I hate Second Life. I don’t understand it. I already have a job. I already have a house. I understood Sims because the part where your Sim went to work (at least in the versions I played, they put out so many expansions my view is probably distorted) was skipped and my Sim just showed up home with money. Periodically he’d play on the computer or play chess and get smarter and get promoted. Then he’d come back from work with a bonus and I’d spend his money on nice shit. It wasn’t bad; in fact, I wish my life were like that, where I’d step outside my house, 8 hours go by and I’m home and playing video games again.
Second Life fails to me because it’s like the Sims, but you have to grind out money (or directly buy it). I like the Social Networking aspects: I like that the Centers for Disease Control (a US federal agency, look it up) and various nonprofits are involved for outreach. I also like the floating currency set to the real dollar–enough ignoring the gold farmers of the world, just base your game around the fact it’s inevitable. But what I don’t get is why people would play a game that mimics real life. It makes no sense. I can already own real-estate and work in real life. When I play a video game, especially an MMO, I want to do things I can’t do in real life. This includes killing dragons, flying spaceships, and scoring with girls, I mean, uh, killing more dragons.
Enter Eve Online. I’ve already written about my initial experiences, but I notice to my shock (and awe), they were over a year ago. Did I quit the game? Hell no. I’ve actually been playing casually yet intensely over the past year, and been a part of an alliance that went from medium to downright dominant in the time span.
As discussed at the end of my last entry, tired of being plankton (or sunlight), I decided to seek out a new corporation (my real life friends who started the game with me have since quit). My requirements were modest: I wanted a group of smart people, not pirates, who had access to either Low-Sec or 0.0 (true freedom). Beyond that, I wasn’t too picky. I ended up joining the Dead Parrot Shoppe (DPS), part of the Brutally Clever Empire (BRUCE). I had read an article on the boards about electronic warfare by the Parrott Shoppe (and BRUCE leader) CEO, Friedrich Psitalon, and found it to be eloquent and useful, so when I saw they were recruiting, I figured they were winners–intelligent people who cared enough about new players to write an article. Perfect.
I could not have picked a better group. BRUCE had a simple mantra: in a world where griefers and anal orifices rule supreme (see my last Eve post on my thoughts on such people), an alliance would grow to power by being dignified, intelligent, and effective. Friedrich–and all of BRUCE’s–vision and hope was that there was a silent minority (perhaps majority?) that wanted to play respectfully and would band together to become a power block while playing with class.
This mentality is more important than you’d think. Ultimately, in Eve, the only thing that makes alliances collapse is the lack of morale and will. Your character cannot effectively be destroyed. You can always flee to Empire space to make money safely. There are “NPC stations” in lowsec/0.0 that can never be conquered, so a territorially collapsed alliance can always flee for a safe haven to rebuild.
The game’s biggest alliances have distinct cultures that have kept them together: Band of Brothers for their notorious elitism and aura and culture of invincibility, Goons for being… Goons (nuff said), the Red Alliance for being vicious, implacable sons of bitches (as one would expect of Russians, and I mean that in a good way). BRUCE dared to envision that class, respect, and a steely determination would be the glue that would catapult them into the ranks of the elite.
And to date, the vision has proved compelling. BRUCE has grown in size and captured territory. Frankly, I was lucky. I was attracted to DPS and BRUCE for the right reasons: namely, they were intelligent players in a world of asshats. But I really had no idea what I was getting myself into–not that I’m complaining. My World of Warcraft guild, Scions of Destiny, was similar, and although we weren’t as classy as BRUCE, we valued excellence and intelligence.
My role in BRUCE’s rise has been very minor, but what I’ve enjoyed is I can play casually and still be a part of something bigger. Fleet operations are easy to join, and cater to all skill levels ranging from the low skilled player in a support craft to a skilled carrier pilot. Despite casual play, I can still participate in major, alliance changing operations such as when we conquered our first station outpost in 0.0, (but not before taking a Doomsday to the fleet, resulting in an epic migration of a shattered fleet reminiscent of Battlestar Galactica, just minus the Cylons). I’ve found that in true 0.0, the game is particularly exciting, as the aspect of politics as well as the ability to build and defend sovereign space becomes quite complex.
And this is where Eve shines and becomes Second Life for “true” gamers (yes, that’s elitist–get over it). The game mimics real life, if real life were flying spaceships, building starbases, researching new technologies and taking over the Known Universe. My focus has been mainly on blowing things up, be they computer controlled NPCs or hostile players and their assets. But also shining in the limelight are the industrialists who build and sell weaponry, either in a home-grown fashion or running import businesses from “Empire” safe space into the dangerous 0.0 that BRUCE resides in.
Invention groups develop advance blueprints which are turned into state-of-the-art spacecraft or weapons. The logistics team not only keeps starbases running, but ensures that in massive war operations pilots have ammo and fuel to fight on. Even characters with the ability to refine minerals or scrap metals without any “waste” are critically important.
Our alliance is composed of many corporations, and a representative system sorts out the inevitable disputes of 3000 people living in a virtual solar system. A diplomat team keeps our friends close and our enemies closer, ensuring that in the dog eat dog world of Eve, we can count on our friends and prevent a dog-pile of people who would tear down our new empire.
Is there a logistics headache? Of course. Whether the boredom is my own of moving ships from point A to point B in preparation for war, CEOs paying bills on office rentals, mining an asteroid rock for minerals for cash, there is certainly the inevitable MMO “grinding”. But unlike other MMO’s I’ve played, the repetition is different. In World of Warcraft, I killed the same monsters over and over because that was the game’s mechanics: scripted PvE encounters with a side of PvP. The first time you cracked a PvE encounter it was thrilling, but after that, it became a treasure grind-fest.
In Eve, the mechanics are freedom. That’s not to say it’s always exciting in Eve: many PvP encounters are boring, but every fight is different: some might be grinding efforts against computer-defended starbase guns, but others are true battles of tactics as an enemy uses human Starbase gunners combined with specialized strike squads to create a tactical victory.
PvP fights can be literally for the life of our alliance, or just for whoots and giggles: be it keeping out raiders who might attack our industrial base or defending against a hostile incursion that wants to destroy our assets. But this overall experience is a true “second life” because the rules of Eve are that there are no rules. It’s a sandbox of a game where the strong survive and the weak collapse. This creates a stronger glue for me than World of Warcraft ever could. WoW was about getting the best loot so you could beat stronger monsters and get better loot. Eve is about winning, plain and simple. I’d rather the freedom to participate in a player-run empire than slaying Illidan for the thousandth time hoping Bracers of Super-Awesome-L33Tness drop and I have enough “raid points” to win them.
In my next update, I’ll discuss some of the new mechanics of the game over the past year, including the Trinity Graphics patch, new spaceships, and discuss more of the nuts and bolts of what makes Eve an entertaining game.