With excited eyes and a good deal of saliva, I look through the market pages, casually flicking my cursor over information and models. Every so often I will stop, look to the left at the column titled “Sellers” and then quickly flick towards the panel labelled “Wallet”. Groaning with disappointment I resume my search. A few minutes later my body tenses with anticipation – like a teen buying his first car I give a casual glance over the specifications; power grid - oh yes that looks good; amount of space - again that will do fine; the only thing that remains is to kick the tyres of the ship and declare to the merchant that “I will take it”.
Before throwing caution to the wind I decide to do the Eve Online equivalent of asking for fatherly advice; I head into the “Rookie” chat channel and inquire as to reliability of the vehicle I plan on buying; after one or two “LOLS” and a hearty “LMAO EPIC FAIL” I receive a viable message “It’s OK but not brilliant” if there was ever more of a ringing endorsement, the aforementioned was all I needed. Heading back to the opened market panel I purchase the ship named “Merlin” - even the name fills me with pre-teen glee, I will be like the intergalactic version of the Arthurian wizard; I can see the Eve chicks piling up already as I cruise to the space-mall in this bad boy. I click into the menu which holds my space ships and there it is. I opt to assemble and make it active; it finally appears in front of my eyes, floating in mid-air: a 3 engine wonder that looks awesomely like Darth Vader’s TIE Fighter. Oh my god I am in love.
Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before
I am into my second week of returning to Eve Online and I can say that I am enjoying things so far. While at once the game is confusing and terrifyingly complex, there are more than enough safety nets and refinements to allow for the fun times to roll. Being a newbie with a head of dreams I filled the majority of my time taking on the many tutorial missions from business to well, business. At some point during the 8th or 9th mission I came across two enemies that were just insatiably aggressive. The agent within the space station told me to head into a dead space encounter with a salvaging device and a steely resolve, and well, both failed me. As I flew into the instance I was set upon by two near-do-wells and had to promptly warp out as their weapons took chunks out of my shields - my lasers all but nibbled on their windscreens,
I had been in the game for a week or so, and like any proud Northern Englishman, I had taken to mining. The result of this peculiar choice had left me rich in Veldspar but poor in military arsenal – in essence I was a bit of a pushover but rich in the sparkly stuff. Heading over to my wallet I saw that I had amassed a nice amount of money, a million or so ISK – this of course was all down to my love of watching “Game of Thrones” while absently jettisoning my ore into a can; a genius way to play incidentally.
So here I was comfortable, in the green, and ready to take on a pair of space bastards. After looking through the market I came away with the aforementioned “Merlin” ship and several fancy turrets. OK it wasn’t as good as the name or visuals made it out to be: there weren’t many places to attach death-spewing turrets, nor was there anything much else to make the ship stand out, but, it was better than the crappy little thing I had been drifting through space in before. After buying a number of “Iron” ammo charges, I equipped my ship as best I could, did final preparations and undocked from the safety of the space station.
As I came into space I took in the sights around me – this would be the last time I looked upon Caldari (it came as a shock as I thought I was Gallente) space with the eyes of a newcomer, I would be back to this place a veteran of war and its horrors – OK I would be coming back slightly more learned in the arts of shooting lasers and owning a better ship. I right-clicked the emptiness around me and set my destination, heading to the dead space encounter; within seconds I arrived at a fancy looking jump gate and I activated it.
I hurtled out of warp speed and into the dark instance. Around me hung the debris of an abandoned space station and what looked like an impressively sized boulder. Scanning the area I saw two red crosses which signified my enemies; narrowing my eyes slightly I targeted one and approached. I began to watch the distance between myself and the enemy melt away into nothingness. From 30K I fast approached 20, and then 15, and then 10 – I tightened the grip on my mouse and my knuckles began to whiten, this was it, we were going to “have ‘em” – it all sounded so familiar.
And then something peculiar occurred as it often does within my Survivor Series. My Internet service provider obviously felt that my writings were simply not eventful enough and my connection was cut. One moment I was hurtling towards a confetti of laser and death, and the next I was staring at my pleasant looking desktop background “Scenes of Britain”. Oh sure it was nice looking at Stonehenge but now wasn’t the time. Rubbing my eyes with confusion I darted my mouse over to the toolbar and discovered that I was no longer connected to any kind of World Wide Web – I glanced over to my modem and there sure enough was the tell-tale, orange flashing icon signalling connection problems. Without delay I sat upon my bed; grasped in one hand was my hardy iPhone of the Complainer +4, whilst the other grasped a crumbled piece of parchment with the words “Virgin Media” scribbled across the top. Cue the battle of Internet service provider.
Lean On Me
After a day without the connection to the domain of pornography and Twitter my service was finally brought back, and so I continued my adventures. One of the most enduring pieces of advice that follows any Eve Online newcomer is the yells of “get yourself a corp!” This little nugget of wisdom is the bane of every anti-social space dweller out there. We the non-talkative bunch squirm in our bedrooms/basements, lamenting those with virtual friends and at the same time wishing to be a part of their fun and games. My travels before in Eve Online were relatively solitary, like a remorseful convict serving time with dignity and grace; oh sure towards the end of my time within New Eden I found a corporation, and a damn fine one at that, but, in retrospect it may have been a better idea to have learnt the game with others rather than through haphazard forum advice. So in the spirit of trying things once more, I set about finding a group of hardy players to enjoy space, and its delights, with.
As a fresh-faced youth I used to find it easy to make friends. Whether it was through actual physical contact or by being a loudmouthed yob on messaging services such as MSN Messenger, I could be found at most times talking to the strangers of the Internet and in all possibility being groomed by suspicious Counter-Strike players. Don’t worry I’m not about to reveal that I was sexually abused on MMORPG.com – such information is certainly reserved for my biography “I am Survivor” or something similar.
So with the above in mind, it is peculiar, that as an adult, I find myself to be somewhat socially retarded when it comes to talking to folk on MMOs. Here is a genre of gaming that I call my home, my paradise, and yet most of my experiences are alone. This just won’t do anymore. Taking the bull by the horns I turned to the solve-all “Rookie” channel and set about making inquiries. “Would anyone like a newbie in their corp/guild?” I asked with sheepish anticipation, all the while trying not to come across as desperate. After a few moments bright blue text appeared before my eyes “click on the chat bubble, go to the subheading corporation and press recruitment” I had received this piece of information before, I wasn’t looking forward to making use of it.
I entered into the “Recruitment” chat channel and immediately I was hit with a colourful barrage of adverts and requests. Did I want PvP one would ask while another demanded my services as a miner in Gallente space – perhaps I wanted to indulge in piracy or part-take in a learning flight program? Choices, choices, and more damn choices. This particular chat tab within Eve Online is reminiscent of an ancient middle-eastern bazaar – there is a lot of shouting, some angry cursing, and a lot of desperate sellers all trying to peddle the same thing but branded ever so slightly different – I was simply a passing tourist window shopping and trying not to get wrangled in with their patter
After scanning over a dozen or so messages I decided to take a deep breath and put myself on the scene as it were. Before I could say “overwhelmed” I was inundated with messages and conversation requests. A dozen usernames popped into view with gusto, each more daunting than the last; which colourful username would I take, which corporation would be for me? I was a little scared
At random I accepted three conversations and then began a process of speed dating; tarting myself out to Eve players like a newbie prostitute. I was asked my name, my age, my location; I simply fluttered my eyelids and answered with playful suggestion – I felt wanted like a beautiful starlet, I was all giggles and blushes for a brief period. After flirting with the idea of a dozen corporations I finally made my decision, like I was playing a CCP endorsed version of Blind Date: would it be the bald and stern looking PvP corper? The handsome, yet approachable jack of all trades recruiter? Or would it be number 3, the lady of the group with long flowing, luscious, blonde, golden hair, and fleshy lumps in the chest region – the woman! The Survivor Guy has spoken!
I was invited into a chat channel and from here my lady friend introduced me to a small number of people – and then it began, the endless, philosophical questions: “what do you want to get out of Eve Online?” and “Where do you see yourself in Eve Online” finally, the favourite of them all “How long do you see yourself in Eve Online?” I was asking to join a bunch of players in their enjoyment of the game, and yet it felt like I was filling out a job application for a small-time business. I wasn’t requesting to join in someone else’s fun, but instead I was becoming a member of a well oiled team who took their virtual hobby deadly serious. I was a little put off by it all to be quite frank.
I wanted to enjoy Eve Online on its own terms, and as an MMORPG, but I wasn’t prepared to commit myself to a group of players with such rigorous demands of its members. I made my excuses and left the blonde Eve Player alone – I needed time to reflect and decide on my course of action, of course I wished to play with others but I would need to find a more suitable bunch.
With all of my misadventures aside, my second week returning to Eve Online has been an eye opener in many respects. Recently I sat down in the glow of my monitor and watched, industry legend, Richard Garriott talk about his experiences in creating Ultima Online. Now CCP’s space-‘em-up holds up as one of the legitimate heirs to the Origin throne, but, in the past I could never see why; this MMO is in space, it is based seemingly around endless menus and text boxes, and where the heck are the dragons and shiny swords?
Well it turns out, like many things I am wrong, and I have been for some time. Many like myself when speaking of Eve Online will say things such as “I don’t get it” when describing their ill feelings towards the game. Perhaps this is the product of a post WoW/EQ world, but it wasn’t until Lord British spelled it out until I finally “got” what I wasn’t getting. The idea of the MMORPG genre was very different in conception than it is today. While I love it both in its past and present iterations, the type of games we play now play are more like Pokémon than any kind of Dungeons & Dragons experience; players pile onto linear paths and set about an obsessive task to reach the cap without so much as stopping to soak in the atmosphere or question the point of it all.
Eve Online is very different to the above. It is fully featured and expansive universe which basically allows people to simulate life within a futuristic space-setting, and this is the initial core idea behind games such as Ultima Online – a fantasy setting in which different people choose different experiences. Richard Garriott describes how amazing it was to watch players take to his virtual world, neglecting tried and tested options such as combat, but simply to become a fisherman, a merchant, a resource gatherer, and these is the type of descriptions and stories that drew me to this genre initially and why I still moan that there isn’t an MMO to fill those shoes – but how wrong I have been, it was here all along but in space-man pants. When, in game, people were demanding to know what I was going to do, they weren’t trying to force a path upon me, but instead trying to nudge me into understanding the concept; Eve Online is what you make it of it, whether than be combat, trade, or other, this is a sandbox, a virtual world, another existence in which you play out whatever crazy role-play notion you wish – now I understand; now I get it; now I can enjoy it for what it is, rather than what I thought it should be. So with all revelations aside, join me again as I continue my voyage of discovery.