The Game Jar Files: So you want to play Eve Online?

Originally published on The Game Jar.com – 14/05/2013

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With Eve Online celebrating its tenth anniversary this month, I thought I’d have a go at debunking some of the more common myths surrounding the sandbox spaceship MMO. I’ve been playing Eve for some time now, just over four years in fact, and it that time the same few questions have been asked of me. What follows isn’t a guide to playing the game. What I’ve tried to do is collect up some of the more common misconceptions about the game, and answer those in the hope that it might convince you to try the game.

Isn’t it horribly complicated?

Only if you allow it to be. Traditionally in other MMOs, creating a character has almost always meant locking yourself into playing a single class. Some games have played around with duel-classes and other similar things, but by-and-large, if you choose a wizard you play a wizard. Eve isn’t like that. You create a human being, a character that’s capable of learning anything it wants. There are no classes in Eve, you’re free to play anyway you wish, and sometimes that freedom can be overwhelming for new players. The key thing is, not to panic. Being able to learn anything, any time you want, means you can’t really get character creation wrong. Decide that you no longer want to be a miner? Fine, switch training and go do something else, those mining skills will always be there. The bottom line is, learning the ins-and-outs of the game takes time, not membership to MENSA.

But I’ve heard that I can never catch the veterans?

This is one of the more common complaints about Eve, and in a way, it’s true. Skill training in Eve is done in real-time, you simply cannot ( as in other games ) grind out XP to level up. There is no way to short-cut skill point accumulation. In short, veteran players will always have more skill points than you. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find anything meaningful to do. Flying a PvP fitted frigate can be achieved within a week or so, for example, so you can get stuck in. I read something another Eve player posted in reply to this point a few days ago, and it summed it up beautifully: “Skill points don’t make you a better pilot or put you on some unreachable tier – when two pilots undock, only the skill points that relate to their ship matters” My main character might be able to fly every size of ship up to a battleship, but I can only fly one at a time. If we both meet each other in Frigates, it’s my experience at flying that particular ship that’ll give me the edge, not my skill points in Logistics.

What about the players though, aren’t they all just sociopath?

Sure, some players are arseholes, but every game has those. Even the in highly controlled environment of Xbox Live, you come across unpleasant people from time to time. It’s how you react to them that matters. You decide how much you’re going to let them bother you, and if you decide they’re not going to matter, you’ll enjoy the game. There are plenty of good people playing Eve Online. I know because I’ve flown with them. Like so many other aspects of the game, you have to go out and find them, but they are there. Joining a corporation is, in my opinion, crucial to enjoying Eve Online. Flying with a like-minded group of players can mean the difference between sticking with the game, and quitting. A good corporation like Eve University can be a much-needed source of friendship and knowledge, so don’t make the mistake of not finding one.

It’s a PvP game, right? I can get killed anywhere?

Potentially, yes. The first thing you should understand is, everyone is in the same shared universe. Some games have regional servers, some separate the PvP and PvE. Not in Eve. Everyone plays together. Second, there are no 100% guaranteed safe places in space. Eve space does have areas with varying degrees of security, but even the highest rated area, HiSec, can be dangerous. But while it’s possible to get blown up in HiSec, a properly alert pilot with a sensibly fitted ship should be able to minimize the risk of losing his or her craft. You’ll never totally eliminate the possibility of destruction, but that’s part of the charm in my opinion. The risk/reward dynamic is at the heart of everything in Eve Online. Without risk, your achievements mean less. You will suffer setbacks. You will get blown to bits at some point. It’s when you accept that and carry on regardless, that the game becomes fun.

Wait, I have to pay a subscription?

Yes, it’s currently £9.99 a month for UK players. Is that poor value for money? I don’t think so. Depending on the format, games like Bioshock Infinite or Tomb Raider will cost you anywhere from £25-ish to £40, and we (generally) don’t consider those to be poor value for money. They’re both great games, but will you still be playing them four months after purchase? If you consider that for £40 you can play Eve Online as much as you want, for up to four months, it doesn’t seem so expensive. Even if you discover it isn’t for you in that first month, you’ve still only spent a quarter of the cost of a console game.

OK, you’ve convinced me. Where do I start?

The first thing you need to do is head over to EveOnline.com and sign up for a 14 day free trial. Next, download the client. It’ll probably take a while, so be patient. While you’re waiting, you can head on over to CCP Game’s YouTube channel and watch some videos to get a flavour of the game. Start with the CDIA: Pilot Orientation video for a brief overview of the game. Next, play the tutorial. When I started playing, the full body avatars and the captains quarters didn’t exist, so separating your ship from your character could be tricky. Today, the tutorial does a great job of reinforcing to new players that your ship is just something you fly, and that from time to time you’ll have to replace it. Getting new players over that initial fear of being blown up is an important first step, so do the tutorial. Finally, remember it’s free trial. You’re not paying anything to try the game, so don’t worry if you don’t like it.

Eve Online has a daunting reputation. Whether its references to the learning curve being a learning cliff, or tales of an antisocial player-base  it has an aura of being difficult to get into that puts off many gamers. But I’ve never recognised that game. The Eve Online I fell in love with four years ago is a deep, immersive sandbox MMO that offers things other games cannot replicate. As a beginner you will make mistakes. So long as you don’t let them frighten you into not playing the game, you’ll be fine. Just remember, Eve Online is ten years old now. It’s had ten years worth of iteration, and there is a mountain of content to get stuck in to. Nobody expects you to get through it in short order. Eve is a slow burn game by design, you’re not supposed to know everything after a few months of play. If you take things slowly, and don’t waste your time worrying about what you don’t know, you’ll enjoy the game before you.

Images for piece. Feel free not to use them 😛 http://imgur.com/a/LvswW

Video: Kil2 PvP Video

Just a quick post today to highlight this sweet PvP video from Alliance Tournament commentator Kil2. Enjoy the vid, check out his streams, and listen to the Bringing solo back podcast.

Eve Online: More V3 Goodness

We’re still in quarantine lockdown here at HQ, things haven’t quite gotten back to normal so this post is going to be brief. Today’s subject? More Eve Online V3-ing of ships and a slight re-jig of the Drake.

The Minnie ships don’t look all that different to me, maybe a little sharper, and thankfully they haven’t messed with the Rifter too much. The Drake is one of my favourite ships in Eve, and they’ve finally altered it to match the new missile turrets.

Enjoy the videos.

Video: CCP – Welcome to New Eden Pt2

Another developer diary from CCP on Dust 514, part two in fact of the Welcome to New Eden video. This one covers the Mercenary’s doing the actual shooting planet side. For Eve veterans and Dust fans already following the game’s development, the video doesn’t really tell us anything new but it’s worth a watch anyway.

Video: Dust 514 – Welcome to New Eden

I as you may have gathered, I play Eve Online. I also play console games. In the past combining the two usually meant using my PC to look for tips on how to beat the console game I was playing at the time. Well no longer! When Dust 514 comes along, I’ll be able to shoot people in the face on my PS3 and have an influence on things going on in outer space! How? Watch the video…

CCP Video: Escalation to Inferno

A bonus post today, and very probably of no interest to most people as it’s about Eve Online…

As a Stealth Bomber pilot I watched this video, specifically the bit showing the new bomb launchers, and I geeked out. CANNOT WAIT!

Sexy Manticore and Turret Launchers

I’m going to talk about something fairly niche in this post, my love for one little space ship in Eve Online called the Manticore.

The Manticore is a Caldari stealth bomber, it’s role is to de-cloak, deliver a high damage alpha strike with torpedoes and a bomb, and then get out alive. I love this little ship, it’s defences are paper thin but it does some real damage. I used to think it looked pretty cool too, but that was before I saw CCP’s concept art for the new model.  I think the new model looks sexy as hell, and combined with the new missile and bomb launcher modules, it’s going to be my ship of choice for a while.

Credit where it’s due, #tweetfleet

A little while ago I blogged about the disquiet the Eve Online community was feeling about their handling of the fan reaction to a leaked internal newsletter discussing  micro transactions. At the time I felt that CCP’s stance was overly confrontational, and that non-vanity MT’s were only a matter of time. The lack of a straight denial was troubling to me and many others.

Well a few months on and I think we can finally put the whole sorry mess to bed now with the publishing of CCP Helmar’s dev blog, A letter to the followers of Eve. Whilst I can’t help but wonder why it’s taken till now for CCP’s CEO to address us all, I do welcome the words contained within. His apology has come as welcome relief to me, as it’s reassured me that my favourite MMO is once more heading in the right direction. Admitting you’re wrong and saying sorry is a hard thing to do sometimes, so thank you Hilmar your words are appreciated.

Finally, along with Hilmar’s letter a new dev blog from CCP Zulu entitled Eve updating – Winter Expansion 2011 has come along. As the title suggests it’s about the forthcoming winter expansion and what’s pencilled in to be in it, and again it contains good words for those of us wanting more flying in space stuff in our Eve Online game.

I criticized CCP in my last blog because they did something wrong so it’s only fair that I praise them now when they’re doing things right. I’ve noticed your positive efforts CCP, well done, thank you, and I hope it continues.

CCP Dramarama: Footnote

Just as quick follow-up to yesterday’s post, CCP Zulu’s dev blog was indeed a little more conciliatory than his first, and whilst he didn’t explicitly rule out non vanity items for MT’s, he did use the term no plans for “gold ammo”.

The CSM are flying to Iceland to meet with CCP on the 30th June – 1st July to discuss future plans for MT’s, so we wait with bated breath. In the mean time check out the below links to catch up on the drama so far.

Brendan Drain’s Eve Evolved column on Massively.com

Eve Radio’s FunkyBacon discusses the issues with his guests

CCP: Come at me, #Tweetfleet!

If you’re Eve Online player and you haven’t been living in a cave for the last few weeks, you’ll know there’s  a little bit of a controversy going on at the moment, mainly centering around comments made in an internal CCP Games newsletter called Fearless discussing the merits of microtransactions. I’m going to simplify here, mainly because if you are an Eve player then chances are you know what I’m talking about already. There are other issues supplementary the microtransaction one, but I want to focus in this post on the questions that really worry me in the aftermath.

  1. Why won’t CCP simply rule out non-vanity items for MT and put everyone’s mind at rest? There’s one obvious answer, they can’t because it’s on the table. This perhaps is the biggest reason for the community’s rage as we’ve always been under the impression that if MT’s were to come they would be restricted to vanity items only. Personally I don’t care about MT’s for clothing etc, but MT for non-vanity item such as ships, ammo and standings is a line must not be crossed.
  2. Why has the CSM apparently been sidelined and ignored during this whole thing? This and the next question is perhaps the more worrying aspect. CCP seem to have decided that having the CSM’s help and blessing are no longer needed. It seems truly bizarre to me that you would set a player council to help with community relations and then completely ignore it when it’s needed most. Which brings me on to the final question…
  3. Why does CCP seem so determined to fight its customers? This one I really don’t get. Every step of the way so far CCP’s actions have inflamed the outrage, not calmed it. CCP Penn decided that not saying anything when the newsletter first broke was the way forward, then CCP Zulu’s dev blog came along and was little more than a message to HTFU, and the whole lot was topped off by a leaked email from CCP’s CEO Hilmar Veigar seemingly delighting in the controversy. Right from the start CCP have had the means to put this fire out and yet at every step they have chosen further confrontation.

Personally I’ve stopped playing Eve Online now, I think MT’s for non-vanity items are coming, I think CCP know that a large portion of the player base won’t like it, so they’ve embarked on this game of subscription chicken and are determined not to blink first. It’s a sad day for me, to stop playing a game I love, but there’s always other games to play.

*EDIT* It seems CCP Zulu is writing another dev blog with “100% more love” as we speak, will it be more conciliatory? I hope so.

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