Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Outgrowing Your Shell

We've all had some experience with hermit crabs. They're little crabs that seek the shelter of a conveniently local shell to live in until they grow too large and search for another, larger option. It's a balancing act between their size and their legs' ability to carry around more weight. So, every so often, you have to provide new, larger shells for your little critter to move into. One night he's scurrying around in smaller shell A, the next morning he's lumbering about in larger shell B.

It makes me wonder, what is it specifically that makes him decide, "Yup, I gots to move to a new house."  I'm sure there's a perfectly clear bodily reason why - perhaps the old shell starts to hurt and instinct drives him to look elsewhere. It's probably a pretty straightforward decision without much thought.

That couldn't be more different from pretty much everything we humans do. Often, change follows an exhaustingly thorough analysis of every nitpicking little detail, and we're still often uncomfortable with the decision until we see the effects some time down the road. I'm probably more guilty of this than most, what with my penchant for thinking things through more than is probably necessary.

So, when I sold off one of my PvP characters and decided to re-purpose Valeria, I'm sure you can imagine that it wasn't a simple decision. In the end, it was all about choices - the hallmark of Eve - and some of the upcoming changes about selling skillpoints and character sales.

When I first created Valeria, I wanted her to be a generalist, but I very quickly focused her towards becoming a master ratting character. That involved very heavy training in missiles and shields to make her an absolutely perfect Tengu HML pilot.  But, surprisingly, as I started to train her, I found that I just kept expanding her capabilities until I found her being able to fly nearly every T2 subcap below battlecrusiers. She could even fly a few capitals pretty well.

Meanwhile, I went on a little journey that saw me wind up with a 30-bil isk character that I only spend about 14 bil on after a series of purchases and sales of intermediate characters. I put him in Rapid Withdrawal, a great corp for getting quick fights that has active and engaged leadership (all the hallmarks of a great group of folks). While I enjoyed myself, more often than not I found myself not really logging in for fleets that much. My first priority was Adversity, and it occupied much of my Eve time (you can't really do two comms at once).

I started looking at that second character and thought to myself, "That's a big asset just sitting there right now." War Hippy was a great character (with an awesome name), but I just didn't need another combat character.

As I started looking at my character usage, I realized Valeria could do damn near everything War Hippy could.  In fact, she had pretty nicely outgrown the classification of "ratting alt" where she originally began, and was a full-fledged combat character in her own right. She was another dread and carrier alt. To my surprise, her profile looked an awful lot like War Hippy's, albeit with a battleship-sized gap in her training.

Then, CCP released their dev blog about exploring option around extracting and selling skillpoints. It appeared more and more as if mid-tier SP characters (between 50 and 70 mil) would become less valuable - too high to effectively infuse more sp, too low to be flexible enough to become new mains. My guess is that extracted sp will be selling cheaply at first as people glut the market with sp they don't need any longer, and increase in price over time as the supply settles to a reasonable level. But that might mean several months before I could get a reasonable return in a "sellable sp" world. Rather than take the risk on a character asset, I cashed out two days ago, selling War Hippy for 31 bil. He had 69 million sp.

As far as profits go, I made a mere 1 bil compared to my purchase price, but this article really isn't about the sale. What struck me was the giant blind spot in my thinking. I had pegged Valeria as fitting into a specific role, and had spent significant isk to buy another character for a "generalist" function, all while - over the course of four years - quietly training Valeria up to be a capable combat pilot.

You could say my OODA cycle didn't loop back on itself.  Maybe the fear of sellable sp costing me my investment spurred me to reassess my needs. Whatever it was, I'm flying a lot leaner now. Valeria is going to become a combat character for me, and I'll either buy a cheaper character for the ratting role, or wait until sellable sp becomes a reality and buy a chunk for one of my existing characters to fulfill that role.

No matter who you are, we all have blind spots that influence us. When we realize them, we often feel quite silly to have missed something so obvious.


  1. Interesting read, kinda makes me want to share my own experiences. So here goes.

    I myself have 3 characters, all that I created. My main is sitting somewhere around 86 million SP and can comfortably fly a good amount of T2 combat ships up to and including Marauders (excluding anything Minmatar). I can also fly a Legion and Confessor at level 5 and am working on the Tengu skills. Currently this character is focused on PvE content such as DED sites (mostly Highsec) and Epic arcs, with the occasional dips into wormhole space and ratting in Catch. I'm also part of small corp of mostly new players to the game and I've taken on the role of a mentor to them. I'm finding this quite enjoyable and even rejuvenating.

    My first alt started started out much like yours did - with a specific focus. I originally designed her as a mining character; however once I was comfortably able to fly Exhumers, I decided to branch out a bit and trained her as a Noctis pilot to help with salvaging the many missions my main was running at the time. Eventually my main's path diverged from hers (I joined Provi-block) and she remained in highsec - eventually gaining the ability to run level 4 missions on her own (and in a Rattlesnake at that). Now she's sitting somewhere around 66 million SP and something of a second main character in her own right - living on her own for the past several months out in the highsec island of Solitude and operating her own small POS without any outside help. I've recently had a desire to rejoin my Provi-block friends (now living in Catch), but with my main having recently become a mentor to a newbie corp, I've decided to send my alt to Nullsec for the first time in her life - leaving my now mostly inactive corp to join my friends in Catch.

    My third and final character was also designed with something specific in mind - Faction warfare. I played with that for a while, but eventually moved onto other things. Now this character, which sits on the same account as my alt, has about 10 million SP and not currently training anything. I've mostly been using him as a covert scout, and recently as the watchdog for an empty C1 wormhole that I stumbled upon, in which I'm taking my newbie corp members out to for a little fun once in a while.

  2. So just following along with your hermit crab analogy.

    What's the eve equivalent of moving into the rainbow coloured shell with googly eyes on it ? ;D