Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Suddenly, Three and a Half Years Later... looks like I'm coming back to Eve, again.

I don't know what it is really. Yes, Eve-Online is one of the most beautiful and deep MMO's out there with a loyal and vocal fan base. Yes, it's one of the most unique gaming concepts I've ever played, one that offers players true freedom with the very minimum of hand-holding necessary, a game that basically makes you aware of the tools you have available to you to succeed in the Eve universe, teaches you the basics of how to use them, and then unceremoniously boots you out of the nest to make your own way in the New Eden star cluster.

I left Eve, for what I believed would be the final time, three and a half years ago, right around the date of the previous post. The truth is that I'd grown bored with Eve, for reasons that really had nothing to do with the game itself...well, at least not directly.

Between Spring 2007 and Summer 2010, I was an Eve loyalist. I managed to keep my account active for most of that time, kept up with skill training for the most part, and so had a pretty potent and wealthy toon after a while. After spending about a year with Eve University, I eventually joined a tiny manufacturing corp called Stonewall Interstellar and served as second-in-command there. When our CEO left Eve, I was left with the wealth of Stonewall Interstellar but no real desire to run it on my own, so I sold off SI's assests and decided to see about getting into a 0.0 corp.

0.0 was a lot of fun, for a while. Eventually though, I came to realize that in a game that features space travel, I wasn't doing much traveling anymore. In 0.0, one generally doesn't leave the station without good reason, and so I found myself spending most of my time in 0.0 sitting in a station looking at my ship, and chatting with corpies. Great people, but I just needed more game in my gaming. And so, I made the decision to move on.

Star Trek Online was in beta at the time and I'd become involved with that. I later discovered that the CEO of Stonewall Interstellar had resurfaced in STO so that was a big draw for me as well. I bought a lifetime subscription to STO but about a year afterward, when Atari decided to sell its interest in STO and basically put all development of the game on standby to cut costs while they secured a buyer, STO began a year-long content drought and eventually I lost interest in that as well.

There have been no shortage of other contenders for my gaming time. I've played SWTOR, Fallen Earth, Aion, TERA, The Secret World, Age of Conan, and many others. All were fun and entertaining, but none of them captured my imagination in the same way as Eve did. With all of these games, even in the ones that could be fairly labelled sandboxes, sooner or later you find yourself following very prescribed paths to accomplish certain goals. For example, if you want to accomplish certain goals and fill certain roles in most MMOs you'll usually have to make those decisions early on, often during character creation. Not so in Eve. In Eve, I can pursue one path for a while, then change my mind and try another, and perhaps return to the previous path or try another completely different one, all without penalty or problem.

While most games feature an epic overarching story and fit the player into that story in some way, Eve offers really very little in that regard, and instead provides the opportunity for a new player to create their own story within the Eve universe virtually from scratch.

That's what I've decided I want to do.

My old account is gone, as far as I'm concerned. I don't remember what credentials I used and besides, it's been a while. I want to relearn the finer points of the game and I'm not going to be able to do that using a toon that's as far along as my old one in any case. Sure, if CCP sent me one of those emails asking me to reactivate my account like they used to, I might just take them up on it as that toon had a lot of skill training. If that never happens, though, I'm ok with that. I'm only a few days in, flying a Thorax (as of yesterday), and doing Level 1 missions. The closest I've gotten to low-sec or 0.0 is a couple of 0.4 systems I had to fly into or through during my travels. Saw a few possible pirates lurking about, but I wasn't flying or carrying anything valuable. Yeah, it's been three and a half years, but I've been ganked in this game too many times not to remember that when you've got to go through low-sec, you don't fly or carry anything you can't afford to lose.

It's seems there have been more than a few changes since I last played as well. Two days ago, a GM contacted me in-game just because (I suspect) I'd undocked from a station but hadn't engaged warp drive and asked if I needed help. I've never seen this kind of proactive customer service in any MMO I've ever played and I have to say I like it. The graphics and the jump gate mechanics have been updated and the UI has been improved since I last logged in as well. I like.

All that said, there's one thing about my return to Eve that's bugging the hell out me. I'm not sure if it's a bug, a bad interaction with another program running on my PC, or something else, but for some insane reason my escape key usually doesn't work in Eve. That means that not only do I have to shut the game down from the task manager when I'm done playing, but also that I can't access any of the graphics, audio, and other options on the menu the escape key is supposed to bring up. Nothing else in the game seems affected in any way, the damn escape key just doesn't work, until it suddenly works for a little while then stops again for no discernible reason.

I don't remember ever having this problem when I played before. I'm planning on contacting CCP on this because I need to be able to adjust my settings even more than I need to be able to turn the game off properly. I set my graphics options to the highest setting when the menu was working, but now I know I need to back them off at least one setting because of frame rate issues...but I can't, because I can't get to the menu to adjust them. Grrrr...

So, obviously in addition to coming back to Eve, I'm also returning to this blog. I make you no promises about frequency of posting, how long I'll be doing this, or anything else. For right now, all I can tell you is what I said at the beginning of this post: I'm back.

More soon.

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