Friday, January 9, 2015

Gaming Review: A Look At Eve Online

By Bixyl Shuftan

Eve Online is not a new Multiplayer Online Game, but has been around since 2003, slightly older than Second Life and a year older than World of Warcraft. Unlike some other MMOs, it was able to stay somewhat in the gamming public eye as unlike most it's a science-fiction space game. It has made news time to time due to the money and time some players are willing to invest in the larger ships, in addition when one of the US personel who died in an attack on a diplomatic building happened to be not just a player but one of the top men in one of the game's factions.

Eve Online has once been described as "Second Life's Evil Twin," and not without reason. Every ship beyond the newcomer vessels players use was made by other players. Unlike the more cooperative culture that predominates the virtual world in which people are not supposed to bother one another, what would be called "griefing" by SLers is often rewarded in Eve. Although some areas are protected by local security forces, some are places where anyone is fair game to anyone else's guns. And those whom venture in such places are subject to being blown apart and the surviving parts and cargo plundered. But it's not just for resources some commit such acts for. Aparently there's a concept that one called "yummy tears," players taking joy at the misery of others. For other gamers, they would just simply prefer fewer rules rather than worry about being banned for an activity they didn't know was wrong.

Players band together in groups, the largest ones being corporations. And often these corporations band together in temporary alliances. And when they fight, the result can be battles involving hundreds, even over a thousand players. No other game can boast this kind of Player Versus Player combat! Probably the most noteworthy battle took place a year ago on January 25, 2013, which saw the destruction of 90 Titan ships alone, a gargantuan vessel needing $7600 US Dollars worth of game currency to build.

Although the fleets of ships created by these corporations can be quite a force, nothing is certain. Espianoge and backstabbing is always a possibility, and corporations have been done in because a trusted member turned out to be a mole whom once in the right place at the right time was able to transfer all or a great deal of the financial and material assets to an enemy.

With this in mind, perhaps an older gamer like myself who knew no one in the game would have been wiser to look elsewhere. but When an opportunity came to give it a try for a month for a fraction of the usual price, I was willing to give it a chance. So I downloaded it and gave it a try. And if it was worth playing, maybe I'd keep on by paying the monthly fee ($15 to $12 a month, or 10 to 7.50 Pounds) depending on how much time you pay for).

The plot of the game is that far in the future, humanity came across a wormhole that led to another part of the Milky Way galaxy. Thousands settled on the other side in what came to be known as New Eden. Then the wormhole collapsed and society on the other side fell into a dark age and high technology forgotten. Thousands of years later, the humans on several of these worlds would discover space travel again, and eventually form five interstellar states, four of which are playable.

After creating an account, one chooses how one's avatar looks. This is currently a cosmetic feature that does not affect gameplay, as players interact only in messages and group chats, besides acting upon each others ships. After that, one is directed to fly one's pod to their first ship, where an AI will begin helping the new pilot learn basic techniques. After that, the player is contacted by five people from five different fields, business, combat, advanced combat, industry, and exploration. These people offer some begining missions with gear and sometimes ships, in addition to credits for rewards.

Although ships can be flown manually, most players usually just point and click, giving the ship commands and let the automatic pilot turn the ship. One can't be damaged just by bumping into another object, so no worries about scraping space stations, asteroids, or other ships. Maybe it was just the quirks of my system, but lag seemed to be less of a problem then on some other games, including Star trek Online. I was never disconnected. Although the scenery was limited to space scenes, the ones I saw were done very well, with good use of lighting to produce picturesque scenes of stars and nebulae.

One of the features in Eve is Skills, the knowledge your character has to perform certain actions and operate certain pieces of equipment, such as repairs and operating certain types of weapons. Without certain skills, you will not be able to operate the equipment they need, or the actions required by them. They are learned in real-life, and progress continues even when the player is not logged on. They are either bought from the market or awarded for completing a mission. But just because you get a skill book doesn't mean you can start learning it. Sometimes you need the prerequisite skill. to learn certain skills.

When trying out these first newcomer missions just after the AI training, I soon began running into trouble. First a cargo bay expansion I needed to do one mission couldn't be installed because I lacked to particular skill to install it. Frustrated, I went to another that required me to scout an area. But I couldn't complete the mission without finishing off a pirate, and I found my weapon was somehow useless! I had the idea of buying another on the market. But as it turned out, I lacked the required skill to use it. Being blocked from doing all of the second group of newcomer quests, well, my desire to play any longer was pretty much killed for the day.

I talked to a few others whom had played the game in the past, and was persuaded to give it another go. One had to tell me that it wasn't enough to just carry the ammunition, like one could carry probes when one had a probe launcher, but one had to click and drag it to over your weapon. I was also told not all of the skills I would be needed would be rewarded from quests, but would have to be bought from the Marketplace and then learned. Fortunately one can queue a number of skills to be learned later, up to fifty, so one can still be learning when not playing for a few days.

Since then, I've continued to make slow progress, running more missions for rewards. I've also made contact with one other player from Second Life, so it seems I won't be alone here after all. Another friend told me she had also given it a try, but also lost interest quickly due to it's steep learning curve. Another told me this wasn't a game that one could just play for fun for a month, but that it was one a player could spend months trying to figure out, "it's a lifetime game."

One told me even in the safe areas piracy can be a problem as there are some willing to make "suicide attacks" on ships in which the pilot seems to be Away From Keyboard, such as mining vessels in an asteroid belt, if they think the rewards from the debris to be recovered later outweigh the police forces quickly arriving on the scene and blowing them up. While there was a way to turn the tables, she requested that her technique not be published in case she goes back to pirate raiding.

I'll be continuing to play the game for the remainder of the free month at least. So my verdict on the game, it has a higher learning curve than other space games such as Star Trek Online, so it requires more patience to figure out. On the other hand, there seemed to be less of a problem with lag. While one doesn't have to be a "gaming god" whom enjoys blowing people up "for the luz" to play, one has to take precautions when going into zero security areas or risk getting blown up. If you're a casual gamer whom would rather spend just a little time learning the ropes and going in alone, you' may want to skip the wild world of Eve Online. But there are devoted players whom have spent years there, amassing wealth and power, so there is the possibility of gaining some powerful allies.If you already know people here, even better. So if you don't mind taking a little time to get the hang of the game, who doesn't mind the lack of rules, and you already have friends playing the game here, you may want to consider at least giving the free trial period a try.

Links: Wikipedia, , "Eve Online Beginners Guide (Youtube)"

Bixyl Shuftan

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