Daily Archives: February 14, 2020

Raids versus Fleet Ops

Massively OP ran a Daily Grind post last week about raiding.  Those are sort of their regular “questions for the audience” posts.  The question was whether people avoided raids in the MMO and why.  It seemed like a setup for some back and forth between those who enjoy raiding and those who fail to find pleasure in it.

I chimed in with a short comment about how I have never felt as lost an ineffectual in an MMORPG as when I have been on raids.

My raiding experience is long in the past, with a lot in TorilMUD then some in EverQuest and EverQuest II many years back, along with a bit of LFR in World of Warcraft.  Even that last bit, which is pretty much raid tourism as opposed to actually raiding, just reinforced how I ended up feeling in raids as time moved along.

Garrosh Awaits… back during Pandaria

None of my reasons for avoiding raiding stray very far from the usual list of gripes, from time to guild drama to time commitments to return on effort to just not having fun.

A raid group from back in EQII

I much prefer my MMORPG content in a smaller group.  Dungeon runs with 3-6 people, people I know, is the right path for me.  Not playing with strangers does mean that I do not end up knowing a lot of people in game, and the strangers I do end up meeting tend to be the very aggressive and demanding sorts who give interacting with people in MMORPGs a bad name.

None of which ought to be a surprise to any long time reader here.

Which, as usual, leaves EVE Online as the odd man out as, to put this in the format used on Twitter:

  • Me: I don’t like large group content!
  • Also me: 250 person fleet op? Count me in!

It is true.  While I am reluctant to join in large group activities in most MMORPGs, it seems to be what I do most in EVE Online.

And some operations include multiple 250 person fleets

And it isn’t like there isn’t solo and small group content in EVE Online.  A five person gate camp is very much a thing as are small group roams and a wide variety of other options.  And solo PvP is very much an primary occupation for some.  New Eden offers opportunities for groups of all sizes.

So why the big groups for me?

I think it has to do something with a sense of purpose.  There is very much a correlation between the number of people that are called for to fill out an operation and the certainty of its purpose.  You can get 20 people easy to go camp a gate for a bit or for a roam.  On deployments an FC can get 40-60 people on a quiet with the idea of going to shoot a structure in hopes of getting the defenders to form for a fight.

But when you start pinging early and often for a fleet and want 250 people, or maybe multiple fleets of 250 people, the intentions tend to be pretty concrete.  We’re going to blow something up, like a Keepstar or a Sotiyo or an opposing group has an operation planned and we’re going to drop in and shoot them.  Some specific content is on the menu and, while it doesn’t always come to pass, the agenda is generally short and clear.

Nobody calls for a huge fleet then says they want to go on a roam and see what turns up.  Well, not if they want to keep a fleet that size under their command.

There is also room for a range of skill levels in big fleets.  When you have a small group camping a gate everybody needs to be somewhat competent.  But in a 250 person fleet there is enough slack to cover those still learning.

The line members of the fleet, flying the DPS ships of the doctrine being used, are often derided as being “F1 monkeys,” but you have to start somewhere.  But some people are perfectly fine in that role.  I tend to favor flying in the logi wing, which is more demanding, but sometimes I too like to just shoot things.  It can be fun to just let the FC take you someplace and tell you what to shoot as you watch the pretty battle.  (And all the more so with the 64-bit client where you can leave your graphics turned up so the battle is actually pretty.)

You don’t have to be the main line DPS person.  A fleet has plenty of other roles for the experienced and novice alike.  It can be fun to just fly a target painting Vigil, getting on kill mails while sailing around the fleet at high speed.  And, at the other end, your average FC is busier than any raid leader.  You can find the level of effort/responsibility/skill that works for you.

And then there is scheduling.  In a big coalition fleets run all around the clock.  I don’t have to dedicate specific nights of the week to fleet ops.  In fact, I can be quite haphazard about my fleet participation.  If I sit down at my computer and have some free time, I’ll take the next fleet that pops up on Jabber.

I will set aside time for specific objectives.  If there is a Keepstar kill coming I’ll block that time off to make it.

So in this, as in so many things, EVE Online is an outlier, the game that doesn’t quite fit the roles of the genre.

Of course, fleet ops are PvP, so that changes things as well.  There is something more akin to raiding in New Eden.  They are called incursions, and I have tried that as well.  While they can be lucrative, it is not nearly as much fun as the chaos of live enemies.