No Endgame for Old Men
EvE doesn’t have the traditional “Endgame” many MMO players seek. There’s partisans for Wormholes, for Incursions, for Nullsec, for Lowsec, for highsec industry, for capital industry and probably for things I haven’t even heard of.
There simply isn’t one defining activity for EvE players to chase to the exclusion of all else. There’s no “Deathwing Raid” there’s no final gear set that is definitely the best for all things. At the end of the day even a player deep in null with 120 million SP might be in a supercarrier or might be in a Rifter. Yeah a full set of X-Type Hardeners and other mods might do for his SC, but he will certainly not be collecting them himself, nor will he need a limited number of sets. Supers die and of course some people use high-end mods for other things. I’d go out on a limb and say there is no frakking way he went out and found those mods himself though. He bought them, with isk he got for doing other things.
The market in EvE turns the focus of PvE from the gathering of specific items to fill gear slots to simply gathering liquid money to buy and equip ships. This results in a lack of not just a focus for endgame PvE but a lack of a “need” for any of the traditional endgame PvE mechanisms. CCP has used this freedom to develop several competing systems where players can feed their isk needs and done it quite successfully. On the “Shooting Red Crosses” side players can shoot sleepers, belt rats, mission rats, complex rats and incursion rats. On the “Shooting Rocks” side players can… shoot rocks. For hours. Have I mentioned I hate mining? On the manufacturing side players can build… Well… Everything in EvE. And they have to because it damn sure won’t come from anywhere else. Even more esoteric are the market games and economic manipulations that I know enough about to know I don’t know a damn thing about how they really work.
On the PvP side things come closer to a real progression from a notional standard. Notionally players progress from frigates upwards to wherever they feel like, even to supercaps. In addition they might well choose to progress from highsec down through systems of lower security status until they are deep in Wormholes or Nullsec. Certainly most players will encounter their first PvP in highsec or adjacent lowsec. Usually at their own expense. However there are some players that vault directly to wormholes or nullsec and get their first PvP in the deepest of the inky black. Meanwhile some of the scariest PvPers occupy lowsec or even intrude on the lives of highsec folks who think they are “safe.”
When I see CCP talking about “Endgame” I shake my head. The industry seems to demand that the term be used, but how do you define it in a game such as EvE and what appeal would it have if people were channeled into one aspect of the game at the expense of others. What makes EvE so different from the theme parks is the very lack of direction implicit in the traditional endgame system. EvE doesn’t draw a line from the Valley of Trials to Deathwing’s lair. EvE drops you in the middle of the known universe and leaves you the fuck alone. Attempts to classify and endgame will be at best awkward and at worst totally irrelevant comparisons to concepts that don’t exist in EvE.