On Tuesday, June 8, 2010 1 comments

I know that what I am about to say might expel me from the ranks of the true geek forever, but...

I'm not into Sci-Fi. I never have been. I've never dressed up in an Han Solo costume for any occasion and certainly not party. I've only ever divided my fingers into two halves to form a "V" as a joke. I certainly never camped outside of a movie theatre overnight for the premier of any Star Wars prequel film. I've tried to watch the Sci-Fi channel, and most programs either bore me or the production quality is so incredibly cheesy that I can not pay attention to it for more than 10 minutes. The most sincere display of Sci-Fi fandom that I can remember is when I was about 7 - 10 years old, my cousin and I would go to the bathroom together and have "light saber wars", where the objective was to continually, vigorously, cross streams and the victor was the one who held the "saber" that lasted the longest.

The ironic thing about this is that one of my main dreams (yes there were many and they changed often, but there were a constant few) growing up was to be an astronaut/rocket scientist. I have always LOVED Space. I love just going outside in the pitch of night and staring at the stars, wondering what all is up there. I have always wanting to be up there. Maybe not so much to live there, but to be able to freely visit. I was very seriously expecting the Jetsons' world to be my world by now, I mean hey, it IS the 21st Century.

Sadly, as it stands, I am still grounded. But luckily, I have found a relatively well-kept secret that can blast me deep into the far reaches of the future and outer space. This gem is known by the name, EVE Online. Now you may say, "Why would you call EVE a 'well-kept secret', I know EVE". Well that's because compared to the 10-12 million subscribers in the World of Warcraft as well as large numbers put out by other popular games, the community of about 300 thousand that reside in New Eden is fairly small.

However, there is a twist to this community; while WoW has 200+ servers for its many subscribers to be divided upon, EVE has a WHOPPING...one. Well to be technically correct, it has three. There is one that serves China, due to EVE just recently being available there, and the game having different restrictions for the country's citizens. And then there is another that serves the rest of the world. The last is a test server. Now think about that for a moment...if you are from the city of New Orleans, Louisiana, being in EVE would be like playing on a server that your entire hometown played on too; every last person. All of the sudden, the EVE universe feels very large.

And it is. With over 7500 solar systems, all filled with planets, asteroid belts, and space stations (NPC and player-owned); not to mention deadspace and wormholes, if you have ever wanted to get lost in space like Will Robinson but NASA never picked you up, then there is no reason you shouldn't be in New Eden.

This world is dangerous. Each solar system has a rating between 1.0 and 0.0. Any system that has a rating of 1.0 - 0.5 is relatively safe. Notice I say relatively safe, not safe. This is not some "Open World PvP" game with rules (therefore negating the term Open World PvP). You are relatively safe in high security space because it is governed by CONCORD, the intergalactic New Eden Police. They are big, bad, and I don't care how much ISK (mulah, dollars, green, scrillah, gold) you think you have, they have more. I don't care how aggressive, invincible, or humongous you think your battleship is, theirs' are larger, scarier, and more omnipotent. If you break the peace in their dominion and do not get the hell out of dodge, they will kill you. And the higher the security level is in the system, the smaller amount of time you have to get out of it. The problem for the law-abiding citizen however, is that CONCORD isn't Clark Kent, waiting to don their "S" embroidered suit when you scream because a pirate just unstealthed, warp-scrambled, and blew your sweet little behind to kingdom come. No, their only concern is to enforce the law. This means that you must always be aware in EVE because although it doesn't happen that often, you can and will get ganked in high security if you are in the mindset that you are "safe" there. I found that out the hard way.

I was out mining in a 0.9 asteroid belt, minding my own business, listening to my music, checking my Facebook account...when all of the sudden my screen jarred. I looked and noticed that another ship had run into me. I didn't think much of it because mostly noobs flew in high sec. (or so I thought) and I knew that I had bumped into quite a few ships, trying to approach them. So I was just about to go back to killing my rock when I heard the "Somebody is about to try to f*#@ you up sound," I looked around to see who was targeting me and found that it was the innocent, bumbling, noob! Before I could recover from my shock and react properly, I was sitting in my pod (your life pod is what you pilot your ship from, if your ship gets destroyed but your pod doesn't, then you live to buy another ship, if your pod gets popped, then...well you're about to find out). Then I almost had my warp activated when the next thing I knew, I was sitting in a station 22 jumps away from where I was mining. Twenty-two jumps away means twenty-two solar systems people...a long way. You never truly die in EVE, you are a demigod. However, you certainly can lose your ship, all of the modules fitted to that ship (these are your shields, weapons...gear for you fantasy RPGers), and even the skills that you have learned up to that point. And this brings us to our first big lesson in EVE. Make sure your clone is insured for more skillpoints than you currently possess. Seriously...you will thank me later.

Anyhow, I bought another ship, partially paid for by insurance, fitted it out and sadly started out on my long 22 jump journey back to my asteroid belt, very much the wiser. You are not safe anywhere in outer space. Always be aware. Now although players are allowed to be pirates if they so choose from CCP's standpoint (the developers of EVE), piracy is illegal in the game. That unfriendly "noob" that ganked me in high sec. probably did meet his demise at the hands of CONCORD after I was dead and gone and what certainly happened, is that his security rating was lowered (bad rep with the cops), he became notified as an outlaw, and I gained kill rights towards him; meaning that if I saw coasting right in front of the Captain-General of CONCORD himself, I could kill him on the spot, and the general would applaud me (not really, but you get the point, I hope). The problem is that I don't get any type of boost or superpower against him or anything. Which brings up lesson 2. Kill rights mean just that...you have the right to kill. However, if you do not have the ABILITY to kill the person, I suggest that you just count that encounter as a lesson learned and maybe log that person's name in the back of your head or notepad for a later time when you are stronger. Even with kill rights, once you attack a player, they have the right to attack you as well.

That last situation brings up another very valuable lesson... I was out in my brand new mining barge, once again killing rocks (Eh...I guess I like easy targets). My butt was still (is still) tingling from where fire had gotten lit to it, so I was watching my overview to make sure no ships were getting anywhere close to me, while at the same time watching local chat. I saw someone say that he was a psychology grad student working on his thesis. He said that he had done well in EVE but was about to quit due to lack of time, and had decided to do his thesis on the EVE community. He was studying trust. What he offered was simple. If you would trade any amount of ISK to him, he would give you double. However, to keep test results pure, this would be a one time agreement per player. He offered for you to have a conversation with him so that he could explain the test in detail, anything you needed to feel safe because he knew that most would think that he was trying to scam them. In his character bio, he also went more into detail about what he was doing.

Now, I am proud to say that I did not look at this post and see green. I'm not stupid. However I did consider the possible sincerity of the post and if the person WAS sincere in his efforts, I wanted to help out. So I entered a conversation with him, asked him a few questions, and felt mostly satisfied. I say mostly because one thing bothered me...the player's grammar. It was not horrible, but a little off, enough to make my gut think that he probably wasn't a psychology grad student, if maybe undergrad. I asked my wife what she thought and she agreed with me that it was a risk, but could be real. End the end, I made a calculated decision to gamble 5 million ISK.

It was a scam.

The sad/funny thing about it was that I entered a conversation with the player about 3 hours after I noticed I had not received 10 million ISK to my wallet, to ask him how/when I would get my return on investment, and he had absolutely no problem with telling me, "Oh, that's the thing. You won't. This is a very old, but still working, scam. Good luck and fly safe. =D" Moral of the story...if your gut is telling you something in New Eden, follow it. Never gamble with what you can't afford to lose (ISK, ships, or otherwise), and if in doubt, live by the saying, "Trust No one".

If you are in low sec. space, 0.4 - 0.0, you are on your own. Beware. However, not everything is bad in low/null sec. Actually quite the contrary. As probably expected, the most rare asteroids, highly lucrative missions, and cool sights in space are in low/null sec. So that is the place you want to be, just be prepared. Null sec. is the equivalent of reaching max level in a fantasy MMORPG. The cool thing about it though, is that you don't have to be a veteran to go there. You may find life difficult and frustrating, but with perseverance, even as a noob, you could make a nice living for yourself in low sec. space.

One thing (or another thing, I should say) that sets EVE apart from the average MMORPG is the way your character advances. There are no character levels. Missions don't provide experience, that eventually lead to you leveling, and at some point in the grind, maxing you out. Missions in EVE only provide reputation with the agent and his/her corporation, and ISK/items. So how do you level up then, you might ask. EVE is a skill based game, where you decide what skills you want to have based upon what it is you want to do in New Eden. You place your skills in a queue and then start the queue. Your character learns constantly no-matter whether you are on or offline. And there are a MEGAton of skills. I mean it. Everything from Astrogeology, to help you get your mining business online, to Research and Development, so that you can meld that raw material into capital ships, to Capital Ships, so that you can pilot those ships, and Hacking and Covert Ops, so that you can pirate those pilots. It's all in EVE and there is no one there telling you what you can/can not or have to do. It's your life, it's your decision. And that is what initially drew me into EVE. It took a lot of time to get used to the controls, the action can be sporadic when you are new, I'm used to constant action in fantasy MMOs, and it was very hard for me to deal with having a space ship as my avatar. But the sheer reality of this portrayal of a life in space clutched my attention. When you are developing a module or ship, you have an invoice that shows how much you paid, what was taxes and fees, versus the flat price. When you refine ore you are shown your net yield versus what was wasted, in percentages, so that you can know if your skills in Refining are up to par. You find yourself not feeling like you are playing a space-based game, but that every time you log on, you are coming home to New Eden and your monitor is your eyes.

EVE is a very complicated game and this is probably one of the main reasons its population is relatively low compared to other major, successful MMORPGs. The curve is high, but there is more than adequate information out there on forums and search engines to be found, not to mention the very thorough tutorial that the game itself offers (which is available at anytime), and quite a few different help chat channels in game as well, that with a little effort and patience, you will find yourself doing whatever it is you wish to do and raking in the ISK before you know it.

Remember last week when we talked about Blizzard and the love/hate relationship I have with them that is just now becoming more love than hate??? Well when it comes to CCP, it's all love baby. Seriously, I can't say enough good things about this company. I have to admit that part of the reason I play and love EVE is because of how awesome I think CCP is. CCP promised that they would release at least two expansions a year to the game; that in itself is impressive, but what amazes me more is that in the seven years this game has been running, CCP has never reneged on that promise. To date, there have been thirteen major updates to New Eden and you know how many times I've had to shell out another $40 for an expansion?

Not a single one.

I think Blizzard needs to take some notes in the art of customer satisfaction. Speaking of cost, EVE is an industry leader in quality budget gaming. You can buy a virtual copy of the game for $19.99, the monthly subscription is the standard $14.99, and if you are low on your monthly cash, there is a legal player to player ISK for dollar system so that you can still get your spacecowboying fix. Add all of that to the Council of Stellar Management, a player-voted congress of player representatives that actually get the honor of going to the CCP headquarters in Reykjavik, Iceland to voice the community's concerns and wants...what the hell is there not to love about this company?

I'm not into Sci-Fi, but I love this Sci-Fi game. If you have ever wanted to go into outer space to see what is up there, come to New Eden. And if you ever are here, look me up, Elyias Fatebringer, I'll try to help you "Straighten Up and Fly Right"- Nat King Cole.

1 comment:

Shannon said...

Definitely liking the new layout.....but if you are going to have Mario and Luigi be the first thing people see then we should hear about them at least once in one of your blogs.

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