Stick and Rudder: Giving EVE Online another shot

    
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I’m not really sure how to break this to you, dear reader, so I’ll just come out and say it. Oh rats, you already read the title of the post, didn’t you? In fact, that’s as far as 85% of you probably got, based on past observations of the comment threads, but here it is: I am back in EVE Online. Why, you ask? That is an excellent question. It may just be time for a fresh start.

About a year ago, I tried EVE for the first time. My hope at that time was that I could find enough things to do to keep me busy and interested in the game for some time to come.

Unfortunately, I had chosen to skill my character for exploration, a profession that, as it turns out, I did not enjoy. Oh, I liked sneaking around systems and wormholes and scanning down anomalies, but I hated the hacking minigame required to loot these sites. It’s like a pumped-up version of Minesweeper – and I abhor Minesweeper.

Coming to this realization was disappointing because it meant I had wasted a good six weeks of time-gated skill training on skills that were relevant only for the explorer profession. Depressed and frustrated, I simply stopped logging in to the game and forgot about it for several months.

But recently something drew me back in. Ironically, it was some out-of-game drama surrounding one of the game’s most infamous personalities that brought EVE back to my notice. I recalled how intrigued I was with the wars and politics of EVE during the conclusion of World War Bee last summer, though I never participated in a single second of that epic event. Theater both within and without EVE continues to be a fascinating draw for this space sandbox. Moreover, I’ve begun to grow weary of the salt-filled PvP of World of Warships and needed an alternative.

Depending on what you’ve heard about EVE, that may sound like an odd statement. Moving from an arena PvP game to an open-world sandbox with non-optional PvP and ganking does not sound like a step in the direction of “less stressful.”

But what some fail to realize about EVE is that there are some very laid-back elements to the game, such as mining and manufacturing. Since I had previously joined an industry corporation on my last play attempt, I sought out the nightly mining fleets and asked as many questions as I could of those floating among the asteroids around me. I learned a little bit, mostly that I still have a lot to learn. Surprisingly, this style of play didn’t completely bore me to tears! It was nice to circle a moon rock occasionally compressing the contents of my ore hold while chatting with fleet mates and watching Hulu on my second monitor. It’s been a very long time since I played a game for relaxation instead of some feeling of accomplishment or an adrenaline rush.

Unfortunately, not everything was rainbows and unicorns with my corporation. Since I last played a year ago, many of the founding members and longtime players had gone on hiatus, either due to their “bittervet” (i.e., longtime players currently disillusioned with the direction of the game) status or real-life commitments. None of my buyback contracts was being picked up, so I wasn’t making any money from all the ore I had been mining. I would ask questions or express interest in learning something in the corp Discord only to go unanswered.

So, there I was, a year after booting up the game for the first time, right back at square one: looking for a corporation to join.

My previous attempt to find a corporation was a somewhat painstaking process of joining open in-game and Discord recruiting channels and attempting to evaluate the culture of the corporation without being in the corporation. I had almost settled on one when its alliance got completely goonsmacked by the Imperium towards the end of World War Bee, and it halted all recruiting activities. Although it assured me that my application was in-process and would still be considered, I was a little jumpy about the whole situation and voluntarily withdrew. Thus, I ended up in a smaller industry-focused corporation in a little high-security pocket far from the action of the nullsec wars.

This time around, I was determined to focus on an active newbie-focused group that would be willing to teach me any and every aspect of the game, depending on what my whim of the day was. Even though the game is nearly 20 years old, I found several large and well-organized corporations that cater to this exact group – and many of them are run by the largest alliances in EVE as feeder teams.

Several years ago, an alliance called the Brave coalition realized that it could form a mutually beneficial relationship with new players. It set up a newbie-focused corporation (Brave Newbies) that allowed any EVE player to join without the intense scrutiny that had become customary throughout the game. Newbies would be provided with ships, skillbooks, and training on not only the mechanics of the game but also how to function within a fleet and how various roles were filled during group combat. In exchange, Brave was able to use the newbie corp as a recruiting and evaluation tool to continually inject new lifeblood into the parent corporations. In a short time, even the bittervets had to admit that the model worked, and now all the major alliances have copied the formula.

As for my personal decision, I narrowed my choices down by hanging out in recruiting channels for nearly a week observing interactions while quietly liquidating my assets and moving my ships to a neutral NPC station in preparation for the move. I finally settled on a group located in high-security space (I didn’t yet feel ready to make the jump to nullsec). I’ve often had reservations about being able to fit in with the culture of some alliances, and those feelings remain, but now I begin the next phase of my EVE journey. It’s time to start learning the game from those who know it best. No more sitting on the sidelines. Wish me luck!

It’s a big wide universe out there, and the MMO industry is busy filling up the space between the stars – with sci-fi MMORPGs! Join the MOP team here in Stick and Rudder for intermittent voyages into all the big space-trucking, dog-fighting, star-flighting MMOs of the moment.
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