03 July 2007

EVE Online

I've been trying out a new MMO the last week or so. It's called EVE Online, and it's a spaceship MMORPG. The game's homepage is located here. So far I'm not sure how I feel about the game.
One unique thing about the game is that there is only one server. Everyone plays in the same world, rather than the multiple server system that most MMOs seem to have, where each server holds only a certain number of people before it's full. So everyone who plays EVE Online is playing together in one universe.
Another interesting feature of the game is that your ship never logs off. Even when you close the game, your ship remains in space and can be killed unless you log off while in a space station.
Every area of the game is a potential PvP zone, but in areas with a certain security rating attacking another player will cause you to be wanted by the police. I'm not sure exactly how the PvP system works, because you apparently need an extremely nice ship and some high skill levels to venture into the real PvP areas. It is entirely possible to play the entire game without fighting other players, as you can fight computer-controlled criminals and mine asteroids. There is a whole set of skills and ships that deal with the business side of the game. I'm assuming that to get the really rare minerals you have to venture out into less secure areas of space, but that is far away.
There doesn't seem to be a real "level" system like you see in standard RPGs. Instead, there is a skill point system. Basically, each piece of equipment requires that you have certain skills to use it. You can train the skills that you already have for free, but to learn an entirely new skill you have to buy the book for it and train it from the book. All skill training is free once you've got the book, but it takes a certain amount of time to train each rank of a skill. Most skills have five levels, and the time it takes to level each one increases by quite a bit. To get level one may take an hour, level two may take 5 hours, level three could take 15 hours, level four might be a day, and level five might take seven days or more. It's pretty confusing, but once you get the hang of it you can plan out the skills you need based on the equipment you want to have.
The PvE missions are not that great. They seem to be a way to make some good money and get involved in the world, but in general they seem hard to follow and not very rewarding.
The game is quite engaging, but the learning curve is extremely high and the interface is counter-intuituve enough to make you throw your mouse across the room. It's very difficult to find out how to do anything in the game, and most information that could prove helpful is buried on the website, on a fansite, or has to be trial-and-errored until you get it right. I'm not sure if it's because the game was developed in Iceland and there is a cultural thought-process barrier there or if that difficulty was built in on purpose, but it's definitely not for the faint of heart. It's almost like tackling one of the old Avalon Hill boardgames.
I may have to put the computer away for a bit, as my poor Warhammer showing today needs to be avenged. I also have been itching a little to get back into the swing of painting minis, so we'll see if I actually pick up the brush and get some stuff finished. I saw some painted Artizan Old West figures at the game store today. They looked pretty good, and I may have to pick some of the packs up next time I'm in the shop.

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