Simultaneously, I'm having a running argument with some of the regulars on Failheap Challenge about this topic. There are some there that still seem to believe that post-nerf, everyone in Empire running L4 missions is making billions of ISK per week, risk-free. I think I've posted enough links to kill-mails of ganked mission ships for people who read my blog to know how I feel about THAT. The conversation there is really annoying me because I can clearly recall all of the Harbingers, Drakes, Myrmidons, and even T1 cruisers that people would bring into L4 missions when I would run a weekly L4 mission group in Sturmgrenadier. Either they didn't have the ISK for anything better, or they didn't have the SP for anything better. A few of the people in that thread have a realistic idea of what L4 missioning is like in today's EVE, but most are stuck in the past, pre-nerf.
Simultaneous to THAT, all of my mains have now passed 40 million SP. Ripard has passed 50 million. Some of my alts are passing or have passed 10 million SP. It doesn't seem that long ago that it was my mains reaching that benchmark. But now, there's virtually no type of ship I can't fly, no fitting I can't make work, no mod I don't have level 4 or level 5 skill in using. This made me smile the other day during one L4 when I tried to launch a flight of Valkyrie IIs from my alt's Raven for an Angels mission, and was reminded by the game that particular alt can't use Valk IIs. I had just thrown them into the drone bay automatically. But even though I now have what once seemed a huge number of SP, I can still remember what it's like to have very few.
A lot of EVE players lose that ability, but I have not, and hopefully, will not.
Watching my alt in that T1 Raven struggle through some of these L4s for the guide, when I could bring in my Nightmare pilot or my Machariel pilot and make quick short work of them, has helped me remember.
Who is the better EVE player:
- the player that can wipe out a L4 in five minutes flat with a Nightmare or Machariel or Golem using T2 or faction ammo, with tens of millions of SP in spaceship command, gunnery, missiles, and engineering; or,
- the player with 10 million SP total that struggles through it in his T1 fit Raven, 3% shield and 5% capacitor away from having to warp out of the mission, who perseveres and succeeds anyway?
Competitive diving is scored by multiplying two factors: a rating of the difficulty of the dive, and a rating based on how well three judges felt the dive was executed, on a scale from 0 to 10. Higher numbers are better. A forward 2.5 somersault dive, for instance, averages 2.4 difficulty rating. If you score 7s on it from three judges, your total score is 16.8 points. A forward one somersault dive averages 1.5 difficulty. Even if you do it perfectly, the best you're going to score, ever, is 15 points. The more difficult dive, even executed in only an average way, is worth more in diving than a simple dive executed flawlessly.
I'll grant you that there are certainly some EVE players out there who mission all day long, who have no interest in any of EVE's social aspects, who just want to buy that officer fit Golem and make it better and better and better. Every MMO is full of such people, trapped in infinite loops. They buy better gear so that they can do PvE more efficiently so that they can make in-game money so that they can buy better gear so that they can do PvE more efficiently. Every MMO is full of such people. They're flawlessly executing very simple dives, day after day. It's fine... but not very impressive.
But I personally think that most people doing L4s are just doing them to make the ISK they need to buy skill books and ships to take the next step in the game, whatever "next step" means for them, whether it be incursions or PvP or wormholes or whatever. And sometimes, they're having to warp off, or they get ganked, or they do something stupid and get their mission ship blown up.
And as long as they learn from their mistakes, I think that makes them the better EVE players.
If you're doing this right now, even if you're struggling at it: you are one of the best players in EVE Online. Keep at it! In what must be a display of Nordic irony, and unlike pretty much any other computer game in the known universe, EVE is a game that gets easier and easier the longer you play it.
Your perseverence will be rewarded. The very same toon that can barely keep a P2 PI chain running in high-sec will be flooded with an embarrassment of riches with that very same chain in 0.0. The same toon that has to warp out of an L4 with ten million SP will smite it when he has 20. The fitting that is out of your reach today will make whatever you're trying to do much easier when you can fit it tomorrow. The same trade process that allows you to turn five million ISK into 10 million ISK will probably still work to convert one billion into two billion, and will net you much larger gains with the same effort. The 1v1 PvP fight that you keep losing because the other guy out-SPs you by a factor of five to one becomes a much more even fight once you catch up a little.
I think the same concept applies to fleet combat PvP, but that's probably a subject for another blog post.