Most of it is just the fact that I pay attention. I'm detail-oriented anyway, but I'm also interested in process. My real-life job often revolves around taking a set of broken processes, figuring out what is and isn't working, discarding the latter, and rebuilding into a system that works. It's hard not to take these skills into EVE. I'm not sure I'd be the best choice for building something from scratch, but if you give me something that's sorta already working, after a short period of time, I can tell you how it's working today and make suggestions for how to make it work better tomorrow.
The rest? My preferred way of playing EVE is not to be bearing, so if I must bear, I want it to be handled as quickly as possible and over just as soon as it can be. ;-) That motivates me to learn how to bear just as fast and as efficiently as possible.
I'm not particularly surprised at all the heat I'm taking over my incursion post yesterday. I expected it and all the comments have been great reading. Still, four major lines of discussion have formed and two of them deserve special attention. One of them revolves around low-sec incursions and the reluctance of EVE players to brave them. Most of this reluctance, unsurprisingly, revolves around a desire not to be blown up. I've covered how risk-averse EVE players are before and I'm not going to do so again.
But the question of how PvE happens alongside the risk of getting blown up deserves to be covered.
PvE happens in low-sec, null-sec, and wormhole space every minute of every hour of every day in EVE. And sure, people get blown up occasionally. But you know what? If you take even the most basic safety precautions, it becomes nearly impossible to catch, much less destroy, someone doing PvE in low-sec, null-sec, or wormhole space. There are a lot of precautions that are easy to take and they're worth covering. There are six basic ones:
- Intel channels. This is pretty much what it sounds like. Though you can't do this in W-space, in low or null, intel channels are very common. It's simply a channel that everyone in a particular area of space monitors. If someone in that space sees an enemy gang moving around, they report it in the channel so everyone knows. If that person can see what types of ships are being flown, that information is relayed as well. In some regions of space, you can't get more than one or two jumps in before your gang's composition is reported for everyone to see, because of...
- Passive scouts. These are alt characters in T1 cloaky frigates, sitting 75km or so off of gates or wormholes in a direction away from the system's celestials. If anyone jumps through the gate, they report it either to active fleets, the intel channel, or both. As they see ships decloak and warp off, they report numbers and types of ships.
- Staging POSes. When PvE happens in low, null, or wormhole space, you can bet that there's a POS in that system. As soon as danger lurks, the pilot or fleet warps to the POS and stays there until the danger passes. 98% of the time, the danger in question is not going to take on a POS.
- Cyno jamming. This is mostly the province of null-sec. A big danger to larger fleets there is that of getting "hot-dropped" by either a capital ship fleet or a sub-capital fleet guided there by a Titan's bridge. A cyno jammer prevents this from happening by preventing the ability to light a cyno that will bring in the enemy fleet. Bridging and hot-dropping are the PvPer's way of side-stepping passive scouts and intel channels. If the system is cyno jammed, though, this tactic won't work.
- Prioritize scramming rats. This is a basic one: if you're bearing in low or null, you make killing the rats that can scramble or warp jam you a priority. Wormhole-runners do this as well, but the larger proportion of scramming rats make it tougher.
- Safety in numbers. You don't have to bear alone. PvE works well when you have a gang around you, even if that gang is a small one. Many PvE ganks are solo ganks done by a single pilot with between one and three accounts. These solo gankers will be reluctant to take on equal numbers and won't even think about taking on superior numbers.
These six factors form the basis for a lot of low-sec, null-sec, and wormhole PvE.(1) Particularly for wormhole ops or null-sec anomaly-running, all it takes is a couple of the pilots to have passive scout alts whose screen they can glance at from time to time. You put the fleet in system X, then place your passive scouts at all the entry points. If one of the passive scouts sees something, the PvE fleet warps to the staging POS. The PvP fleet calls you names (or doesn't) and moves on. Much of the time, the player with the scout alt doesn't even need to watch the screen. Just turning on EVE's sound, doing a "Look at" command for the gate or wormhole, and listening for the activation sound is enough. If the gate or wormhole is activated, the player turns their attention to the scout alt to see what's up.
I've been in PvE fleets in low-sec faction warfare, in null-sec anomalies, and in wormholes. These fleets use most or all of these safety factors.
Know which of these safety factors incursion-runners could use in low-sec? All of them.
Know which ones they're organized enough to use? All of them.
Know which ones they're too lazy to use?
Yeah, I won't answer that. It's funny, too, because the financial reward is there. When I think about high-sec incursions sites run without significant competition and an average, non-shiny fleet, I think of two numbers: seven, and 10.5. The first is the number of sites that can be run per hour. The second is the pay-out per site, in millions of ISK. That means an average high-sec incursion fleet with no shiny ships can make 73.5 million ISK per hour if there's little or no competition. Those very same incursions are worth 15 million ISK per site in low-sec, with far less competition. That's 105 million ISK per hour for an average incursion fleet with no shiny ships.
In short, you'll make enough money to replace your insured ship in low-sec incursions in one hour or less, if it gets blown up. Two hours if it's a logi. But again, your chances of actually losing your ship are pretty low. That means that if you take these precautions, you can take a shiny ship into low-sec with a equally small likelihood of losing it... and make even more money. People bear in low, null, and wormhole space in Tengus and Machariels and even more expensive ships every minute of every hour of every day, I assure you. Shiny fleets can complete nine or ten sites an hour. Ten times 15 is 150.
Setting up intel channels and passive scouts, and a small POS around a free moon in the Vanguard system you're working to park the off-grid booster in are trivial concerns next to that kind of sustainable ISK per hour.
You just have to do the safety dance to keep the fleet from getting jumped. And in doing so, you might just become a better EVE player, too. If high-sec incursions disappeared today, I have no doubts that these systems would be up and running in low-sec tomorrow.
(1) A seventh, slightly more advanced tactic also deserves a mention because it would be so easy for incursion-runners to implement. When the fleet comes through an incursion site gate, have every ship in the fleet drop a single round of non-faction ammo in a can. This will create a little cloud of cans that will decloak any ship coming through the gate to get a look at you.