Thursday, July 3, 2014

Bell Curves


I'm a bit late to respond to the June Blog Banter, but I figure I may as well jump in and get the practice.

This killmail spawned this month's question:


Obviously that is a not just a bad fit, its horrific. But the guy might not know any better. We get these all the time circulating social media and corp/alliance chat. How do we educate players on fitting? This guy has been playing four months and can fly a BC, but has no idea how to fit one. What could be done to help bro's like this?

Furthermore, what (if any) responsibility do veterans players have in finding these players and instructing them on the finer arts of ship fitting? If it exists, does it extend beyond them into teaching PvP skills, ISK making skills, market skills, social skills, life skills...

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There are all kinds of players in EVE.  The spectrum from complete expert to oblivious idiot no doubt maps to some sort of Bell Curve.  Most of us are average, or near average and pile up in the big bulge in the middle.  At the tails of the curve are the outliers - the truly gifted people on one side and the people who struggle to find the undock button on the other.

This poor chap, assuming the kill is as bad as it appears to be, is apparently part of the second area.

Here's the thing:  nothing we (players) nor CCP can do can fix this.  There will still be a bell curve.  If we make things idiot proof, a better idiot will just present himself.

Any attempt to improve the situation needs to keep this fundamental truth in mind - anything we attempt will ultimately be futile.  And eventually, if you dumb the game down enough, you'll alienate the old skool playerbase *cough*WoW*cough* and suffer a mass exodus of the old guard.

There are things CCP can do without pandering to the short attention span kiddies.  Examples: continuing to improve tooltips, expanding on the ship fit window, and expanding the Mastery tabs will provide useful info. Adding a popup that says "hey dude, you're undocking with all your low slots open. Continue?" wouldn't offend me.  These things are generally useful to everyone inside the bell curve and aren't only targeted at oblivious players.

I'd like to say that the Community can help, but realistically I think we already are doing most of what can be done.  We'll continue to support E-UNI and similar projects that scoop up noob players.  There will always be growth opportunities for Corps willing to make the time investment.

So, in summary:  CCP can continue to fix little things that will help provide information, but shouldn't pander to a lower IQ pool.  The Community is probably in equilibrium, like any supply-demand market, and I wouldn't expect much more from it than we already see.  But because bell curves apply to our player population, this won't be the last faction ship you see killed in a 0.3 with a civvie shield booster fitted.

And now the bonus question:

And another question you can think about is this: do purposely wrong fits, aka comedy fits or experimental fits or off-meta fits, offend you or your corp? Would you, like Rixx Javix when he was in Tuskers, face expulsion for fitting your ships differently than the accepted standard?

Officially official answer:  "Meh, It depends."

If there are minimum fits required by that particular FC or that particular community, then don't be a douche and try to sneak in a lesser fit or experiment on someone else's dime.  Pull your weight. Don't assume someone else will take up your slack.

Under those circumstances, I get mighty offended when someone gets outed for not meeting X-up requirements.  If an expectation is set in advance, I expect folks to meet it.

But there are tons of circumstances where a min/max'd shiny Fleet isn't a hard requirement, and under those looser terms I'm very okay with experiments that might not work out.  As long as there's some advance agreement, we're cool.

Said another way:  I'm a big proponent of ship fits that aren't copy/pasted from the "accepted" list.  I like it when people rely on skill rather and knowledge of a combat system rather than a meta-du-jour.  I think it's fun to do things that couldn't/shouldn't be done by "accepted" norms.

But in order to dare to be stupid, your alternative lifestyle needs to be cleared in advance with the FC.

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