If you’re a guest checking out our public forums or a TOGger browsing posts looking for something new that might spark your interest, let me bend your ear about… EVE Online.
EVE is a game with a reputation for having a cutthroat community, being difficult to learn, and being merciless to those that make mistakes. I won’t lie to you; it’s earned that reputation. A game centered on player versus player content isn’t going to hold your hand and skip through the meadows of game content patting you on the back for each flower you pick. However, this is what gives EVE its appeal.
People love the game because it is hard. It is a challenge to find the right fitting for your ship to overcome a difficult mission or build your skills to fly a particular ship - and fly it exceptionally well. These challenges make success feel more rewarding, rather than the lukewarm gratification of just reaching the finish line that grinding away at a time-sink gets you.
While overcoming a challenge can give you a feeling of accomplishment, it can be difficult to entice new players to subscribe past the trial period if the learning process is too hard. Since its release in 2003, the developers have improved the tutorial missions to be much mo re user-friendly. Not only has this improved the new player experience, but it has simplified things to allow new players to get into the game faster.
Even so, once you have finished the tutorial missions and get into seriously playing EVE, people used to more traditional MMOs can find themselves adrift in EVE’s starry sea. I used to be one of them, so I’m going to share with you how I was able to overcome the traditional MMO mindset.
I’ve played EVE on and off for a while - and honestly, it’s been more off than on (just playing for a year or so in 2005 and 200. What I have come to realize is that I never really got serious about it. I dutifully trained all my learning skills (back when they still existed) and used EVEMon to make training plans to fly a big mining barge. I ran missions and thought about branching out into flying a tackling frigate and eventually a covert ops ship for when I would be needed by my corporation in PvP (something attainable for a person with frigate flying skills and not much else combat-wise). Sadly, I lost interest in playing because of several things that I found discouraging:
The first problem was I couldn’t get past the loss of my ships. This was primarily a financial problem, but it was also an attitude problem. War declarations (wardecs) reminded me of my bad experiences in Shadowbane with griefer guilds (I just don’t understand the joy people get out of making other people miserable). Once you’ve depleted your bank account replacing ships and re-insuring your clones you’re pretty much screwed until the wardec is over or you leave for an NPC corporation. Neither option is fun or favorable.
The second problem regarded skills. I always felt like I was behind people that had been playing for a lot longer than I had been. In the same vein, I also got discouraged when I would lay out a training plan and see it would take around 30 days to learn (or longer) - not to mention the cost for buying the skill books I needed.
The third problem was direction. EVE has been described by many as a sandbox where you can go out and do whatever you want. Coming from single player-RPGs and more traditional MMOs, this left me a bit lost. It’s a big universe with lots of choices. Trying to do everything all at once may work in other games, but it doesn’t in EVE. You really need to decide on a direction and stick with it. While I had a goal, I couldn’t afford the skill books (tying in to my first problem).
I wanted to love the game because I love EVE’s starships & graphics and I also loved the depth and grittiness of the game lore. The problem was I just couldn’t get past my three problems - until I realized that I was looking at EVE from a traditional MMO mindset of, “grind time-sinks, get rewards.”
EVE wasn’t just another MMO with a different look; it was a whole other type of game and it required me to change.
Overcoming the first problem was perhaps the hardest part. When you lose something you’ve worked hard for you can’t help but take it personally. This is why EVE players chant, “Don’t fly anything you’re not willing to lose.” I needed to change my way of thinking and just let it go. It’s okay to be upset when it happens (and you probably will be if it was a nice ship with good gear) but don’t let it ruin your day. The best thing to do is to always fly insured and, if possible, have a backup ship in the same category to fly when your main ship is lost. It takes time and ISK to set up, but it pays off.
Overcoming the second problem was actually something of a revelation on two fronts. First I realized that while someone may have been playing the game for several years more than I have, when they reached Rank V in a skill, that’s as good as they’re going to get. They may be able to fly a Tech II or a Capital ship, but when it comes down to it if we both meet in Tech I frigates we might be on relatively even ground. Granted the chances of that happening are unlikely, but it is still a comforting thought. There are only so many combat skills a person can train that will have a direct effect on how your ship performs – and all it takes is some time to learn them.
This leads into my second revelation on skill training, and deals with the discouragement of seeing a long training schedule. Depending on the amount of time you have to play, it could take months to level a single character to endgame in a traditional MMO. If you play more than one character class and/or follow a different leveling path to experience more game content, leveling multiple characters could take years.
This revelation made me realize that in EVE, skill training is the same as leveling a character in a traditional MMO. The main difference is that EVE gives you a concrete value of the time required to “level up” when you make a skill training list. It might take two months to learn all of the prerequisite skills to get into a battleship, but once you get it you got it. To further the traditional MMO analogy, once you get into the battleship (treating it as your endgame) then you can work on “gearing up” and learning other skills that will improve your combat effectiveness. The skill training method also allows you to level up in whatever direction you feel best suits your needs. You can change mid-stride from becoming a better miner to becoming a better combat pilot if your interests suddenly change.
Overcoming the first two problems naturally tied into overcoming the third problem of finding direction. It begins with a single solid goal: “I want to fly a battleship,” “I want to be a miner,” “I want to manufacture things for my corporation,” or “I want to explore wormholes.” With whatever goal you have in mind you can focus on training the skills you need to achieve it and earning the ISK to buy the ships and gear to do it. If you want to diversify, that just gives you another goal (though you have to realize that it will take longer and cost more to reach both goals). Once you reach your goal, set another one.
So I learned how to change my mindset from looking at EVE as a traditional MMO and seeing it for the sandbox it really is. Like any game, the most important part is finding what you consider fun and sticking with it. I overcame the problems that had been holding me back, reactivated my account, and have been having a blast. Maybe I’m a bit thick for having it take so long to realize, but I’m posting this with the hope that it saves you from the same experience and interests you in trying something new.
Finally, the icing on the cake is having a great group of people to hang around with. While EVE has its share of people that want to trick you into doing something foolish to blow you up (this is especially prevalent in the training areas) it also has a die-hard community of people that truly love the game and want you to join it and have fun. The members of TOG are a shining example of this and are eager to help new players find something to love in EVE Online.
I hope this post allows anyone that has been on the fence about trying EVE to give it a shot.
Free 21 day accounts are available from TOG members in here. Just post up for an invite to be sent.