Is ISK/hour the most important goal in PvE?

2015-06-09

Maximum ISK per hour – when it comes to PvE in Eve, unless this is your goal then you’re doing it wrong, right?

Well, as far as I can see (along with so many other things in New Eden), the answer is ‘it depends’ – and what it really depends on is what your goal in the game is.

That’s right, I said ‘game’.

Eve Online is a game, and my idea of a game incorporates at least some element of fun. Of course, what is fun to one person is not to another – some people like to watch little green circles go around and cargo holds fill up with alien sounding things like ‘crokite’ or ‘omber’ or ‘magical special snowflake dust’ (or whatever they are called). Others spend their time online making different sized red crosses disappear from the screen, while a number in a sidebar gets slightly bigger. Yet more people spend their time playing a randomized mini-game where they can pretend to be all 1337 Haxor, and may or may not win some oddly named item to put in a cargo hold for taking to market. All of these pastimes are absolutely valid, all potentially contribute to the overall economy in some way, and can be fun for the right person. Also, each one of them is probably, for the majority of people that play in each style, a way to make ISK – and where is the harm in that?

Well, the harm comes in degrees. It seems to me that some people get hung up on absolute maximum efficiency for turning NPC pirates into ISK, or asteroids into ISK, or rare exploration loot into ISK, so much so that they can lose sight of what made the game enjoyable in the first place. Instead of the game being about the challenge of getting through the next wave of NPC attacks and watching your armor and shields to make sure you don’t end up in a pod, it’s about making your ship able to deal 1% more outgoing damage and watching your wallet to ensure that each tick is as big as it can be; instead of the enjoyment of playing the hacking mini game and trying to get around the obstacles put in the way, it’s about minimizing the time finding the sites, and fitting the ideal ship to make the mini game easier to beat; it’s not about the Zen nature of watching the sun playing on the asteroids as your strip miners … oh, who am I kidding – I have never been able to understand even the tiniest appeal of mining, so you’ll have to fill in this bit yourself. Anyway, I think you get the idea – some people start playing a part of the game because they enjoy it, but then they get caught up in trying to wring the absolute last tiny bit of ISK out of every moment, because that’s what the game has become about for them – the kernel of what made them play is still there, but it’s buried deep within a driving need to absolutely maximize the ISK earned per hour.

Is this a bad thing? Again, it depends. Personally, I think it could be – if you start playing a game for one reason, and then the overpowering need to wring every last ISK out of a situation becomes the reason to play it’s possible that the urge to log in fades, and CCP loses another subscriber. Losing subscribers is part of the life-cycle of MMOs, though, and there will always be another bright eyed and glossy winged newbee ready to take the place of that lost soul. So, what happens to those that stay around? Maybe the lure of those blue and purple modules becomes too much, and in that final push to get TOTAL MAXIMUM EFFICIENCY ships become draped in all manner of deadspace and officer finery, taking what could be an already expensive faction battleship into the realm of being worth as much as the contents of an average player’s entire hangar – and once that happens, rule #1 of Eve really starts to be important: don’t fly what you can’t afford to lose. Because, at the end of the day, New Eden is a very harsh place, and losing ships is part of the whole game world. It’s so important that CCP included it as part of the old style tutorials so that players got sort of used to the idea that losing your ship happens, and isn’t the end of the world. Unless, it is the end of the world because maybe your entire world is based on that super efficient officer-fit Nightmare that chews through incursion rats like there is no tomorrow. It’s your pride and joy, a ship that makes you feel as if you are someone as you pilot it towards your next PvE destination. All of the space-poors will envy you, and they will know they are in the presence of greatness as you … wait, what?! Warp scrambled!?! War targets! Drokk, I knew I shouldn’t have ignored that message from Concor … oh great, I’m in a pod. Oh, no, wait … I’m back in station.

Surely, an experience like this has got to hurt ISK/hour stats? Even if the incursion pimp-boat (or whatever it was that got popped) can just be replaced like-for-like, that’s money taken out of the pool that would have been earmarked for something else – even if that something else was just making a wallet fat. Maybe, though, the experience can be beneficial. An experience like the above could help give some perspective on the whole purpose of ISK for ISK’s sake, which I think is perhaps what is lacking in the drive for maximum ISK per hour. It’s probably because I’m basically a PvPer and to me all that ISK is is the means to buy the next explosion, whether that’s me or somebody else, but I would much rather focus on the things that I find exciting, exhilarating, and, yes, fun in this game. There was something about this game that everybody enjoyed initially, otherwise they would not have stuck around playing it as long as they have – everybody will have seen something and decided ‘I want to do that – I want to be that!’. Everybody had a destination, a goal, at some point, but I don’t think that anybody’s goal when they started playing Eve was to make as much money as possible in the most efficient way possible – and although goals change I think there is far more to New Eden than just the pursuit of an arbitrary number in an imaginary wallet.

There’s the pursuit of an arbitrary enemy in an imaginary universe after all.

This article originally appeared on TheMittani.com, written by Wotan Mjolnir.

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