Hi folks, lately I’ve been trying to get ready for what will probably be a very anti-social winter. With one thing and another (plague, writing books, the Scottish winter) I am probably not going to be able to get out a lot. So I decided to get stuck into one of the big MMPORGs.
My first attempt was with EVE Online, partly because I realised that I have always been somewhat biased in my game playing towards Fantasy games and I wanted to change that up a bit. Also there is a free version and I am cheap. But I was really looking forward to it, I had heard loads about how it was a really intricate game and how you can do pretty much anything in this world they have made. I had also heard that it was tough for new players.
And, uh, yeah, that is all true. I started with a bit of a boost because I looked up the players’ guides before I got stuck in, one of the things they pointed out was that there are threads on the various forums where people post their friend links which get you both bonuses if you use them. That seemed like a good idea, so I got one of them and my little character stepped into the universe with enough skill points to equal about 20 days worth of 24 hour studying (the game has a skill mechanic that lets you plan out what skills your character is going to be learning for up to 24 hours in advance, it is very handy). So I thought this would take care pretty much anything I needed to learn straight away. And that might be true, but oh my god, there are more than 160 skills that you can learn from the beginning.
Cue me freezing in complete confusion and terror at the idea of picking the wrong thing. And so, I went back to the wiki. There were more guides about which things you should absolutely pick to start off with. That was very helpful, and it leads me to one of the real high lights of EVE Online that I found. The fandom is incredibly generous with their time and there are guides and threads on the various forums for just about everything. Unfortunately, that is at least partly because the actual game is a confusing labyrinth. There are some tutorials at the beginning, but these concentrate on explaining how to use the weaponry systems in a fight. Which it definitely needs, you need to go through a process of clicking on about a half dozen things to actually shoot an enemy ship.
I don’t know what game imprinted on me the idea that the way I fight enemies is by double clicking on them, but present me is finding it very difficult to unlearn that.
I was also sent an in game message by someone who is apparently part of the in-game welcome party for new players. They offered me help and gave me a bunch of starting equipment. I am 99% certain that they were a real person. And I was really impressed by this.
I wasn’t super impressed by the character creation options. Not on the options for making the actual face of your character and choosing their clothes and so on. That was all fine. But none of the choices I made about the back ground felt like they made any difference at all. You choose a faction, as far as I can tell that basically just changes the colours and looks of your ships. And then you choose a lineage in that faction, which also just seems to change the aesthetics of your character. The only thing that seems to change anything at all is the University/College your character is supposed to have gone to, but that only seems to give a bump to a few of the early skills.
I love narrative games and world building with massive depth. I don’t doubt that it exists in EVE Online. But I felt completely disconnected from it. And I think that the moment when that sunk in is the moment that I gave up on the game.
So I have come to an awkward ending with EVE. The people in the game seem really nice, which is honestly a surprise for someone who has spent any time online at all. And I am really impressed by how much they want to include new players and help you get started. But the game is too much for me. Which sucks, but the amount you have to learn to get anywhere in this game is a real problem. I don’t mind a hands off approach to teaching, but this is a bit more than that. More along the lines of shoving someone out an airlock with a screwdriver and a roll of kitchen foil and telling them to figure it out. Without actually giving them any idea of what it is they are supposed to be figuring out either? Are they supposed to make a space suit? A capsule able to withstand re-entrance into an atmosphere? Goodness only knows.
I still have my account so I might end up playing again, but at the moment I am not invested in the game or my character which makes it fairly unlikely.
I was feeling pretty low about this, so I turned to World of Warcraft instead.
Now, there were a lot of reasons that this was my second choice. As well as the fact that to access the full game you have to sign up to a subscription, there is the terrifying amount you have to download before you get stuck in. The full amount that was apparently needed was more than 60 gigs. I’m not sure I know anyone who wouldn’t wince at that. Luckily there were different sections to it, one which was the minimum required for playing. That seemed to take forever to reach, so I’m not sure what I would have done if I needed to download all of it.
It’s still not fully downloaded. I’m not sure if it ever will be. Maybe I’ll go through my life always being at about two thirds of the loading bar. There’s supposed to be a bunch of updates coming next month, so it is entirely possible that I will never see it end. Maybe that’s the real quest, waiting to see if the download ever ends?
But I got it far enough along that I was able to play and so I started it up. My first character is a rogue, this isn’t much of a surprise, I like playing rogues, the ability to pick locks is very handy. She is also a Goblin and a member of the Horde. That might be a bit of a surprise to people. But one of the LARPs I was hoping to get to play this year features Goblins as a player race and I was really looking forward to playing that character, so I have attempted to translate her into WoW’s style. And to be honest I find the Horde a lot more eye catching than the Alliance in WoW, there is a lot more variation in the character builds and the back stories seem more interesting. I mean, my second choice was going to be an undead warrior newly broken free from mental control from an evil god.
But my little Goblin Rogue has had quite the exciting start in life. She has so far escaped two volcanic eruptions on separate islands and has reached the end of the 20 levels for free sample that WoW gives new players in the midst of a fight against mech-suit wearing football players.
And from this you can already see that a lot of the things I had issues with in EVE Online are working out better in World of Warcraft. There is a plot that is pushing me through an introduction to the mechanics and main plot of the extended game. I am learning to care about the characters in the game and to really dislike some other ones. And it is working to tie me into the story. I feel connected to my character and the plot in a way that just wasn’t true in EVE.
So I am going to give WoW a go for a while, it does mean that my bias towards fantasy games is only getting stronger. But I tried to branch out, I think that’s the important bit? Probably? If you have any recommendations for what I should get up to in World of Warcraft, leave a comment. And if you have some advice on what to do with EVE to make it grab me,please also leave a comment. I am reluctant to give up on it, yet I have no interest in doing anything with it.
Eve is a tricky mistress, she lures you in with promises of unending depth and the freedom to be creative, but she will work you to near-death to actually see any of it.
When I started EVE it was even more difficult to get into, the tutorial we have now is bad, but back in those days it was a case of getting told how to move the ship around, then getting a slap on the arse and being told to get out there and “do something”. This lack of information was appealing to some though, it made the game a mystery just waiting to be unravelled, and all you had to do to unlock it was research the game, out of game, or make friends who would help unravel it for you.
It certainly isn’t for everyone, but let me tell you, there IS a reason why people have been playing EVE for over 15 years. The satisfaction you get from learning how to do something, pulling it off successfully, and then getting good at it, is very addictive. The fear you can experience from becoming the wrong person’s target, or making a mistake that could cost you months, or even years of time-invested is completely unrivalled in all of gaming.
EVE is a game where the players themselves are the number one resource, they create the narrative, they provide the gameplay, and without them, EVE is just a static simulation of a galaxy. In EVE, you have to be social if you want any kind of true experience with the game. This is where most newer players today have trouble when it comes to EVE, they expect the game itself to tell the story, without realising that they themselves are the story!
I hope at least some of that made sense. Have yourself a good evening!
You might be tempting me to try again,
I guess I needed someone to reframe the way I was thinking about it!