Greedy Goblin

Friday, October 4, 2013

The myth of "skill"

PvP-ers agree that there is no “skill” in ganking miners. However there is a problem: there is no skill in other forms of EVE PvP either (except for Alliance Tournaments). No, it’s not my opinion. It’s the opinion of everyone. I mean, there wasn’t a single PvP engagement in the ten years of EVE Online where the defeated side said “you were better, congratulations!” They always say “blobbing”, “outshipping”, “baiting”, “awox” or other form of unfair fight. There isn’t anyone in EVE who ever acknowledged the skill of the one who defeated him (again, outside of AT).

Seriously, is there anyone who says that CFC won 6VDT because the individual pilots were more skilled? Not even CFC does that. Or the PL supers with the Revenant were massacred because the BL pilots were outclassing them in piloting their dreads? No, even BL accepts that it was due to the awox of the PL FC. Is there any skill in assigning drones and going AFK?

PvP games, both on the computer (like League of Legends) and offline (like boxing) have a very strict ruleset that always determine the equal number of opponents, equal resources and playfield. They all limit the weapons/moves available (if you kick, or even if the weight of your gloves is a few grams off, you can’t box). Deviation from these rules leads to immediate bans/disqualifications. Only by these very strict rules can you guarantee that the outcome depends only on player skill.

Because of lack of these rules, the engagements in EVE are always ganks. An all-seeing GM can perfectly tell who will win the engagement before it happens. What you do in the engagement might affect the exact kill:death ratio, but victory or defeat is decided before the first shot. On the other hand no one can tell who will win the next AT, exactly because the conditions are equal and the player skill will decide the outcome.

The “PvP-ers” who look down on the “gankers” are self-deceiving liars. Their slogan “try shooting something that can shoot back” is a joke, since the PL supers with the Revenant are something that usually preys on capitals. But on that engagement they were baited at a hostile POS with their hard counter under the command of an awoxer. The TEST fleet in 6VDT was probably one of the strongest fleets EVE has ever seen. Yet they had zero chance to win because all POS-es were in CFC hands and CFC was on grid first. While both examples were considered very strong in general, in those circumstances they didn’t have more chance to win than a mining barge.

Of course setting up the trap for PL or the moon control for 6VDT weren’t random acts. They were planned by someone and this someone displayed skill. However this guy is an FC/mildir guy and not a pilot. He probably wasn’t even on grid. Claiming that there is no skill in EVE would be a joke. But this is a skill of generals, planners, politicians. But how is a gank-planner different from them? He found a weaker enemy, designed a hard-counter doctrine and trained pilots to do the footwork.

In EVE there is no such thing as “PvP skill”. No one acknowledges your skill (besides your blues) and it’s easy to prove that any engagements were decided by other factors (numbers, ship types, trap). The point isn’t that a “real PvP” pilot isn’t more skilled than me. The point is that he isn’t more skilled than the miner I gank. Or the rats the miner shoots. After all the “lock up hostile, activate guns” is exactly what the belt rat, the BL dread pilot or the CFC mega pilot does.

Of course people say that there is skill in hidden places like certain wormholes and lowsec parts where "good fights" can be found. The problem with this is indeed its hidden nature. If I'd go down to lowsec and kill ships, would that mean I found these hidden good fights and won, proving my skill? Or would it just mean that I was lucky and caught some noobs who were farming sec status tags? In lack of tournament or even a commonly accepted place for these "skill fights", no one can verify or falsify the claim that by winning a certain PvP engagement one displayed this mythical skill.

The other common claim is "awesome PvP videos". The problem with them is repeatability. There are several videos where some newbie golf player hit the ball into the hole from the first hit. Does it mean that they are awesome golf players? No, it was pure luck. If you sit a monkey down before EVE and wait enough time, he will make you an awesome PvP video. Of course in 99.99% of the time it loses. But what do we know about the win-loss-retreat ratio of Rooks and Kings or Rote Kapelle? Nothing. We only see the engagements when they made something awesome.

In absence of strict PvP rules, EVE isn’t a skill game. EVE is a strategy game. Anyone claiming to have “skill” demonstrates that he has no skill in the strategy part that matters.

The anti tear of today was provided by the audience in the local channel:


Anonymous said...

You are wrong. There are plenty of examples of skill defeating a much larger, arguably higher class fleet.

Rooks and Kings make a name for themselves doing this. Go check out Clarion Call 3 - their final battle against AHARM they were thoroughly out matched, fighting in AHARM's home system, with the most dangerous system effect in wormhole space (class 6 magnatar - which doubles incoming damage, making dreads hit like supercaps). They took in a T3 gang, a single bhaalgorn and an archon, and won the day against numerous dreads and capital ships.

It is true in blobbing there is no skill, but those of us who live in WH space see skill all the time. Manual piloting is a must, discipline pilots who can take initiative and react before the FC does, complex positional play and control style fleets...

once again Gevlon, you have no idea what it is you are talking about. You are trying to equate blapping defenseless miners to PvP and you are using your own reality distortion field to justify your play style to yourself.

Anonymous said...

You seem to base your opinion on null blob fights, where skill is indeed unneeded (although doesn't hurt). Besides that you have absolutely no pvp experience, so I don't think you are in a position to make such claims. As an active pvper I can tell you that skill, in terms of player, not character, matters a lot. It's true that ganks happen, but must of the time, the fight is more or less equal, at least at ship level. Corporations like Stay Frosty or Tuskers (or even rvb) are examples that prove you wrong. Lowsec is full of good fights, if one is willing to search and take them. Therefore there is only one logical conclusion - you are deemed wrong on the basis of no data and no experience. We know you either wish to be called a pvper or try to demote pvpers, since you can't be one. But there is a better way - just go out to low and have some fun. Blow stuff up, get blown up (there is no shame in it) and learn pvp. Have some really good fights and see how skill matters. Have you ever used manual piloting at all? For instance, I can (and most likely many pvpers) blow your t2 cat with a velator. Would you consider that a gank or skill on my part? Skill to find and exploit your weakness with inferior means.

Gevlon said...

Yes, sure, there is skill fight somewhere hidden where no one besides "those who has skill" find it.


Anonymous said...

I am always find Bambi-Go like attitude "it's a game" very confusing. Yes it's a game, game based on rules, rules say "hulk's made from paper and die easy". Wich part is so hard to understand? There is no rule "players should be nice and not kill Hulks".

Anonymous said...

In FW you constantly have 1v1s, 1v2s, 2v2s, ...

If you don't use expensive implants or links and win engagements against ships of the same type anyways, then you have imo good reason to believe that you were more skilled than the other player.

Zosius said...

To gank miners takes skill. Or more to say knowledge, which is the part of skill because you need to know your target, calculate whom you can kill and whom not and learn basic mechanics of working in -10 environment. However once that is established, ganks/fights are very static and not dynamic. In the end it's warp and gank, not much more complex than null sec blobs where you react to FC.

Now the small/solo gangs are totally different matter. Ship does not blow up in seconds, you have to know each ship capabilities, have to determine what kind of fits they have, how to react to changing circumstances, keep distance, transversal, watch over your drones, dscan, evaluate situation and ETC.

Gelvon, I told you long time ago to go and analyse small gang low sec or WH pvp. Tell me again how probing out in 1-2 tries a tengu that is 4AU or more from nearest celestial without him noticing is no skill. You write off all kind of pvp based of knowledge of null blobs and miner ganking.

"Yes, sure, there is skill fight somewhere hidden where no one besides "those who has skill" find it."

We spelled you out, literally, where you can find fights that need skill and you are conveniently replying "lol, I can't hear you" without any proper counter argument. Like those replies in test forums?

Druur Monakh said...

"There isn’t anyone..." ?

I have yet to lose a fight where I did not acknowledge afterwards that my opponent was the better player, be it a 1v1, a recent 3v1, or an Orca loss to a well-executed trap. And the people I usually associate with do the same.

No solo or small gang PvPer can afford to delude themselves about their abilities if they want to be successful (whatever their metric may be).

But what do I know. I'm only actually playing the part of the game you're merely talking about.

Tabletop Teacher said...

To be honest, this is largely true.

Outside of regulated tournaments, piloting skill is a secondary requirement to victory than sound planning and preparation.

Put simply, a decent solo FW pilot will choose his targets carefully before entering a PLEX, and WH fleets will stalk their prey for the best chance to strike.

I'm not saying that there isn't skill in this, but it's not in your piloting reflexes. It's in your planning and careful strategy before you even lock target.

This is Goblin's point, although he lacks the terms to make it.

Entrak said...

It's time to dust off that old Eve account and start playing again.

Von Keigai said...

There isn’t anyone in EVE who ever acknowledged the skill of the one who defeated him

Nonsense. People exchange gf all the time. Of course some of that must be insincere. But I can tell you with the certainty of self-knowledge that at least some small part of it is not: mine. I have gf'ed almost everyone who beats me, no matter what the circumstance, because it takes skill to kill another pilot in this game.

That time I got ganked by a 10-man fleet? They set it up very well. They had eyes on more places than we did. They achieved information superiority on the battlefield-to-be. I had no idea there were more than maybe 3 guys lurking about. They brought a good enough selection of ships to stop my escape and kill my Tengu. Good fight, guys, even if you did not execute in battle all that well.

Anonymous said...

..You might be correct on your assessment of the attackers amount of skill. Let's pretend you are.

The difference? The target's amount of skill.

Conventional PvP pilots are attacking, blobing, blaping, hunting, targets that are fully expecting and preparing for a fight.

Ganking miners...You have simply targeted the most vulnerable ship in space.

Real PvP pilots = actively hunt ships/pilots that are expecting and are prepared for PvP.

Ganking pilots = actively hunt ships/pilots that put themselves in the most vulnerable position.

Ganking is not real pvp. It is exploiting a vulnerable ship/pilot. The vulnerable ship/pilot is not stupid, as the reward from being so vulnerable makes up for the risk.

What you do is open fire on the journalists covering the war.

Soldier: "I've killed 12 hostel targets. These hostel targets were actively trying to kill me, and avoid being killed. But, because of my superior skill and strategy, I have killed those who would have kill me.

Gevlon: "I've killed 1000 reporters and journalists. These targets put themselves into a vulnerable situation with a high reward. But, because of my comparatively better inherent combat rating and using strategies that others created, I have killed those who would have posed no threat.

Can you understand this, Gevlon?

Lucas Kell said...

@Behnid Arcani
"This is Goblin's point, although he lacks the terms to make it."
I don't believe it is. His point is "I am definitely a great PvPer, because everybody sucks, therefore my easy gank kills are just as good as any other".
It's simply untrue. There are many many people who are great at PvP for all sorts of reasons. If Gevlon wants to prove himself at PvP, then he needs to engage in fights, not ganks.

On the skill side, I think the thing people miss though is that the skill isn't in piloting your ships, its at rapidly adapting to a changing situation.

Tabletop Teacher said...

@Lucas Kell

"I don't believe it is. His point is "I am definitely a great PvPer, because everybody sucks, therefore my easy gank kills are just as good as any other"."

You could be right, but the Goblin's usual attitude is that he does nothing special, and anything he does can be repeated by anyone for profit. Or kill mails in this case.

And yeah, I think you're right about Eve's PvP skill being more on adapting to battlefield circumstances. This can still be applied to ganking though.

Druur Monakh said...

@Behnid Arcani

I don't think that is Gevlon's point.

As I don't think that anyone but the bloodiest rookie at PvP will agree that pulling the trigger - I mean: pressing F1, is just the culmination of a whole sequence of decisions. From deciding what skill to fly, aver chosing your operation area, over deciding who to pursue, to deciding whether to engage at all, the final engagement is just the culmination. And as Susan Black just these days pointed out, 'The Hunt' is usually more tintillating than the actual fight itself.

No, what Gevlon does is creating an artificial divide. In his mind, PvPers are just button-pushers, whereas the real skills are in the preparation of the fight.

What he actively ignores are all the people who do both plan _and_ execute. Because all he knows are large fleets which have a great margin of error for unskilled pilots like him;and his solo operations. Nothing in-between.

Just now, I have spent the last hour pondering the best fit and tactics to fly a Jaguar tomorrow in a fleet of T1 frigates, all of them rookies and most equipped with long points. According to him, I'm just an unskilled PvPer pressing a button (since I'm not going to be the FC, or anything important), yet I spend my time _planning_.

Michael Harari said...

My last fight was my vagabond and a friend in a cyclone against 3 tornados, loki, cerberus, drake, osprey.

We killed 2 tornados, loki, cerb, osprey. Last tornado warped out, and the drake was stabbed.

Go ahead and tell me that we were ganking them.

Anonymous said...

6VDT was the victory parade for Fountain, not a battle.

Z9PP is a more appropriate battle to showcase where skill comes in to play. CFC shit all over superior numbers + capitals due to the talent and skill of their FCs and command team.

Anonymous said...

Gevlon pointed out a key concept here with this blog: "Eve online is not like most games"

The classic definition of "player skill" arises from the early FPS games where there were clear and distinct differences in players who were "good" (high-scorers) and "bad" (low-scorers). Often times this was the only metric possible out of a game's outcome. Out of this meta arose the concept of "player skill": where you were skilled at mastering the concepts of the game and that you had the reflexes and the mental impulse connections to drive muscles in specific, precise ways. There are many instances in EvE where this classical definition of player skill holds true, namely small-gang fights and individual combat, where your reflexes and quick observation-reaction skills are needed to warp when the point falls off your ship or you need to manually fly towards your target in a manner to preserve a high-transversal. Thankfully, this is EvE Online and there is more to the universe than this.

EvE has a meta about it that reduces the importance of this classical definition of "player skill" and instead encourages to a greater degree the "macro-awareness skill" of each pilot. This "marco-awareness" is what creates the scout roles, the perches on gates, the cloaked rapier with a cyno, etc (there are a million of these). Pilots are considered more skilled when they out-think their enemies and not just out fly them. There are some elements of this "out-thinking your enemy" in the older FPS style of "player skill", but not to the level that EvE requires. The AT tournament is held up as the last bastion of "player skill" in EvE; yet I think you would be surprised at the level that teamwork and game-plans enter into the equation. It isn't solely that the pilots are more skilled, rather they are more disciplined and follow the pre-determined planning. Even in your case Gevlon, you are not defeating all those high-sec easy targets by your ability to out-fly them. You are needing the services of three other accounts, your knowledge of game mechanics, and your reliance on bookmarks/instants.

Eve is a game that rewards pilots for their cerebral/strategic thinking over the classic, and more basic, reaction/physical skill. This is why we all enjoy the game and this is what makes EvE different... This is why we play.

So it isn't that "player skill" is a myth, rather it is that there are different criteria that comprises the "skill"

Anonymous said...

This is one of your better posts, although it missing the mark, BARELY, but it's a little off.

There is such thing as player skill, but it caps out pretty quickly and is not always the dominant factor or even a factor at all in a fight. The problem is that oftentimes players usually attribute a win to player skill when the dominant factor for winning the fight was skillpoints, links, and/or FC decisions. Also, in the context of this when I refer to player skill i'm ONLY talking about ship piloting ability.

For the solo pilot, matchup differences aside, skill primarily lies in the ability to manage and dictate range. The counterpoint to this is that many solo pilots rely on links, which when flying against someone without them, skill is no longer the dominant factor.

For small gang, i'll use logistics as an example. Logistics pilots that are on the ball and have their overviews setup properly so they can quickly react to broadcasts and know how to manage their overheating at the right times are worth their weight in gold. However, this only scales to a certain point before it becomes a numbers game and oftentimes there are more important factors influencing the outcome of a fight.

EVE is a game where player skill maxes out quickly before it stops being a significant factor in the outcome of any battle. I completely agree with your sentiments that most fights are won, not due to the skill of the winning side, but the lack of skill on the opposing side. Obviously, people will argue that means that the winners possess skill, but the disparity is often so large that and skill is so insignificant that to brag about it is just silly. It would be the equivalent of being a mediocre dota 2 player and playing against complete noobs. Sure you're more skilled than them, but it's not really something worth feeling good about.

Anonymous said...

I for one would love to see a string of kill mails from low/null from these self proscribed PvPers who just gank/grief and call it adding content.

Challenge: do the same amount of ISK damage consistently for 3 months and I would go so far as to say, I will expose who I am and would help sponsor you at a Eve tournament!

Yes, I am THAT positive you and/or your cohorts could NOT do it i.e. you are NOT Pvprs, but griefers and self righteous blowhards who are simply justifying their game play.

I do however have a way you CAN get straight with the people: Drop the sanctimonious B.S., drop the 'Code" and call it what it is instead of dressing it up. Say it out loud (and put it in a post) ... I am a low life greifer. You will feel alot better about yourself and you wont have to continue to pull crap out of your ass and post B.S. that only like agrees with.

Anonymous said...

A lot of commenters didn't read the article. The article summary, in one sentence: "the only relevant skills in eve are not ones related to flying a ship"

It's still wrong because as the anon above points out, pilot skill is a factor though not usually the most important one. There are gudfites in groups like BN or RvB where they teach dogfight-like piloting skills, and in some engagements they do matter. I have friends that have escaped from sure death situations due to pilot skill and others that have gone into sure lose situations, destroyed enemy ships and survived with ship intact. So pilot skill is a factor, but as anon above me stated, it caps out fairly low and usually isn't as big a factor as planning.