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Published November 8, 2012

At one stage during all our EVE careers we started out as nobodies, completely ignorant to anything that was going on and just trying to figure out how to work the stupid UI. Getting that first cruiser felt like you could take on the rest of the universe, that sense of elation dissappearing with the first battleship you encountered. Same goes with getting to that magical 1million ISK mark, the 100 mill, and the 1 bil. You felt rich in every one of those moments, and realised how poor you were a few months later when you hit that next level.

Eventually most of us get to a point where we have a few alts, have a few tens of billions (if not hundreds), more ships than we can shake a stick at, and maybe a supercapital. Anyone far from your current level seems inexperienced, poor and generally useless by comparison. Meanwhile any noob starting out will see the massive hill they must climb before getting anywhere near the richer and more skilled among us (this also includes flying skills). As Einstein would say, relativity's a bitch (I'm paraphrasing here).

SHIFTING BASELINES

This is a term that's been coined mostly to discuss our changing frame of reference relative to fish stocks (what your average angler might think is a lot of fish might be very little for someone 100 years ago), but it can be applied to many, many things. Take your average life expectancy for example: 100 years ago people would have called you crazy for expecting to live well past your eighties. Due to the slow-changing reference point, you're largely unaware that this expectation is very different to that in our past. This also applies to wealth, technology etc., and it very much applies to EVE.

In my current alliance we're expected to be able to fly two different logistics ships and around six different combat ships (as well as actually own them). This isn't even considering the capital/command ships that are desired, and that (ideally) everyone should have a supercarrier. Go back to the early days of EVE and these would have been rather silly demands (as if someone can fly all those ships hahaha).  Yet that shift in reference point has slowly happened.

More recently, we're seeing strategic cruiser fleets becoming more common (Loki fleet: -A-/Solar, Tengu: Ev0ke/-A-/CFC). Though the CFC has not flown it much, I expect we will be seeing their Tengu fleet more frequently in the future. This is worrying in that the CFC has generally prided itself in deploying easy-to-fly fleets, when it is becoming clear that their doctrine ships are becoming more skill-intensive and expensive (Rokhs and sentry carriers have made a more recent addition). Strategic cruisers are the most expensive and most skill-intensive cruisers in the game, the players that fly them can only go on to more expensive and skill intensive ships. Although these ships will likely be nerfed in a coming expansion (the HML nerf will likely lower the number of Tengu fleets), the problem of shifting baselines still stands.

THE FUTURE

What will our reference point be in the future? A year from now? Five? If owning a carrier is desired now, will owning a supercarrier be the average in a few years? Will we be seeing most alliances in fleets of strategic cruisers? Will 1 billion ISK seem as trivial as 1 million does for most of us? It's difficult to predict accurately. What we can be sure of is that there will be more accounts with more skillpoints and more ISK than ever before, with the potential consequences that may entail. Who knows, maybe supercarriers will become so commonplace that people will actually be willing to risk them every now and then...

Barnsy
Member of Nulli Secunda. Have been playing Eve for close to four years, already hit by bittervet syndrome. I've played a number of games over the years and generally dab in every game that's fun.