I think everyone who plays videogames knows why they do it. Some do it because they enjoy the challenge. Some because it allows them to relax by chopping the heads off of some undead bastards hell-bent on their destruction. Some do it because they enjoy the storytelling.
I didn’t think anyone plays a game to sit at a screen and click once every 10 minutes. I am, however, disproved by the multitude of people who play EVE Online.
In lieu of doing any work on my school assignment, I went searching for a good, free MMORPG. I was sick of fantasy settings, and I wanted something sci-fi. To Google I went, and eventually I found a free trial for EVE Online. Good enough, I thought, and downloaded the game.
After installing the game, I set up my account and away I went. I spent the next four hours in tutorials. Four fucking hours. I ended up skipping a bunch of them, too, since I just wanted to play the goddamn game.
Once my onboard computer finally shut up and let me get on with my in-game life, I actually began to play. Firstly, to this game’s credit, this universe is fucking enormous. There are many, many stars, with most holding their own solar systems. I’d estimate the majority of them are, to use the game’s distance units, 40 AU across. (AU being 150 million km.)
Now that’s pretty bloody big, but—like space in the real universe—much of that is simply vacuum. There’s the odd planet that goes by, but those are simply there for decoration. You even fly right through them if your location is on the other side. But all this space really isn’t used; you basically warp to predetermined places with nothing in between. There aren’t rogue ships en route; they are all contained in those predetermined places. This obviously means that a lot of the game is spent traveling.
For a game with so many fucking tutorials, there’s really not a lot to do. You hardly bump into another ship (also a hangover from the size of the universe), and people used to standard MMORPGs will not find NPCs to grind on.
Indeed, there is no grinding at all since the leveling process has been thrown out the window. Instead, you train certain skills individually by clicking on them in a character sheet. The innovation is that the skill is trained with no interference from you and in real time. Even if the game is off, your skill will still train.
The side effect of this is that you end up WITH ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO FUCKING DO. Whenever I played this game, I set the autopilot to where I wanted my ship to go (most likely picking up or dropping off something for a guy giving me a mission) and went out to play pool. The game does give you a in-game web browser to dampen the piss-boringness of it all, but the list of compatible sites is so low that the browser’s really useless. All you do in this game is set the autopilot, go and make a coffee and do something else more productive with your time.
Your main method of making moolah is mining. Again, this is a boring process. Orbit a mine, click mine and go and watch all the Police Academy movies or something. Actually, you might find sitting there watching the ship fly around in a circle more entertaining. Especially after you get past the first Police Academy.
This is a problem inherent with a lot of sandbox MMORPGs, but it is especially so here where the grinding aspect is removed. In this way the rather interesting innovation of the leveling system becomes a negative.
The market in the game is extremely detailed with much for the budding little economist to study. You get an absolute fuckload of information to use to analyze market trends and predict at what point you should sell your items to gain the most profit. Now this will have one of two effects: Either it will turn a lot of people away, or they will completely ignore it and sell your mining loot or items anyway.
EVE Online could have been great. A whole fucking universe to do whatever you want! But it fails to provide anything entertaining to do with your time, and it loses its life very quickly. Don’t be fooled; the amount of tutorials doesn’t correlate to the amount of things you have to do. There aren’t enough ships to even fight a lot of the time, and finding them is a chore. It’s probably more worth it down the line, but I think a lot of gamers will not have the patience to bother with this snoozefest up to there.