Thursday, February 12, 2009

So Yeah, I Played Some EVE...

Two nights ago I gave EVE a spin for a good hour or two. I had initially sat down to just check it out, and ended up playing longer than I had anticipated. Contrary to how that may sound, this isn't a post saying how awesome it was. Actually it's kind of the opposite, and I apologize in advance to all the EVE heads in the audience. In a span of 90 minutes or so, I completed the first two "missions" given to me by my tutorial agent.

Note: Blogger just took a shit all over my post, and I lost a good 5 or 6 paragraphs, right before it decided to "AUTOSAVE" for me. Thanks, assholes! I'm going to leave it here just because it really felt like this is what I wanted to say:

mission="" fly="" location="" zap="" pirate="" loot="" intelligence="" his="" cargo="" let="" me="" back="" even="" first="" downloaded="" day="" went="" only="" took="" full="" world="" eve="" texture="" aren="" mountains="" shape="" herbs="" drop="" ships="" look="" re="" takes="" place="" y="" lot="" terrain="" since="" dl="" isn="" 68="" certainly="" not="" turn="" nose="" at="" small="" download="" 6="" gigs="" up="" running="" short="" amount="" but="" into="" launching="" m="" trying="" remember="" this="" off="" top="" honestly="" don="" care="" few="" steps="" wasn="" t="" rogue="" which="" also="" kind="" bad="" chicks="" because="" they="" awesome="" slave="" brassiere="" thing="" happening="" intro="" sort="" something="" soldier="" techie="" porn="" star="" chose="" make="" everything="" easier="" common="" introductory="" most="" rpgs="" whatever="" is="" brute="" force="" melee="" once="" get="" grasp="" basic="" go="" elegant="" clothie="" higher="" damage="" output="" suffers="" beat="" doubted="" researching="" bpos="" titan="" vessels="" 14="" so="" figured="" shoot="" as="" d="" be="" doing="" favor="" by="" focusing="" combat="" personality="" trait="" team="" background="" where="" character="" came="" former="" did="" work="" hard="" all="" these="" choices="" had="" no="" idea="" what="" any="" stat="" bonuses="" granting="" myself="" meant="" weird="" base="" spatial="" mixed="" traditional="" stats="" like="" charisma="" always="" tried="" choose="" one="" said="" bullets="" hurt="" more="" if="" then="" there="" flying="" space="" expected="" to="" have="" tan="" shoebox="" my="" initial="" was="" actually="" pretty="" impressed="" with="" how="" cool="" reaper="" i="" just="" flew="" around="" zooming="" on="" from="" different="" angles="" for="" a="" good="" 5="" minutes="" or="" s="" got="" some="" solar="" panel="" things="" that="" you="" can="" see="" distant="" stars="" thru="" and="" it="" blocks="" out="" hdr="" lighting="" when="" wing="" passes="" in="" front="" of="" the="" spaceships="" are=""
This was all as my post was entirely finished, and I was putting pictures in place as the final step before publishing it. It all has to do with the fact I split my posts after the teaser, and that's basically some black hat haxxors as far as they're concerned, so yeah. Fuck you, Blogger. Nothing is lamer than typing something, and liking it, then having to type it again and trying to remember everything you just wrote an hour ago. All the humor drains out of it, and it becomes some half assed recap of the main points.

Anyway, what I was trying to say at this point, which was way at the beginning of my post, and I GET TO TYPE ALL OVER AGAIN, went something like this:

Before I even get to the missions, let's talk about the part that takes place before any of that. EVE weighs in at a healthy 1.6 gigs, because it takes place in Space. There are no mountains to texture or herbs to plant on said textured mountains, so the download itself is pretty small. That's a good thing. I'm not some snob who will base the quality of a game on the size of the download (some people actually do this, it's ridiculous). Space is pretty empty for the most part though, and in the game you feel very disconnected from everything else. That's probably by design.

Anyway, before you even GET to space, you get to watch some cool intro movie showing how mankind ended up in space, and why the game is called EVE in the first place, and then you're dumped into this crazy arcane character creator. I'm trying to remember the process off the top of my head, and I didn't even understand half of it while it was happening, so I'm probably going to gloss over some stuff here. So sue me.

I basically chose the 'space slave chicks' faction out of the four choices, because they had some awesome 'space slave chick brassiere' thing happening in the intro movie. At that point, I had chosen my 'race' and was presented with what I imagine were class choices. Things like soldier, engineer, or space tramp. I went with soldier, under the assumption that shooting at things would be my primary focus during a 14 day trial. I doubted very much I would be training 3 month long skills, or researching advanced schematics for titan class vessels. Usually, in RPGs, the 'melee grunt' class is the easiest to pick up and play; as you begin to get a better grasp of how the game works, you can go back and roll a mage or engineer. Something that puts more focus on finesse, instead of standing there taking blows to the head while you swing an axe. The next choice had me choosing a player trait (loner, leader, follower), and a further choice asked for my background (liberated slave, factory worker, door to door dildo salesperson). All of these choices had ramifications in stats I didn't understand in the slightest. Things like Spatial Awareness and Memory, mixed in with more traditional stats like Charisma or Intellect. I then had 5 bonus points to spend as I pleased, but I kept getting the feeling I was doing it wrong. I imagined a future where I became heavily invested in EVE, and would kick myself in ass every day for putting those 2 points in Cognisance instead of Intermaritial Premonition. WHAT A FOOL I WAS!

Anyway. I basically just tried to put points in anything that was like "your guns hurt more", and just said fuck it. Finally I was out in space, and sitting in my new Reaper. The Reaper itself is the starter ship, and while I fully expected to be given an empty refrigerator box to fly around with, I was pleasantly surprised by how cool my first ship looked. It had some solar panel wing things that were like polarized sunglass lenses, and if i panned the camera around to look at a distant sun, then moved my wings in front of it, the HDR lighting would be blocked out, but I could still see the star through my wing. Dunno how to explain it, but it was really cool. Dude, it's friggin space, and space is inherently cool. I spent a good 5 minutes just zooming in and out and rotating the camera around my new ship. Checking out my new hot ass in the mirror, basically.

(Resume original post; fuck you very much, Blogger)

At this point, the tutorial was trying really hard to get my attention, and I skipped it, because I vaguely remembered having done it before. I seem to remember that it was one of those mind numbing ones that are like SCROLL YOUR MOUSE WHEEL IN AND OUT TO ZOOM THE CAMERA, LET'S DO IT TOGETHER 5 TIMES. YOU AREN'T DOING IT RIGHT. NO. IN AND OUT. NO. IT'S COOL, I CAN WAIT.

I began pushing buttons on my keyboard, and realized that typing any letter would begin entering text into the chat channel. Then I'd hit escape and it would bring up the 'options' menu. Having QHHBBCG just sitting in the chat window waiting for me to hit Enter to push it out into space made me a bit crazy, so I'd just Backspace and clear the chatbox, or just throw it out there, to the confusion of everyone else in chat. Everything is done by clicking or right-clicking, and maybe a few hotkeys like F1 or something. It's a different interface. I can dig it.

I made it to the space station (wow! cool!) pretty easily, and fumbled around in the interface for a bit and wound up with my first 'quest'. At this point things got a little weird. Quest descriptions include hyperlinks to locations, they're like webpages almost. You can click the link, and bring up the location on your map, check the solar system surrounding it, find out the socio political climate of the local regime, find out whether 76% of the inhabitants prefer waffles or pancakes, and which pokemon is this star system's mascot. It's a LOT of information. Clicking on anything else actually brings up the EVE FUCKING KNOWLEDGE BASE.

Now, I'm not sure how many of you guys do IT shit for a living, but when I see a "knowledge base" come up on my screen, I flash back to troubleshooting a bullshit install of Groupwise 5.5 on our Novell server back at Document Solutions, or figuring out how to make a Windows NT4 server communicate with the SuSE Linux Samba server on the production floor. I don't think "Happy Space Pirates Pew Pew". That's just me, though.

It was seriously just information overload, and it came right after the mysterious character creator, where I was positive I had picked all the 'wrong' choices. There's a reason when you roll an orc in WoW, the first thing you see after the intro movie is another orc with a big exclamation point over his head, and the first thing he tells you to do is 'swing yur ax at da pigs over dere'. There's no in depth number crunching on glancing blows versus level 73 raid bosses, or calculating haste rating versus spell crit for Warlocks with 3 points in Backdraft. All that shit is relevant eventually, but for a level 1 noob, that information would just make the game seem overtly obtuse.

Anyway, one thing I realized is that I could right click these links in my quest log, and choose "drive my ship there". My ship blasted through warp space or whatever, and I found my space pirate waiting to be killed. Right click the bad guy, and just watch while I pew pew until he was dead. Then I had to open my cargo hold and drag the quest item from his cargo hold into mine, then open my quest log and warpdrive back home. This is the dynamic for travel. It's fine. No one wants to sit there holding W to 'drive' thru space for 5 minutes to reach the other side of the solar system, and is actually pretty much on par with how I would imagine space travel is going to be in the future. But basically (again, comparing it to WoW, sorry sorry) it was like I started in Ogrimmar, was given a quest to go kill a Zehvra in Ratchet, and took the taxi right to the spot. Got off the flight path, killed the Zehvra, looted its hoof, and jumped back on the flight to Ogrimmar.

The followup quest had me going further out than the local star system to deliver the item... the quests themselves feel very familiar. Go kill Mob Z and loot item X. Bring it back to me. Okay, now take said item to the druid at Town P in Zone H. Don't get me wrong; EVEs quests don't suck, they're the same as every other MMO quest. I'm not really bashing it here, just giving an example.

So quest number two had me deliver the item to someone else two jumps away. Now here is where I got lost for a good 20 minutes, because try as I might, I couldn't right click and warp there anymore. I was able to bring it up on my map, and see it was two jumps away, and could even right click the destination and check pokemon mascot stats, average rainfall, and gross GNP of single latino farmers living in beige duplexes. Where there used to be a "warp here" option, it was now "set destination". Okay! It's set, now.... go! Nothing. Okay, let me try again. Set destination. Robo chick voiceover: I can't set the destination more than once. Ok! Unset destination, and.... set it again! Destination set. And..... go! Hmm. okay, fuckit. I'll fly there.

Chatbox: wwwwwwwwwww


I finally realized in my random clicking that right clicking on my ship in space (after undocked from the space station) has an autopilot option. Robo chick: Autopilot engaged. Woo! Two jumps, and two minutes later, I'm at the destination, and trying to figure out how to give the book to the dude here. Space stations aren't like towns where you walk around and interact with stuff, they're like applications... like Photoshop, where you drop down the "people and places" menu, and click "brush size" to select your cargo bay. Another ten minutes and noob asking asking around in chat, and I realized I left the book back at Space Station 1. Ok! Open my quest log, set destination! Undock! Autopilot go! Get the book! Open the quest log! Set destination! Autopilot! Woo!

It wasn't the first time I've left the quest item in my bank, but it was the first time the item was placed in the bank by the game instead of me. It just seems weird, but meh... again, level 1 orc in Durotar: you don't even realize there's a bank in the game until you've done a good 15 or 20 quests, and have passed all the way from Valley of Trials, to Razor Hill, alllll the way to the great big space station of Ogrimmar.

At this point I was getting ready to log out, but remembered that in EVE, skills are learned in real time, and logging out without setting something to 'go' was a huge waste of real time. So I poked around, and was again confronted by how little I knew about... like, everything. What should I train? Mining level 2? Hybrid small class pulse beam railguns level 4? By going 'soldier', I already had a bunch of weapon skills. Way more than I needed, and would probably ever be able to use in a 14 day trial. My ship itself had a few slots open where I could plunk some guns or armor down, but I had zero idea what any of them did. In the auction house, I browsed 'guns', not knowing which would be equipable on my ship anyway. Was my ship a paladin, incapable of wielding a staff? What if I trained librams on my rogue? Lol? I ended up settling on "sharpshooter", which just increased my accuracy at long ranges, regardless of weapon type. It was a 6 hour train, and would be done before I woke up the next day. Um, okay. Some of the other options took 6 days to train, and some 1 hour. I felt like 6 hours was a good balance, but the joke's on me, since I might never log back in again.

In all, one of the more exciting elements of EVE is the interpersonal relationships built, but there's really no way to experience that in a 14 day trial. You can read about Goonswarm backstabbing BoB for 80 gazillion ISK, but you aren't going to be participating in shit like that for a good 3 years if you started playing today. It almost feels like they should give out a 3 month trial, and by then you feel honestly invested in your ship and corporation, and are convinced that subscribing is the way to go. At that point, too, you'd probably subscribe for a year at least. At the end of a 14 day day trial, you MIGHT subscribe for a month, but in my case, it's not likely.

So yeah. That's EVE. From a "space game" standpoint, it has a lot going for it. If you're into knowledgebases and ever wished you could fly Microsoft Excel to the farthest reaches of the universe, you have your game. I guess I'm not the target demographic, as my gaming tastes fall somewhere to the right of "reading wikipedia" but fall woefully short of "ZOMG HALO 5: Teh Teabaginator" at the far end of the scale. Once I'm fully invested in a game, I might find a lore article on Wowwiki to be interesting (hell, I've read like 5 or 6 of the World of Warcraft books), and can fully nerd out on DPS spreadsheets, but this is after having played the game for 4+ years. Being confronted by so much at such an early stage was more of a turn off than a glimpse at exciting possibilities.

Crimson Starfire over at Word of Shadow recently had a chance to play CoH all weekend with his girlfriend. He mentions a point in the past where he tried to get her to play WoW, and while at first she found it fun to just run around Darnassus or whatever herbing Silverleaf, he was trying to dump too much of end game mentality on her. Let's hurry up and get to the good part! That was a huge turn off for her, and drove her away from the game. By taking it slow with CoH, they had a good time, and weren't overwhelmed by the finer details. It all comes back to the Valley of trials in WoW for me. Give me an axe (the Reaper was a very cool first impression), but instead of sending me to Dalaran to pick up my first mission, let's just have a co-pilot on board and a few missions already in my journal. We can explore this little corner of the universe together, and once I get my feet wet, I can dump them off on the nearest asteroid and blow that popsicle stand for something bigger and better.


Anonymous said...

Honestly it is this that has turned me off EVE whenever ive felt like giving it a go personally. While "Yahtzee" did a review some time ago in his review thingy (show?dunno something like a show anyhow) which can be found here "" if you feel like hearing what someone else had as their first impression after a 14day trial and this review DID put me off actually taking the leap from carefully-reading-about-the-game to actually-downloading-trial. But there is a theme that keeps repeating itself in both my own experiences of the game as I tried to gather some knowledge about the game before I had a go at it so I would not waste precious leveling time "picking flowers in Darnassus" and get to the "good part" so I could farm the epics; both your "review" and Yahtzee's review show the same feeling when starting the game: It's WAY to overwhelming. Your idea for a tutorial does seem more player friendly but while I do think i'll give the game a go once spending 2months reading about the game so I will know the wow equivalent of "talk 2 this dude for skillz, farm gold from mobs" does not seem... well as with wow it is nice to have actually started to like the game before you start to learn how optimize your dps. Something akin to the prestige classes in neverwinter nights 2 and d&d 3.5 would perhaps be the middle way, retaining complexity yet giving me clear hints to what skills lead to what prestige classes (move silently + hide = assasin! woo) would perhaps ease this part of the first trial of eve. Though perhaps that sentence in itself just shows how much I failed to understand the game :D

Rich said...

I really don't want to turn people off from the game, or in no way am I suggesting the people that enjoy EVE are wrong... For these kind of posts, I just document my own experience with the game. They obviously lean ridiculously toward my own playstyle, and aren't to be taken as an objective review at all.

I'd encourage anyone out there to DL the client and judge for yourself. The client is a small DL (1.6 gb), and the trial account creation process takes all of 5 min. The install itself (unpacking, etc) probably was the biggest timesink in getting up and running. just set it up to DL and forget about it, then set it up to install and read a blog, then you'll be ready to jump in when it's over.

The intro movie was very cool in setting the tone, and i'm sure once I had played for a month or two, the distinctions between the races would become more apparent (at which point I'd need to reroll, bleh). but yeah, as a space game it's good... but i'm just not in that frame of mind right now.

In fact, I'm afraid to get too into another game right now, and want to keep WoW front and center while I focus on brainstorming encounters etc on the way back to america.

Crimson Starfire said...

Best review I've ever read of Eve by far!!

I played Eve for a month a couple of years back, but left because they had their server down time every night for 1 hour between 9-10pm Australian time. This basically meant I lost 1 hour of prime gaming time every night!! Pfft... uninstall...

I did like that it was significantly different from every other MMO out there though. If only they had of implemented the ability to teleport onto the other guy's ship and shoot him in the head with phasor or something. I definitely would have stayed around ;)

Cheers for the link btw.

Anonymous said...

I'm gonna give it another shot. I played it awhile ago, I guess the graphics were pretty 8-bit back then. Plus I like the idea of piracy.

I'll probably play it for another 2 hours and then go "Why am I doing this again?"

Let's link up in game. Shoot me an email of where/what you are, etc.

Anonymous said...

You REALLY need to do the tuturial. It is not nearly as "optional: as the stuff in WoW. Not only does it explain a lot of the stuff you had problems with, it gives you a good amount of ISK and the top tier frigate fo ryour race at the end of it.

But for the most part I agree with your assesment. It is a TON of information thrown at you as a new guy. And like you said the big draw is the social aspect of Eve, but as in my case, if you have nobody to share it with the whole "game" part of it kind of fails.

Cap'n John said...

I think EVE probably lends itself more to the solo player better than any other MMO (other than the leveling game of WoW). While allowing for the group play as well, just think about what piloting a mining/salvaging ship would be really like. You'd probably have a skeleton crew, if any, maybe even just you and a computer/automated crew, out in the vast, emptiness of space, with the only time you see other people being when you return to a space station to sell your loot, then it's back off into the wild, black yonder.