Today I did something that a lot of my friends have spent long hours advising me against – likely because they were hoping at some point in the future to see me again – I signed up for a twenty-one day trial of EVE Online. (The usual is fourteen, but if someone refers you, you receive an additional seven days.) I'm going on holiday in a couple of weeks, so my plan is essentially to play for the days until I go away, then see how much I'm enjoying it – and if I am, then I'll subscribe when I return. I'll reassure everyone now that this isn't going to affect my writing...
Anyway, given all that, and given my totally woeful record with this blog, I figured that I might chronicle these ten days of the trial, and discuss my impressions. What attracted me to this game was quite simple – from everything I've heard, it sounds like an MMO version of Elite...and I played that game to death when it came out. Well, technically I played Frontier: Elite II to death, but I loved that game, and I still occasionally get lost in it even today. The 'real stars close to Earth' of that game was a definite inspiration for the Triplanetary setting.
About the only thing that was missing was, of course, other players! The idea that you might play a game such as that against other people was totally alien in those days – the internet was still so new, so undeveloped, that the capability didn't really exist. Yes, there were MUDs, but graphical on-line multiplay was still nascent at best. This...EVE looks to solve, and I'm eager to see if it is going to live up to that promise.
Obviously, I'm going to do this one my the book. The plan is to complete all the tutorial mission chains first, learn the ropes, and see what appeals to me in a longer-term context, though I admit that the idea of exploration has a certain appeal. I managed to stumble through the 'here are the controls' missions, and primarily I sat back and admired the view – and it was beautiful. That's one of the reasons exploration sounds promising – there looks to be an awful lot to see.
I knew, however, from my reading of blogs associated with the game, that whatever path I ended up choosing, combat was going to be something I needed to learn, so I opted to start with the military missions first, and over the course of about three hours, I completed the first ten missions in the event chain. If I was to make a criticism, it would be that they had a real feel of 'tutorial' about them, and didn't really draw me into the setting and the world at all. It was very much 'this tells you how the guns work', and I think they could do better. At one point, it looked as if I was going to be offered a choice to join a pirate faction, and I thought that might be interesting...but at no point was I permitted to deviate. If I was to make a suggestion...you belong to an NPC Corporation at the start of the game anyway. Don't start as a government agent, start working for a smaller corporation, fighting against another...and yes, give the chance to betray.
I'm going to try the mining missions next, hopefully earn a little more money, then the exploration ones – I've queued some of those skills for tomorrow. That's another thing, actually...a lot of the equipment I was given as 'rewards' in the combat missions – and on one occasion, something I supposedly had to use in a mission – my character didn't know how to use. I had to buy the relevant skills. My view would be that giving skills instead of equipment – skill books, anyway – would seem more logical storywise.
Let me not say that I didn't have fun, though, I did. Though I begin to see some hints of where the sharp learning curve is going to come in. Hopefully the other tutorial runs will give me a stronger idea of where I want to go with my 'character'. And no, I'm not going to tell you who it is, though if the 'Triplanetary Fleet' turns up as a Corporation....