tl;dr – I dreamed of New Eden before I ever logged in. Nobody wanted to kill me, so I gave up, and haven’t played Eve since. Life is a process, not an event, so I logged back in, not to play Eve, but to learn how to play Eve.
Why I Don’t Play Eve
I dreamed of New Eden before I ever logged in.
I’d heard of Eve’s “spreadsheets in space” for a decade, and almost tried it out several times, but never thought of it when I was between games. I’ve made a “one game at a time” rule for myself to help (ok… not much) maintain a physical/virtual life balance, so that meant Eve never made the cut. My co-worker piqued my curiosity a few months after I’d logged out of WoW for the last time (again). He’s the epitome of a spreadsheets in space player, having amassed a fortune through station trading, and, while a competent capital pilot, it was the market PvP that really captured his attention. He described a harsh, but beautiful universe, in which decisions have consequences, and players drive the narrative. He described jumping from system to system, farther and farther away from the relative safety of High Security space to the depths of Null, where the warlords rule. He warned me about thieves who would steal jet-cans of ore I’d mined or loot all my wrecks, and of the opportunity to start building a bankroll by doing the same myself. He told me tales of huge fleets colliding in an epic orgy of destruction.
Before I ever logged in, I dreamed (eyes closed, REM dreamed, not just a lofty way of saying imagined) of flying through space, soaring by planets, and celebrating as I safely delivered my cargo to High Security space. I dreamed of death: flash of light, searing pain, nothing but space junk. I dreamed of revenge upon the death-dealers, of hunting them across the galaxy, and celebrating as they too became space junk.
Then I logged in.
I was not, at first, disappointed, although I was a bit taken aback by how friendly the denizens of Eve were. I went AFK for dinner shortly after logging in, and was shocked to see I’d missed a chat request from a GM. That’s not a thing in other games, and was a very positive first impression of CCP. The initial opportunities missions were not terrible, and did a good job of helping me figure out the UI, although they did drop me off without much of a clue how to continue. Thankfully, I’d done some reading, and knew I needed to find the tutorial agents (it is good that the opportunities system sends you to them now). The agent missions were pretty fun! I felt like I was figuring things out, not just “going through the tutorial” like I would in other games. I also discovered that I did NOT want to be a miner or a hauler, and that killing ‘rats in spaceships is no more interesting in Eve than killing rats with a wooden sword somewhere else. I wanted to be an explorer. Then I found Chance Ravinne’s videos, and decided I wanted to be an explorer who also blows things up!
The Sisters of Eve epic arc was a blast! I died, like most of us do, and it was totally unfair, and that was OK, because I came back and exacted revenge. Then I encountered the final missions, and died and died and died some more, and that was OK too, because Lyle Aylwin came by and offered a helping hand. He introduced me to fleet mechanics and warned of possible scams, and even gave me a few million ISK to replace the ships I’d lost.
I finished the SoE Arc 117.08.01, and headed straight out to LowSec in an Exploron (T1-fitted exploration Heron) gifted from Comedo Cautes for no reason at all. After barely dodging three gate camps thanks to Cloak/MWD, I decided to try Wormhole space instead. Fapfox and aladee aziiz ganked me, and gave me a free ride home on the pod express. First wormhole – um… scary. I tried NullSec instead. Three hours later, Zira Zira and company of Black Omega Security ganked and podded me on the way home from that first NS exploration trip. It wasn’t all bad, though; Zira Zira sent a donation in response to my thank you email for the lesson learned, and I got an introduction to the cancer that is Svipul. On 117.08.03, Vida Morte cemented the critical content-avoidance lesson for explorers: if you’re hauling your own stuff, use a Wormhole to get from NullSec to HighSec, and skip LowSec to HighSec connections entirely.
Over the following six months, I joined my work-mates in AetherTech Infinitum under J4LP, and spent the majority of my time training to fly ships I didn’t care about, listening to crude jokes on comms, scanning down escalations and failing to sell the bookmarks, and watching everyone in J4LP suddenly go “AFK” when a neutral or hostile ship entered our space. I did get to meet <TNT> at possibly the best-run gatecamp in the galaxy hosted for our enjoyment in M-OEE8 and learned about ships that don’t show on D-Scan from Cross the Rubicon and So Dalguji, who popped my first Astero. Mei Kawaii of DUST Expeditionary Team taught me that, to a Flycatcher, my Astero is a fly. She superbly executed the kill, predicting precisely which gate I’d take, and popping me on the outbound side before local even loaded. I never did figure out if she was lucky, or a tactical genius, but I did learn that bubbles aren’t just giant static blobs I can avoid with D-Scan and a little bit of patience.
The fail cascade in J4LP is where things started to fall apart for me too. Our corp headed to Angel space, then imploded as the directorate had an unexpected escalation in offline activities and “won Eve”. I found myself alone in space with a small group of RL family, unable to find content, and then entirely alone, as my failure to find or generate content left them bored and disaffected. I roamed in my Nemesis, and realized that solo torpedo delivery is a lot harder than Chance Ravinne makes it look. I roamed in my Astero, hoping for explorers, but only found a Stratios. I roamed in my Caracal, hoping to kill frigates, but found an alliance roam instead (but almost got my first solo kill). I grew adept at NullSec and low class Wormhole exploration, but at the end of the day, I came to New Eden for more than ISK and Skillqueue Online. I came for player interaction, and was no longer content to experience that only as the hunted, measuring my success in ISK and content avoidance.
In January 118, weary of only getting my pulse up when I avoided a gank, I undocked from Thera, determined to get blown up in the first fight where I had even the slightest possibility of getting a kill, and repeat the process until that slightest possibility turned into a reality. I scoured the map, looking for an exit to NullSec that wasn’t so fresh it was likely to be camped on the Thera side, or so old that it would be hell-bubbled on the NS side. I found one that opened to a region where I have some pings and where there’s enough sov activity to give me some hope I might find miners, haulers, and ratters ready to accept delivery of my torpedos.
I jumped out of Thera full of hope, and confident I’d be dead within the hour, but have my first kill within a day or two.
I was wrong.
I roamed for three to four hours every evening in January.
I roamed for a couple of hours a few nights a week in February.
I roamed and camped wormholes for an hour or so the first few weeks of March.
Eve was, as my son pointed out, just like real space: big and empty.
Nobody wanted to kill me, and all of NullSec that I visited seemed to dock up as soon as I showed up. I’d see the ships on D-Scan, watch them vanish, then loot the occasional wreck they left in a site. There were beautiful systems and the occasional person willing to chat (o7 Norek Crendraven), but for the most part it wasn’t scary – it was just lonely.
So I gave up, and haven’t played Eve since.
I suspected all along my experience with Eve was doomed to result with that logout timer in March.
I was trying to solo against the system, and roam solo the same way you do with a small gang.
Eve is not a solo game, it’s a social interaction environment focused around spaceships. Even knowing that, however, I couldn’t bring myself to join another NullSec alliance where I’d be forced to spend months trainig to fly doctrine ships and completely abandon my personal goals. I wouldn’t join Fleet Warfare – LowSec’s Fight Club is just not my thing right now. High Security PvE? Nope. Definitely not for me.
What I really hoped for is to join a group of like-minded persons doing primarily cloaky small gang and solo work in sub-capitals. Many of the wormhole groups meet that description (or have room for that within their meta), but I had approximately zero luck finding such a group with my low SP. Even Wingspan looks for a proven ability to deliver torpedos. Unfortunately, my desired gameplay was not compatible with my skills, and I don’t have the resources to inject myself into relevance.
So, what’s a newbro to do?
Nothing, for the remainder of March, April, May, and June.
Then came July, and CCP offered a 2-for-1 deal.
I have no idea why I took them up on it. I already knew I wasn’t interested in the PvE grind that was Shadow of the Serpent, but it was a good deal, and, really, when you get to the heart of the matter, I hate failure. And fail I had. Not because I failed to find content, but because I failed to recognize that Eve is not a game, it’s a sandbox, and I was sitting there with my butt in the sand, wondering where to get in line for rides.
Life is a process, not an event, so I logged back in, not to play Eve, but to learn how to play Eve.
My first mission: learn how to find content, and try to persuade the capsuleers I encounter to help me learn from my mistakes.
After that, who knows?