Stranded Beyond The Wormhole

By Jim Rossignol on March 14th, 2009 at 10:33 am.


We’ve begun exploring the unknown systems of wormhole space in Eve Online. I had my first encounter with the freaky Sleeper alien ships last night. I then returned to normal space slightly richer, and slightly wiser. The wormhole – an unstable, temporary gate to an uncharted region – was still open when I logged out of Eve, and so I let my corporation chums know it was there. About an hour later one of them IM’d me: “We’re trapped. The wormhole closed behind us.” His account of the event is posted below.



A Brief Wormhole Adventure, by Roburky:

This wasn’t meant to be much of an adventure, but it turned into one. Jim told me that there was a wormhole in T22, just one jump from our base, so I logged on to check it out. One of our corp members who had already been in gave me the bookmark, and then I scouted him out of Syndicate so he could sell his billions of isk-worth of Sleeper loot in empire.

There didn’t seem to be a friendly alliance gang in the wormhole, and there were no other corporation members about, so I thought I’d just send my alt-character through and practice some probing. The wormhole said it had plenty of mass left, but was nearing the end of its natural life. I spent a while considering whther I should go through, and if I did go through, whether I should go back and get a cheap frigate or something, in case I got trapped. I decided to go for it, with the Arazu – an expensive recon ship.

I discovered there were a bajillion exploration sites in there to be found. The first one I found was a mining site. The second one I found was a mining site, but with five Sleeper frigates at it. I thought about it. Can I kill 5 frigates solo? What if there’s another wave, though? I should play it safe. I should get some backup.

I called Neil in over Steam from his Total War game. I fitted out a drake, and he got his Sleipnir (a combat-focused command ship). We both fitted a salvager module, and went in. The frigates died easily, and there was no extra waves. We were scooping up the loot when Spiffeh, a corpmate, told me to read alliance chat. Someone was asking if anyone had gone through the wormhole recently. Because it had just collapsed.

We were trapped. The only way out was gone. We’d have to trust the dev’s word that there would always be another wormhole somewhere in system. And we’d have to hope it wouldn’t take us to some far-off, dangerously hostile region, such as Period Basis or Branch, or worse: another wormhole system. The best we could hope for was somewhere safe in empire. Whatever happened, we knew it was going to take a long time to get home.

We spoke into the dark local chat channel – which is blank by default in wormhole space – and got two replies. Another Huzzahian, and some random blue (allied) guy. We got them into our fleet. Random blue guy and my alt were the only ones with probes. So we got to work looking for another wormhole, while the others amused themselves with shooting each other in one of the exploration asteroid belts. Spiffeh offered moral support over Ventrilo.

Huzzahian soon had to leave. We tried to figure out a way we could get the bookmark for the new wormhole location to him if we found one. We eventually decided he would leave himself logged on, and if we found anything we would gang warp him to it. Random friendly Guy with the other probe launcher logged off a while after. Neil left for food after that. I was left on my own.

I was feeling horribly guilty by this point. I had dragged Neil in here in his expensive ship without even remembering myself that the wormhole timer was running out, let alone warning Neil. I was feeling the weight of the responsibility of being the only prober that other people were relying on, and getting increasingly frustrated and depressed at my ineptitude at the task.

There were so many cosmic signature readings wherever I moved my probes. If I scanned with several probes, I got a forest of little red dots. Tracking any one signature seemed impossible. I’d think I was following one reading down to a smaller scale, then somewhere I’d get misdirected back onto the trail of a site I’d already found. I spent hours on it, gradually improving my methods as I figured out how it all worked. I started systematically working through the possible signatures, warping to them and bookmarking them. Mining site after mining site. But each one I found made the map of little red dots a little easier to navigate.

Neil came back after his tea, and I fleet warped him to some of the mining sites I’d found with sleepers in them, so he could kill and loot them to keep busy. When the entertainment was gone, he logged off to play some more Empire. I carried on probing.

After three or four hours of this, something turned up on the scan results with a type that wasn’t gravimetric. It wasn’t going to be a mining site. It was ‘unknown’. “Are wormholes ‘unknown’?” I asked in corp chat. Nobody knew. I probed harder.

It was a wormhole. A sweet, sweet, unstable wormhole. Through it, I could see a system that was blue and black, with a cream coloured tube of cloud running through it. It was familiar to me. This was somewhere in Known Space, I was sure of it. I felt a sense of accomplishment greater than any I’ve felt in Eve to this date. I called Neil back in to the game. He went to fetch the AFK Huzzahian, and fleet warped his hawk over to the wormhole. I logged on my main again. We all gathered at the edge of the wormhole for a moment, and took some celebratory screenshots. “Who’s going to go first?” I said.

I went in. And I laughed. It was only 5 jumps from home.

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77 Comments »

  1. Morberis says:

    Great fun eh!

    I’ve had similar experiences having a wormhole close on us and finally getting after traveling several W hole systems 4 jumps over from where we started.

    Though in our case it was caused by chasing a Rorqual out, which then overloaded the WH closing it.

    I didn’t seem to have the difficulties probing out a site WH the author did though – there were only 5 grav/ladar sites and I found it relatively easy to exclude them in each system we jumped through.

    One thing that is great fun, raiding through lowsec-lowsec wormholes. You can warp in and lay devastation upon everything without fear of retaliation and you have a built in escape hatch for when you start getting chased.

  2. Stupoider says:

    Wow. That was a great read, the idea of wormholes in EVE makes me want to try it out!

  3. Alex Hopkinson says:

    Haha, excellent Rob. :)

  4. Heliocentric says:

    That is awesome. That might get me into eve, just imagining a team building up a base in one of these.

  5. Helm says:

    This game seems amazing when I read about it, but I doubt I could play it myself.

  6. Wallace says:

    All these “lost in space” stories are awesome. My corp went out on patch day and got stuck after an exiting fleet collapsed the wormhole. I had to scan down three seperate wormholes to get everyone back, thanks to the battleships in our gang that kept breaking the mass limits, and the last of us to escape ended up about thirty jumps from home.

  7. Xercies says:

    Hmm this makes me want to go back to EVE, I really liked the game.

  8. anonymous17 says:

    Great story.
    ; but
    Does this not make EVE even more inaccessible to newcomers? New players – although semi-protected from older advanced players, with better ships, because they are off hunting through wormholes – are left with an even greater learning curve. All players that want to get somewhere in the game will reach the wormhole stage – a stage that seems impervious to recon in that although you can enter, the exit is not stable – leaving the player at the whim of the game as to how long they play. The risk of having to abandon an avatar or expensive ship it could be argued is an incentive, similar to player death, but to me the mechanics of the game are limiting the players rather than freeing them to enjoy the game. To play properly would require you to realise that every time you sit down to play that you could end up stuck in a system, on the far side of the multiverse, unable to find the exit.
    Work your way up through EVE starting with no skills, only to reach a stage that then leaves you in the dark as to how long you could be playing. I guess it is possible to argue that this is just the same as WoW in that you could find yourself needing to log off, however “you are distant from a resting place and your temporary companion ‘DETHTOALLHUMANS’ seems to foam at the mouth every time you suggest turning back to the nearest save location”.

    At least in WoW you could still technically back track or keep going forward until you reach a save location. My point is that there simply seems no way in EVE to anticipate whether you will even reach a save location.

    Is this feeling of the possibility of pre-unquantifiable time in EVE appealing to players? I understand that perhaps some players would want this experience in their games but as an incentive for new players, I consider it a bit of a misnomer. Should worm holes even be something that new players can expect to benefit from?

    I think I will continue to respect the spreadsheet staring players of EVE, while avoiding the game itself.

  9. Cypher says:

    Had a go at this last night, and it kept me up into the small hours, just learning and using the new scanning system and finding wormholes. It was a breath of fresh air for my Eve-life, I think I may even just spend my time forever ‘lost in space’.

  10. Daniel says:

    Accounts like this make me want to pick up an EVE account and start playing. Then I actually load up the game and realise I am a tiny, insignificant little shuttle without anything interesting to do.

    They really need to work on their newbie circuit.

  11. Ben Abraham says:

    Wow. What an adventure!!!

  12. El_MUERkO says:

    We found a wormhole in high sec, got all excited and tooled up to go in … it was just a shortcut wormhole that moved us 4 jumps across the region :(

  13. Mil says:

    So it looks like you guys are in Huzzah Federation? Which corporation?

  14. Chaz says:

    @ Daniel

    Yeah I agree, all these exciting accounts of the game sound great until you start playing it for the first time, and then you realise that to get to that stage will take you months of work and countless hours of tedium. EVE is just about the most utterly unforgiving hardcore MMO I have ever come across.

  15. El_MUERkO says:

    the new player experience is much improved and gives you a better idea of what you need to do right from the start, also if you read some of the skill points guides and new character guides available on the forums and plan out a character with a PvP goal (pew pew fun) and a PvE goal (money making) and you can be making cash and getting kill mails by the end of the month, especially with the flood of newbies out there now

  16. Ian says:

    I still love reading about EVE despite knowing I wouldn’t like playing it.

  17. mandrill says:

    @ Anonymous17: They have done alot of work on the new player experience in EVE for this expansion, though not having been through it myself and having been playing for 5 years I’m not sure how much of an improvement it is. That being said New players should be able to find a decent crew of people to go wormholing with without too much bother. Also there are player run corps and alliances which specialise in helping out new players by filling in the gaps in knowledge and experience left by the tutorials. Random Players are generally quite helpful too, I try and answer any questions that come up in the chat of the NPC corp that I’m in.

    The thing about EVE is that it is a community in a way that no other MMO is. help is there you generally just have to ask, and whilst there are those who will take the mick out of new players they are few in number in my experience. There are also alot of guides and tutorials available online.

  18. Cooper says:

    When I played Eve, there was quite a good support network for new players. The Eve University corp was quite good at the time I remember. I keep promising myself that I will, eventually, go back to eve. (Once I have a network that can maintain a stable ping for more than 20 mins) accounts like this always bring that itch right back…

  19. anonymous17 says:

    @mandrill

    Defending my previous post, I would argue that whilst it is possible to learn EVE, with or without other player help, this simply doesn’t remove the fact that EVE is a difficult game to learn, play and ultimately enjoy.

    I think a game without a decent community, suffers, regardless of target audience, type of game, theme of game or owning company profits. However to say there are tutorials and players out there to help newbies is like Linux users telling Windows guests to learn linux because ‘it’ too, is easy – with the necessary information.

    My post does is not intended to castigate the (complex) nature of EVE, nor the immense effort of the community placed at attracting new players. EVE is a game targeted at players looking for a different experience. It would be foolish for existing players to try and have a game that doesn’t grow in size. Nor that wormhole-ing is something that is restricted to high level players. My concern is that, ultimately, you are eventually forced to go through a worm hole and that once you are at this stage, you have little control over how long your then ‘attached’ to your computer.

    Perhaps my point is a little specific, or that it questions the function of a game for players. Additionally I accept that perhaps, as someone that has tried EVE but not continued with it I am looking at a point in the game that is theoretically several months away from the start of play.

    I continue to support my first my post, wormhole-ing, although fascinating in terms of new arenas and situations for the player, is ill-thought out as a mechanic, as it restricts player freedom – and that this will prevent new players from joining the game.

  20. LukeE says:

    I’ve been going out in 2 stages – one tooled up in my covert ops exploration ship, and a second with a gang of friends in cheap t1 cruisers to engage the sleepers.

    With the covert ops, the new probing system actually makes finding anything ridiculously easy. A set of 4 deep space probes is all I need, and even set at 4 or 8 AU ranges, I’ve normally got at least a type id on any sites I find, if not a name. Having run around and bookmarked anything of interest – other wormholes, hacking/archaeology sites, a few belts – I call in the cavalry.

    In the last engagement I was in, our gang of 3 cruisers was reduced to 2 in the middle of running a lowsec intermediate sleeper archaeology site (guy logged). And we resorted to warping in and out finishing off one cruiser at a time, from the gang of 8 that had engaged us. Whilst repping up at a planet we were set upon by a battlecruiser pilot – with us in completely inappropriately setup ships, designed to take on the sleepers, not other people (and regardless what the devs say, the two are not the same). And despite losing both our ships to the pirate, we gave him a good run for his money, dropping him into almost structure before we both went down.

    Now my friend is reasonably new to the game, hence why I’ve been “enforcing” a t1 cruiser gang composition, and he hasn’t done much in the way of anything except missions. In his words – “That was the first time I’ve engaged in pvp where I didn’t feel like I was just being picked on; when are we going in again?”

    Me and my friend spent the next hour talking in excited tones about when our next expedition was going to occur, and what we’d do differently. It’s gonna be a good week beyond the wormhole.

  21. Mysteriesofkabir says:

    After playing through the tutorials and starting to hang out on the forums, I’ve discovered that the community gossip is actually more fun than the game itself. This sounds fun, with emphasis on ‘sounds’.

  22. Sleeper says:

    @anonymous17
    I think perhaps you’re not looking at wormholes within the scope of Eve in it’s entirety. Wormholes are just another challenge in the universe that is entirely optional for those who are bold enough, you’re not ‘forced’ to go that way by any measure. With teamwork and applied grey matter even releatively young players can attempt to find and enter wormholes. But like everything else in Eve, there is a high element of risk inolved but of course the rewards are potentially high.
    I’d dispute the notion that you are ‘tied’ to your PC with wormholes, yes I agree, you can indeed be lost for sometime. But the nature of the systems (delayed local chat etc.) means it is relatively easier to logoff and come back to it. If you’re in a group, well, arrangements have to be made of course, like in every other mmo. Eve is no different.
    But the potential for committed time is no different to any other type of fleet operation, especially when things go bad.

    Personally, in what nearly 6 years of playing this game now, this is one of the better addons I’ve seen. It most certainly isn’t ill thought out. The Eve community can be pretty demanding and so far as I’ve seen, there have been very few complaints.
    Eve is a behemoth, and I’ve had countless discussions with non-players about certain aspects of it, but you’ll never really ‘get it’ unless you invest some serious time in playing it.

  23. Jesse McLaughlin says:

    @Anonymous17

    You can exit the game at any time, and as long as you’re not flagged for PvP, you’ll warp out and disappear from the system (which takes 30-60 seconds). When you come back, you’ll be right where you left off. While not a save point, it by no means ties you to the computer.

  24. Rei Onryou says:

    Great read. Shame EVE didn’t do it for me. Sounds like such a great place to be.

  25. Jim Rossignol says:

    Re inaccessibility: It’s one of Eve’s most important features. I actually think Eve is getting to be over-subscribed anyway. If it takes on too many new players the galaxy will be filled beyond breaking point.

  26. Mil says:

    By “breaking point”, do you mean that of the server capacity or of the game mechanics?

  27. np (spiffeh) says:

    Great write up roB. Congrats on finding your way out and really glad you got out in one piece!

  28. MeestaNob! says:

    This game sounds bloody brilliant.

  29. MeestaNob! says:

    Question re wormholes: Is it possible to have a Star Trek Voyager style adventure where you go through a wormhole then just ‘pick a direction’ and travel about, or is it standard MMO stuff where you have no choice but to mine/fight/blah?

    I think what I’m also asking is can you go to planets? Can you land on them and search for valuable trinkets and tech?

    Are there adventures (ie stories set within the confines of some sort of mission structure), or do you make your own fun?

    I have so many questions actually, I don’t even know where to begin.

  30. jalf says:

    Jim: How come? Server capacity is a real concern, of course, but so far, CCP seems to be keeping up. I haven’t played the game for some months now, but last I checked, it was more responsive than ever, pretty much.

    But I don’t really see why game mechanics would become a problem with more subscribers. There’s plenty of room in 0.0 space, and it can be easily expanded. They could expand empire space too, if necessary (just say that the empires are expanding and conquering the nearest 0.0 systems.)

    @MeestaNob: Nope, you can’t visit planets. It’s spaceflight only. Also your warp drive only lets you jump to points of interest, like asteroid belts or space stations (of which there are only a finite number). You could in principle fly freely if you liked, but you’d be limited to the ~1km/s speed of normal flight, so it’d take you ages to get anywhere. ;)

  31. Larington says:

    I know they want to put landable, colonisable planets in, just haven’t gotten that far yet. Amongst other design challenges, they’ve got to decide how they’d go about allowing players to make landside bases and such, not to mention the possibility of having to create landable planets in 0.0 space, which would probably be an implementational nightmare purely from a content generation perspective.

  32. dadioflex says:

    Interesting read. This http://www.roburky.co.uk/?p=10 helped me understand why I hated Far Cry 2. I would never have picked up on that on my own but once it’s out there it all becomes obvious. Is this guy a journalist? His writing is awesome. Whatever he does, I hope he posts a little more frequently in future.

    I have two Eve accounts. So I’m only an amateur.

  33. Philip says:

    I can see what you mean by inaccessible, to a point.

    The new improvements that come with Apocrypha are amazing, and are really designed to help out new characters.

    Especially with the re-roll available once a year, helps if you screw up your character.

    As for newcomers, check out Eve University. We’re in a war at the moment, so we can’t take applications, but please come to “EVE University” channel anyway and after the war we can sign you up. :)

  34. Mike says:

    Very nice little story. Sounds like this is really adding something to EVE. I assume you can set up stations out there?

  35. Vanderdecken says:

    Wow… just wow. I want to have enough money and a credit card and no job so I can play EVE all the time. I’ve been on 2 free trials so far and loved it, but this brings a new dimension. The only thing that puts me off is that it seems so hard to get into a corporation, to get well known with friends, connections and camaraderie needed for this kind of thing.

  36. Jim Rossignol says:

    Setting up a station in wormhole space is a logistical impossibility (it seems) due to the unstable nature of the entrance. That doesn’t mean people won’t try it.

  37. Cypher says:

    Tower up already;
    http://tinyurl.com/bfa6hf

    I’ve just been exploring in covops, learning the scanning ropes really. Found lots of ‘good stuff’, so think I’m going to just meander through endless wormholes in a decent ship preying on hapless explorers.
    My alliance seems bent on shoving endless huge ships through every wh it finds. With the inevitable loss of the wh and ensuing chaos, I think it’s better to have a smaller fleet with a more carefully considered make-up of ships.

    If anything this is the excuse I’ve neded to get out of all that alliance claptrap and go alone or with a couple of old friends.

  38. Rob says:

    I love EVE stories, they’ve compelled me to a resolution to subscribe once I have sufficient free time. Keep up the posts Jim, they’re always enjoyable reads.

  39. Daniel says:

    Pah, I will register an account when I get my monsterous PC back up and runnning, and play EVE and DM NWN similtaniously to take an edge off the boredom.

    How hard can it be?

  40. cncplyr says:

    Makes me wish I could still afford to play EVE…

  41. marks says:

    hahahha, this is the wormhole I found in 1-N lmao. I found a blue hawk AFK by the wormhole, with a velator trying to kill him. I permajammed the velator with the single T2 multispec I had fitted on my covert ops ship until he warped away hahahahaha. Awesome.

  42. Melf_Himself says:

    ““Are wormholes ‘unknown’?” I asked in corp chat. Nobody knew.”

    Lol.

  43. dalig varg says:

    best plan is to drop a warp bubble near the wormhole and kill anyone who goes near it

  44. Kaltano says:

    I find it amusing to learn that Jim’s alliance is set -10 by my alliance….

  45. Kelron says:

    Wormholes and the new probing system have managed to do what CCP failed to do previously with the introduction of “exploration”. There’s now a real sense of exploration and adventure to the game. It’s really revitalised my interest in playing – I’ve never stopped enjoying it in the 3+ years I’ve played, but I’d gone past the stage where I’d stay up all night playing. This expansion has fucked up my sleep patterns, but i’m having too much fun to care.

  46. Laukei says:

    I love Eve so much… It’s just such a time-consuming game. I can’t play *and* exist as a functional human at the same time. And being in the third year of a degree, functional human takes precedence.

  47. LukeE says:

    “Setting up a station in wormhole space is a logistical impossibility (it seems) due to the unstable nature of the entrance. That doesn’t mean people won’t try it.”

    Not at all… it only needs an alt with minimal scanning skills permanently left in the system to find an exit wormhole (and a great deal of patience, with such rubbishy skills) – and from then you can refuel the pos at any time, assuming you can get to the new entrance with your industrials – and if not, you’re only ever 24h away from a new wormhole. With only a minimal of planning it should be more than feasible.

  48. elffas says:

    Does this not make EVE even more inaccessible to newcomers?

    No, it doesn’t make EVE more inaccessible to newcomers. You don’t seem to understand the mechanics of the game.

    All players that want to get somewhere in the game will reach the wormhole stage – a stage that seems impervious to recon in that although you can enter, the exit is not stable – leaving the player at the whim of the game as to how long they play.

    Wormhole…………. stage…?

    Wormholes are optional. No one forces you to go through. They are not a “stage” of the game, nor can the player even access them without going out of their way to acquire the ship components needed to do so, and then figuring out how to use them. And at that point, there the tutorials to warn you of the dangers of entering a wormhole.

    As to the game dictating that you keep playing, you can log off at any time in space, and disappear quickly, as long as you haven’t fired on anyone. If you get shot, and escape, you can log off fine.

    The risk of having to abandon an avatar or expensive ship it could be argued is an incentive, similar to player death, but to me the mechanics of the game are limiting the players rather than freeing them to enjoy the game.

    You can enter the wormhole on your own terms with nothing but cheap equipment and ships, and risk almost nothing. What’s more is that you CAN get out of wormhole space instantly by self destructing. You’ll appear wherever your clone is stationed, and be set back a small amount of ISK to buy a new clone. Actually, new players won’t have to pay any ISK for a new clone because Alpha clones are free, and will hold up to 900K skillpoints.

  49. Bas says:

    Jim Rossignol: if they have so many subscribers, what’s stopping them from buying golden, diamond-encrusted servers that can handle more people?

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