Eve online and the end of my MMO experiment

21May12

“That cruiser looks awesome!”

Gallente Cruiser as featured in Eve online

An innocent enough comment. The sort of comment that of a late Thursday games night in the bleak mid winter might sail past you. Innocent, like I said …

Except it was not and could never be as innocent as a “comment”. That cruiser _was_ awesome and what’s more the banner ad it nestled in told me that not only was it brimming with potential adventure but it could be mine,  for free! Well for 14 days at least, after which it’d cost about a tenner a month, but basically free.

With one space ship and the promise of play experiences with real people, Eve had it’s hooks buried deep. I think the fact that I’m involved in the Ubuntu project and I’m the kind of person who really does add his laptop(s) to the Linux Laptop wiki so other people know how well they work tells you that I like to tinker and that I tinker well with others.

Eve appeared to me to be a world, nay, UNIVERSE, of like minded individuals. Ever want to be Han Solo? Well boom! here you can be! And so, with that, I embarked on a 3 month subscription with two friends. Immediately we launched into different activities. I enjoyed mining. It was a soothing experience and I could run it in the background while I was doing other things. I enjoyed the sense that my avatar was developing skills and knowledge while I was doing things in the real world. A clever trick on the part of CCP, the games’ creators, as it made me feel like I was getting value for money even when I wasn’t signed in and removed some of that anxiety that I would get from games like World of Warcraft or DC Universe Online. This, I thought, was what would make Eve stick. I could dip in and out and be a part of these limitless possibilities of pirates and enticing wormholes which I would enter leading goodness knows where. I would learn that they would result in encounters I barely escaped alive. There were adventures. Stories told to friends the next day. Things happened.

But it wasn’t enough.

I now realise that the reason the Eve experiment and previous journeys into the world of MMOs ended prematurely for me is the scale. It took something as extreme as Eve to really bring it home to me. I love games because there’s a sense of completion. A satisfying beginning, middle and end which can be reached. I can say I did it and that’s good enough for me. With Eve I’m a citizen and as in real life while I went in fully anticipating I’d be the next Han Solo I’m not because, just like in real life, when presented with the rich variety on offer I want a bit of everything. I’m not obsessive in real life so why would I be here? I’ll do a bit of this and that and become proficient but it’ll take time and in that time the universe expands in both the real and fictional worlds and the real world fills with other new and interesting game experiences that will ultimately beat Eve out because the reward even for an adventure game of say 40 hours is so much more attainable. The guys over at Giant Bomb talked about the play loop in Diablo III being so tight and refined that resistance of its charms is futile. Eve is so vast and varied I’m not going to get that same refined experience, the developers can’t dircet me in the same way. I can’t help myself when presented with something so ready made as a traditional game. I have shit to do! There’s a complex and satisfying recipe to follow out there in Eve but right here there’s a stack of ready meal big studio and indie releases crying out to be consumed quickly, filling a gap and letting me get on with my day. And they’re not all Kraft dinners. Some are made by Marks & Spencer, high end stuff. They’re so good it’s almost like someone made you a really nice dinner for one.

What I’m saying is, you could live on these and you’d be happy.

And so it is that I have a self imposed MMO free diet. I am so overwhelmed by their potential and by the brilliant events that take place in them, like the recent Jita riots. They are delivering exactly what we all said we wanted gaming to have in the future. Consequences, varied gameplay, choice and freedome. But I’m too used to being the hero and not the passenger when I play. That universe ‘aint just big enough for the both of us, I’d wager it’s big enough for _all_ of us and that’s a touch too big for me.



One Response to “Eve online and the end of my MMO experiment”

  1. Now if we can just get a nice shader mod for Torchlight 2 to darken the colors a bit and make it less cartoonish I think we will have a winner verdict over Diablo 3. I think its too early to write tl2 off just going by the beta.


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