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Nov 22, 2007



Actually, I think the borrowing of words between watercraft and aircraft probably goes back to the 18th century with the first balloons. My dictionary cites 1820 as the first use of the term "aeronautics," which shows that people were thinking about "ships of the air" fairly early with the development of lighter than air flight. "Pilot" still is a nautical term for the person responsible for steering a ship, often a local specialist who boards while the ship approaches harbor and brings the ship into dock.

I suspect that for aircraft, "pilot" has displaced "captain" to describe the person with the primary responsibility for managing operations due to the small crew size. Space Shuttle crews still have a commander with command authority, a pilot who is second in command but responsible for flight operations, and a variable number of mission and payload specialists.


Nice post, Nate. I'm always a fan of noticing the ways that players recognize the limits of control. Just fyi, the English "pilot" has long meant the navigator of a water-going vessel. It is derived from the Middle French pilot or (14th cent) which may be traceable to the Greek pidhotis (romanized here), for "steersman" (itself from pidhon, "oar"). That we think of it as primarily (and even originally) an aeronautical term now is interesting in itself.


*pilot or pillot


I am unsure of the roots of this confluence of naval and aviation metaphor in Eve-Online.

From every real life and science fiction astronaut to come before it, perhaps. Like the first author ever to coin the term "spaceship", naturaly the rest would follow.

In Eve terms, my impression was always that anyone could form a gang with any number of ships. Two people flying together do not a fleet make. Fleets imply a: more players, b: more command structure (gang implies either no specific leader or a leader with loose command), and as of the first Revelations patch, c: more in-game skills to operate.


I've really enjoyed this series Nate.

Can't help wondering if your alt is in Fountain or Delve or something. Being the last stand quarters of the GBC, with large enemy recon gangs(Pandemic, Goons, Outbreak[pirates, scary ones], etc) making a mess of the place, I can't help imagining that the place must feel very claustrophobic at the moment.


And yeah, regarding 'the story to be told', I suspect the time for story telling is not far away, a few months maybe. The war has moved largely from Hot epic fleet wars to guerilla warfare and political shenanigans. Either the GBS makes a surprise come back, or it'll be put to the sword sooner rather than later. For eve citizens, these are epic times.

Regarding the nomenclature changes, the 'fleet' one hasnt really taken off as much as CCP would appear to want. Although we talk about "Enemy fleets", we still tend to "Join a gang".


Fly safe, Nate.


Fair winds and following seas.

though that one isn't really a grammatically correct signoff.


Wow. "Thanks" "Nate" that was truly an "interesting" article.


>> pilot <<

A pilot in EVE is more than the guy who flies the spaceship (like in the case of a space shuttle pilot). The pilot IS the ship, floating in an egg full of nutrition liquid, linked to the ship through complicated neural implants. He FEELS the motion, the rush and pain of weapon discharges, he WILLS the ship into complicated maneuvers. He is GOD to his crewmembers, often numbering thousands.

I think the best analogue is the navigator on warp capable spaceships (e.g. in Warhammer40k or Dune). A human mutation able to gaze into the warp and plot a course. A rare creature, not quite human anymore - feared and respected at the same time.

The pilot guides his ship and its crew through dangerous "waters". Their life depends on his skill and experience.

I wonder if this feeling of being "special" is properly applied once EVE offers not only ships but also avatars (the "Ambulation" patch in 2008).

Have fun


it is important to fly safely when we are playing ,and i was trapped last week when i was flying away to the city


"Pilot" in Eve is a corruption of the famous named system in Syndicate, Poitot. Early pirates would call each-other "Poitot" to represent the individualistic streak characteristic of these space-vagabonds who, much like the system of Poitot, stood out from amongst the unnamed rabble. The next time a pirate locks your Badger I full of Civilian Mining Lasers, try hailing him with a hearty "Ahoy there, Poitot!" If he's a traditionalist, there's a good chance he'll give you a grin and a pass to the next system for showing him such respect.



fun fact: Did you know poitot is the only named system in Syndicate!

(Its an old eve in-joke. Blame the goons)




I thought it might be interesting to elaborate on aligning -- it actually causes the group to move more slowly overall since you have to wait -- but this is done out of need for relative safety.

Everyone will warp off at the same time if you all are aligned and at full speed. If you don't coordinate this, then the smaller more agile support ships will warp off before the large battleships, and the battleships will warp off depending on how close to aligned they happened to be. This poses a strategic risk in exposing the "tail" of your fleet to enemy tacklers.

You can divine this information -- that is, whether a gang is aligning before warp or not, through direct observation or also through skilled use of the directional scanner, and it's one of the many instances that observed intelligence influences in the future. First you may glean whether they are aligning or not, or if they have anyone in their fleet who's poor at doing so, but it may take solar systems later before you can exploit this mistake. It's one of the few but important ways that the less numerous may dominate over superior numbers.


I tried Eve years ago and didn't like it. I guess it was the whole avatar as a space ship thing. That and it seemed to be too damn big and too much empty space.

But this series of posts makes me want to it another try.


The whole fleet thing is a little weird. You still have to convert the gang to a fleet in order to install the hierarchy of commanders, so now we get to convert a fleet to a fleet. Awesome.

About "fly safe", it always struck me as weird. I was under the impression that "good hunting" was the typical thing for fighter jocks to tell one another. I've always used that. Except when dealing with carebears on an alt, of course.


gazarsgo -

aligning -- it actually causes the group to move more slowly overall since you have to wait -- but this is done out of need for relative safety


A great point. I think aligning is one of those subtle details that distinguishes good FCing (Field Commanding) from the less able: when to use "best speed" or cover that tail. I also think the process of aligning can be a useful internally as a synchronizing action - to establish a cadence. Also useful in pulling players back into the moment - especially in the case of a stationary fleet moving after a period of inaction.


Hehe, another great conversation starter here Nate.

Seems to me that when you say "fly safe" in Eve, it's kinda like telling someone to double-check the parachute before skydiving. The need to fly safe, or the constant feeling of not being entirely safe is one of the great things about eve.

When you combine the vast openness of space in Eve with the potential for violence, trickery, piracy, thievery and the like, you really get a feeling of the wild west. Small outposts scattered about, with vast stretches of wilderness. Prospectors out working thier claims, with roving bands of outlaws looking to make a quick buck. Even the ever-present "most wanted" billboards around the gates remind me of the early American westward expansion.

As for the blending of naval and aviation terms when speaking of space travel: I think you'd be better off looking for the source of that in science fiction litterature, such as Azimov, Bova, and George Lucas. Space travel seems to have the same flavor of romantic adventure as tales of the high seas, and sailors have been linked to the study and naming of celestial objects since before recorded history. Much of our modern day space lore is rooted in seafaring, such as the naming of stars and constelations for navigation and storytelling. Some anceint mythologies actually attempted to explain the sky as if it were a sea. So really, you could take the link between space and nautical terms back to before recorded history.


"I am unsure of the roots of this confluence of naval and aviation metaphor in Eve-Online."

It comes from a long tradition in SF doesn't is. Many thing seem to talk about space fleets as the navy and lots of space ships look like batter ships - designers proving a point about the lack of friction in space I guess.


thoreau said:

"I tried Eve years ago and didn't like it. I guess it was the whole avatar as a space ship thing. That and it seemed to be too damn big and too much empty space."

Same here. I played in the beta and had the same reaction. After playing the hell out of DAoC, SWG and WoW for the next three years, I tried Eve again last fall.

I was lucky enough to fall in with a great corporation for new players, Eve University. It's full of people who are either finding their way in the Eve universe, or people who enjoy teaching and helping new players. It's a unique guild/clan/corp in my gaming experience. The idea of a "teaching" guild wouldn't work as well in a sharded world like WoW. In Eve, every new player interested in tutorials, in-game classes, making new friends, and perhaps participating in rabid, frothing, screaming newbie PvP, can find an early home in E-Uni. Everyone who wants to teach or mentor can come to one corp and find eager students. And most importantly, all those students and teachers can fly together regardless of how long they've played the game. Sharded games would end up scattering either students or mentors across many servers, and I don't think an organization like E-Uni could emerge in WoW.

It's also a good pipeline for hooking up with more established corporations in 0.0 once you have your bearings. E-Uni is a well-respected corp in the Eve universe.

I've really enjoyed the series, Nate, looking forward to more. And yes, I say "Fly safe" all the time. We all know the pain of losing an expensive ship. Fly safe, indeed.

I aced the quiz at poitot.com, btw. Yay me.


NYTimes.com has an Eve review in today edition:




Can you compare the pain of losing an expensive ship to something real world for me?

Is it like losing a hand of Texas hold-em when the river flops a full house to beat your two-pair? The I can't believe this just happened to me feeling.

Or is it like reading the last chapter of a lengthy book only to find that dozens of loose ends remain and no plot resolution. The I can't believe I wasted all that time feeling.


@thoreau re: what losing a ship feels like.

I'm sure it's different for everyone. (And it depends on the ship) Based on the two choices you give, I'd say it was signficantly more like the poker one for me.

Or perhaps, like watching your car go down the carwash through from the window in the waiting area and realizing halfway through that the windows are down. More of an 'oh crap why didn't I roll the windows up' feeling. Oftentimes, especially in the beginning, when you lose a ship it is usually your fault (for being an easy target, not taking precautions, etc). As you gain experience and wealth, and lose more ships, it becomes less of a surprise and more of a learning experience. A lot of eve is balancing risk vs reward and taking calculated risks. If I'm running a pipe with a cruiser full of gear for resale and quintuple my money on each trip, then I don't really care that much if I lose a ship on every third run, or whatever.

If you are actively seeking pvp, you should basically _expect_ to lose your ship and fit it out accordingly. Part of the fun of PVP, though, is going in with expensive mods and ships to get the edge. Fitting a ship cheaply can be a way to fit it out for defeat in which case you didn't really save any isk anyway. Of course, if you get called primary, it probably doesn't matter but then if everyone is tricked out, your fleet will have the advantage everything else being equal, which it never is... :)

I concur with everyone else (not for the first time) that these posts make me want to play again. Excellent work, Nate, and I agree with all of your points on 'fly safe', even the ones that you think might be your imagination. It isn't just you re: godspeed/good luck.

Fly safe.




>Can you compare the pain of losing an expensive ship to something real world for me?

EvE is in the real world - why oh why do people keep using this non-sensical dichotomy.

How about letting a goal in in football through not paying attention? Physical, but totally within a game - thus should not matter?

Or dropping a sculpture that you have paid thousands for - like an EvE ship it took effort to get the resources to purchase it, also like an EvE ship is might have no 'practical' value at all - thus should not matter?


If we absolutely HAVE to make comparisons to 'real life', there's always the exchange rate between eve currency and US dollars. A 30 day time card goes for about 150 million ISK, and they cost 15 dollars of US currency. 150 million ISK is enough to fit a decent ship, but you can easilly get up to the 500 million range without getting into capital ships. So if we're going to make the poker comparison; How does it feel when you lose between 15 and 50 dollars in an evening?

I'd say that if you like the game you will go back and play more poker, even after losing $50, and try to make more money back than what you lost. Everyone loses a few hands while learning how to play the game, and there's always ways to become a better poker player, no matter how good you are. That's what eve feels like.


Oh yeah. Someone can spend a lot of 'space bucks' on a ship alright. I'm flying at the moment with a guy who's in an faction/officer fitted machariel thats probably 2bil. He's gunna cry when he loses that bad boy.

I remember my first battleship. I didn't really (at all , actually) have the skills to fly it, but I decided to sneak it back home on my own, unfitted except for a shitload of stabs (I knew that much). Being that 70mil was a LOT of money for a newbie like me, it was the scariest ride of my life in that game. Cruising empire was fine. No wardecs, but the transition into low sec got terrifying really fast when a couple of known pirates spotted me, and put up a chase. Suddenly I had two interceptors on my ass, and I started breaking into a cold sweat. I was literally hanging on the edge of my seat freaking the hell out as I jumped into a system and warped into an asteroid belt. I dropped a mid space bookmark, did the fastest U-Turn a big slow old battleship could and burnt to the bookmark. I sat there almost gasping for breath from sheer andrenaline, when I saw what I really really didn't want to see. A helios jumps in and a probe drops. Now granted, this was in the days before the fast probing we have now, but I knew better than hang around. ^Q and outa there. I literally had to lie down to get my nerves under control. What a rush!

I logged back on an hour later and got some boys to come up and escort me home. After being told that it was stupid stupid stupid trying to fly a battleship with such low skillpoints (Just a smidgeon over 1mil), I named the boat 'wing and a prayer' and parked her for a couple of months whilst I trained up the skills.

7 months later I got in my first recon , hunted down and podded every last one of those pirates. Justice for the newbie, served cold.

The other day I lost my first command ship. 300mil loss with fittings. It was annoying, but the rush will probably never be the same as that first crazy battleship dash.


I've never played this game, but the way you guys describe it - both in terms of the grand economy and the adrenaline rush, makes me want to run out and buy it. Thanks for this whole series and comments.

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