Hollow Earth

EVE Online

I’ve been trying out (by accident) the MMO EVE Online. As Uru was my only experience in MMO gaming, I must admit this is an odd feeling. It’s almost like looking for a new car before you’ve paid off the old one. Or, in this case, a starship.

First, the basics. EVE Online is a space community simulator. Similar to Uru, the game spans many fields and even my definition hardly encompasses them all. It has many features common to all MMOs and hides them in various ways. Typical MMO leveling is thinly disguised in the “skills” area of the game. Gold is replaced with “Kredits”, a name which makes me shudder. Combat is combat, and you can mine for resources as in other games. Not much new, you think.

True, the game sticks very much to traditional cliches. However, there are some unique portions of the game that got me interested in this game, though not to the point that it replaces what I have in Uru, but I’ll get to that later. First the interesting parts. The game is in one persistent instance. Everyone is there. Okay, it is somewhat of a stretch. The world is really divided into “solar systems” which one must jump to via portal-like “stargates”. So, while everyone is on the same server and in the same instance, it’s not quite what they claim it to be.

“Unlike most MMOGs that split a large player base up among small clones of the same game world (called “shards”) containing no more than 3,000 people, EVE is unique in that all of its players inhabit the same game world.”

Second, the game has a large market where items are bought, sold, etc. Unlike any other game I’ve heard of, the market has pretty much everything, for a price. Lastly, there is no one set “quest” as in Uru or the other games I’ve looked into. There are quests (Agent Missions, they’re called) but you can profit and enjoy yourself in-game without doing any of them.

So, my experience so far with about 7 days remaining on my 14 day trial. I set my race, bloodline, backstory, education, and specialty (you essentially build your life, which effects what bonuses you get, etc., which is another interesting feature of the game. All players begin with a basic rookie ship named the Ibis. After a lengthy tutorial explaining the rather complex game controls (this is NOT Uru where most controls are intuitive) I moved on to the part of the game I had the most interest in, mining. It’s the same kind of mining any other game has. You use a tool (which is always slow) to extract the resources from the rock (which never really shows any signs that you DID anything, when the asteroid is depleted, it just vanishes). It’s the typical boring busy work needed to maintain subscriptions. You can either sell the ore or refine it into essential minerals and sell those (or you can keep the minerals and build ships or weapons with them, which I still haven’t figured out how a crystal gets turned into metal for a ship).

Combat’s not my thing, so my ship is purely for mining. Space for the ore, good mining lasers, and bookmarks for the best ore areas. So when my ship was destroyed a few days ago, naturally I had a non-combative response. Warping away from the debris in my “pod” (the little craft that jettisons from your ship if it’s destroyed so you don’t die initially [though you can still get killed in that]), I calmly collected a few things and warped back to one of the stations I had items stored in and picked a new mining ship out of the group I had just constructed. The loss, literally, cost me nothing as I then sold the rest of the batch of ships at a price to make up for the cost of producing the one I took.

I bring this up because it shows you don’t have to be combative or violent to still enjoy this game. You just have to be smart. Were I forced to play this game, I would likely do more long term things, but as my time here is coming to a close (for now) I’m focusing on short term things. You can have an interesting time there no matter what your style and, in that way, it is very much like Uru.

Why this isn’t my choice over Uru. For all the (somewhat) unique thing EVE does, it doesn’t do as many nor nearly as good as Cyan. While some areas are beautiful, they are difficult to get to (whether by way of distance or combative players). While the game’s community is helpful (and even has a volunteer help system like the Greeters) it is also horrible in more ways than Uru’s can be. You want to talk about pride and corruption in Uru, there are gangs in EVE that think they control certain sectors and seem to enjoy exercising their will. You also can spend an hour in-game and see more swearing than I’ve seen in the history of Uru. The economic focus is riddled with poorly-hidden or blatant MMO cliches. The modeling, while at Uru levels in terms of texturing, is too blocky. In short, the game is far too “typical” to surpass a game like Uru as long as there’s still hope. It is close, though, and a serious contender. While it is only the first other MMO I’ve tried out, it seems as close as I’ve seen an MMO get to breaking new ground, which leads to the last point.

What Uru could learn from EVE. EVE has a number of things that could, conceivably, be put into Uru. Some more practical than others.

  1. Multiple chat channels with easy creation and destruction of said channels. This is something sorely needed.
  2. Easy-to-use chat display. Going hand-in-hand with #1, I was shocked at how seemless the chat was, how easily it notified me, how people didn’t randomly poof from the list, and how I never lost chat in a “link”.
  3. Simple info cards. Each person or place or item has an info card you can pull up at any time to read about it. This kind of thing could make contact in Uru so much easier.
  4. Info-filled site. I knew this would be an area where any other game would have an advantage not because of Tweek and amonre’s work, but because of the time constraints on Cyan and their general air of “here’s a hint, but we’ll let you figure it out” which I think should stay. If you look at the EVE site, particularly the FAQ, you notice it’s filled with info even new gamers are going to know, it’s simply written, and puts out all the info to be simply accessed. Information about what the game is, what you can do, pricing, computer requirements, etc. While most if not all of that is on the MOUL site, it is sometimes difficult to find and a crucial thing is missing, a guide to the KI. The EVE FAQ also talks about some of the failings of the game, or at least its constraints.

There are likely more Cyan could learn from. Having your avatar remain in the age you leave it in (perhaps sleeping when you’re offline) except for public places. A full-fledged tutorial at the game’s start. Mining busywork with a Cyan touch (clearing a tunnel to a new area), etc. It all depends on what Cyan does. I still have some hope we’ll get a UU2, and hope that Cyan can, one day, put in place these changes.


Filed under: Reviews

4 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    The reason you didn’t enjoy Eve was because you treated it like a linear game, expecting it to feed you content.

    In Eve, all content is player generated. Mining is considered by many to be the most mind-numbing activity possible, and the resort of carebears. If you wanted to make a living, there are many choices to choose from – but YOU have to choose one.

    Piracy, anti-piracy, bounty hunting, mass manufacture, drug production, capital ship construction, corporate espionage, theft, extortion, space-complex exploration…

  2. […] I did review EVE Online before, but I don’t think I did it justice– nor hit upon all the right points. Those points […]

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