A different kind of MMORPG
July 02, 2006
EVE Online has been around since 2003, and most people don’t know about it. Part of that likely has to do with the fact that the game isn’t available in most gaming stores, and the other part is because the client is downloadable, weighing in at about 500MB. Considering how vast EVE Online is, 500MB is a tiny footprint.
I was first introduced to EVE by American Hero, a former contributor to mendax.org, who played EVE in-between sessions of World of Warcraft. I didn’t get a good feel for just how complex EVE is from watching the pretty graphics on his computer, but I quickly got the impression that EVE was different, since it doesn’t follow the typical Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game (MMORPG) formula.
For those old enough to know what Trade Wars is, you’ll immediately have an idea of what EVE Online is all about. For those who don’t know much about old BBS door games, a better analogy may be comparing EVE to a mix of Homeworld and the stock market; certainly, EVE is a strategic game that requires more thought and planning than many other MMORPGs, in part because the purpose of the game is clear: make money.
Players in EVE are pilots of small spacecraft. There’s no walking around worlds or any of that. Instead, players are limited to taking actions in space, and in space stations where they organize their loot, modify their ships, and buy/sell goods, equipment, and better ships. The majority of play, however, is in space, where players can undergo missions, mine ore, transport goods, or partake in a little space piracy.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about EVE is that player-run corporations (guilds, as it were) have a clear purpose, as they form a clear support system for making players more money. The corporations themselves control areas of space, and their military might can be expanded in an effort to take over the galaxy. Even the front page when you first login has news that includes mention of player-run corporations’ progress in the game.
My recent diminished interest in WoW, thanks to the post-60 rep grinding blues, has given me an opportunity to give EVE a second look. A free 14-day trial from MMORPG blogging site Virgin Worlds lets anyone try the game out for free, and learn just why EVE has such a cult following. And by “cult following”, I only refer to the distinct majority of players who place EVE as the number one MMORPG on the market, according to MMMORPG.com.
Perhaps its popularity is in its staying power, since the game never becomes a simple issue of grinding rep or farming items. The game even caters to casual players, in that skills can be worked on while offline. This doesn’t earn you money while you’re away, but it does increase your efficiency when you get back, so long as you routinely log in and designate which skills to work on while offline.
Some might call EVE the MMORPG for adults, or perhaps, simply a more mature game than the hack’n slash MMMORPGs that have flooded the market. Suffice to say, for a game that’s been around for three years, with a couple expansions under its belt, and a player base that continues to grow, the EVE designers have done something right.