Posted by Corelin
EvE Online might be the hardest game to explain to your friends and family. There doesn’t seem to be a good, simple explanation for EvE that will make people want to play the game. Someone could ask you “What is EvE Online anyway?” and even the most veteran, hardened players will struggle to explain it. I am going to go into how I determine my definitions, so if you came here looking for a simpler definition of the game, look below, you’ll see the TL;DR.
Things I’ve Noticed About EvE
First I’m going to look at a couple of things that define EvE to me. Starting with the two names I have for the game, Everyone vs. Everyone, a play on the term EvE; and Killers Thieves and Lawyers Online, a play on Tom Waits “God’s Away on Business.” EvE runs on conflict. Ships are constantly being destroyed, market entrepreneurs cut each others throat for .01 isk. Nearly all of the high-end content requires competition from players, with winners and losers.
Making Money in EvE requires an assumption of risk, with the higher end content requiring more substantial risks. Mining pays poorly and can be done in near absolute safety. Making it pay better requires more risk. Shooting Crosses (fighting NPCs) makes you more money, proportional to the amount of risk you undertake.
There is no traditional “Endgame” for EvE. With no level cap all content is notionally accessible (if not usable) to all characters. Character skill and Player skill also relate differently than in other MMOs. In a lot of theme parks the “ideal” builds and performance strategies are usually mapped out, laid out and video-recorded for players, so that anyone can learn the fundamentals and perform at a fairly reasonable level without putting in much effort other than that required to hit the level cap.
EvE doesn’t work like that. To get to do certain tasks you have to take the time to train your character which could take a few hours, or a few weeks. EvE requires patience. It also requires you to take the time to learn to do whatever it is you want to do for yourself. Some of the tasks/roles look pretty simple. Take logistics (healing) where you fly a specific ship type in a fleet and heal people calling for repairs. None of the “mechanical” requirements for doing it seem very high. Doing it in a fleet with people talking on comms, broadcasts streaming and keeping some awareness not only of what you are supposed to do as far as orders from the FC can be overwhelmingly stressful at times.
EvE rewards patience, research, and planning. They don’t call the game “spreadsheets in space” for no reason. Players who take the time to carefully analyze, prepare themselves, and wait until they are fully ready for whatever endeavor they are about to undertake while nearly always mop the floor with those who mail in the effort beforehand.
EvE requires contact with other players. If you want to play solo X3 is a fantastic game on Steam. Nearly everything you do in EvE is influenced to some extent by other players. Nearly all the risk in any activity is a result of the activities of other players. Most activities in low, nullsec, and higher-end wormholes require friends to complete.
EvE requires a mindset where losing things is inevitable. There is no “perfect” ship design, and certainly no design that is immune to the depredations of your fellow players. I quickly adopted the mindset that I lost my ship the minute I hit the undock button. It saves a lot of frustration and heartache. Poetic Stanziel recently said that nearly everything in EvE falls under the heading of a “consumable” because it will nearly inevitably be lost. I tend to agree.
So where does that leave us?
EvE is chaos, you can gain or lose fortunes based on your ability to emphasize your strengths and compensate for your weaknesses. EvE is a game where you can always determine a solution to your problem, however you may not like it. EvE is not a game where you can look up and “re-spec” to the perfect solution. EvE is a game that rewards players for what they do, and how well they do it, and punishes stupidity. EvE will give you the chance to experience awesome content with not 10 or 25 players, but with hundreds, each contributing in some fashion.
EvE is what you make of it. It isn’t easy; but that’s what makes your achievements feel real.