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I focus almost exclusively on PvP, whether solo, small gang, or large bloc warfare. In the past, I've been a miner, mission runner, and faction warfare jockey. I'm particularly interested in helping high-sec players get into 0.0 combat.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Managing Boredom

As a student of history, I’ve often heard the phrase, “The Wheel of Fortune turns.”  Fortune is cyclical, like a wheel rolling along the ground.  We ride the wheel to its peak, then are carried back down to the ground again.  Nowhere is this truer than in Eve.

Bad thinking compounds loss after loss, making you feel awful at this game.  The next moment, you start a string of successful kills and unlikely escapes.  Recently, I’ve been having a very good run; I haven’t suffered any losses for quite a while and have even avoided hot drops and gate camps.  But as they say in hockey, “You’re never playing as well or as badly as you think you are.”  My luck will turn again.

The trick with fortune is to make decisions only when you’re on the way up or on the way down.  Changing course at the bottom can cause you to replace good habits with bad, and changing at the top can cause you to over-step your skill and abilities, to ruinous financial effect.

But if there is such a thing as the “Wheel of Boredom”, it’s a whole different kettle of fish.

From time to time, everyone faces the ugly spectre of boredom.  Our human brains are wired to seek out new stimuli to provide new challenges.  And Eve players in particular abuse themselves with a game that is insanely complicated and multi-faceted, making us even more desirous of variation.  So, given enough time, no matter what you’re doing, you’ll face the Boredom Hurdle.

For players who are only interested in one aspect of Eve, that moment can be the end of their time in New Eden.  If you play Eve for the missions, you’re consuming a finite amount of content.  Once you consume it all (more accurately, once you repeat enough missions often enough that you start to feel bored), there’s little for you to do but repeat.  Interaction with a single scripted experience in which you’re consuming content has a natural end, after which you let your subscription lapse, feeling as if you’ve “done it all”.

My last post talked about how important it was for Eve to offer a wide variety of touch-points for players to connect with.  Not everyone will find each aspect of Eve equally interesting, but by offering as many elements as possible, players can seek out those that appeal to them.  And every additional element players engage with is another element that will immunize them from succumbing to boredom.

But you’ve got to be willing to explore.  Try new things, travel around, and break out of your routine.  Earlier this year, I became disenchanted with sov null-sec and joined a wormhole corporation for a few weeks (and when I left, not only did I NOT scam them, but I left them my tower and some fuel for their use too).  I felt refreshed at having done something different.

Now, you don’t need to do something so extreme (setting yourself up in a WH while you’re in the same corp would work just fine).  The key isn’t cutting off ties, but changing routines.  If you regularly log in and warp around the same patch of space, next time travel in a straight line in an empty clone and continue until you die.  Try your hand at killing sleepers.  Fly out in a bait miner and wait to become someone’s victim.

Actively seeking out different touchpoints is the key.  A lot of Eve players have alts in a variety of corporations to engage with different parts of the game.  It’s not unusual for the same player to have a miner, a mission runner, a null-sec ratter, a PvPer, a hauler, a market trader, a couple cyno characters, and a capital pilot.  Most don’t play all of them on a consistent basis, but switch off as the spirit moves them.

I personally have null-sec ratting, null fleet PvP, low-sec roaming PvP, market trading, and moon mining corp characters.  Talvorian began as a mission runner (5.0 Caldari faction standings and multiple 8.0 corp standings, bro!) and miner, and still has those skills if I ever wanted to go back to it.  Four of my characters are skilled for data and relic sites.  I have a corp CEO character who can drop towers and scan down exits if I want to move into wormholes.

And while I don’t play them all equally, I do play them all from time to time.  Sure, Talvorian is my main, and I use him for the things I think will be the most long-term, but that doesn’t mean I’d enjoy the game as much if I only flew him.

And for those who hold to the “chief good” approach and believe one part of the game is superior to all others (like me), I submit this thought: even though you may choose filet mignon as your last meal, you can still enjoy salmon or pizza on occasion.

Any interaction that relies on another human mind will be far more valuable and unpredictable than a scripted experience (the mind being a source of infinite variety, and all), but even predictable events can be enjoyable distractions.  And that distraction can be the difference between quitting the game out of boredom and a enjoyable distraction that leaves you refreshed when you return to your primary activity.

1 comment:

  1. Tal,

    I appreciate you restricting your ‘chief good’ fetish for the end of the post. That said, and as odd as it sounds, I’m about to quibble that your exploration in this post isn’t being bold enough. Quoting you, “Interaction with a single scripted experience in which you’re consuming content has a natural end, after which you let your subscription lapse, feeling as if you’ve ‘done it all’.” For lack of better words, your statement accurately describes what happens when entertainment is treated as mere consumable - titillating for a while but not long lasting. You’re response to the resulting ‘boredom hurdle’ is variety and that’s good as far as it goes but it doesn’t really get at the root of the matter. The deep difficulty with treating entertainment as mere consumable isn’t that one all to quickly grows bored, it’s that such consumption doesn’t *mean* anything and it’s that lack of meaning which explains why one grows bored. We’re humans; life filled with meaning is what truly engages us, not moment to moment titillation (as momentarily enjoyable as that is).

    Accordingly PvE with meaning behind it is much better approach than the amusing variety path. Fortunately, last I heard, FozzieSov introduces just such meaning. Mining and ratting helps hold sov. CCP would do well to consider emphasizing similar meaning aspects of PvE throughout the game.