Thursday, January 13, 2011

Everything I Need to Know About EVE

In many of the more relaxed civilizations on the Outer Eastern Rim of the Galaxy, the Hitch-Hiker's Guide has already supplanted the great Encyclopaedia Galactica as the standard repository of all knowledge and wisdom, for though it has many omissions and contains much that is apocryphal, or at least wildly inaccurate, it scores over the older, more pedestrian work in two important respects. First, it is slightly cheaper; and secondly it has the words DON'T PANIC inscribed in large friendly letters on its cover.
--Douglas Adams

Looking over some of the stats on the blog leads me to one conclusion.  You are far more interested in posts in which I discuss things about EVE in general than tales of my exploits in blowing up.  This is clearly evident when I look at this post which has more views than all my other pages combined.  So, with that in mind, I have good news and bad news.  Bad news is, I'm still going to be posting quite often about my personal exploits in the game.  Those posts probably help me more than you, because it allows me to look back on mistakes I've made and analyze them in a detailed manner so that I don't make them again in the future.  The good news is, I'll try to break them up a bit with posts like this one, where I'll discuss some more general aspects of game play and how you can apply it to yourself.

I've actually been holding onto this post for a little while now.  But then I saw the most recent Blog Banter from over at Crazy Kinux's Musing.  Now, I'm not part of the blog pack, or too keen on answering the actual questions from the banter, which was in short "How does your real life personality compare to who you are as a character in EVE?"  It just seemed appropriately timed since I already had this one waiting in my queue, so I decided to post it early.  Anyway, here you go.

You know those posters you see in stores that say "Everything I ever needed to know about life I learned from Kindergarten/Star Trek/Spaghetti"?  Well, this is one of those lists.  Except it's my own personal list of things that I brought with me before I ever started playing, and how those things influence how I view EVE Online.  I'm sure you're all the same in this regard.  We all take advantage of the sandbox in different ways, and the reason that one of those ways appeals more than another isn't because of some inherent cost/benefit analysis within the game, but because of the person sitting in front of the computer.  I'd love to hear some of your own examples in the comments section below.  

For those of you who don't know, (which is probably everyone, since I've not mentioned it on this blog before) prior to playing EVE Online I was in the United States Marine Corps.  Now obviously this experience shaped who I am as a person, and it also provided a lot of valuable life lessons that I can now apply towards EVE.  I now present to you:

Everything I Need to Know About EVE I Learned in the Marines

Situation Dictates: Almost every question you can possibly ask in EVE is answered with two simple words.  "It depends."  Which is better, a MWD or an AB?  Point or Scram?  Active or Buffer?  Shield or Armor?    In the Marines, we learned that almost every tactical decision one can make will have to account for factors that are unique to that particular scenario.  It's the same in EVE.  I'm constantly amazed at the completely open ended questions I see pass through various channels on EVE in which the person is honestly expecting a yes/no answer.  Whether it be my own Corp mates, or various public channels and forums, it never ceases to amaze me.  

Due to my place in EVE as a low-sec Pirate, I often completely disagree with the answers given by people on NPC Corp chats, or Rookie Help, or whatever public channel my alt happens to be in while I'm hauling something into lowsec.  I have to remind myself that situation dictates, and the answer they got was probably the answer they were looking for.

Don't Panic: In PvP the worst thing you can do is freeze up.  There's a saying in the Marines that's oft used as an off color compliment, "Good initiative, bad judgement."  You hear it when you screw up through action rather than inaction.  It's meant to say that at least you did something, because doing nothing is always the wrong decision.  

Don't get me wrong, "wait and see what they do" is a legimite decision to make, just make sure it's a conscious decision you're making and that you're not just freezing up.  When that red flashy icon appears on your overview, do you run or fight?  If you're going to run, do it.  If you're going to fight, do it.  If you decide you made the wrong decision, try to go back, or try to disengage.  Maybe the decision you make will turn out to be the wrong one, but at least you took the initiative.

Kill Babies:  Allow me to explain.  For those of you not caught up on your U.S. History, "baby killer" was a pejorative term aimed at U.S. service members returning from the Vietnam War.  It was meant to say that they were killing innocent people and had no right to be there in the first place.  What I'm sure many of you may be appalled to learn is that today it's used as a term of endearment within the Marines, or "kill babies" is used jokingly in agreement with a statement.  Wait, what?  

The Marine Corps took the term, and made it it's own.  If this is a concept you're finding difficulty understand, I point you instead towards the use of the "N" word and its integration into Black Culture within the United States.  Instead of finding it insulting, they internalized it, and began using it as a compliment within their own culture.  OK, history lessons aside, how does this help me?  I've been called a few creative things in my time as a Pirate.  I assure you, I don't lose sleep over it.  I'm not one of those you'll ever find talking smack in local, but when people do, I'm usually very pleasant and courteous in return.  After all, I've probably been called worse in real life.

Fire and Maneuver: Another saying within the Marines (Yeah, we had a lot of them) was "Fire without movement is a waste of ammo, movement without fire is suicide."  In PvP in EVE, whoever is able to move better on the battlefield will have a great advantage.  Whichever side is able to maneuver into the most advantagous positions will probably come out ahead.  It's one of the reasons the Rifter, and Minmatar in general, is so popular in PvP, because it can move better than most other ships in its class.

Quality not Quantity: One of the reasons I ended up in EVE Piracy is the same reason I ended up in the Marines.  When I decided to join the military, I knew I wanted to do something that only the military could do.  If I had wanted to be a cook/clerk/mechanic/etc I could have just gotten a job doing that.  I ended up going into the infantry, because I knew of very few places I'd get to shoot big guns and blow stuff up in the real world.  If you're playing EVE to Mine, or trade, or run missions, or whatever other PvE related activity you're doing, I can't understand your logic.  Why not just play a single-player game and open up an IRC channel to chat at the same time?  Wouldn't it be pretty much the same?  I feel like people often accuse Pirates of rudely sticking the multi-player back into their game.  

Another decision I had to make then and now went like this.  When you compare the U.S. Marines and U.S. Army, you'll notice a few things.  The Marines are 1/4 the size of the Army.  Marine Boot Camp is 50% longer than Army Basic Training.  (On a side note, never call what the Marines go through Basic Training...there's nothing basic about it.)  The Marines also generally do what they do on a shoe string budget, and they do it well.  When it came time for me to decide who I was going to serve with and fight beside, I wanted the small well trained group over the larger less trained one.  It only took me a very short experience with a Nullsec Alliance to figure out the same thing applied in EVE.  I'd much rather be a poor Pirate engaging in PvP where my actions mattered, than in a large fleet having trouble locking my target before the Alpha tore it to shreds.  

It's Just a Game: Probably the most universal lesson to have brought to the game with me.  I can't help but feel bad when someone emo rages over a ship loss.  Not because I blew up their ship, but because I wonder how that ship could have been so important to them.  Try to gain a little perspective on the situation, and understand that it's only a game.  It always puts things in perspective for me when I compare being ganked by a gate-camp to being ambushed in a war zone.  Hard to get upset over a ship exploding when you've been inside a vehicle hit by a roadside bomb.  Hard to cry about losing your pod when you've watched friends bleed out while there was nothing you could do.  It's just a game.




  1. "If you're playing EVE to Mine, or trade, or run missions, or whatever other PvE related activity you're doing, I can't understand your logic. Why not just play a single-player game and open up an IRC channel to chat at the same time?"

    First off, I love your posts and this one in particular :)

    This particular quote tho, I think I can shed some light on for you.

    I think the first thing to remember about eve, is everyone in it at some level is playing eve because the idea of playing internet space ships appeals to them. If they weren't they would be playing one of the dozen+ fantasy sword slashing, arrow slinging MMORPGs out there.

    With that in mind, where else can you

    1) Trade in a virtual economy with thousands of other people with a true consumer base (i.e. not simulated who buys what)... and do it in internet space ships?

    2) Where else can you engage in PvE content (missioning, plexing, etc) in a co-operative environment with other people who... like flying internet space ships?

    3) I don't know why people would choose mining as a primary job... I can understand why people do it (most MMORPGs include some form of grinding for cash, etc)... but I don't understand why people do it as an exclusive thing. But chances are it is because whatever impulse they have to do this, they want to do it with other people like them and want to do it in internet space ships.

    One thing I find a lot of people saying is "Eve is a PVP game" While I am currently engaged in a PVP only corporation, I disagree with that statement. I would say instead EVE is a sandbox game. You can PVP, PVE, mine, trade, etc.

    Chances are you can't avoid running into any of these just like you can't avoid PVP. But if you PVP, you can't avoid participating in trade, after all you are buying your ships. You generally can't avoid people who are PVEing after all they are some of your targets and where a lot of your modules come from (all meta1-4 modules, and quite a few high end (officer and plex modules) come exclusively from PvE content), you can't avoid mining after all where did the stuff to make your ships come from...

    You don't have to seek out participation in any of these just like PvEers tend to not seek out PvP content, but you can't avoid participating in them directly or indirectly (at the very least as a consumer).

    EVE isn't just a PvP game, it is a PVP, PVE, mining, trading, RPG, non-RPG, flying internet space ships simulator... and that is what makes it great, one week I can feel like blowing shit up with my friends, the next if I am feeling a tad anti-social I can head into hisec and run a few missions.

  2. As aelana said: Eve's draw is that it is a single sandbox universe. Even if all you ever did was mining, it would still _matter_ because somebody somewhere will be using your minerals to build stuff. And if you look closer at people who trade or run reactions, you will see lots of PvP, just not the web-scram-shoot kind.

    But I'd like to give somewhat of a counter point to your last point. Yes, Eve is just a game; but when you say "Try to gain a little perspective", aren't you forgetting that your perspective is skewed because you have been in a war zone, whereas the average person hasn't? Also, by saying it, aren't you also implying that your perspective is The Only Right One?

    It is in human nature to develop attachment to inanimate objects, especially of the time invested in them and with them. Like people naming their car, or keeping childhood toys around. Same in Eve: a carebear who doesn't have many ships, much less loses them very often, will react emotionally when being popped. In fact, it's the healthy thing to do: raging and logging off for the evening takes the bite out of the event. The real question is what the people do once the initial shock has worn off: decide that Eve is nothing for them and play something else? reminding themselves that Eve is a competitive game and get back in the midst of it? Or continue whinging endlessly how they got popped while spinning their ships in station? I think we can agree that it's the last group who really has lost perspective.

    tl;dr: Even though Eve is 'just' a game, it is still a 'game' - with all the suspension of reality and social behavior that implies.

    Keep posting!

  3. Oh noez, people took something I said seriously! Maybe my "I can't understand" statement would have been more logically stated as, "While I can understand your motivations for doing so, I cannot personally share those motivations due to my own life experiences." However, that phrase doesn't sound nearly as cool.

    As to EVE being a sandbox not PvP game, it's important to understand where the sand's coming from. As much as some would like to think that their PvE (mining, ship building, etc) activities are what allows PvPers to be out there shooting ships, I'm more inclined to believe it works the other way around. Without the PvP "sink" destroying isk generated by the PvE "faucets" in the game, inflation would be completely out of hand and PvE activities would become worthless.

    As far as my opinion being The Only Right One, I think you may have missed the importance I was putting on the statement "We all take advantage of the sandbox in different ways, and the reason that one of those ways appeals more than another isn't because of some inherent cost/benefit analysis within the game, but because of the person sitting in front of the computer. I'd love to hear some of your own examples in the comments section below." I'm far less interested in hearing whether my opinions on this topic are right or wrong. Because they're not, they're opinions. What I would be more interested in hearing is "why" you hold your opinions. Do you enjoy mining because of the calm it brings over your otherwise hectic life? Do you enjoy building ships because of the sense of creating something lasting in an otherwise fleeting existence? Do you enjoy running missions with friends because of the shared sense of accomplishment that you don't get as a cut-throat salesman working for commission at your job? Are you a Pirate in EVE because you were bullied as a kid and now enjoy bullying others from the safety of an internet spaceship?

    Like I said in the initial post, we're all doing what we're doing in EVE because of something. The reason I'm doing what I'm doing is available in the post above. What causes you to do what you do?

  4. Per your request:

    I <3 trading and production. I was a complete miner carebear and I'm proud of my lineage in this game. (I now fly bombers, AF-heavy-tackle, EWAR, and Logi. You know, all those unglamorous hulls that let the pewpewers do their jobs better.)

    I got into this game for the trading and production, though. (Same reason I went into EQ, WoW, and SW:G. I don't play those games anymore. I do still play EVE.)

    You asked why though (what motivates me to seek out trading and the like when I could be playing a single player game for that).

    Several reasons jump out:

    Hands down this is the first crafting system in ANY game ever made that has genuinely held my attention. It's rich, it's textured, it's sophisticated. No matter how advanced, software that fits on a desktop machine and sells for $50 will never provide the challenge that EVE does for less than half that price. (Free if you're good at it.) And yes I know EVE is monthly. The way I go through single player games, so are they. :P


    EVE takes Capitalism II, Lemonade Stand, A-Train, Sim City, and Wing Commander: Privateer and packs them into a single game. What's more, I get a chatroom and all the benefits of playing with my friends to boot. EVE is again, simply a superior product.

    But the most important I saved for last:


    To call mining 'PvE' is to miss the point. The roids aren't being piloted, I get it. But the roids you select, the belts you lurk in, the way you exploit the resources, where you sell them - all of these are dictated by the actions of thousands of other players.

    Indeed, #3 is the reason #1 is there. You can't write a market simulation game as complex as EVE because EVE isn't a market simulation game. It's a market. You wisely pointed out that "PvP" actions create an ISK sink and it's the flow into that sink that merchants make their PLEXes on. But all of that PLEX-earning is PvP action as well. Anyone whose ever been in a pricewar in a station will confirm that another human being is on the other end of that fight.

    You are right that EVE offers things you can't get anywhere else.

    As for the /actual/ PvE (mission grinding and ratting) well... I gotta do SOMETHING while waiting for the next round of ammo to finish production. And there's some decent lootz out there...