Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Optimal

I'm coming up on 30 days in Selective Pressure and Rote Kapelle, so I thought I'd share some impressions.

There's a word you hear and read a lot in Rote Kapelle: "optimal".  I don't even think Rote members realize how often they use it.  ;-)  The word is intended as a compliment, of course, and it's used in the sense of the rather strict dictionary definition, i.e. "the best result obtainable under specific conditions."  Even more precisely, what the "specific conditions" really mean is to maximize efficiency in obtaining the best result possible.  The opposite of "optimal" is "sub-optimal".

For example, a couple of people argued with me about my Cynabal fit from last week, stating in essence that they felt that a 425mm AC-fit Cynabal is just as effective at killing frigate tacklers as a 220mm AC-fit Vagabond.  Can a 425mm-fit Cynabal kill tacklers?  Absolutely!  Is it the optimal solution for doing so?  No, probably not.  Thanks to reduced tracking, such a solution is sub-optimal.  It's a solution that's only a few percent less efficient... a few percent sub-optimal... but as I've said a few times before, in EVE sometimes that few percent is the difference between winning and losing.

Rote Kapelle takes this philosophy to the nth degree.

If I have a flaw in my writing, it's that I sometimes stray too far over the line into stating my opinion as fact.  It's something that I've been working on the last couple of years, and still have to remind myself frequently not to do.  I read a biography of Benjamin Franklin late last year.  He was a fascinating and complex man, in some ways a modern role model... in others, not so much.  ;-)  But he did have one piece of advice that spoke to me across 250 years.  In one of his letters, he told one of his sons that later in life, he was always very careful to preface statements of opinion with "I think" or "I believe" or "it seems to me that".  He said that he found that people were much more likely to take what he said to heart if he prefaced those statements with those few words.  Interesting advice!  And advice I've tried to follow.

It's advice that Rote Kapelle would probably collectively reject.  ;-)

A lot of people have gotten ticked and left Rote over the years, because if you lose a ship in Rote, the judgment upon your fitting or your flying -- if it is felt to be sub-optimal -- is instant, brutal, unrelenting, and honest to a fault.  Similar arguments happen in the Rote fitting and strategy sections of the forums, or on Teamspeak during an after action discussion.  I've just started dipping my toe into these icy waters, and had fittings or strategies or comments that I made torn to shreds up one way and down the other.  But I've also received approval on others of my ideas that had merit, and received compliments on my flying.

The criticism is not meant personally.  Attacking someone in Rote Kapelle personally for their ideas or tactics is sub-optimal.  ;-)

Still, the thin-skinned do not survive long.  It's brutally Darwinian, but it's definitely making me a better EVE player.  I'm thinking more deeply about the game, and considering tactics and strategies that I wouldn't have otherwise considered(1).  Rote fleets are definitely making me a better, more aggressive combat pilot.  I can see why people would fold under that much brutal honesty, but I'm not one of them.

So, after almost 30 days in Selective Pressure and Rote Kapelle, I definitely feel I'm in the right place.  But I'll also have to watch myself even more closely so as to not write my opinion as fact.  Thinking too much of one's own opinion is also sub-optimal.  ;-)


(1) For instance, there are three standard Hurricane fittings in Rote... and none of them use 425mm AutoCannon IIs.  Just a couple of months ago, I would have regarded that as pure heresy.  ;-)  But now that I've flown all three, I have to say that Rote has a point to the heresy.

14 comments:

  1. Fixed ;-)

    "It's advice that [I think] Rote Kapelle would probably collectively reject."

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  2. Just don't put a small neut on your Vagabond and you should be fine. Doing so only leads to trouble, joining muppet ninjas, forming your own alliance and then joining the tuskers... or so I hear anyway.

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  3. This is probably purely semantics here, but in the sense that you use the word, the opposite of "optimal" is _not_ "sub-optimal". The opposite of optimal is worst. Just because something isn't optimal, doesn't mean it's the worst either, although the way some people debate stuff on the internet, it always seems like that's what they're trying to say :)

    In the same sense that one might say the opposite of light is dark, it doesn't mean that if something isn't light that it is by elimination dark. It might just be gloomy or somewhere else inbetween.

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  4. @Benjamin: That sentence already had a conditional in it. ;-)

    @Anon1622: yep, you kind of danced around the point I was trying to make. As far as Rote Kapelle is concerned, "sub-optimal" (you fit a small neut instead of a medium neut, for instance, hee!) and "worst" are often the same thing. ;-)

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  5. I refer to sub-optimal fits as 'loose'.

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  6. "Splitting" (aka "black or white" thinking)... fun! From a psychological POV, if taken to the extreme is a diagnostic criteria of both Borderline and Narcissistic Personality Disorders. Given that they're EVE players... well NPD is already a potential diagnosis. ;-)

    I think I've mentioned this, but IRL I do both Fire and Law Enforcement. If I fuck up severely enough, I die, or worse -- others die, and there's no clone waiting in a med bay.
    Here though? It's just a fuckin game, man. I realize Internet Spaceshipz is SUPR SRS business, but ... man some people take it to extremes. :-/

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  7. I find the setup standardization too be quaint, an idiotic move that furthers makes ships into single purpose weapon platforms when in fact they are a multi-functional tool bent on destruction.

    So, while I can see why Rotes like to use Optimal and sub-optimal, I think it comes down to more to pilot skill than really setups to be fair. And sometimes even with pilot skill, sometimes you need teamwork and trust. Because, if you don't trust pilots around you to get the job done, then why should you fly with them?

    I've fought Rotes before, good fighters, but they take the game way to seriously for my liking. I like to scam, spy, generally cause political bollocks for the sake of fun, because I get a laugh and I give a couple "Internet Spaceship Diehards" a stroke every so often.

    I mean, I've flown in battle with a Autocannon fit Zealot, a Beam Pilgrim (no neuts) and my personal favorite a blaster falcon (200+ dps). Sure I've gotten flack, I've lost ships, but did I have fun is the real question and did I get the mission done, hell yes to both. Indeed I do feel EVE is a time investment, I do feel it's a game and should be treated as such.

    I know I've gone on tangent here, but in way I'm just getting started in my search for the good old days of EVE combat. i.e. 2003 to 2005 before capitals, before POSes, before outposts, when their was nothing but a wasteland to be conquered and a few oasis with some somewhat honorable people actually will to defend it. I miss station ping pong.

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  8. @Echo: I endorse your right to do that 100%. But I wouldn't last long in such an alliance. That kind of cavalier play usually bugs me, particularly since I don't really have the ISK to play that way. ;-)

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  9. http://i.imgur.com/R9TDT.jpg

    Every bit matters.

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  10. @Echo: Using said pilot skill and teamwork in combination with optimal fits lets you wipe out derp fleets, flying AC zealots for instance, twice your own size. Now trust me, that *is* fun.

    I understand what you're saying. Doing what you described can be a lot of fun. You just have to realize that being organized about your fits and fleetcomp in order to squeeze out every last % of efficiency and doing amazing stuff is also fun.

    @Ripard: Thank you for the kind words :)

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  11. @Echo - that has to be legitimately the first time I have ever seen that rote takes the game too seriously. You've obviously not flown in our porn-linking, chatty, can't form-up for a CTA on-time to save our lives, not listening to the FC until engaged in combat, fleets to know the truth of the matter.

    Now Echo, you may have flown with/in such "classics" as the AcZealot, bacon etc, but if you are trying to up-engage a 30 man fleet with 20, you want to have people that, as you put it, can be "trusted" to be flying their best setups into battle. Not some gimmick fit that the FC is mentally counting as a good fit and thus dooming the fleet to get crushed when success relies on every pilot being fit competently, and his and or others failures to fit the best way they can costs several other pilots, if not the whole gang, their ships.

    In that case I would say the pilot(s) with the sub-optimal fit deserve to get hammered for those fits. After all, trusting the pilots around you to be the best and to react as expected is key to being more than just average. Isn't part of being the best, fitting your ships as best you can?

    We don't accept mediocrity just because "someone was just having a bit of fun." Rote has fun fleets/theme fleets/drunken fleets for that kind of thing, otherwise we tend to be out there putting feet on the ground and pixels in space in the best way we can. Striving to be optimal is how we do that.

    For me, and based of the assumption that people like me are all in Rote, the more fun option is "winning a fight of our 20 v their 30+ with a ~gf~ because, not only are our pilots better, our fits are better, eking out every % we can." Rather than the comedy of winning a few fights with sub-optimal/outside of the box fits, that are hammered together by each individual pilot rather than the combined fitting experience of the alliance.

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  12. I've been (well, my 0.0 altar ego has been) in at least one of those derpfleets that got hammered by a ludicrously small Rote gang. That was fun too ... in hindsight. When it was happening I was too busy going "WTF? WTF?"

    What I'm saying is, I totally "get" the power of skilled pilots who are flying and fitting in consensus "optimal" ways. And I can sure see how that could be fun.

    But it will never be something I would want to do. I have always hated min-maxing in gaming. I had a friend back in the EverQuest days who was always after me to upgrade my gear. "If you only spent a couple weeks camping over there", he'd say, "you could get that awesome helm that's 1% better than anything else you can get!" There were guilds (the spiritual ancesters of Rote, I imagine) that demanded you have optimal gear of that sort. I couldn't imagine then going through the pain of the endless camps that would have been needed to satisfy other people's OCD stress over head-armor perfection, and I still can't. They killed a lot of dragons, I did fine on the few dragon raids I went on. My way made me much happier than their way would have.

    It all boils down to play-styles and preferences. Rote's style works, but it's a style for soldiers, not warriors; if you've got too much individuality (*cough blasterFalcon*) or you're one of these people who goes "fuck you!" in the face of social pressure to conform to group expectations, it's not for you. My own play style (how many years have I got invested now in learning how to convince mining barge pilots to shoot at the helpless Crane that's "stealing" their stuff? How much ISK have I spent in pursuit of the optimal combat Crane fit?) is not for everybody ... indeed, so far as I know, I'm the only one in EVE that it's "for", at least over the long haul. Too much individuality, check.

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  13. I respect what your saying Logan and V3rtigo, the mentality of being the best you can be is a very respectable and powerful thing you can set your mind to. However, I do not want be the best, I just want to have fun. Now, fun is based on your perception, and any you utilitarians in here, I don't believe in happiness transference sorry. And so I can see why you want to have fun by that method, I'm only saying other people have different definitions of fun and some people like to have a little variety.

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