Wednesday, March 27, 2013

How do I love thee, EVE? Let me count the ways.

Some of you know about my on-again off-again relationship with MMOs.  At times I have been totally enthralled by them, and at other times I swear off them for good, realizing them for the time sink that they can be.  About 2 months ago, I re-subscribed to one of my past MMOs--one that I had just played for a few months.  It is a game that I dabbled in and loved in theory, but in practice I always felt overwhelmed and lost.

After the past two months of playing, I think I'm hooked (yet again).  Here's what I love about EVE Online.

1. Vastness.  This game is big.  VERY big.  It's big in terms of the scale of the world: there are 5000 star systems - each complete with a star, planets, space stations etc  (compare that to something like World of Warcraft, with less than 100 zones).  It's also huge in terms of useable items.  Each spaceship has a variety of slots into which can be inserted various items which will affect the ship in various ways.  Inserting a missile launcher, for example will allow the ship to load and shoot missiles at enemies.  Finding an optimal way to 'fit' your ship is one of the incredibly interesting parts of this game, and considering the hundreds of different options, it adds to the richness of the game.

2. SPACESHIPS!!  Ever since I watched my first scifi movie, I have dreamed of owning a spaceship.  There's nothing like logging in and seeing a nice row of ships I can hop in and roam the galaxy.  It's fantastic!

3. Manufacturing-driven economy.  This game is, above all, about market forces.  Nearly every item in the game can be produced and sold by players.  Asteroids are mined for ore.  The ore is sold or refined into minerals.  The minerals are sold or processed into different in-game items by using player-produced blueprints.  It's incredible to get into such a rich economy and try to figure out an interesting way to try and make a virtual fortune.

4. Freedom.  In EVE, there are no talent trees or specialization.  Any player can fly any ship or take on any role.  Want to be an asteroid miner?  Save up some cash, train a few mining skills and buy a mining frigate!  Want to kill unsuspecting traders?  Buy a missile boat and put on an eyepatch and go out pirating.  In traditional MMOs, players often start to feel bracketed into a single role.  EVE is much more flexible - a player can switch at will to any role.  They'll benefit by sticking with the role long enough to train sufficient skills, but they need not give up their 'old' skills when they switch interests.

5. Complexity and originality.  This game is unlike any other that I've played.  It's by far the most complex and rich MMO that I've played.  The skill training system is unique among games that I've seen, and even though it's almost 10 years old, it is actively being expanded all the time.  To me it feels like a game I could jump in and never find the edges.

By Adam Miller