Zeus: Fortune is ally to the brave!I'm not sure there are full blog posts in two related ideas that have been plaguing me lately, but they're standing in front of other blog posts and refusing to go away. ;-) So I thought I'd get them out over the next couple of days and get people's thoughts. Here's one. The other tomorrow, most likely.
Thetis: But what a dangerous precedent. What if there more heroes like him? What if courage and imagination became everyday mortal qualities? What would become of us?
Zeus: We would no longer be needed. But, for the moment, there is sufficient cowardice, sloth and mendacity down there on Earth to last forever.
While there's no question that there's no lack of inexperienced and flat-out dumb EVE players out there, I'm really beginning to get the impression that the number of dumb people in large groups playing EVE for PvP has been steadily dropping the last year or so. It says interesting things about the game's future if this is true, and I've only really scratched the surface of some of the implications.
I've written about players being risk-averse on this blog before, and I think some of what I'm seeing can be traced back to that. Fleets are refusing to die in large numbers doing something dumb. But more of it, I think, can be traced to steadily improving tactics and ship fittings of the medium-size PvP fleets out there. A year or so ago was when fleet doctrine really started becoming an important factor in EVE PvP. And as the strengths and weaknesses of those doctrines become better understood and better disseminated, I feel like this is resulting in fewer obviously dumb fittings and tactics being used in the game.
Does this mean I think that there are never dumb mistakes made at a fleet level? No, obviously not. I'm saying that I feel like on a per-capita basis, the proportion of dumb things being done by large groups of PvPers is declining. People are either being risk averse enough to avoid questionable fights, or are using smarter tactics or ship fittings to win fights they would have lost a year or two ago.
Dumb people are still just as dumb. But they've read enough battle reports over the years to recognize a bad match-up when they see one and refuse to take the fight.
I might rack this up to just personal experience, except that I also read a lot of battle reports on the EVE-O forums, FHC, kugu, and elsewhere. And those battle reports are becoming more and more full of grudging compliments offered to the other side about smart moves made, or dumb moves avoided. Hell, even Shadoo grudgingly complimented Against ALL Authorities and friends on their tactics in the recent C-J fight, not once, but several times. Some of those compliments were overt, some were a bit more subtle -- making it clear how smart -A- was in taking out PL's hictors and dictors, for instance. Remember, this is Pandemic Legion of all people complimenting opponents on their smart moves. ;-)
Similarly, I'm still hearing tales of fights during high-sec war-decs, and the same factors seem to be coming into play more often. No doubt thanks to all the free intel available to high-sec corps on null-sec tactics, along with a fairly large and growing coalition of null-sec ex-pats living in high-sec corps and helping out, dumb mistakes at the fleet level are becoming less common there, too.
Short version: kill-board efficiency at a corp/fleet level for virtually all of the major PvP players is settling down in the 70-80% range. Yep, Goons too. It takes a truly bad corp or alliance these days to fall below 60% over the long term.
So, assuming that this change is real, and not something that I'm imagining, it has interesting implications for the game in the longer term.
A group of EVE bitter-vets on Failheap Challenge found a way to register accounts on EVE's separate Chinese server, Serenity. I didn't get involved in that myself, but it was striking to me how many people that did came back with stories that basically boiled down to "Yay! Dumb people to kill! In large numbers! Whee!" The Chinese players hadn't advanced as far as the rest of us, and weren't aware of fittings, tactics, and doctrines that have are old hat on Tranquility. So for a while, there was a lot of fun to be had murdering newly-discovered sources of naive EVE players, even if they happened to be Chinese. But of course, Serenity kill-mails can't be posted on TQ kill-boards, so the bloom came off the rose pretty quickly.
EVE has always been a ridiculously difficult game to understand, learn, and master. I'll have more to say about that tomorrow. But as this vicious Darwinian cycle on TQ takes place, I think we can safely say where the bad EVE players are going: outside of EVE. Sure, the number of accounts seems to be up, and logged-in accounts seems to also be on the upswing, but it feels like what's happening is more multi-boxing than actual multi-player. Obviously, at a point in time where EVE really has to bring in some new blood, that's worrisome.
Within the game, movement into leadership positions also seems to be slowing down somewhat. The game is a lot more complex than it used to be. A few years ago, being an EVE PvP FC was a difficult but highly achievable goal within the first year or so of starting play. These days, only a fool would try to FC a PvP fleet in any serious situation with that small amount of time under his belt. Sure, you can FC PvE, or mining ops, with that amount of time in game (for now), but PvP? There are so many variables of tactics, fleet fittings, compositions, doctrines, threats, and responses, that only someone with long experience at the game is likely to be successful. And understanding all of those things is becoming more difficult all the time.
In other words, the Darwinian nature of EVE PvP these days is in and of itself adding to the learning cliff.
Before, a newer FC or newer PvPer could cut their teeth on smaller, weaker corps or alliances in low-sec or NPC null. Today, a weak corp or alliance entering low-sec or NPC null is quickly identified and torn to ribbons within the space of a few weeks or a couple of months. The weak targets in sov 0.0 are either smashed or swallowed whole by larger 0.0 entities even faster.
Anyway, again, I'm not sure I have a point here. It's just something that's struck me lately that might be a worrisome note for EVE's future. More of this on a related topic tomorrow.