Sunday, May 27, 2007

EvE Online? What's that?

Good question.
Firstly, and probably the best way to discover what EvE Online looks and feels like, is to watch this:

Some trivia for you:

  • The song in the background is a remix of 'Beauty Never Fades' by Junkie XL, from the album 'Radio JXL: A Broadcast from the Computer Hell Cabin'
  • The female vocals are performed by Samantha Sprackling (otherwise known as 'Saffron' from the band Republica, responsible for the song 'Ready To Go', which you will all no doubt be familiar with given it has been used in nearly every advertising medium known to man)
  • All of the footage you see is shot totally in game - there are no pre rendered cinematics in the trailer whatsoever

In essence, EvE Online is incredible in scope, beauty, and unmatched depth. With it's beauty, comes some of the most brutal PvP online play I have ever encountered, but that's par for the course in the EvE universe. Here's the fundamentals:

What is EVE Online?
EVE is a massive multiplayer online game set in a science-fiction based, persistent world. Players take the role of spaceship pilots seeking fame, fortune, and adventure in a huge, complex, exciting, and sometimes hostile galaxy.
EVE Online is host to the largest virtual universe in the world, has an unbelievably dynamic player controlled economy (and I mean *unbelievable*), and the unique feature of leveling skills whilst offline.

What is basic game play like?
The diversity and flexibility of EVE makes it difficult to categorise it by conventional standards. It absolutely depends on the level at which it is played.

The game is set in an unknown portion of space, spanning thousands (5000!) of solar systems, many of which are settled. Players begin by creating an in-game character equipped with a basic spaceship ready to explore the world. As they get acquainted with life in EVE, players can trade goods between systems or conduct other money-making ventures such as mining asteroids, transporting goods as a courier, or even cleaning up debris for recycling. Financial gains made through such activities can be used to upgrade the ship with weapons and equipment and also to develop the character by purchasing skill packs used for training him or her in various skills he will need to advance in the world of EvE.

When a player has mastered the basics of the game, acquired some money and equipment, and advanced his or her character through basic skills, the possibilities become almost endless. Players who wish to explore peaceful paths may continue to upgrade their ships to bigger and better cargo vessels with high-end defenses, purchase advanced mining or research equipment and continue to develop their characters by specializing in their preferred skills. Others may elect to pursue a more dangerous path such as piracy, smuggling or bounty hunting.

This page shows most of the features, including screenshots, and more details than I could ever find the time to type about are available here.

Bottom line?
If you're a boy (ie: into space/sci-fi) then you owe it to yourself to try this game. Even if you're hormones are more Estrogen-based, there is plenty to offer here.
Yes, it's set in space (beautiful, eye-popping, jaw-dropping space) but that's only about 1% of the appeal. This game is deeper than a deep-diving thing set to dive ad infinitum. The choices over how you choose to exist in the world are so vast, I have trouble knowing where to begin.

For example, there are 'Corporations' in the game. These are run by players, and are lightly akin to 'guilds' in other MMO's. Only these are the real deal - complete with CEO's, CFO's, Accountants, Auditors, Factory Managers, etc. You may join a mining corp for example. Your job may be to head out to asteroids and mine ore for the corp - that's literally your job. You will be accompanied by other employees who (say) are there to protect you as you mine.
Your goal is to fit out your ships with better mining equipment - theirs is to upgrade with better weapons, tracking devices, and hull or shield augmentations.
You bring the ore back to base, it gets refined (another job for someone else), and then is either packaged and sold as a commodity over the in-game Escrow market system (complete with in-game browser support to Corp store fronts) or utilised in-house for manufacturing (some corps are set up purely as industrial manufacturers, supplying goods, ships, and equipment across the galaxy).

I happen to belong to an Australian Corporation named 'Southern Cross Mining and Industrial'. They have a stock market ticker in-game [SMC] just like a real market. Shares are purchasable, and I have the opportunity to try out different roles within the organisation. It's quite nuts.

And in case you haven't figured it out yet, the 'world' of EvE is.. well..

let's just say that UNBELIEVABLY HUGE is an understatement. The very first time you gaze upon the starmap, you feel hopelessly small, and even more-so, lost. But you quickly realise that getting around isn't as daunting as one might expect.
The map system, and nav plotting features, are all exceptionally intuitive. Plus, you start out in a high-security zone of space, meaning you tend to not stray to far away from home at first. As you gain equipment and skill, and become hungry for more, you begin to venture off into less secure zones further out from the centre of the galaxy.

It is here that things start to get.. scary. To say the least.

By venturing out into the great unknown, you are effectively putting yourself at great risk from being attacked by rival corporations or NPC pirates (rats). After spending 100's of 1000's of dollars (ISK is the in game currency) and countless hours getting to where you are happy to venture out, you will be brutally shocked as you are blown to a million little pieces.
And trust me, the feeling is one of utter despair. Your total annihilation faces you as you gaze into the screen in total disbelief.

It is *brutal*.

Fortunately, like all aspects of the game, the details of the game save you somewhat as any half-witted player should've taken out insurance on their ship. (Yes, there's a fully functioning insurance system within the game, a'la real life)

I could go on for hours and hours and hours more, attempting to describe all of the features of EvE Online, but I shant.

If you're vaguely interested at all, grab a copy of the 14 day free trial and take it for a spin yourself. The early part of the game is a totally guided tutorial which more than gives you a feel for what the game has to offer.

As for me? (Aren't you also playing other MMO's at the moment?)
Yep I sure am. But nothing, and I mean nothing, comes close to being even vaguely similar to EvE. For me, I can't ever see myself canceling my subscription to EvE - it's simply too unique to every other MMO, and too deep to ignore. I have limitless fun within EvE (including the fantastic playerbase in there) and I am never far from feeling like a quick run amongst all my other fantasy-based MMO playtime.

Speaking of the playerbase, another little factoid: EvE is run on one server. Yup.
What does that mean? One community, effectively. Its truly astounding and nobody has any clue how they do it.

Anyhow, I hope this whet your appetite enough to grab a copy of the free trial. EvE is absolutely an unsung hero in the world of MMORPGs, but then again, that's kinda what makes it so cool.

As Kurt Cobain once said (quote):
"I'd rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I am not."

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