I've been spending a lot of time working on standardizing the format and content of the PvE guides I transferred over from the Evelopedia, which has now been discontinued. So, you could say that I've had a heavy PvE focus over the past few days. I've held off on posting other articles that might get lost within the pool of PvE guides.
(Note: The main Cosmic Signature Guide is also linked to the right on the web version of the site. Bookmark it, use it, help me improve it.)
But I've also done some PvP recently - including a fleet of low-sec shenanigans that left me with a loot-filled cargohold - and made my way up to Vale of the Silent for some action in my trusty Stratios. At the same time, I was running a Guristas Military Operations Complex (the five-room site) on my ratting alt, alt-tabbing every so often to verify local was clear and I wasn't in trouble.
Now, typically, I don't have much problem dual-boxing wildly different accounts. I have to pay a little more attention right at the beginning of a cosmic signature room as I clear the frigs (they get one-shotted, so I have to lock a bunch of ships very quickly), but once I work my way to the battleships, there's a lot of waiting. PvP actually fits into that nicely.
In this case, though, I jumped into a new system with Talvorian and pinpointed an Ishtar on dscan at a Forsaken Hub. Hitting warp, I switched over to check on my ratting alt as Talvorian started to accelerate. As I did, a neutral entered local where I was ratting.
A dilemma. I was about to land on a ratter in my PvP Stratios on Talvorian, while my billion-isk Tengu was potentially at risk. I'd like to say I calculated the potential loss for the Tengu against the likelihood of being hit. I was in the second room, so while I'd have some safety from someone needing to probe down the site, warp to it, burn to another acceleration gate, take that, then burn to my ship.
But people don't make logical decisions. I didn't think about any of that. In fact, I didn't think at all, but simply reacted. I alt-tabbed back to Talvorian instantly and without hesitation, and began to burn into point range under cloak. In the end, he warped away when I was still 50 km away, and the chance for a kill wasn't really there.
But I thought it was, and even when faced with the possibility of a significant loss, I still focused on the "aggression" role over the "protection" role. It didn't even get to the point of me needing to think it through.
And that's simultaneously a comforting and surprising revelation. On the one hand, no matter what we do in game, we maintain a core focus that sticks with us throughout our time in New Eden. Not everything we can or choose to do is equal; we prioritize and emphasize some of our actions over others. For me, it's reassuring to know my priorities are still in-line; I haven't become obsessed with accruing assets to the point that I've lost focus on what matters most to me.
Often when discussing PvE vs PvP, or high-sec vs. null-sec density, folks focus on pure numbers. How many players are in high-sec? How much time do people spend PvEing? I've always maintained the belief that this is the wrong approach, because not all activities are equal in the minds of all players. A PvPer - a true PvPer who views that as the apex activity - may spend 10% of his/her time PvPing and searching for PvP, yet it's no less valued for scarcity. Aristotle characterized it as the intrinsic good vs. the instrumental good - the instrumental good is higher on the priority list than the intrinsic good, because it identifies the "chief good" that all other support.
That's different for each player, of course. Some people PvP solely to make their space safe so they can rat, or to discourage war decs. Some people play Eve only for the community aspect; they could be doing anything, so long as they can chat with their friends.
I'm always pleased when I can validate that I truly believe the things I say and the stances I take. This situation - defying logic to focus on PvP at the risk of much more significant loss - gives me that reality check that I'm honest with myself; I may makes mistakes and interpret things incorrectly, but I can rest assured that that's the result of errors, imperfect information, or bad judgment. I don't have blinders on, or am at war with myself.
And that's a comforting thought.
On the other hand, though, it also moves us into uncomfortable territory. If people don't make decisions based on logic and rationality, what DO they base them. What becomes the point of discussion, argumentation, and inquiry?
After all, I was facing a loss of about 1.6 billion - 1.1 for the ship and another 500 million for the pod. For what, a 250 mil kill under the best circumstances, and a possible 350 mil loss if the target was actually bait? Am I simply insane? And if I am, isn't everyone, then?
At least, that's a conclusion people could arrive at. It's wrong, of course, as are the majority of cost-value analyses you see in game. After all, it only measures the isk value. How do you value the shakes? What amount of economic utility do you derive out of an adrenaline rush? How valuable is the prospect of uncertainty, the courage to rush into the unknown with confidence, or the desire to genuinely improve how you do tasks?
Compared to those, isk is meaningless. And it's part of why so many arguments fail. "Solving" war decs by upping the cost won't work; the content is more precious than the cost. Reducing payouts for certain activities in high-sec isn't going to push them into null - the intangibles of high-sec missions to a high-sec player are more valuable than any offset isk costs.
Eve is often called "spreadsheets in space" in reference to the measuring, calculation, and analysis that goes into actions to arrive at the "optimal" approach. But all of these calculations utterly neglect the intangibles that matter far, far more than any calculations. Those intangibles are the premises upon which everything is built. I don't hot-drop because I don't find it that engaging. Is it isk-efficient? You betcha. So is being in Marmite Collective and harvesting drops and tears on the Jita undock. That sort of gameplays fails for me for all the intangible reasons, and that rules my decisions.
Eve is a game of intangibles. In an open-world game, success is not based on a quantifiable measure, but rather on how you feel, how satisfied you are with the experience, and the passion it instills in you. THAT is the one truth of Eve; we each are the integral component of our Eve game - not mechanics changes, cool toys, or alliance ownership.
Eve is the quintessential libertarian game not because it espouses certain political or mechanical principles, but rather because everything boils down to the individual playing it. Are you unhappy in Eve? It's your fault, not someone else's, not the mechanics', and not the devs' fault. It exposes our souls for us to see - if only we're looking in the right way. Eve is a powerful tool to look into the human psyche, never more so than when we analyze why we do what we do.
Eve is the subjective intangible. Maybe that's why CCP has had such a hard time identifying "what Eve is"; it is what we each make of it, conceived differently for each of us, and structured according to the terrain of our own minds. Through Eve, we can see our own natures.
And in my case, what I see is intensely satisfying, filled with imperfection, yet beautiful.