An Evening Spent with Eve

By Daniel Carvalho

    an_evening_spent_with_eve

    Recently I decided to try out EVE Online. This is not an effort to unjustly review a game I’ve only spent an hour or two playing, but an attempt to rationalize the conflicting initial impressions I got from it.

    I love the whole space, sci-fi theme. It lends itself to ambient bliss. Even though I’ve never finished Homeworld, I still have fond memories of gently floating in space with the chorus of a tranquil song playing in the background. The mere act of being present in the game was an immersive experience. Quickly submersing you in, “the zone”. This was the bait to reel an atmosphere loving sucker like me into installing EVE Online, and starting a 14 day free trial.

    Graphically, Eve delivers enough to satisfy. I was pleased to watch the shimmering light of a sun reveal the intricate details of my humble ship. The vibrant sun flare effects, bursting from behind every interstice of my hull. However, these visual feasts were occasionally jaded by blurry, low-detail textures on some planets and moons.

    an_evening_spent_with_eve_spaceshipNot long after, you’re hit with a litany of tutorials and once you do a couple, you realize it’s not going to be over quickly, and it’s easy to get disappointed. But I knew going in, that Eve was an insanely complicated game and in its defence, it suits the genre. Unfortunately for me, I had a migraine, and as much as I love reading text the size of a grain of sand, however stylistically appropriate, felt like jabbing pins into my retinas followed by repeated swings to the temples with a hammer. Quickly looking for an option to change the font size — which I found — didn’t do squat. Instead, what it did was instill a false sense of hope and quickly shatter said hope before I could even finish my sigh of relief.

    The real worrying aspect for me was the point I realized the game was essentially comprised of three elements. Flying through space in third person, being docked at a spacestation, and the interface menus where you’ll spend most your time. The reason it’s so disappointing, is because the ability to fly through space, roaming through the wonders of the universe, bares hardly any gameplay value. You don’t have direct control — not surprising — and instead, issue commands to your ship. Alarmingly the player control is even more abstracted and distant than World of Warcraft. From what I’ve seen, you spend most your time clicking from point to point and watching the game take over. Everything else, is managed via the menus. From trading, getting jobs from agents, to expanding your characters extensive skillset. I don’t really consider this gameplay, much like I don’t consider working with Microsoft Excel gameplay. In spite of all that, I spent quite a lot of time trying to figure out why I found this so disappointing. After all, I absolutely adored Master of Orion II: Battle at Antares, and it didn’t have any fancy third person perspective view. Instead, it was turn based, and like Eve, your time was mainly spent in menus clicking buttons and watching numbers change. The fact that Eve sells you this 3D aspect, to find out it’s really just fluff, is probably what bummed me out. Unlike Master of Orion II, it feels like it’s marketing itself as something it’s not.

    Lastly, and probably one of my biggest gripes, is the fact that there is no dogfighting. For this you would need more direct control than is currently available. But it feels so silly for a game to be so thematically accurate, but not have such a fundamental element of epic Science fiction such as dogfighting. The frentic, fast-paced action between spaceships, like that seen in Star Wars.

    7 Responses to “An Evening Spent with Eve”

    1. Hitch says:

      Ok, first off I am about as far from a Eve fanbois as you can get, as you would see if you read my blog linked to this post, however you missed the mark by miles.

      Eve is most definatley not everyones game, it is hard, unforgiving and beyond compare in many ways. You cannot, just simply cannot, say what Eve is like after playing for 14 days. Fourteen weeks and you might have a clue, fourteen months and your probably getting there.

      To say something as simple as Eve has no dogfighting is just silly. Before making a guess at the gameplay in Eve you need to experience said gameplay. You need to sit in a cloaked bomber that needs manual orbits, fast lock, cloaking, uncloaking, rapid turn abouts, go fast here, go slow there as you attempt to kill something 20x your own size in a ship that has zero tank unless you do indeed dogfight out of the others weapons transversial. You have to experience wolf packs, small fast frigate fleets taking down a battleship as you swing round it annoying its pilot because he just cannot hit you.

      You need to feel the sheer adrenaline rush of getting past bubble camp #356 whilst 60 fellow pilots are hunting you down 3000metres from your ass trying to uncloak you or lining up at 30km and dropping a bomb despite knowing that if you are too slow to turn and get out your deader than your target.

      All the above is one very small aspect of Eve Online that you have completely missed. One part of a game that says “hey remember all those cool games that started with Elite?”

      Eve is what you make it. It is not like Wow that provides everything on tap for you, you have to go out and make it happen. This rarely happens in 14 days.

      Try it again. This time though drop all that you did before and join my corp for a week. I will show you your ship dying in seconds. I will guide you through the frankly boring aspect of Eve skill training. I will if you let me and the game get you your first kill against a real person and your heart will race whilst your hands shake.

      I cannot promise you that you will enjoy all that, but I can promise that you will realise the stuff you wrote above is simply innacurate. Not because you lied, but because you have not actualy played Eve. You tested it.

      @hi7ch on twitter should you wish to take me up on my offer :)

    2. Scopique says:

      Hitch is right. EVE players know that it’s impossible to argue with people who decide they don’t like/get/understand EVE.

      The problem isn’t that EVE is difficult…from a comprehension standpoint, it’s not. There IS a LOT of information to understand. EVE is to WoW as addition and subtraction are to calculus, and a lot of people just don’t want to have to put WORK into their game.

      But Hitch has the way of it: once you get past the tutorial (which CCP has re-worked many, many times to make it more accomidating…apparently they still have work to do), the game is a lot different. EVE is a sandbox, so there’s no one to hold your hand…the decisions you make, even off-the-cuff, will have a real impact on your experience for days, maybe even weeks.

      EVE is HARSH…the open PvP means that there are a lot of d-bags out there, but there are a lot of people who fill in the gaps: industrialists, mercenaries, traders and more. It’s a far more diverse composition then other MMOs which cram in you into a discreet box where your game play options are severely constrained.

      I DO have to say though that EVE players ARE the hardcore elite: EVE strips away the OCDs, the twitch gamers and the hand-holders. What’s left are the most ruthless, dedicated and intelligent MMO players in the genre. We can’t ALL be gods…after all, someone has to sweep the floors.

    3. Great comments, I’ll definitely take them seriously, since you guys have played the game for many moons. Judging by the feedback I would just like to point out what I did in the beginning of my post, that I fully acknowledge I haven’t played enough of the game to give it a completely fair judgement. I probably should have expounded more on that near the end of my writing.

      Hitch, what you describe sounds very enticing and I am definitely willing to give Eve Online more of a chance. You’ve actually amped me enough to login again tonight. I can’t guarantee that I’ll take you on your offer, but I will consider it (seriously). I’d like to complete my 14 day trial before I adventure along with anybody. I’d at least like to know the elementary aspects of Eve before joining any kind of group and constantly needing to be nursed the basics, inundating others with endless questions. Once the trial is fully over, I’m thinking I’ll subscribe for a further month. I’d be keen to see the breadth — as much as possible — of the game that you can show me. By the way, is it even possible for different races to be in a corporation? I really don’t know, because I’ve chosen Mimmatar and would be sad to see my character abandoned. By the way, my room-mate — who’s been enjoying Eve — is currently searching for you in the game, your feedback has put wind in his sails.

      Scopique, that does seem to be the resounding opinion on Eve, that is really is just something completely on it’s own level.

      We can’t ALL be gods…after all, someone has to sweep the floors.

      Haha, so classic, even if it is condescending ;)

    4. Hitch says:

      I like your attitude Daniel :)

      I actualy agree with you that getting some skills up before jumping in deep is the best, my offer still stands though and will stay there for the duration you play Eve :) Just remember that whilst, as Scopique says, Eve does has its morons there are those of us who will happily take your questions and attempt to help in any way we can, I am one of them and you can contact me in game anytime.

      Yes BTW, you can join any corp that has a CEO trained in Ethnic Relations. A very basic, quick skill to enable all races in a corporation.

      Your roomie, tell him to contact me: Maestro Ulv in game. both of ya do it :) Look forward to hearing from you.

    5. David Reynolds says:

      Hi Hitch, Daniels roomate here.

      Thanks for your invitation :)

      I will also be seeing out the 14 day trial at the very least. So far EVE has reminded me of everything that I loved about Freelancer with none of the drawbacks.

      What time are you usually online? Me and Daniel are in a GMT +2 time zone.

    6. Bill says:

      Daniel,

      I, like you, gave up on the Eve Online trial the first time I tried it. Unfortunately, after I finished the tutorials I felt completely lost and really didn’t know what to do next. I found that running the missions was boring, and I didn’t like the fact that I was already “grinding faction” (in Eve it’s called standing) in order to have new agents be available, etc. It just seemed boring and overwhelming at the same time, so I dropped it.

      However, I was still drawn by the concept of a game where there are 350k+ people on one server, fighting wars, making alliances, backstabbing each other, pirating, mining, manufacturing, hauling, etc. So I picked the game up about 3 months after my first trial, but this time I did some research about the game before I started in again. And that research led to the two suggestions that have made all the difference for me: join a corp and look into Eve University. The biggest thing about Eve is that you really can’t play it by yourself, and being in a corporation is critical to learning about the game and getting involved in fun stuff early.

      I strongly suggest you give Eve another try, and this time look up Eve University. You will find thta as a member of a corporation friendly to new players will make all the difference in the world!

    7. Bill, thanks for the advice. Even though I have since, played very little of Eve Online, I must say I am enjoying it more. As you’ve mentioned, having a few friends to help you out and talk to makes quite a difference to the overall experience. I’ve actually been chatting to Hitch, who’s commented on this article and it’s great having good company. That being said, the actual gameplay I am still uncertain about, but we will see what happens in the coming months when I see more of the game (hopefully, finding it hard to get some playtime). I think there’s something to be said for a game where you have to spend ages trying to get “into” it. That’s something I would consider a design failure. Even if there is a hidden gem beneath the surface.

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