To casual observers, mmorpg’s might seem very similar. You inhabit some sort of avatar, you generally fight your way through a virtual world, you gain skills and loot along the way, and you get to have all this fun in the company of friends (or at least while listening to crazy people in General chat channels while you solo your way along). Watching someone running through and playing in WoW’s Tanaris or DAOC’s Stygian desert or Everquest’s Oasis probably doesn’t seem all that different.
The more we play these games, though, the more they reveal their subtle differences. There’s a pace and a pulse in mmorpg’s, kind of like different cities have different rhythms. It takes a few hours of walking through your world, or virtual world, to adjust your pace to the flow of life and living around you. For example, Everquest’s early “One mob equals one bar of mana and then you sit for 3 minutes” style of play was far different from WoW’s decision to let you fight seemingly endless mobs in a row if you could pull them one at a time. Travel was also very different in Everquest’s early days, tense and fraught with danger, compared to the relative ease of Azeroth if you stuck to the roads.
Eve Online is coy. Vast reaches of empty space, no humanoid avatars around you, little direction or suggestion from NPC’s about possible paths for you to take…not much about the pace of space matches a human tempo. It’s up to the people playing to find their own rhythm, with few cues from your environment.
Fly around long enough, though, run enough missions, get in enough fights, mine enough rocks, visit enough systems and chat with other people, and Eve’s pulse emerges. It’s a subtle pulse, and quite deliberate, hours of planning to fit out a ship interspersed with minutes of frantic action.
Last night’s mission really underscored the research needed in Eve, the effort to conduct a successful operation. I’m new to flying level 3 missions, and new to my Minmatar battlecruiser, the Imperial-looking Hurricane. I looked over ship fittings online, but a lot of what’s suggested requires skills far beyond what I currently possess. I’m not able to fit or afford Tech 2 weapons or modules yet, at least not on the battlecruiser. So, I fitted it as best I could with looted modules from my hangar, kind of modifying the cruiser setup I used on my Rupture, and I ran a couple missions, making sure I was aligned for warp-out if my yard-sale fitting wasn’t working out very well.
A couple missions passed fairly uneventfully, until I was on the third part of Technological Secrets. Three warp-outs later, I knew I had reached the limits of my fitting. I also knew that level 3 missions were going to require me to pay more attention to the types of ships I was fighting.
I double-checked my notes on the ammo the Minmatar Navy was firing at me (I had it exactly backwards and had to switch my hardeners. Thank you, Google). I didn’t have a good armor plate in my loot pile when I first fitted the Hurricane, and I realized I really could lose one of the yard-sale modules and get a lot of help from 800mm, 2100 hp armor plating. The new modules meant a shopping trip, so I hopped a couple system picking up the hardeners and plating. While I was traveling, I thought about the ships that had been attacking me, and I realized most of the damage was being done by Ruptures, Minmatar cruisers, the same ship I flew on my level 2 missions. I loved the damage my Rupture could do. I realized they needed to die early, and I’d sic my drones on the annoying frigates that had been swarming me and distracting me on my earlier attemps.
All this took maybe 30 minutes, maybe an hour, thinking and shopping and fitting and getting back to the mission. This time, when I warped in, my armor tank held, the cruisers died first, the drones did a decent job on the frigates (helped by heavy missiles) and I completed the mission.
It reminded me of watching stories about NASA and early space flight on the History Channel. Years of planning, testing, thinking, researching…and they got one shot at success up in space. Obviously, the stakes are much higher there, but the analogy felt right. I put more time into devising a strategy for a mission than it actually took to complete the mission. That won’t happen every time, each lesson learned in a new ship shortens the necessary prep time, but this time, I felt like the pace was right. I didn’t rush back in time after time with a bad strategy. I wasn’t more interested in action than I was in success. I didn’t lose a ship, which made me really happy. A little patience and a little rocket science goes a long way in Eve.
Filed under: Eve, missons | 4 Comments »