Blog Banter #42 – Trying to Review EVE Online, Are you Kidding Me?

EVE Retribution Screen

“A gaming universe as vast and unique as EVE Online is constantly evolving and the experience is different for every participant. Conventional games review techniques cannot possibly hope to provide an accurate measure of every aspect of EVE’s gameplay. However, with a community initiative like the Blog Banters, we have the resources to deliver the most thorough and up-to-date review ever.

By combining the experiences of contributors from across the EVE metasphere, we get a wealth of opinions from veterans and rookies alike. We’ll be able to combine input from faction warfare specialists, wormhole residents, null-sec warriors, missioners, pirates, industrialists, roleplayers, politicians and more to paint a complete picture of the health and progress of EVE Online in its current Retribution incarnation.

Who better to review EVE Online than those who know it best?”

The EVE Blog Banters (BB) that arrive monthly courtesy of Mat Westhorpe over on his blog at Freeboted usually are some interesting topics about EVE or its surrounding community of players. Some topics I’ll admit are so interesting and perplexing at times I often get mental paralysis for days just trying to figure out what angle to approach those topics from for the BB. Sometime I don’t really have an exact opinion and I just don’t participate. What’s to write if you don’t really have an exact opinion or neutral on a topic? At other times the topic is quite interesting, but I either have no real experience on the topic at hand or can’t exactly get a handle on the topic to form a real good opinion in my head so I never end up really taking a stab at many of the BB’s. So when I saw the topic for the recent Blog Banter for this month… I though, hmm yeah that be Interesting. Then again thinking about EVE is allot easier than writing about EVE in all its complexity and in its ever-changing social dynamics involving it players and its community surrounding such a complex game. EVE can stir a lot of emotions in any player that has played EVE for any length of time.

So I thought maybe I can try to review EVE Online for the BB… are you kidding Me?

Well I do play EVE Online, should be fairly easy to write about… EVE Online… Hell NO!

I’ve never found trying to write about EVE Online easy in any way, but I’ll try anyway. And I’m not going to pretend I even really understand the mentality of EVE Players, though I may in some screwed up way. Hell I don’t even always understand my Community of fellow Bloggers who play EVE and I probably know them better than the rest of players I play the game with. That does make me wonder, how do other journalist and writers write about EVE Online having barely played the game if only just to write a MMO game review?

No one I ever known in RL plays EVE. No one I ever talk to at work ever heard of EVE. As a matter of fact no one I ever talked to at work plays MMO’s. And even more people at work wonder why I would even play with people over the internet let alone understand EVE when I try to talk to them about it.

I started EVE Online about 2 and a half years ago roughly out of curiosity because I’d heard of the game for years back when I first started playing online games. And for all those years I had no real clue what the game was ever about and never knew anyone that played EVE in any the games I played or in RL that played EVE Online. So EVE for me started as research and curiosity about a game I’ve always heard of and never understood. And after 2 and a half years of EVE I’m not quite sure I understand EVE enough to write a review about it. I mean, I’ve never written a review before either about anything or any other game I ever played. Often I just write about my experience and leave it at that.

In the time I’ve played EVE Online so far I’ve lived mostly in Highsec Space. I’ve been a member of a Player Corp for almost my entire life in EVE except for 2 weeks getting started on a trial initially. I’ve progressed through several careers in EVE starting in Salvaging, then a short stint in Mission Running, a bit of Exploration shooting NPC’s in Exploration sites as well as scanning down and exploring random Wormholes for curiosity. I’ve progressed from that accidentally stumbling onto Market Trading and its various forms to picking up T1 Manufacturing to supplement my Trading efforts as a whole. I then slightly progressed from regular Trading onto Regional Trading in various niche markets. From T1 Manufacturing I progressed into Blueprint R&D, T2 Invention and T2 Production while still doing Regional Trading primarily.

That’s been my career progression mostly in EVE so far and where most my experiences in EVE are on things primarily living in Highsec Space. Yet much more of life in EVE happens in other areas of the game be it Lowsec, Nullsec and Wormhole Space making EVE Online feel like a different game depending on the area of space one lives in. EVE can seem like a different game depending on what you do in EVE and where you choose to live. Add EVE Politics to the Mix and it can seem to get more interesting. Personally I don’t care much for Politics in games or in real life.

On Missions, Salvaging & making Friends

It was how I started EVE in the beginning being as a Salvager and salvaging in my very first Corp just hanging out with the Corp Member Mission Runners and helping them Salvaging their Missions and packing up the mission loot. I was my first real set of interaction with my Corp and it was a positive one making friends in a game where you often start knowing no one. Most players often think of you as a newbie as either a spy, thief or a would be scammer. I was just trying to find something fun to do learning the game and making some ISK cash like most broke newbies. EVE was allot to take in and more. Sometime it did seemed boring waiting around to Salvage Missions followed quickly by busy work and logistics cleaning up a mission site for a Corp Member as well as finding some way to sell the loot and make cash or ISK. It was mostly how I learned about running Missions in EVE which is considered PVE crap by the often Elites of EVE who consider such PVE annoyances well below their dignity since it’s not PVP where they get to shoot you over and over for their amusement. But I had fun doing that as my first career learning slowly the ways of the game and earned the thrust of my Corp mates. For that 8/10.

Running Missions often considered PVE used to be somewhat boring and uninteresting as well repetitive without much real variations in objective or interesting outcome as well. For me Missions were a means to and end… Lower Trade Taxes via Increased NPC Standing. Missions have changed somewhat lately with the NPC AI upgrade. Missions have gotten somewhat harder than they ever were before. Its been a very long time since I’ve run much Missions myself often was for gaining NPC Standing to lower Trade Taxes vs just doing them for overall fun. Missions can seem more fun when Fleeted with another Corp Member. But often in Highsec it’s often a solo affair as Missions can often be easy to do. It can be hard even trusting the next person in your Corp that you don’t know well especially a new Member to not stab you in the back and given the opportunity to shoot you for whatever their reasons while at it. Especially if you happen to have a pimped out ship that would look better as a hunk of metal. For Missions I give that 6/10.

But from those experiences I made friends in my first player Corp, some no longer playing the game today. As well made some enemies for reasons I have no idea of why, just because I was there in the Corp at that time for whatever else was going on that I had no clue about with some other members. In the somewhat short time I was there I became a Corp Director somehow. I met my first real friend in EVE (Paul) in that corp who was also starting EVE around that same time. And though that Corp is long closed Paul and I are still friends today and consider him a great friend even though we are both in different Corps and have been since. I’d probably say he’s probably the only real close friend I have in EVE after 2 and half years having started EVE at just about the same time. I’ve made friends in my Corp, can count my CEO and Directors all as Friends of a different kind and by association.

I’ve helped a few other members in my friend Paul’s Corp because we share the same Chat Channel find their way in EVE that are now productively living in Nullsec, some whom I speak to every now and then but I can’t say I really count them as close friends. For playing a game for over 2 and half years and only really able to count just 1 real person as a friend  I say that’s quite sad an accomplishment. I blame that on the very nature of EVE itself, where everyone is a suspect, every friend can be an eventual backstabber, and your enemy can be better than your so call friends. It’s a weird Universe in EVE. So for making friends in EVE… 3/10.

EVE Graphics and UI

Overall I’ve found EVE Graphics quite stunning with the background of Space, Nebulae, its Rendering and depiction of Celestial Objects, Shading and animation of Ships and their Textures. As well much of that has greatly improved since I started playing the game and has been updated. I have no real issue there 9/10.

For a Space Universe that’s persistent and ever evolving with somewhere around 7500 Star Systems or so including Wormholes, Planets, Moons and Stars for a bit more realism in the sandbox of EVE spacial universe they somehow appear to never really be occurences of Supernovas and such thing with so many Star System. Stars never die or explode it seems in EVE. No real varying Stars or random celestial occurrences to change the Universe, things like a Comet flying through a region of systems leaving behind remnants of spacial debris to explore or plunder in some way. Maybe its just me, but stuff like that can add more to EVE or the Exploration aspect of EVE. But EVE players I get the sense don’t like things that seem to happen randomly. 5/10

For awesomeness of Space Ships and spectacularly designed Ships which is something most EVE Players look day in day out In general from my point of view, vast majority of ships though clearly not all of EVE Space Ships are just ugly and appealing to look at. 7/10

When I started EVE we did not have the Avatar Rendering we have today, which is quite awesome. For an awesome Avatar Character Creator and compared to most other MMO’s 10/10

Current useful of that awesome Avatar Character in a simulated environment is another thing. The only thing the Avatar Character is good for is taking character pictures, maybe posing in different environmental settings and limited backgrounds. I remembered when I first started EVE, I kept hearing about Incarna as well as if it was going to be the greatest thing ever in EVE. I heard about it so much even I started to believe it was gonna be as great as I had heard. I was just as disappointed as everyone else in the long wait with what was the result, very limited use and usefulness of the Station Environment. For all that time it took to make Incarna possible, yet in limited use. I had imagine maybe Station Bars or Casino’s in Space Stations. Dimly lit Station Bars where capsuleers can meet and have a drink or play Station Poker or plan a Station heist or get away from the Law if even for a while. I thought it might of even been cool to literally steal a capsuleers ship somehow and undock out of a station right from under their nose. Things like putting a hit out on someone in their Space Cabin and be able to do it in the simulated environment of Incarna. At least that’s what I was thinking would have been possible. For Avatar usefulness 1/10. 

Trading, Manufacturing & T2 Invention

In my opinion in these three careers that I have had I’ve found them to be very solo careers in EVE requiring very few or even minimal interaction with other players normally, especially Manufacturing and Invention. Trading I believe though is a very solo career, it has the opportunity to involve more players when you factor in the ability to Mass Manipulate Market Prices across a region, in a big Trade Hub Like Jita or Amarr or across all of New Eden itself just thinking of the OTEC Cartel. Trading does have an Impact on other players involved in doing Trade Logistic work so it does affect other players as well willing to do the work when the person isn’t. But by and large Trading is one the most solitary career in EVE. You want few people involve in your business or know about your business that can somehow affect your profit-making. And profit-making is big and serious business.

To me the Market place in EVE Online is the real backbone of EVE which covers all regions of EVE as well Sub-Regional Markets via all its Station System Markets across an entire region. Add up all the vast amount of Regions of EVE covering all those interconnecting Star Systems and you have the entire Market of EVE Online. The variable is the Traders, Sellers and Buyers in the Marketplace. Add to that at the core of EVE Online is that everything created can just about be destroyed and happens daily means that there is just about a need for everything created and supplied in EVE Online. That provide plenty of opportunity for valued goods and production in EVE. In every single MMO I’ve played since ever starting online games I often played the game mostly focusing on the economic side of the game. Compared to all other MMO’s I can think of EVE Online offers the most dynamic, efficient, variable and complex Manufacturing & Production sector by far in the market place for a universe of goods that are traded in a just as complex market system. Added to that are players in all their cunning and savvy trying to move, sell, trade and profit in that system of transactions daily. At the other end Pirates of various shades trying to destroy all of it and the player’s ship moving goods or other things around in space. It’s a system unlike any I’ve seen in any other game and it works because at core everything in EVE can be destroyed and recreated and it happens every single day in one constant circle. For Trading aspect of EVE 9/10

Manufacturing in EVE is labor and Time intensive in my opinion and often tedious work in EVE calculating numbers, material costs, profitability and more, It’s no wonder EVE is called “Spreadsheets in Space”. You often need a spreadsheet or lots of notes to do large-scale manufacturing, complex productions chains or just be really good figuring a lot of Math. Though some players don’t mind it, to other more PVP oriented players it’s boring stuff to do in EVE. Yet the truth be told and no respect to manufactures in EVE, few things would happen in EVE if not a single thing was ever made or produced. Nothing would be produced it no one mined the asteroids Mineral or Ice. Labor in EVE is frowned upon by those unwilling to do the work of gathering raw materials, its below their self-worth to engage in such pity work. Elite be the player who catches or stare you down at the end of his/her space guns and pew pew.

Manufacturing is often repetitive. Figuring out what’s to be produced, sourcing material or needed goods, logistics of moving those good to manufacturing base and producing items with varying about of skills takes a lot of work. For engaging in such activities in EVE the Elites of EVE refer to you are a “Carebear”. After Manufacturing one’s goods he/she can only hope they can make a profit on the market selling the those goods produced to earn some ISK, and even can be competitive. I’m at odds as how to improve that process without dumbing down the complexity of EVE to simplify things. Yet I’m sure things can be improved. The amount of Windows and button clicking is an often big complaint amount many that manufacture goods in EVE. Reducing some amount of those clicks and windows that have to be opened could be desirable. It’s amazing at times just how many windows I can have open in EVE all at one time on the UI when deciding to produce some items which is enough to cover the entire UI interface and still chatting in Chat Channel all at same time. For overall Manufacturing & Production Complexity 8/10

R&D & Invention Process & Production

Here EVE Online gets even more complex in the aspect of Industry & Advance Production. Blueprints require a certain amount of skills and time to be researched. This area of R&D is complex enough in my opinion that it’s a game within a game itself in EVE Online. This is often an area of EVE Online somewhat shrouded in mystery and not easily understood by even many veteran EVE Players and mind-boggling complex to Newbie EVE Players. Needlessly complex I don’t know but maybe it just is, but that aspect of this area being complex is what makes it interesting for those who do activities in this area of EVE in R&D. Yet in other ways Blueprint R&D can be tedious work as well requiring lots of patience for processes to occur and not for the impatient among us in EVE. Some R&D Facilities are often in great shortage in EVE especially in Highsec due to the NPC Facilities being quite cheap for certain R&D Processes and clogged up months on end. Some players wonder why they can’t find a Facility to use and New Players wonder how they will ever get to use one at all if ever. I believe here is an area that CCP has failed to greatly improve though neglect over the years. Overall R&D is a knowledge Intensive sector of EVE, often tedious and time-consuming. 8/10.

Invention Production is among one of the most complex forms of Advance Production in EVE Online. Most players that do lots of Inventions are somewhat referred to as Scientists in EVE or Inventors. I often call Invention a rich mans game in EVE, requiring incredible patience with process. It’s often referred to as producing T2 items or ships. A Blueprint has to go through the R&D Process to be Copied to use as a schematic for actual Invention of a particular type of Module or Ship. That Blueprint copy with possibly added R&D Material is then put through the process and Invented in a Research Facility with some varying chance of success. If Successful you get a T2 BPC of the item you intended to produce. This BPC now has a host of Materials needed to make the item in question that also often need to be produced with varying amount of components depending on the Module or Ship. Just to get the components a capsuleer often need to acquire materials from the market place or T2 Moon Materials which in itself had to go through a complex process to be produced. That material acquired is now combined with a component Blueprint to make the varying components and it could be many. Some amount of space asteroid mineral are used also. Some materials required are from Planetary Interaction process manufacturing which is a sector of industry in itself. All combined the gathered or produced components and materials go back into the factory to produce the end item be it a Ship or a Module referred to as a T2 item. That whole process can lose quite a bit of players, let alone new players to EVE.

Invention is a very tedious process, expensive and lengthy process, requiring a great deal of patience, time  and then some to produce these Tech 2 Materials. It’s complex manufacturing at its finest in EVE. I for one love the complexity, but for new players it can seem way too complex to even understand and I’m not sure how to solve that problem for accessibility. It’s just not an area new players can expect to get into anytime soon after starting EVE. What can be somewhat boring about this aspect of EVE is its tedious and at times it repeating the same thing with nothing new in results Inventing the same things with different Blueprints with little randomness other than you either succeed or fail. Overall I rate Invention Production and its sheer complexity a 9/10.

EVE Social

I’ll admit, when starting a game or any MMO game, whether its social in nature has absolutely no consideration from my point of view in playing the game. I’ve played quite a few MMO’s in my time almost an entire decade playing online games. I’ve played Second life & World of Warcraft for years both. Played Star Trek Online & Rift for almost a year both. I’ve played of recent both The Secret World and Guild Wars 2 since launch. In all those games I’ve being a contributing member of a guild one way or another or an in-game group.  Of all those games and all their social aspects and social dynamics I’ve found EVE in the oddest of ways to seem to be the most social of all. That to me is almost weird in itself just given the nature of EVE or its Myths. What EVE is NOT is casual like many Theme Park MMO games. EVE to me is a game where you often start out with few or often no friends at all. It can be tough to make friends in a game like EVE where everyone suspect that your no good even a brand new Newbie you’re a suspect. You might be a newbie, but you may be someone else’s alt that’s a Thief, Scammer, Backstabbing, Corporate Spy, Ninja Thief, Up to no good, it’s all up to anyone imagination of you in EVE if your a new player. It can be hard to make friends or even joining a Corp. I’ll have to admit I suspect everyone that join my Corp to be of suspicion until proven otherwise.

Yet EVE is a game where it don’t always pay to do things alone, especially when it involves Space Ship Assets using them in space. Often it require corporation with other Corp Members or your Corp Alliance on Fleet Ops be it a Fleet Roam, Mining Ops, Living in a Wormhole, Living in Nullsec/Lowsec, Fleet Battles etc. Its hard to be lone Wolf about doing some things in EVE without risking allot in the process. Even doing some PVE Missions in Highsec it can be much easier with another Fleet Member to help or to Salvage at or around the same time. You need their co-operation, you have to talk to your Corp Members or the other person. Voice-Coms make much of communicating with other members easier and that adds to the social feel of EVE. Over time you develop some form of social dynamics with your Corp and its various members. And though my careers in EVE are mostly solitary careers on a daily basis I often have more meaningful conversations in EVE about things than I’ve had in most any MMO games I’ve played. For that 8/10.

There are a lots of careers in EVE that affect how any player approach the game of EVE as well the region of space they may life in. EVE can seem like a different game depending on just where a person live in space and what they do day in day out being apart of EVE’s complex Universe. I can’t speak to much those things because it may not really be part of my daily life in EVE. Its one of the reason it’s so hard to rate EVE as a game because it’s a complex game on many levels with complex social dynamics as well complex social life being apart of Corps & Alliances and just where in space one operates for whatever reason. And it’s because of much of that complexity of EVE as a whole which is why I still play EVE. EVE Online aren’t perfect, but it still keeps me coming back, even when I really want to hate EVE.

Overall I rate EVE Online with all its complexity as a MMO in today’s world an 8/10.

For a new player just starting EVE, you just have to give EVE Online a real try. It’s not like any other MMO’s. If you can make it past your first 3 months in EVE you’ll likely make it. No amount of explanation about EVE or review reading will ever be enough. You just have to dive in and get going.

I’m not sure how well a review that was from my limited aspect of life in EVE, and way too many words were used. But then again, I’ve never tried writing a review about anything much before either. And EVE Online is the most complex MMO that currently exist in my opinion.

All the other Blog Banters for BB#42 can be found Here.

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