Monday, September 10, 2012

The Road Not Taken

Linkin Park - In The End

The Road Not Taken

I was flipping through a post about the need to nerf suicide ganking more in high sec. Normally, these posts amuse me. The author seems to have missed a major point of the game and is now demanding game changes to fix their perceived problem. Of course, these complaints sometimes work so pushing them forward to achieve an agenda makes sense.

My initial thoughts and commentary were wrapped up around the posters seeming lack of understanding as to what was happening in the game. Yet, as the thread developed a bit more issues cropped up and I began to ponder another aspect of the topic. I had a discussion last week with Druur about being prepared for eve's sandbox world. A place where you can lose your stuff vs. actually experiencing eves sandbox world and losing your stuff

Druur and I have very similar backgrounds as to our first MMOs. We both played MUDs. The difference is mine was a PvP open world where higher level and more powerful characters could and did kill lower level characters as well as each other. You could full loot and more than once I stood in the middle of Holy Square junking someone's items in front of them for pissing me off. I can be a bit un-nice.

Druur on the other hand had an open game MUD but did not have the same full contact PvP and stuff loss that I had.

Fast forward to Eve. My loss sucked but it had the same feeling that it did when I was MUDing. It was a feeling that I missed. I had been searching for it in game after game. It made me go off to learn how to be the predator (again) and put myself in a position of strength. Druur found the loss to be more stunning then expected but adapted and went to seek out new skills such as PvP. We both came to the same end point but our process to reaching it was different.

Why this matters.

Adaptation. Or a lack of it. Not everyone is interested in learning pewpew as Druur and I. So now, someone who has never had stuff loss and does not have the desire to learn the side of the game that promotes loss, has lost stuff.

This changed my view point about the argument at hand. Reading the thread, I was struck by two noticeable sides. There is one person arguing that there is nothing that can be done to preemptively stop the gank. There is the second saying that the gank can be stopped if they are willing to sacrifice a few cheap ships to do so. The gap here what both sides consider as reasonable actions to choose. One side had accepted the action and the actions loss. That side is the ganker. In their plans and plots they had calculated in ship loss.

The defenders had not calculated in ship loss. Even if the ship was heap and they were spacerich, losing a ship was holding them back. They wanted an option that gave them a chance to have no loss. A chance to fully win. It seems to be more of an instinctual aversion then risk aversion because of stuff.

The option was for them to have a very small loss to save a greater goal. That goal happened to be a many billion ISK freighter that needed to be saved from a gank. If they threw a billion ISK in ships to slow down the gank it would have been worth it if numbers mattered. But that's why it is not about numbers. It's about concept and understanding. It's about being prepared to make a choice that may seem unnatural.

There are other things here. Bumping a freighter 800m off of a gate takes time. That is time to identify the people who need to be eliminated and eliminate them. Plans could have been made and executed. The skill gap is enormous here. Not skill points but game skill. The gankers have an advantage not because they are going to shoot first or suicide but because they know what they are going to do and they are prepared for it. Their experience is their skill and there is nothing wrong with that. The path they have taken in the game has led them to that pool of knowledge. This is another thing about the sandbox. Some people will be better than others.

But what is holding them back is loss. They are going to lose their ships and they are conditioned to try not to lose their ships. So, they wallow about helplessly as their stuff is taken from them by people who are willing to face loss. Even calculated into the plan, it is still loss.

It's a mental hurdle and one that can be hard for some people to make.

The sandbox is often waved around at this point. But, what the sandbox has promised is that you can try to do whatever you want to do. You may seceded or you may fail. The sandbox has also given a player tools. No one said that every tool had to be optimal or preferred. Both decisions may be terrible but you can make either one. Sometimes the decision that you can make is the result of a long journey you did not realize that you were on. Consequences. Consequences mean that the gankers succeeded.

It is not about balance or fair. It is not about the freighter being able to have a 'pause' while everyone reacts for free and prepares themselves for the gank. The gank is fast and hard and unexpected. Except that this gank should have been expected. The system, the freighter being bumped, the fact that it was even escorted in the first place. People were prepared on both sides but only one side was prepared to act in the end.

Sometimes there are multiple paths and they all suck the thing is that you have multiple choices and then decisions have to be made upon those choices.

The choice here was losing ships to accomplish a goal They would have lost a few hundred million in ships but prevented the gank Instead, the escort fleet watched their convoy burn.

Back to it being a mindset thing Some of it is about safe and not safe, risk aversion and non risk aversion, but it is a mindset thing To sacrifice oneself takes a bit of mental preparation and many people are not prepared even though the isk value is such that they would barely lose anything or in fact win considering the greater loss that moment of decision lies with each pilot.

Suicide ganking is powerful because the mentality of the people who have adapted it they have overcome their knee jerk reaction to avoid loss.

This is not about mission runners pewpewing at ninja salvagers to get owned by a pvp ship This is about high sec tactics and why the 'carebears' or 'high sec residents' or whatever they are labeled today are having a hard time vs the gankers when each side has the same tools.

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