“Nowhere safe.” That’s what I’m thinking as this ship approaches out of that very nowhere.
My ship is a little Minmatar rookie ship, a Reaper, one of those things I got for free when my EVE Online account was created, about the size of a gnat in comparison to the monster that just pulled up. I recently upgraded my ship and, for a minute, was quite proud of the new, bigger gun. The new mining laser. A little damage control unit. Some kind of electronic-warfare widget that looked useful if turned on. All that stuff glued onto a hull that looks like it was put together out of spare parts from Fibber McGee’s closet had begun to grow on me. Honestly, I really like the way the thing looks. It’s got “sleeper” written all over it. Yeah. Keep talking. I don’t recognize the model of the recent arrival, and it looks way out of my league
What I’m really worried about are the upgrades I know I’ll lose if I get blown to smithereens — a word I actually saw last night in one of the in-game tutorials. None of it cost much — which is good, because I don’t have much — but hey, it’s my ship and I’m the captain, right?
I’ve been orbiting a location in space called something like “drone infestation blah blah blah,” which is located by a very potent-looking structure floating in the middle of nowhere. There’s that word again: nowhere. I’m on edge already because I don’t know what any of this stuff really does. I just came out exploring, wanting a look-see, and I was half expecting a bunch of NPC’s to materialize and start in on my when a real player showed up. PVP, eh?
The ship requests a chat.
“Are you waiting on somebody?” Busted for loitering. In an MMORPG, at that. Now what?
“Nope. Just checking out what’s here,” I type, all innocent-like. I’m wondering what my current autopilot destination is. One click to run like a scalded dog.
“That’s a gonzo deluxe warpifymagnaloopblahblah jump gate. You probably shouldn’t go in there unless you’re pretty well armed.” Paranoia rises. Me, armed? Is he picking a fight?
“Ah. I think I’ll just enjoy the view from here. Thanks. Nice day, huh?” My finger is starting to itch as the mouse moves toward the autopilot button.
“I’m going in. Watch me go!”
The floating structure lights up, and wild spaceship sounds start: rumbling, hissing, the works. Whoosh! The ship is gone. I close the chat window and sort of stare at the screen.
How did I get so wound up?
EVE Online, having no safe zones as defined in other games I’ve played, has a distinctly different feel and gives what in the other games would have been casual activities a little bit of an edge, a little apprehension, a little excitement. Even though I knew that the other ship would be dealt with by law enforcement if it had fired on me, I still would have lost my upgrades. And, if the clone that brings me back to life had not been upgraded to accommodate newly trained skills, I could have been pod-killed and lost some skills. I was not much of a PVP’er in the other games I played, but in EVE, I am whether I like it or not.
The skills system in EVE Online helps a part-timer out a lot. By making sure I keep skills in training all the time, I can accumulate skills just as fast as the people who play constantly. Just a quick log-in here and there lets me catch skills that have finished training and start the next one. So, while I’m dealing with the kids or paying bills in real life, I’m still making progress in EVE life.
On the other hand, real skills only come with real time spent playing. Learning how to respond to a threat, how to conduct a battle, how to find a niche in the market to make a living … these types of things I still have to learn. But that’s the fun of it anyway. Instead of expending artificial effort to build artificial skills (which are just mouse-click counters), real effort goes into building real skills, just as in traditional games. This allows a part-timer to spend those precious hours on things that really matter.
Like knowing what to do when a monster out of the abyss really does show up.
— Will Collum
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