Big Fish, Little Fish

My mining alt's corp got wardec'd. That's OK - it's all a part of playing EVE Online. In fact, I've been expecting a war for a couple months now. I'm kind of surprised it took this long.

My Little POCOs

I'll miss you when you're gone, my little POCO.

I'll miss you when you're gone, my little POCO.

A couple of months ago, I got the opportunity to put up two Player Owned Customs Offices (POCOs) in a high sec system. The previous owners had been cleared out by a war, and I jumped at the chance to place my own POCOs there. My previous experience with Customs Offices was limited to making them explode, and I was eager to learn how to set them up and start a new income stream, firsthand.

I used my mining alt's corp to anchor the POCOs on two planets, of the barren and lava varieties. It was useful to go through the exercise, and after some experimentation, I developed a working understanding about the mechanics of POCO management.

I think CCP Games has not fully considered the potential of POCOs as catalysts for increased inter-player interaction. I viewed the players doing PI on my two planets as my tenants, and I wanted to send them a broadcast EVE mail: "Your POCO is under new management! We're running a special on lower tax rates. Please let me know if you have any issues or questions." But there's no way to communicate efficiently with your tenants - there's not even a "bulletin board" in the customs office to post messages to all who may use it.

As the new owner of two customs offices, I also wanted to see who was doing PI on my planets, and how often they were making use of the POCOs for import and export. But no such report exists - you have to glean that knowledge from the transactions listed in the Corporation Wallet Journal, over time.

I set my POCOs taxes at very low levels, hoping to show my tenants that their new landlord was encouraging their trade. But I don't think any of them were even aware that they were getting the PI deal of the year - I saw lots of transactions, but never heard from any of them. And if you select "Show Info" on a POCO, it only shows a single Tax Rate number - it doesn't provide a breakdown of the rates for different standings. If that was fully visible, it would encourage diplomatic contacts to negotiate more favorable status.

Note to CCP Games: More player interaction is a good thing. Take another look at POCOs and use them to foster more player communications.

The New Eden Food Chain

I'd set up my mining alt's corporation with only a couple of members - himself and another of my little-used alt characters. That corp is a very small minnow in EVE Online's vast sea, which is populated by much larger predators. It was only a question of time before some shark spied my lucrative little POCOs and decided to devour them. With only a couple of members, my alt's corp stands no chance defending assets against anyone with even a half-dozen pilots.

I knew this when I set up my POCOs, and expected an attack eventually. I knew that my minnow corp was swimming in more dangerous currents, and would attract the attention of larger fish looking for an easy meal. My POCOs are as good as lost already. I'm resigned to this - it is the way of EVE Online.

I know players who rage against this natural order - they can't stand the fact that the small fish are eaten by the big fish, who are in turn eaten by the even bigger fish, and so on. "It's so unfair", they wail. They fail to see that this is what makes EVE Online great, however. Life in New Eden is never about fairness. It's about finding ways to adapt, survive and hopefully thrive - or to die.

Would I like to keep my POCOs? Sure! That would be nice - they produce a fairly consistent income stream, and it's good to get the extra ISK. Do I feel entitled to them? Not in the slightest. I may as well rail against the sun going down every day. You can't argue against natural inevitability. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

As the defender in this wardec, I've opened it up to allies, and I've gotten a few offers. I've accepted the zero-cost allies, though none are large enough to mount a serious, coordinated defense. My experience with wardec allies is that they are only looking for cheap targets of opportunity, not to provide any serious mercenary services. They may harass my oppressors a little, but they certainly won't prevent my POCOs' destruction.

This is the way of EVE Online - the small are eaten by the large. It is not a place that allows solo players to do everything in the game, by design. To build infrastructure, and to keep it, one needs to band together with other players. I've been thinking of merging my little alt corp into an alliance for a while - I'm now more motivated to do so, in hopes that swimming in a larger school of fish might provide more of a deterrent to potential adversaries. I think CCP Games would classify this as: "Working as intended".

Little fish - meet big fish. Welcome to EVE Online.

The Ultimate Big Fish

In my last post, Nice Guys Finish Last, I pondered the relative staying power of egoistic versus altruistic players, and concluded that those with more constructive and empathetic objectives tend to last longer in EVE Online than those simply looking for self-gratification. Coincidentally, just after I published this post, the "Bonus Room" controversy exploded. I think that Erotica 1 is the ultimate archetype of the egoistic player in EVE Online.

Erotica 1's behavior reminds me of someone I met years ago who had a pet boa constrictor. He did not own the snake because he was an aspiring herpetologist - he owned it solely because he delighted in watching the suffering of the mice that he fed to it. Even worse, he felt compelled to invite everyone he met to join him in observing the spectacle at feeding time.

That guy was creepy. And what Erotica 1 does in the "bonus room" is equally disturbing - if not more so.

Hi! I'm CCP Games. You were saying something about the right to abuse other players?

Hi! I'm CCP Games. You were saying something about the right to abuse other players?

Nevertheless, does the sadistic behavior of Erotica 1 and his cohorts warrant expulsion from EVE Online? My initial reaction was "No", because the "bonus room" appeared to me to be just another case of big fish feeding on gullible little fish - standard fare in EVE Online.

However, after reading CCP Games' official position, and considering the matter further, I now see the difference, and I agree that Erotica 1 and his ilk should be banned.

The scamming part of the "Bonus Room" is perfectly alright with me. That's just another case of predators feeding on unwary prey - perfectly allowed in EVE Online. Where Erotica 1 went wrong was after they acquired all of their target's possessions, and then went further. At that point, their intent changed from scamming to inflicting increasing emotional distress on their victim - solely for their own amusement. That is clearly harassment and abuse, which are prohibited under the Terms of Service agreement.

While some may protest that they have the right to feed on those who are lower in the EVE Online food chain, they forget that there is an Ultimate Big Fish that will always be more powerful than anyone - CCP Games. They alone have the right to protect their own interests and their business, and they can take away the privilege of playing in EVE Online anytime they so desire.

Little fish - meet big fish. Welcome to EVE Online.

Predators Become Prey

As I write this post, my two POCOs have entered into reinforced mode. My aggressors wasted no time in attacking them, as I expected.

I'll miss my POCOs, when they are gone. They were excellent money-makers, with a lot of very active planetary interaction imports and exports.

And so, I hereby publicly encourage any corporation or alliance with more than a dozen active pilots to consider the following proposition: if you would like a couple of really nice POCOs, fly a fleet out to Gergish I (a barren planet) and II (a lava planet). There you'll likely find two shiny new POCOs, just anchored by D-ickbutt [D-ICK], a smallish corp with only 6 members and no alliance affiliation. Feel free to wardec them, and take their lucrative PI trade for your own.

D-ICK better have a buyer for those POCOs lined up already. Something tells me they won't own them for long.

Little fish - meet big fish. Welcome to EVE Online.  :-)

Ever get that feeling that something terrible is right behind you? Welcome to EVE Online.

Ever get that feeling that something terrible is right behind you? Welcome to EVE Online.

Fly safe! o7