It’s tempting to think that bigger is better in EVE Online. Get the bigger ship, the bigger guns, whatever. Bigger always seems better, at least on the surface — then sometimes I find that things aren’t quite like I’d imagined.
I had been flying these little frigates — gnats, really — all over the place and had been shot up and blown up a few times, and I started thinking: “You know, maybe something bigger might not get blown up quite as easily. Maybe I could stay alive out there in the cold darkness a bit longer and get a bit richer if I invest in some righteously built Great Big Silver Bullet of a ship that can’t be blown to smithereens in 30 seconds.”
Delusions of invulnerability, nurtured by unfounded optimism, were setting in again. Could this kind of thinking be a problem?
The typical sequence of events ensued: First, buy and train Great Big Silver Bullet Skills. While that’s going in the background, start saving money for the Great Big Silver Bullet and Great Big Guns. Yeah, now we’re talking. Big. Really big.
I could feel the rush of my might extending into the local star system as the money flew out of my account into someone else’s. Surely I was buying the better virtual life. Or at least a bigger one. Well, medium, anyway. I didn’t remotely have the money to buy something demonstrably big in EVE Online. Reality set in, reminding me that I’m a very small fish in a very large pond. “Big” for me was actually the lower end of Medium.
So be it.
My growth manifested as a new cruiser, a model called the Rupture that in my eight-year-old son’s eyes looked like a pistol. To mine, it bore an unmistakable resemblance to a hair dryer. I armed it with standard guns; nothing fancy, but a nice upgrade from the little frigates. It carried a lot more structural strength, a lot more armor and larger weapons that dealt a lot more damage. It was bigger and badder, and that was what I was looking for.
I took my new ship out salvaging. Tooling along in one asteroid belt after another, I salvaged wrecks left by other players, an activity I thought of as “cleaning up the trash.” At one belt, some NPC pirates showed up. “This will be fun,” I thought, with a wicked gleam in my virtual eye.
I let them approach, locked on, and opened up with my Great Medium Guns. Presto! Nothing. I couldn’t hit them. They just circled me shooting up a storm while I shot back, missing time after time. Probably something about those gunnery skills that I hadn’t trained all the way up, and the fact that the turret rotational speed on the cruiser’s guns was far less than that of the small guns on frigates. They weren’t hurting me particularly, but I wasn’t exactly going to get rich like this. You can’t salvage things you can’t wreck, and I was a long way from wrecking these little flies buzzing all around my cow of a ship. I finally realized the importance of turret rotational speed, and took out the second swarm while they were much farther out, killing them in only a couple of shots.
After killing a few more, I felt I had it sorted out, so I decided to try LowSec space for bigger NPC pirates and the concomitant better loot. Remember LowSec and those nasty people who seem to like blowing up overconfident dreamers? They’re still there, along with the pieces of my cruiser that got creamed after half an hour of chasing around NPCs. I was dealing with some good-sized pirates when a real pirate must have scanned my direction, seen my ship and decided that a day without bloodshed was like a day without sunshine.
And so there I was, waking up in my clone again, the latest lesson from EVE Online tattooed onto my money-spending fingers. And it was put there by a loving and compassionate pirate from LowSec, no less, obviously dedicated to furthering my education and maturity. The lesson: Don’t waste money on owning what I can’t operate. Isn’t this fun?
— Will Collum
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