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Reaffirming Geekery

So I was up early Sunday for Important Internet Spaceship Operations, and decided that I'd blog about what I was up to lately during some lull time.  Eight hours later, I blinked and wondered where the day had gone.

Goddamn you, Eve.

I sometimes think I'm a masochist for preferring the laggy majesty of fleet combat and sovereignty warfare to the smaller-scale, faster-paced fights that happen in NPC-controlled space, but then a day like yesterday happens and I understand my preference much better.

Simply put, I'm a sucker for drama and epic scale, and an eight-hour running battle between two fleets of 100-200 each jousting for position across an entire star system, warping in and out from staging points to attack vital starbases, complete with line ships and capital ships exchanging fire at 150km, interceptors and interdictors zooming across the void trying to pin them down, point defense ships trying to target and shred the fragile interdictors before they can slow the fleet down, repair ships sitting in hopefully safe parts of the system and patching wounds, cloaking scouts keeping an eye on movements and reinforcements and trying to scan out locations that various people mistakenly think are safe, electronic warfare ships trying to blind people from the previous categories, and each and every one of these controlled by players...

...and this is even before you zoom out and consider the wider ramifications. What'll happen to Alliance X's income if they lose this system and logistics routes to a quarter of their territory are cut or at least made vastly more difficult?  What about the consequences to their political reputation? Internal morale? What about the commeasurate gains for Alliance Y? How will all this affect the potential choices of Alliances A-X, Massive Powerblock Z, and the price of veldspar in Jita?...

...well, the first thing you'd think of is "lag", to be fair, and that certainly happens - especially in the combat environments I prefer. Even yesterday was laggy, though over time it settled down enough to be playable (as opposed to listening to the commanders on TS calling targets as "we know half of you haven't loaded the zone yet, so just shoot what you can see and hope for the best", something which is all too familiar to an old fleet hand).

But lag or no lag,the second thing I feel is awe that I can be a part of something that large and, on a certain scale, significant.

A recent discussion on SA (regarding the massive failure that was Age of Conan, of all things) put it best, I think, by dividing the MMO landscape into two categories:
  • virtual theme parks - that is, the Everquest/WOW (especially WOW) paradigm where the devs hand you content, you run through it with some other people (or without, if you're antisocial or have a rough RL schedule), and hope that more content's prepared for you by the time you're done - or, alternatively, bitch on the forums until it is.
  • virtual worlds - that is, the UO/Shadowbane/EVE paradigm, where the devs hand you an environment and a set of rules, and the player interaction is the content.
The reason that I quit WOW after about a year, whereas I'm about to hit two in Eve with no signs of stopping despite the latter game's myriad flaws and issues, is entirely because I vastly prefer the second category to the first. I'm under no illusions that this preference is very common, because games are largely an escapist fantasy, and people largely want to be great heroes or great villains, not faceless soldiers (we have the real world for that), regardless of the cognitive dissonance of there being six million other "great heroes" in this world, or that your killing the dragon was effectively insignificant because not only do six million other people have to be able to kill it, but you will also have to kill it several more times until it dispenses whatever glowing sword you're after. (do not ask me about Molten Core. No, I don't care that Blizzard's learned from that mistake. It was a tedious abomination that directly led to my quitting the game and swearing off the genre, and it should never have fucking happened in the first place.)

In the end, though, the preference doesn't have to be common. There's room in the modern marketplace for both, as long as those who aim for category two accept that they're not likely to be the WOW-killer and hit ten million subscriptions. The problem is, so few people aim for that niche that there's no competition and no impetus for those who do to improve. After all, what am I going to do, go play WoW? You ruined me for WoW, you bastards! :P

Next time: My thoughts on yaoiD&D Fourth Ed.


( Walk among 5 shadows — Cast a shadow )
Jul. 21st, 2008 09:20 pm (UTC)
I'm totally with you, that's why I keep toying with the idea of joining EVE, it sounds rapturous to me, but the lag especially would piss me the fuck off.
Jul. 21st, 2008 09:54 pm (UTC)
The lag, I've found, is only crippling when a) you top something like 350-400 in your system, (or some other system that's been assigned to the same CPU as yours via the black magic that CCP calls load balancing), and b) you lose whatever crapshoot decides who gets their data first. Even in the laggiest, most massive of fights, you'll often hear about someone who was able to load zone, target, and fire with perfect responsiveness. (in my experience, this will be the person that killed you. :D)

If you're fighting in a pirate group in empire (well, outside Jita, but really you're better off avoiding that system in general, since it consistently has ridiculous amounts of people in it and it's the busiest market in the game), or in one of the factional warfare militias, or in some black-ops type group that prefers to target enemy logistics, or in a roaming small gang in general, you'll only rarely see it. Since I tend to fly big, slow, gunboats (it's been about a year since I flew anything smaller than a battlecruiser into combat even in a roaming gang) which are at their most useful in fleet (not to mention that the corp I'm in is part of the numerically largest alliance in the game), I've learned to cope. :D

Edited at 2008-07-21 09:55 pm (UTC)
Jul. 22nd, 2008 04:34 am (UTC)
What I can't figure out is how the heck you can allocate eight contiguous hours for raiding well who are we kidding it is raiding.

Having said that, I may have the trial sitting in my Steam folder for my week off of teaching. I'll send you a message in-game once I get myself set up. :)
Jul. 22nd, 2008 01:12 pm (UTC)
They weren't allocated, it just sort of happened. :P I could have left earlier, but I was having fun and I didn't have anything better to do.

Edited at 2008-07-22 01:27 pm (UTC)
Jul. 31st, 2008 03:02 pm (UTC)
My problem is that I enjoy the concept of Eve more than I enjoy the execution of it. By the concept, I mean everything that you said: conflict on an epic scale, corporations and alliances taking sovereignty over space and rising and falling, the real and functioning market system. As rumplefurskin said above, it sounds rapturous.

But the things you have to do in order to get yourself out there are just so horribly painful. An eternity of running the same missions over and over again wherein usually my only contribution to the combat is to click the target button every now and then. It makes the level grind in WoW seem dynamic and exciting by comparison. But I feel like I'm forced to do it in order to be able to afford the skill books that will eventually allow me to have the abilities I need to leave hi-sec. And lingering in the back of your mind is the knowledge that once you do get out into 0.0 territory, the lag bombs will be waiting for you.

All that said, every time you make a post like this one I still get the urge to log in again. Damn you, damn you, damn you. Must resist.
( Walk among 5 shadows — Cast a shadow )