The Human Creep
Yesterday I talked about the Lotka-Volterra formula and how it establishes a baseline for Prey/Predator relationships within any ecological environment. The problem with Lotka-Volterra is rather obvious, we can't relate it to Eve directly - because of Humans.
Humans don't play by the rules. Humans think outside of nature, they switch sides, they compete for more than natural causes, and they use tools. They love to use tools. And while they remain biological animals, they've used tools to carve a rather safe niche for themselves into the clearer margins. Not as much as they like to think, but still - it is a rather remarkable accomplishment. Way to go humans.
Those Digital Watches are still a pretty neat idea.
Imagine a Grizzly Bear that knows how to use a Crossbow. Or a Shark with friggin' laser beams. That is what a Human looks like to the rest of the animal kingdom. Not satisfied with increased intelligence, mobility, video games, thumbs and blue eyes, Humans went about on a rampage to achieve greater and greater tool usage. OK, so what does all of this mean in relation to Eve?
Eve players are tool users. And they are, for the most part, also Human. Eve itself is constructed in a way that propagates a natural Prey/Predator relationship built within its very structure. These three factors contribute to the general escalation of Tool Creep within Eve. Again, speaking in wide, over-arching generalities, the young Eve player has a limited tool-set available to them when they start playing Eve. This is natural. Over time the player continues to add more and more tools to the toolset, while those players around him continue to do the same. Sadly for the young player, many other players have a significant head-start on this path.
So, no matter what play-style a player wants to attain, the natural tool accumulation cycle in Eve demands a Prey/Predator relationship. It is inherent within the baseline of the game itself. Ah, but Humans being Human, are never satisfied with such things. They have something in their back pocket that they like to call "community". A desire to mingle, to group together, to flock to those with like interests. An infusion of young players means a direct rise in such communities - the birth of Brave Newbies, growth in Eve Uni and other like-minded communities. A relatively safe environment, useful in large numbers, to combat the natural inclination within the game. All natural of course.
And now to the point. What is the response to such accumulation from the other side of the spectrum? Those with the larger tool-sets already available? More potential prey means more potential Predators. But in Eve it also means a rapid growth in something I like to call Uber-Tool Users. An Uber-Tool User is a group of players or a single player not content to mingle with the rest of the community on the same field of play. The Uber strives to remove all risk from the equation and use the full box of tools regardless of the situational need for each tool.
EDITOR: Before I go any further I'd like to mention that I'm not pointing fingers or making judgements here. The point of this series is only to frame in-game activities, not make judgements regarding them. As anyone who has read this blog for more than five minutes already knows, I fully support everyone's right to play Eve in any way they wish. Within the confines of the sandbox. 'Nuff said.
The other day I discovered three ships on the Sun. I was alone. I went in to engage and suddenly I was faced with six ships, these things happen. I called for help and two other ships came to assist. We were doomed and we knew it, but we wanted a good fight and engaged anyway. The other side was going to win most likely, but they were not satisfied with normal odds. So they brought a Griffin along. The Griffin wasn't needed in that situation, but it did ensure a victory for the other players. And in that sense, it was very much needed.
This is just one example of hundreds of potential examples of Uber-Tool Users at work. Multiple Links, sec status camping, smart-bombing Proteus', drugs, ECM, hi-sec ganking, War Decs, and many other tools are all examples when used in situations that do not readily require such tools.
Humans being humans it is all a very natural and normal expansion of the basic, underlying Lotka-Volterra formula. It is natural. It is a part of player response and behavior within Eve. But humans are much more complicated than that. And they have a choice in how to implement, use, and manage their tool set. While some may choose the full weight of their tool-box, others may not. Choosing different paths. Unusual paths. Paths that may actually help other players, assist other players, or in some way give rise to more and more player tools.
Humans. Still regulated by biological and evolutionary impulses, but driven to constantly challenge the boundaries imposed by such systems. The Eve player is no different.
Find us an edge and we'll cross it.