I’m on this week’s episode of the MMORPG.com podcast, “Game On: Epic Slant Press Edition“, talking about RIFT’s move to free-to-play. Thanks a lot to hosts Adam and Chris for having me on — it was a ton of fun!
In my post about RIFT last week I mentioned feeling like a bit of an MMO dinosaur. The things I value in my massively multiplayer games — community, group problem solving, rewards for completing difficult or time-consuming tasks — have fallen out of favor recently with both players and developers, and while the market goes where it will I still wanted a game to play.
I moped about it for a day or two, honestly. “I need an MMO that still values old school style”, I thought to myself at some point. “One with an emphasis on teamwork and difficulty and slowly working towards goals an– oh shit. EVE.”
And that is how I came to start my new life in space. My mission: be social, throw myself into group activities, embrace the infamously inconvenient game design, and see just how much of my pining for the old MMO dinosaur ways is nostalgia and how much is truly how I like to play MMORPGs.
The first thing I did after creating my character and logging into the game was join a Corporation (guild). A discussion site I frequent has a smallish corp that seems full of chill adult nerd types, so that was my first stop. Even here, though, I had to go through a series of tests, sending emails around with secret codes and whatnot to prove my identity and that I was probably not a spy coming to steal space valuables. Truth be told, I enjoyed the extra layer of skullduggery.
Once that was sorted out, it was time to actually learn how to play the game. One of my new corp-mates said that my many years of MMO experience would make the learning process faster, but I’m not sure how true that is. EVE has.. many menus. Many. Maaaany. At one point in the very first tutorial the game reminds you to close UI windows when you no longer need them, because otherwise your entire viewport very quickly becomes stacked up with information grids.
The trend towards streamlining the first few minutes of an MMO and packing them with action doesn’t seem to have made it to CCP’s headquarters in Iceland. For example, shortly after I undocked for the first time I realized that I didn’t properly pick up a quest. I managed to figure out how to turn around and head back to the station, and then I had a very peaceful 10 minutes or so while my pod slowly putt-putted its way back. Was it the most exciting use of my game time? No, but it made me laugh and I certainly learned a lesson about checking I had everything I needed before jetting off into space.
I will have plenty of time to learn these kinds of lessons before I meet up with my corp. Along with the basic introductory tutorial there are 50 advanced tutorial missions that teach you skills in Business, Industry, Military, PVP, and Exploration. These missions are optional, but they give skills, ships, currency, and other bonuses that seem useful for a new player so my plan is to work through them. (I’ve finished the intro tutorial and about half the Military missions so far.)
While I’m doing the tutorials I can start training my skills. Even my casual corp has a list of strongly recommended skills that will take players anywhere from two weeks to a month to learn. That’s right — it could conceivably be a MONTH before my character is properly prepared to jet off and meet up with the rest of the corp. Things do not move quickly in EVE, it seems.
Speaking of proper preparation, I have already managed to earn my first PVP death although it was a little underwhelming. At one point my game crashed while logging off, and I guess my little pod was left drifting through space. When I logged back on I was in a strange location with an automated “Sorry you got blown up” letter in my mailbox. I look forward to being a more active participant in my death in the future.
Tutorials and skill training started, corp joined, and a space death. Day One of EVE: success!