Sunday, July 15, 2007

Back To The Future...

...well, getting there anyway.

Over the last several days, I've continued doing Level 2 missions until I built up about 15 million ISK for the Myrmidon Fitting Fund. Last night, one of the readers of this blog, Aleyna, gave that effort a major boost by giving me a nice cache of mods that have enabled me to fill out my lower slots without spending anything. The actual game itself aside, if there's one thing I love most about playing EvE, it's the great people I've met and have become friendly with since I've been playing.

It really does make a difference. A big reason why I left Everquest, besides getting tired of paying extra for every new expansion and becoming bored with the game just in general, is that, with some notable exceptions, a lot of the people I found myself interacting with in EQ were people who I'd never want to associate with outside of it. So often it seemed like the discussions in EQ seemed much like recess time at the grade school playground, just bashing and smacktalking simply because they could and there was no one to tell them they couldn't. I love kids, but I've been an adult for a long time and I really have no desire to play online games with children. I haven't been twelve for a very long time, and I really have no desire to participate in discussions which take place at that relative intelligence level, and it was probably as much of a factor in my decision to leave the game as anything else. In EvE, I've found that, while that element is certainly present, it's certainly not as common as in EQ, nor, from what I've heard, as in WoW or other similar games.

It's really not all that surprising when you think about it. EvE is the only video game I've ever played that's so complex and has such a steep learning curve that it's very useful to actually take classes in how to play different aspects of the game. The amount of time and energy a player has to put into EvE in order to become proficient and successful is so high that a lot of younger players bail out because they have to take so much time to prepare before they can go out and blow stuff up. As I remember, most of the basics one needed to know before playing EQ were learned in a single starting area and could be accomplished in perhaps a few hours at most. EvE offers a tutorial as well, but as anyone who's been playing for any length of time knows, that's only the very beginning of the learning curve. There are reasons why I'm still a member of EvE University, and it's not only because I like the people. If there's anything I'm certain of in this game, it's that I still have a lot to learn about it.

In addition, there's a feeling about EvE that EQ, and I'd expect other similar online games, don't seem to have. The best way I can think of to describe it is as a "coziness", if you will. I suspect that's due largely to the fact that EvE's player base can be measured in thousands, not millions. It's kind of the difference between living in a small to moderate size town versus living in a major city. While there's certainly a larger number or residents and probably more diversity in the city, it's very size prevents the residents from experiencing the familiarity and comfort of knowing your neighbors and hometown in a way only those who live as members of smaller populations can. For all the vastness of the New Eden star cluster, EvE is still a significantly smaller and cozier play space than any of those boasting millions of players.

This is both a good and a bad thing. It's good for the reasons noted above, as well as the fact that as a player, one feels less like just a single tiny voice among the teeming masses fitting themselves into content created by and for others, and more like a real part of the ongoing story, like what you do as an EvE pilot really matters, no matter if you're the head of a major alliance or just a relatively new "working class" mission runner who's still learning the game.

In addition, there's just this general feeling that even though players may find ourselves on opposite sides in battle, we're all in this together, here in New Eden. PvP is one thing, but on the personal, social level, such things are much more easily put on the shelf and the aggression of the battlefield is much less likely to spill over into public discussion spaces. It may be harder to be the little guy on a business versus business level, but in-game it can lead to a hell of a lot more fun.

That's been my experience at least. I know there are some, perhaps many, who take their in-game corporate and alliance loyalties to a level that exceeds the boundaries of that which is actually relevant to the gameplay, but I find that to be much less the case in EvE than other games, much as I've found the introduction of real-world personal attitudes and bigotries into the game to be far less than I found in EQ. Sure it's there, but you just don't have to deal with it at the same level you do elsewhere. It may not be something anyone really spends a lot of time thinking about while in-game, but I believe it makes the overall atmosphere a much more pleasant one.

So now, having fit my Myrmidon's lower and most of its upper slots, I've decided to run a few more Level 2 missions to give me just a bit more financial breathing space before I take it out and go back to Level 3's. When I finish getting those last several slots fit, I'll run the Thorax back to E-Uni HQ and clone jump back to the Myrm. Once I've done all that, I'll be pretty much right back where I was before I ran into those Veto ships a few days ago.

A pain in the ass? Sure. Time-consuming? Fuck yes. Boring? No, not in the way you'd think it might be to have to go back a level in most games. Unlike EQ and pretty much every other video game ever, going back a level does not necessarily mean that you have to repeat and successfully perform an exact sequence of events. I remember when I had to do that in EQ, it actually got to the point where I knew exactly what was going to happen when, and I could anticipate and prepare for it. Now THAT'S boring! Still, I'll be glad when I can once again leave these level 2 missions behind and go back to making some real headway in this game. Soon...very soon.

Another nice thing that happened was last night was I was contacted in-game by another blog reader who mainly just wanted to say hello and let me know they enjoyed reading it. That's always great to hear. Since I've been writing this blog, it's been really great to hear how many people are reading and enjoying it. While I love hearing from you both in-game and in the comments section here, one thing I'd ask those of you so inclined is to pass it on and let others know about it. If you have an EvE-relevant blog of your own, I'd greatly appreciate it if you'd post a link so others can find it well. Thanks! :)

Ok, I think I've written enough for today. Catch ya out there!


Aleyna said...

hehe look ma' i'm in a blog.

regarding the attitude of EVE players, i personally feel that its generally better than that you find in other MMOs. I've tried warcraft for a month and i havent been smacktalked so much in my 3 years of EVE. All because i killed someone 1 lvl below me. Ah well. The complexity of EVE really does weed out a lot of those kind of players and i'm glad.

good luck with the Myrm btw.

Anonymous said...

I can totally relate was working on upgrading the fittings for my Abaddon and the wife dragged me from the pc for a minute, it seems my drones killed the remaining npc in the mission that spawned reinforcements and i was in a pod when i got back to my pc. My isk funds are not up to snuff to replace the ship so I am running level 2 missions in my maller to get back to where i was.

Rick said...

I think we're lucky to have found the E-Uni people. It's pretty rare to find a group like that in an mmorpg. You're right, part of it is because Eve is one big world, and everyone with a desire to either teach or learn has a chance to find each other. In any other mmorpg, like-minded people are shunted off to different servers. I think it's a little easier to find a peer group in Eve.

I liked how Mythic handled PvP in Dark Age of Camelot. You weren't able to speak to people in other realms, all you could do was emote. It was easier to ignore rude people who used childish emotes, but it also meant a lot more when someone took the time to express their thanks or respect for a good fight.

It seems a lot easier to be a jerk in WoW than Eve. Maybe that has to do with the fact that a lot of us are really just one character. You can't play an alt, be a jerk, then go back to your main. Your reputation matters more in Eve, I suspect.

alaph said...

I've found that the EvE community has a more mature feel to it, perhaps it's the fact that the game is so in depth and ...well its not shallow so that is a turn off for some less mature pilots.


scout said...

well, I have to point to one exception regarding maturity of the eve players.

Smacktalking/b1tching/whining and all the stuff seems to happened less in game but more in Eve O CAOD.

And something that I totally miss from my SWG is the "random bypasser friendly/neutral/hostile but fighting talking".

Nobody talks in local(apart noobs around start areas or people who want to sell stuff).

It's so uncommon its sad you and you just don't do that in local, because "everything is intel, is information, is knowledge, is power and thus being used against you".

"Random player encounters" in Eve always tend to be hostile or totally neutral with no conversation.

SWG had this RPish nature due to their avatar, but I dont see how the lack of avatars is limiting this in eve for talking in local. Its the highly competetive environment in Eve.