I’ve been an Eve Online player for over ten years. I’ve had two separate accounts on two separate occasions. I’ve been part of corporations with thousands of members and participated in fleet battles where space station-sized ships owned by players have warped in while I goggled in surprise and wonder. I’ve plumbed the depths of player owned space on my own, under the noses of others in better equipped ships with far more skill at the game; hunting for secret relics and hidden caches of valuable items, all while frantically looking over my shoulder for player hunters and occasionally running for my life when they found me.
There’s a lot to do in Eve and I’ve done a lot of it, but I can honestly say that I have never understood the game.
It’s such a strange experience because it’s such a vast experience. The game is played with everyone all being on the same server. The mostly player-run economy means that you can make a living doing anything you want: mining, salvaging, battling, exploring, war with other players and much more. You undock from a station and every time you are confronted by everything and it’s so intimidating, even for a gamer like me who has spent hundreds of hours grappling with Dwarf Fortress.
The menus in Eve are complicated, the combat, the movement, the player interaction; everything presents you with numbers and ratios and systems with nested subsystems and to be competitive you absolutely need to atleast understand them.
This is what keeps bringing me back and also what keeps me away. There are no amount of tutorials that can prepare you for what awaits as the game eventually spits you out and says “go and do stuff”. It’s a profoundly baffling experience if you’re on your own.
Ofcourse, guides tell you again and again to join a player group, or “Corp” and yes, it’s true that this is by far the best approach to learning the game if you are confident enough. But if you’re not, or you feel like your schedule won’t match up with others, or any number of reasons why you might not want to join a player group while you’re still learning the game, then Eve won’t hold your hand. You’ll need to read and read a lot.
But for all that, you can’t ever get away from the fact that you’re playing a true space sim, set in a living and breathing universe where real humans go about their tasks with goals and ambitions. There are pirates and danger around every corner. Real intrigue between real people who head huge organisations who run regular missions with real goals. What other game ever made can boast that level of persistence and completeness? The immersion is both minimal, as you tab out or grab your phone every five minutes to check up a rule, or stat, and simultaneously tremendous as you desperately try and lose a pirate who wants nothing more than to kill you and take your stuff.
The game is about control and Eve puts everything and the kitchen sink into your hands and says “tell me what you’re going to do with it”. Even playing the game is a challenge that you must overcome, and who every player also logged in either has or is still in the process of overcoming. What a unique thing to be a part of.
So take your WoWs, your Guild Wars, your Fortnites. I need Eve. In the articles that will follow, I shall hopefully bring you all the trials and tribulations of a Newbro trying to make it in a big universe.
To be continued,
Boboko Busanagi, CEO of EternalCosmicBeardCorp. (We’re new, and recruiting!)