Expectations

 

I was watching the middle grandchild a few weeks back (he’s five) and to get out of the house I stuffed him in my truck (he loves trucks) and took him to a sizable park with swing sets, seesaws, merry-go-round, slides, sand, grass and trees. To make a day of it we brought a pail with digging implements, toy dump truck, front-end loader and road roller. Upon arrival he bailed out of my truck, sprinted through the park examining the features, took the biggest slide one time and then trotted up to me saying, “Push me on the swing.”

“Swing yourself,” I replied, “You know how to pump your legs.”

“But the swing’s too high,” he complained, “I can’t get in.”

“Yes you can.”

“No I can’t!” he protested spectacularly failing to haul himself up into the swing to prove his point.

“Then I guess you won’t be swinging.”

This annoyed him so he abandoned the swings and proceeded to the seesaws requesting I play on those with him.

“I thought you wanted to swing,” I said.

“Swinging is too hard,” he whined.

“Fun is hard work,” I replied.

This really annoyed him so he abandoned the seesaws and pushed towards the far end of the park expecting me to follow and helicopter but I didn’t. I could see him there in the distance, wandering further and further away from dangerous street traffic. He was plenty safe. So he moped for a while on the merry-go-round with no one to spin him and then finally wandered back, pulled the digging implements out of his pail with annoyed huff and begin making roads.

Soon another young boy joined him in the project. The young boy’s father and I chanted while the two kids built an ever expanding sandbox highway system. In the blink of an eye several hours had passed, it was time to depart for lunch and neither child wanted to leave. All the father and I had to do was refuse to bend to the children’s fleeting wishes and let looming boredom plant its seeds.

 

The Capsuleer’s Dilemma

 

stumbling across the rude discovery that no adult is going to entertain them

Awe-inspiringly powerful, unbelievably wealthy and well-nigh immortal, it seems to me Capsuleer’s most dangerous foe is boredom. When you are the demigod, no higher power exists to take control and hand your endless life purpose. Like children at the sandbox stumbling across the rude discovery that no adult is going to entertain them, it begins and ends with the Capsuleer. They are the alpha and the omega. Their destiny lies in their hands alone.

It’s not unusual to see Capsuleer’s complain about their existential lot, “It’s not me, it’s the sandbox that’s messed up. The silica is poorly filtered, the borders are undefined, the tools are unbalanced, the mechanics are half finished and the other Capsuleers are toxic, poor sport psychopaths.”

“Indeed, you face many obstacles,” I reply, “Fun is hard work.”

This annoys complaining Capsuleers.

 

 

Hate-ons

 

Some ten months back in a comment thread about EVE Vegas 2016 a particularly bitter former player replied to me:

“Frankly, after having written what amounts to several million words about EVE Online (with 9,800+ messages in the new [now old] forums alone), I am still amused to see how people like you can’t walk in somebody else’s shoes and figure what floats the boat of people like me. Which is: things that would be beneficial for people like me and by extension for EVE and CCP, without being detrimental for people like you.

I may be the wrongest bittervet ever, but I have hardly met anyone as manic passionate about EVE as I’ve been until I buckled and admitted my defeat. CCP wins and EVE will die their way.”

At the time I told the bittervet to grow the fuck up and accept that having finally discovered EVE wasn’t the game for him he should move on to other things and stop such unseemly malingering. Ten months on I find I don’t disagree with my response but still, the fellow’s comment haunts me. I too am manic passionate about EVE. Should EVE and I one day go our separate ways am I destined to turn into a 9800+ message ex-boyfriend stalker who, despite all evidence, genuinely believes his desires truly reflect the ex-girlfriend’s best interest? I like to believe no.

 

Perfection Problems

 

“Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good”

The English aphorism “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good” is usually attributed to Voltaire but can just as easily be assigned to Aristotle. The aphorism is widely understood as warning that perfection, being unattainable, means one might never complete a task if one has chosen not to stop work until achieving perfection. Completing a project well — or at all — grows impossible when striving to complete it perfectly.

EVE is by no means a perfect game. There are balance problems. Many mechanics do feel half finished. That said, it’s worth asking what terms like ‘unbalanced’ and ‘half finished’ truly mean in a game of constant iteration. In an ever changing environment the ‘balanced’ always eventually topples and the ‘finished’ always eventually comes up short. Humans have a vestigial coccyx (tail bone). EVE has vestigial COSMOS missions. Neither are entirely useless – some muscles still attach to the coccyx and COSMOS missions still affect NPC standings – but both are very close to irrelevant.

Nothing’s perfect in EVE and nothing ever will be because EVE is not static and that constant change hands us Capsuleers a stark, simple, choice: adapt or die. When my bittervet commenter came to the realization that hammering away at the ex 9800+ times wasn’t going to entice her to conform to his will, he chose subscription cancelling death over adaptation. He was passionate alright. Passionate like the grandkid spectacularly failing to haul himself into his swing. This makes me sad.

 

Challenge

 

Like many long term players, I went through a ‘co-creation’ phase spawning multiple ideas to make EVE a better place. These days I’m less likely to partake in such endeavors. Not because co-creation proved ineffectual (I’ve evidence some of my ideas were heard by CCP’s devs and I’ve occasionally seen EVE move in directions I politicked for) but rather because I came to the realization that I play EVE against the grain and a good part of EVE’s enduring allure for me is finding ways to flourish against the that grain.

A long term, relentlessly small, soloish player since 2009, I’m not a member of a large alliance, I don’t receive CTA pings, I’m never part of a blob and though I’ve a good number of EVE friends, most of our interactions are out of game. For years I believed my obstinate soloish approach was driven by real life constraints (I carry a work related emergency pager 24/7/365 with extraordinary talent for beeping at inopportune times like during fleet maneuvers forcing me to sign off and attend to real life) but in truth ‘real life constraints’ is mostly convenient excuse. I’ve always wanted to approach EVE on my own schedule, when and how I saw fit and to be honest, eight years on I take some pride in finding ways to do that.

If EVE compliantly conformed to my wishes, it wouldn’t be much challenge

Had I expended the same 9800+ message effort our bittervet complainer had, I believe I would have had more impact on our sandbox than he managed if for no other reason than I suspect I social interaction better than he does. But I made no such effort and in hindsight I’m quite pleased I didn’t. If EVE compliantly conformed to my wishes, it wouldn’t be much challenge. When a game’s a perfect fit there’s little to strive for: you log in a savant.

EVE doesn’t hike me up into its swing and push me. EVE makes little attempt to entertain me at all. Like all Capsuleers, I’m mostly left to my own resources. Playing against the grain as I do would lose its luster if EVE moved too far in my direction – here the perfect would indeed be the enemy of the good. Not because the perfect is unattainable (though it is), but rather because the perfect, or near perfect, would make my EVE effortless and effortless generates little satisfaction. This isn’t an a sandbox mechanic difficulty, it’s a deep-seated psychological conundrum.

This game and I, we’re not an ideal match and I’ll have it no other way. Fun is hard work.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves” – Viktor E. Frankl

 

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Tags: DireNecessity, EVE is hard

About the author

DireNecessity

A soloish long-term casual player since 2009, sporting a troubling history of preying on the good people of highsec, these days DireNecessity enjoys the gentle pleasures like manufacturing, grandbabies and formal dining.