Barrier of entry.

31 01 2012

The Game

Things are expensive, complex, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and alone. EVE isn’t just a grind-fest. I mean, the grind is there, if you want it, and it’s even at times a bit necessary…but that’s not the game. There are NPC pirates and “quests” (missions) that grind up a little money and even faction, and sometimes you need those too, but that’s also not the game.

I came from a land where planning out a raid and taking on bosses was the game; a land where knowledge of healing coefficients and critical hit tables were the meta-game. In this new land, engaging other players for territory and money is the game, and literal spy-vs-spy leveraging inner-guild drama is the meta game.

Sometimes in a theme park MMO,  you want a special resource…to make a fancy piece of equipment or something. To get it, you need to down a raid boss – a known quantity, likely very well documented with videos and wiki pages – working alongside nine to twenty-four people that you (hopefully) get along with.

Sometimes in EVE,  you want a special resource…to make a fancy piece of equipment or something. To get it, you need to gather up dozens if not hundreds of friends, acquaintances, or at least allies bonded to you by regional or monetary ties, and you need to engage and potentially oust some other potentially as-organized and equipped group of friends, acquaintances, and allies who already control that resource you want. Their ships may be known quantities in a post mortem, but there – in the moment – even if you have hundreds of possible ship fittings memorized, you don’t really know how each player is going to handle his or her ship, or how the improvisational concert before you is about to play out. It’s a battle and a meaningful one…because the winner doesn’t walk away with enough points to buy the same set of armor that his buddy bought the week before (you know, to get ten more points of whatever)…the winner doesn’t walk away at all. He tries to set up shop before the “loser” rolls back in with reinforcements…or worse, before some third party that’s been lying in wait reveals that NOW while the winner is stretched thing and their resources are strained is the time to strike.

Maybe there’s even a fourth party waiting for that to play out.

EVE is Risk, Diplomacy, and Privateer all rolled into one. With thousands and thousands of players.

In WoW, if there’s a drama-splosion, the guild crumbles and people find other guilds to get back at the content they were farming.

In EVE, if there’s a drama-splosion, it could be that your corp or alliance falls apart. It also could be that the entire thing was orchestrated by players who profited a great deal from Random Angry Mage Who Knows Hes Better Than This Guild*, and the hundreds and hundreds of player-hours worth of ships, equipment, and territory didn’t just evaporate…but some of it fell into somebody else’s coffers. (*No, there are no mages in EVE, just go with me here.)

It’s the meta game.

And once you get past the complexity of the interface and the scope of the galaxy, that is the real barrier you confront. In EVE, you are the game.

The Rush

Poor poetry aside, it’s this very thing that I think makes an EVE player very different from a devout theme park player. In a theme park, you more or less know what to expect each night when you settle in to explore. Knock out a few quests, see some more story, chat with some friends. I’m not saying Club Penguin is bad…hell, it’s actually kind of cool. It is, for the most part, low stress.

I can see EVE as being very high stress. You know that high you get when you’re solo lane Tryndamere against another solo lane Tryndamere and you know the first one of you that slips up will feed the other one in a fast and terrible rock-and-roll snowball to Fed Trynda-RAGE (TM)? Those kinds of rushes come to you in EVE.

In LoL, if you fall to the rush, you lose the lane, possibly the match. Time “lost”, possibly an hour. Probably less. (We’re talking fed Tryn here.)

In EVE, if you fall to the rush, you lose your ship, possibly your clone. Time “lost” could be anywhere from a few days of farming and skilling up to literal months of resources as your clone’s implants and ship’s expensive riggings are obliterated by your assailant.

A smart Tryndamere is patient. He picks his fights carefully. He knows he’s bound to make a mistake and hopes that – when he does – it won’t be a costly one.

That’s EVE for you.

The Summary

I’m having a good time. It’s not “better than SW:TOR”; it is remarkably different. When I play TOR, I know what the evening entails. Predictability has it’s merits and they are well recognized by us all, if passively. You sit down to a TV show, you are entertained. You sit down to SW:TOR, you interact with it more than TV but you’re still entertained. I appreciate and enjoy both of these forms of entertainment.

EVE is almost entirely devoid of predictability, and that’s also very cool. It’s a form of entertainment that is more akin to free-form tabletop role playing. At a table with, like, 200,000 some odd players. Each with agendas.

This GM is literally insane in a way that may intimidate  you; that may for a barrier between you and your trying this game.

I think it’s worth punching through. So, I’m trying.

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