I'm gonna bow to reality and move EVE back up to the list of "Current MMOs" on the right for a while. I'm still unsubbed, with 30-odd days to go on most of my accounts. But I've spent more time in EVE in the last couple of weeks than in the previous couple of months, most of that in high-sec incursion fleets, learning how this element of EVE works.
What I'm learning: I'm enjoying the incursion fleets far more than I should be, given EVE's terrible, terrible PvE.
But the PvE part is entirely incidental. What I'm enjoying is the very friendly, sociable, knowledgeable players that are in the incursion fleets. It seems like a good, solid half of them are ex-0.0 players like I am, but with the refreshing attitude that they're not interested in going back to 0.0 in the future. They've done it. They've survived it. And they're no longer interested in it. Another quarter are alts for current 0.0 players taking a break from 0.0 to make some ISK. As a result, the level of derp in an incursion fleet is surprisingly low.
Targets are identified by tags in the overview (I'll post a guide for them this weekend sometime, I think), which means that actual fleet communication in voice chat is usually fairly rare, except for the occasional "Watch your tags!" or "Niarja on the field, retagging." or "Everyone watch out; new bomber spawn." The shooting is pretty boring and routine, which leaves a lot of time open for chit-chat with friendly, knowledgeable EVE players. And you get a new batch of them to talk to every time you log in.
It's quite refreshing.
Even better, there's very little waiting involved (or at least, that's been my experience). You log in, you X up for a fleet, and as long as you follow the right procedure and your ship fitting is good, you're out flying within ten minutes or so. And the better your ship, the shorter that amount of time. Which means that incursion fleets are a true meritocracy. If you don't know how to fit or fly a ship in EVE, you won't get picked up. You learn or you don't get to play. There is little to no, "I don't care what you think. I like this fitting and I'm using it." If your fitting is bad, you'll be using it by yourself.
This pushes the level of derp in an incursion fleet even lower.
Most surprising of all (though I guess I should have expected this), since there are eight times as many people in high-sec as there are in 0.0, there are incursion fleets going at all hours... including hours friendly to those of us in California. ;-) I've had a couple of nights where I struck out, but most of the time, even if I have only a couple of hours to do this, it's available to me.
So... yeah. I seem to be enjoying a part of EVE again despite myself. Still going to Global Agenda for my PvP needs, though.
But wouldn't it be nice if CCP could find a way to create PvP like this -- little or no waiting, knowledgeable players, monitored ship fittings?