EVE Online’s free to play update might change your mind

I almost uninstalled EVE Online partway through the oddly crashy character creation process. Somewhere out there is a parallel universe in which my only experience with the game is a distant memory of an unpleasant and rapidly abandoned free trial. What a terrible world that is.

For you see, I was wrong about EVE. I suspect a great many people are, as perhaps do its creators CCP, who recently released probably their most significant update ever, called Ascension (aka the Alpha update). The first step in an ongoing effort to overhaul the new player experience, this update introduced a free to play option to the long-running subscription-based spacey-tradey blowy-uppy stabby-backy MMO. Like many, I decided to give it a proper chance, to see whether its new structure was an improvement. That was over a month ago. So what’s the verdict?

Well, it’s complicated. Both the game and the verdict. More so than most games, writing about EVE means considering multiple disparate audiences, and some dispelling of illusions. Let’s start with how the Alpha system works, because “it’s gone free to play” is a wholly inadequate explanation of what CCP are actually doing.

Previously, EVE was subscription only. Players paid a monthly fee, with an option to pay with in-game currency instead. Both are still options today, and doing so confers “Omega clone” status upon a character – full access to everything the game has to offer, just as before. Now, however, players who choose not to pay, or whose payment falls short, will play as an “Alpha clone” instead. This restricts a pilot’s skills, which in turn locks them out of using (but not making or trading) most in-game ships and equipment, including those of other factions. On the face of it, this sounds like a fairly standard free to play setup, but the truth is that EVE’s skill system is unlike any other online game’s. Its economy too is not the usual MMORPG affair, where all items are a linear upgrade to the last model, and 95% of everything is utterly worthless. Almost everything can be put to practical and/or financial use, and while higher and more varied skills give an advantage to any player, bigger numbers aren’t a guaranteed victory. Instead of Level 32 Player’s inevitable mathematical crushing of Level 24 Player, even the humblest of characters can have a significant impact on anyone they meet in EVE Online, and anyone can carve out a niche.

One major reason for this, and a major source of EVE’s infamy (and some widespread misconceptions) is the corporations. Any player can found one of these co-operative, entirely player-run organisations, or join an existing one. They can be a dozen players keen on making money, a couple of professional gankers sharing their loot, or a vast military-industrial complex of the sort you’ve likely already heard of, organising hundreds or thousands of players in enormous war campaigns, economic conspiracies, and espionage operations against rivals or random victims for the hell of it. Player activity is so integral to the game’s basic function that CCP needs to retain old hands more than most MMO devs, and so they form another audience for the Ascension to please. They’re also an unofficial partner in its delivery, as however much story or scripted missions or new items and systems CCP put out, it’s the experienced players who bring everything together.

So what’s their verdict? I asked some of them and, surprisingly, there’s a firm consensus. While the exact focus of their interest naturally varied, and analysis ranges from “it changes nothing” to “it’s already changed the game completely”, every old timer I spoke to clearly considered the Ascension update a roaring success. Part of this is down to their own efforts not just to profit from the influx of newcomers, but to actively welcome them.

Quite by chance, my very first ‘podding’ – the destruction of both my ship and then the deliberate murder of my helpless escape pod – came at the hands of one of EVE’s most famous alliances (very much to corporations what corporations are to players), Pandemic Legion. It was utterly pointless and frustrating and done out of sheer boredom on their part. I know this because once I’d had the requisite sour rant to a friend and thrown a tiny puppy from my stockpile through a window, I calmed down and sent an in-game email to one of my killers, asking them what exactly I’d just blundered into, and what I should have done to escape the ambush. A few minutes later, she and her friends were showering me with money and an extremely expensive (to me, at least) fully fitted ship, as they were “quite taken” by my “newbro attitude”. I can think of no better summary of how EVE’s community has responded.

It was another few weeks before I canvassed my new friend/murderer and several other major corporations for their opinions. Here I refer to those multiple audiences I mentioned at the start, because EVE isn’t just one game. While its popular image is of braying (… dickheads? Yes, dickheads) waging gigantic wars on each other, openly griefing and abusing random strangers for sheer sadism’s sake, and committing to elaborate, duplicitous schemes in long-term efforts to defraud each other via what I can only, and distastefully, call the non-diegetic gameplay of forums and third-party tools and gaming of systems… that’s only one of the games. The other main game (for simplicity’s sake, let’s ignore the many interconnected subgames they both involve) is the one I chose. I’m what the participants of the former would call a “carebear”, although we prefer “not a dickhead”. Which we’ve come to use in its most positive, affectionate sense.

Being a carebear typically means focussing on shooting hostile NPC ships, manufacturing and trading for profit (almost every item is created from scratch by players), carrying out simple missions for NPCs, exploring, and/or mining the minerals everything’s made from. You know, the stuff that underpins the whole economy and makes those mega-wars possible. Which of course, in turn, provide the demand for everything we produce, and limits supply by way of constant destruction. It’s a shame that everything is ultimately a cog of the war economy, but it works, and it’s vast and complex enough to accommodate casual pacifism.

In our case, it meant salvage. My yearning for games about salvaging recently led me to Cataclysm DDA, and in EVE led to the creation of my humble little corporation, Skyena. After picking one of four factions (the Minmatar, rebellious nomads who turn out quite colourful, with many fast, flexible ships of junky, pleasingly asymmetrical design), and working through the extended tutorial, which sensibly encourages the player to dabble in a little of everything, I made my first few millions by making and selling ammunition to fellow rookies, and identifying a couple of items experienced players disdained, but which had obvious appeal to us.

Thanks to the help of the kind and excellent Irae Shevek, and a chance meeting with some friendly miners (now our neighbours and regular trading partners), Skyena was set up to put those millions to use. What use? Indulgence! I get to pootle around hoovering up wrecked ships, manufacturing, shopping, and contracting work to others. Irae gets to scan down mysterious signals hoping for treasures or a fight with some NPCs, and unwind with a bit of mining. We don’t care about grand alliances and world-shaking conquests. Spies? Nah. Fiddling about with second or third character slots to trick people or bankroll piracy? Pish! If you were any good at piracy you wouldn’t need all that, would you? Bloody nullers.

It’s a happy, comfortable little life we’re making, and the dramatic goings on between your Goonswarms and your Dreddits and your Mittani have zero direct impact on our game. Oh, prices and supplies and traffic are affected of course, but no more so than any other events (including, for example, the steady decline in several ore prices caused by swarms of Alphas with no imagination, dooming themselves to burnout by constant mine-grinding), and the dynamism is mostly welcome anyway. Of course we get blown up now and then – I won’t say “fight”, because 95% of attackers are cowards who never start anything they stand a chance of losing – but that’s just a business cost now. Personally it still grates that so much killing achieves nothing at all – I’ve openly offered to, for example, pay a barrel-duck-shooting group protection money that would earn us both far more profit than us getting blown up once and never coming back to that system. To no avail. I blame alts: they remove any incentive for piratical self-sufficiency.

But while it’s always frustrating and even upsetting, that quickly passes, and without exception, everyone who’s blown me up has been civil, or even actively helped me afterwards. So much in EVE depends on your attitude, and, provided you steer clear of a few extremely busy areas replete with (…MMOrons? Let’s try MMOrons), you’ll find that the famous “griefing” CCP openly tolerates is largely limited to blowing up your ships or trying to rip your character off. Consider it akin to players sniping or backstabbing you in an FPS, or kicking your face off in a beat ’em up. Of course there are your usual internet oafs here and there, but with the exception of a particularly cretinous neo-nazi dullard and the occasional spammer (who, most entertainingly, was soon saddled with an open bounty of hundreds of millions as the entire chat room united against him), I encountered none of note. That’s a far better average than is typical. Against all my expectations, the community may take a little adjustment, but it’s a welcoming, positive, and deceptively open-minded one.

Even the fact that the term “newbro” is standard vernacular, rather than the tiresome “noob”, says rather a lot. Asking around revealed great enthusiasm from the most established alliances, with all the major players fielding sub-corporations geared specifically towards outfitting and guiding Alpha-only players. They’re well aware that EVE’s future depends on expanding the playerbase, and everyone from small mining outfits to longstanding groups like Pandemic, TEST, and Goonswarm are gleefully putting their resources towards welcoming them with open arms. Brave Newbies in particular are going as far as total desegregation, integrating complete beginners into experienced “omega” player fleets, even offering fleet command roles and dedicated communications and training infrastructure to teach on the fly. EVE University, a wholly player-run training and support system devoted to sharing experience simply for its own sake, is positively buzzing with activity. Their distinguished position comes not from some special status built into the game, but solely the behaviour of its members, which in my experience is exemplary.

Among these groups are of course a diverse set of opinions, but practically everyone is accentuating the positive, and exploring the interesting opportunities the update presents, rather than lamenting its limitations. Barring a vanishingly small minority of unpleasables, it’s most striking that I’ve met absolutely no outright hostility to the new system or players. More common is skepticism of what status Alpha players can expect. The phrase “cannon fodder” is common, and not without cause, as while talented players in Alpha-accessible ships can have a disproportionate effect on a battle, their limited skill access confines them to secondary or tertiary roles, if not outright kamikaze. My first contact, Abbi, a friendly neighbour and unofficial ally of Skyena, goes further. “Alphas are slaves”, she declares, pointing out the transactional nature of politics, and the obvious benefits to a large corporation of pushing recruits into full time mining, or an endless cycle of kamikaze-respawn-repeat fuelled by disposable corporate ships. While I think it’s safe to dismiss any established group grumbling about the perceived threat to the status quo – history buffs can fit their own analogy in here – the bigger concern is what effects a two-tiered membership system will have on EVE’s culture in the long term, and crucially, what impressions it’ll leave on those vital newbros. So, enough about what those tired old whingers think. The real question is whether CCP have succeeded in attracting and retaining enough fresh-faced new whingers.

I’ve long lamented that MMOs and their audience foster a straightjacketed culture of grinding, minmaxing, and sacrificing all in the rush to find the optimal path through a game’s code. Newcomers to EVE have likely already heard stories fueled by exploitation of external forums and multiple accounts (unlike most, CCP more than tolerates the use of a player’s three character slots to manipulate the game and cheat other players, even allowing ‘multiboxing’, or logging in with multiple characters at once, an act so drearily mechanical it salts my brain). While the active support from old hands is welcome, I worry that corporations accelerating the rush to the most exciting toys will burn some players out early, bypassing the unusually interesting journey, and misleading them to the belief that there’s only one way to play. Or worse – that they might think that toiling in the mines is some price they must pay to access the rest of the game.

A good MMO is about the journey more than the destination. While delayed gratification can be an element of that, it’s more important and less fraught with grinder’s remorse than simply making the journey entertaining in and of itself, and it’s here where EVE truly shines. In my opening month I’ve seized a tiny piece of a niche market, fought a two-pronged battle against a roaming behemoth NPC and opportunistic ganker, and set up complex trade and service arrangements with friendly Omega players and small corporations. I’ve discovered and explored a wormhole, participated in an impromptu civil defence force, and helped even newer Alphas take their first steps into dangerous low security space. My very humble corporation has contracted out work to couriers and negotiated training fights with known criminals – why not use them, right? – to improve our regular efforts to protect miners in exchange for salvage rights. We’ve even had applications from other new players.

With the exception of Wurm Online, and perhaps the Planetsides, EVE is the MMO that benefits the most from complex interactions with other players. Solo play is absolutely possible, but even as one who enjoys the self-sufficient approach and working up from scratch, it’s in your dealings with other players where it really shines. Even then, the reliance upon the meta-game is entirely optional unless you explicitly choose the corporate high flyer life, or other goals that demand that kind of extreme efficiency. This isn’t something the opening hours really emphasise, but they do encourage the player to diversify and try a bit of everything.

After choosing one of four factions (now a much bigger deal, as Alphas can only access ships and weapons favoured by their faction), you create a needlessly detailed character, spend 40 minutes trying to get them to smile, give up, and take the least sour-faced portrait photo they can muster. Then it’s off to space with you, where a faction-specific tutorial will teach you the controls and a few basics via a fully-voiced NPC. In my case, that NPC was … uh… Admiral Coolhair? I forget. It really doesn’t matter, as they vanish before long. While I can’t fault the voice acting, it’s hard not to feel a little patronised by the fawning expressions of awe at how skilfully you clicked on the indicated icons exactly as told. It’s also oddly inattentive, with many players getting stuck because they carried out the obvious next step of a task while the AI was still waffling on about how to carry it out. This is a bit clumsy, and the tutorial teeters somewhat from over- to under-explaining, but with the exception of the incredibly unhelpful Exploration tutorials, it’s by no means bad.

The bigger concern, and one that will continue, is that CCP are intent on bringing EVE’s story and setting closer to the fore, with the tutorial (and possibly the faction restrictions) as a first step. This isn’t necessarily a bad idea, but it highlights a divide between the de jure story of four factions waging war via functionally immortal space pilots, and the de facto of thousands of nerds nerding it around in nerdland. However promising the setting may be, it’s that latter community that matters most. As the tutorial would have it, there’s the Minmatar Republic, a society of former slaves fighting their inquisitional oppressors and a largely unexplained invading force of “Drifters”, and you the freshly minted pilot field promoted to an eternally respawning ‘capsuleer’ as part of the war effort. It justifies your cluelessness, but it’s unable to even touch on that latter community of existing players and their myriad factions, alliances, and political and economic machinations. Indeed, it doesn’t really even try to, a choice best described as ‘double edged’.

Dumping players into the shark tank is a merciless gamble, inviting frustration and shock from the unprepared. But it encourages an experimental, hands on attitude, where the best way to find out if something works is to try it and take any resulting losses on the chin. It also trusts the playerbase to shoulder the burden of initiating newcomers, again a bold gamble, but one that’s paying off so far. CCP have made some odd decisions and glaring omissions, but their job here was a particularly difficult one of balancing multiple interests. In addition to reconciling story and the reality of the player experience, there’s the challenge of giving free players the right mix of content and incentive to upgrade, and raising player numbers and revenue without exploiting or alienating anyone. Whatever your opinion of CCP, that’s a tall order, and after a month spent in its clutches I can only conclude that the Ascension update has been an extraordinary success.

The public image is one of giant wars, devastating cons and betrayals, and a metagame so uncompromising that the mere threat of it has been putting people off even testing the waters for years – and none of it helped by the harsh beginning and inadequate 14 day trial. But as thousands are now learning, the reality is that in EVE you can do pretty much what you want, and while Alpha characters are restricted, there’s little limit placed on an Alpha player with a friendly attitude and a keen eye for opportunity. Imagination, patience and initiative were always the key to enjoying EVE, and the new update, coupled with the efforts of its community, does a respectable job of making that clear. There has likely never been a friendlier or more interesting time to start playing EVE, as long as you remember this: there’s no best way to play. Do what you enjoy.

Thanks to Abbi, Reza Najafi, Christy Cloud, Algorthan Gaterau, and to many players who took the time to talk to me over the last few weeks, with particular thanks to Irae, and members of Brave Newbies, Sniggwaffe, and EVE University.

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96 Comments

  1. rochrist says:

    Tried three times. Turned off three times.

    • Snowskeeper says:

      Why?

    • Psychomorph says:

      Tried zero times and still turned off.

      Alone thinking about the grind makes me not even want to try it.

      Also I saw gameplays and it looks lamer than Elite. Yes yes, I know great things happen there, but as a newb without friends and limited game time, I will not be there when it happens ever.

      • Sin Vega says:

        There is no grinding in EVE. If you are grinding it’s because you’re choosing to do it. Now maybe you need more money or resources for something, but firstly, what do you need it for? Aside from running a station (which seems extremely difficult and demanding, if not impossible to do alone), there are no running costs just to exist. Anything you’re grinding for is something you’ve chosen to pursue, which is generally on you.

        And there are so many ways to get money or resources it’s almost silly. If you’re finding yourself doing something boring just for the money, christ, do something else. If you’re having no fun making the money you’ll have no more fun once you’ve spent it.

        • ToozdaysChild says:

          “There is no grinding in EVE.”

          We must have wildly different ideas of what constitutes ‘grinding’.

          • FLoJ says:

            As he qualified – most ‘grind’ is just for things you want. You can quite happily pootle about in cheap frigates (or even upto cruisers I believe) as an alpha player and never grind once (especially now with alpha clones where if you join a large alliance they’ll literally give you ships to fly and explode).

            Yes you can grind to fly bigger and better ships or even to play for free on a full account but that’s your choice at the end of the day.

        • Viral Frog says:

          I wouldn’t say there isn’t any grind in EVE. That said, the best thing about EVE is this: if you aren’t enjoying what you’re doing, go do something you enjoy. You’ll most likely still have decent cash flow while doing it.

          I was in a Faction Warfare corporation before I deactivated my account. I didn’t pay a dime for a single ship or ship module for months, unless I was doing solo PvP. All I did was pewpew, no grind. It was nice. Of course, I had my market alt parked in Jita in the background and idly checked my orders every few hours (who am I kidding? It was more like twice a day max lol) to keep the cash coming.

          • malkav11 says:

            I did just that, personally – it’s just that the “something I enjoy” wasn’t Eve, because while it’s a game with a lot of possible activities, none of them are really all that inherently interesting as far as I could tell. There’s certainly been little to no narrative context provided by CCP in the past, which is a crucial component for me. (I guess they may be attempting to address this, from the sound of the article, but I can’t imagine it ever being a serious focus.)

            The appeal seems to come from their role in the complicated web of player interactions and of course the really dramatic part of that is operating at a level much higher than most people are likely to see. And frankly I hate player-driven economies, so that side of things isn’t for me either.

        • Psychomorph says:

          Okay then, maybe I give it a try.

          How is the exploration side of things? Are the views (suns, planets, nebulae, stuff) interesting? Are there specific exploration mechanics?

          • Sin Vega says:

            Sort of depends on what you mean. Exploration could mean literally flying around jumping through gates to unfamiliar systems and learning for yourself what groups are active there, how the markets look, how safe they are, where the danger spots and trade bottlenecks are. Personally I’ve found that quite enjoyable even though most systems are functionally very similar and it’s hard to know a region without spending a while there. I think it’s because you can. There’s nothing built in to stop any player in any ship going to any system at any moment. That doesn’t mean someone in that system or along the way won’t shoot you on sight, mind.

            The other, more recognised form of exploration is when you fit a probe launcher to your ship. This can be used to track down ‘anomalies’ and/or other players. Anomalies can be valuable mining sites and/or hostile NPCs who often guard sites you can then hack into (minigame, not unlike Deus Ex Orange Revolution) for loot whose value varies dramatically.

            They can also be wormholes, which can lead anywhere, either to regular space or ‘wormhole space’. The latter is practically a whole other game in itself – even just finding your way around there takes practice, and many people discover the hard way that finding your way in doesn’t guarantee you’ll find your way out again. As an alpha, I don’t know enough to say for sure how viable wormhole space is – my exploration was largely limited to scanning some things down and watching them from a distance in a non-combat ship – but I suspect it’s extremely difficult and particularly unsafe as Alphas can’t cloak.

            EVE University runs regular in-game ‘classes’ on exploring and living in wormhole space. Oh, and if you decide to give it a go, I can’t stress enough how poor the Exploration tutorials (agent missions) are. They explain nothing, so you’ll need to look up some guides on youtube. Once you figure out the interface though, it does get easier with practice.

          • Psychomorph says:

            @Sin Vega: Thanks for the info, I’ll look into it.

        • LexxieJ says:

          This

        • ColonelFlanders says:

          “There’s no grinding in eve.”

          “There is grinding in Eve.”

          Current record holder for fastest contradiction of 2017.

      • thetruegentleman says:

        In fairness, friends aren’t something that just “happens”, same as the real world: if you never make an effort to connect with other players (and more importantly, keep those connections), you’ll get bored of ANY online game in fairly short order.

        Hell, even KOTOR online, the game that’s basically a singleplayer RPG with other people, falls quickly into tedium without other people to banter with.

  2. Alfius says:

    KarmaFleet is recruiting. Big war on, lots of fun, sometimes boring, occasional heart pounding action, talk shit on comms, free stuff, Goons love newbees, join today!

    link to karmafleet.org

    • Sound says:

      Can verify that KarmaFleet loves its NewBees. I spend the great majority of my logged-in time helping them, one on one. My other endeavors happen in the time between teaching our NewBees.

      In KarmaFleet, you are not cannon fodder – we design multiple means of making you an utterly oppressive battlefield force, and hyper-effective in spite of your limited means and adorably newbee cluelessness. We shower our new players with income, ships, fleets, assistance, tools, a decade of refined information, clubs, out-of-game hinjinks and meetups, friends, and more. No other corp replicates or exceeds what we offer & do.

      KarmaFleet is the best newbie corp in Eve, and a part of the most infamous, impressive, generous, fun, organized, vibrant, and inclusive alliances in the game. Eve is better with us around, and it’s even better when you’re with us. Give us a try, you wont regret it.

      I am not even a recruiter. I’m just saying this because I think Eve is great, and I think KarmaFleet is the best way to experience Eve(for most, at least).

      • FredSaberhagen says:

        Is this corp run by scientology?

        • Alfius says:

          You can become a Thetan* if desired … so there’s that.

          * Member of a sub-divisional group called Theta squad, which focuses on the economic aspects of Eve.

          The name derives from the fact that KarmaFleet originated as group recruiting from Reddit, a popular web community were posts are voted up or down by giving or taking away ‘Karma’.

  3. Ghostwise says:

    As I hoped, the character generation suite is a kickass tool to make photorealistic portraits. Super-useful for role-players.

  4. Noc says:

    Eh. As someone who was super excited by EVE years ago but hasn’t gone back, a lot of the joy came from being part of a larger, living world. I did the salvage thing too, and it was really cool to lurk around the periphery of battlefields and pick through the scrap that was left over, and eventually join a corp and pack everything up into an indie before moving to an 0.0 outpost on the other side of the galaxy, before real life got busy and I had to let my subscription lapse.

    But the fact that that larger world has increasingly felt like such a shithole does really kind of take the edge off of that, especially to the extent that so much of the exciting, engaging dialog about the game is literally and explicitly meant as faction propaganda.

    I think it was probably the quote from a few years back by someone Goon-related that finally did it for me, around something like “[people from the old alliances] wanted to think of themselves as these ‘honorable space samurai’ and we thought that was dumb so we set out to ruin the game for them as much as possible,” that finally killed the last vestiges of my desire to go back.

    Nowadays, what I tend to want most from outer space is to not have to deal with the rest of the internet.

    • Sound says:

      That’s akin to one of Goonswarm’s mottos. But I think you’re misunderstanding it a bit by taking it too literally. It’s more like competitive smack talk. We join ourselves to a space tribe with the express purpose of promoting our tribe in a zero-sum contest(because non-zero-sum is boring for literally everyone). We coat our smack talk in all manner of barbs, but the fact is that we love Eve and want Eve to thrive. Even the guy you’re quoting. And that means that we even want our opponents to ultimately enjoy the contest when they lose. Our rivalries in this manufactured world is a large part of why we log in.

      The real kernel of truth in that blurb you saw is the bit about disdaining e-honoure in this competitive space game. Eve is blatantly designed to make gentlemanly-duels-of-armies completely a manufactured endeavor, unnatural in the social ecosystem, only viable through a compact. Expecting engagements in Eve to be fair is, mechanically, dumbwrong. There is no incentive, and all the incentive in the world to take without giving. This is not my preference, it’s simply a fact that could be proven on an abacus.

      Instead, it’s engineered to hand victory to the devious, or socially gifted, etc. That quote is more about disdaining their fundamental misunderstanding of the political and mechanical environment. So I’d argue that it is not about griefing, in the traditional sense.

      Anyhow my point is: You should try Eve again, but try to shift your perspective a touch. You might enjoy it more.

      • Premium User Badge

        Grizzly says:

        So basically, your motto involves blowing up the people who accuse you of “Playing the game wrong” in all the wrong/right ways?

        • Premium User Badge

          phuzz says:

          I’m guessing the motto being referenced is “Goonswarm: Not here to ruin the game, just to ruin your game”.
          Because they like the personally approach.

      • Noc says:

        That’s… basically what I mean, though?

        EVE pitches itself as a game about awesome space battles! All the trailers are about awesome space battles with really cool space ships and an amazing sense of scale.

        And if you’re in a game for the awesome space battles, a sense of ‘honor’ makes sense! Curbstomping people weaker than you in one-sided fights is boring and un-fun, and the ‘good’ fights are evenly-matched and fun even if you lose.

        Except… you’re right, being ‘honorable’ is not just less generally effective, it also directly loses to sneakiness that takes advantage of it, Prisoner’s Dilemma-style! And EVE both allows and mechanically encourages this, and thus the most powerful and effective players are the ones who’s eyes went wide at all the opportunities to be a Space Sociopath. (Sorry, “devious and socially gifted.”)

        Because ultimately, it’s not a game about awesome space battles, it’s a ‘social sandbox’ where half the players think they’re in for the cool space battles and are exploited by the other half, who are really happy to have a lot of new blood because it means new sheep to munch on! And who are even happier when the sheep turn out to be earnest good sports, who’ll take a pat on the head and come back for another licking.

        Which is fine if you’re into that but… eh, I can get my spaceships elsewhere.

        • Sound says:

          Can’t it be both at the same time? I was in an epic 4000 man space brawl last week. It wasn’t a lopsided curbstomp. And I was being exploited by the group(which was fun). And then I declined to join something with the group the next day, because their interests weren’t my interests. And then I was exploiting others in the group the day after that, and everyone had fun. And then I decided to go do something solo.

          Compare this to any other PvP focused game. Exploiting people in most games is a one-way transaction, where one person simply asserts themselves or dominates the other involuntarily. Except insofar as you volunteer to be in that arena. Here, it’s all voluntary not just by logging in, but by willingly involving yourself in any given thing. Or picking your side, or your activity. You’re always in control, either way.

          You can get into big space battles without pitching in with a group, if you wanted. You’d be a third-party to the involved factions. Just recognize that the reason they’re big in the first place is because we chose to organize ourselves into big groups. In big groups, some people have got to be leaders, and by following them we’ve decided they get to call the shots, because we need focus(aka exploitation). If we didn’t want them leading, they wouldn’t be; we’d simply leave.

          Personally, I can’t imagine an un-scripted, large-scale, player-driven, meaningful space brawl that didn’t involve willingly joining yourself to a cause. A cause that includes leaders that exploit you in some fashion. And since it’s precisely what those people signed up for, I also can’t imagine what you find to disparage about that.

    • drewski says:

      Goons and those alliances with a similar mindset are basically why I’ve stopped playing any sort of MMO style game.

  5. Silverchain says:

    “These people can be nice after they’ve finished being dickheads having fun at your expense” – perhaps some day they might master the astonishing trick of being nice without first being arseholes?

    • Replikant says:

      This. Probably won’t happen.

      I just hate people who ruin my online experience by repeatedly attacking me with a vastly higher level character I have no chance of injuring (WoW), or by having the mobs attack me and not them and then finish me off (Dark Souls).

      Afterwards they boast that they have uber-skillz and deride the ‘carebears’.

      • Snowskeeper says:

        Being fair, in Dark Souls the invaders are at a massive disadvantage. They need to use the environment to have a fair shot to begin with.

        And from what I can tell, the people mentioned in the article weren’t boasting about their skills or making fun of people. In fact, when the author contacted them they say they were fairly respectable.

        • Sin Vega says:

          One pair came back after they heard my confused spluttering (there’s WAY too much info and notification overload at times, my confusion was genuine. They’d blown me up in a particular way and place, I thought it was some kind of AI glitch), realising I was an Alpha, and once I’d picked up a new ship, escorted me to where I was going and helped shoot a group of attackers.

          Another blew me up and instead of boasting went “GF” (good fight) in local chat. It wasn’t a remotely good fight, he absolutely pasted me, but he left us both with some dignity instead of crowing about it.

          I wouldn’t doubt anyone’s stories of thoroughly twattish attackers – it’s the internet after all. But the community has really impressed me.

          • Riken Vorkovin says:

            First off. Made an account to comment here. Been playing eve mostly active for nearly 10 years.

            I’m part of Test Alliance Please Ignore. A bigger group in the game. (Check us out).
            Anyway. The other day a guy dropped his “revenant” super carrier (very obscenely expensive high dps capital ship, like 300 billion ingame money) and then proceeds to declare to us “I win faggot”.

            People like that suck. But I personally do my best to help new players learn what they want to do. My name ingame is the same as here. Shoot me a message if you just started out and want any advice.

            If I blow you up I won’t say “I win faggot”.

      • Viral Frog says:

        From personal experience, the people who will blast you for no reason other than to do it will typically not boast about their skills or denigrate you for being a carebear. In fact, as long as you don’t react like a jerk, they will most likely help you get on your way in peace… unless you’re in null sec.

        • Sound says:

          Agreed. The problem with believing that the other players should be ‘nice’ misunderstands that this is a thoroughly PvP, open-ended, social sandbox game. If no one can threaten your plans or gameplay, then what kind of sandbox would this be?

          The expectation is that players ought to balance risk, and reward, and be prepared that sometimes the dice come up bad, and sometimes the players just aren’t thinking through all the risks of the environment. The expectation is that players should adapt: If an area is flush with aggressive players, you should do what it takes not to be their victim.

          “Why won’t they just let me run my industry in peace, why do they insist on blowing me up for no reason? I came here to be a space-mogul, not a target!”

          “Because I came here to be a ruthless space pirate.”

          This is what it means to have meaningful space-pirates, wars, and evil-empires – Someone must be victimized. There’s literally no other way to accomplish this in a meaningful way.

          If the players were more “nice,” presumably enforced mechanically, then it would not be a player-driven sandbox where player actions dictate what happens, and what’s important. It would be another scripted themepark, bereft of real social investment and meaning.

          • Snargelfargen says:

            I think you nailed the core of the problem with the expectation being that players should adapt. Any MMO, especially one with an explicit pvp focus requires the player to change the way they play in order to achieve their goals. It’s perfectly valid to prefer one style of gameplay, especially if one just wants to chill out. Often though, I think players frustrated with griefing or competitive play are missing the forest for the trees. Their goals can still be accomplished if they take a step back and try something different.

          • drewski says:

            “Their goals can still be accomplished if they take a step back and try something different.”

            While is is true, I suspect for most people who bounce off EVE the something different is playing another game.

          • Riken Vorkovin says:

            Alot of people play eve simply for those kills. I think they mean more to them then traditional kills in say a Fps. But im fairly certain these are the same guys wanting a high k/d on those too.

            I like to pvp but I mostly just like space and spaceships and doing my own thing most days with a group of people I like being around. Some of the people I play with definitely live for the kill though.

          • Snargelfargen says:

            “While is is true, I suspect for most people who bounce off EVE the something different is playing another game.”

            Yes.

    • lordcooper says:

      I can’t help feeling that it’s incredibly odd to judge someone poorly for blowing up your spaceship in a game largely about blowing up spaceships.

      • Premium User Badge

        Captain Narol says:

        That’s precisely the problem with people like you, you think wrongly that Eve Online is a largely a game about blowing starships, when it is far much more…

        First and above all, it’s an economical sandbox on a scale unegaled, not another pew-pew arcade game like there is so many.

        • lordcooper says:

          And easily 95% of the demand for goods comes from people needing to replace spaceships that have been blown up.

          • Riken Vorkovin says:

            I think most people don’t judge others for fighting alot in a game centered around that. I just enjoy flying spaceships and like having a wide variety of types and looks to choose from.

          • Sound says:

            I, too, enjoy simply existing in a space setting and ecosystem. But in spite of peoples’ preferences, the fact remains that war losses are the lifegiving river that feeds this forest. When the wars stop, the economy stagnates and prices inflate. Many players lose an important motivator, in the form of rivalries, and stop logging in. Evocative stories cease to spread. Social bonds weaken. The entire web breaks down.

            War is the pillar that holds it all together, whether you choose to engage in it or not. The gameplay you engage in might not revolve around blowing up spaceships, but the game itself absolutely does.

      • Rince says:

        One thing is going into the local bar and starting a fight.
        But going into the local kinder and starting a fight I think that is a bit different.

  6. Premium User Badge

    Nauallis says:

    Congrats, you made EVE sound interesting and intriguing. My experience still says otherwise. What I’m really curious about though, is how easy you found it to communicate with other players using built-in social systems, be they text chat, IM, email, or voicechat. Is it easier, now, to go about finding a corp to apply/join?

    When I played, three years ago, it wasn’t, and I hated it. Grouping up was a pain in the ass, not an intuitive flow that encouraged newbies to work with other players. Your article certainly makes it sound like communication channels themselves were fairly easy to use, and player communication was the only rocky part. Does the game enable you, or hinder you in strange ways? Do you still often have to go through third-party/external forums and websites to communicate with or join corporations?

    Information overload/organization was another main problem – so many menus and things to keep track of, oftentimes panes within panes within panes. Did you play on a single monitor, or on multiple?

    • Sin Vega says:

      One monitor, and I do all my in-game communications in game. That’s what I meant about the ‘non-diagetic gameplay’ thing (and it’s one thing that put me off the first time). I hate using third party systems to interact with games, especially MMOs, and EVE is replete with them. However it turns out you can ignore them entirely if you want to, and I did. There are a few dozen listed chat channels, but anyone can make a channel and link to it without leaving the game.

      I met people simply by being friendly in local chat, talking to the void and making small talk with miners and wanderers, people whose dead bodies I found (and posted back to them for free, with a “condolences” note) or people whose ship I liked the look of, things like that. Sending business emails to thank small-time contractors, and being helpful to other new players all led to private conversations and emails, some of which went further. I don’t even use voice chat, because I hate my voice, my microphone/headphone plug broke off in the port, and nothing kills the atmosphere of a game faster than voice chat. And I missed the bus and the second one broke down and a horse ate my phone.

      It also helps that I’m Minmatar, I think, as they seem to have the strongest identity as a faction and so more to make small, demi-roleplay small talk over (you’ll never do any harm saying “bloody amarr” in a minmatar-heavy channel). But it’s also a time when everyone’s being exceptionally friendly to new players, who in turn are rather enthusiastic, and people are making deliberate efforts to organise and experiment together.

      Finding a corporation seems a little tricky as there’s no easy way to sort through the (… thousands? Millions? I don’t know) listed, but my advice to others has been to just talk to people. Much like in real life, if people like you they’ll tell you things, and if you can chat to people well, some of them will like you. And if someone blows you up… make a sandwich, have a cup of tea, and then send them a friendly email.

      One monitor, and I do all my in-game communications in game. That’s what I meant about the ‘non-diagetic gameplay’ thing (and it’s one thing that put me off the first time). I hate using third party systems to interact with games, especially MMOs, and EVE is replete with them. However it turns out you can ignore them entirely if you want to, and I did. There are a few dozen listed chat channels, but anyone can make a channel and link to it without leaving the game.

      I met people simply by being friendly in local chat, talking to the void and making small talk with miners and wanderers, people whose dead bodies I found (and posted back to them for free, with a “condolences” note) or people whose ship I liked the look of, things like that. Sending business emails to thank small-time contractors, and being helpful to other new players all led to private conversations and emails, some of which went further. I don’t even use voice chat, because I hate my voice, my microphone/headphone plug broke off in the port, and nothing kills the atmosphere of a game faster than voice chat. And I missed the bus and the second one broke down and a horse ate my phone.

      It also helps that I’m Minmatar, I think, as they seem to have the strongest identity as a faction and so more to make small, demi-roleplay small talk over (you’ll never do any harm saying “bloody amarr” in a minmatar-heavy channel). But it’s also a time when everyone’s being exceptionally friendly to new players, who in turn are rather enthusiastic, and people are making deliberate efforts to organise and experiment together.

      One monitor, and I do all my in-game communications in game. That’s what I meant about the ‘non-diagetic gameplay’ thing (and it’s one thing that put me off the first time). I hate using third party systems to interact with games, especially MMOs, and EVE is replete with them. However it turns out you can ignore them entirely if you want to, and I did. There are a few dozen listed chat channels, but anyone can make a channel and link to it without leaving the game.

      I met people simply by being friendly in local chat, talking to the void and making small talk with miners and wanderers, people whose dead bodies I found (and posted back to them for free, with a “condolences” note) or people whose ship I liked the look of, things like that. Sending business emails to thank small-time contractors, and being helpful to other new players all led to private conversations and emails, some of which went further. I don’t even use voice chat, because I hate my voice, my microphone/headphone plug broke off in the port, and nothing kills the atmosphere of a game faster than voice chat. And I missed the bus and the second one broke down and a horse ate my phone.

      It also helps that I’m Minmatar, I think, as they seem to have the strongest identity as a faction and so more to make small, demi-roleplay small talk over (you’ll never do any harm saying “bloody amarr” in a minmatar-heavy channel). But it’s also a time when everyone’s being exceptionally friendly to new players, who in turn are rather enthusiastic, and people are making deliberate efforts to organise and experiment together.

      Finding a corporation seems a little tricky as there’s no easy way to sort through the (… thousands? Millions? I don’t know) listed, but my advice to others has been to just talk to people. Much like in real life, if people like you they’ll tell you things, and if you can chat to people well, some of them will like you.

      Of course, if you don’t enjoy that in itself, you might have a harder time, and it does rather depend on bumping into a few similar people before you feel alienated.

      • Premium User Badge

        Nauallis says:

        Thanks for the thorough reply! (even if oddly tripled)

      • LexxieJ says:

        That seems to be the one thing that people who bounce off Eve tend not to do, and the one thing that people who stay for years do: talk to other players. Other players & your interactions with them are what make Eve so great & it’s such a shame that many people don’t even dip their toes into the ‘social waters’. I started on my own with no friends who already played, but just by chatting in local and interacting the game opened up into something amazing. I’ve been here 13 years now after almost quitting in the first week.

        Thank you for the article- it’s good to see a balanced write-up on Eve.

        This is also quite good:

    • LewdPenguin says:

      How much you want to get into the OOG meta is up to you. If you want to join pretty much any corp larger than a few mates playing together then an Omega character is going to be asked for API keys for them to look at your account with, as a new alpha I doubt many will be bothering since the barrier to entry for people making alpha spies is near nothing, corps accepting alphas will just deal with the risk internally.
      Having something like Dischord/Mumble/Teamspeak is mandatory with a bizarre number of people despite the ingame voice coms being perfectly adequate for smaller fleets or just hanging out together, although for those wanting to join up with larger corps/take part in large fleet ops then the more advanced features of other programs start making sense.
      Ultimately though it’s up to you whether you want to be a part of a large corp/alliance like that or not, and doing so is always going to involve a bit of a trade off o things like that. Sadly finding a corp you want to join is one of the games biggest problems and one that doesn’t really have an easy answer. As Mr Vega says, meet people, be polite/friendly, and eventually you’ll probably end up in regular contact with like minded people flying in the same areas as you, if you follow the golden rule of don’t fly what you can’t afford to lose then you have little to lose by jumping into a corp and seeing if it’s right for you. Lots of people bounce around a bunch of corps before settling into one for a longer spell, just don’t go hauling every single belonging off to join the first people that invite you and all you might lose is a bit of time and maybe a ship or two by trying, you can always leave again if they turn out to be jerks (if a corp prevents you leaving by repeatedly assigning roles to you that’s a bannable offense and you can get a GM to move you from the corp/slap their wrists) and try someplace else or just go back to pootling around solo for a while.
      That last bit if one of the most important ones I feel, too many people get told/believe that you HAVE to be in a player corp to have any fun or do anything in EVE, which is frankly rubbish. Yes some things by their nature are much better or only possible within player corps, but there’s also plenty of the game you can do entirely on your own. Feeling that nonsense pressure to join a corp as soon as possible for no good reason seems to lead to a lot of people ending up in the shitty scam corps that just take your stuff and kill you, and unsurprisingly they bounce off the game entirely because the bulk of their experience has been with asshats. There’s plenty of nice people in the game once you get past the “lol lrn2fly n00b” types that often come across the loudest, and most of them wont take offense to a new player preferring to fly solo for a bit before accepting an offer to join, so long of course as you’re polite about saying you’d like to maybe come back to them a little later.

      Oh and nobody should fly Minmatar, their ships are so rusty you can ever tell when they might fall apart just because you turned a little too sharply :P

      • Premium User Badge

        Nauallis says:

        Thanks for your thoughts here, and throughout the comments section. It’s always nice to read optimistic commentary and helpful advice.

        The “don’t go hauling everything off to the first corp you join” was actually one of the mistakes that I made. Also I was playing with friends who were afraid of going into null-sec space, and I really just wanted to jump out there and explore. It’s hard to get over the whole “it’s okay to die” aspect of EVE, because it’s so unlike any other MMORPGs that I’ve played.

    • Premium User Badge

      MajorLag says:

      “Congrats, you made EVE sound interesting and intriguing.”

      Were we reading the same article? Perhaps it is a matter of taste, but all I heard was “grind, grind, grind, and more grind with a side of grind. Also assholes.”.

      • Riken Vorkovin says:

        There are plenty of avenues to learn that allow mostly passive ways to make income without the need to grind. Grinding it out can be a bit quicker in the short term though.

      • Sin Vega says:

        My brain is attempting to fold its many lobes across five dimensions of space in order to understand how you reached that interpretation.

      • Premium User Badge

        Nauallis says:

        It’s always a matter of taste. Sin Vega described an aspect of EVE that I didn’t personally encounter during the two months that I regularly played – and it sounds like Sin Vega took quite a few more risks because “why not?” and “remember, it’s just a game.” What he(?) decided to do was play the game in a way that was fun for him, and thus had overall what sounds like a fun time.

        I read the article through the verbiage that Sin Vega used, not through my own lenses. I can understand that perhaps it might be less fun in reality, but the journey is the reward of EVE, and Sin Vega seems to have had a grand time. I envy that. It’s also why I asked how accessible the game is for somebody who doesn’t want to use anything other than the game software & game immersion to play.

        EVE is compelling and unique because there are no arbitrary player levels, and the only thing that really separates newbies from experienced players is access to resources and time spent playing the game. Otherwise the game is balanced in interesting ways – it’s entirely possible for newbie/low-tech frigate fleets to wreck capital ships.

  7. causticnl says:

    main problem with eve is the community really, the “dont trust anyone” meta is biting their own collective asses.

    • Cropduster says:

      ‘Don’t trust anyone’ is just a dumb catchphrase that gets thrown around newbie help channels by people that don’t know better.

      The reality is that eve is pretty much built on trust, friendship and other touchy feely emotions. But all rookie channels are full of people taking it upon themselves to say ‘Don’t ever go anywhere or do anything! You will get scammed and/or blown up!’.

      • lordcooper says:

        Exactly. Trust those who seem trustworthy, but don’t open yourself up to huge losses.

    • Riken Vorkovin says:

      I wouldn’t say “don’t trust anyone” id say “don’t trust anyone with everything you own”

      Otherwise most groups work on trust otherwise thered be no working groups. Does theft happen sometimes? Yes but honestly in the 10 years I’ve played I’ve only seen it a few times.

  8. racccoon says:

    Eve even at freeb position is still a log on do skills click, log off x days, log back to do more skills, Eve’s only reason for survival, is the market, which is the only thing in eve that keeps the game alive.
    You may as well play a browser game like Star Colony or Starfall tactics as they have a better game play.
    My eve freeb character will keep going as its free and I just log in to log out, So, I’m going to milk it, milk it till its fully exhausted & completed,(skill wise) which means logging in to click a few buttons and log out again! wow life is so mundane. I’m currently playing Pirate Hunters its a better more joyous game for that log in log out game play routine plus..eMus Rule. Long live the PC!

    • Sound says:

      I recall your reply in this sort of style in the prior Eve article.
      The gameplay you’re describing is one of your own making. It’s only true because you’ve made this true for yourself.

      Since Alpha Clones were introduced, I’ve helped hundreds of new pilots get into fleets with me, to go out looking for action, to scramble to protect our home space, to help them find new things to try out in Eve, or to spend some time building a nestegg so they can buy bigger shinier things. And more.

      Never, ever have I come across a situation where I’d tell one of our new players, “come back in a few days, there’s nothing for you to contribute with your limited skill points,” nor have I ever felt compelled to say, “nothing interesting happening right now, log in later.”

  9. geldonyetich says:

    . Instead of Level 32 Player’s inevitable mathematical crushing of Level 24 Player, even the humblest of characters can have a significant impact on anyone they meet in EVE Online, and anyone can carve out a niche.

    I disagree. In EVE Online, time means skill score increases, skill score increases mean efficiency increases, and efficiency increases mean genuine advantages, down to the most basic aspects.

    Established characters will refine ore more efficiently and build things from that ore more efficiently. As such, they have more profit margin than it is possible for a newer character to get. Furthermore, you will never catch up, no matter how long you play.

    That said, I don’t begrudge existing EVE Online players from having fun now that they have some new blood to… well, exploit. Welcome to the pyramid scheme, now push!

    • LewdPenguin says:

      You will ALWAYS catch up if you want too, just only ever in specific areas, while the older player can keep adding entirely different things to their list of perfect skills. So yes right now I have an advantage in having all level 5s in resource processing, but I’m maxed out there and in a few months someone that started today could have all those skills at the same level if for some reason they wanted. Sure it would take a pretty long time to catch up with all the industry related skills, to run with the same example, simply because it’s a huge skillset. But building lets say 1 factions frigates perfectly, or their small weapons? In a fairly short timeframe you can match the exact same skill bonuses as the guy playing for 10 years, because for any specific activity there’s a (relatively) small set of skills that relate to it, and nobody can train those beyond level 5.

      Of course related to this article alpha characters by their nature will always be hamstrung by low skills compared even to an omega of comparable age, but that’s the trade off anyone playing alpha accepts.

    • lordcooper says:

      You get roughly 80% of the value from a skill by level 4, which takes about 20% of the time it takes to max a skill out at level 5.

      I’m primarily a pvper and have about 30m SP. When I’m flying my favourite ship (a Stratios focused on neuts, drones and shield tanked) all the SP I have in trading, industry, battleships, destroyers, cruisers, guns, missiles, armour tank etc etc isn’t being used. For the most part, SP buys you options. A very focused 7m SP character could be mechanically better at flying that ship than I am.

      Add in the fact that skill injectors can be bought with ingame money and your argument looks incredibly tired and ill informed.

      • geldonyetich says:

        I see I was critically wrong on two fronts:

        1. I did not know about skill injectors.
        2. I did not think there was even such a thing as a skill cap.

        So, alright, it is not impossible for a new player to catch up with an established player, at least where being efficient at refining ore is concerned.

        However, I think I was correct on these assumptions:
        1. Any efficiency advantage, even a mere 20%, is sufficient to critically undermine the competition who is trying to make a profit on the open player-driven economy.

        2. It takes a LONG time to get tier 5. Skill injectors would seem to shorten this instantly but it would take literally hundreds or possibly thousands of real life dollars to power level yourself accordingly. I see one story about a guy who basically paid to level up everything for $28,000 real moneys, and am trying to spitball what that will run if you just focused on the applicable trade skills.

        3. Skill injectors aren’t cheap, and it’s not fair to expect new players to drop a bunch of real money buy a ton of ISK just to be competitive on the open player market.

        So ultimately, I’d say there’s a big difference between possible and feasible for most players. If you further consider that your lack of competitive capacity severely hobbles your ISK earning potential, it is an effective glass ceiling, especially for those who don’t want to dump real life cash on it.

        On the other hand, I can see why some people are so quick to jump to EVE Online’s defense. This game can be a potential full time job if you can sell enough ISK and skill points.

        • Sound says:

          …No. No, my man, you’re still off.

          When people pay CCP for space-money, overwhelmingly it’s a one-off purchase to set themselves up in some ships because they’re either avoiding, or terrible at, space-income generation. Some newbies buy one early space-bux infusion, and spend it on an injector, which they use to gain immediate and broad access. They do not generally pump themselves full of skill points to ‘catch up’ to veterans, nor max out in a particular area. That would be a terrible waste in many ways.

          Those who pump themselves full of skill injectors are not buying them with real cash. They’re people who are so good at in-game-buck-raking that they can do it ‘just because.’ They don’t spend $28,000 on it, nor are they losing potential real money either, because in-game money cannot legally be turned into real money. This is heavily policed, and taboo. The in-game/real-world cost translation in Eve is an abstraction, not a literal equivalence.

          2) It’s not merely that there’s a cap(5 ranks on any given skill), it’s also critical that it’s non-linear. Every rank takes ~5x more time than the last. So if a skill gives you a 5% bonus per rank, you will get 15% in no time flat, 20% with an extra day, and 25% after a tedious week.
          The end result is that a veteran has a widely dispersed variety of different ~5% improvement relative to a newer pilot. It’s an advantage.

          But this dispersed advantage is *practically never relevant,* because every expression of PVP or player comparison happens within a complex context. Player contests do not occur in a white-room where all other things are equal. The context takes the lions share of outcome weight. The veteran’s 5% advantage is a feather on the scale.

          To give an example, you’re rank 3 in refining ore into minerals. The veteran is rank 5. But you’ve heard about a war down in the Catch region, so you jump on the opportunity and make a killing on selling minerals. The context you managed yielded an advantage that FAR out-stripped the importance of a 10% yield difference.

          I made my initial fortune in Eve early on through a situation similar to this. I saw an opportunity in the context and exploited it even though I had nearly no SP relative to my competitors.

          This is not a fringe example – It’s a normal occurrence. The white-room comparison is practically never relevant. There is no “all things being equal.” There are so many variables piercing all manner of situations that your SP is just not a big deal, typically.

          Here’s what really matters: Control of the context, your comfort with the game’s ecosystem, your knowledge of the game’s mechanics or peoples behavior in it, your ability to leverage cooperation with other players. Those are the weights that smash the scale. Those factors win fights, gain advantage on the market, dominate the asteroid fields, etc. The fact that I have a handful of 5%’s or 10%’s here and there is very unimportant.

          • LewdPenguin says:

            Pretty much all of this.

            Skill injectors shouldn’t really be thought of as something for new characters, sure if someone’s going to drop a PLEX or two when they start then it’s a decent investment, simply so you can have the basic support skills to support more than pootling around in a frigate that can’t fit anything for the first few days. Those that are buying them in any significant quantity are either a minority that are willing to invest heavily with their RL cash, or for the most part have reached the point where 40-50m is an affordable amount to drop on a consumable item, by which point they can in no way be considered as struggling to make money in-game.

            So far as raw skills go of course it’ always going to be preferable to have everything 5, but yes how you use those SP swiftly becomes more important than purely how many you have. Once you’re sat on a healthy spread of skills at 4 you’re in range to be competitive depending on player choices, if getting to level 5 is the difference between profit and loss on a manufacturing job you’re either trying to force into a very high volume, razor fine margin market, in which case you’re going to need more than all skills 5 anyway, or doing it wrong. Making industry profitable is at least 80% about player decisions in where you buy and where you sell, and at what price, the last few % from skills should just be a bit more profit on each batch, not the only thing making it worthwhile. If you’re PvPing then of course there will be times the lower skilled player pops when the other guy is at 5% hull and you can say skills most likely made the difference in outcome, but more often what matters most is the judgement of whether it’s a fight worth taking or not, because if someone with everything 5 sucks at making that call they’re going to spend a lot of time dying to people with less skills but a more appropriate ship for the fight, or just a larger gang.

            That perhaps is the greatest thing about EVE, not that you CAN catch up in terms of doing [activity] or flying [ship class] even though it’s entirely possible to do so, but that far quicker you can get close enough in terms of in-game mechanic skills that the decisions made by the player have the greater weight in determining success or failure in a particular endeavour. The edge cases where max skills are absolutely the only way to go are just that, and can largely be avoided by good decision making on the players part, hello learning_curve.jpg

        • lordcooper says:

          You’re still quite far off the mark.

          For a start, skills don’t work in a way that level 1 = 20% and level 2 = 40%. Most skills give something like a 3% bonus per level. So someone with the reprocessing skill trained to 5 gets a 3% higher efficiency than someone with it trained to 4. So in practice, it makes very little difference.

          To quote from the Eve Uni wiki page on reprocessing “For an average player with around 30 days training into reprocessing skills, efficiency yields would typically hover around 63-65% depending on standings at a 50% station.”. The absolute max in this scenario with all skills at 5 is 69.57%, which is a bit of a piddly difference really.

          To further put this into perspective, I have been playing for about three years now and that player who has put only 30 days into training those skills would be able to refine more efficiently than I can.

          As for skill injectors being out of reach of new players (without spending real money) I beg to differ. I had a contest with a mate about 6 months ago over who could earn a plex (about twice the price of an injector) on a brand new character the fastest without using any existing contacts. I did it in 3 hours, he beat me by about 30 minutes. Much like everything else in Eve, player knowledge and ability to think outside the box is more valuable than your SP.

          Take PvP for example. Someone could give you an SP maxed character and I would still beat you in a 1v1 cruiser fight. Because knowing how to time overheat cycles, maintain the perfect angular velocity, maximise the impact of my guns and minimise your through range control, perform slingshot manoeuvres etc etc is far more impactful than a handful of 3% bonuses.

          The same applies to industry and market playing. The guy who spots the gap in the market or drives up demand for their product is the guy who makes the big money.

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      Don’t forget, there’s skill injectors now, so for enough money (in-game money, that can be bought with real money), you can buy all the skills that older players have spent years (literally) training.
      Of course, you still need to have the experience to know how to use those skills.

  10. Merus says:

    My EVE experience (and while this was a few years ago, I can’t imagine much has changed) involved working through the tutorial, doing some jobs, mining some things, acquiring some recipes, and starting to think about improvements. I was getting enough resources together to start building an improved ship, which required a part I could only find in mid-sec space. Okay, it’s a risk, but at least it’s not null-sec. I’ll be there for, what, 30 seconds? Get the part, get out.

    There was someone waiting at the gate and I died immediately. I lost nearly everything.

    Having been given a reminder that while EVE has a complex space economy, it is not about the complex space economy, I quit there. Sure, I probably could have bounced back, but I could instead play a game without any space assholes in it.

    • lordcooper says:

      You broke rule 1, don’t fly what you can’t afford to lose. Isn’t there an old saying about eggs and baskets?

      • Merus says:

        Oh, I’m aware I made a mistake (albeit one I didn’t realise I was making), and there were ways to claw back into an income, but there’d always be someone bigger and crueller waiting. I got a taste of “end-game”, and it wasn’t to my taste.

        • montorsi says:

          Indeed, plenty of PvP games full to the brim with assholes that don’t require you invest large amounts of time and energy into losing digital bits. I can just read about the one or two pieces of intrigue that comes out of EVE annually.

      • drewski says:

        As long as EVE needs this rule 1, most people are going to keep not playing it.

        I get it’s what makes EVE the game it is, but it’s never going to stop putting the overwhelmingly vast majority of people off.

        • lordcooper says:

          The moment it doesn’t need that rule is the moment at least 90% of the established playerbase leaves. Most of us play primarily because it’s one of an exceedingly small number of games with actual consequences for your actions.

          All games don’t need to be all things to all people.

  11. brucethemoose says:

    perhaps the Planetsides

    Interesting that you brought that up… PlanetSide 2 is indeed very dependant on the community effort.

    But unlike EVE, that community been dying for quite some time :(. Old players tend to view newcomers as easy prey/cannon fodder (many pilots, for example, will only target stock-looking planes way away from the front lines to keep their K/D up), and the outfits that used to support them have long since dissipated. Leadership is now scarce (platoon leading, for example, is now seen as a chore), and the serious bugs in squad/platoon management that keep popping up aren’t helping things at all.

  12. Montavious says:

    I started playing Eve in 2004. Was a very enjoyable game. I started out on the PvP route. Think I joined FFoF within my first week of playing. Those were my younger years though. I think I played it for a solid 4 years, then on and off like 2 years, then just quit and just trained my character. The game is very time consuming and thats its biggest flaw. It tends to be one of those games that you cant just hop onto, accomplish something, then log off. And once you get to that point where you have “been there, done that,” the game gets very boring.

  13. lordcooper says:

    I’m glad you decided to give the game a fair shake!

    It’s awesome that you’ve found yourself an enjoyable niche, although I would recommend you try stepping outside of it from time to time. Partially to keep things fresh, but also because there might well be something you unexpectedly enjoy even more.

    As an aside, if you ever want to try out group pvp without committing to an established corp then there a few NPSI (not purple, shoot it) groups that host regular public fleets. Spectre Fleet being the mostly widely known.

    EDIT: Your article got posted on /r/eve link to reddit.com :)

  14. Drakedude says:

    As far as actual game goes, eve looks pretty, and that’s it. Get used to hotbars, min-maxing, skilling up (you can’t catch up) and in general fuck-all import given to NPC’s and non-player events. The game descended into “space” politics for it’s own sake because there’s not much other meat on the bone.

    This is why Star Citizen will succeed.

    • lordcooper says:

      lol

    • Premium User Badge

      Captain Narol says:

      lol (*joins the choir*)

    • LexxieJ says:

      That, people, is what’s known as ‘completely missing the point’.

      The reason I hate Call Of Duty is because the platforming is nowhere near as good as Mario…

      • Drakedude says:

        The article makes out it’s a good game to carebear. I’m just setting the record straight.

        • Riken Vorkovin says:

          And quite a few people do think and enjoy care bearing while hanging out with friends.

        • LexxieJ says:

          It’s a great game to carebear- you just have to do it with other players, rather than NPCs, to get the most out of it.

          Eve, more than pretty much any other game, is defined by- and built on- the ‘Multiplayer’ part of ‘MMO’.

    • Sound says:

      lol

  15. Pagnatious says:

    Skyena is a fantastic name for a space salvage corporation.

    I launched it to try after the free accounts went live. I reactivated my old paid account and found myself parked in a station in a ship I was no longer allowed to fly. I was immediately overwhelmed by all the bits of crap salvage that I had spread over a few stations and the corporation I’d been part of had lost its entire wallet on office rental over the ~6yrs since I was playing. Though reading your article I now feel compelled to sign in and schedule more skills to train. I just tend to feel an existential ennui whenever I try choose what to do in EVE.

    • MrDeVil_909 says:

      I was in a similar position. Logged in after an 8 year hiatus and was hopelessly confused. I could still fly my ship, but couldn’t use the fit.

      I spent the better part of 3 or 4 hours sitting in station, refitting and reskilling. I did have the advantage of a nice isk injection from a forum buddy which helped. Also bear in mind that you will have had your skill points refunded for skills you can’t use anymore. That’s a nice boost for getting into the skills you can use.

      I’m pootling around now in 0.5 space after doing the career missions and SoE Epic Arc and having a nice low-key time. Looking at joining a corp now for a bit more company though after getting my exploration ship blown up in 0.4 space.

      This sounds a lot like a whole bunch of damning with faint praise, but I’m finding the game a nice way to unwind despite the ferocious reputation.

      • Sin Vega says:

        This is a particular strength of some high security areas. I gravitate towards the high/low boundary areas, but pootling about in the safe (for the uninitiated, nowhere is safe in EVE, but in ‘safe’ areas it’s very rare anyone will bother you unless you’re making yourself an obvious target by carrying highly valuable goods in a ship made of clay) parts can be rather relaxing.

      • Pagnatious says:

        I was wondering why I had loads of skill points to spend, but I still have the skills that are locked, I just would have to pay to get access again. I do however have 900k of skill points to spend that I discovered were apparently reimbursed to me when they got rid of the Learning Skills back in 2011.

        I didn’t even get as far as doing a mission. I got out of my Drake I’d been flying and left it in the station I was in, packed everything else there into a Badger I had then headed a few jumps away to what I vaguely remembered being my base of operations system. Then I started looking at the list of stuff in my hanger trying to remember what any of it did, why I had it, or how to sell it all to start a new life, as if I had time to play Eve again.

        I might commit a bit of time and search up how to best fit a decent cruiser and how to sell off all the stuff I seem to have been hoarding, then fly somewhere dangerous and get myself killed.

  16. mickygor says:

    So… is Skyena recruiting? You’ve got me wanting to play again :P

  17. Generico says:

    I played EVE for years. Determining whether you will like EVE or not is really simple. If you are looking for a highly social experience and you either have friends to play EVE with or you jump into an established corp right off the bat, you will like EVE. If you are looking for entertaining gameplay in either the PvE or PvP sense that you could possibly do solo, you will hate EVE. EVE depends entirely on its meta-game experience to keep players around. The actual gameplay is garbage. It was mediocre by 2003 standards and the fact is it hasn’t really changed that much since then. This is why all the stuff you hear about eve is meta-game stories, and if you actually go watch eve gameplay videos they look boring af.

  18. Kala says:

    “That’s a far better average than is typical. Against all my expectations, the community may take a little adjustment, but it’s a welcoming, positive, and deceptively open-minded one.”

    This was also my experience :)

  19. Atum Ra says:

    I’m playing EVE for 7 years. Just 2-3h a day. Sometimes I do not playing for months.
    I can tell you about EVE just few things: this game is for those who loves and knows how to think strategically, the most interested part of gameplay is at null-sec, without second account you will be unable to play at Capital ships, that’s why you will need min 2 accounts. You can buy everything for in-game money.

    Just search for alternatives to achieve results. You will be surprised how interesting is the gameplay of the supercarrier pilot or as the hotdrop of black ops. You can be a spy, a teacher, a thief, a trader or producer.
    But be ready that all these goals you can complete after few years of playing. Fist 3 months you will study the Game.

    The most boring part of the game – missions from station agents, mining at asteroid fields at high-sec and hunting NPC at all. All missions are the same.

    • LewdPenguin says:

      Why would you need a minimum of 2 accounts to fly caps when no ship in EVE is flown by more than one character at a time?
      The only time you might ‘need’ a second account is if you’re going to go soloing sites with a carrier, which is far from being something everyone wants to spend their time doing, if they’re even interested in caps at all.

    • MrDeVil_909 says:

      Comments like this are what prevent people from trying out interesting games.

      There are all sorts of enjoyment to be found in Eve and the idea that you need two accounts is patently nonsense.