Playing with fire
May 12, 2015 4:22 AM   Subscribe

Eve Online: how a virtual world went to the edge of apocalypse and back The video game Eve Online is one of Iceland’s biggest exports and has become the world’s largest living work of science fiction. While rival games have come and gone, it has survived – thanks to a unique experiment in democracy
posted by fearfulsymmetry (16 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
I haven't played EVE in months and have actually been considering quitting it altogether, but every time that happens something comes along to pull me back towards it.

But the article's introduction of EVE Online as a "science fiction video game," at least for me, falls well short of the mark. And this bit, describing a new player's experience, struck me as improbable:
Dmytriievska’s new character was summarily cast out into space, in a Rookie ship – the lowliest and least powerful craft in the game, offered gratis to every newcomer. On screen, at the centre of the sweeping galaxy, Dmytriievska saw her craft, a nub of lights and metal, blinking expectantly in a perpetual night sky. Moments later, its hull erupted in flames, as an enemy ship taught her Eve’s most elemental rule: in space, everyone longs to hear you scream.
That last bit is true, but new players start in the highest security space, where PvP is most harshly discouraged. It would hardly be worth it to gank a newbie ship; the victim would just get a new one on docking, and it's unlikely to have anything worth looting. Maybe she wandered into low-secutiy (PvP) space by accident.

Also this:
Dmytriievska, who only spoke a little English at the time, tried in vain to find other Ukrainian or Russian players within the game who might be able to guide her through the basics.
From my experience, there are plenty of Russian players; many of them routinely raid the low-security constellation where my character sometimes operates.

The paragraph's consuding sentence, though, is spot on:
Eve is a cold, hostile environment.
posted by Gelatin at 4:52 AM on May 12, 2015 [3 favorites]

The timing seems wrong for this, since Dmytriievska probably joined too early to stumble into this event according to the article's chronology, but there is precedent for the starter systems becoming dangerous.
posted by chrominance at 4:59 AM on May 12, 2015

there is precedent for the starter systems becoming dangerous

Not to imply that starter systems are ever totally safe -- for example, a common trick is for players to jettison a canister labeled "free goodies" or something of the like. But if the canister isn't explicitly "abandoned" -- meaning it really is free for the taking -- an unsuspecting player might take the loot and then become flagged as a legitimate target due to theft. People pull that stunt all the time -- in fact, it's one of the ways of inviting players to duel, as the resulting combat is considered legitimate by the virtual authorities.

I do doubt a player in a rookie ship just minding their own business would get randomly ganked. The cost / benefit ratio for the attacker just doesn't make sense.
posted by Gelatin at 5:24 AM on May 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

I agree that it's unlikely, just meant more that sometimes random events do happen where starter ships could conceivably be collateral damage (or even targets, depending on the whims of the suicide ganker) even without leaving high-sec space. The other possibility is she tried to take an agent mission off the bat and an NPC blew her to smithereens. I don't remember when the tutorials got fleshed out enough to steer you straight into agent missions you can complete without much risk, but there was a time when even those didn't exist.
posted by chrominance at 5:46 AM on May 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

For many players who have been involved in Eve for years, the social game around the digital game is what provides the ongoing attraction. Merely improving one’s spaceship soon becomes tiresome. “People say it’s a game about spaceships … but not so much,” a senior member of one of the game’s larger, player-forged corporations said. “It’s about people.”

Yup. Miss you PINTO, hope your roams have been wild, your ventures profitable, and your explosions many.

I'm soooo looking forward to EVE Valkyrie, please be good, please be good, please be good, please work on my PS4.
posted by RolandOfEld at 6:29 AM on May 12, 2015

But the article's introduction of EVE Online as a "science fiction video game," at least for me, falls well short of the mark.

EVE is a science fiction video game in the sense that it generates lots of great stories that read like science fiction in at least two senses. They sound like science fiction from the in-game perspective and the meta-stories read like descriptions of an implausible futuristic video game from an early '90s Bruce Sterling novel.
posted by straight at 8:29 AM on May 12, 2015 [6 favorites]

Today, after years of updates and improvements, people who are new to Eve, as the game is known to its inhabitants, meet their digital avatar in the captain’s quarters of a spaceship, a gloomy room with a full-length mirror in which you can admire your newborn character.

And then their video card melts.

It's an interesting time in EVE, new changes to the Sovereignty system in Null-Sec (along with jump-bridge fatigue) is going to cause shrinkage in some of the larger empires, simply because it's no longer feasible for even the largest corporations to maintain huge swathes of sov.

There's also a new group of AI NPCs, the Drifters. Maybe they're Jovian, maybe they're Sleepers, but they have doomsday weapons on their battleships, they harvest space corpses, and they are not happy to see you, and they'll follow you in space if aggressed. CCP is a bit loose with the details but they seem to be working up to something involving player-made wormholes.
posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 9:45 AM on May 12, 2015

Hey Eve players, what's the consensus on Dust? Does it work? Is it a joke?
posted by Wretch729 at 10:22 AM on May 12, 2015

Wretch729: "Hey Eve players, what's the consensus on Dust? Does it work? Is it a joke?"

Not an EVE player, but from one of the forums I hang out at (which has Eve players I am sure you might have heard of), it seems to be working and at least somewhat enjoyable, if grief friendly.
posted by Samizdata at 10:46 AM on May 12, 2015

what's the consensus on Dust?

There isn't one. I've heard whispers of CCP not loving the licensing side of it and it can't compete with big-ticket FPS games but it's good for what it is.

Does it work?

Most assuredly yes. The interactions envisioned between EVE and Dust aren't as big a deal in the EVE universe, at least that I ever heard of, as hoped but I think even those *work* for the most part.

Is it a joke?

No. It's a good, if not great, game. I'm hoping to see a future where EVE battles include strafing runs by Valkyrie fighters and boarding parties manned by Dust warriors. I think I got that from a CCP fanfest slideshow of not too long ago.

Seriously, how fucking awesome would a battle of that scale and depth be?
posted by RolandOfEld at 2:00 PM on May 12, 2015

For me, the big thing this article misses is the bumbling incompetence of CCP. Right now, the big thing is their introduction of cosmetic microtransactions, selling spaceship paint jobs for $20 a pop. They originally wanted to price them at $50, but the CSM talked them down.

Reading the dev blogs, you get the impression that they think they are going to sell a lot of $20 "microtransactions", but everyone I know thinks that is pretty farfetched for a $15/mo subscription game.

I'm not sure if it's the language barrier, some Icelandic cultural difference, the isolated dev team, or what, but CCP is pretty disconnected from their subscribers. That's the thing most likely to kill EVE.
posted by ryanrs at 3:12 PM on May 12, 2015 [3 favorites]

There's also the issue of Riot Games poaching every CCP employee they can. Apparently a big salary increase plus living in Santa Monica instead of a volcanic rock in the north Atlantic is pretty compelling.
posted by ryanrs at 4:01 PM on May 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

i read the comments hoping someone would explain what EVE is, since i don't play computer games, but it seems i am the only person without a clue! Old!
posted by maiamaia at 9:32 AM on May 13, 2015

Maia, EVE is the best video game to read about, instead of actually to play yourself.

EVE is the best second job you'll ever have.

EVE is a spreadsheet simulation with spaceships and lazors.

EVE is actually a single world, mostly real-time MMO (multi player online game) with a few factions. Instead of normal MMOs which tend to limit player freedoms, EVE's developers are much more hands off, allowing politics, thievery, and betrayals as a matter of course. Oh, and giant spaceship battles.

Any questions? :D
posted by Jacen at 3:12 PM on May 13, 2015

Isn't it all just TW2002?
posted by nathancaswell at 10:09 PM on May 13, 2015

Maia, EVE is interesting because the overall story is developed by players doing things, not scripted by the game company. So there is a complicated, rich history going back for more than a decade. When people in the game talk about the recent goings-on, they are generally talking about stuff over the last six months, which is pretty long for a game.

Right now though most of the wars and politics have assumed a holding pattern because there are big, big changes to the game rules coming out this summer. All the big blocs are just waiting to see what happens when the new sovereignty system is released.
posted by ryanrs at 12:20 AM on May 14, 2015

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