Toldain Talks

Because reading me sure beats working!


Toldain started as an Everquest character. I've played him in EQ2, WoW, Vanguard, LOTRO, and Zork Online. And then EVE Online, where I'm 3 million years old, rather than my usual 3000. Currently I'm mostly playing DDO. But I still have fabulous red hair. In RL, I am a software developer who has worked on networked games, but not MMORPGS.

Monday, September 27, 2010

PvP or PvE?

I've been on hiatus from blogging for a week or so, doing some other stuff. Of course, gaming is so engraved into my brain (which is covered by fabulous red hair, of course), that some of the stuff I've been doing, I've been seeing in gaming terms.

First of all, I took a cruise to Alaska. It was magnificent. I saw glaciers, sled dogs, spawning salmon, harbor seals, humpback whales, and ate baked Alaska for the first time in my 3000-year-long life.

When we were in Ketchikan, we took a walk along Creek Street, which is really a boardwalk along a creek. This creek has a fish ladder and a hatchery, and there were many, many salmon in it spawning. Watching them rest in an eddy before trying the next rapids, it seemed to me that the salmon seemed to live life mostly as a PvE sort of game. They didn't compete with one another directly, instead, they were all trying themselves against the current and against the predators. In short, for them life was a PvE game, like Everquest 2, or most of WOW, played solo.

Then, much to our surprise, along came a couple of harbor seals, who had swum up the creek about a quarter of a mile or more, and who feasted on the salmon schooling in the eddy behind three big rocks in the middle of the first major rapids. The salmon scattered, but not quickly enough. To the seals, life was predation. This is the PvP found in EVE Online, where it's often said that if you are in a fair fight, you're doing it wrong.

There were also humpback whales. For them, life is almost entirely PvE. These whales really don't ever compete with one another in any overt way, and they are known to exhibit complex team hunting behavior. Instance grouping or raiding. Or an EvE mining op.

It is far from clear how humpbacks select mates. Possibly the males compete by singing, or by seeing who can breach the biggest or longest. It is known that the males engage in stalking following a female candidate around during the southward migration. Whether this is PvP or PvE kind of depends on the viewpoint. But there's no dueling.

Dueling is the province of mountain goats and sheep. I saw a speck of white on one mountainside in the Tracy Arm Inlet that was reportedly a goat. Mountain goats are famous for the head-butting duels. This is like the PvP offered in special instances or by invitation in games such a EQ2, DDO, or WoW.


While I was on the cruise I did some reading on the Civil War. Specifically, I read The Battle Cry of Freedom. I highly recommend this single-volume treatment of the Civil War, by the way. I have seen Ken Burns' documentary, and I've read Bruce Catton's three-volume work on the Civil War, but McPherson's work tops them. There's so much there about the politics, the economics, and the social conditions at the time in America that I didn't get from that other stuff. He quotes lots of writing from the day, and I love how those guys wrote.

Reading it, particularly the earlier portions about the politics of the 1850's, I realized that, in gaming terms, the South was full of hardcore PvPers, while the North was much more a world of PvE players. Reading the quotes, you could just insert the word "carebear" into some of the Southern rhetoric, and it would not feel out of place in an Eve forum thread.

Lest you think I'm slamming PvP players let me assure you, I'm not. Eve Online is a game, not life. I have no problem with PvP players, but I have a big problem with a bigoted attitude that says that if you aren't a PvP player that plays in exactly the prescribed manner that I happen to play, you are worthless.

And that was the attitude of many Southern leaders, to be sure. Those who had to work for a living were lesser creatures, little better than the slaves on the plantation. The only virtue worth praising was the ability to conquer. This attitude led the South to ruin.

Development in the North had a different path. It saw the rise of factories and factory work. But it also saw the rise of the up-by-your-bootstraps Horatio Alger success story. Industrial projects only get built if there is a lot of cooperation between people. It requires a people who can compete in one area and cooperate in another. This is much more of a PvE attitude.

Anyway, that's what I did on my summer vacation. It seems that I'm stuck with gaming, and gaming is stuck with me.



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