Welcome to the thirty-first EVE Blog Banter, a community conversation between anyone and everyone with an interest in discussing EVE Online. For more information on how this works, check out this link.
“As any games journalist would probably tell you, a true and complete review of a Massively Multiplayer Online game is impossible. MMOs are vast, forever evolving entities with too much content for a single reviewer to produce a fair and accurate review. However, a collection of dedicated bloggers and EVE players (past and present) with a wide range of experience in various aspects of the game might be able to pull it off.
This special ‘End of Year’ Blog Banter edition aims to be a crowd-sourced game review. Using your gaming knowledge and experience, join the community in writing a fair and qualified review of EVE Online: Crucible. This can be presented in any manner of your choosing, but will ideally include some kind of scoring system.
With each Blog Banter participant reviewing the areas of EVE Online in which they specialise, the result should be a Metacritic-esque and accurate review by the people who know best.”
Before we start the actual review, I’d like to mention that I was recently interviewed by a friend (link is in Dutch) for an assignment about internet journalism. Since I’m a blogger who’s been at it for several years, and generate a nice bit of traffic for something quite niche, I was more than happy to answer some questions. The very first question is “What is EVE Online all about?”. As I tweeted while writing my response, one does not simply describe EVE, because it’s massive even for an MMORPG. Unlike the general and as close as possible to neutral introduction given in the interview, here I will try to captivate EVE as close to my experience as possible.
EVE Online is one of two MMORPGs that for me became a life style. Unlike the other game, World of Warcraft, which I played in a competitive fashion and where I engaged in large timesinks such as raiding and the collecting of achievements, it was the social aspect that gripped me and pulled me in. Not to say that World of Warcraft did not have this, as the last guild I was part of has many out-of-game meetups and landed me friends who continue to care even though I’ve long gone. It’s more that this is an integrated part of the gameplay for me when it comes to EVE. From the things I do ingame, as a CEO, alliance executor and Angel Cartel loyalist to using Twitter, Facebook and Google+ as well as writing this blog for an enhanced social and community experience. And then there is, on top of that, attending Fanfest as well as other player meetups which takes the game right into meatspace.
You see, EVE Online is a “sandbox” MMORPG, where as World of Warcraft as well as the majority of others are “theme park” MMORPGs. The latter means there is a mostly-set leveling path, with areas for each level bracket, quests that lead to more quests so you can quest for quests, and a tier system of equipment. You’re constantly fed with objectives that yield rewards, which are then used to get other rewards and so on. EVE however only has this in very limited quantities, and most of it is optional in one way or another. Don’t feel like doing missions? Well, there’s a ton of other ways to get rich, which draw on a variety of skills and go beyond the scope of what the game offers. You like mining asteroids? You can do just that. You’d rather use your skill as an artist? Well, some do just that and are well loved by the community for it.
The concept of leveling is done away with as well, and while you might not shine from day one, there are those who have challenged this concept and scored great results. Time put into the game is also not required for success, as skills you select will train while you’re logged out. Within days (or even less), you can be a tackler for a fleet, pinning down targets while they’re getting shot down. Also within days, you can be a trader, a salvager, start your first missions or become rich by tricking a careless player with a clever scam.
Scamming, I say? That’s right, EVE Online offers a lot more freedom into what you can and can’t do within the rules of the game, which is a make or break for many players. While some argue it promotes what is called griefing in other games, and that we must all be a big bunch of sad jerks who thrive on the misery of others, actually those scenarios are really a minority. While there is always a risk, and EVE at its core is all about the risk versus the reward, clever players can protect themselves. Not putting all your eggs in one basket, checking that contract really does offer a faction ship and not just a regular hull, not making yourself a target by openly linking your various billions worth ship fitting, doing a background check on who you let in your corporation ect. Some of you may feel this is a drag, that it makes play into work, and then indeed EVE may not be the game for you. But others are thrill seekers, or enjoy that risky things bring such large rewards they are unheard of in all of MMORPG history up until now. And then I don’t just mean some of the record scams, but also iconic players like Chribba, who’s services to the community are living proof that being a good guy in a universe ruled by the shades of grey is very well possible. And then not just by roleplaying a white knight.
Ah yes, roleplay, we’ve got that covered too. There’s a large variety of channels, player-run forums, an official forum section, and the brand new and totally shiny fiction portal which is part of the EVElopedia overhaul (yep, we’re even covered on having a wiki). There’s a few books, and of course the live events, where some players — including me — were recently welcomed into the ranks of those digitalized into prime fiction. And then there’s players shaping the game beyond what could be foreseen, such as the Jita riots leaving a permanent mark with the monument being replaced by a destroyed model.
So is it all sunshine and rainbows? There are features that need to be iterated on desperately, and there are interfaces which are still horrible. And sooner or later, despite all the many things you can do, you can reach the point where the game holds little to nothing new. It’s also a game that has less staff and less funds than some of the large titles out there, which comes with it’s own unique drawbacks. Overconfidence as well as a bursting economic bubble meant that broadening the game from just internet spaceships to dressup dolls online resulted into have to reduce what bases were covered. It happens. It’s a business like any other and sometimes wrong calls are made. But for what it is worth, EVE has proven to be surprisingly resilient thanks to the many people who were, and those who continue to be, so driven to make this game a winner.
To end on a positive note, one amazingly cool feature, and I forgot this in the interview I did, is that EVE is single sharded. There’s no servers per region, or multiple servers to pick from while you have friends scattered all across them. Just one server, with zones of increasing lawlessness, and that’s it. Sometimes, this isn’t so nice, because if the server goes down, well, it’s not like you can hop to your alt on the other server. It also creates unique challenges for lag. But this is something that the developers embrace and strive to perfect, with massive leaps being made where other MMORPGs can draw lessons from.
In short, EVE Online is a pretty amazing and unique game with its own quirks and challenges. It’s got something for nearly everybody, and if it doesn’t, well who knows, maybe at some point it will. You’ll never know if you never try.