Wednesday, December 11, 2013

You Don't Understand Risk

If there's a topic that drives me crazy fastest, it's talking about risk.  EVE is loaded with all sorts of risks and some pretty serious penalties for those foolish enough to ignore them.  As such, everyone has their own little rules about avoiding risk... though I believe a lot of them are completely useless or overly paranoid.

It boils down to a general ignorance when it comes to probability and statistics.  Everyone is obsessed with the lottery odds.  Wins are worth any cost, even if the odds are low.  Losses must be absolutely avoided, even if the odds are equally low.  MMO players will farm the loot-treadmill for a 1% drop, but won't use something that could have a 15% penalty.

This has been the major block to trying to push Combat Boosters on my friends.  They are still hung up on the penalties and are blinded to the rewards.  I went ahead and expanded the infographic to include a breakdown of the actual odds.  This is a bit of a draft, I don't like the new graph colors yet, and I need to push a fully updated version with the edits from Reddit.

The point I wanted to illustrate here was how low the chances of penalty really are, especially for Standard boosters.  With no skills, the odds are 80% that you will incur 1 or less penalties.  Neurotoxin Recovery 5 pushes that figure to 89%.  The odds of actually rolling all 4 are astronomically low in comparison.  In my opinion, if you're flying a ship that should use boosters and aren't, you're losing out on a big opportunity!  This is the same point I make about invention accounting, if you understand the probabilities, you'd be foolish not to participate.   These mechanics are driven by a random number generator (RNG), most players shy away since they aren't in complete control.

Risk aversion drives me the most crazy when it comes to flying a freighter.  There are dozens of guides about how to safely use a freighter, and the advice boils down as such:
  1. Don't Use Autopilot.  Fly gate-to-gate.  AFK is death
  2. Don't haul too much.  1B is the standard rule of thumb
  3. Avoid chokepoints.  Inter-hub shipping goes through some high risk chokepoints
  4. Other good ideas:
    • Have insta undocks
    • Have insta docks
    • Have a friendly webber
    • Avoid hauling in high traffic situations
      • Jita approach (3 gates land on 4-4 with the same vector, ganker's paradise)
      • Friday-Saturday prime times
      • Inter-hub routes
  5. If you can't accept the risk, use a courier service
All of these are good guidelines, but don't let fellow freighter pilots know you have broken any of these commandments.  Personally, I contend the 1B cargo rule.  If you are already engaging in risky behavior (high traffic, gank routes) then the 1B rule is totally reasonable.  If you go through Niarja/Madmilre with more than 1B in unwrapped cargo during prime time, you're probably going to have a bad time.  

Personally, I have set up my routes so I can be a little more lax on these rules.  My Jita<-->Base route is pretty low traffic and doesn't go through a high-risk chokepoint.  I use instas to get in and out of stations, and if I am being particularly ballsy (stupid) I have a webber + skirmish mindlink.  

Yes, I am risking a gank.  Yes, I am probably inviting even more risk bringing this up.  But I think it's important to properly assess a situation and use the right tool for the job.  If I have a heavy haul to do on a weekend, I'll usually ping a courier service to just avoid the risk entirely.  If it's a quiet weekday, and I just need something moved, I'll bring the right equipment to protect that investment.  

Being crippled by fear of risk is no way to play the game.  If you follow every single rule and guideline to avoid risk, you'll either never undock, or never actually have any fun.  The guides are there to help people, but no one takes spaceships more seriously than EVE people.


Ragelle said...

Another thing people don't understand about risk is that it is usually completely non-linear. If you have a 1 in 1000 chance of being ganked with 1 billion Isk in your freighter you aren't 10x more likely to be ganked with 10 billion isk you are probably 100x more likely or greater and when combined with another risk factor it goes up even more. Just like health statistics demonstrate, just doing one thing isn't necessarily all that bad for you --- its the combinations that in the proper circumstances dramatically change the percentages.

Like you point out I have never understood people that avoid invention because of the sometimes random success --- in large enough efforts the randomness becomes absolute certainty and is thus completely controllable. Which is the entire point of evaluating risks =D.

My reason for avoiding boosters as a combat pilot were largely due to the unavailability of reliable supply. I simply found it better to not rely on something I couldn't be certain of having available when I needed it. Another issue was that unless you are skilled then the effects rarely last long enough for a full night of pvp and with most PvPer's paying for their drugs out of PvE they don't enjoy then the cost/benefit ratio doesn't always look favorable.

Drugs shine more in small scale pvp than in larger groups --- I'd suspect the only way to get people to move off of long held attitudes against boosters would be to demonstrate concretely the improved ability to win engagements.

John Purcell said...

agreed on all points. I especially believe Americans are doubly terrible at statistics, and getting all sorts of red herrings and non sequiturs blasted through news outlets doesn't help.

My reason for pushing Boosters so much is that I really want to put some enthusiasm into the demand side of things before I really get gun-ho about supply. Getting my corp hooked on boosters will push demand among our allies. Publishing guides demystifying the mechanics should raise consumption in Jita. If demand is high, I can move product through production much easier and in higher volumes.

If I min/max, I could push 30-40% of Jita's demand today (at least for Standard). I'd rather raise the tides of demand so I can hide in the greater volume. I'd prefer to make a decent margin in a fast market than a great margin in a slow one.

Ragelle said...

Having not looked in depth at boosters, how deep is the supply of raw materials?

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