Words from the past

My first EVE ‘birthday’ is fast approaching, and once again I am worrying about how accurately I’ve depicted my journey through the rockiest and hardest part of EVE. I mean, some time next year, the learning cliff is going to plateau out for me, and all that will remain for the rest of the game is understanding null-sec politics, and learning another area from the foundation that has been established by my initial PvP focus. Which really makes me wonder whether bittervet syndrome occurs because of this flattening of the learning cliff. After the challenge of understanding everything there is about EVE, a challenge that can span a few years, what is really left to do?

But I’m not there yet so I won’t worry about that yet. I’m here; still learning about EVE.

You can learn about EVE in many ways. The most reinforcing and popular way, obviously, is to play the game. Doing things, making mistakes, asking questions, getting podded, fitting ships, putting up buy orders, stealing from corporations, FCing, PvPing, manufacturing, exploring… hell, even mining, all of these things teach you about EVE.

The second most prominent way to learn is to talk to others in-game. Obvious as well. Learn from others’ experiences, their mistakes, and try not to repeat them. At this level you have organisations such as EVE University, RvB, Agony and the like teaching newbies with the knowledge of the older players.

Thirdly, you can learn through third-party applications, something I have never engaged in so thoroughly and enthusiastically as I have with EVE Online. NeoCom for my tablet, Aura for my phone, EVEMon, EVEMentat, EVE Fitting Tool, EVEBoard, EVE-Central, EVE-marketdata, the list goes on. These applications streamline and simplify and present the complexities of New Eden in a more understandable or clear manner, allowing you to process the truckloads of raw information that EVE rains upon you in manageable bits.

The last learning ‘option’ I’ll mention in this list that by no means cover them all, that we EVElings have, and one that can be overlooked by most players, are guides written outside of the game, whether it be in blogs, forums, the subreddit, or elsewhere. One I’m using right now is Internet Space Monkeys’ EVE Mentat guide. Whilst I was reading it, I realised just how useful it was at clearing up the confusion I had with utilising EVE Mentat, especially as to how data importing worked. It struck me that had I not written this post, perhaps in future as I am teaching someone else how to use this or a similar program, it would not occur to me that the only reason I figured it out myself was by someone else’s advice, when this wasn’t the case at all.

A scary case of this… appropriation of knowledge, has already occurred. Today, after an uneventful roam the alliance held, I got to chatting with one of the alliance’s new friends, and somewhere during that conversation he linked Azual Skoll’s “Know Your Enemy” series. I had read it, back during my first few months of EVE. I had loved it. But as I found my own fights, and developed my own experience, I started to realise that Skoll had simply covered the basics, and whilst he did so extensively, it was not enough. He didn’t, and since I assume he is human, he couldn’t, cover every single engagement possibility for every single ship; that would be someone’s life’s work. The knowledge I absorbed, which I initially thought was amazing and would make me a better PvPer than anyone, turned out to be simply a foundation to help me get my head around just exactly how complex PvP was in EVE.

Upon this foundation I built my own experience. Dozens of fights, hundreds of millions of ISK destroyed and lost. I built and built until I forgot what I had built on, and I assumed the land was already there.

Today, in fact, I whelped a frigate fleet I was leading to a lone Vexor. Six of us got it to 8% structure, 4 of us dying in the process, and not even managing to secure the kill. Why? Because I assumed the Vexor pilot had built his fit on the false promise of potential DPS. A maximum DPS flight of 2H/2M/1L drone would’ve been optimal for our frigates, because the heavies would have serious difficulties tracking us. Hell, even a flight of 5 medium drones would’ve been manageable with our speed, and I would have asked the fleet to target the drones in that case, as a Vexor’s drone bay is very inadequate when it starts to field heavies and mediums. Furthermore, the potential DPS of its medium blasters, even bonused, will be difficult to apply to frigates as well. Azual Skoll had a strikingly similar observation about the Vexor. He said:

Now before you get too excited, I mentioned that this was the Vexor’s potential damage output. That’s because while 900dps is by no means an imaginary theorycrafting number – a shield Vexor can in practice put out that kind of punishment – this is only going to happen under optimal conditions. That means when a target is in blaster range, and is the right kind of target for the Vexor to effectively utilise its heavy drones. When the Vexor is using light drones (for example to engage a frigate), those drones are only going to add about 200dps instead of the 450 or so that it might get from its max-damage flight. Similarly when fighting something like a Rupture that’s able to control range, the Vexor might not be able to apply its full turret damage and that’s going to cut its actual damage output nearly in half.

The Vexor pilot was more realistic than me. He was in FW space and he knew exactly what he’d fight: frigates. I’m not certain but I’d say his drone bay was solely light drones, based on the fact that his Vexor had light guns, and he was using a buffer tank to enable his mids to accommodate two webs. Perhaps a fleet of long-range frigates would have easily dealt with him, but alas, our ships were scramkiters at best.

It was a poor decision by me, but later on when I was reminded of Skoll’s article, it struck me just how much his words had assimilated itself in my knowledge of the game, until his name was forgotten and it became my basic knowledge.

So, thanks are due to all you guys who have left behind your words and wisdom as you have moved on, whether in EVE or from it entirely. Perhaps your names will fade and your faces will blur, but I will remember that I did not learn faster than others by myself; I learned faster because I had more voices guiding me.

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