As I was driving to work today, I had to make left turn without a traffic light, so I had to wait for a gap in the opposing traffic big enough for me to fit through. A few cars down the line, I saw a gap coming. As it approached, I think the car that was leaving the gap saw it too, and he began to speed up. But, I was able to make it through in plenty of time. Interestingly, the moment the other driver realized I’d be able to get through, he also slowed down; no need to speed if he can’t close the gap, right? As I drove down the road towards work, I thought to myself, “Jerk.”
Or is that what happened? It’s just as possible that I perceived him to speed up because that was my expectation – that somehow he’d change his behavior and I wouldn’t be able to get through, forcing me to wait at the turn for another gap; given that road, it could be five extra minutes, making me late. And it’s just as possible that – as I made the turn and drove away down the side street – the changing angle at which I was viewing the other car only made it look like he was slowing down. It’s very possible the other car didn’t care or even didn’t see that I was waiting to turn, and he kept his speed the same. In that plausible case, the other driver’s jerky behavior was entirely in my head.
It has been long known (at least to anyone who isn’t an Idealist and subscribes to Platonian, Augustinian, or Kantian philosophy) that there is no objective reality. We can never know the exact nature of a thing, or identify an unbiased account of something that happens, since human beings perceive the universe from a single perspective. Even if we can gather multiple perspectives, we’re still bound by viewing them all through human eyes, which depend on a very subjective process of pattern-recognition and our eye’s biological structures and limitations.
This got me thinking about whether there was an opportunity to exploit this very human limitation in PvP in Eve. Sure, we should all be trying to surprise opponents by unusual fittings that are meant to counter the ships that opponents would fly as hard counters; for instance, fitting a Tornado with medium autocannons and dual webs while acting like you’re trying to keep long range in order to catch tacklers. But people build their own expectations into a fight, as well.
Sure, there’s ungrouping your guns and shooting with only one or two to lure your target into a false sense of security. There’s smack-talking in local to frustrate your opponent into taking an unfavorable engagement. But those are all at the time of the fight, and are very direct.
But is there a way to alter someone’s perception pre-fight about your abilities – to manipulate their mood so they fly more tentatively and make mistakes through inaction more than you otherwise would? Is there a way to do things that is more frightening than the way pilots usually fly?