Eve Blankets the Market

I don’t visit hundreds of websites, like most people I have a dozen or so I regularly visit that fit my interests.  So for the last two months or so every single one of my regular web-haunts has been advertising EVE-Online.  So I’m thinking that most people who like the stuff I like but don’t play EVE are wondering what the heck is it?This is the kind of advertisement that i'm talking about.

Well simply EVE-Online is an online multiplayer game about ships in outer space.  I’ve had an account on EVE-Online since 2007 and have enjoyed playing it for several years.  The story is pretty simple, in the future we filled up space then we found a portal to a new part of space we couldn’t get to otherwise. People went through en masse to this new region of the universe until one day the portal closed for no good reason.  The fledgling colonists mostly died and thousands of years later 5 civilizations arose from the ashes to eventually fill and conquer and fight over all of this region of space.

Unlike most other massively multiplayer online games EVE only has one official server, and a test server.  About thirty thousand people are online at any given time, it has lulls during the day of down to about twenty-seven thousand and it has a record of about forty-five thousand.  Also unlike other games of its ilk they shut it off for an hour every day, 4 to 5 am PST.

Before you rush over to play I want to warn everyone, EVE-Online is not for everyone.  It is very complicated and has a steep learning curve.  I’ve played a few other games in this realm like Final Fantasy 11 and City of Heroes and they are easier to learn.  City of Heroes I had down pat in about 2 weeks and Final Fantasy 11 took about a month to really get my head around.  EVE-Online has extensive tutorials but even now I don’t know how to use some of the features of the game.  For example, I could only give you fuzzy instructions on how to manufacture new items which I only did in a tutorial in 2007.  You can wring lots of fun out of EVE in a weeks worth of play, just keep in mind that utter mastery of the game would require a lot more effort than most other games on the market.

So you might be wondering, what makes this complicated game special?  I would say two aspects of its gameplay make it stand out from other similar games.  First off you never ever leave your ship. Your always floating out in space in your ship or floating in a starbase in your ship.  There is never a guy walking around that represents you, all people see of you is a unchangable portrait.  They explain this away in the setup saying that people who fly spaceships use special technology where they are permanently attached to a goo filled pod that is then inserted into various ships. The other thing that makes EVE-Online standout as a very different sort of game is the experience mechanic, very simply your character is always learning.  You set your guy a few skills to learn and logout, your guy is still learning while you’re at work or sleeping or doing whatever.

So if your still interested here are a few neat things you can busy your pod person with in Eve-Online.  Mining rocks, crafting items using the industrial system and trading are considered to be the three primary professions of EVE.  There are other ways you can busy yourself that are secondary such as Mission Running, PVP (killing other players is rad) and scamming people.  Turns out the creators of EVE don’t mind if you trick people and steal their money as long as you don’t break any of the rules while doing it.

Eve is a pretty game, each region has a different backdrop that you fly around and the ships and planets and other space things all look nice.  You will need a pretty good PC to play it.  A fancy single core with a gigabyte of RAM will run it ok.   The sound effects are forgettable and the canned music fits the atmosphere but I find it too relaxing, the game has a built-in music player that you can plug your mp3 music into so you can have your own soundtrack. I usually just keep the sound off and run iTunes in the background. My only gripe about the graphics are the character portraits, there are four playable “races” in EVE, each with three “sub-races”. You get to pick male or female, a race and a sub-race, giving you 24 faces to pick from, that’s it.  You can morph your face to look different but it’s still the same face, also once you’ve made your face your stuck with it.  The only way to change a character portrait is to pay ten bucks and go through a lengthy process that involves emailing the game people and lots of steps, annoying!

EVE has a unique way of being a very big game.  It can nearly be what you want it to be, you can quietly mine rocks in the middle of nowhere until you fall asleep from boredom or you can join an alliance of thousands of players in unguarded space and constantly fight in battles that outscale anything in the StarWars movies.  EVE does have some issues with lagging during big battles though.

So to sum it up, EVE-Online is an excellent way to spend your money and time.  But it’s not for everyone.  The game costs about fifteen dollars a month to play and you can buy a bulk time package for a reduced cost.  You can even spend in-game money to buy time that other players have bought.  Its fun but very complex and you will find yourself planning months into the future on your skill training just to get that new ship you want.


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