Saturday, March 2, 2013

Rambling: Soloists and Neutrality

Mmm… its Saturday morning and I find my attention wandering into a rantish area.
TL;DR Solo does not = Detected or bad from and for Eve.
The squeaky wheel gets the most oil and attention but irritates the hell out of people and may get the entire cart replaced.  That is how things feel of late.  Every topic is timebomb waiting to go off.  I’ve been watching arguments bounce around for weeks now about Eve living and Eve dying and Eve’s future and who wants to destroy Eve and who does not want to destroy Eve and what will destroy Eve and what will not destroy Eve.  It is very dramatic.  Of late, the argument has started to curve from ‘carebears’ and ‘pacifists’ destroying Eve to ‘solo’ players being the Eve demon.  Because, after all, can a person that does not dive into the depths of social interactions and/or the Eve meta game really get Eve?  Do they really play Eve?
Solo does not equal detached or uninterested in the game.  A person can be a member of a major corporation and be detached and uninterested in the game.
Now, some might consider me a mildly social player.  I advocate finding a group to play with and to spend your time with.  I firmly believe that Eve is better with other people.
That does not mean that Eve is bad alone.  I’m just going to step over the “eve is bad” and “eve is terrible” and “eve’s game play is terrible” arguments on the floor here.  Those are opinions.
Most often, when seeing the complaints people have about being bored and lonely it is because they want a more social situation in the first place and do not know how to achieve that situation.  Eve is not an easy game to find a group in.  The nature of the game does not cause most of the established groups to open their arms and accept anyone that applies to them.  The nature of the game in fact discourages this.  A player is asked to meet and group and integrate with them, making friends with these people on the internet to see if they can indeed become part of their social circle.  The mixing and matching of people matter in a corporation.  If the parts do not get along the corporation begins to fracture and weaken.
But new players are hard.  New players need a lot of time and energy.  A smaller corporation, such as my own, only has the resources to get a few people started at a time.  Larger groups may have more resources but new players are a time and energy investment.  For people who have limited amounts of time or just want to log in and have fun they are disenfranchised from taking in new players because it is a lot of work.  This leaves new players frustrated that they cannot find a group or simply disillusioned at what group play requires and they head off on their own.
That is why there are solo players.  Being in a group is work. It is time.  It is effort.  It is compromise.  It is biting your tongue not to start internal rifts inside of your corporation. Eve’s social structure is very true to real life.  There is too much dependence and trust involved between the various parties for it to be as light, friendly and casual as it is in many games.  The serious nature of serious internet spaceships is itself a detraction.
But what is a solo player?  I know several of them.  I work with them.  I often buy things from them and do business deals.  They prefer to filter their goods through me if they have a chance then deal with the market or more public areas.  One of them has played for nine years and his corp is full of his own accounts.  I know several people that multi-box a dozen accounts for industry and PvE.  They play their game and they accept Eve.  But their goal is to play not spend hours in chat or on coms.  But, some of the most diehard solo players will never leave their 1 man corporation are the most social chatty people inside of social chat rooms.
Not everyone wants a corporation.  I have spoken with many new characters that want to get into a spaceship and head out into space.  A corporation has limits. I t has rules. It has boundaries.  Even the most ‘no fucks given’ corporation still has a culture and a theme about it.  Many people, in their free time and dare I say ‘playing of video game hours’ do not want these restrictions.  They have them in real life.
They want to play with spaceships.  They want to undock and do things that interest them.  Those things may not make sense.  They may not be optimal.  Is not there an entire blog (more than one?) devoted to travelling the game and seeing things because fun?
But let me speak of Eve.  Eve is a game where we endlessly discuss conflict and darkness.  It is hard and it should not be easy and spaceships should explode.  But, as we revel in shedding our social habits to engage in these violent and unacceptable actions we are also bound by those same social habits.  This is why we have diplomacy.  This is why we have blues.  Alliances, coalitions they all exist because we cannot help but to create these things.  And they are interesting and good and it seems that they are the point of everything.
Perhaps.
For some people.
Not everyone.

One cannot (productively)tell people what they have to do to play if that is not what they want to do.  You can tell them all day.  It will not help anything. Herding people is exhausting when they want to be herded.  It is impossible when they do not.   As much as I love THC2 I would leave it if Ender decided we needed to become a Sov Holding corp.  I'd weep for his lost sanity and I'd walk away from my corporation.  No one can push me into null.  Not even the love of my corporation and the adoration of the people I play the game with.  How would one push people who don't even have that level of attachment into a social area of the game they are not interested in?
Eve lacks resources for neutrals.  Eve lacks the concept of neutrality to its player base. I mean true neutrals not alts and spys. There are too many sides and not enough grey areas in between.  Everyone wants to slap a label on a person and assign them a series of ulterior motives that if they examine closely enough will find to be their own.  Neutrals are people who provide goods and services who do things for the simple sake and task of living their lives.  They don’t care about what is going on outside of their own shells.  Or, they may profit off of others events but they are not personally engaged into these events.
Not everyone takes Eve personally.  There need to be people who will always trade to whomever has the money for them.  There are people who do not care about the moral high ground one group stands upon.  The hatred between two entities is useless to them.  We speak of farms and fields but every time we want to peg them into a defined structure where they have a place that is right ‘here’ and right ‘there’.
Eve is not real life but Eve is composed of real people.  Excluding instead of embracing natural flows of human temperament doesn’t work.  It makes one a bit frustrated.  Not everyone will fit into a group or care to fit into a group.  This does not mean that they do not have value.  They have a lot of value.  Their lack of connections to everything else is there value.
Neutrals can always change loyalties.  Or, perhaps they never will.  But that does not stop them from being productive.  Living and acting in the game causes a person to become part of the greater whole in Eve.  Very, very few people can completely avoid the market and even if they do, good for them.  Let them live and thrive in their little bubbles.  The edges of the bubbles overlap and interlace into everything else.
The simplest example I can give, to end this little ranting wandering of thought is to point out that all of this energy has been created and spent (including my own) over the very fact that they are there, being neutral, and not a part of anything but the entire game.
I think that there is some confusion between solo players and people who want CCP to enforce a personal bubble.  They are not one and the same.  The bubble people, I have to admit I am not worried about.  Screaming to CCP to make them special snowflakes and to not let that other player touch them is not exactly the expansion platform I believe they will direct their energy into.
I’m reading too much Eve related stuff again.  Time to go download a few books.  I hope that CCP announces their development plans soon but I suspect that we will have to wait till Fanfest to find out what is going on.  I gues CSM fever will sweep through next.  Guess I’ll ramble about that too.

3 comments:

  1. My corp just recently had a growth spurt, we went from PVP oriented only (with three players) to (as well as pvp) mission running, plex capping, ship building, pvp vets, pvp noobs, people who dont know how to fit, people who fly different fittings (brawly to kitey) etc. Its friggin tough dealing with all the personalities.

    I just prefer to ignore them and make my 2IC handle the interal shit.

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  2. A great post as usual.

    From time to time in EVE we get to these "crossroads" where different political groups start lobbing for improvements to their game play. The most recent is the Buff Null industry and nerf HS income, supported by the HS gankers and the bored people from Null, versus the people that thinks things are just fine and why mess with what is working?

    Both side use a common technique of demonizing the opposition, so null and gankers became assholes that just want easy kills, and the other carebears that want a theme park game that will kill EVE.

    None of these groups can have what they want in full as CCP has limited resources and some goes against what makes EVE, well EVE.

    The only hope is that CCP can come up with something new that kill the arguments like they did with TiDi which killed all the talks about limiting gangs size and multitread servers to fix lag.

    PS: Reading too much about EVE can drive you crazy.

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  3. "They have them in real life."

    That is a bit of my sticking point with MMOs: I like _being able to_ team up with other people to achieve certain goals which would otherwise be unachievable. I hate it if I _have to_ team up with other people to achieve anything worthwhile. The latter just is too much like my day job.

    I am hesitant to find out where on this spectrum EVE PvP is going fall for me.

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