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Chronicles of a New Eden - The Joy of the Hunt

Steven Messner Posted:
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If you want one good reason why EVE Online is unlike, and in some ways more capable than, any other MMORPG, you only need to experience the joy of the hunt. The thrill of watching your prey, biding your time until that perfect moment when they are at their weakest. That moment when the stars align and their guard slips—who would notice?—and you're there to make them bleed for that tiniest of mistakes. That is the EVE Online I love.

If you've been following this column for a while, you've likely read the stories of Chance Ravinne and Wingspan Delivery Services. Within his first several months of playing EVE, Chance was already building a reputation for his cheeky and sneaky methods of stalking around in wormhole systems in stealth bombers and making things explode. Inspired by those stories, and armed with a copy of his awesome guide to stealth bombing, I decided to try the lifestyle out for myself. And now, I'm not so sure there's any other way I'd rather play EVE.

I spent two weeks searching before I found my first suitable wormhole to set up shop in. That seems like a long time, especially when you consider how much work goes into determining if a wormhole is a viable place to make things go boom.

Unlike normal star systems in EVE, wormholes systems are connected by rapidly decaying wormholes that eventually collapse and are reborn elsewhere. For a corporation living inside such a system, managing and getting intel on these ever-shifting wormholes and where they lead to is a logistical nightmare. One morning you might wake up to find your hole full of tourists from high-sec, the next day you'll be under siege from a cutthroat null-sec alliance. Wormhole systems don't have a local chat channel that displays the occupants of the system. You're never sure if you're alone until that moment when a Proteus uncloaks and disembowels you with a single volley.

Securing a hole and learning if the corporation installed inside is going to make a good shooting gallery is a similarly involving process, but one that I love because I can't think of any other game where you can stalk your prey quite the same way, sometimes for weeks on end. Once you determine if the hole is occupied, you have to get creative in gleaning every bit of intel that you can from the corporation. Next to my desk is a notebook filled with pages of character names, corporation names, what ships they fly, when they fly them, and even things like where they log off (if I'm lucky enough to determine that).

If you just want a breezy afternoon in a gentle themepark MMORPG, this is not for you. But for me, the satisfaction of putting all of these tiny pieces together to gain every advantage, and to do it all from the comfort of a stealth-cloaked bomber—to sit, invisible, while other players go about their day without even the faintest clue you are there—is the ultimate PvP experience..

And I had just found the perfect wormhole to chase that experience in. They were active, had plenty of members, and, most importantly, seemed lazy. Being in a wormhole, it's easy to become complacent, to go whole weeks without encountering another player. You begin to lose that eerie sensation of being watched at all times (or not knowing if you are), and you begin to want to cut corners in your procedure in order to save time. That's when I strike.

But in this story, I decided to do something different. When I saw that the corporation I was stalking had recently suffered a loss by a Brave Newbies Inc. pilot, I decided to message him to see if he had any valuable intel he could spare. A day later we had formed a tenuous alliance and I had given him the coordinates of a new wormhole connection for him to reenter the system and hunt targets with me.

Being that I work from home, I'm in the position where I can leave EVE Online running during the day in the background, checking in when I need to or when I'm bored. This also means that there's a good chance that if this corporation I was hunting decided to move around the wormhole, I'd be there to see it.

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Steven Messner

Steven is a Canadian freelance writer and EVE Online evangelist, spreading the good news of internet spaceships far and wide. In his spare time, he enjoys writing overly ambitious science fiction and retweeting pictures of goats. Speaking of retweeting, you should probably drop everything and go follow him on Twitter @StevenMessner