EVE Online Diary Part Two: Pew Pew Pew!

By Rich Stanton on April 25th, 2014 at 7:00 pm.

“OK guys I wantcha to align to Vard annnd… warp. That gate is green on land.”

Our FC – Fleet Commander – takes EVE very seriously indeed. This is great because I have no idea what I’m doing. The soothing computerised voice of the ship fills my ears: “Warp drive active.” I arrive out of warp and, per the FC’s instructions, jump through the waiting Stargate.

“I got three purples, four, OK we’re all here.” The FC’s taking care of his newbie charges, babying us through the basics. Our scout is already in this system, checking out the various instances we can warp to for anything interesting. His reedy voice fills comms: “Not much on d-scan, oh waitaminnit I got… a Merlin and a Slicer in the open?”

“Guys how brave are we feelin’?” The FC doesn’t wait for an answer, and starts to jump the fleet while barking at the scout. “Let’s go! Get in there and scram ‘em, I want webs!”

I watch our warp drives activate one-by-one, as space begins to shift around the fleet. I double-check my keyboard hand’s position. My throat tightens. Time to die.

My ship lands out of warp, in front of gas clouds in the far distance almost silhouetting this solar system’s sun. I click ‘lock target’ on the two flashing yellows in the overview I spent hours customising. The Slicer and the Merlin are both serious ships, and it idly occurs to me that this might be a bad engagement despite superior numbers. But I start approaching in a manual zigzag; now is the time for my Kestrel’s true might to be shown.

“Webs webs webs!” The FC is barking at his clueless fleet. “What the hell is that Kestrel doing?”

Oh shit. Erm… floating elegantly? “On my way!”

“Shoot the god damned thing!”

I activate every module I’ve got, even the ones that aren’t in operational range, because I’m a noob. We have five ships and the Slicer has taken down one – our unfortunate scout who managed to ‘scram’ him, i.e. mess up his warp drive so he can’t escape, but didn’t get away in time. Luckily the Merlin, hesitant to abandon his buddy, has been scrammed and is being destroyed by two of our fleet. He’s soon down and it’s four-on-one.

In a straight fight a well-piloted Slicer would destroy any of us. But this guy’s already switched targets once, a foolish mistake, and even in the cold depths of space I can smell his fear. I know that right now he’s not thinking about the fight, but about how much this is gonna cost him. Our frigates cluster around the stricken ship like ants on a wingless dragonfly, I click my modules like mad, and explosion after explosion reverberates through the vacuum.

With a final mighty crack the Slicer splits apart. I didn’t get the last hit, but I feel like a hero anyway. Endorphins flood my system to saturation and I look out over the star-speckled backdrop to my first successful engagement in EVE. I’ll never forget it. Some of my fleetmates scramble to lock onto the guy’s ejected Capsule, but as a gentleman I refrain – and am secretly pleased to see it suddenly accelerate into the distance.

Nothing compares to EVE PvP.

My first two months in EVE were marked by a kind of foolhardy bravery. I figured that, seeing as most players are so daunted by the prospects of what might happen to them in low-security space (lowsec) or null-security space (nullsec), I’d go out and find it – who knows? And in general it really wasn’t all that bad.

What I’d do was simple – some nights when I needed to chill out I’d fit up a super-cheap Kestrel, a tier 1 frigate, make sure my clone was in order and then pick a spot in EVE’s gigantic universe. The only rule was that I had to end up in nullsec. And then I’d try to fly there, and see what I could see along the way.

I’d read so many horror stories of new players getting bummed beyond belief in their first few weeks and, while I was sure that would happen to me at some point, I wanted to know what was out there. I practised scanning new systems as I arrived, seeing if I could tell when I was in trouble, trying to judge when to stick around and when to just get out of dodge.

The first thing that will happen to you in EVE, if you’re caught, is a notification on the screen saying that some dirty so-and-so is interfering with the ship’s warp drive – scramming you so that escaping into space is no longer possible. This is an awful sensation; you’re stuck until you either get out of range, kill the ship jamming you or (much more likely) die. The biggest shock, in a way, is the sudden inertia – where before you’re bouncing from gate to gate at speeds beyond comprehension, now you’re locked in a little deathloop with Jimmy Scrambler and have to manoeuvre in close proximity.

The fights themselves are about managing your ship’s systems, squeezing everything out of the available modules while at the same time trying to keep at an optimal distance for your chosen weapons – which will almost certainly be different to that of your opponent. Take away the lasers and missiles and you’d simply see two ships, vast in their own right but specks on this cosmic canvas, gracefully pivoting around each other.

These nights taught me the most valuable lesson I’ve had in EVE. The intricacies of PvP are endless, but the key skill is in picking the right fight. As I became more experienced at navigating, I began to see opportunities where maybe – just maybe – I stood a chance. Other solo frigates, or the odd hauler. And I’d have a pop. The first time I had a fight that lasted for a few minutes, even though I ended up losing, felt like a personal triumph.

Sure, on these long journeys I got caught more than a few times and utterly destroyed (hence my antipathy to pod-killing). Sure, I didn’t kill anyone. But most of the time I was running – and it was great. There’s no feeling quite like seeing a group of guys out to get you, and accelerating to warp speed just as they get within scramming range. If this game had a button to flick Vs in the rearview mirror, I’d have worn it out.

I sometimes waver between thinking EVE is the greatest game in the universe, and thinking it’s the greatest screenshot-generator in the universe. On these long and lonely trips into the unknown – with the occasional frisson of sighting other, much more competent, pilots and dashing into the distance – it has never looked more beautiful.

As I’ve learned how to better fit ships, started joining fleets, and moved around with a little more confidence, that basic lesson’s never quite left me. It’s not that I’m a pro PvP-er now by any means, or even much of a threat to players who know what they’re doing. But I’m beginning to know where I stand and that, rather than all the skills and fittings in the world, is EVE’s take on PvP writ large. It’s not the size of the dog in the fight that matters; it’s picking the right dogfight. And four-on-one never hurts.

In next Monday’s third and final diary entry, Rich joins a Corporation and gets blown up lots.

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50 Comments »

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  1. rexx.sabotage says:

    All roads in EVE lead to blown-up space ships

  2. Premium User Badge

    AngelTear says:

    A bit of an aside: I know it’s a commonplace term by now, but please can we make an effort to not use the word “noob”? Noob has such a negative connotation, it’s pretty much used as an insult at the same level of stupid, idiot, retard etc., as if that person was hopelessly destined to suck at everything forever, with no chance of redemption. And seeing it used makes me uncomfortable the same way as when people are called retards because they messed up something (that is, all the time in every multiplayer game, unfortunately)

    Someone who is new/not good at the game is a newbie – the important part being that newbie still contains the root “new” in it, meaning inexperienced.

    • Premium User Badge

      Zallgrin says:

      I think noob is fine if you are using it for yourself or just in general (“We were all noobs once”).

      I’ve seen lots of people dismissed and immediately kicked out of party in WoW for being “noobs”, even if that were very minor mistakes. Basically the best way to get a WoW player to get angry is to call him a “noob tank” or whatever his role is (it works for me even years after I stopped playing)

      On the other hand, I think that using noob when talking about yourself is a good thing. It reminds people that being a complete tool at a game since you are still new is absolutely alright.

      • Premium User Badge

        AngelTear says:

        Maybe it’s all in my mind, shaped by the ways I’ve encountered it, but: i think newbie implies you’re new but you’ll get there, you’ll get good with time.
        Noob instead, has a connotation that makes it extremely confrontational as well as exclusionary. Whenever I’ve heard someone calling someone else a noob, it’s never been in order to say that they’re new and they may need help or tutoring or whatnot. It’s always been used aggressively in order to make the other person feel bad about their skills, to affirm oneself as superior to another, and all this kind of things that should have no place in any gaming environment or community.

        • Skiddywinks says:

          Exactly this.

          Newb is to rookie as noob is to tool.

        • Njordin says:

          i second this.
          newbie is new / needs tutoring and / or experience. i never feel bad about this.
          noob maybe too, but it´s a word mostly used in offence.

        • Ovno says:

          You know the best thing about being a noob?

          You can always learn

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          jrodman says:

          To me, noob is a “word” that tars the speaker more than the target. It’s just someone who can be bothered to spell newbie correctly, so is what they are attempting to accuse others of.

          It’s also used almost exclusively disingenuously. It tries to suggest “your poor play reeks of inexperience” but it is actually used frequently to mean “I dislike you, and have no valid criticism, so I will say this instead.”

          It all boils down to gamers having an extremely hostile relationship to both language and semantics that’s really quite disgusting.

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      I think of noob, the same way you think of newbie. It’s someone who doesn’t know everything yet (which in Eve is true of most everyone), but still might get there one day.
      See also ‘newbro’ meaning a noob who’s just joined your corp(/guild/whatever), but with the right training and help will become a bittervet.
      (in Eve I’m still a noob)

    • Dave says:

      Silence N00b

    • Bedeage says:

      What, is this “Check your privilege” time? Kmt

    • FireStorm1010 says:

      I kinda got the same feelings. I alwys try to say ” starting pilots” not newbs in Eve , becuase newbs feels to me belittling/negative.

    • Dave Tosser says:

      Are we so short on actual issues that we’ll have to start digging through the lexicon to brand every word and phrase objectionable in some way? It’s got a negative connotation because it’s a negative term. I do hope our glorious internet future allows us to have negative language, lest we end up taunting FPS rivals by calling them “ungood” at the game. We can express sentiments other than rainbow friendship merriment, aye?

      Calling new players names that don’t upset your sensitive ears is the sort of thing you really can’t expect from an online community dedicated to doing away with “carebears”, where PvP is mandatory, the universe hates you and strange people will collect your frozen corpse as it floats in space and sell it back to you with a crafty scam about recovering your implants. And that’s completely acceptable and encouraged by the developers. EVE is, after all, the only place the Nicole/GHSC story could ever have happened. An event like that bolsters subscriber ranks. EVE has a community that embraces doing horrible things for fun and profit- being called a noob is really the least of your worries. Try 0.0 space, they give you free money and a free pillow fluffing.

      No proper space adventurer/corporate fuck/corpse reseller would bat an eyelid at being called anything, nor would they ever admit to going to an EVE University. It’s a hard world out there, and a new player has to learn this by being repeatedly reminded of their own worthlessness through robbery and murder. And being called a noob.

  3. OscarWilde1854 says:

    I still can’t get into this game… I don’t know why… I think maybe its the thought of how much time i’d have to dedicate to just get “good”; never mind great…

    But this article is extremely well written and of all the things I’ve seen of this game it’s this article that has brought me closest to diving in!

    • Sardonic says:

      The best corporations essentially set you up optimally, they give you the fitting requirements, the reimbursement when you die, and great guidance in fleet. In large part, making PvP as close to idiot-proof as possible is one of the core reasons Goonswarm has prospered.

      Goonwaffe literally pays 200% reimbursements these days too iirc, so not only do you get reimbursed fully, you _make money_ when you die in combat.

    • Premium User Badge

      Kelron says:

      My advice for getting into Eve always has to come with the caveat that it’s not a game for everyone, for a lot of people it simply won’t click.

      But Rich has the right idea: it’s an intimidating game, and the trick to understanding it is to not let yourself be intimidated, to go out and make yourself an adventure even if you don’t know what you’re doing yet, even if it’s going to result in your ship’s destruction.

      Part of the beauty of Eve is that losses matter, the economy and time investment mean your game possessions have real value to you. But you also have to recognise that ultimately they don’t matter, it’s only a game. Wandering into the bad side of town in real life and starting a fight is a stupid idea, doing the equivalent in Eve is an adrenaline rush whether you win or lose. If you’re the kind of person who still enjoys games when you’re losing, Eve is at the very least worth a try.

      • Luciferous says:

        When I’m playing (currently not subbed) I loved getting a few people together who didn’t care about losing the ships they were in and just picking a system right on the edge and trying to get there in one piece, maybe one that had an NPC station in it that sells ultra valuable blueprints and then trying to get back to hi-sec with the spoils… Oh Gods… I’m going to relapse.

      • Unruly says:

        My first trip into low-sec was with a mission-fit Drake that was sporting deadspace mods. No lie, that ship was worth something like 600mil ISK, and at the time that could have bought me 2 months worth of play time. I lost it in less than 5 minutes, and swore to remain a carebear until such time as I knew I was ready for PvP.

        Fast forward about two years, and multiple sub/unsub periods from where I got bored of strip mining the veldspar belts and shooting nothing but AI, and I trained up interceptors and went on a run with the Rifterlings, I think. Basically a frigate swarm that roamed around and picked fights. The first time I tackled a battleship in my little, tiny Raptor and just stayed under his guns was quite a thrill. But that thrill goes away really quickly if you aren’t able to post a win at least as often as you post losses. Because for every loss, you’ve got to spend time doing the boring, monotonous crap until you have the cash to go back and shoot at other players again.

        I never did grow the stones to truly leave hisec though. I’ve got a few ships and other assets scattered around lowsec, but I never did do the “move everything to null” that so many players will. Largely because so many null corps that I saw want you to live EVE as a second life, with their call-to-arms requirements, mandatory check ins, and the like. Then there’s also the ever-present threat of some corpmate stealing all your stuff by locking you out of the corp hangars or POS’s.

        Every once in a while I get that itch to play EVE again for that feeling of tackling some ship whose hull costs at least 3x what my fully fitted interceptor does, but then I remember all the boring monotony that’s required to get that 30 seconds of gratification and I steer myself away again. There are other games, like Dark Souls, where I can get much the same feeling and they don’t cost me $15 a month to play.

        • FireStorm1010 says:

          I can agree with the statement that the pvp awesomeness sometimes requires hours of preparing and waiting.Yea its like this.

          However about null sec corp huge commitements, I am atm in null sec corp/alliance (NulliSecunda) palyin 10 hours/week max and so far nobody has aproblem with it. Turth is 90 % of time when i log i join pvp fleets, so i make the best out of my time to play with the corp/alliance

  4. Wnderer says:

    No other game gives as big of an adrenaline rush as eve pvp. PVP-shakes are properly named…

  5. BananaMan3000 says:

    Great to see you got involved in some PvP!

    PvP in Eve for a long time (and still often does) gave me the shakes and made my heart feel like it was trying to leap out my chest. The thrill of actually risking something or being able to cause your opponent some sort of harm really changes everything and makes the stakes feel much higher.

    p.s. It would be really nice if the lovely screenshots were clickable to view in a larger size ;)

  6. CaptainFtang says:

    Enjoying the articles but:

    players getting bummed beyond belief

    Has Chris Moyles okayed this one too now?

    • SuicideKing says:

      Hmmm? I’m not a native speaker (although English did sort of become the first language i spoke fluently), but doesn’t being “bummed” by something simply mean you’re disappointed/annoyed with it?

      At least, that’s what I remember from my few years in the UK…

  7. Calculon says:

    I’ve gotten my EVE wings, and retired them. I’ve made the billions, owned capital ships, done small and large scale PvP, lived in nullsec for long periods of time, and even traded stocks on the EVE stock exchange, and heavily got into trading, and my biggest beef with EVE has been and always will be…

    It takes too much time.

    That’s it. It takes far too much time to get into a fleet, get organized, get a patrol going, and then once you’re out there (in Null sec) you’re stuck with the fleet for the most part, unless you want to roll the dice and make your way back solo to friendly space. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Then there’s the re-fueling, the re-arming, and the re-supplying. I even went so far as to buy my own jump freighter to cart my gear around. Its perma parked in a hanger after some changes to Jumping to POS’s.

    So then I moved to a Wormhole. Class 4’s or 5’s, and I got tired of the…you guessed it – time. The scanning, the re-supplying, the re-fitting, the re-fueling etc etc etc.

    Unfortunately there’s no real way to minimize your time sink in EVE. Either you rely on a corp, and thus you may have to wait around for the right folks to get on, or you have 5 characters like I did and managed to do a good chunk of it by yourself because you just dont have hours to wait around. Either way. Time sink is too big.

    • huw says:

      100% agreed. Eve is my favourite game I never play. It’s the best MMO there is, but it’s also by far the biggest timesink. I often say that if I win the lottery and never have to work again I’ll reinstall immediately, but unlike all the other MMOs I play, I can’t juggle this one with a job and family.

  8. fabulousfurrygingerfreakbrothers says:

    I’ve always loved reading about EVE – unscripted emergent stories make me so happy – and I love this article about the combat, but am I right in saying the realtime skills building underpins everything? Like Mafia Wars, or an online golf game I unsubscribed from a while back? Can you build skills by just playing the game?

    • Distec says:

      In-game skills, no. But real experience will win out over that on most days. And you still have to earn ISK. No point to your supercap skills if you can’t fly one.

      • fabulousfurrygingerfreakbrothers says:

        Cool, glad to hear that. It does tempt me , a lot.

  9. Felixader says:

    Well, the one thing that puts MW off is that there is no Cockpitview, or something like this, in wich you are doing everything. If you had to look to the side of your cockpit and work the spreadsheets in a monitor while some nearby nebulas light reflcts on that screen, i probably wouldn’t mind even the spreadsheet.

    • Wnderer says:

      Lorewise, all the ships have a crew as well. You are sitting in a liquid-filled pod, with you captaining the ship through a direct connection to the different ship systems. Basically you think the ship to move/shoot/warp. How would you have a cockpit-view?

  10. Lorka says:

    Next week’s is last? Sads – I’d be well up for a regular Eve diary update…

  11. Reefpirate says:

    In EVE my experience was mostly limited to wandering around high-sec trying to trade tobacco products or something while listening to EVE Radio. The radio station is ultimately what drew me in the most… Listening to cool tunes and DJs talking about in-game events and ISK giveaways and stuff. I thought that was really cool. I tried to do some really cheeky ganking in high-sec asteroid fields but that never really went anywhere.

    However I can relate very much to Rich’s article because of my time spent in Perpetuum. There I got involved with my corp in some of the deepest intrigues in Perpetuum’s version of nullsec (Beta Islands I think they were called?). It’s clearly a shameless rip-off of EVE in a lot of ways, but because I got in with a good group who had industry, organized defenses of stations, part of one of the major alliances, etc. it really became one of the biggest rushes I’ve ever had from gaming.

    Late at night, when a lot of corp members went offline and I had had a few drinks I’d scrounge up some folks to go on EWar runs around the Beta islands. This would be kind of like going out on a raid with Frigates in EVE I guess… But sizing up situations, reading the overview to judge whether to run or stay and fight, dancing around different ranges with hostile mechs, etc. Quite often it ended up in disaster, and needing to get some new Ewar bots and modules from my corp leader the next day… But sometimes it was a glorious 3 hour struggle to chase down and bring down someone’s fancy mech or industrial robot before they could get to safety.

    Glorious glorious times! I see that Perpetuum is on Steam now and I’m tempted to dig up my old character and see what is going on. I’d recommend Perpetuum to anyone who might be a little too intimidated by EVE. It’s a newer game and so probably not quite as deep, but just as much fun in a lot of ways.

    • Premium User Badge

      Tom De Roeck says:

      And the official RPS corp StateCorp would welcome you back!

      Not only has the game hit Steam, its Gamma islands went offline, providing a clean slate for all corps until it gets back. Meaning there will be a lot of PVP going on.

      So if youre interested, check the RPS forums or hit the “RPS” channel in the game.

      http://www.perpetuum-online.com

      PS: STC is the second largest corporation in the game, so we can offer a safe and fun experience (or unsafe, if youre into that kind of thing ;D)

  12. Arbodnangle Scrulp says:

    I have billions in ISK and assets scattered throughout many stations. I’m an EvE addict, and as such I can not and will not ever play the game again.

    • merbert says:

      Can I have your stuff?

    • Premium User Badge

      Stellar Duck says:

      Even if you never log in again you’re still an EVE player.

      It’s a bloody weird game. I’ve only played for a year (and with a period being unsubbed) but even when not being subscribed I follow the game, the politics and the good loss mails.

  13. Whelp says:

    Sometimes I wish I was a noob again. Nothing compares to the excitement of those first fights.

  14. FireStorm1010 says:

    Very nice article.

    I would like all people who say “Eve is a spreadsheet” or “there is nothing to do in Eve” try out what this article describes.

    Eve pvp is one in a kind, an awesome experience.

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    Bastimoo says:

    I’m just hijacking this for all the people who prefer robots over spaceships, direct control over anchoring in combat, line of sight over spinning in space or just dont want to put up with such a large universe and so many spreadsheets:

    PERPETUUM is basically evelight with robots, WASD control and use of terrain and line of sight.
    It just got released on Steam this week, has been running in a small community for a couple years and is currently VERY newbiefriendly.
    RPS has done a diary on it, although the old RPS corp is not quite RPSish anymore:

    http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2012/01/05/robota-our-first-week-in-perpetuum/#more-87591
    http://www.perpetuum-online.com/

    If you need any info, advice or looking for company chat me up ingame (“Khetar”) or join our public channel “RAD”, we’re a 80% newbie corp!

    • Premium User Badge

      Tom De Roeck says:

      That being said, there is an RPS corp, founded by Jim originally, that is still going strong. Khetar is just a grumpy old bastard. ;D

      Just check the social club forum here or join the RPS channel.

  16. Stayche says:

    There is nothing i’ve experienced in any game I’ve ever played that compares to ‘that’ feeling in EVE before, during and after a goodfite. It’s a huge rush and addictive, whether it’s down to a close 1-on-1 dogfight with burnt out mods and hull damage or a small gang scrap on a null sec gate or hunting down and ganking a valuable kill. It’s just a shame there’s so much time spent waiting for them to happen.