EVE Online - it's one of those games that garners groans of loathing or confusion from many gamers, but is also the catalyst for one of the most highly anticipated first-person shooters, Dust 514. Join me as I dust off my rusty helmet, and suit up for some reintegration into the EVE Online universe.
Day One: Learning the ropes
It’s quite difficult to try and explain EVE Online to people, mostly because there’s really no game quite like it. A space-based MMO that is essentially a self-sustaining ecosystem of capsuleers from around the world. Everything from building and fitting your ship to combat is very unique, both to the game and to every individual within it.
I actually started playing close to three years ago and started out like most EVE players do -- in a strongly policed area called “high-sec”. Its high security level, thanks to CCP’s Concord police force, protects many new players from other, more aggressive players, as they begin their journey into the very complex universe. The only problem is, this area of the game is also incredibly boring, with repetitive missions. Plus the low threat level makes everything more or less not exciting.
After logging off for close to a couple of years, I’ve jumped back into the fray, hoping to actually explore more of the universe. To do this, first I must leave my warm blanket in high-sec, and venture out into the real world of EVE Online.
So I’m in my ship -- what now?
I had joined a player-owned group, known as a corporation, a little while back, but only logged in long enough to add new skills. My player-owned corporation resides in nullsec -- a collection of regions and systems that are dark, ruthless and often fought over for control by alliances. It’s in these spaces that alliances can mark out their territory and fight other alliances, make use of the local resources, and fight NPC pirates that occupy systems in asteroid belts and hidden complexes.
The Myrmidon: my Gallente (my character's race) battlecruiser class ship.
Despite having many high-level skills, I was still not in the position, nor had the experience to try and attack other players without losing my ship. To lose your ship in this game can costs millions or even billions of ISK -- the in-game currency. In comparison, to attack one group of pirates in an asteroid belt will earn you maybe a few million ISK in pirate bounty and loot. Depending on its cost, losing your ship can be a big deal, and I have seen players walk away from the game for months due to the loss of an expensive ship.
Since I wasn’t ready to throw away money that would be hard to earn, nor was I confident, or even able, to try my luck in any kind of attack against another player, I had to choose a suitable difficulty level. So "ratting", or fighting NPC pirates it was. For me, this meant fighting a small handful of easy pirate ship in asteroid belts for barely worthwhile bounty prizes.
Try to recall, if you will, all those spaceship movies you’ve seen in the past.
Where you have a large number of staff at various consoles, with blinking lights, and a female voice on speaker telling you how long until the ship self-destructs due to damage. Actually fighting in EVE Online can be similar to that.
Depending on your ship, you can either take more damage to your shield or more damage to your armor before you die. When you go into battle, you will usually put some kind of damage control module online, and wait for the screeching alarms to determine what kind of trouble you’re in. Guns needs to be watched to ensure that you reload when necessary. You need to divert capacitor energy to repair units to ensure that your ship can continue to take damage while you target down and destroy the enemy. The whole process is an exercise in multitasking, and gets more difficult depending on what is it you’re attacking.
After going through a few asteroid belts, taking out the scum of my system, I retreat back to my corporations’ station to pick through my earnings and the loot salvaged from the wrecks. It’s currently a time of war in some of the player-owned space, and my earnings were cut in half due to tax collections to fund the war effort.
Just one example of many videos available showing "ratting" - the killing of enemy NPCs.
Alliance wars, corporation taxes... this game sort of reflects real life.
Again, this is where the game gets complex on a larger scale. Just as countries in the real world ally with each other to attack potential enemies, EVE is filled with corporations and alliances that work with each other for a similar goal. Just like countries, resources must be collected and mined, refined, and distributed to make player’s ships -- the machines of war. Diplomacy ensues between corporations to organize and manage how the war efforts continue, how owned space is distributed, and how the corporations will work together.
Importantly, just like real life, players adept in player versus player combat are deployed to war torn areas. They are organized into fleets to seek and destroy strategic targets, and to clean up areas from enemy control.
Some alliances make propaganda videos such as this from Razor Alliance.
Some players take it all very seriously. However, talking to players in my corporations a dedicated Teamspeak server that hosts various channels for fleets, PvPers, and general chat, I spoke to a bunch of relaxed and funny people. I hear them make jokes about other players and their mothers, ask for help and likewise offer it, and offer advice to those just starting out like myself. Getting to know them during my first day of nervously heading out while hoping that I wouldn’t get destroyed, made an otherwise harrowing first real EVE Online experience fun.
Like I said at the start, it’s difficult to explain this game. It’s kind of like asking someone to explain the world -- CCP have managed to create something simple that, through the nature and motivations of the players within it, evolved into a world almost as complex as our own...
Except with spaceships. And so far that’s fine by me.
Next time: Chased down by an enemy and trapped like a mouse in a bubble -- my Day 2 adventures get a little more intense.
If you want to learn more about EVE Online, EVE University provides some invaluable information for newbies, as well as CCP's official EVE Online website which contains much information stunningly represented in typical CCP fashion.