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EVE for normal people? Kinda.
March 1, 2010 12:27 PM   Subscribe

Jump On Contact is a blog about the mechanics and culture of the crazy unique space MMO EVE Online written for people who are curious about it but don't necessarily play.

Highlights: A visualization of the different ships in EVE with a little bit of information about each of them, and a post about why exactly EVE is fun.
posted by The Devil Tesla (64 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite

 
I was hoping for a little more politics, as the wars in EVE are endlessly fascinating. It's been said that the game is much more fun to hear about than to play.
posted by mek at 12:33 PM on March 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


That they allowed people to donate in-game currency to Haiti is really damn cool.
posted by graventy at 12:33 PM on March 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


So who gets the charitable deduction, and at what point will ISK be treated as foreign income by the IRS?
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:43 PM on March 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


The learning/time curve to get to the fun stuff was too steep for me, so I bailed after my trial account. Still, I do enjoy reading about the goon squad and all that.
posted by Mister_A at 12:43 PM on March 1, 2010


This is excellent! I love game design, I love MMOs, I love science fiction, I love online communities. I'd love EVE Online if I was immortal. But having a blog that outputs loads of essays about EVE is perfect for me.
posted by Rory Marinich at 12:44 PM on March 1, 2010


Cool. I've always found EVE fascinating. Things like the Guiding Hand story make me really want to play, but I don't have the time to play another MMOs. I'm happy to just enjoy it vicariously through blogs like this instead.
posted by threetoed at 12:46 PM on March 1, 2010


I've long since realised that if I were to get an EVE account, my life would basically be over. But reading about it is very interesting.
posted by Harald74 at 12:48 PM on March 1, 2010


I love EVE in theory. In practice, I can hardly be bothered to play any more. And that's despite the fact that my alliance (Ushra'Khan) is finally reclaiming some territory which we lost three years ago.

The game now has a tradition of us bitter old vets who login just to spin our ships in station while engaging in random chatting...
posted by Slothrup at 12:54 PM on March 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Things like the Guiding Hand story make me really want to play

Yeah, I've blown several people's minds with the Guiding Hand story. When framed in the correct way (elaborate virtual theft of virtual items that have quantifiable cash value) it can really kick off a lot a great heated discussions about the changing nature of reality with people who know little to nothing about MMOs. You suck them into a conversation they'd never have otherwise cause it just sounds so damn fun to pull off a caper like that.
posted by nathancaswell at 12:56 PM on March 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, as someone who dedicated way too much time to TradeWars 2002 when I was 13, I have made sure to avoid EVE like the plague.
posted by nathancaswell at 1:00 PM on March 1, 2010 [6 favorites]


Whoa, kind of shocked to see my blog on the front page of Mefi. Thanks so much for the mention!

I haven't done tons of politics writing because there are other people way better placed than I to have good insights into that side of things. Day to day life, even in 0.0 is not super wrapped up in politics. If you're interested in that kind of thing, The Mittani writes a super great column that hits that stuff more often than not. Since he's top dog in the alliance that is growing out of the ashes of GoonSwarm, he's got a great perspective on the macro politics in EVE.

I kind of see my role as providing a counter-point to that perspective, revealing what those high level political changes mean for pilots on the ground. What do people in EVE actually DO day to day? What does combat look like? There are lots of great videos of people blowing up titans, but the reality is the vast majority of combat is waiting for groups to form and something to happen. Still, there's a beauty to all that, which I talk about a bit in the In Between Moments post.
posted by heresiarch at 1:04 PM on March 1, 2010 [6 favorites]


One more vote for "love to read about it but will never play."

I've been playing Urban Dead forever, and one of the most fascinating things about it was the way that, when given a blank slate, players spontaneously evolved complex societies.

EVE seems like that, only an order of magnitude or three larger.
posted by lekvar at 1:05 PM on March 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Whoa, kind of shocked to see my blog on the front page of Mefi.

Everything awesome and FPP appropriate that Metafilter members do eventually makes it to the blue. That of course means that most of the stuff that I do is not awesome :(.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 1:18 PM on March 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm still waiting for an EVE-style game with Wing Commanderish battle controls.

Fighting in EVE combines the worst of turn-based combat (the boring, lifeless mechanics and endless time-suck) with the worst of real-time combat (if you mistime the one click that actually matters, you're dead... hope you don't lag!) A space combat MMO with actual space combat would be amazing -- like Privateer, only user-defined and thus near-endless in scope. EVE is amazing in that very same way, but it's also too damn boring for words, and that's a shame...
posted by vorfeed at 1:19 PM on March 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Since I mentioned Guiding Hand, it's probably worth linking to heresiarch's MeFi post from May 2006 on that topic, since I don't see it linked here already.
posted by threetoed at 1:21 PM on March 1, 2010


This is beautiful. I've thought of doing this myself.

Btw, if you want some completely mindblowing eve online material, read this goonswarm documentation on Grid-fu. (warning, PDF).

Basically, it's an examination of the physics that underlies Eve's reality on a mindblowingly detailed level.
posted by empath at 1:24 PM on March 1, 2010


Speaking of Goonswarm, it no longer exists, technically. The CEO went on vacation and forgot to pay the bills, they lost most of their territory, then when he got back, he stole the treasury and disbanded the alliance instead of just resigning.
posted by empath at 1:26 PM on March 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


I fully intend to start playing this game when I retire, if I mismanage my retirement fund and/or am physically disabled enough that I can't go out much.

and I mean this in the least snarky way possible
posted by davejay at 1:28 PM on March 1, 2010


Oh, my, this is exactly the sort of blog I've been looking for. Like everyone else has said: Love to read about EVE, don't see myself ever playing it. Just like Dwarf Fortress.
posted by barnacles at 1:32 PM on March 1, 2010


Making its depiction of Eve life even more accurate, Jump On Contact's server appears to have crashed.
posted by Spacelegoman at 1:34 PM on March 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I'm engaged in epic single combat with my server right now.

In penance, I offer you a cached version of the ship visualization, a comparison of the recent Haiti aid to the most expensive ship in eve, and some videos about life in EVE.
posted by heresiarch at 1:37 PM on March 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


heresiarch, how does the Haiti aid get turned into real money and/or goods?
posted by Mister_A at 1:38 PM on March 1, 2010


As for Goonswarm, their downfall was pretty fascinating. My favorite part of that debacle was a speech given to Goonswarm members. Something really tickles me about the idea that their leaders sat down and wrote a speech that tried to move their membership beyond past failures and plan for the future. I think a lot of EVE players are hesitant to embrace the idea that they're leaders of huge organizations and don't want to fall into the trappings of that kind of organizational work. But the truth is they are, and the best run organizations recognize that and do things like hold "State of the Goon" speeches.

There's some more on the the aftermath of Goonswarm's fall on the blog too, when it comes back alive.
posted by heresiarch at 1:41 PM on March 1, 2010


I played Eve for several years. Near the end I had maxed out stealth ships. It was loads of fun blockade running and sneaking by bubble camps. When that got old I joined the Racketeers and that was fun for a bit. Eventually new games came out and I quit. But all my stuff is still there and I could always jump back in. If only to go out in a blaze of stupidity.

Or I could sell my accounts for a couple hundred bucks.

Hmmmm...
posted by Splunge at 1:43 PM on March 1, 2010


The conversion process is pretty tricky and the subject of a longer article. The quick story is that CCP mediates the transaction. Players donate items to CCP that are worth about $15 a piece (and are actually bought by other players for USD - this is why it's complicated) and then CCP makes an equivalent donation in USD to the Red Cross.
posted by heresiarch at 1:43 PM on March 1, 2010


I can appreciate from the In Between Moments post why someone likes the game, but I can also see where I'd never, ever play it myself because I don't have that much time to devote to a game. Even though I'm not one of the quasi-ADHD-afflicted Yoof of Today, I still find myself surfing during loading screens in the MMORPGs that I do play. Three hours, doing nothing? Six? Yikes.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:43 PM on March 1, 2010


My brother played EVE for quite some time, but doesn't so much anymore. From everything I could tell, it was even more like a second job than other MMOs - the "action" seemed to consist entirely of, like, space-accounting. To each their own I guess.
posted by DecemberBoy at 1:46 PM on March 1, 2010


A space combat MMO with actual space combat would be amazing -- like Privateer, only user-defined and thus near-endless in scope.

I've been hoping for this game for years. Ever since my knowledge of Privateer intersected with my knowledge of the existence of MMOs.

Do you hear me game developers? I'm holding my credit card in my hand and waving it around so hard.
posted by generichuman at 1:47 PM on March 1, 2010


Jumpgate: Evolution is theoretically the game you're looking for, but it may be vaporware. In fact, looking into it, their website is not resolving and they have withdrawn the game from a PAX 2010 presentation. It had a July '09 release date that was obviously scrapped and no estimates have been made since.
posted by mek at 1:56 PM on March 1, 2010


Nice job on the blog, Heresiarch! I'm afraid I'm retired from Eve, but I enjoy continuing to read about it.
posted by Nelson at 1:58 PM on March 1, 2010


I remember Jumpgate. It was almost there, but somehow not quite. I can't recall what element was missing - possibly, the technology just wasn't quite there in 2001.

I wonder who owns the rights to all the old Origin Systems games?
posted by generichuman at 2:01 PM on March 1, 2010


I am trying desperately to quit EVE for good. I will not click this link.. I will not click it..
posted by dopamine at 2:01 PM on March 1, 2010


My brother played EVE for quite some time, but doesn't so much anymore. From everything I could tell, it was even more like a second job than other MMOs - the "action" seemed to consist entirely of, like, space-accounting. To each their own I guess.

That was my take. I played for about six months a few years ago, when I was freelancing and had more time on my hands. I had a small mining company with a bunch of contractors working for me, and customers with purchase contracts for ore. Eventually one day I realized, 'wait a minute. This is a job! I have a day job that pays me in play money!' And I shut it down and never looked back.
posted by Naberius at 2:06 PM on March 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'd like to see something like this using the Hipparchos and Tycho catalogs so we have real stars, real everything. That and actual combat. Would be so cool. Sort of like Celestia with shooting.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:24 PM on March 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Well, if your primary motivation in Eve is to generate ISK (in-game currency), naturally you'll experience it like a job. And some people enjoy this - becoming industrial tycoons or manipulating the markets or whatever.

If, on the other hand, you join a dashing band of pirates roaming low- and null-security space, just shooting and pillaging everything you find, your experience will be somewhat less job-like...
posted by Spacelegoman at 2:28 PM on March 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Reading the more recent Mittani articles makes it clear (well, clearer) that he views his column as an arm of his "spymaster" gig, which makes his observations somewhat suspect. I'm talking about "Self-immolation for fun and profit," where he tries to spin the colossal implosion of Goonswarm into a kind of triumph of the spirit.
posted by JHarris at 2:30 PM on March 1, 2010


I think it is entirely appropriate and fitting that Goonswarm died due to laziness followed by theft. What else would you expect from a corporation formed for the lulz by a bunch of SA forum goers for the express and stated purpose of jerking around with players who took the game seriously? I don't mean this in any vindictive or "ha ha" sort of way, it's simply proper and right that Goonswarm ended the way it did. Any other ending would have been a travesty.

That said, I must admit that when I found out that there is a Twilight themed corporation and it has declared war on the Reddit corporation for being mean to Twilight, well, I was damn tempted to join up and grief some fangbangers.
posted by sotonohito at 2:36 PM on March 1, 2010 [5 favorites]


Ninja salvagers represent!
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:37 PM on March 1, 2010


a Twilight themed corporation and it has declared war on the Reddit corporation for being mean to Twilight.

Oh 21st Century, I take back everything I mean I said about you.
posted by The Whelk at 2:38 PM on March 1, 2010 [14 favorites]


I don't think EVE is fun. I don't think it /can/ be fun.

I mean, I love future-shock sci-fi as much as the next guy, but when i read about gaming as describe by Stross in Halting State, and then look at the Something Awful griefers who populate places like EVE and Second Life I pretty much think the whole thing is a wash. A strong minority of the gaming population seems to exist solely for the purpose of ruining things for everyone else.

But I mostly play "get off my lawn you kids and your music sucks" so what do I know?
posted by clvrmnky at 2:39 PM on March 1, 2010


"Space Accounting". That's about the gist of it.
posted by flippant at 2:54 PM on March 1, 2010


when I found out that there is a Twilight themed corporation

I just died a little, inside.
posted by Slothrup at 3:00 PM on March 1, 2010


EA owns all of Origin's stuff that I am aware of.
posted by restless_nomad at 3:08 PM on March 1, 2010


Twilight themed corporation

Tampon suckers.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:37 PM on March 1, 2010


Yay! The site is back online!
posted by The Devil Tesla at 4:01 PM on March 1, 2010


I mean, I love future-shock sci-fi as much as the next guy, but when i read about gaming as describe by Stross in Halting State, and then look at the Something Awful griefers who populate places like EVE and Second Life I pretty much think the whole thing is a wash. A strong minority of the gaming population seems to exist solely for the purpose of ruining things for everyone else.

The thing about griefers in EVE Online is that many of them take it quite seriously. Unlike most MMORPGs, EVE Online implicitly encourages a lot of things akin to griefing, like scams and piracy and "ninja salvaging" (stealing parts from wrecked ships that you didn't destroy yourself). The result is a game universe that's extremely cutthroat, but a lot of fun if that's what you're into.
posted by infinitywaltz at 4:06 PM on March 1, 2010


PS, there's a FPS add-on to Eve coming to consoles soon for those of us that want to just casually play around in the eve universe. Basically eve corporations will hire players a mercernaries to fight wars on planets.
posted by empath at 4:08 PM on March 1, 2010


I mean, I love future-shock sci-fi as much as the next guy, but when i read about gaming as describe by Stross in Halting State, and then look at the Something Awful griefers who populate places like EVE and Second Life I pretty much think the whole thing is a wash. A strong minority of the gaming population seems to exist solely for the purpose of ruining things for everyone else.

I think most non-players have a skewed view of the nature of EVE. More than anything, I'm struck more by the goodness of players than by their masochism. On a day to day basis, I see a lot more people helping new players learn to fit in, help out their friends, protect their allies, and teach new players how to have a rewarding time in EVE. My corporation runs a frequent Bootcamp series in which older players teach newer players how to thrive in our part of the world. EVE is a surprisingly supportive and helpful place because corporations thrive when their members thrive. Yes, there's meta-gaming and espionage and theft, but it's not something that most players face day-to-day. The years-long stability of the major alliances and power-blocs are a testament to quality of these organizations and the people in them.

One of the long-term points I'm trying to make with my blog is that from a design perspective, you have to take the good with the bad. It's easy to build games with low stakes and a relatively limited space of experiences. WoW is a great example. End-game raiding guilds are quite similar and are all achieving in the same ways. The world of raiding changes when Blizzard releases a new instance. This guarantees a certain baseline level of experience, but clamps down on the possibilities. EVE takes another approach. The stakes are high. Dying sucks, but that gives the game meaning. Not only can I die and lose a bunch of money, but I can also be part of changing the face of the EVE galaxy in substantial ways. No other world offers that kind of scale and potential for change. There are consequences to this kind of freedom, but I think they're totally worth it.
posted by heresiarch at 4:20 PM on March 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Those looking for a more space-combat oriented MMO should probably look at Jumpgate Evolution. It was supposed to come out in June last year, but has been stuck in beta testing for almost an entire year. I haven't kept up with it, but when I was following it last year, initial reviews from beta testers were positive.
posted by thewittyname at 5:29 PM on March 1, 2010


If I just signed up for a 14 day trial, what would regulars recommend as the best thing to do with that time to see if the game is for me or not?
posted by rollbiz at 6:07 PM on March 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


The years-long stability of the major alliances and power-blocs are a testament to quality of these organizations and the people in them.

The key words: Years-long. You've built an online game that still has players after years? You've won.

There are two kinds of games that WIN. Some are complex. Some are simple. But they have *something* that makes you come back. Look at Euchre, for gods sake -- 5 freaking tricks in a hand. Yet, it endures.

Look at Squad Leader. Jesus christ, the rules. And yet, it endures.

EVE has that. I don't know what it is -- and it's certainly not for me. WoW has it. Civilization, jesus christ, does that have it.

But the one proof you need that EVE is a brilliant system? It's still played. Period.

There's more to M.U.L.E. than the groovy soundtrack. There's something about a brilliant game that just makes it sing. EVE has that.
posted by eriko at 7:06 PM on March 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


As much as people scoff about the positive swing of the (former) members of Goonswarm, their point of view has merits.

What happens to organized crime syndicates or pirate kings, who fought and fought, manage to survive, and made the big score? They go legit. They sit down, and knowing what one can do to their holdings, protect it like crazy, then protecting it becomes a job. They get lazy, and somebody betrays them, and they loose it all.

But out in the cold, and on their own, with fleets of people after them with scores to settle and vengeance on their minds, the excitement returns. THAT's what brought them together, that's what makes them dangerous, and that's why I stayed in the game after my corporation was destroyed, and joined SOLODRAKBANSOLO as soon as it was announced. To start again. To be free, a maniac with a spaceship, death only a jump gate away, and a pile of clones scattered across stations across the galaxy.

I was thinking about leaving EVE, it just wasn't as fun when we had what we thought we wanted (control of the Delve region.) Then this happened, and the fun began again.

Reminds me of the old Conan movie with the King's statement to Conan :

"There comes a time, thief. When the jewels cease to sparkle, the gold loses it luster, and the throne room becomes a prison."

posted by chambers at 7:35 PM on March 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


I've been playing EVE since 2007. I don't think I've undocked in six months. There was a half-hearted attempt to get a MeFi corp flying, but Hurf Durf Moon Eaters seems moribund. I log in just to keep skills queued.

*sigh*

40 million skill points and I still haven't figured out how to make my own fun.

*mines veldspar and cries quietly, all alone in high-sec*
posted by BitterOldPunk at 7:53 PM on March 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


*pours a 40 of Romulan Ale* And one for my Hurf Durf homies.
posted by The Whelk at 8:11 PM on March 1, 2010


If any HDME vets have Reddit accounts, please consider joining up with Dreddit. Yeah we went from nothing to almost 700 members in 20 days, but a few older characters would certainly help solidify the ranks.
posted by nathan_teske at 8:39 PM on March 1, 2010


OK, screw it. I've decided. I'm going to make another trial account, see if I like it, and subscribe if I do. Is there a required reading list for EVE? Like, the forum that is to EVE what Elitist Jerks is to WoW theorycrafting? I'm a nerd who likes to over-research.
posted by threetoed at 10:11 PM on March 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


There was a half-hearted attempt to get a MeFi corp flying, but Hurf Durf Moon Eaters seems moribund.


YES. MeFi needs its own little carve-out of feudal space territory.
posted by HabeasCorpus at 4:39 AM on March 2, 2010


OK, screw it. I've decided. I'm going to make another trial account, see if I like it, and subscribe if I do. Is there a required reading list for EVE? Like, the forum that is to EVE what Elitist Jerks is to WoW theorycrafting? I'm a nerd who likes to over-research.

Hey threetoed: back when I was trying to get a friend of mine to switch from WoW to EVE I wrote a series of pretty dense emails trying to encapsulate all the stuff you need to know up front in order to get your feet underneath you while experiencing the most fun parts of the early game and dodging much of the grind.

I would happily CC them to you if you like.
posted by 256 at 12:13 PM on March 2, 2010


I played for about 6 months too. Mostly 0.0 ratting because all I like is shooting things and making money. But our corp was small and alliance was crap and we had to pack up our POS constantly. I think after the 3rd move in one month, I logged out and never came back.

I'm tempted from time-to-time to fire it up again, but then I remember Excel makes for a lousy game.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 3:28 PM on March 2, 2010


OK, screw it. I've decided. I'm going to make another trial account, see if I like it, and subscribe if I do. Is there a required reading list for EVE? Like, the forum that is to EVE what Elitist Jerks is to WoW theorycrafting? I'm a nerd who likes to over-research.

Tentonhammer had a decent write-up of some of the more useful EVE sites the other week. (I'd also add BattleClinic to their list.)

(Take this with a grain of salt, I just bought my first 'Cane this week and am still very very young in EVE terms myself!)

(And if nobody else has said this yet, I might as well. Do all the tutorials!)
posted by Barmecide at 8:25 PM on March 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


256, that would be awesome, thanks. I MeFiMailed you my email address.
posted by threetoed at 12:17 AM on March 3, 2010


vorfeed, have you tried Vendetta? It's got joystick-driven "Descent"-style space combat set in a typical warp-gate-and-space-station trading/diplomacy universe.
posted by anthill at 7:06 AM on March 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Okay, a couple of people have expressed interest in the intro-to-EVE emails I mentioned, so I figured why not throw them onto the web for all to see.

http://eve-essays.blogspot.com/

I've put up the first two and will probably add one or two more per day (it takes a small but non-zero effort to clean them up for posting) until I run out. Hope someone gets something useful out of them.
posted by 256 at 10:25 AM on March 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


I appreciate the help very much, thank you. Looking forward to doing a ton of reading and giving EVE a fair shake this time around.
posted by threetoed at 1:00 PM on March 3, 2010


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