Monday, August 12, 2013

Circular Social Links

For a Sunday I woke up early and excited. I had things to do today and sleeping in wasn't one of them. I was up, skimmed Jabber on my phone and woke up. The dogs were let out and let back in. I consumed a peach and drank some water and headed to the gym. I've taken up swimming and try to do 30 minutes in the pool on my days off for my exercise and I've made it a mandatory thing to get that done before I indulge in games. With my swim done I ran home, got cleaned up, made lunch, took a picture of the sleeping cat sleeping on my sleeping husband, and made breakfast.

Once everything was done, head set was on, team speak active, and jabber chat open. I was ready. Once 1200 hours hit, people were on, a new channel was made, and we loaded up Civilization V.

Eh? Eve?

During the Fountain War, whenever Eve made headlines or someone tried to explain who and what the groups were, they often said "from reddit" and "from the Something Awful forums". Many discussions have been had about the strength of an in game community coming from its out of game community.

Eve is a game of time. While there are many things to do often times the laundry list of goals can crush the soul somewhat. One of the most common complaints from new players is that things take time. For an older player they become so used to time that the immediate at times loses interest. It is easy to become bored even when there is a lot to do. A lot of Eve's stuff is planning and logistics and I listened to a very enthusiastic but burned out player comment that 'everything takes so much to do'. While that is a charming point of Eve and what draws you in instead of a grind of wolf killing, it can become wearisome for people who want a bit more immediate gratification.

The other day, I was involved in two intense fleets. Both left me sitting in my chair, shuddering as adrenaline started to pump as we landed on grid and started the engagements. I actually thought that I was cold, I was shuddering so much. It took me a moment to realize that I was just pumping that much adrenaline out in reaction to the excitement of the fight. Eve is full of gratification but is is often not that immediate.

That is where out of game communities come in. By having other games to play with your Eve social group (be that corporation, alliance, or just friends) the link between a player and Eve is maintained. The call to a battle can give a player the instant gratification that they seek. I was listening to someone who joined Goonswarm during the Fountain war and he discussed a particular battle where several hundred people 'rage logged in' to go to a fight. That event happened because of the out of game community and the connections that we make, be it jabber, forums, steam, text messages, or whatever method we use to communicate. For them, Eve becomes a game of immediate action where they drop in to fight and log off to do something else.

I'd love for everyone to just want to log into Eve constantly but that is a silly hope. I've come to understand how many players most desire a slice of Eve. It may be someone mining calmly while watching television or it may be the ganker that logs in, fills a tear bucket, and logs out. But Eve's nature is to absorb and drag you in. Once that gank is done you need new ships and supplies. You may have them but it is Eve, you will run out. Not everyone is going to enjoy that resupply and that is where the community kicks in.

I often spend my time doing logistics work, which I enjoy, to assist people who do not enjoy it. While I may not receive anything directly from the ganker ganking for his own amusement, I do receive something.  Eve may be better with others but many activities are done alone. What I receive is an active, interested social group that logs in for social engagements.

You also learn a  lot about the people that you play the game with. Considering that in small gang Eve, at least, you need to know the people you are working with to produce the best results, it is an interesting observation in people and interaction. Finding myself in a game with at least one highly competitive player was uncomfortable to some extent. But once I relaxed, away from the win loss intensity of Eve and relaxed from my seriousness, it was a lot of fun.

And those links ripple further than Eve. My coworker who is also a gamer is a Something Awful member and plays Planet Side 2 with Goonswarm. He asks me about the Fountain war when it was on because it was such a constant topic on his Planet Side 2 come. He isn't an Eve player because he knows he'd be sucked in. Yet, I still have this three degrees to Kevin Bacon Esq feel to him.

(In case anyone wonders I am two degrees away from Kevin Bacon due to a coworker working on a film set and having him thank them in person. If I understand the methodology correctly.)

And for the Civ game?

DP put up a request for an epic, ridiculous, game of Civilization V for his birthday and we gave it to him. 11 hours later, I had to quit for the night. I was playing Japan. I wound up besieged by barbarian hoards early on, slowing me down. Not used to wonders I proceeded to not build any and lose out on the race falling to the bottom of the rankings quickly. I was then flanked on two sides. I made friends with China and we started trading while I kept Russia locked to the south. Rome, Berlin, and France were on another continent.  France came out as a super power first and proceeded to rampage all over the map. I managed to conquer one NPC state and develop my entire area. We had a two hour slow down while China had guests over for something and then Russia and France went to war slowing the game down.

I  wound up gifting my entire empire to China once I had to leave the game to thwart Russia for being so damn aggressive and constantly saying that he has no experience with Civ V while blowing through everything as I stumbled around. We were super quiet about it and no one noticed when I gifted everything but my capital city which he had to siege to take. It took them two rounds to catch on to what we did. Russia assumed I received ISK for the trade but Germany guesses correctly. It was time for me to go to bed.

It was an amazing amount of fun. I hope DP's birthday Civ V game was what he wanted. Next time we need a smaller map for a slightly faster game and maybe fewer resources. And there will be a next time. Just as Altaen and I are playing through Portal 2 co-op.

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