Piracy and Bad Faith Orders

I would like to preface this post by saying that I have been considering what my stance on this is and I’ve finally come to a decision. Eve, this is not, and the game should not act like it.

This is Ironic Coming From Someone in NEM Right?

We haven’t done anything “EVIL” this universe, and even when we do, we don’t use busted game mechanics and design to get the point across.

The Problem

With the advent of a new player wave, some individuals have taken to thinking that “piracy” is the same thing as “roleplaying.” Not only are these people wrong, they are taking advantage of a system that frankly shouldn’t exist. Additionally, with the ability to post sell orders with simply a WAR on a planet, there is very little which prevents bad faith orders from being placed. To be explicit, a “bad faith order” is one in which the offering party has no intent what-so-ever to deliver goods and will try and persuade (read: con) you into honoring your end of the bargin. “Piracy” is defined as someone taking a shipping order and never intending to deliver your goods with the understanding that you will eventually breach their contract (either by accident or intent) and they will get your stuff.

Why Piracy Isn’t Roleplay in PRUN

As I’ve heard PRUN called “EVE without Combat,” let’s take a look at what makes a Pirate in EVE work as a roleplay element.

In EVE, when you get Interdicted, you are typically given a script of demands by a pirate. You have a choice:

  • Do what the pirate asks and hope they don’t try and extort you further or blow you up.
  • Try and gun your way out or run, hoping that you don’t get blown up.

In both instances you’re engaging with the pirate through the mechanics of the game. Now let’s take a look at PRUN and why these issues are a little different.

  1. Most piracy in EVE happens in low to null security space. This concept is fundamentally completely absent in PRUN, the whole universe is either “high” or “null” sec depending on how you look at it and this is a crucial difference. In EVE you are choosing to put yourself in a situation where you might be pirated. In PRUN you just exist in a situation where you may be pirated… but not because the system gives you a choice. The system is just poorly designed.
  2. Company Rating is pretty much irrelevant and the only “hostile” action you can take against a pirate is to either advertise their piracy or breach them. You can’t run, or outgun them. There is no skill involved.
  3. The fight is entirely one-sided… even more so than it would have been in EVE. They already have your stuff. There’s no chance to RP! You just write the goods off as a loss, add the player to your personal block-list, and move on.

To summarize, if you take someone’s shipping order with no intent to fulfill the order, you aren’t roleplaying, you are being a dick.

How can this problem be solved in a way that lets piracy continue because I want to be a pirate and I am a worthless piece of human garbage?

Good question. I have a few suggestions:

  1. Shipping ads need a couple of extra options on them, one of which is collateralization. No company in the real world would ship valuable goods with an un-bonded company, without insurance, and no collateral. You want to ship a full ship of goods? Post collateral. You want to ship a little batch? Post collateral. Make the collateral based on market rate and tied to the good being shipped. This prevents exploitation.
  2. Let me pay for recovery insurance as someone who needs shipping done. I should be able to have goods held for me in CONT or otherwise if someone breaches after I have paid them. The idea that I can pay someone and they keep my stuff is absurd. The goods are “blocked” and I’m one-hundred-per-cent sure that an in-universe reason why you can’t open a locked cargo container that is welded shut exists.
  3. There needs to be an option for shippers to post capacity. Right now the system only has half the equation. I should be able to decide who gets my shipment if I want to.
  4. Shipping should be denied by default and set to explicit allow, unlike LM ads for goods which are inverted (anyone can accept an ad for goods sale/buy).
  5. Let me pay to blow up another player if they breach on a shipment and refuse recollection. I’m sure losing your FTL ship of which you only have two is a proper incentive to not be a dick roleplay aggressively.

On Bad Faith Orders

At the time of this writing there are 2 Million NCC worth of Bad Faith orders on the YI-280J Local Market. These are orders that are logistically impossible for the poster to fulfill as the WAR on 280j is only capable of holding 500t/m^3 and 1000 BER takes up 1,923 and some change tons of mass-storage. The only purpose these orders could possibly have are to either dupe a player into a near-half-million currency payout for company rating (which isn’t relevant, see above) or to serve as an accidental click trap.

These types of orders should be impossible to place. It is therefore my suggestion that if you only have a WAR on a planet that you can only post ads to SELL what IS CURRENTLY IN YOUR WAR.

Thanks for coming to my TED talk.

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Well to be honest, like you, i gave serious consideration to “Being a Pirate” and took great care to learn the mechanics of the game before doing so.

I cant comment on the happenings on the Local Market in YI-280J, as i never operated in that area for my piracy needs.

I concur that the ability to pirate is way to easy within Prosperous Universe, but just like Eve Online, the ability does exist and it is a game mechanic.

You are correct in your assessment of:
" 1. The fight is entirely one-sided… even more so than it would have been in EVE. They already have your stuff. There’s no chance to RP! You just write the goods off as a loss, add the player to your personal block-list, and move on."

The ability to fight back is desirable and in all the years i have played Eve Online, it is something i enjoy about that aspect of piracy. Hence why i chose to give everyone i pirated, the opportunity to get their stuff back, as the aspect of fighting back was not an option in this universe.

I agree in part with your assessment that:
To summarize, if you take someone’s shipping order with no intent to fulfill the order, you aren’t roleplaying, you are being a dick”.

  • If there is an intent to offer a victim zero chance/opportunity to to regain their assets (as defined within the game rules), then yes, i agree…

  • However if the chance/opportunity is there, then in my opinion its fair. At the end of the day, we play a game for enjoyment, the game mechanics allow for piracy to exist (at the moment) and its a risk players have to take and should understand can be forced upon them by others.

At best you get to play a game and be inconvenienced for a few days and get you stuff back and/or you decide not to engage and therefore make the conscious decision that your items are forfeited forever.

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Some thoughts. Not really organized.

  1. Agree, company rating is completely meaningless as it exists now.

  2. I don’t think calling pirates dicks and in general non-constructive members of the economy. I think we need to look at the second story here. Indivguals can’t be faulted for a system in which they are allowed, neigh on incentivized to cheat. There are systemic problems within the shipping “trust” system that allow it to be as prevalent as it is. Address the problems within the system and the rules that govern it, don’t blame the people for abusing a broken rule.

  3. Bonded shipping is fine for mature players who can bankroll $20k, $50k, $100k when they’re taking a shipment. But what about new players in the game? Shipping can be a huge source of income for someone in their first 100 days of a company. And they don’t have two pennies to rub together at that point, much less front $50k of collateral to make $3k profit on a contract. Perhaps a system that allows you to stake your production buildings on your base as collateral rather than requiring a cash deposit. this is how it often works in the real world.

EDIT: THIS BEING SAID - I think there is still a place for bonded shipping contracts. If you do need something of very high value\weight shipped, you can request collateral is posted. I think this would be a good feature, for the few people who would end up using it, and would be super simple to implement.

  1. I would love for a “capacity available” system. I fly empty on many of the legs, and know I’m going to do so. It would be nice if I could advertise as such. And offer rideshares. This is especially important on low-volume planets. This is a tricky system to balance though, as you can imagine the Moria <–> Montem\Vallis routes are going to be a shitshow.

  2. The crux of the problem here is that the offending player is able to keep the goods\money when THEY breach, with the only penalty being a negative rating, which as said earlier, is completely meaningless. The rating system needs an overhaul to actually mean something. And frankly, we need to break the realism here a bit. If some shit happens with a shipping contract, or someone COLIQ’s in the middle, the stuff needs to be magically returned to the origin and deposits refunded, like the whole thing never happened. The pirate doesn’t keep the goods or money. The contract writer isn’t shit out of luck for their goods or money.

As a player who is at this point a known Pirate, i would like to offer some insight into what i would do to change the system.

I have been watching the active conversation on discord and there are some very good points being made by all.

In my not-so-honest opinion, the proposal in point 3, would be unworkable, like you said, this would negatively impact on newer players, who start out the game with virtually nothing and wouldnt be able to afford “Collateral” payments.

The idea put forward by @Westo454, is very interesting, whereby the offender takes a standings hit and eventually relies on factional government assistance to retrieve the goods. This in theory works great in the real world but would be way to complicated and time consuming for the programmers to implement.

For me the easiest solution to end one aspect of piracy, the kind i played, would be to mitigate or erase the temptation in the first place. For instance:

  • Why did i take your stuff?

  • Because i can, its in the rules and there is no risk to me. I can take your contract, wait you out or until you get bored of extending the contract and i get your stuff when the package opens.

  • What could be changed to stop this?

  • If the package never unpacks, then why take it, as a pirate, all i would be left with is a useless lump taking up space in my cargo.

  • What would i change to implement this into the game?

  • Using current game systems, create it so that the package and the payment for the delivery, get held in a factional escrow account. if the goods are not delivered then the package remains sealed forever. If the payment is not received, then there can be an option to break it open, but only after a certain period of time or extensions.

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I like that.
Would also work well for these kind of situations:
image
Right now I have to “pray” that I get my stuff, I can not even use the payment for leverage here.

I wish the steps were as follows:
#1 provision items for shipment
#2 pickup shipment (depends on #1)
#3 provision delivered shipment (depend on #2)
#4 payment (depends on #3)
#5 pickup delivered goods (depend on #4)

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@Dirty_Princess

Welcome to the community you dirty rat =)

It’s genuinely good to hear from you on this topic. Thank you for coming out of the wood-work to have a discussion.

I would like to point out that this statement:

Isn’t entirely correct. The devs have said from the previous universe that the shipment breaching mechanism was never intended to enable piracy. Someone in the last iteration basically sucked up a bunch of auto-provision goods for shipment and it caused an out-cry. The developer response was (IMO) lackluster. You can read about the situation and the official response here.

So it’s not really a game mechanic but an unintended consequence. This is why my statement on “if you pirate you’re a dick, not a role-player” comes from. There is a mechanic for shipping not for theft.

Only some of the things I ship take literal weeks to create. It’s not an inconvenience, it’s (and I hate using this term) legitimately triggering.

I appreciate your insight on this and I think your points are good.

@lowstrife

I was intentionally inflammatory to get a response and I’m glad it worked and produced civil discourse. This actually kind of surprised me; however, I am super thrilled it was the end result.

As to the “we can’t fault individuals” bit, yes we can, and we should. Think of all the shipments which have transacted and were not pirated. Piracy is against the norm and is one of the few “violent” actions in the game; this is further exacerbated by the fact that piracy isn’t supposed to be allowed… and even if it was the risks by the Pirate are so inconsequential compared to the loss they inflict. “Shame” is called for.

Use the ship as collateral.

Same with inter-cx traffic. I’m sure that with a oft-requested scheduled launch, landing, unloading, and next hop system that this would be possible, do-able, and actually work quite smoothly.

I fully agree with your Point #5.

@Gladi099

I think there needs to be two payments. One is a depository payment that can get refunded if there is no pickup, and the second is a delivery payment which is vended or released when goods are delivered. The system as it exists right now is too naïve. I would re-interpret your suggestion as the follows:

  1. Provision Item / Shipment (No dependency)
  2. Provision Shipping Deposit (No dependency)
  3. Provision Shipping Fee (Depends on #1)
  4. Pickup Shipment (Depends on #1 & #2)
  5. Provision Delivered Shipment (Depends on #3 & #4)
  6. Receive Payment (Depends on #3 & #5)

This way there is a clear signal of what happens when you breach and when:

  • Did the shipper pick up the shipment with a deposit but the fee was never paid by the deadline after goods pickup? > Goods forfeiture
  • Did the shipper pick up the shipment with a deposit and a shipping fee paid but couldn’t deliver in time? > Extension OR asset forfeiture by shipper + goods held at destination in CONT requiring player to pick up.
  • etc.
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Why pay before shipping happens?

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Because in the new system I’m proposing, a failure to deliver your goods would refund you the money, that’s the asset forfeiture portion of the suggestion.

The concern here is that as someone who is paying for shipping, I don’t want the contract to breach because then I would be the one to suffer the shipment forfeiture. Right now the pre-payment option is bad because it opens you to total piracy, but with this revision there would be no risk to pre-pay.

I think the main issue is that the early parts of the game are so slow that losing a shipment of goods could be crippling for a new company. This means a single pirate could cause multiple people to quit the game which would be bad because this is definitely a game that gets better as there are more players.

Meanwhile, as much as I would have hated to lose 400k worth of EPO I foolishly shipped that one time, the worst case scenario is I now have to buy some rfabs using up even more of my mountain of cash reserves.

@Fuyutsuki

I was unaware, until quite recently that a mass “Pirate” event happened previously, until i was contacted by a player claiming responsibility, after i started my shenanigan’s.

I started my life as a pirate, within a short period after “downloading” the game for the first time. The time associated with the creation of my corp is correct in-game.

However, in the Wiki Pages it clearly states:

Further to this, Going by own link, which you posted in your previous message and now having a chance to read through it. I dont see anywhere why it states “Pirating” was unintentional as stated in the words of Molp:
" Strictly speaking the pirate did not break any game rules or our guidelines, but rather used a feature that has existed since the shipping contracts where introduced and is even mentioned in our Free 2 Play trailer".

In this regard, i ask the following:

1) How can you have a feature that was advertised and known by the game developers and call it an exploit and/or unintentional?

2) If it has happened before and was widely considered as not something the game developers wanted, why was it not patched out of the game?

From my point of view, Piracy, whilst not a desired occupation and may be offensive to others, IS intentional due to the fact:

  • its a known mechanic.
  • its an advertised mechanic.
  • it has happened before and was not patched out.
  • In the posted article the game designers state, No Rules or Guidelines were broken.

In this regard i also agree with @lowstrife:

Just because i chose to play differently to how you like to play, does not make my playstyle wrong, especially if i play by the same rules, which apply to everyone.

That preamble of “strictly speaking” is the clue here. Look at the Wiki history.

This is the same problem with safety labels on things. My counter-argument will seem nonsensical and maybe a little illogical but I see this the same way as a warning label on a baseball bat that says, “use of this object in ways that were not intended is a crime.”

You do the crime, you get the time. Etc. We’ll come back to this in a minute.

Developer resources and time. Much easier for a small little scrappy band of people to say, “Eh, company rating is there and it means ‘kinda something’ so there’s a consequence.” The amount of effort it would take to fix this problem is disproportional to the end-result.

Remember the Bat and Crime thing I talked about just above this? There’s no “time” that’s relevant here. Sure, you get put on a blocklist so you can only hit a target once… but there is no other in-game consequence.

My responses:

  • It is a known unintended consequence
  • It is advertised only because it happened, not because it was meant to be there.
  • Developer resources are the reason it hasn’t been patched, not the desire to keep it in (maybe, I’m speculating on this one. Would love to hear an updated and official stance from @molp)
  • Pure PR and a hands-off attitude which is appropriate for a sandbox in development.

funny enough this is just a hit and run job the rest is just newspaper headlines to sell snake oil

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I don’t think the debate around whether or not piracy of this sort was an “intended” mechanic is particularly useful. The facts are:

  1. Currently piracy is possible.
  2. The majority of players don’t like it.

Clearly the kind of people who engage in piracy aren’t swayed by the fact that other people think they are spoiling the game by doing so. So arguments about which way the game “ought” to be played won’t make any difference as long as piracy remains possible.

What we should be debating is:

  1. Should the contract system be rejigged so that piracy is no longer possible?
  2. Or… should it be rejigged so that piracy is still possible, but the consequences are more substantial?

I assume that the devs are aiming for a semi-realistic simulation here, and are hoping that players are sufficiently engaged that player determined behaviours and policing emerge to a degree. We can see evidence of this in their recent initiative which was basically: Go and develop areas of the universe that you judge best, and we’ll then legitimize the results by adding CXs in those areas.

Unfortunately, as things stand, there isn’t any way for players to band together to stop piracy, since the only tool at those players disposal - the ratings system - isn’t adequate, as explained in this thread.

So, do we want piracy at all?

We could have areas of space where piracy is possible. e.g. the contract system is rejigged so that in the central areas there is an escrow system, while on outer planets there is not.

Or, we could have it so that if your rating gets too low, you are not allowed to dock at stations in the central areas, and governors of planets could opt to be pirate-friendly (i.e.allow landing) or not. Pirates are then effectively banished to the edges of the universe.

Instead of relying on the rating system, maybe we could have player maintained blacklists - individual governors can blacklist landing on their planets on a per-pirate basis. There could then be pirate friendly planets here and there if a group of pirates can secure enough votes for their candidate. Or pirates can declare allegiance to particular factions, and then only steal from players of other factions.

Perhaps being pirate friendly comes with some benefit. e.g. if a planet opts to not allow pirates to land, there is an increased cost which must be paid for with taxes - in universe this is paying for the detection grid and personnel to prevent unauthorised ship landings. The players of each planet could then vote on whether or not they want to bear this cost, and it’s up to the governor to implement their decision. (Unless the governor is a secret pirate!)

I think there are quite a lot of mechanics that could be added which would make the game more interesting, beyond just “patch the contract system so piracy isn’t possible”. Having said that, it may be difficult to strike a balance between allowing piracy of some kind, vs making it easy for players to avoid if they don’t want to engage with potential pirates. My own view is that currently the game is too far towards the pro-piracy end of this spectrum.

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An additional thought I had about the cost/benefit of piracy:-

If piracy is allowed, there has to be some kind of benefit to engaging with pirates, to counterbalance the tension of potential theft. If pirates are all labelled and banished to outer systems then why would anyone become a pirate, aside from a one-time grift?

One way around this is to make it more expensive to operate safely. For example, with contracts, players could opt to pay 10% of the contract value to an escrow service which makes piracy impossible. Each individual player is then required to make a trade off each time - do they trust the counterparty of this particlar contract, so won’t bother with the escrow?

Perhaps normally the escrow fee is split between both parties to the contract, but players with low ratings could offer to pay the entire fee themselves. This allows a player to redeem themselves if their rating is undeserved, and allows new players to take on high value contracts that veteran players might not otherwise trust them with.

The mechanics of this would need some thought, since you want other players to be able to pick up your shipping contracts while you’re offline, yet you also want to be able to decide the escrow terms depending on who they are. So this is more of a directional suggestion than a concrete proposal. But I think it illustrates the principle that I’m getting at - of higher risk being coupled with higher reward, and players having the ability to choose where they want to position themselves along that line.

Not my orders, but I just want to say that there are at least a few people who own 2000/2000 cargo bay FTL ships now and the number is expected to rise every week from here on out. It might be that these ads are targeted at corporation members running these shipments with larger cargo bays.