I had a good time playing EVE this weekend. I did a lot of distribution missions and a few storyline missions on the alt I use to farm Caldari loyalty points. For a six day stretch, I compiled 140,000 LP and 145 million ISK. A pittance compared to a null sec resident ratting in an Ishtar, but I don't have to worry about running out of loyalty points like I did the week before.
I also had some adventures while mining. While out mining kernite in my Procurer, I ran into one of the Mordu's NPC frigates. Between the mining barge and the Hound I was dual-boxing, I had almost stripped the shields off the tough little rat when two pilots in faction ships landed on grid. I departed empty handed, down one tech 2 drone. I also took my Prospect out and managed to mine some spodumain until I was chased out by a rapidly growing flock of rats. I then tried to mine in a small bistot site, but an Amarrian factional warfare pilot flying a Thorax didn't like that and chased me out.
Sound exciting? Well, that's the life of a low sec carebear. Or, at least, this low sec carebear when I get a free weekend. Bob knows I don't fly in low for the ISK. Since I also am alone in my corp, I don't fly in dangerous space to play with friends. So why do I play a niche play style in a niche area of a niche MMORPG?
The big kick in the pants occurred in August 2011. Looking back, CCP Greyscale published a dev blog on 3 August 2011 that led me to setting a goal of spending time in low sec just 5 days later. My belief that CCP planned to nerf high sec in its future plans picked up credibility a week later with CCP Greyscale's second dev blog on null sec design goals in which he posted the vision was to reduce high sec to the place where tech 1 bulk goods were manufactured. I didn't want to go to null, but the proposal for low sec to serve as the source of meta/faction gear intrigued me. Since the dev blogs were referring to ideas that would not reach Tranquility for years, if ever, I decided I should beat the rush and establish myself early. But I didn't really get to the goal of living in low sec until 2012.
If CCP pushed me into going to low, what has kept me there? First, low sec is just more exciting of a place to play than high sec. In high sec, a player can basically go about his business in space and not care about others in the area. Well, freighter pilots need to worry about traveling through a few systems, but other than that, only a few suicide gankers descending on ice miners or pimped out mission ships constitute a threat. In low sec? When mining, I keep a watch on local all the time. When a pilot appears, I look at his information, access the threat, and begin hitting the directional scanner if the pilot is the first pilot other than myself in the system. I think game developers refer to that as immersion. And trust me, this risk-adverse carebear is a lot more immersed in New Eden when my ship is realistically threatened with attack by another player.
Second is the increased payouts of missions. I know, the risk factor actually makes running security missions pay out less, as running the missions takes longer when trying to avoid other players. That doesn't take into account losing ships while running missions. But my bread and butter, distribution missions, doesn't really have that drawback, especially when run in a blockade runner. I haven't run an analysis, but I think the payouts, both in terms of ISK and loyalty points, is about 50% greater.
The third reason is industry. The indexes for manufacturing, copying, research and invention are all much lower in my home system than in high sec. Also, if I need some of the middle tier minerals like nocxium, I don't have to travel far. Did I mention I like mining in low sec? Currently, I produce ammunition, which I then turn into faction ammunition from all of the loyalty points I earn from running distribution missions. I'm currently inventing tech 2 blueprints for mining crystals. Did I forget to mention that mining crystals tend to use a lot of nocxium? If I start wandering around in my Prospect, I can start mining arkonor, bistot, and spoudmain. I could then get the megacyte needed to make the larger cap boosters. I'll have to look into the navy cap booster market.
Next, I like the idea that I'm living on the frontier. Wormhole residents probably feel that way more than I do, but I still live in a rough neighborhood. Just about everyone has a gun (or missile launcher) and as long as gate or station guns are not a factor, aren't afraid to use them. Operating in that environment is a challenge. Taking part in low sec markets is bringing a little bit of civilization to a lawless area.
The last reason I still find a bit unusual. When I tell people when I go to Fanfest I'm a low sec carebear, I like the reaction. First, many people have asked, "I didn't know those existed." Then, when I tell them I mine in low sec, I get some respect. Apparently everyone is convinced that mining in low sec is terribly dangerous. Admittedly, I don't do a lot of mining, but like this weekend, when I do I tend to have an interesting time. From that point, I can talk to other players and trade stories. I feel less awkward because I'm in a one player corp because what I do others find fascinating. That feels good.
So that is how I wound up in low sec and why I decided to stay. So far, I haven't found any reason to change, although some changes have tempted me to return to high sec. But when I look around, I just can't quite make myself leave. And with the direction the game is headed, I'll probably stay a good while longer.