Tuesday, November 19, 2019

EVE Online, a console player’s perspective…

June 1, 2008 by · 9 Comments 

Fleet combat in EVE. Each ship is highlighted with a square.Image via WikipediaI’ve been itching to try EVE online ever since I saw screen shots of it a while back. However, I was limited by my old Mac’s graphics card until a recent upgrade two weeks ago. Because I have a Mac, I am already somewhat limited in what games I can choose from to play natively; so I was glad to see that EVE had a Mac client. Although I could do the Boot Camp thing, I didn’t buy a Mac to spend more time in Windows than I had to.

Not too long ago, I tried out World of Warcraft to see what all the fuss was about, but was unable to get into it. I am a ‘rivets’ person rather than a ‘trees’ person. If you’ve never heard of this nomenclature before… in the words of Orson Scott Card on why he chose to position his masterpiece “Ender’s Game” in a ‘rivets’ world:

Science fiction, when I chose to attempt it seriously, had a viable short story market – lucrative enough to be worth submitting, but not so lucrative that I was competing with the top people in the field. (The top people were all concentrating on novels, because they pay so much better!) My first stories didn’t feel sufficiently like sf – they seemed to editors to be fantasy, and therefore didn’t sell to the major markets. But I got nice encouraging rejection letters. Therefore I set out to write an sf story with rivets instead of trees, so it would FEEL like sf. The result: Ender’s Game, in the novelet version. Source

Hence, my experience of WoW was limited by my feelings towards the culture and mythology around ‘tree’ settings. This is strictly a ‘taste’ thing, and nothing to do with the merits of the game, which by any measure, has been a wild success for Blizzard. EVE, on the other hand, was aimed squarely at me.

EVE Online takes place in a universe that was once united to our current universe through a worm hole, but as luck would have it, the worm hole collapsed trapping the immigrants without a connection back to Earth. These immigrants essentially developed isolated into 4 different factions each with different political attributes, aspirations, and quarrels. Although this explanation is way too simple relative what to you experience when you sign up, it’s the quick and dirty, so to speak.

Once I went through the whole story and character setup process, I was shown my ship in the middle of space and surrounded by tons of control options. The playing screen and controls is overwhelmingly complex at first (and continue to be so for at least the first 10 hours of play) and I frankly had no idea what to do. One of the issues I had with WoW, coming from the console gaming world, is that there is no apparent ‘point’ to the game (at first). EVE isn’t any different. I’m sitting there for a little while trying to figure out what to do, when all of a sudden I start getting shot at by this other ship. Crap. How do I arm weapons, align targeting systems, and fire back? crap.. click this.. uhmm.. taking damage.. what about if I right click here… oh.. lock on target. ok.. so I have him locked now.. good.. so ok. how do I shoot? ok.. taking more damage.. not much, this guy isn’t too powerful.. but what did I do to him to piss him off? what if I press this thing.. (dorky shooting sound comes out of my ship) ok.. so that’s my laser. So how do I maneuver a la console games? no.. it just keeps on shooting and he shoots me.. and I shoot him and he shoots me until he blows up.. wait.. was that combat? 🙁

One thing that I noticed when playing WoW when I fought someone was that it was essentially like taking turns, and that victory was granted to those whose attributes were more likely to have a victory. EVE seems to be no different. Bummer. I love console games because of the skill you develop. I’m good enough now that with just a hand gun in Rainbow Six, I can take on most noobs that have the meanest baddest equipment. Your ability to win is not dependent on what you have, but what you know. Oh well.. I guess if the point to EVE isn’t fighting, I can live with the combat system (apparently Tabula Rasa is a hybrid).

Once I got through the first fight, though, a tutorial started guiding me through what I had to do next to better understand the interface. This went well enough until my laptop battery died mid-way through a mission. Once I charged up again, I noticed that all my progress in that mission had been wiped out, but that it was no longer available! What this ended up meaning was that I couldn’t continue on with the tutorial since it relied upon me completing the mission and there was no way to restart it since the ‘agent’ that gave me the mission refused to give me a new one until I completed the now defunct one. Bummer. I told the agent to bugger off, and I went exploring on my own wondering if I actually cared to play this game any more. It seemed overly complicated and pointless thus far.

In my exploration, I was continually reminded that I was a rookie and prevented from trying out several things, which was annoying since I could do nothing to rectify my situation. I did the usual bored person things: shoot at someone far larger than you to see what happens… (you die).. buy stuff you don’t need from the market… and click on every thing to see what happens. Nothing made me feel ‘captivated’.

I was about to quit and uninstall the game when a guy called Xavier from the The Voltexian Legionairres contacted me asking me if I wanted to be part of his corporation. Bored as I was at not being able to do anything, I said yes. Xavier, and then another one of his friends, Zekoru, basically changed my perception of the game for me. I started to understand what this was about.

The first thing these guys guided me through was how to navigate the whole game, deal with the market, ship fittings etc. They helped me with the UI, and then when I was ready, Zekoru even guided me through a battle against a rat (pirate).

What’s the point of this now then? Well, I started to realize that unlike console games where the objective is to beat the game via your developing skill set, with EVE and other similar MMO’s, the point is to do stuff together with people that look out for you and you for them. As a group you acquire assets, spend them, and battle for a better position within the internal caste system. Sound like real life? Well, it really can feel like it at times. Dealing with the EVE online market system looked like something out of a Bloomberg terminal.. with bid/ask pricing and lots, etc.. This game has something for everyone, but one thing that it will demand of you is time.

You see, it is through time that you can acquire a better standing within your corporation. It is with time that you can acquire wealth by which to improve you ships so that you stand a chance of winning within the combat system. It is with time that you develop the friendships that allow you to have a fun time even if not much is going on at all. The biggest reason why you would be willing to spend this time, from what I can tell, is the feeling of comradery that develops of accomplishing something together with your corporation friends. I honestly cannot see where EVE online would be fun without joining a group. Unlike console games where you can play as a single player through a campaign, playing EVE’s scripted missions only would bore you to death.

All in all, if you’re a rivets fan, EVE is a good game to try. I’m not sure yet whether I’ll bother paying up for the monthly subscription once my 14 day trial expires, but I do feel like I owe something to those two guys that reached out to help me even though they didn’t have to. Perhaps I’ll put in some more time soon.

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