Monday, 6 February 2012

Flash Post: Tippia's Rants, ISK Faucets and Sinks

Tippia has a post up about faucets and sinks:

My first response to Tippia's "average income for mission runners" is that such a figure is a little misleading: it throws people running all levels of missions into the same bucket, thus drawing an average from apples, oranges and pumpkins. In addition, it ignores a basic distinction between motivation to participate in a particular activity.

Liang Nuren's response is that the average for Incursions also includes Incursion noobs. That's fine. Incursion noobs are doing Incursions, which is the same activity that shiny fleets are doing. Anyone who runs incursions will tell you that the shiny fleets get most of the bounties anyway: too many noobs in system, the shiny fleets will get bounties faster by simply contesting sites that the noobs have started. Thus the presence of noobs actually accelerates the average payout per hour per payer that got paid. The important thing is that an Incursion noob is still doing exactly the same activity as a shiny fleet member.

So two clarifying stats I'd like to see: first, the number of pilots that actually shot something in Incursions, and second the number of L4 security missions run (as distinct from "all missions"). The first statistic will hopefully throw some light on the plight of Incursion noobs, along with the overpoweredness of shiny battleship fleets who simply contest each and every OTA. There will also be the shiny Legion fleets who specialise in contesting NCOs.

Now a little backstory.

I run missions. I grind standings. I run Incursions. There are two distinct types of L4 security mission-runners that I socialise with: those who run missions to earn ISK to support their subscription via PLEX (and add a little ISK on the side for their supply of T1 frigates for PVP for the next month) and those who run missions because that's their way of chilling out when they get home from work.

The first kind will only run missions long enough to earn the ISK to buy the PLEX. Thus you will see about 300M ISK/month from them (they have other income sources, including officer module drops in hisec, wink wink). They will not run more missions than they absolutely have to. In fact, they will only run missions when they have someone to talk to, who is sharing their pain with them. Missions are boring!

The second kind will run missions while they're playing, because that's what they do. They earn billions of ISK a month because they're paying their subscription per year by credit card. They don't PvP. They fly shiny officer-fit PvE ships, and when that gets blown up from underneath them, they replace it using their huge wallet full of ISK (often buying their modules back from the people who ganked them).

I don't just run L4 security missions. That's my fallback activity for socialising with the corporation when we're not running Incursions.

I also run L3 & L4 courier missions for standings. I'll have all my accounts logged on, each character running back and forth on autopilot in moderately tanked T1 industrials. They're only ever carrying mission packages, they have no modules fitted that would be worth ganking the ship for, so I feel relatively safe leaving them on autopilot. For every L4 security mission I've done, I've probably run about a dozen courier missions. Incidentally, I also run L3 security missions for standings. These pay out far less in ISK than L4 missions, and provide a quick way to grind standings for the times I'm willing to run missions by myself while at the keyboard.

Now contrast.

I run Incursions. I run Incursions for the same reason that I used to raid in World of Warcraft: it's about the socialising, it's about the illusion of "advancement", it's about community building. When running Incursions, I'm more interested in the people I'm running with than whether the rewards are worthwhile. I'm not watching the wallet and dropping out of fleet the moment I've reached my PLEX fund for the month. Incursions are fun. I keep running them because they're fun.

So missions are boring. Incursions are fun. People paying subscription via PLEX will likely stop running missions when they've reached their goal: missions are about the destination. People running Incursions stay in fleet while it's still fun: the fleet will typically fall apart when one third of the people report that they're falling asleep at 4am. Incursions are about the journey.

What's the argument?

Now I'm not going to argue that Incursions don't pay out significantly more than missions. I'm only stating that drawing an average over all missions and comparing that to the average over all Incursions is an invalid statistical measure: you can't mix apples and oranges together when comparing them to eggs.

Mission income will be low because many people only run the minimum number of missions they absolutely have to: they have other things to do with their time that are more interesting. Incursion income will be high because Incursioners just keep running Incursions: incursions are what they do with their time because that's the most interesting thing to do.

Yes, it's a lot of writing to make a small point: it's much easier to write long posts quickly than short, well reasoned, polished prose. The argument about how over-rewarding Incursions are is for a different day.


  1. As I told you on twitter: this strikes me as someone defending a mechanic that is quite literally breaking the economy of the game. You don't have to look any further than this to see it, either:
    - Missions: 896.34 (ALL bounty) + 74.68 (MISSION reward) + 71.21 (MISSION bonus) - 183.9 - {sell costs} = 858.33B ISK
    - Incursions: 301.8 billion ISK (~1,781 participants/day, *maximum* of 55,211 if everyone only does it once a month)

    Frankly, this entire blog post reeks of someone attempting to defend a mechanic through any means necessary - and no amount of non CCP detail will be sufficient to illustrate just how ridiculous Incursions really are.

    Incursions are broken. They need nerfed - and frankly they need it *now*.

    1. This post was entirely about the meaninglessness of averaging out mission income over all missions, then comparing that to the average of all Incursion income.

      It's like comparing the long distance commuting value of cars versus airplanes, when you're throwing billycarts and vintage cars into the average speed of all cars equation. Noone commutes in a billy cart, and precious few people would do a long distance commute in a vintage car (more likely, they'd put it on a trailer and tow it with a modern car).

      Missions outside of L4 security agents will generally be run for standings, not for ISK or LP.

      I'm picking on one specific element of Tippia's post, not the whole argument. Bad statistics is bad and the bad statistician needs to be corrected, regardless of the greater argument the bad statistics are used to support. When the statistics are corrected and presented as valid support to the argument, the argument will have more strength.

      Until the argument is comparing like for like (i.e.: activity pursued for ISK reward), it's invalid, regardless of how vehemently I agree with the principle of the argument. CCP_Diagoras's statistics are interesting but not entirely useful.