EVE and I – Part 01 – Into the great wide open

Being an account of one man’s virign experience with EVE Online. My first exposure to MMO’s was FFXI on its European release. I walked (like some kind of savage) from Glenwood down to PC World to pick it up after having a quick go of the copy my brother Patrick bought. I have to say it was pretty great at the time, an almost entirely novel multiplayer experience. But it was hardly flawless, the punishing xp loss on death and the hunt for random drops (fuck you second job quest) marred the exprience for me. Still it was either play that or attend class, so I did a semesters worth of assignments in a week or two (the first semester of the add-on BA in Humanities was a fucking joke, easy mode shit, sort of regret abandoning my stonking results to jump to a MSc) and settled in to explore Vana’diel.

Time rolled on a few months, it was a new year and there was a new MMO about to be released – World of Warcraft. Patrick was again my patient zero, he bought it Friday evening and let me play when he headed out on the town. The next morning I was still playing and bought him a new copy because I didnt want to lose the xp on the character I was using (seems laughable now). Like literally millions of others Warcraft hooked me. I played it fairly solidly up through Burning Crusade. I took a break for a while but then Wrath dragged me back in. I genuinely dont want to think about how much time I sunk into the game (and I definitely dont want to think about how much extra time I spent reading up about it, talking about it, being part of guilds, running guilds, etc.). Cataclysm totally killed it for me. My interest was sort of fading but the direction Cataclysm took the game just put me off entirely. I was clean. I was out.

Now while I was playing WoW I did take breaks, I tried out the majority of other major MMO’s that were released during that time. But generally didnt subscribe after the initial month was over. I just kept going back to WoW. But in my post WoW world I wasnt just done with WoW I was done with MMO’s, especially subscription based ones. I relapsed here and there (a month of WoW here and there, a few months of Star Wars, etc.). I held out hope for games which promised to shake things up and change the formula (The Secret World, Guild Wars 2) but none of them delivered. Ultimately I ended up not caring that much, I was too busy to play the single player backlog I was amassing never mind invest the time MMO’s required. Then Patrick (noticing a theme here?) picked up EVE and began the insidious pimping he is so adroit at. Now while I’ve billed this as my first exposure to EVE Online that’s not completely true. Back when EVE first started free fourteen day trials I signed up for one and installed the game. But I spent barely a handful of hours with it and never properly engaged with the game. That was also several years ago, so while I’m not a total EVE virgin I am coming at it more or less fresh. In the world of unneccesarily graphic metaphors its as if I’ve gotten a quick handjob from it but never sealed the deal.

So anyhow, over the last week or two Patrick has been selling me on EVE and I was tempted I must say. Especially as it was only a fiver in the Big Picture sale on Steam. But I was busy with end of term exams (and Persona 4: The Golden) and managed to hold out. Then I noticed it was only $5 on Amazon.com. Basically three quid. I couldnt and didnt resist that. So there I was the slightly remorseful owner of an EVE Online Starter Set including 30 days of game time.

Now would be a good time to mention that I was very heavily into playing a totally “tool-assisted” version of Wow. I used a suite of add-ons, spent hours creating and tweaking custom UI’s, indulged in excessive theorycrafting – both forum and tool based (Rawr, simulationcraft, etc.), the whole nine yards. So of course the first thing I did when I bought a new MMO wasnt to install it, it was to google what tools people used with it. Apparently there are no add-ons in the WoW sense, seemes to be stand-alone add-ons only and off those stand-alone add-ons the one most recommended (as essential no less) was Evemon. So before I’d even signed up for an account I downloaded it and had a bit of a mess around. While I was largely ignorant of exactly how it is useful it still felt like a pretty slick program. Another thing I’d come across was the fact that current EVE players can issue 21 day trials and if someone signs up after that the issuing player gets some swag. So it seemed obvious to have Patrick send me one of those, I get 51 as opposed to 30 days and once I used my starter kit code to sign up Patrick would get some reward.

Unfortunatley this week ended up being mental so I have yet to actually start playing EVE. I have downloaded and installed the game (EVE’s installer is embarassingly bad, it lacks even basic features like pause and resume which is ridiculous for a ~6GB download). I have registerd for an account. And I have read a lot of stuff about the game. EVE Online has a reputation for having a near vertical introductory difficulty curve (as well as being rife with DRAMA and predatory veteran’s eager to financially eviscerate “n00bs”) so I wanted to be prepared. To be honest the body of material out there is a bit intimidating. However it seems that the introductory tutorials and missions do a good enough job of introducing the basics of the game so at this point I’m going to stop reading and just take the plunge. What’s the worst that can happen?

A lot of my reading revolved around the ships available in EVE. My prime interest in EVE springs from the many months of childhood sacrificed on the altar of games like Elite and it’s (superior) sequel Frontier. I’m hoping that EVE can replicate the kind of experiences that those games provided. Of course the focus of any space games is, well, the spaceships. I was pleased to discover that in EVE it seems the initial race selection is a starting point and doesnt rule out getting different race’s ships later on. Still I wanted to start with a race who’s ships generally appealed to me. In terms of playstyle the Caladari looked pretty interesting but to be honest the majority of their ships look frankly shit. Not just, “I dont like this” shit, more “How could anyone think this looks cool?” shit. The Mimmiatr ships were also generally not to my liking, though unlike the Caladari I think they look fine I just dont really like them. That left the Gallente and the Amarr. I liked the look of most ships for both races, the Gallente ships with the long “lances” (I’m assuming they’re railguns) reminded me of the old “Lancer Cycles” from Visionaries (KNIGHTS OF THE MAGICAL LIGHT!). But ultimately I decided to go with the Amarr, I liked the vaguely art deco appearance and the names. So once I’d chosen a race the next thing to do was to choose a ship to aim for.

I’ve decided that my first goal in game (and EVE seems to be all about setting your own goals) is to make enough cash (ISK) to pick up a Punisher. It was at this point that I began to see how useful Evemon could be. It took only a few seconds to go into Evemon, select the ship I wanted and put together a “Training schedule” that would allow me to fly the ship. Even better I could go in and select a loadout for the ship and add the skills required for that loadout to the training schedule (EVE is a skill based games where all skills take a real world amount of time to train up). I could then use EVEmon to look at how to optimise my attributes to reduce training times and so on. Pretty cool.

Of course by this point simply deciding on one ship wasnt going to cut it so I’ve roughly planned out my ship progression, I want to move from a Punisher (Frigate) to either a Vengeance (Tech II Frigate) or Maller (Cruiser). Destroyers seem to be the class between Frigates and Cruisers but I’m not crazy about the look of the Amarr destroyers (all my ship decisions are based on how it looks) and the also seem to be a bit shit stat wise. At the moment I’ve no real idea of how long/tough it is to get either a Tech II frigate (not entirely sure what Tech II means) or a Cruiser. So my main goal is still to simply get a Punisher. Hoping to finish off P4:TG and my marking today so I can devote most of tomorrow to my inaugral session of EVE.

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