EVE and I – Part 02 – The Final Frontier

Well much like 2 Live Crew popped that coochie I have popped my EVE cherry. I played for five hours or so yesterday and roughly the same today. I am in fact typing up this post in EVE’s in-game browser while (one of) my ship(s) mines away in the background. Which brings me to my first point, my goals may have been a tad too humble.

The games introduction gives a brief background setup, you have become a capsuleer, an amazingly rich immortal (via clones) who flies around space doing more or less whatever the fuck you feel like. Once you’re done with that you then move on to character creation, here you pick your faction (Amarr), then one of three “Bloodlines” (seem to be basically racial sub-factions, went with Khanid) and then its on to the character sculptor where you design what your capsuleer will look like. It’s a pretty solid character creator as such things go, it’s not quite as detailed as the kind of thing you’d get in an Elder Scrolls game but it’s the most detailed MMO character creator I’ve come across so far. Inevitably it does lack some depth and I would have preferred a more custom approach then selecting from a list of pre-defined choices (some of which were weirdly lacking, e.g. the lower earring I wanted only had a right ear version, no left ear one). The choices also appear to be limited by faction/bloodline e.g. I had no options to pick glasses for my character while Patrick did.

I decided to go with a female character, I’d been looking through random screens of other people creations Friday night and decided then it was going to be a woman. So my choices gave me this default, which was tad too emaciated for my liking.

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Some (about an hour truth be told) tweaking later I ended up with this charming woman here

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The options for female hair are pretty shit to be honest, I spent quite some time bouncing between them trying to find something I wanted. In some ways this helped shape the character as I ended up coming up with the rough concept of “space yakuza”, which led to her current “Traditional” haircut and the scar/missing eye. Unfortunately the tattoo options are a) limited and b) only apply to the face. The basic clothing options are also a tad limited (and buying clothes in game costs a fair amount of in-game currency or real money). I ended up changing her jacket after an hour or two as the initial one pissed me off.

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Once that was done the next step was setting up a portrait, spent a good few minutes on this wavering between making her look as evil as possible or as good looking as possible.

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Then I spent a bit longer trying to make her look like a woman rather than an evil transvestite.

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I eventually got something I was happy with and then all that was left was to choose her background and training and decide on a name. Thus was born Reiko Ikari (or more correctly Ikari Reiko I suppose). Once character creation was finished it was into the game proper. The games first mission involves flying your capsule (which appears to be the brain if you will of all star ships) out into space and jamming it into the rookie ship of your factions’ choice. Which in my case would be an Imparior.

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With a real ship available you are then offered the crash course tutorial, which exposes you to all the basic knowledge you will need to get started with EVE. It’s nothing super exciting but it is fairly well done and does cover enough of the basics that you quickly feel comfortable with the game. I also had Patrick to give me a few tips and pointers. The games quite generous with handing out skill books and even ships in the basic tutorial. By the end of it I’d acquired a few more skills, and more importantly being given the bad-boy below.

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Once you’ve completed the basic tutorials you can start titting around doing what you want or you can continue with more advanced tutorials in the form of career mission paths you get from Agents (mission giving NPC’s). Patrick recommended doing them and I would pass on that recommendation to anyone who is planning to start playing. Each career arc consists of ten missions which introduce you to the kind of things that career can do (there are no actual careers its more “Hey you can do this!”). The available career paths are Industry, Business, Exploration, Military and Advanced Military. None of the missions are particularly onerous and nearly every mission gives you pretty solid rewards in the form of ISK, skill books and even ships.

As I’d found my initial exposure to the combat system interesting I decided to start with the military career (you can follow multiple careers at once, which I’m doing now but I played the military career end to end). During the course of the career missions you get a more solid feel for the games interface and it introduces you to more and more of the games systems. One thing I noticed when flying around is just how nice this game can look at times.

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Most of the military career missions, unsurprisingly, revolved around combat. As I mentioned above I found the combat interesting, so far it’s only been against NPC’s. The combat (so far anyway) doesn’t require super-fast reflexes; it’s about closing in, maintaining distance, monitoring your energy levels, etc. Most actions in it feel considered and it’s almost stately in a way. So I persevered through all ten missions and then as I looked over the rewards listed for the final mission in the career path I was surprised to see that it was a Punisher i.e. the very ship that I had made my first goal.

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I wasn’t disappointed exactly to get it so quickly; on the other hand I did think it would take more than five hours. Though as I quickly learned there’s a difference between having the skills and equipment to fly a ship and having the skills and equipment to fly a ship well. At that point I decided to take a break from the game. Well to alt-tab out of it at least. Now that I had a character I could make proper use of EVEmon. It didn’t take long to add my character, you just have to set up an API key via your account page, copy and paste the ID and Key into EVEmon and you are ready to go. So with that done I quickly threw together a training schedule based on the recommended skills for using a Punisher. I then alt-tabbed back into EVE and set up my skill queue until it was full (you can queue up to 24hrs of skill training). Then it was off to bed (well off to reading Love Hina, which in the last third was like bed – only unpleasant).

My first day behind me and my first goal met I was sort of unsure of what to do when I logged in today. According to EVEmon it will take around 72 hours to train up all the recommended skills I should have to maximise my use of the Punisher. So that left me at something of a loose end. So I started on the other career paths. I spent the afternoon pursuing the Business career path which netted me, among other things, the Tormenter:

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and the Venture:

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During the course of the mission arc, and then off my own bat, I loaded up the Tormentor with mining lasers and began to reap the bounties of space.

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Then with the business career complete I moved on to do a little of the Exploration career path (where I got a second Tormentor). But to be honest I found it a bit boring, so I moved on to Advanced Military. Where I brought blinding white laser based justice to the scum of the spaceways.

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Sadly dinner interrupted my justice and when I got back to EVE this evening I wasn’t really feeling the while combat thing, so I did a bit of casual mining before trying out the Industry career path. This also involved a fair bit mining (and manufacturing). It also netted me a Sigil industrial ship (which there’s no screenshot of as I haven’t trained the piloting skill for it yet). Well as I was typing this up (love that ingame browser) I finished the last mission in the Industry career path. So now I have two Sigils, neither of which I can fly. I’d sell them, only I’m not entirely sure how. This brings me to my next point.

I’ve been playing the game now for 10-12 hours. Which isn’t a huge amount in the scheme of MMO’s playtimes, but would be enough to complete a large percentage of your average single player release. That isn’t really the issue, the issues is that after twelve hours play, one basic tutorial and four advanced ones I still feel like there is so much I don’t know or understand about the game. It’s not frustrating, the game does seem vast. But now that I take a moment to think about it it’s also not something I particularly like either. So what do I think overall at the moment? Well my initial goal was clearly too humble. I’ve spent a lot of time reading about all the Amarr ships (don’t want to go cross faction just yet) and the various roles and loadouts they can be used for so a new ship progression plan is forming.

Overall I’m enjoying the game, while its probably no less a timesink than other MMO’s the tasks fit well into the games narrative so, say, mining for example, feels nowhere as tedious as hunting down the blood of 20 raptors (especially as half of the fucking raptors you kill inexplicably have no blood). Of the stuff I’ve done so far I’ve found combat and mining to be the most enjoyable. Exploration is boring so far. Salvaging is ok and I want to explore it more. Manufacturing and Industry I still don’t really understand and I don’t want to fall into the trap of making the game feel like a job (Oh WoW Auction House speculation how I don’t miss you at all). My immediate plan is to finish off the Exploration and Advanced Military career paths. After that I’m going to do the first Epic Story Arc quest chain and then I’ll be out on my own.

Vent your spleen

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