Alls Fair In Love and War
I’d originally intended this as a comment response to Poetic Stanziel’s recent post “A Couple of Simple Changes to Off-Grid Boosting“, but it sort of morphed into a much longer post instead. As a preface, none of the below is meant as an affront to Poetic, as I actually thought his ideas were interesting. However, my own views of what others are calling a “problem” vary, and so we have the glory of debate.
Primarily, yes, this blog is about Eve, but first, we’re going to talk about baseball.
If you follow American baseball, you’ll know that steroid use is really nothing new to the sport; Mark McGwire with his convoluted drawn-out refusal to admit usage despite mountains of evidence, or Barry Bonds’ record-breaking 756th home-run ball now permanently marked by an asterisk in the hall of fame. In more current news, the FDA recently teamed up with MLB to bust Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera for setting up fake websites to buy testosterone, as part of a new on-going investigation in major league doping.
As much as we look down on incidents like this as both cheating and ultimately ruinous to the spirit of the game itself (and I do), on the other hand, I have to look at athletes using performance enhancing drugs and admit that its a level of of extreme dedication to ones profession that’s rarely seen elsewhere. I doubt, for instance, that your accountant is shooting up horse growth hormones and speed in order to crunch your tax returns all night.
At the end of the day though, blood doping or use of any performance enhancing drug or hormone in major league baseball is against the rules, if not illegal. Dedication to a passion aside, what Mark McGwire or Roger Clemens were doing when they injected (or, excuse me “unknowingly were injected with”) what were effectively bull elephant hormones was in fact, cheating.
Alls Fair in Love and War (or, “Why I’m Completely and Totally Ok with Off-Grid Boosting”)
I mention the above as means of highlighting what is obviously cheating in a game environment. In terms of Eve (see, I told you we’d get there), the obvious ones are things like account hacking, RMTing, or botting; essentially rules and infractions that are clearly outlined in the rules of the game listed in the EULA. Further on, there are obvious game design oversights than are flagged as exploitation by CCP and either removed or warned about; example: AHARM using the negative multiplier of a wormhole effect to create infinite tracking on guns. Past that though, people tend to dissolve into personal opinions rather than actual game-play rules.
As another example: a while ago, when Orcas were newer and the tricks surrounding their use as high-sec Carriers were still acts of magic and wonder to a more innocent populace of New Eden, someone wrote a bit on the Eve-O forums lamenting that their current war-deccers were using them “unfairly” in the battlefield to swap ships. They felt wronged, and furthermore, felt that neutral Orcas should be flagged red when “helping” a WT in any ways.
This is a moth-ball old argument at this point, and it wasn’t even fresh when that post was written, but it caught my eye. It wasn’t overly whiny, but the basic gist was that they felt this ship was being used “incorrectly”, and more importantly “unfairly”; the feeling I got from it was basically “poo poo, this is unfair, change it”. Though I hardly ever post on the Eve forums, I felt a nagging desire to respond with a different viewpoint, which I did here
To spare you the longer read, I basically put the scenario in question in a different context to highlight its underlying absurdity:
“Help, I’m at war with a corp and they can fly battleships, while my corp cannot. I propose that we either remove battleships from the game, or flag pilots who fly them with GCCs in order to make things fair”
I think we can all agree that above statement is ridiculous. My response was basically “your WTs aren’t cheating or exploiting, they’re outgunning you….I propose another solution: get your own neutral orcas.”
So back to the subject at hand: it should be obvious at this point that I have NO issue with boosting alts. None; even when that includes aiding in a “1v1″ or camping out inside a POS shield, and quite frankly, other people’s boner about this being an “issue” is mystifying to me.
To me, the use of another character to act as a means of boosting you in a fight isn’t cheating, or using a crutch, or even dishonorable (though I don’t subscribe to any level of “e-bushido”); its escalation. Pvp in Eve, after a certain point, is less about trained skills, and more about an edge over your opponent. That edge could come in the means of knowledge of the battlefield, skill at manual piloting, or an encyclopedic knowledge of every ship in the game. In other cases, its about stacking those little extra odds in your favor.
A full set of High Grade Slaves will give you a 53.63% increase to armor amount (and at what, 1.5-2bil for the set?). You jump in a tanky armor ship with this clone and you’re already going to outlast a guy with the same fit and same skills by more than 50% in a fight. On top of that, throw in some faction EANMs, not even deadspace or officer stuff, just Imperial Navy ones, and you’re adding an additional 3% to your resists across the board from the t2 variants. Hell, on top of all that, you can drop an additional fortune on pirate ammo, attribute implants, and meta 50,000 mods, because really at the end of the day, its all about that edge.
So to me, that booster alt is just an additional edge, and I’m actually completely ok with where it currently stands.
For one, T3s are no longer unscannable: hard to scan, for sure, but not impossible; sort of hard in the same way catching a HG Slaved pod of an experienced pvper without a bubble in lowsec might be hard. Secondly, even “in canon” and RP-wise there are plenty of other in-game examples of a “something” pushing effects system-wide instead of grid-wide: Incursion influence, ihubs, even a fleet itself. If a fleet boss can warp you to another location from 50 AU away at the flick of a switch, why can’t he boost your shield resists as well?
Thirdly, as I’ve said before, even though you can absolutely play and enjoy this game with a single account, alts are as much a part of Eve as undocking. The part I like the most is when you find that the same people who decry off-grid boosting are the same people with Falcon alts, Logi alts, or money-making indy or mission runner alts farming high-sec in untraceable neutral or NPC corps; oh sweet irony, I think I’m choking on it.
So again, though I found Poetics ideas for change interesting (and indeed some of the more realistic and better thought-out ones I’ve seen), I also find them completely uncalled for. Off-grid boosting is just another tool in an arsenal, and if you have problems with the other guy (wisely) using every tool at his disposal to get an edge on you, get your own booster. Don’t blame the other guy for bringing two guns to a shootout when you only bring one.