Thursday, January 28, 2010

The EVE Tourist :P

It’s been 7+ months since I played an MMO for any length of time and, for lack of anything better, I decided to join a few friends of mine who started playing EVE three or four months ago.

I actually tried the Trial when they started, said “Space sucks” to myself and quit after about a little more than hour of game time. Admittedly, not the fairest assessment of the game.

So I decided to give it a second chance and rolled up a couple of Trial accounts (one to mine/trade, one to be a combat pilot). I just upgraded the combat pilot to a full account on Monday for $20.

And yes, I appreciate the irony and hypocrisy that while I dislike Sc-Fi MMOs, I still started playing EVE. Truth be told, I was mere seconds away from trying Darkfall instead, but the lack of a Trial account swayed me. Again, ironic, because I didn’t even play out a full week of the Trial before buying the full version.

Then again, I do play on a laptop. And if I’m being honest about it, I think this is why Trials & Betas are so important to me. They give me a chance to test out how the game plays on my setup. That, and I’ve never trusted any dev to publish truthful system requirements. The single biggest reason why I never purchased or even tried Age of Conan is that I knew my old laptop couldn’t handle it.

Space is still boring
I have to say that Space is still boring. All the points I made in my other post about disliking Space as an environment still holds true. It’s big, it’s black and it’s mostly empty. Fights are still long-range and slightly disorienting.

It’s definitely not a game with in-your-face First Person style combat. The combat action mainly comes in the form of pushing buttons, reading HUDs, and positioning yourself tactically. Although, to be fair, some of it can certainly be frenetic and fast-paced.

I’m not judge and jury on this style of combat. It’s just never been ‘my thing’ and I do understand that lots of people like it. And well, the physics of space aren’t terrible conducive to other forms of combat.

The Upside
So far, I’ve enjoyed the negative sum PvE I have done in the Missions. I’ve already lost one ship because I was stupid. And you know what I did? I bought a new ship (GASP!).

For all the scariness that “impact” brings, it’s really mitigated by the fact the game is designed to allow you to recover from it. Also, as long as I follow the tenet, ‘don’t risk what you can’t afford to lose’ then I don’t really see how I can get screwed over too badly. Then again, maybe I’m naïve and I’ll have a QQ post for you in a few weeks.

That said, historically in the MMOs I have played in the past, I have had a real knack for making money. I’m focused on the combat pilot at the moment, but I fully intend to have another character who is the real earner.

My initial plan is to start him as a miner, then up to a transporter (blockade runner?) and ultimately (as I get enough ISK) a trader. But first and foremost, I need to understand what's valuable and useful in this game -- so hence, focusing on being a combat pilot and having the alt setup as a miner.

I’ve enjoyed the starter missions and I have to say that they are surprisingly helpful. If I recall, those weren't always in the game, so I can't imagine how overwhelmed new players used to feel.

Having followed EVE through the eyes of several other bloggers for years, I feel I’m about as knowledgeable about a game without having played it as you can get. And yet, the starter missions were a big jumpstart for me in understanding the mechanics of how to do things.

Combat, Mining, and even Crafting are things I’m sure I could have figured out just fine, but the whole ‘scanning’ and ‘probing’ would have been something I overlooked or not understood for a long time.

The Downside
If anything is a major disappointment, it’s the pacing. Things don’t happen quickly. You don’t gain skills quickly. You don’t travel quickly. Nothing happens quick.  You can't even 'grind through it' to make things happen more quickly.

The skill thing, in particular, is a de-motivator to play. Or as I wrote in the comments of Syncaine’s blog: “If what you want to do requires more skills than you currently have — then the motivation to log on is low. This is largely in-part to the fact that you don’t need to be ‘logged in’ to gain skills. I.E — if I don’t have the skill, and what I really want to do is THAT — why log on until you have the needed skill?”

That is very much opposed to the traditional MMO approach that benefits the guy who plays longer hours with faster character progression. In EVE, longer hours might earn you more ISK but it doesn't let you earn the skills any faster.

I can't help but think a mixed approach where you gain skills in this manner but could increase the rate at which you were learning the skill by using it.  Or in other words, gain it while logged off -- or gain it much quicker by using it while being logged in.

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