Guess what happens to part-time gamers when real life hits? Yep. They wind up not gaming for a while, particularly when the game at hand is as massive as EVE Online. I don’t know how long it will be, but real life demands my attention, so I need to take a break from. This provides a good opportunity to look back at the last few months of EVE Online and evaluate how things went. After all, I wanted to see if a game this large could even be fun for a part-time gamer.
The progression of my early EVE days was interesting, tracked mostly by the ships I flew. I started with a tiny frigate that’s very delicate when faced with anything tougher than sparrow. Then I moved up to one with a much bigger cargo hold for mining. Then a destroyer for salvaging. Then another frigate with more armor and guns for fighting. Getting them repeatedly blown out from under me was, well…what it was. I never did quite get the hang of that. A cruiser was a nice thing to play with — until it got blown up, too. Then back to frigates, some fast ones for courier work and the old standby destroyer for that good old money-making venture: picking up the trash, aka “salvaging.”
Professionally, I went from complete and utter noob to a very amateur miner, journeyman salvager, a brief stint as a dead PVP’er, and then back to salvaging for the money. I went to space for glory and wound up essentially being a garbage man. How’s that for high tech?
I will say the virtual life in EVE Online is a good one. There’s a lot do in EVE that is supported directly by the software mechanics: mining, salvaging, missions, contracting, manufacturing — something I only very briefly touched on — and many other things that were beyond my reach due to time restrictions. The activities that are essentially a by-product of the environment were the ones that intrigued me, particularly pirating. The fact that the entire game is PVP lends a particular atmosphere and edge to EVE that other games I’ve played lack. The only intrinsic downside to EVE is the non-personal user interface comprised of your character being more ship than person. I think it somewhat dampened the appeal of the game for me after the novelty wore off. I am a person, after all, not a ship.
Something that my time in EVE Online revealed vis-a-vis my playing style was that after the beginner activities were more or less mastered, the next level of activities seemed to require a significantly greater commitment in terms of time, scheduled availability and coordination with others than I was willing or able to give. Again, I went into EVE Online as a part-time gamer, and at first that worked out fine. At a certain point, though, things began to feel repetitious due to my failure or inability to engage the next level. This brings us to the root question that this column was all about: Can a part-timer really thrive in a complex game like EVE Online?
For me, the answer eventually became “Yes — for a while.” I note here that running missions was never my cup of tea, and that many people at my level thrived on that, so there’s one entire realm of activity for the beginning that will keep many players interested for a long while. And even in my situation, six months is nothing to sneeze at for entertainment.
So here we have it: I think EVE Online is a beautifully done game that will continue to improve. It’s a very meaty thing for the hardcore gamers and a magical place for the part-timers until they reach the crossroad that I reached. It’s quite an accomplishment for the designers and developers to be able to accommodate the two groups as well as they have. Well done.
It’s been great being here, and now I’m off to the real world for a while. I hope to see you all again soon. Cheers.
— Will Collum
Read Previous EVE Online Diaries:
January 23, 2008; January 30, 2008; February 6, 2008; February 13, 2008; February 20, 2008; February 27, 2008; March 5, 2008; March 12, 2008; March 19, 2008; March 26, 2008; April 2, 2008; April 9, 2008; April 16, 2008; April 23, 2008; April 30, 2008
May 7, 2008