60 million skill points

The second post of the “Why I left BRAVE” series is.. in the works. I thought it’d be done by now but I have not liked anything I’ve written. I’ve completely started over on it 3 or 4 times now and every time it comes across to myself as whiny.

So, since it’s now been over 2 weeks and I am again not keeping up with things, a lighter matter. I just passed 60 million skill points.

This really seems like a major milestone to me, mainly because I have filled in a lot of goals. I have not started on capitals at all except for a little training of related skills, so this is all focused on subcaps and other needs. So, what can I do?

Well, I have pretty good Planetary Interaction and even a little research agent and a smattering of social, business, and industrial skills either from messing around with it or because they pertained to basic mission and market functions. That’s the extent of my non-combat skills. I’ve remained fairly focused.

I can also fly mining barges, Ventures, and all Gallente industrials other than the freighter and jump freighter.

For combat ships.. let’s see. No capitals yet. I’m about to start training the skills though, once Sentry Drone Interfacing V finishes. In fact, that’s a good place to start. I can use every weapon system in the game except smartbombs, which for some reason I have not trained at all. I can use all subcapital sizes of hybrids and projectiles at Tech II; all small and medium drones at Tech II, medium lasers of both types, light missiles, heavy assault missiles, and cruise missiles at Tech II. I have almost all V’s in gunnery support skills; only 2 of them are at 4 and generally 4’s in missile and drone support skills.

As far as the actual ships, 60 million SP roughly coincided with a goal that had been put off over and over again and I finally forced myself to get back to – Minmatar Cruiser V. I had started training it over a year ago, and then put it aside just under half done.. over and over and over again. This was a major goal for me because it was the last Tech 1 piloting skill for a class smaller than a battleship that I did not have at V.

This means it’s actually easier to list what I can’t fly than can. Other than capitals and noncombat ships, I cannot fly Marauders other than the Kronos, Black Ops Battleships, Command Ships, the Legion, the Loki, the Confessor and the upcoming Svipul. Everything else I can fly with at least a III in the relevant Tech II skills, more often IV.

Right now, Sentry Drones are the order of the day, and then my next goal will be the Naglfar, starting on capitals. I do want BLOPS and Command Ships, but they will have to wait.

I’m at an odd point right now. There are a lot of skills like Interceptors I could train to V in fairly short order (for a V) but sooo many cap skills.. but those need V’s too for so many of them and they take soooo long. Capitals are something I want to do for the alliance. I do not really want to fly them a lot and supercapitals are not something I want at all. So.. obligation first, or wants? Command ships and BLOPS only make things harder.. they fit into both. what next, what next?

Where will I sit in a year?

Outside Factors

I am going to talk about why I left BRAVE/HERO.  That, however, is a big topic – and some of it is factors from outside BRAVE that they cannot control or could not foresee, or that are simply part of a trade-off.

So, this first portion is about those outside factors.

Before I get into that, I have to point something out – this is not a critique of BRAVE, it is not “what they are doing wrong” and it is definitely not “ZOMG they are fail!”.  BRAVE has things about it that are problematic, it also has things that are fine but Kiryen just doesn’t like a lot.  The things I’m talking about here are things I don’t like – whether they are good, bad, or indifferent.  This is about my reasons for leaving.  It is not BRAVE’s responsibility to tailor itself to my wants.

So, into the meat of things.

Content farm

First, BRAVE has, ever since I joined, been the preferred target for people looking for content.  In a sense, that’s good; there were always fights to be had.  However, it’s also problematic – there’s always fights to be had.  This is on the individual scale – Catch’s position combined with the desire for fights on the part of everyone else in nullsec means basic income generation is WAY harder than elsewhere.  It’s also on the alliance scale – the BRAVE war with Provibloc degenerated into N3 and PL indirectly fighting each other because they just could not stop pointlessly third-partying onto stuff.

Since I left, it seems only to have gotten worse – PL still attacking BRAVE just to have someone to attack, but not really following through because beating BRAVE means eliminating what little content they have.  Of course what they don’t realize is that continuously weakening BRAVE slowly is likely to result in the same thing, at someone else’s hands.  At a certain point, if you want to have content you need to let the content exist.

Playing defense

The corollary to the above is that you’re always fighting on your own territory.  Aside from an occasional roam, it’s the same repetitive defensive fights over and over again.  Granted, sov is a morass of timer grinding anyhow, but when it’s in the same systems over and over and over again, that only compounds things.

Staging

Ours and theirs

The entire time I was there we had N3 jump bridge systems sprinkled through Catch, which was a major contributing factor to the content farm.  FAT-6P was a major hub – and also the sole system in which escalations off anoms in my home system appeared so you could forget ever DOING any.  With Phoebe that dropped off a great deal- but then we couldn’t use our own jump bridges to avoid the endless gangs roving around the main staging system.

In fact, the more I look at it the more it sticks out – everyone is just up in BRAVEs ass all the time.  BRAVE isn’t firmly aligned with any top-tier power block.  Sort of, but not quite, so anyone in nullsec can come fight them without worrying that they might inadvertently trigger another B-R.  This isn’t precisely a problem with BRAVE or even anyone else; it’s a problem with EVE’s meta, and it isn’t even bad.  It just gets tiresome after a while hearing that nullsec is endless swathes of empty space, ripe for nullbearing it up while you’re stuck with 5 million a tic average in your Sacrilege because there’s a roam coming through every 15 minutes.

Or to put it another way, after a while you want the fights to be on your terms, and you want to be the one farming the content rather than being farmed.

Clarification

I really need to get some posts in about Elder Scrolls Online.  I also need to probably clarify my last post a bit, since after 2 days I feel like I was ranting a bit.

I am not what I would consider a “conservative”.  Europeans might think I am, but European politics are heavily skewed left, having trended that way progressively harder and harder as WWII has faded into history.  I’m much more a center-right person, and how liberal or conservative I am depends on the issue.  It also tends to have a lot of nuance.  For example, I very much favor same-sex marriage, but I oppose getting it through the courts, because I feel that tolerance and acceptance of same-sex couples will be greater if the issue is addressed through referendum or the legislature.

In the present clime, I don’t feel that it’s that women or minorities face no issues; it’s that I don’t feel it’s possible to even identify those issues because so many people advocating for women, blacks, gay folks, etc. are so completely unwilling to engage in dialogue.  These voices have acquired a habit of simply identifying anything that isn’t to the advantage of their group, or that they don’t like and slapping the label of bigotry on it.

In EVE terms, calling your opponent a bigot and associating them with all of that baggage has simply come to dominate the political meta.  If you are not doing that, you’re stupid.  There are signs of change.  People are starting to get tired of it.  Moreover, the habit of trying to link ALL minorities together as if they were all united against the Straight White Male Boogeyman is becoming harder and harder to do.

Of course, the tactic of just repeating talking points is hardly unique to the left.. or even to politics.  If you go to the EVE forums, you can find endless repetition of bullshit talking points by CODE, people opposed to interceptor interdiction nullification, or the sort of idiot that thinks Ripard Teg is a horrible person for Erotica 1’s ban and the loss of “sandbox gameplay” in the bonus room that didn’t actually involve playing the game.

The problem with leftists and victim-group advocates is with their fundamental unfairness and hypocrisy and attempts to dress up special privileges for some groups as a form of equality.  Here’s a clue, leftists – you are creating the right-wingers you worry about so much. When you should down the middle and the center-right as racists or sexists for pointing out your excesses you should not be surprised when they turn back up as far-right-wingers.  Dealing with you has become a matter of fighting fire with fire.

Gamergate

This controversy first appeared shortly after I started this blog, and initially I didn’t write about it because A) it seemed for more oriented on smaller games than major MMOs and franchises like The Elder Scrolls, B) It was initially rather hard to actually get a handle on what it was all about and C) I did not want to start off on a note of politics.

TMC and Forbes have both had very good – if quite different – takes on the issue, and elements of both I agree with.

I suppose its best to take these issues piece by piece, so here goes:

In regard to Quinn’s alleged cheating and the larger issue of corruption in the gaming press.. I honestly do not really give a shit.  Much of the gaming ‘media’ does not really have a fucking clue what it’s talking about, and are ‘journalists’ to about the same degree as I am – they’re just people exercising Freedom of the Press – which, by the way, is what blogging falls under, not Freedom of Speech, but that’s neither here nor there.

Back when Elder Scrolls Online was coming out – right before, or right after – there was a regular YouTube game reviewer who roundly criticized the game for various reasons.. actually there were a lot of these, but I’m thinking of one in particular and actually finding the same video again is beyond my skills.  While a few of his criticisms had merit, the vast majority amounted to “This game is awful because it does not slavishly obey my ideas of what an MMO should have”, and many of his criticisms were either fundamentally inaccurate or contradicted each other.  It wasn’t so much “have you actually PLAYED the game” so much as it was obvious that he had made up his mind beforehand that it would be awful, and set out to confirm it.

Then, I noticed a second, shorter video from him and I watched it, seeing as it was short.  This second video only touched on ESO, but it related to responses to the first video where people had pointed out the problems with his coverage.  His second video amounted to “Don’t blame the gaming press for bad reviews!  It isn’t our fault games suck!”

No, it isn’t, but it is the fault of the gaming press that the gaming press sucks.  Not all of it, of course.  EVE has some of the best gaming press out there, Tamriel Foundry is a wonderful site for ESO, and people like HuskyStarCraft  who specialize in a single game, or Dodger Leigh who is just a genuinely nice person and doesn’t talk down to her audience.

Unfortunately, however, most of the “gaming media” does talk down to their audience, and often hilariously badly becuase for the most part the gaming media has no idea what it’s talking about.  Huge swathes of material is written as if the reader had never played anything beyond Candy Crush (or Pac Man if you’re my age) and needs the game explained in complete basics, and when you do get more in-depth material such as the aforementioned YouTube video you are hard-pressed to find someone who is not simply pompously blathering on in order to hear himself talk.  If the point of gaming media is to give us some idea of what is out there so we don’t have to play every game ourselves just to decide if we like it, then it’s defeating itself by burying anything remotely useful or intelligent under barrels and barrels of hogwash.

As to Quinn herself, who she does or does not fuck and her “wallow in your psychological issues game” of Depression Quest really don’t concern me in the least.  For that matter, I have a pretty hard time taking the “threats” against her seriously and while I think they’re pretty appalling, they are made by internet tough guys.  Yes, one might be a nut and follow through, but if he’s that nuts, he’s eventually going to try to kill someone somewhere anyhow and this would just be the convenient excuse.  Internet Tough Guys, however, are the internet version of the guy that likes to act like Billy Badass at the local bar but shuts right up when the cops walk in.  I know Billy Badass because I’ve arrested him quite a few times.  Yes, people are making horrible threats on the internet.  Some of them use the phone, or do various electronic attacks.. because they’re anonymous.  They are not going to firebomb your house, Zoe.

Now, on to the next part.  My lack of sympathy for Zoe is heavily informed by the Fine Young Capitalists angle, especially after hearing an interview of one of them on Honey Badger Radio. While they call themselves “radical feminists” I found him to be quite articulate and reasonable – and if anyone is inclined to dismiss that (lengthy) interview because ZOMG antifeminst MRA misogynist apologists!! well.. you’re part of the reason you see these people making incoherent ranting threats.  Feminism, and the left in general, are so used to shouting down everyone that disagrees with them by inventing some new form of bigotry to label them with that there’s often no point in rational discourse.  Some of these people evidently feel they may as well troll and make vile threats because hell, if they typed well-thought-out arguments, logically presented they’d still get called misogynist assholes.

Zoe decided, evidently, to get into a controversy with the FYC’s over their alleged treatment of transgendered folks.  Essentially it came down to the FYCs wanting a way to determine if people who “identified as female” really did, or were just males trying to get in on the contest for some reason.  Anyone who does not think this is a problem.. try playing EVE.  If you PLAY EVE and think this is not a problem, I’d like you to know it’s safe to autopilot your neutral freighter through CFC Sov space, too.  Please, by all means; the space highway is a public service.

Finally, there is the whole Social Justice Warrior/Ignorant Geek comparison, and the “misogyny” and so forth.

#GamerGate has plenty of misogynistic comments, but actual misogynists are… pretty rare.  In fact, they’re pretty rare anywhere, much like actual racists are near-nonexistent anymore.  You can still find residual racist effects that are the product of past racism (poverty among minorities is generational, and hard for families to get out of; it is not a result of active discrimination right now.) and you can find occasional misogyny and sexism, but real bigots are the boogyman these days.  These people are not misogynists, they’re trolls, and if you’re a feminist, you’re very vulnerable to this kind of trolling.

This habit, in fact, of simply assigning a label as a hater to anyone you disagree with and never acknowledging social progress of any kind has become part and parcel of leftist politics ever since the 1980s when the Women’s movement and Civil Rights movement had had about 20 years to have an effect.  In the mid-late 1980s, society was very much turning a corner on many of these issues – but social change is gradual, and like a parent that is still telling a kid who is old enough to drive that bed time is 9:00, the left hasn’t noticed.  Instead, it’s substituted newer and ever-more-absurd sensitivities to try to keep the political capital of fighting for the oppressed alive.  This is where we get the Anita Sarkeesians of the world – they are professional umbrage-takers who contribute absolutely nothing to society except to cover their personal hypersensitivity with a veneer of science and research and then loudly and moralistically preach about it.

This is what gets people labelled as Social Justice Warriors, and speaks to a problem highlighted in the Forbes article above – the gaming press, and most of the organized discussion on this issue is driven by a heavy leftist bias.  Unfortunately, the #GamerGate supporters deserve their own share of blame for totally failing to get organized, not only meaning no effective counter has been made, but also not getting the aforementioned trolls and Internet Tough Guys to shut the fuck up.

What’s unfortunate is that moderate, or even liberal but reasonable voices like Dodger Leigh’s get sucked into the overall umbrella of “feminist” because people actually still think feminism ever had anything to do with equality – which it doesn’t.  It has to do with “equal rights” which is great, except that “equal rights” means equal responsibilities, and feminists have studiously avoided that.  One need only look at the Duke or UVA rape scandals to see examples.

People like Dodger are really egalitarians, not feminists, despite what the definition of a feminist is in the dictionary.  It’s pretty much impossible that as inherently gynocentric a word as “feminist” would ever actually be about equality; claiming that it is is sort of like opening up Das Kapital and claiming that’s how communism actually works in practice.

The other side of this is the idea of games as a “male space” that need to be more “female friendly”.  The Forbes article, again, says it best, and I’ll quote:

I’ve heard from many readers claiming they have no problem with more women and gay people represented in games; they simply don’t want every game to be critiqued based on these factors. I’ve heard from others who readily admit that they miss the days when games were more male-centric. One reader emailed to say that he has no problem with women, but video games were a nice boys club of sorts, a refuge from women where the boys could play for a while undisturbed.

For quite a few people, any “boy’s club” means something reminiscent of the Tailhook Scandal.  It’s something do be dismantled because no doubt those boys are sitting around being.. well, boys, and probably in a sexist manner!  This attitude isn’t limited to feminists; quite a few moderate and even anti-feminist people are all to quick to decry a “boy’s club” despite the fact that any “girl’s club” of any sort is generally accepted universally.  My local model railroader’s club is also a “boy’s club” but it does not need to be “more accessible to women”, and neither does gaming.

What needs to happen is that women who want to game need to adjust themselves to gaming culture.  In fact, women who genuninely like games do exactly that – and that does not mean be subservient or accept sexism as the norm; it means be there for the game, not for the social justice.  Dodger Leigh is one such woman.  Anita Sarkeesian isn’t.

Most “sexism in gaming” comes down to that – nongamers and liberals who just can’t let it go.  Probably a lot of people think I’m some sort of reactionary after this.  I’m not.  I work with women in the most traditional-male environments there are; law enforcement and the military, and women certainly belong there.  Women belong in gaming too, but this is not the 19th Century.  We do not need to sanitize male environments for female sensibilities, or those that want only to criticize from the outside anyhow.

Vaccination

…is better than cure.

So how do we stop the newbie from coming down with Fast Tackle Disease?

Well, the answer is the Harpy – or something generally similar.  T1 destroyers or cruisers, or perhaps even interdictors.  Keep the newbie rolling towards a bigger and better doctrine.  Assuming we’re talking about a low or nullsec corp with reasonable PVP emphasis, that means before he gets into mining or PI or whatever else, if “being a combat pilot” isn’t his primary want.

That’s not to say that being something else is bad, but getting those support skills and a baseline of skills to be able to competently fly T1 cruisers and down, interceptors, bombers (which pair well with blockade runners for the budding industrialist) and assault frigates for at least one, maybe two races, is not a bad way to get started.  After all, it’s good to have an appreciation of what the pilots that prey on him do, and skills relating to navigation and tanking aren’t a bad thing to have in any ship.

Get the newbie up to 5 in frigates and small weapons in the race of his choice.  Yes, even missiles; even if he gets past frigates and gets stuck on RLML Caracals.. at least he can fly both of those things.

But why is it bad if a newbie flys these things?  What’s the problem, if that’s what he likes?

The problem is that you get things like this.

Look at the update at 0523.  “Many of the BRAVE contingent are very young newbies in T1 frigates.”

Now, having flown with BRAVE for a year or so I can tell you for certain that this is true.. but many of those T1 frigates were also flown by older pilots who could have been in something heavier.  Some might have not been able to afford a new ship if they lost it in the fight and had to re-ship or otherwise were short on cash.  But quite a few had no good reason to be in a T1 frigate besides “it’s cheap”.

I’ll go into some of this as it relates specifically to BRAVE later on, but for now it’s enough to say that when you are trying to hold down someone’s supers for someone else’s supers to get there and kill them, the last thing you need are T1 frigates – since they can’t keep supers tackled.  Even the aforementioned RLML caracals are a vastly superior choice, and they really aren’t hard to get into.

I don’t think anything is more frustrating as a line pilot than getting in the mainline doctrine ship, or the logi ship, or another support ship for what the FC called for… and seeing people you know are a year plus old in T1 frigates.  For that matter, when the FC is saying “No I don’t need more interceptors” and 5 more people try to join in interceptors it makes you want to reach through the internet and slap them.

Now, a final word.  This is not to say flying T1 frigates is bad, or tackle is bad, and certianly doesn’t pertain to flying them when asked to, flying them when no one cares, flying them when you’re behind and just want to catch up, flying dictors, heavy dictors, or heavy tackle ships or anything else.  It pertains to flying T1 frigates because they’re cheap and you don’t have to care about losing them when that isn’t what’s needed.  No, it doesn’t matter if they die – except that now you’re off the field, when you could still be there sending the enemy packing.

Fast Tackle Disease

Fast tackle.

The traditional way to start a newbie on fleet PVP, fast tackle seems to be both beloved and hated by fleet commanders.  Sometimes called “Hero tackle” or “suicide tackle”, fast tackle has a set of virtues and vices all its own – but one of its biggest virtues, cheap, easily fit, easily flown ships that get newbies out there and fighting becomes a vice all too easily.

Now, a disclaimer – I haven’t flown a lot of Tech 1 fast tackle in nullsec or lowsec.  When I have flown fast tackle it’s been interceptors far more often than not.  I had over 30 million skill points when I joined BRAVE and even when money was short I could afford to fly interceptors, or I flew mainline doctrine.  There may be a certain lack of sympathy here for not walking in someone else’s shoes.

The newbie’s introduction to fast tackle usually comes in an attack frigate.  The Atron seems (in my subjective impression; I have no statistics on the matter) most popular, but any of the 4 will do.  Cheaply fit with meta 0 modules, the newbie can be flying this tiny machine in combat in under 24 hours.  Only four modules actually matter; the propulsion module, generally a microwarp drive, the warp disruptor or scrambler, and the damage control that provides the only meaningful tank the ship has.  There is likely to be a web as well.  Guns are largely irrelevant unless the entire fleet is fast tackle – the ship’s main weapon is its point or scram.  Rigs may not even be present due to their cost and the additional skills needed on the newbie’s ship.  Tanking modules may be irrelevant; lacking in the agility and tanking skills of older pilots the newbie’s already-flimsy ship is not intended to survive long anyhow, and while a dead ship tackles nothing, trying to keep the newbie alive with his MWD blowing his signature radius up to unadulterated heights is likely to be futile.  The newbie’s main defense is his irrelevancy; once heavier ships are on the field they rapidly seize the enemy’s attention.

Provided with this contraption, the newbie is instructed on how it works, and usually given a basic bit of instruction on how to employ it effectively (amounting to “get really close, target the enemy, orbit, and activate the point/web/scram”) sometimes with a pointer on the best technique (“spiral in!  don’t fly straight at them”) and for very lucky newbies even a brief explanation of how to spiral.  Giddy with the excitement of going on a fleet, the newbie undocks amid the splendor of his more powerful fleet mates, and off they roar!

Of course, the newbie is not expected to survive this experience, but chances are that he was given this ship, or ISK to purchase it, and chances are excellent  he will be given another – and likely another and another and another, or possibly showered with money when he reveals that this 3 million ISK space jalopy takes 75% of the money in his wallet.  He quickly learns that losing the Atron or the Slasher or the Executioner is really not a big deal, and there is always someone willing to help him get a new one.  In the culture of EVE, this is a great victory!  A newbie is excited, part of a team, and avoids the traps of either boredom or the dreaded ‘carebear’ status!  He learns to fly what he can afford to lose, he HTFUs, and he can set about his career in lowsec or nullsec secure in the knowledge that he has something to do on the team.

Now, as the newbie progresses he’s pretty naturally pushed towards interceptors for their value as shuttles.  Learning to fly interceptors is essentially mandatory in nullsec and might as well be in lowsec.  The fast-align interceptor is a tool all in its own realm.  The newbie also will start being aimed into other ships – EWAR of whatever type the alliance or coalition prefers, its destroyer, and its cruiser doctrine assuming it has them.  He’ll start finding his preferred way of making money and learning what he wants to do besides getting space jalopys blown up in a ball of glorious fire.

But, depending on a lot of factors, the newbie may come down with Fast Tackle Disease.

This can come from a lot of things.  Maybe he lost a lot of ratting ships early to raiders.  Maybe he just has a hard time finding a money making scheme that works for him.  Maybe that 50 million for the Harpy on contract is really hard to get together – even if he gets SRP for it, he still has to get the first one.  Maybe it just feels like it’s taking forever to train up all these support skills and damn it he really just wants to branch out into non-combat things.

The next thing you know, this newbie is in game a year, and every time the fleet call goes out there he still is in the Atron. – whether it’s needed or not, because while a lot of fleets need that cheap fast tackle, quite a few don’t.  But man.. that Atron is just so cheap, and who cares if I lose it?  The FC needs DPS, yeah, but damn it Small Hybrids V is just such a loooong train and I won’t get SRP without the Tech 2 guns… oh yeah, and I’m fast, so I can loot the field!  I mean, an interceptor is fast too, but why fly that when I could be flying an Atron that costs 3 million fit rather than 30 million for the hull alone out here in the ass end of nullsec.

The former newbie has contracted Fast Tackle Disease, and if you ever want him out of that Atron it’ll be the devil to pay!  Doesn’t he realize this is a CTA and you don’t need that much tackle; you need him in a rail Tengu, damn it because Black Legion is about to reinforce another I-Hub!  You have plenty of dictors and ceptors and no you stupid fuck I don’t need suicide tackle!

Of course, there’s another form of the disease, because chances are pretty good that newbie likes that interceptor shuttle too, and heck, he can already fly them.. and if he’s doing well with money maybe 30 or 40 or even 50 million with all the trimmings isn’t so bad.  He’s probably seen what interceptors can do too, both from fleetmates and being on the wrong end of them.

Unfortunately, the longer it took him to get into interceptors the more likely he is to fly them like tackle frigates.  Interceptors, though, each have their own personality, and that LML Crow is not flown the same way as the blaster Taranis.  The MWD sig bonus is a huge advantage, and makes piloting technique much more worthwhile.  Most people will eventually learn, but habits are hard to break.

But if that’s overcome, and the interceptor displaces the Atron or Slasher in the hanger, it’s even harder to dislodge if that interceptor carries Fast Tackle Disease with it.  That interceptor is so fast, and so convenient to fly, so easy to come and go and catch up, or head back when you have to log off, and not that expensive.

And the next thing you know, it’s a POS-bashing fleet and you have 20 people in interceptors when you really need about 4.  There’s Fast Tackle Disease in there.

There’s nothing wrong with flying fast tackle, or interceptors, but there’s a time and place for it, and everyone can’t just hop into it because they don’t want to train or risk larger ships.  Be able to fly something else, even if it’s only assault frigates.  A Harpy makes a much better fill-in if you can’t fly a Tengu than a Crow or an Atron does.