No one wants to be a loser. Especially the loser themselves.
This is particularly true in Eve Online where losses actually hurt. As most people know, in most MMOs death is pretty much just a quick form of travel. At its best you might lose some hard won experience and at its worst, you don’t lose anything at all, including whatever loot you have.
But in Eve Online, death is pretty hard. At the very least it means you lost a ship, one that you paid for, and one that everyone now knows about as your lossmail is paraded on the interwebs for all to see. That however is the very least. Some ship losses are so greivous, such as a titan loss (which takes approximately six months to build), or are so stupid (like warping an entire fleet into an obvious trap), that real friendships are broken and trust is destroyed on top of the billions of isk and hundreds of real hours that were lost as well.
Naturally however, there is a big difference between a guy who just had some bad luck, someone that is trying to learn how to do something well but dies, and someone who is just a complete idiot and desires to be untrainable. Likewise, the way you reward those different people should be different as well.
Before I begin, all of us in Eve Online will lose. It’s the nature of the game that someone, somewhere, will figure out how to take the ship right out from under us. It could be underhandedly, it could be unfair, blah, blah, blah, etc. It WILL happen. Therefore, the losing pilot himself needs to be responsible enough to understand this and prepare for it. In general, it is NOT the responsibility of the corp or alliance to replace any and all losses. The burden falls squarely on the losing pilot’s shoulders.
So, let’s first talk about the “loser” who lost his ship because he was trying something new. Now the big question is, is he trying something new because it’s a ship type or duty that the corp needs or uses often, or is it just a new hairbrained scheme? If it’s just a hairbrained scheme, then the corporation shouldn’t replace his ship or modules as it will only encourage stupid behavior and may potentially cause more losses. If however, it was because he was trying to learn something beneficial, then the corp would certainly want to encourage that behavior. It is highly beneficial in the long run to reward players willing to work with the corp as well as get better skilled at their tasks. Not only does it help get the player back up to combat readiness, but it also improves morale for those that didn’t lose ships as they will feel that they will be taken care of.
Next, what about those who lose their ships due to “bad luck”? Again, it depends on the circumstances. Sometimes “bad luck” is bad luck. Other times “bad luck” is them running their industrial to Jita and back using autopilot during a wardec. Really, the only time you should reward “bad luck” is only when it happens during a corp sponsored operation. Other times, even the good pilots should be prepared to take care of their own losses.
So, what options are there to reward a pilot for failing? There are several options and a some steps too. To preface this, if its a training issue, it might be a good idea to take the pilot aside and discuss the mistakes made. Bear in mind this will only work if you show respect.. it is a game after all AND (and that is a big AND too) you have another pilot who knows how to operate that ship. If that pilot is doing something no in the corp has done yet, then it is best to let the loss itself be the lesson.
The first and most common type of reward is having a Ship Replacement Program. However, they can be very expensive and most corporations don’t have enough incoming isk to facilitate a proper SRP. And the SRP is enough of a reward, that it should either be done well, or not done at all. Bad SRP programs tend to do more harm than good to morale because replacements appear to be arbitrary rather than based on a sound foundation. When setting up your SRP, make sure you have clear directives about what will and won’t be covered and don’t go overboard with what you cover. Start off with Interceptors, Interdictors, and possibly Logistics ships.. ships that are cheap to replace, but highly effective in gangs and fleets. Add more as your corporation’s pocketbook can comfortably allow.
Another way is to do sort of a “bounty” system where pilots are rewarded a small sum whenever they get into PVP combat. Usually this is based off of killmails which are a fairly reasonable way of keeping track of wins and losses. The downside is that pilots who are running logistic ships don’t show up (those logis that are correctly fit that is) and might be excluded from any reward. This format does tend to work well for pirate and merc corps, because they often operate AFTER they have gained intel on the enemy, and so tend to lose ships less. Typical Industrial and industrialist with teeth corps might find this too expensive.
A common and inexpensive way that has been adopted by quite a few smaller corps, is loot distribution. The general principle is that whoever has lost a ship gets all the loot, if there is any. If more than one ship is lost, then loot is divided up evenly between the losers. Loot pulled from your enemies rarely will cover the replacement costs of the ship, much less the modules.. but it buffets the costs somewhat and it doesn’t come out of corporate coffers. Just be sure that the loot goes to the right people.. even the faction loot.
We have, up until now, ignored the complete idiot. You know the one.. the one who disobeys fleet protocol, chat protocol, voice comms, then gets upset that the Logi ship (which costs around 150mil isk) doesn’t come and save his 10mil isk Tech 1 cruiser despite the fact that he should have warped off when he was told to, etc., etc. These people can and will harm your corporation, both because they lower morale, and because they make major combat mistakes putting the rest of your fleet in jepordy. The only reward if they refuse to listen…
… is a swift kick out.