Farmville in Space With Guns (2)

Posted by admin on February 2nd, 2011 filed in Games, Science Fiction

Apparently many EVE Online players were at a loss what to do in the years before I joined, so I already benefit from the “career agent” tutorials that were added to the game. These tutorials offer very easy missions and practically hold your hand while showing you what interactions the game offers. The agents also recommend you sets of skills and tasks that go together. Which is handy since you don’t permanently pick “one class” with “one skill tree” like in other games.

There are also “certificates” that have “requirements”. This is another in-character way to tell players which skills the developers thought should go together. For example, individual races have ships with different pros and cons, different numbers of slots, different balanced properties. If a player isn’t aware what his ship is best at, he might miss to learn a skill that gives him a huge advantage. This is why there are certificates for various races’ military and business personnel, that list specific skills as requirements, which gives you a nice subtle hint.

From my newbie point of view, typical things to do in EVE are: Exploration, Mining & looting, transportation & trading, production, and destruction. Since EVE is an economy, these tasks are directly connected to player skills.

  • * Certain skills prompt the game to introduce valuable resources into the economy. Players mine asteroids, salvage wrecks, or loot (NPC-owned) space stations. (Looting is how I personally sum up Archaeology+Hacking). You can even consider exploration as “mining for coordinates”, since it triggers the game to spawn new valuable sites.
  • * Next we have players who haul the loot to where it can be processed and traded. Not everyone can do that, you need one of the larger, often unarmed ships, and some pals to defend it.
  • * Other players buy goods to build more valuable spaceships and equipment: They drop a blueprint and various materials into a factory, click a button, and out come frigates, or missiles, or whatever. The better you train these skills, the fewer materials you waste, so you produce better goods more cheaply and make more profit.
  • * The last type of players buys these freshly produced frigates and missiles etc, and uses them to attack other players — the ones who loot, haul, or produce. In the process, half of the ships involved will be destroyed, which is, you guessed it, splendid for the economy.

The catch is: As a solo player, you basically must do at least 3 out of 4 four things by yourself. A newbie ship however is only capable of doing 2 of these things, and the second one rather badly.

To give you an example: As a miner, you’ll have to fend off robbers, and you also have to transport your loot back to the station. But one ship alone can either have mining tools + large cargo hold, or mining tools + weapons + shields + small cargo hold… As you see, the whole game is kind of laid out to be played in teams, just like those RPGs where you form guilds with members of different classes.

I tried to specialize in exploration and the Archaeology, Hacking, and Salvaging skills mentioned above. This means, I fly a probe ship which is very fast, but so weak it could not win a fight against a tribble. Its only purpose is to be 100% pimped to scan the heck out of a solar system.

For scanning, just like everything, EVE uses a great combination of intrinsic and extrinsic player skills. Of course I can train my character’s “astrometric pinpointing” skill way high… But when I launch scanner probes I have to arrange them in a way that you have to know. The scaning radii need to overlap, not too much, not too little, in order to pick up the most valuable hidden signatures. Also, the probes that you get for cheap just refuse to detect the most really valuable sites. Some valuable-looking site will dangle on your scanner with 99% percent accuracy, until you to buy the more expensive probes that pinpoint even the high-level stuff at 100%… But you only know that when you chat with other players, the game doesn’t tell you why your probes don’t work as well. So, somebody who merely trains his character’s skills would be lacking this information, and would perform worse than someone who coorperates.

Well, let’s say I detected a signature in a solar system. There are different types, e.g. wormholes, NPC pirate nests, NPC space stations, etc. I skip the workholes since I don’t have the skills to survive in a randomly chosen location — that’s a mini game for bored high-level players I guess. I rather stick with salvaging, which converts ship wrecks into loot. Once a week I find a site that is described as archaelogical or “Blah’s mainframe”, and then I know that I hit the jackpot. There will be containers (space stations or satelites etc) that can be opened with my archaeology and hacking tools, and I will get an especially valuable… thing. Hm, I have no idea what these objects are… Some high-level players have skills to build something from these looted materials, but I don’t, I just sell them.

Of course there are several catches… My probe ship can pinpoint these places, but it cannot loot them, let alone fight off the NPCs guarding the loot. So I have to bookmark the spot, fly back, and get my other ship, which is tough enough to stand a fight, but couldn’t pinpoint an archaelogical site on the UNESCO list. In the meanwhile, chances are that eleventeen other wanna-be explorers find the same site, and it is looted before I return… :-[ *sigh*

Because that was getting annoying, I signed up for a mission, hoping that mission sites would be individual (they aren’t. Other players go there too). I got this mission to loot something from a ruin, but the place was filled with 30 quite strong NPCs (cruisers etc) defending it. I had no chance to even get close to the target in a destroyer… I tried different shields and different ammo… no luck. At least I had made enough money looting that I could afford to buy the next better type of ship, a battlecruiser. So I meticulously prepared for that fight to solve the mission — But the accelerator gate said it wouldn’t let any battlecruisers enter, only frigates… What the heck? I couldn’t even team up with other destroyer pilots, that would have been certain death? Cut the long story short, I abandoned this mission. *shrug* After playing EVE for over a month, I have honed my skills, but again, I am as stumped as a newbie. :-/

I’m really ambivalent about EVE, it’s cool and… frustrating. Well, a more interesting “job” came up for me now, so I made sure that my subscription would run out (frozen until I pay again), so I can use my spare time for writing a book. Sorry, EVE Online, you failed at luring me in — but thanks for the inpiring space imagery. ;-)

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