Greedy Goblin

Come, play EVE online

This is a shameless advertisement for the MMO I'm playing, EVE Online. If you click on this link, you receive 21 days free trial and if you subscribe, I receive 30 days game time.

This post however serves a greater purpose: to prevent you being mislead by lollers and trolls. EVE Online isn't a well marketed game and without some guidance you can try it out, find it boring or idiotic and leave. I almost did.

Let's get the obvious stuff out of the way: in EVE online if you defeat an enemy ship, won't respawn with no losses like a killed WoW character. The ship is lost forever and even better you can loot its "backpack" for whatever goodies it carried. Also, there are no pre-set factions or generated teams of allies and enemies. You must form/find your own team and you must also seek out enemies to attack.

Well, that's nice, but completely meaningless as - unless you are a mindless loller - the above tells nothing about "why". To make it worse (and this is where the bad marketing kicks in), EVE is marketed as "sandbox", which means that the developers did not create a proper victory condition. Was it simple laziness, lack of ideas or being afraid of losing the various roleplaying groups by telling that they aren't winning, I don't know. However if you arrive without an out-of-game group guiding you, chances are that you'll find a big nihil, a perpetual Arathi Basin bridge where morons grind each other in cheap crap ships till the zombies of the final Apocalypse break into the server room.

In EVE everything is replaceable. You lost a frigate? Buy a new one. You lost a faction-fit Machariel? You are an idiot but you can still replace it. In other MMOs getting good gear is a long grind. You can raid with a great team in World of Warcraft and still can miss on upgrades for weeks. However in EVE you can just go to the market and buy another one. That contributes to the nihil feeling. That makes you ask "why bother?", unless you are one of the mindless lollers who don't ask questions.

Let me answer: while in other games you can only gain more game points than the others, in EVE you can make them change the way they play. Imagine that you could lock out the Arathi-bridge-idiots forever from Arathi Basin! Imagine that those who damaged below the tank would be forbidden from entering LFG until they fix it! In EVE, if you are effective, you have control over the way of playing of other people and not just their gaming scores. "EVE is Real" in the sense that in real life actions have life-changing consequences. If you fail a bank robbery, you won't respawn in the pub to try again but end up in jail. Similarly if in EVE you lose a nullsec timer battle, you can't try again tomorrow with the same terms, as you lost the station and the enemy bases there now. Of course it's no "game over" either, you can get on your feet and try somewhing else.

This is an old snapshot of the EVE map, you can see the most recent here. You can see huge differences. The alliances that lost their land had were destroyed, the players belonging to them became ronins, pirates or were assimilated by their enemies.

Let me show some pictures how it's done. Remember, they are not just some "random WoW picture from the same raid everyone goes", they were made on 2012. Oct. 14 in the battle for the one and only GE-8JV system:

A fleet of Navy Apocalypse battleships preparing for the invasion. One of the tiny ships was my Guardian logistics (healer).
The fleet consisted 256 players. No other game has such numbers in a battle.

The attack on the GE-8JV station.
On the right-bottom you can see the battleships are stacked up, shooting with lasers.
Far below there are the huge supercarriers. They are very expensive and powerful ships,
but they are unable to defend themselves from small and fast enemies, so they need the battleship escort fleet.
In EVE Online every ship is useful to some extent, unlike in WoW where only a geared top level character can make difference.

The same attack with game interface on. The station is swarmed by the drones of the supercarriers(X-es) and ships ([ ] signs). Total victory, the enemies are either destroyed, ran away or did not dare to show up. Enemy ships would be red in the interface.

My loot from this battle. While loot is a crucial point of most MMOs, in EVE Online it's pretty irrelevant.
The cost of my ship (that I risked) is 50x bigger than the few modules taken from a destroyed enemy battleship (the nanite paste was mine).

The last picture is very important to understand EVE Online. PvP has little income, it doesn't shower you with honor points like WoW. You have to support your PvP from PvE income. Industry, trading are very important aspects of the game. If you fail in these, you can't buy ships. Less than 1% of the players afford to buy a titan, the largest ship of the game.

The final piece to the EVE puzzle is the priority of the meta-game. The game itself isn't complicated and performing battles often mean nothing than clicking on some list and pressing F1. Many call it bad game, but it is intentional, just like in chess where moving a piece doesn't need speed, strength or routine. The purpose is to remove twitch or "gaming skill" elements from winning and losing. You don't win because you click faster or carry out a combo move better. You win because you planned better, had a better team organization, had a better reason to show up in the fight. While in WoW teams are often just bunch of players doing their own gaming, banded up only for the "epixx", in EVE all of these fleets have involved communities behind. GE-8JV fell because the winners had better recruitment standards and better treatment of line members. The key wasn't being better in a video game but being better in things that are useful in real world too.

Due to the importance of organization and planning, actually being in the fleet isn't the only way to meaningfully contribute to winning. You can mine or scan down anomalies or freight goods, creating and moving ships the others use, letting the alliance win. As every ships and weapons are created by players one way or another, economy is very important and makes or breaks an alliance. You can be a very useful member without ever firing on an enemy.

Currently I'm participating in a project that tries to eliminate AFK-leeching and botting from mining, the most basic industrial activity. It's like a war on herbalist/skinner bots, AFK/autofollow dungeon participants and Alterac Valley cave heroes, except in EVE you can actually damage them and make them stop. If we succeed, EVE will be very different from its current state and people will have to play it differently. I'm currently working on eliminating huge chunk of M&S from the game.