I tried to get back into EVE Online after years away.
It didn’t quite go to plan.
So I completed the tutorial and then immediately deleted the game. Why? Eve Online is terrifying, overwhelming and broken as far as new players are concerned.
I seriously doubt I’m the first new player or will be the last new player to come to Eve Online and be frightened off. The game both looks and feels completely overwhelming. It’s a long running joke that the ‘learning curve’ to Eve Online is rather more like a sheer cliff face.
I was willing to dedicate myself to the EVE tutorials in order to educate myself, hopefully reaching the stage where I could start to enjoy it. A few hours should cover it, right? Boy was I mistaken.
A few days later I was about ready to begin it all again. That’s the first thing I found excessive, especially when you consider that EVE online still carries a paid subscription model. This was a few days of game time spent trying to understand how the game works. I was stuck on the lock, learning the basic tools needed to actually start playing the game.
But what does it say about the state of a game when the simple prospect of actually learning how to play it is enough to scare new players like myself away? Has CCP reached a stage where they only seek to support their current player-base by adding ever increasing depth to the game? If not, what are they actually doing to encourage to new players to enter the world of New Eden, because having experienced ‘basic training’ I was anything but encouraged to apply anymore time or money to Eve Online.
Perhaps I should come clean. I’m not a complete ‘noob’ to EVE online, although the state the game is in right now I may as well be.
I was a fairly regular space faring ‘podder’ during my gaming youth. I cant remember the exact expansion EVE online was operating under at the time, possibly the Apocrypha – Dominion era which was 2009. Even then, the game was often described as ‘spreadsheets in space’. Yet having the abundance of spare time afforded to me by being a high school pupil and having some friends who were already very, very well established in the universe I was able to enjoy the game a lot more. However, when I subscribed for a few months before a move out to ‘nul sec’ the section of the universe was completely player controlled enough to finally push me over the edge and I stopped playing.
Roll the clock forward 5 years to 2013 and EVE is celebrating its 10 year anniversary in style. Check out the below video for a bit of perspective…
Following the announcement of a new expansion ‘Odyssey’ from this years EVE Fanfest, I was inspired to try it all again. Of course MMOs’ adapt and change over time. They have to in order to keep their current player bases interested, but EVE feels way too different. Now we’ve got ‘Planetary interaction’ and new aesthetic updates like new ship models and amazingly popular walking in stations.
There’s also an update that finally gives players something they’ve wanted for years, the chance to view their avatars in the flesh. Excitingly, there’s also the inclusion of crossover play with Dust 514, such as orbital bombardment. In short, an already complicated game has become a lot more complicated.
What do you do when faced with a complicated task? Study! Yes, I had to study to play a game.
Normally before playing any MMO, be it the well established World of Warcraft or the fresh out of beta Defiance, some prior knowledge of the game is needed. In the past I’ve flirted with both World of Warcraft and Dungeons and Dragons Online, I was even part of the Open Beta for the Xbox 360 version of Defiance, so I cant deny I’m not inexperienced in playing MMO’s. It may be doing them a disservice to say so as I’m sure they offer far more in-depth worlds than I’m making out, but I found that by simply spending a few moments browsing the games’ online forums for starting tips and by following the in-game tutorials, I was able to fully enjoy those games for as long as they kept my interest. EVE, on the other hand, within your first hour of play presents you with this.
Geez! Way to break you in easy? Once presented, you’re expected to dig through this overwhelming HUD and vast expanse of options with nothing more than the help of the in-game tutorial agent Aura. This is later followed by various career path agents over the space of 20-30 hours. Clearly this isn’t enough. Outside the game, there’s a wealth of online guides both written and video. So many, in-fact, it can be just as challenging finding the best guide as it is actually playing the game.
Of course, you could simply read a 400 page novel in order to fully understand the game… I have to admit when faced with this task, I was less than inspired to either take up a subscription or spend my money on any in-game store. Somethings not right there?
Not wanting to simply hate on EVE, rather I fear for EVE. I mean, there’s lots going on. The EVE Online 2013 Fanfest, detailed all the updates to the game and told us what to expect in the up and coming expansion, such as further integration with new game Dust 514, and players being able to deal in-game items such as ‘Bio Mass’, providing re -spawns in multiplayer matches for Dust 514,
It all sounds fascinating, yet only to those who understand the in-game systems. The community for EVE is unreal. Don’t believe me? Listen to the cheer an update to the scanning system got during the key-note speech…
To born-again newbies, however, it matters little. These are elements of the game I cannot see myself ever using, at least until I’ve put in weeks of game time. It would appear that CCP’s intentions for the future of EVE are to nurture and support the established player base. A playerbase which boasts a respectable 500,000 subscriptions.
Evelopida the collection of everything surrounding the EVE community does feature some tips for new players. It talks them through their first few days and provides guides on how to perform all other features for the game, but that doesn’t really make for appealing bedtime reading. I understand the complexity of EVE online is essential in creating that player controlled ‘Sandbox’ that sets EVE online apart from other MMO’s and that has created some of the most interesting and moving stories in gaming, but the world of MMOs’ is only becoming more cut throat.
We are witnessing the slow demise of the subscription based payment model for online MMO’s. Notable big name franchises have already lost theirs. StarWars The Old Republic and more recently, Trion Worlds Rift, have been forced to adapt in order to survive. Even the MMO Juggernaut World of Warcraft can’t escape this demise, recently posting record losses of 1.3 million paying subscribers.
Questions still surround as to whether MMOs’ with big IP’s, such as the Elder Scrolls Online, should launch F2P. The MMO genre is growing ever more segregated and newcomers have more worlds to explore than ever. CCP need to focus their efforts on welcoming new players, not scaring them away, rather than simply abiding to the whims of its already well institutionalized players. If they don’t, will EVE online still be around to celebrate its 20th anniversary or even its 15th?
All I know is, ynless things change, I wont be celebrating it.
Have you had a similar or different experience when playing EVE online, do you agree or disagree with my view, leave us a comment below.