequence. Just killing someone multiple times does not make for bullying. There are plenty of examples where is is considered part of the game. Take an first person shooter game, for eaxmple. It would be strange if you didn't kill other players multiple times (even tens of times) sometimes consecutively. Even in space sims, there are going to be situations where is is perfectly normal/acceptable e.g. competing over the same resources or defending/attacking certain locations.
      Therefore the number of times you kill someone against their wishes is not the important factor. We need to discuss things in terms of bullying and harassment, not focusing on specific game mechanics that can be used incidentally .
      This is why is is unproductive to frame bullying in terms of PvP. If PvP was removed from the game tomorrow then there would still exist bulling in game via chat or even voice comms.