EVE Online Diary #1


posted 9/19/2006 by Randy Kalista
other articles by Randy Kalista
One Page Platforms: PC
It pays off well to visit EVE’s website and give a healthy perusal to its character generation manual. There’s a lot (a lot) to learn. This isn’t a learning curve: it’s a learning ramp. Which, in a sadistic sense, is a huge portion of EVE’s allure. It’s a big, beautiful sandbox, with a big, beautiful set of tools for you to begin the arduous and rewarding task of handcrafting your very own piece of the galaxy. But it all begins where it begins….
I may have chosen a science-proficient bloodline, but I’m here to blow things up, let’s not kid ourselves. To tame my mercenary taste buds I select the fighter occupation, and soon I’m hovering in a bejeweled Easter egg floating in the middle of a sharp-edged Caldari space station. 
Needless to say: I’m confused. 
But a feminine British accent is culling me into a tutorial, which should certainly clarify a few things. Little do I know that this is about to become the longest (and one of the best constructed) tutorials ever written for a space simulator game. I listen to the voice eagerly.
The simulator genre is notorious for possessing deep, hard-to-peel-away layers (upon layers) of static menus. If most space games are any indication, then the future isn’t fast and sleek: it’s sluggish and bogged down in Excel spreadsheet columns of options only a certified public accountant could love. And, being strictly honest, EVE certainly has those CPA-certified levels if you’re the right player to dig that deep (anyone recall what a “Donchian Channel” is from their economics courses?). But the clean presentation, along with sensible icons for the verbally-phobic, makes the process as painless as possible -- but it’s still going to hurt a little.
This isn’t a game where people hit the level-cap in three weeks and sit around with nothing to do. EVE’s brilliant training program ensures that a player makes constant skill progress (even offline -- offline!) on a time-investment system. More on that later. But -- barring none -- this is easily the most satisfying skill-building structure I’ve encountered in an MMO. It’s far removed from what any other MMO has implemented before.
By the time the tutorial is through with me, I’ve received cursory experience dealing with agents, completing kill and courier missions, mining, trading, and skill training. The interface is unfolding one glowing tab at a time, and the universe is unfolding one Kodak-moment at a time. Stunning, really.
Next week: Corporate life! Player pirates! System crashes!

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