Complacency in SOV Space; Why You Suck at Eve Now
I am an immigrant to fozziesov, having come to live in nullsec after the implementation of the mechanic. I'd like to talk a little bit about what the impression of nullsec is to the non-nullsec dweller as opposed to the reality, and whether the mechanic promotes healthy gameplay.
While I know that it's not the path of every pilot in New Eden, the way it seems like the linear flow of the game is as follows.
You are born into Empire space in hisec, a somewhat safe environment. The hisec area offers a taste of the different mechanics of the game, allowing you to learn which ones suit you, and leads you down a path that you will eventually outgrow but with a focus on what you would like to be when you 'grow up'. While I know that many players make hisec their home, it does seem that by limiting the isk and nerfing the progression of the player in many hisec areas that ccp tries to promote a natural progression into the less secure areas of the game.
Aside from that to get anything out of the pvp side of the game you need to leave hisec behind. When I came into Eve I focused on pve, learning the mechanics, and discovering the universe. I had many adventures in my attempts to gather my fortunes, but eventually came to a conscious decision that I was not even playing the fun part of the game yet. Discovering pvp was a wonderful repeat of my first months in Eve as I became a newbro again in combat, and all those old feelings of excitement for Eve were right there again. These discoveries are at the heart of Eve. If hisec serves as anything, it is that it brings us to a realization that pve is not an exciting part of this game, only a means to an end. This is an important point to my argument later.
I think a lot of us are chasing the 'good old days' feeling we used to get in New Eden. Those few nights where the content all goes your way and something special happens is as close as we can get, but still is enough of a reminder of what this game can be to keep us playing for years.
If you ask most players, lowsec is broken. They are not exactly wrong, but that doesn't make it unfun. The same is true of many mechanics in this game. It is the prerogative, even the duty, of every Eve player to break the game in their favor, and even though it sometimes takes a little breaking, lowsec is awesome in my opinion.
The way the game seems to encourage progression here is that players who want to be more active in combat and make more isk, but still travel with a few provisions from Concord, can move to this 'intermediate' area. It is close enough to empire space that it doesn't require the new player make a major move op, and gives players a chance to exercise that 'risk vs. reward' muscle we are always talking about.
Players in lowsec can be attacked anywhere aside from hubs of travel. Any site you are running, is fair game for anyone else to take from you. On paper, this seems like a great way to encourage voluntary or involuntary pvp, the piracy mechanic, and justify having a larger reward for doing whatever it is you decide to do for isk in New Eden.
The reality of lowsec is that is is unbalanced in regard to the rewards offered. There are bastions of wealth to be had. Missions in factional warfare are very profitable at the right times, though fluctuate greatly and effect your standing throughout the game. Belt ratting is profitable due to security tags, and a great way for newer players to make isk. Aside from that, you really only have moon-mining.
Moon-mining involves using your POS to extract raw materials from a moon. It is a mostly akf activity, only really requiring as much time as you want to put into it. You can easily scale it up, but even the less desirable moons are still free isk. In nullsec, most of the large bloc alliances are fueled by this 'moon-goo', and wouldn't function on anywhere the same level without it. In lowsec, almost all moons are owned by what you would call Old Money. Groups like Snuff and Shadow Cartel own or inherited these moons from groups who long ago had great battles over them.
I hope to see one of two things come from this.
One would be the old fires are relit under these blocs and they use this as as excuse to move back to lowsec and hold their space in a similar fashion to how nullsec currently works. As most of these groups now hold sov, I don't know how likely this is to happen. Nullsec moons are still more profitable and you can only spread yourself so thin. Even if they return, the space they will be able to police will be finite. There is no doubt that this moon mining will be a boon to lowsec pirates, and will bring more people looking for content from miners and those there to defend them. In short, cool spaceship explosions happen where there were previously only afk blackade runners.
It seems more likely, since these groups are all holding sov now, that it will open the door for smaller corporations or even individual pilots to claim these moons. This is an outstanding outcome in my opinion because it encourages the A to B to C progression that I talked about earlier. Giving players a reason to go to lowsec and learn to pvp as an individual or in a small gang makes for a well rounded pilot. Pilots who know how to get content for themselves as individuals usually turn into good FC's down the line, or at least are always useful to a group of less experienced pilots. It encourages longevity in the player base. It encourages your endgame into subcaps. It let's you play the game around your pve activity, but still encourages emergent gameplay on both sides. As groups emerge to challenge dead zones of the game, groups will emerge to hunt them. In a perfect universe, moon-mining facilities could act in the same manner as factional warfare plexes. As content generators and a great way to learn pvp outside of being a random in a fleet on hundreds. I have high hopes for the mechanic helping the longevity of pilots in New Eden by teaching self reliance in getting something other than pve content.
I'm not going to touch on factional warfare really in this article, as I plan to give it it's own post in the near future, but I would like to say that pilots who put themselves through the rigors of the factional warfare grinder always come out the other side better for it. FW teaches all the best parts of combat, and should be considered compulsory to anyone looking to really better themselves and be well rounded. Too many players anymore have their sites set on capital ships, and fail to see the usefulness of subcaps. Frigates, destroyers, and cruisers have a lot to teach us about battle, and these force modifiers can be decisive in battles of any size involving ships or any class. I have the ability to fly almost any class of ship in the game now, but I mostly bring a Keres on roams and to our enemies I am always a giant problem. The old rule of loosing 1000 ships before you become a competent pilot has truth in it. FW promotes a small gang, and learning to fly with a small gang teaches you that we are all a band of brothers and we have to be able to rely on each other. This is probably the most important and hardest thing to learn in Eve.
SOV makes us bad at Eve and skipping steps is for casuals, so if you want any chance of actually being good at this game you had better put some time in and follow the natural progression of it instead of just skipping to the endgame.
I think a lot of players would ask why they should waste their time in areas of the game that aren't profitable when they can go right to nullsec, make dank isk, and fly with veterans who are spacerich beyond their wildest dreams! These other areas are filled with players of their own skill level, all bumbling around trying to figure the same things out with nobody to ask.
It is the nature of most gamers to min/max their game, and doing the opposite of that and taking it slow is tough to ask of someone. It is especially hard when you are particularly excited about Eve as a newbro and are starting to get a feeling of what it has to offer.
The old phrase, Just because you can, doesn't mean you should holds especially true in Eve, so true that our basic rule of the game not to fly what you can't afford to lose is the only 'rule' in Eve universally excepted by it's playerbase. How is skipping into nullsec as a month old character any different from that? You are playing difficult game on hard mode without having done the tutorial, and once you get stuck in that inevitable place every Eve pilot has been where you have lost everything to the whims of some bigger fish, you have left yourself no place to fall back into. You are violating the basic rule of Eve with your character, which is more valuable to both you and us than any ship will ever be. Every player that wanders away from this game for some reason that seems insurmountable is a giant hit to the community and the future and Eve itself.
Aside from some artwork, I mostly do 10/10's escalations in two tengu's when I need isk. Escalations are special exploration sites that you can scan down, or that have a chance to spawn while people are ratting. Ratters usually sell them in the form of bookmarks. You can stack many billions in a couple days work with a couple characters, and while boring, it's easy money as long as you know how to keep safe. That said, understanding how to keep safe requires understanding many facets of the game that begin far away from the mission itself.
I had bought a couple 10/10's in alliance chat earlier, and the fellow convo'd me and asked me what I ran them in. I showed him my fit and offered to show him how to do it anytime. I explained that if you can string them together it can be as good as super ratting and showed him a screen grab of 10bil in loot in a station. I put stars in his eyes, and then left to do my thing, thinking no more of it.
That player came back to me a week later, and said he was ready to learn 10/10's and I was still happy to show him how. We fleeted up and warped to a mission he had bought from a corpmate and as we went to punch in he says 'It won't let me go in, it says I need leadership skills.'. If I am honest, I didn't even know you needed leadership skills to get into 10/10's until that moment, but my characters had them, they are needed as prereqs for many skills most pilots should have.
The comrade seemed particularly crestfallen at the news, and literally only then did it occur to me he was a new player. It had never occured to me that he wasn't an experienced player. I made this terrible assumption that he knew the game well enough to understand how to comfortably do all the things associated with these advanced missions, as well as just being safe and sensible up to that point.
As I pressed him I realized he had dumped a lot of money into the skill injector trap, and injected from a newbro into a perfect tengu. I had told him that he needed lvl 5 skill to comfortably fly the tengu in 10/10's, so he injected them all. I had showed him my top of the line fit tengu, worth more than a carrier, so he bought one. In more fact he bought two, after the first one was ganked by typhoons on the Jita undock. He didn't need all that bling to do Sansha 10/10's. I feel really bad about all that, I just had this impression that he was progressing through the game in a different way than he was. I made a really basic error in showing someone the ropes that I don't feel I would have made in another area of space. It has been a month, and he has not come back to me to learn 10/10's. I fear my assumptions in teaching this fellow cost us a fellow spaceman.
Natural progression of the game is not only important to yourself, but in the age of SOV encouraging new players to grind the game for injectors has made us veteran players forget how to teach them the ropes of Eve. One of our corpmates has lost a billion isk worth of ratting VNI's today, the poor guy is just forever pushing a boulder up a hill and I wish someone hadn't given him the impression that that is how you play Eve.
This scope is not only limited to new players in my opinion. The impressions of veteran players in nullsec and lowsec varies wildly from the reality of what these players actually are. As noted, skipping through areas of the game that might not appeal to you right away takes from your Eve experience and restricts your growth as a pilot. Outside thinking is key in this game and the ability to get into the head of your opponent doubly so, understanding mechanics and anticipating the actions of your enemies in 'away' zones is key to being a good pilot. There is no better understanding than walking in someones shoes.
If danker tics is your goal, you've just scaled up your original goal as a newbean to rat better. Congrats on being the endgame carebear, but now what? Say your good friend joins Eve tomorrow, and he comes to you to teach him the ropes. Do you even know how to teach? Maybe you think you do but do you remember how to get content anymore? Do you have the energy? Is Eve about the game or the compulsion for you? We certainly cannot be teaching our new spacefriends to be excited about Eve by showing them it's wonderful pve content. We need to show them the community, the fun bits, and the wonder of it all. We need to give them the idea that their actions can matter to the universe, and to do that we need to teach them and ourselves how to take action in the first place.
It's not unhealthy to see Eve as your social circle. The friendships we make here are just as real and legitimate as any, but I remind you that certain types of activities are unhealthy for both mind and body and that doing these things as a group does not automatically make them healthy or justify them. Make sure you are playing Eve for the right reasons.
It feels great holding all those systems and making all that isk, but you are just pigs being fattened while you slowly forget why you are playing Eve in the first place. Mothball your ratting ship for the summer and get out of your comfort zone, you have enough spacemoney.