Occasionally I'm reminded that I haven't fully adapted to the EVE Online universe. The latest example was a comment left on yesterday's post. I was reminded that a player does not have to die in order to lose skill points when losing a tech 3 strategic cruiser. Let me explain how my experience in other games led to this mistake.
In EVE, a player isn't considered dead unless his pod is destroyed. The pod is the little green or gold spacecraft that actually contains the player's avatar. The player sits in the pod, which is inserted into a ship. In order to actually kill a player, the player must have two spacecraft destroyed, the main ship flown and the pod. Once the computer in the pod detects a hull breach, the player is killed by the pod and at the instant of death the contents of a person's brain are transmitted to a medical clone. So I guess technically according to the lore, no one ever actually kills another player.
However, that seems a bit strange. Because I basically only use the hangar view and never enter the Captain's Quarters, I see the ship as an extension of myself. That's where my experience in other games kicks in. In WoW or EQ2, I wouldn't consider an attack on me as an attack on my armor and equipment. No, the enemy is attacking me, and a successful attack means I'm dead. But in EVE, the enemy basically attacks my armor and weapons before trying to kill me. Oftentimes the enemy is satisfied with destroying your ship. For example, NPCs ever try to kill a players pod. NPCs that don't try to kill you? Yes, EVE Online is a very strange game.
What also leads to confusion is that when a player destroys another player's ship, a kill report, commonly referred to a kill mail, is sent to the victor. That game mechanic reinforces the thought that destroying another player's ship is killing the other player.
Perhaps if the Incarna expansion had succeeded in bringing avatar play into EVE, I would not think of losing a ship as dying. Spending significant amount of time in an avatar outside my ship would decouple the thought that I am the ship. Until CCP builds in that gameplay (at this point highly unlikely), I'll just have to remember that losing my ship isn't really part of EVE's death penalty.