Catch Me If You Can
It was all intended as background to the ultimate point, which is essentially this - catching prey is not supposed to be easy. The cunning power of the Predator is always in balance with the speed, agility, and cunning of the Prey. In large part, the Prey must win most of their encounters with Predators. They must, otherwise they would die out and the Predators would suddenly have nothing to eat. The Predators would have little choice but to turn on themselves and eventually there'd be one left standing in a field wondering, "What next?"
A common refrain I hear in Eve is general grumbling about missed opportunities, "runners", cloaks, warp core stabs, and any other way in which the intended prey escapes from the predator. This is most often expressed as a negative. A example of frustration on the part of the hunter that his intended target got away. And while that is a perfectly normal human expression and totally understandable, it is also inherently wrong-headed.
It is our job as hunters to catch something that does not want to be caught. Or to fool other hunters into becoming prey. (Which is also valid.) The better at this we become the more prey fall to our talons. The amount of effort we expend on this task is in direct correlation to the amount of success we will have in achieving our goal. Effort = Results.
Except when it doesn't.
There are some Predators that excel in the opposite direction. Something called "Optimal Foraging", which is essentially a low energy expenditure 'sit and wait' approach to hunting. The direct correlation in Eve is easy to see, the station or gate campers, those that lurk in Plex, the combat prober, and other forms of essentially sitting around doing very little and waiting for someone to wander into your field of fire. The Kingfishers of Eve.
And then there are the broadest of scales between Active Hunters and Optimal Foragers, the increasingly scalable addition of 'tools' to the tool-chest. Gang-Links, Mindlinks, T3 Boosters, Drugs, cloaky alts, scouts, cynos, and the infinite amount of additional add-ons that increasingly ensure victory - by minimizing risk of failure.
And, of course, most of this is on a slider that changes often by the minute. An adaptable slider that is changed by circumstance, opportunity, and desire. There are days when I will slide between all of those extremes in the course of one session. And I'm sure others do as well.
All of which is rather obvious. And not really my ultimate point anyway.
What I'm getting at is this, something that I've worked very hard at getting into the core DNA of Stay Frosty - a respect for our Prey. An acknowledgement that the deck is stacked in our favor (generally speaking) and that we should show our potential victims as much respect as humanly possible. Without them, we are nothing. And while no one loathes some of their tactics as much as I do (WCS!!), or gets frustrated when they run away from a fair fight, I also know that it is ultimately my own failure as a Predator to blame. Not theirs. If I was better at my job, they wouldn't get away.
Yesterday I tackled an Industrial at a Custom Office. An easy kill. I was being lazy about it. I preformed my actions by rote, key commands for point, shoot, etc., barely paying attention to what I was doing. Sometimes you fall into the trap of repetition. I admit it. Somewhere along the line I hit the wrong key command, lost point, and he warped away. I did not respect my target. And, as sometimes happens, he got away.
Respect comes in many forms. And it is a personal choice regarding how each player decides to express it. For me, I have my own personal litany that I adhere to - not podding those that give a good fight for example. But respect does not mean weakness. In fact, it is the opposite. Respect is empowering. And it increases your odds of success on the battlefield. But it is also not always a positive.
Respect also means allowing people to choose their own path, and respecting their decisions. If someone chooses to be an ass-hat in Eve, then I have to respect that decision as well. That is their choice and far be it for me to change their minds. I don't agree with that choice, but it isn't mine to make. Have fun dealing with those consequences.
Luckily, unlike real Predators and Prey, Eve Online is not a life and death struggle. (Or it shouldn't be. If it is for you, then we should talk. You need help.)
Respect your prey. They may or may not respect you back, but that is their choice.
You've already made yours.