Last night some Washington DC and N. Virginia EVE players met downtown and I decided to track in from Maryland to see whats it like meeting fellow pilots. Chaoticc from Adhocracy Inc had set it up and even CSM member Alekseyev Karrde appeared with a tray of his famous cupcakes.
I was not sure what to expect. This was the first time I met EVE Players in a blob and I had no idea of the etiquette. Will people use real names (fine-ish by me) or will they use game names? Will there be pilots from opposing nullsec factions engaging is fist fights? Will the wormhole guy quickly sit in the corner, eyes darting worrying about getting decloaked in the masses? Will a low sec pirate appear with grand swagger, a belt full of pistols and a parrot on his shoulder? Will be waylaid by a Goon on the way pretending to need change and scamming me out of $20? Will the industrial guy appear with 15 identical copies of himself, all synchronously lifting their glasses?
So, I walk to the little bar and see guys milling outside. They look normal and therefore I don’t think its my group so I pass them. Until I hear the word “tweetfleet” which made me walk back. Yes, there is tray of cupcakes and yes, these normal looking guys are EVE players.
Introductions. Aleks’ needed none, guardian of the cakes and with “Noir” corporate shirts. Others did and man, EVE names are hard to hear and remember in the ante-chamber of some rowdy bar. Of course everyone also introduced themselves with their corps and Alliances. And that’s where the other problem came up. I know nothing about EVE.
Let me rephrase. The game EVE Online is so big and so deep that you can happily live in one corner and never venture beyond a few core systems and core activities if that is your thing. I have spent most of my time in Wormhole Space – specifically C2 and C4 and am blissfully ignorant of any other space people live in. Most of these guys are hardcore nullsec veterans with corp and Alliance names that mean exactly nothing to me. Once guy flies with Fatal Ascension. I think they are allied with Goons, right? (its a safe bet, most people are). Somebody else mentions the name of his corp and has the look of a puppy on their face that brought a newspaper. He wants to be patted now. But I have no friggin’ idea what that corp is / was / where they are and what they do. Should I say “oh cool, I heard about you, awesome”? While lying comes naturally to me its risky. EVE Players ask questions and I would not be able to answer.
So. I nod. And ask. And then they stare at me first with this slightly hostile look, “how dare you not know my corp, I shall furnish my killboard with you, carebear!” but then resign into “noob education mode”, taking pity on me and list the regions of nullsec they live in. Which again means nothing to me. But I nodd. They have exlained, I understood. We are happy.
And then they ask me what I do – thats where it gets slightly depressing. For >1 year now I lived in a single wormhole. The EVE veterans ask me “which corp, which alliance, what WH class?”. But we are not Transmission Lost. We are not Exhale. We are “Illusion of Solitude” of which nobody has heard of and we live in a C2 and a C4 which nobody cares about. That confirms that I am total noob in this game and my veterans mutter polite things about their time in the lower class wormholes. “oh yes, I used t enjoy living there until I flew with [insert famous corp name here] and we evicted [insert some other famous name] from their C5 – 200 pilots, had a blast.”
Its not that they are mean or lying (I believe them), it just our lifestyle in the C2 is so far below their radar that they can not envisage it as anything else but a stepping stone to bigger and better things. I fire a parting shot. “Our corp used to be Jadecougar’s corp, you know, Jade from the Podcast Lost in EVE?”. Blank stares. Nobody (even Aleks) had ever heard of Jade.
Ok, I assume the position. I have been in this game for >3 years (January 2010 was “birth of my main character but that was not my first) and been fairly active. But last night, I proudly carried the noob flag and listen into their conversations about hot-dropping 50 Blackops ships, opening a Titan bridge, reinforcing entire regions and being involved in fleets with so much time dilation that you could get a coffee between shots. None of which I have experienced in 3 years of flying. I feel totally inadequate. I mean, what have I been spending my time on?
Well, I have seen plenty of sleepers, way too many Command Centers, mission rats, WHs close up standing guard and recruit’s APIs. I helped to build a couple of corporations in their Wormholes, know a lot about theft and team management and have always been on the brink of “almost” going out of business. I have seen a handful of smart ambushes. I have dropped on a few haulers and enjoyed the assassination-style PvP. I am a (relative) expert scout and generally link human nature with in-game activity. I have had my backside handed to me a few times but not as often as one might expect.
In other words, I am pretty good in what I do, just what I do is so niche in this game that in last night’s blob, it didn’t really matter.
And later night, the chats turned really interesting. We had a very detailed and smart discussion about EVE Industry and economy. Aleks’ listed a total overhaul of the resource management as his primary “Jesus Feature” going into quite some details on a vision for “Farms and Fields”. It struck me as odd coming from a Mercenary until I recalled that resources underlie every and all aspects of the game, the very nature of warfare and conflict which if course is the core of the game itself. An overhaul of that would change the game entirely, could redraw the maps of the powerblocs and either royally screw up the relationship between the players, CCP and the CSM or strengthen it. Thats why its a big deal and I am very glad at least one CSM member is interested in it.
POS design came up as well, which strikes me less of a big deal – odd considering I am the only one living in a POS full time – but the entire topic of player-built structures needs to be looked at, true. My argument, POS life is so painful, it keeps the goons out of Wormhole space….
I missed my chance to ask the veterans about their greater view of the game and the social aspects with real life. What does the game mean to them? How do the relationships and friendships they form feed into their real life? Do their work colleagues, family, friends know about their ambitions to conquer vast stretches, blow up helpless mission runners and steal everything they do? Are they representing themselves in real life like they do in game?
I missed asking these questions because I became fascinated by the dynamics of this group. Smart, highly educated folks speaking their own language (the non-EVE players seating on the tables behind us perked their ears when Alek’s relayed that his corp has a hangar full of corpses. I expected sirens and police cars based on that comment alone…) but there will be a next time soon.
So, thanks Chaoticc and the others for setting this up, it was a great experience and I never need much encouragement to go out and drink beer. And even better if it is with fellow space cadets who teach me an entirely new game.