Sunday, May 23, 2010

Eve Exploits - Tutorialize Me

EVE online started out as an idea and different form of MMO which eventually became a huge success and’s 2009 MMO of the year. Along with true social interaction and a player-driven economy, EVE looked like the game for me. Benefits of hard work that aren’t just a shiny virtual sword, but prestige among my fellow players. I have followed EVE from the beginning, to the Goonswarm takeover of BoB and even up to the new expansion Tyrannis. Yet I have never given EVE a try after hearing the tales of repetitive grinds and pirates ruining hours of work or even more. I did not wish to play a game where I would spend a large portion of my time getting somewhere, only to be shoved down the ladder by bad luck or other players. Well with the release of the new Tyrannis trailer and the idea of the EVE Gate, I have decided to take a swing at this game. Here is the chronicle of one man’s attempt to reach the stars.

I decide the best way to play this game is to have a plan instead of the regular “pick class and follow quest” formula. My idea is that I will try and become a (somewhat) successful merchant working his way to a higher profit. Starting as a lowly miner and working my way through the market to try and better myself. I will play it by the American Dream: get money and lots of it.

After loading up character creation I am given a choice between races: Caldari, Minmatar, Amarr, and Gallente. I am given a brief description read by a woman who is better suited to tell Prophecies rather than history lessons. During a brief period of thought, I am stuck with the decision between the Gallente and the Caldari. The American in me wants to side with the Gallente to spread democracy and freedom throughout the universe, but the corporate money grabber in me wants to side with like-minded individuals in the Caldari. My decision is to stick with my plan and side with the Caldari to further my career. The rest of character creation is spent making my avatar look like a dick as much as possible.

A face you can trust!

I enter the dark void of space with my new entrepreneur when I'm greeted by the same prophetic voice and a tutorial to show me the ropes so I may grasp and strangle them for every penny they’re worth. The apparent fact that hits me quickly there is a lot of UI surrounding my craft and much of which is followed by more screens and explanations. There is a lot to be absorbed but the robotic chick takes her time to get me used to everything. “Click this, look at this, this is this, go here, ect.” I get the hang of the simple things and soon have skills being trained in a queue. A feature that stands out to me is the skills train in real-time, so if I log off for a while I come back to an avatar that is more advanced then I left him. The downside is that the user is tethered to this system and the time requirements. In other MMOs you could just spend a few minutes to hours working up a skill, but in EVE you must tell the computer what you want to train and wait the time out either doing something else or logging off completely. Although this system is better than other MMOs where when I log off the best thing I might get is rest xp.

After a few minutes I finally get to enter my first real battle. I was nervous as I wasn’t sure how combat would work. I am used to SWG’s space combat and its dog-fighting mechanics which play out like any flight game you could find. After my robotic compadre tells me a few of the basics, my ship is pushed to the limit and starts rushing full speed towards my locked-on target. My hearts pounds as I get a little less than 1000 KM and hastily I press the fire button. My canon starts blasting as I circle my prey….and that is it. Nothing else for me to do but watch as the forward canon takes out the defenseless drone. I feel kind of bad after it is destroyed without mercy. Pondering how many times a day this drone suffers such punishment, I fly away.

Lots of things to do in such a small space.

As the battle with the saboteur was as uneventful as with the poor drone, I want to point out the graphics and how they stand as a cornerstone to EVE. I have set the graphic level to maximum and this game looks better than almost any MMO I have played before. I find myself just looking around in awe as my autopilot does its job. This is a major boost for the game as you will be watching your ship fly a lot. Within the first ten minutes I haven’t flown my ship “manually” at all. This normally would bother me, but with the way the game looks and feels it is right in place. The interface blends right in with the pallet of colors used. Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly hugely mind-bogglingly big it is, yet EVE shrinks it down to where to background is a broad range of planets and anomalies. Warp somewhere and launch past a mesmerizing light spectacle and then stop in a sector where a vast spaceships is easily overshadowed by the luminescent planet behind it. There is a lot in this game just to look at and enjoy. Just know that if you don’t care for good graphics and scenery and want a more “in control” experience then EVE might not be right for you. EVE requires less input than most MMOs on the market and my time so far has been spent managing and gazing at the universe around me.

Turn left! Fire! Turn left! Fire! Turn Left! Fire!

The brief battle involving our two ships doing a dance as lasers go off back and forth with me being the victor. I set off back to claim my reward when I was done exploring the sector I was in. For killing my target so fast, there was an added bonus 1,000 Isk for the effort. All my missions so far have had a bonus for completing the mission in a certain time frame. I wonder how rich these people are if they treat thousands as petty cash. I feel like more advance players are laughing and wiping themselves with million ISK certificates. No bother to me though; I am ready for my next mission and my next paycheck. To follow traditional MMO guidelines, my next mission is a delivery quest. To my relief it wasn’t a box of pelts to take to a craftsman, but just a box to another agent in another system. Sounds familiar to me, but ISK is ISK and I set my destination. As I travel with my space-pelts I get my first chance to travel via a warp gate. Ever since my old days of Star Wars to even the more modern Mass Effect have I wanted to travel via warp-anything. I finally "got the chance" and it feels powerful. The noise, effects, and the way the screen shakes makes it feel like you are being thrusted to somewhere far far away. Still, autopilot has been my friend this entire time. It doesn’t talk, but I name it HAL anyway for good luck. I make it my first mission to find a way to give it a voice so I can argue with it. Space is a lonely…lonely place.

Anyway, I deliver the pelts to the assigned agent and get my few coop—ISK. My cursor hovers over my bank account and I already have 89,000 ISK to spend. I realize now this game IS about numbers and I am scared that soon it might require me to do advanced algebra. I barley passed that class with a D and now regret my decision to rebel with the knowledge that it would have helped me in the vast market system of space. Who would have guessed? With that my tutorial is over and I must choose my path from military to business. While all the choices sounded like something a up-and-coming space entrepreneur would like, I chose business as the allure of making money off others sounded like something that fit me right. With my choice and a found farewell (If you ever need me, I will always be here! .. just press F12) my robotic assistant was gone from sight and mind. Just me and HAL in this ship now....and he isn’t very social. I set off to my destination to enter the real portions of the game and try to bring my plans to fruition.

And with that I set out to fulfill my dream.

EVE online is largely different than most MMOs on the market and because of this has a huge community. It is a game where management and decisions take more priority than stats or equipment and everything revolves around the players. I am no longer grinding for xp to gain new skills to do an instance for better gear, yet here I am still doing delivery quests. Some things never change, but the one thing this game DOES change is the way it is played. From a real-time skill system to brilliant details and a social focus par none, EVE has me intrigued and wanting to further myself. The one thing I that will break me from this game is the harsh grind and setbacks. These will be explored further along in my journey and I shall see just how harsh they really are.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Introducing The Anti-Raptor Gun

For a limited time only I offer you this truly unique weapon that will protect you against any form of raptor attack. Just lock-n-load with this baby and watch as even velociraptors run in fear.

(Note: I am not responsible for any damages to oneself or their loved ones in the process of using this gun.)