Thursday, May 19, 2016

Praise the Skill, Not the Form

A family vacation chained on top of a work trip (one day in between) left little computer time this past week, but I did have the opportunity to read an interesting post by Eve Hermit. In it, he responds to JohnnyPew’s opinion on what real solo PvP is. If you’re interested in the nuances among different definitions of “solo”, both are worth listening to.

What is solo PvP? There are a few definitions people tend to use:
  1. A single pilot flying without any support of any kind.
  2. A single combat pilot doing damage and applying effects.
  3. A single human fighting without the assistance of others.
It may seem like a difference in terminology only, but the ramifications are significant. The second and third options open up the possibility of using link alts or scouts to give an advantage, while the third option covers multiboxers, like Zosius, the very skilled writer of Cloaky Bastard.

Really, the question of what “true solo PvP” is comes down to gloating rights, in the end. At what point do you have the right to link the kill in Bringing Solo Back without it being a sad attempt to make yourself feel accomplished? Let me give you a few scenarios to consider:
  1. You fly two characters at once, your dps ship and a covops scanner as a scout. You jump your scout in and see three ships on the other side. You wait until your scout sees a single ship vulnerable and jump in, killing the ship and moonwalking out before the other two arrive to assist their friend.
  2.  You fly with two characters, a link alt and a Merlin. Using your links, your Merlin kills a Federation Navy Comet in a novice FW plex.
  3.  You control four characters, a cloaky tackle Proteus and three remote rep Dominixes. Using your Proteus, you find a fleet of four Tengus running a site in a WH. You tackle a couple with your Proteus, warp in your Domis, and kill the two of them, while their two friends escape.
  4.  You fly a Garmur and kill a series of ten T1 frigates in FW plexes, most of which are fitted with T1 modules.
So, which of these scenarios earn you the right to feel proud of yourself?

Flying a Garmur (a clearly overpowered ship) specifically so you can kill ships in novice plexes is a pretty low-risk way to fly, the equivalent of a bully shaking down the Chess club for its lunch money. That said, he did kill a series of ships.

What about the pilot using a scout to gain intel on the enemy? Without that scout, that pilot wouldn’t have ever jumped if he knew he was jumping into a gang. The fight only happened because he had real-time awareness of the opportunity. If a second character enables a fight to happen in the first place, does that negate the skill and guts shown by taking on a superior force?

What about the link alt? Pilots can gain an advantage by injecting drugs to boost their attributes; how is a link alt any different? Is it smart flying or an unfair advantage to have one ship half-way across the system enhance the abilities of your ship? (Yes, area-of-effect links are going to replace system-wide effects, but for the purposes of defining where your “line” lies, let’s use this example still).

And the multiboxer… have you ever tried multiboxing four ships in a combat situation? Sure, you benefit from perfect synchronization among all four, but you have to still command four clients at once, all of which are subject to the human limitations of entering keystrokes. In our situation, wormhole Tengus tend to be well-tanked and fit, but being jumped by the unknown carries a disadvantage as well.

Which of these situations is praise-worthy and impressive? In which do the pilots involved have a right to feel proud of their kills?

It’s a hard question, and no matter what anyone says, it’s pure opinion. For my part, I tend to highly value skill, in whatever form. Using a scout to pounce on a larger gang? I can respect that, particularly since the scout provides no boost once combat begins, only a boost in choosing the moment of attack. And, having tried multiboxing and given it up due to its difficulty, I highly respect multiboxers. It takes guts to put a few billion in ships on the line all at the same time.

But on the other side of the coin, I just can’t get behind links. To me, they aren’t the same as drugs, since drugs have the random chance of side-effects that hamper you, unlike links. But even I can be impressed by a solo combat pilot using links against five or six other pilots at once who manages to run the table.  Nor do I have much respect for anyone who flies the OP-ship-of-them-month, like the Garmur or Svipul, and tries to claim some right to praise in Bringing Solo Back. Oh, so you used an OP ship to kill an inferior target? Do tell me more…

Ultimately, pride and respect stem from displays of skill, and some actions in Eve rob you of that by replacing uncertainty with safety. Anyone can kill a hauler, but if you do it with another hauler… mining barges that kill their attackers… aggressors who manage to kill an expensive bait ship despite the cavalry arriving to assist it… those are the stories that make you shake your head in wonder.

I honestly don’t understand the mindset of people who want to win even when winning is robbed of any meaning, though I see it all the time. I play chess online on an app that has a tricky thing you can do to break connection, yet still trick the client into believing your opponent timed out. A lot of times, when you start to pull ahead, the other player will suddenly stop making moves – your signal that he’s trying to avoid the loss on his record by using that trick. I don’t understand that… does the loss on your record really matter that much? Whether it’s recorded or not doesn’t change the fact that you were losing, and in doing that trick, you lose any chance to battle back and turn the tables.

So, for me, solo PvP is choosing to embrace the risk of having no back-up. The solo PvP we should admire, however, depends on the skill demonstrated by the pilot. No skill, no respect. I don’t much care how you do it, so long as you aren’t replacing the risk inherent in forsaking allies with a safety net, a slanted playing field, or another means of guaranteeing your win.

But that’s me.


  1. I'm honored for you to consider me on somewhat skilled part of the table. Just to add my view on topic:

    There are different settings where different part of skills show up. Someone focusing on frigate pvp will have different skill set than someone doing wormhole pvp. I think people often neglect the importance of surroundings awareness, dos and don'ts and so on. End result is a kill, but what was the journey for that kill to happen is very important. Sure people might see 4 ships gang one and not be impressed, but they may not know what was done to make it happen. My point being - the kill does not always show the real picture.

    1. Agree completely. It's actually incredibly difficult to catch targets in Eve. Someone like Stunt Flores, who killed 50 ratters in a couple days, can be admired not for the kinds of targets he kills (ratters are typically easy marks), but the quantity he's able to set up and his senses in not taking bait.

  2. In your examples only the Garmur pilot is solo, 1 single human controlling 1 single in game character, that is solo, people can argue semantics and this and that and they have the right to their opinion (no matter how wring it is )

    Solo - a thing done by one person unaccompanied, in particular:

    The fact that he is, as you say using a overpowered ship to kill people in novice plexes is irrelevant, that is outside the scope of what constitutes solo. 1 player, using multiple ships, be it a scout, or link is not solo, he is accompanied, sure not by other humans, but by other characters in game, hence not alone, and therefore not solo.

    1. I agree. Too often, we conflate the definition of a thing with the meaning of a thing. In the case of solo, solo PvP is meant to be a high-skill activity, but solo PvP so often not that at all. It can be solo, yet be without all the characteristics that make solo so admired.

    2. ...hey have the right to their opinion (no matter how wring it is...

      LOL... Someone died and made steev Bob? just LOL...

      I do agree more with Tal than any other chain of rhetoric I have heard yet. Praise be... =]

  3. Links isn't solo, scouts aren't solo, multiple DPS ships are. Links and scouts give you an extra advantage, more DPS ships just expand your engagement range.

  4. It's entirely relative to the definition you choose. I think it's pretty simple, there are two variables. A pilot and a ship. Solo would mean one pilot and one ship, by my definition.

  5. Potato, tomato academic BS.

    Where what is deemed solo or not solo is concerned I am always tempted to say: "So what!?"

    I play mostly on my own. There are things one cannot do on you own and that is a restriction (necessary one I think).

    Then there are things I can do with a single ship, things that take at least two (lets say a scout, boost, logi, extra dps), and things that take more (even more logi, dps, hauling(scout/cyno/jumpfreighter/webber combos).

    Someone deems any of the latter categories "not solo"? Ok. But really, so what?

  6. Who cares when off-grid links are getting removed anyway! woohoo!

    Then we just need logi on killmails and we'll at least know who/what is involved in any given fight