golden jew

Eve Update: Little fish in the Ocean

Have you ever looked at the food chain in the ocean? Take an anchovy, for example. The anchovy actually isn’t at the bottom, that job belongs to plankton. Anchovies are eaten by things such as the spotted sea trout. The spotted sea trout is eaten by tarpons, which in turn are eaten by bull sharks. Why am I boring you with the details of the food chain?

It’s been about a month since I started playing Eve. Ambition, combined with some purchased in-game currency (it’s so cheap I can’t help myself), led me and my merry band to try to go to “lowsec” space–where PvP begins. Our interest wasn’t in PvP, but rather in mining the more precious materials found in lowsec space. Accordingly, we attempted to arm ourselves–encouraged by some GTC supplemented ISK, we thought our fancy ships and fancy equipment would allow us to play with the big boys.

In the past weeks, we’ve collectively died multiple ways. From NPCs, to not understanding game mechanics, to PCs on a warpath, to PCs who decided they didn’t appreciate my smack talk to someone I chased off for picking a fight with me in the first case: our losses have been catastrophic.

Evil space alien or plankton?

It is clear to me we’re not even anchovies. Plankton might be generous. What is it that plankton eat? Some are plants, so they photosynthesize. May we’re sunlight then. I’m not really sure.

The point is, as I was afraid of and mentioned in my first post, Eve is a vicious, vicious place, especially for the unprotected, the ignorant, and the new. We fit all of these categories. So we’re left with two choices: hang around safe space until our characters are more advanced, or find a corporation which can offer protection and mentoring. Not being a pussy, I’m working on option #2.

What’s struck me through the experience is how vulnerable and how angry an MMO can make you feel. I’ve played plenty of MMO’s, so I’ve felt the heartbreak and frustration, particularly when caused by someone else. Failing at a video game sucks, but it seems that there’s almost an inherent safety net built in. Ultimately, in single player games, designers want you to succeed and win. The game is designed to be beaten. The worst feeling might be when you die far away from a save point, because replaying is tedious and frustrating. But at the end of the day, you know that you will win if you try hard enough.

It doesn’t work that way online when you introduce player vs. player combat. There are always people who derive their jollies from ruining someone else’s experience. There is no safety net, no karma–just the reality that assholes flourish and you need to protect yourself. However, it is this open PvP, combined with the flexible world of Eve, that makes the game so interesting. Players have very clear cut options that include risk and reward. I can stay in safe space and be relatively safe, or, as chosen to do, I can team up with a group of like minded individuals and take what’s mine. Power is taken–not bequeathed.

The next step is to get promoted to anchovy. Maybe sea trout. I just worry that no tarpons come by.

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