In many cases, you only know how you’ll react in a PvP situation when you’re upon it. Sure, you can debate and analyze what you’d do in different situations, but not until we have only one second to analyze the situation and react do we know how quickly and efficiently we can process information and arrive at a conclusion.
Whether it’s the right conclusion depends on your “player age”, of course. If you’re new at the game, you’ll most likely make the wrong decision. As you play for longer, you gain experience and can react more appropriately.
There are some ways to speed up the learning process. One of them is to spend a lot of time in the game, PvPing as much as possible. Players who play for 8 hours a day will learn faster than players who spend 2 hours a day, but this isn’t as big of an advantage as you’d think. We all benefit from having a little time to mull over our actions, and sometimes playing non-stop can cause you to miss some of that reflection time. You can’t replay old fights over in your head if you’re too busy engaging in the next one.
And reflection is benefited greatly by Fraps. Seriously… get Fraps and record all your fights. You’ll notice things in the replay you missed during the fight itself – maybe as small as the alignment of your enemy to bigger things like how the way he approached secretly gave away how he was fit. After all, you’re not only learning tactics when you go over your fights, but you’re improving which information you choose to focus on amid all of the data streaming at you during a fight. Your eyes can only focus on one thing at a time, and you also have to learn where the most important info is likely to be coming from.
For me, I found a very rare occurrence that also taught me something. Last night, I dreamed about Sugar Kyle.
“She’s Hugging Me Tightly”
Yes, the double entendres are going to continue, so sit back and enjoy.
A lot of times, dreams are tricky. Our brains don’t usualy get the mechanics, physics, and cause & effect right. In my dreams, my guns and phasers never fire, my lightsaber doesn’t work, and my swords and knives all break. Technology always fails me, but oddly, my natural abilities are always better. I can throw people across the room with my mind, or I can channel energy like Bishop, or I can fly. Weird.
But none of that really mattered in this dream, which started with me jumping a carrier and two dreads through a gate. Yes, apparently I dream about Eve. And I was even chatting with the only other person in local: Sugar Kyle. We were chatting and sharing our perspectives about some topic or other.
And that’s when her interdictor popped on grid next to me, tackled my carrier, and dropped a bubble.
All Tease, No Tickle
Even though this is a dream, it still carries a lot of important lessons. The first, of course, is to always remember why players play Eve. The neutral chatting happily with you is not your friend in-game, even if the two of you know each other and chat in real life. That other player is trying to kill you.
Me putting Sugar Kyle in the role of my conversant-turned-enemy doesn’t reflect negatively on her or my opinion of her. I’d do the same in reality, as would she or any other player. If anything, it’s a sign of my respect, that I think she understands the game and that my subconscious happily places her in the role of “my friendly murderer”.
The lesson is very real, despite the surreal delivery. No matter how pleasing someone sounds who isn’t blue to you, that person will jump on any chance to kill you. They aren’t your friend when you’re in space. They’re a potential enemy. (As are blues who are acting suspiciously.)
Getting Back to the Cluster-Hump
Back to the dream. Even through my disembodied consciousness, I remember my pulse racing. I cooly aligned my dreads out as I realized my carrier would be in it for the long-haul. A few moments later, a small fleet – a half-dozen or so – came streaming in and primaried my carrier.
In Eve, I’ve never flown a triage carrier, though I’ve seen opponents do it, and do it well. Once, a Razor fleet of 30 tried to kill 6 triage carriers, but couldn’t kill them before help arrived even though we heavily neuted and bumped them. I know – intellectually – how to pulse a triage unit to take advantage of the full cycle so the reps at the end of the cycle aren’t wasted without providing value. But, again, I’ve never done it.
In my dream, I was able to do it effectively enough that I was able to clear off tackle from the two dreads and warp them to safety. I lost the carrier in the end, but I didn’t lose the dreads AND the carrier.
Sure, the mechanics, incoming DPS, and behavior of my opponents wasn’t at all accurate to what I’d experience in Eve – after all, it’s a story my mind created – but that doesn’t mean it was entirely worthless. Familiarity breeds comfort. This dream doesn’t give me familiarity with flying a triage carrier, but it does give me familiarity with risking an expensive ship and reacting in the face of the certainty of loss. For I distinctly remember the drop in the pit of my stomach in that dream when the carrier went down. I can attest that the feeling of losing 2-billion-isk worth of pretend space-bucks in Eve is the same as the feeling of losing 2-billion-isk worth of pretend space-bucks in a dream.
I’m not a great triage pilot because of a dream – I still have zero experience flying triage carriers in combat. But, oddly, I do feel more confidence in my ability to deal with unusual situations. I reacted with calm to an unfamiliar situation. Some of the cynical among you (or budding psychologists) might say I felt so calm because my mind generated the scenario and knew how it would play out. I don’t hold with this, since the subsconscious and conscious minds are in many ways completely separate. Nor do I believe that was what I was experiencing since my reaction in “real-Eve” situations is similar. I don’t tend to panic, and I don’t tend to freeze up. Make a decision, even if it’s the wrong one.
But I still do get nervous the first time I fly a particular ship, or any time I fly a billion-isk-plus ship. So I’m going to call this a learning experience, even if nothing real was on the line. Otherwise, I’m just really weird for dreaming about Eve.
Not for dreaming about Sugar, of course.