Making friends – PvP vs. PvE

“The friend in my adversity I shall always cherish most. I can better trust those who helped to relieve the gloom of my dark hours than those who are so ready to enjoy with me the sunshine of my prosperity.” Ulysses S. Grant

Tobold wrote a thoughtful post a couple weeks ago about what he called massively singleplayer online roleplaying games. If you missed it, you can read the post here.

The quote in his post that got me writing here was this:

“The player interaction was exciting, but not always in a pleasurable way, like when I was ganked by another player and podded (killed). But most of the time you don’t interact with players, you interact only with the game itself, like in any singleplayer game.”

This was briefly true for me in Eve, and my DAOC experience started out similarly as well. Something happened in both Eve and DAOC that changed the way I played the game, though, something that never happened in WoW or EQ for me. I was invited to join and encouraged to play with a group of people, and I managed to avoid the “you interact only with the game itself, like in any singleplayer game” part of Tobold’s assessment.

In DAOC, it was a guild that was pretty active in RvR. In Eve, it was Eve University, a corporation dedicated to helping new players learn how to survive and thrive in the Eve universe. Games that have a PvP element seem much more likely to encourage interaction with other players. Most nights, there ended up being some sort of event that brought out folks from the guild or corporation. In DAOC, it was many, many nights on the frontier fighting against Midgard and Albion…and then always seemed to be invading Hibernia. There was no shortage of bonding experiences. In Eve, it’s been quite a few wars against our corporation that have brought people together.

Tobold presented two options for a game like Eve. Either you run the risk of severe gankage, or you play it as a single player game. The option he didn’t include, which is fast becoming the option that preserves the excitment of mmorpg’s for me, is finding a group of friends to depend on and fight with, carving out a safe space in a dangerous world. He ended his post with this: “But experience shows that there are always many more victims than player killers, and in the end such a feature only harms a game.” I’m not sure that has to be true, although it may depend a lot on personal play style. If you can’t find a group of like-minded people to play with, or if you prefer to play solo, I think Tobold’s assessment has merit.

From the time I started playing MUD’s, I was largely a solitary player. I liked to solo. I soloed my druid to high levels in EQ. I have two characters at 60+ in WoW, and a multitude of alts in the 40’s and 50’s. I avoided UO because I felt then like Tobold seems to feel now, that you’re most likely going to be a victim if you choose to play a UO/Eve/DAOC type game as a soloer.

What I didn’t realize until I played DAOC was that it’s much, much easier to make friends in a world where you have to band together with friends to survive. My solo tendencies used to get annoyed with the need to be social in EQ, but DAOC changed my perspective. It wasn’t until I found E-Uni in Eve that I’m realizing my DAOC experience wasn’t unique. I have a sense of freedom in a dangerous world, knowing that help is always available. I have a purpose, defending my friends and my territory, that makes me want to log in each night. That shared sense of purpose doesn’t exist for me in non-PvP games. It’s one of the big reasons I didn’t buy LOTRO after playing the beta. I knew that it would fall into the EQ/WOW category for me…a ton of time leveling, just to have little to do at the end of the game other than some sort of raid grind.

If anyone reading this is thinking about playing Eve, or has tried Eve and has come to the same conclusion as Tobold, I’d encourage you to check out Eve University. Being a part of E-Uni has given me a sense of purpose and belonging in what might have an empty and unfriendly world if I had stayed solo. It’s also teaching me the skills I’ll need out in 0.0 space. But one thing I don’t think I’ll have trouble doing in Eve is making friends. As much as you need enemies in PvP games, what you really need is friends.

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2 Responses

  1. I can’t believe I’m reading this blog – the things that Google is good for. I’ve always wanted to try EVE but was a bit hesitant because of it’s complexity and level of effort/commitment. The fact that I’m always travelling for work also meant I didn’t feel like I quite had the time but now that I have new laptop and some more stability in my work schedule I decided to make the leap to EVE. I’ve always love sci-fi games, games like Wing Commander and Privateer took up large portions of time paid for by my college tuition. LOL. Back on topic though, I’ve been playing for a little over a week and reading the posts all over the web and discovered EVE U last night which I applied to join after spending some time in the public channel. Imagine reading your great comments in this blog and previous blogs, I’m so happy to see my decision to apply to join EVE U vindicated. As for the intimidation and learning curve, I like the substance that it gives the game. Playing on my own isn’t the greatest draw for any game but I must say I enjoy sitting in a station spending 4 hours planning my ship loadout, trade runs and skill development as much as any NPC missions or pirate combat. Which must mean I’m onto something worth while. Hope to see you in game some time man, from your blogs you seem like a very articulate, intelligent and passionate player – just the kind that I think will make EVE definetly not a “Single” player game.

  2. Welcome to Eve, JorisFelix! Sorry it took me a couple days to approve your comment, I was on vacation with no internet access.

    I hope you have fun in Eve University. It seems like there’s always something happening, whether it’s mining or classes or just sitting in the station and chatting 🙂 Do you go by the same name in E-Uni?

    Eve does seem like an mmorpg suited for a life on the road, doesn’t it? You can train long skills when you can’t get online, and you can fit in some fun when you do have the time to play. I did enjoy how casual WoW can be, but you’re not advancing when you’re not playing. I guess it’s two pretty good approaches to making your game accessible to casual gamers, but it sure is nice to get back from a week at the beach to find a long skill is finishing up while I was lying in the sun.

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