Posts tagged EVE Online
EVE Online is a game with which many new players struggle. First, the game itself is complex — a depth of content and function that intimidates players — and honestly the developers (and the resident players) seem to pride themselves on that fact.
But funny images to the contrary, the learning curve isn’t that bad. It’s not insurmountable. The tutorials in the game are solid, and most activities are, once you understand them, pretty straightforward. (It’s the complications that EVE’s meta-game brings to the table that make things as rich and robust as they are.)
For example, combat in EVE can be brutal, but it is not a twitch-gamers domain — if you find yourself thinking “that happened so fast I couldn’t even do anything before my ship was gone”, chances are pretty good you missed (several) warning signs, and chose to ignore them. To be honest, the actual combat sequence is almost simplistic: target enemy, orbit them at an appropriate distance, turn on guns, watch guns fire, profit — even the most simplistic kiting technique in your fantasy MMO of choice requires more complicated keyboard gymnastics. Veterans have found dozens of nuances to this that raise their game to another level, but I can tell you from personal experience that the basic breakdown I listed above will get you through almost any PvE encounter in the game.
So: EVE has a pretty rough learning curve, but not an insurmountable one (at least, not anymore).
And yet player retention amongst new players remains low, compared to any other similarly-popular MMO.
I find myself asking why. More >
Wyl glanced over his shoulder at his corpmate, who sat across the room, flipping through screen after screen of Sinq Laison public market reports. “Troubles?”
“I’d rather be shot at,” muttered Ty. He tapped one screen closed and pulled up local private contracts available for the same products, but judging from his reaction, Wyl guessed the results weren’t any better. “At least with pirates, you know what’s going on: you want to kill them, they want to kill you. Simple. With this…” He flipped the screen to the side and spun in his chair, watching the ceiling. “I can’t tell if the prices on some of these modules are that high because people are stupid, or greedy, or if there’s actually a good reason.”
I’ll confess that, as a new and fairly enthusiastic player of EVE Online, I don’t spend a lot of time on the forum — this is simply because I do like the game, and I’ve found that the easiest way to start hating an(y) MMO you like is to visit their official forums. The experience ranges from “OMG MY EYES” to “Now I need to take a shower” to “Show me on the doll where it touched you”; no exceptions to this rule come to mind.
The release of EVE’s new forums, timed to coincide with the release of Incursion 1.4.1, might (might, I say) get me to change my mind… or at least check it out.
The new forums are now fully integrated into EVE Gate (which (unlike a forum) is a very cool website that lets you send and receive in-game mail from the site on behalf of your characters, as well as chat with corpmates and contacts in a format similar to twitter or facebook). Continuing that social networking emulation-trend, the new forums have added the ability to “Like” posts, add threads to personal favorites lists, and create RSS feeds for threads or even search criteria you’re interested in keeping tabs on.
Interestingly, CCP chose not to move the old forum’s posts to the new location. (The old forum “will be ejected into space where it will remain frozen in time and fully viewable, but in a read-only state”.) Maybe there were technical problems with a move, or maybe they figured it would be a good time to clean out the stables — who can say?
One thing’s certain — you can clean the stables all you want, but they’re always going to smell like that, CCP. Sorry.
But maybe I’m being pessimistic; are there any MMO forums you can name that don’t make you want to kick puppies and deny your membership in the human race? DO TELL.
In this episode Chris and I are guestless. We speculate on and discuss some Guild Wars 2 announcements, The Old Republic progression, Eve on a tablet and more. We also discuss the MMO phenomenon of the DPS glut and/or the tank and healer scarcity.
The economy of EVE Online is a strange one — possibly unique, in that the value of the game’s currency (ISK) has a verifiable, equivalent real-world value. This is due to the fact that CCP allows players to buy gametime codes outside the game (perfectly normal), and then use those codes to create in-game items: PLEX, or Pilot License EXtensions, which can be used by the original player or sold on the in-game market for ISK (something not seen in any other game of which we are aware).
This setup creates a couple of interesting effects. For instance, a player with a sufficiently profitable character can basically turn EVE into a free-to-play game, simply buying PLEX off the in-game market with their character’s wealth, rather than paying a subscription fee. It also allows people to report fairly accurately on the real-world monetary equivalent of the damages incurred by the latest hulkaggedon.
Most importantly, with the help of CCP, it provides EVE players with a unique opportunity to help those in need in disaster-stricken areas of the world by donating their character’s wealth to the cause.
I experienced a bit of serendipity last night on the EVE Online website. I had reset my settings for Aura (a fantastic app for the Droid that helps me monitor my skill queue and look up gear and ships while offline) and needed reenter my character’s API key into the App to get things synced back up. I knew I could retrieve the key from the main EVE website but, as with most things on the internet, I wasn’t sure exactly where the page was located, so I did what I usually do: poke around and explore.
At one point, I was asked for my login and password and without really thinking about it I tapped out a familiar userid, hit submit, and was met with the following message.
This was an odd enough error to pull my attention fully back to the screen, and I realized that good old muscle memory had taken over — I’d entered in a different userid than the one I actually used in EVE, but one which I had used quite often in the past.
Like, for instance, four years ago.
My curiosity piqued, I told the site I’d forgotten my password, gave it a likely old-school email address, and a few minutes later I had a reset password for the defunct account sitting in my inbox. A few more clicks, a quick chin nod toward Paypal, and I had reactivated the long-abandoned account.
My mild curiosity had gone rabid — updating Aura was a distant memory — I logged into EVE with the new/old account information and was greeted by a dust-covered slightly resentful-looking capsuleer (who still had an insurance company’s condolence EVEmail in her inbox for her training ship getting blown up). More importantly, I was greeted by a character who predated the fairly recent changes to EVE’s skill system, and who had, as a result, accrued a double-handful of maxed-out starting skills and a significant pile of instantly-redeemable skill points to do with as I saw fit! I could…
I… didn’t know what to do with them.
I had found that strangest of all EVE-creatures: an Alt.
The most striking thing about EVE Online is the way in which the game is not like its digital brethren. Unique can be a good thing: when you’re sick to death of the same-old-same-old, something that works completely differently can be a real breath of fresh air. It can also be a bad thing: sometimes, the reason that everyone solves a design problem the same way is simply because it’s actually the best way to solve the problem. “Unique” is a risky balancing act — when you get it right, it can set you far above your competition — get it wrong and you’ve set yourself up for mockery and painful failure.
Say what you will about EVE, it’s definitely not a game that’s ever been afraid of being different from everyone else. Sometimes that works out well, and sometimes it makes players want to kick innocent puppies to relieve their frustration. Today, in the /diff files, I’m going to take a look at EVE’s version of the MMO-ubiquitous “quest” mechanic: Missions — and see which end of the spectrum they end up on.
A few months ago, a couple of my kinmates on Lord of the Rings Online – one of them, our kin’s leader – mentioned that they played EVE Online and that should any of us want to try it out, they were available for tips and assistance and just general hijinx.
My response? “Meh.”
Don’t get me wrong — I enjoy doing stuff with the folks in my kinship — they’re a great group of people, regardless of the context. But I had tried EVE in 2007, attracted by the hard(ish) sci-fi experience that the game seemed to offer, and had found the experience somewhat… lacking.
Lacking what? Instructions, for one thing, or any kind of easily-located guide on how to do esoteric things like… I don’t know… fly around.
“This is a space-travel sci-fi game in which you cannot leave your ship,” I remember thinking, “and I can’t figure out how to make the bloody thing go. Judging from the other motionless ships around me, I’m not alone. That’s a problem.”
I eventually did figure out how to make my terribly fragile-looking shuttle move around at what felt like glacial rates of speed, but then what?
“Mine ore,” suggested the not terribly helpful ‘help’ channel (after a half-hour of silence following my query). “You can figure it out. It’s a sandbox! Do whatever you want!”
Then someone blew my ship up while I was reading a fan-written mining guide (translated via Babelfish from the original Hungarian), and I decided to log out.
I did not go back.
“Sandbox” is all very well and good, but when the sandbox is the size of an entire city and the only available toys are discarded VAX terminals, broken bottles, and shivs fashioned from rusty springs dug out of a discarded mattress, that sandbox may not provide the kind of fun that appeals to a broad playerbase. The new user experience for the EVE of 2007 was a bit like sitting down in a Beginner’s Linux course in which the instructor says “Just read the MAN pages,” then leaves. Given that history, I wasn’t keen to return to the game.
But the seed of the idea had been planted, so when I started to see news articles on EVE’s new Incursion expansion (as one does when one writes for MMO Reporter), I took the time to actually read them (as well as information on the last few updates like Tyrannis). What I saw intrigued me: revised character creation, updated player tutorials (implying that there now were player tutorials), and (most intiguing to me) the titular Incursion itself — raids and attacks throughout the EVE galaxy by an enemy that reads like a combination of the Borg, angry Cylons, and those guys from that Pitch Black sequel that I streamed on Netflix that one time.
And if you think that didn’t count as a plus, you don’t don’t know me.
Frankly, I was shocked: EVE was getting something dangerously close to a noob-friendly metaplot. I mulled it over for a bit, trying to decide if I should give the game another try.
What finally decided me was that original post from my kinmates. “This time,” I thought, “I’ll have someone to give me tips. Someone who can explain the more obscure stuff. Most importantly, someone I can blame.” On January 22nd (only a few days before my new son would be born), I downloaded the game client for the second time in four years and signed up for a 14-day free trial.
Here’s how it went.
This week, we’re joined by Doyce, one of the members of the MMO Reporter team.
Doyce’s contact info: