I can say with ease that I quite like social engineering in Eve. I may not agree with the path that everyone takes with their social engineering but that is another topic. From The Cougar Store to my POCOpire and down to my CSM run, I've wound most of my game play into what can be done for, with, and by a player by just doing.
The downside of it is that is is rarely tangible or sustainable. Sometimes efforts build up and go through metamorphosis from construct to constructed, such a Eve University. As proud as I may be in the things that I have done and will do, none of them is tangible. My store will vanish if I stop tending it. I hope that I've shared enough of my mistakes and successes that it will endure in some way. My POCOpire was destroyed by an individuals choice and my own unwillingness to suck it up one more time. When I am no longer on the CSM I will vanish back into the background of the game. What we make rarely survives us.
Energy is not finite. I have struggled for the past six weeks and the echos of that are clear. My blog posts are down. My in game activities have disintegrated. I'm not quitting Eve. I am just very, very tired and something has to give. For me, its my creativity which is the fuel for this blog. My blog posts slowed down and while my blog is not some pillar that keeps Eve Online running it is a example of a project that can dissolve due to very few factors and none of them things that anyone can stop once they fall apart.
Eve Online is a highly complex game full of social interactions that make, break, and define it. While a fun statement to write it is one true to fact. It has also been one of the games glaring weaknesses. One of my happiest moments was when I saw that the new Opportunity system included instructions for double clicking in space to move. That simple, simple bit of information was available no where in the game before that time. I figured it out by doing a google search about "how to move in Eve" and I found a blog post about it. It was not even a forum post. That type of problem is a mechanical issue in my opinion. Such a simple thing should not be left to the social constructions of players where players educate players on the basics of the game.
The separation of the two increases in pace the further out you get. One of the side effects of knowledge is that we forget ignorance. What we know about the world becomes such a tangible aspect that we can no longer see it and in that comes a danger of believing that because something is 'common' knowledge that it is known.
Let's discuss my ignorance: Because I am not the brightest of people I have a tendency to happily share my ignorance. The other day it was about why I couldn't look at a ship. I was in a situation I am not often in. I was hanging around on a gate in high security space while cloaked. That may be normal for some but it is not normal for me. I was also presented with a ship that I had never seen in the flesh and a ship that is almost unheard of outside of high security space. In that time I decided to look at the ship and to my puzzlement I could not. Since then, I have been educated and told that the ship was in warp and that is why I could not look at it. If I use that information to recreate the situation I could say that the show was on autopilot. As soon as it uncloaked from gatecloak it was because autopilot was warping it. Therefore, I could not look at it.
"It is obvious if you do X," one person said. I've never done X. X did not include my play style. While a small thing and for some a thing of gross, unreasonable ignorance, I'd simply not in four years found myself in a situation to do a particular action in circumstance.
We are in a time of changing game mechanics. Proposals, theories, and ideas flow through the community. I have seen, "Well, we don't really use that or have this problem so the topic is not relevant and can be removed for convenience." There is a problem when the knowledge comes from "our knowledge of the topic is,". What happens when you leave? When your group dies? When you make a break for another part of Eve? None of these things may ever happen but what happens when they do?
Institutional knowledge is a powerful tool. But the game must be understandable in a way that someone without institutional knowledge can also play and gain that knowledge. It is easy to forget not knowing something. It is normal to believe what we built will always be there. But it has to be remembered that it won't be. Someone will always come along who is new. Someone who does not know you and may not want to know you or you them will wish to experience something. They to are playing the game and should have the ability to learn and figure out the game. Mechanics cannot be abandoned because "We never use that," or turned into complex lattices of interaction because "This is not a problem for us."
And now I will know that I cannot look at autopiloting Bowheads trying to waddle into warp. Now, it is obvious. A few days ago it was not. That is education. In this situation I could have figured it out on my own with some experimentation. Another time I will. But that is because I have the knowledge and the ability to do so within the mechanics of the game. I was fortunate that several someones reached out to help me. But I cannot rely on it. The game cannot rely on the relative altruism of its players.