Low Sec Update II

Inc

Please let me apologize in advance for not having much content to update with over the past couple days. For one thing, I don’t have any time to write on weekends, so there will never be Saturday or Sunday posts.

Regardless, lots of playing means less blogging naturally. On that front, I spent most of my weekend trying the PVP elements of the game. I did a pretty long roam on Saturday that ended up being incredibly instructive in terms of learning the fundamentals of traveling as a fleet, fleet combat, and intel.

Despite the fact that I enjoyed myself, keeping safe in low-sec as a fleet is serious business. I wish I could write more and be more specific, but frankly it is one of the first things in EVE that I have experienced where the only thing to really write is “you’ll just have to try it and see for yourself.” A big part of being successful in this game in recognizing that it is very much conflict driven, and the best way to tip conflicts in one’s favor is to travel in a flock.

Now all of that sounds nice, but it brings me to a point about why people who have genuinely bad gaming skills fail at EVE. Your average “casual social” gamer will parrot back to you cliche statements about how “community” is really the important part of MMORPGs. The statement itself may be true, to an extent. But I am convinced that the average person who says it is not right in saying it.

The truth is that I did well in my first low-sec roam. I did well enough that there will definitely be others. More importantly though, it gave me some exposure to fleets, which are really the backbone of that community I talked about. Most games with PVE eventually funnel players into the “community” content: the stuff you can only do in a coordinated team. In EVE, the game is designed so that every activity that occurs outside a spacestation can be improved upon in some way by joining up with others.

To that effect, every time you undock in EVE you are potentially participating in community content–which is kind of a scary thought for the player who is used to mostly soloing. The truth though is that even travelling from point A to point B can be pretty unsafe in hi-sec. Just being connected to other players through voice communication software is enough to drastically reduce those dangers.

The real point of this rather longwinded yarn was to bring up the subject of following directions. The truth about everything I said above is that it is the liberally sugar-coated version of what community participation really is, and why it really isn’t for everyone. The truth is that seasoned MMO players don’t want to play with players who don’t follow instructions well. Actually, the truth is not only that they don’t want to, but they’ll put up a stone wall to make sure it doesn’t happen.

Now there is this void between players who can take and give instructions, and then there is whatever is leftover after that. I am realizing for the first time that the people who are left over are these game companys’ literal wet dream. Ostracized for poor performance and listening skills, the latter really being the most basic skill required for success in anything, these players have little to know recourse within the gaming community itself.

I always thought that these “buy a gold key to unlock the chest of fortuity” games were marketed to people who wanted to save time or “skip to the end.” I’m afraid I can’t agree with that any longer. If anything, it really sounds like a little white lie these folks ginned up. You know why?

Because people who can follow directions, cooperate with others, and demonstrate skillful play are almost universally already in some niche that affords some level of satisfaction. Sure, the definition of that niche may morph from time to time as trends change, but for the most part, there is no need for them to buy something they have already earned. There is nothing in EVE you can buy that can’t somehow be earned. There are, however, many things you can earn that can never be bought.

So while it is tempting to think that all bad players are in a rush, the heart of the matter is really displacement. The bad player isn’t just bad at the game mechanically, he is in the bad niche. He has been castigated from fruitful play, and has available to him only the option to buy illusiory success. This “fake success” is the illusion that makes gold key games so profitable–the notion that currency can correct what is fundamentally a personality deficiency.

Having parsed this all out over the past few paragraphs, I suppose I would sum it all up by saying although nothing particularly exciting happened for me in EVE over the past few days, it was a nice feeling to participate in an activity where success could not be bought. Communication, mutual respect, patience for teaching the new, and a whole lot of careful listening were what won the day.

It’s no wonder so many of these gold key games are now defunct. Losers also lack tenacity.

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