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Plus one.

I spend a good part of the holiday out of the capsule, but I got my time in capsule as well. Spent my share of hours as the scout on a few roams, where we slipped into SOV space and followed the OUCH motto. With the exception of the final few days of the holiday, where I balanced my New Years plans with failed spaceship diplomacy, I had a pretty good time.

Kill more, Die less.

Looking back on the whole of 2015, it was easy to let the summer malaise affect me as well as anyone. I have spent over 5 years playing this game, racked up about 6000 kills to 200 odd losses. Trained lots and lots of newbies. Raised a couple of generations of like minded pilots who pay it forward by training others that null sec is not scary. So I took a break, found fun with some companions, old and new. Spent time with family long neglected. I spent more time out the capsule, perhaps, than I should have as leader of what I believe is a unique training organization. One where the instructors are embedded with students that they don’t expect to keep for more than a few months. One that invests in the other guy without expecting a return on investment.

Don’t get me wrong, I was still involved, in comms, on the forum, but I wasn’t actually flying spaceships. I wasn’t involved in the day-to-day development of new players; I left that to the instructors I trained. But I also wasn’t involved in the day-to-day development of junior instructors and that was neglectful of me.

I came back to New Eden in the Fall and started flying more seriously again. I stayed out of ECM ships for a bit, which is difficult for me, because I find flying the Falcon to be extremely rewarding. Lots of guys were burned out from all of the changes that CCP is making in the game. Lots of our guys were working hard to find content.

Content. I really hate the word. It’s so gamer. In other MMOs, the game designers provide an expansion, it may or may not have a story line to it, but bands of players come together to devour it.

Content is entertainment. Television has content and some of us program our lives to get it in regular doses. Every Wednesday night at 8 PM local, just gotta watch Real Wives of New Eden or some such thing. No one in my circle of regular friends thinks it’s really normal to spend 16 to 20 hours a week in front of a computer playing a video game, but they’ll give up six hours of their lives on a Sunday watching professional football, along with 30 million other Americans. Other than sports, with today’s streaming services and digital video recorders, you don’t have to program your life around entertainment, you can program it in your life.

We always laugh when we hear a distinctive track of 60’s Sci Fi fight music playing in the background when you take a turn to speak on comms, Bren.

We can ignore that people that log in everyday to mission, mine rat, do complexes, explore, do planetary interaction, industry and haul. That Player versus Environment stuff is all Content, just not the preferred Content of steely eyed killers hopped up on caffeine or social-achievers wanting to be part of the next epic war. Content in Eve evolved to strife, conflict and intrigue between players corporations in order to give each other reasons to shoot at one another. Leadership in New Eden evolved to leaders of corporations, alliances and coalitions working with teams of directors and fleet commanders. These people play the Metagame. These people have a Narrative. These people provide content for other people who have learned that they can play something else, watch some TV and wait until they are called to come support the Great Game, where hundreds or thousands of players form up and fight battles of attrition. The largest groups work together to do one thing: Motivate people to log in and play a game that they have all been taught does not have the designed Player versus Environment Content to keep players interested.

Silly buggers. Not the people generating content. The players waiting for it to be served to them on a platter.

What if you could log in and form a 5 man fleet and go find a fight with 6 other guys three jumps away? What stops you from doing it? What’s the problem?

N+1. The other guys are just going to bring more guys, or upship and we won’t be able to win, so we need to wait here in station until we can get more guys.

So New Eden’s Mass Epic Fight culture gets in the way. Six years ago, the players tried to make the fights bigger and the servers couldn’t handle it. The only thing that could have made it more horrible would have been getting a “Loading, please wait” message as you tried to jump into a system with 300 people already on grid. CCP took it as a technical problem, got better servers, ultimately inventing Time Dilation so that a great mass of ships could share the grid.

To what end? To the point where the upper limit of fleets really was never met. Once you can put a few thousand players on grid for one massive battle, it’s no longer a technical problem. It’s a cultural one. As far as I can tell from the blogs and the forums, unless we can fly in 100-1000 man fleets, it’s just not fun anymore, right?

Well, for some anyway. I fly in small gangs.

Don’t get me wrong, there are guys who jump in a ship and go out and look for some fun. Solo pilots and small gang pilots exist, but we aren’t the guys putting Eve Online in the international news. And it’s a shame, because for every one of us quietly playing our game, maybe streaming to get more people interested in Eve, there are 50 complaining on the forum or on social media that Eve is Broken.

I have a pilot in my corporation, logs in a couple of times a month. He says, Hi, jumps in a cruiser and loses it 10 odd jumps down the road. We all stare at the heavens and wonder what the hell he was thinking, but you know what? I never chastise him. Know why?

He’s playing. Not sitting in station waiting. Not sitting in comms playing some other game waiting for someone to tell him it’s time to come play Eve. He plays. He loses his ship. It’s never something that expensive, he buys his own ships. His brothers give him some ribbing about selling him some new ships and tell him, You should go North, not South next time.

When I was new to Open University of Celestial Hardship [0UCH], we didn’t have senior guys to teach us the ropes. We jumped in ships and went out in what are called “micro gangs” nowadays, 2-5 people, half a squad in military parlance. We’d just fly. Sometimes we’d roam. Sometimes we’d camp. Sometimes we’d find something, sometime we wouldn’t. We’d fight, usually die, and if we were lucky, get one kill for the 4 losses. Today, we do the same in a micro gang and take no losses, because we have skill and experience and can choose our fights better. But the end of it all, it was fun.

The biggest complaints I see are about how Eve’s large scale PvP is broken now. I’ve rarely fought in a system with more than 50 people fighting in it. I’ve always had problems with the use of Mass to win a fight. I loved hearing about how Black Legion was flying Slippery Pete Tengus, using Maneuver to battle in large scale, ignoring the archaic Napoleonic Infantry combat prevalent to Eve. Instead, like like Mongolian Cavalry riding just inside of archery range, they ran around sniping brawlers and droneships trapped in their own warp disruptor bubbles. I love how Rooks and Kings perfected the Pipebomb to destroy massive fleets heading home from the big fight.

N+1? For over 2 years I’ve witnessed tons of pilots bemoaning the death of Small Gang PvP. Small gang pvp is dead because people won’t go out with 2-12 pilots anymore, they are afraid of running into 20 pilots. Or if they do find a fight with a dozen pilots, they’re bait. And if they aren’t bait, a third party hotdrops you with capitals. So they sit in station and wait until they have 25 people and then they go out and fly through systems with 12 people in station that don’t come out because, well, there’s 25 people out there.

So let me put on my teacher hat here. CCP is making it so you don’t have to use Mass anymore. You don’t have to wait for someone to hand you Content. Make the fleet. Figure out what you guys are able to fly, taking into account what you can afford to lose and replace, mind you. Figure out what you’re able to take on with what you can get together. Go out looking for it. Plan ahead, see what goes on around you and build a fleet to go fight that thing. Just undock knowing what you can take on and keep it in mind.

If you’re 3 guys in T1 frigates and you catch a smart-bombing Machariel, you might want to just let that one go.

Capsulers old and young, let me tell you something that you should already know. The byline for Eve Online’s PvP game is Player Generated Content.

Last I checked, you’re a player.

Generate.

Play the game.

Minus one.