I was ratting and I was enjoying myself. And as I went, "yay!" over my newly acquired tag and rushed back to station to drop the precious thing off, I realized, with amusement, that I was having fun ratting. It was an unexpected revelation. Why was I enjoying myself so much doing something that I had loathed a week before.
There is patch magic of course. Everything is new and interesting and somewhat different. Yet, that wasn't it. It was a mix of things but the main, motivating factor was productivity. The entire process was productive compared to ratting before Odyssey in low security space.
The reason was quite simple. Suddenly, ratting had become rewarding.
The first was searching for the tag rats. Unlike faction spawns, tags rats spawn enough that you tend to be rewarded with finding one before you become bitter about not finding one. While you comb belts looking for them, you will find them. That gives a reward for the action and makes it more engaging.
The tags always drop. While the luck of the loot draw is something that keeps explorers on their toes it becomes tiring. Finding faction spawns is always exciting but not getting anything is always disappointing. Because, once I achieve my task of finding the sec rat I will receive the tag once I kill it, my reward causes me to get all gleeful once I spot the target that I am looking for.
The tag has more than monetary value. I can improve my own security status with the tags that I find. I can also sell them for ISK or give them to others. Even if the market crashes the tag has worth to me as a player. The duel aspect of its value is very interesting. It is something that we do not see as often in Eve as we do in other games. When I started Eve, I assumed I'd get basic, useful gear from the NPC drops. How wrong I was. However, that has always been one of the rewards of grinding. That useful item at the end.
It is very productive. Over the course of finding five tags I upped my security status over a -9 for the first time in quite a while. The changes in sec gain have benefited me. Before, I'd rat for sec in low sec and perhaps, maybe, bring my security status up by .25 or maybe .5 if I was having a good day and finding a lot of battleship rats. The productivity was apparent. My sec is going up actively instead of endless jumping and searching and jumping for gains I don't even notice.
Basically, tags 4 sec = bacon.
I need to find a better ratting ship other than my Cynabal. Something cheaper. There are a lot more people out in the belts. A lot more fights going down as people hunt each other and hunt the tags. Although some are doing the data and relic sites by killing the exploration frigates and looting the sites contents that way. A bit messy and wasteful but much more fun and engaging.
The mass exodus of pirates from low sec into high sec hasn't really happened around here. Most of the people I know are in low sec to be in low sec. Some have raised their sec. Many more are selling the tags which are being hoovered up by a rather sec hungry market.
And so, I spent my evening ratting. And I enjoyed it. As I write, on coms, they are bickering over the belts with each other in a mild, good natured way.