*Author’s Note - Posting anything here, and opening myself to the scrutiny of others is always a anxiety-inducing prospect, but I want to voice my own humble perspective on the state of Eve, and talk about something that I sincerely think would benefit the game.
This won’t be particularly short, but I hope that you will read it, to the end. I also welcome any constructive input, based on your own experience with the game.
Ever since I saw the great, original trailers for Eve Online, I had wanted to play. The lore, the stories, the details, everything about them was so mesmerizing, but I never had the extra money to put into buying a computer worth running any games that weren’t Solitaire or Minesweeper. So, when the day came, in the summer of 2013, that I FINALLY had a computer worth installing Eve onto, I was more excited than any time that I could recall, in recent memory.
Getting started was a daunting task. The UI was intimidating. The various keybinds were hard to memorize. The Market was terrifying. Other capsuleers were utterly horrifying. And the Skill Queue was completely confusing. But I was so enthralled by the idea of a Sandbox MMO set in a rich, massive universe, where all I needed to chart my own path was a Ship and a goal. I was excited and extremely eager to learn everything that I could and immerse myself in this expansive, open world, and I eventually met some nice folks who helped tremendously to point me in the right direction.
Fast forward to today…
I am heartbroken to say that practically every bit of that bright-eyed optimism is gone, replaced by a worn-out and broken frustration. As almost my entire Corp, and all of the great friends that I have in this game, is currently dormant (due to frustration over the various changes and the overall state of the game), the only thing that keeps me logging in, on an irregular basis, is nostalgia, and the fact that there really isn’t anything out there to truly compete with the scale and beauty of Eve, as far as a Space MMO goes (sorry, but Star Citizen and Elite Dangerous do not).
For eight years, I have not only defended you, but made outright excuses for you. I have watched you completely give up on so many promises, leave promising concepts half finished, or completely fail to deliver on others. I have sincerely tried, for so long, to give you the benefit of the doubt. Running a massive and complex game, like Eve, which is utterly full of angry neckbeards and sweaty tryhards, who all want to tell you how to run the game, is something that I would not wish on my worst enemy. I have no doubt that y’all deal with some truly insufferable sh!t, on a daily basis, and I truly commend you for your sincere efforts in building and maintaining this game.
But that is not an excuse for many of your failings and decisions.
There are an abundance of issues that any of us could point to that are “killing” the game. Whether it be the power and wealth of the Null Blocs, constant balance issues, server limitations, resource scarcity and indy changes, even abandoning Walking in Stations and the death of Dust 514. There seem to be enough issues for each of us to have a different reason for being frustrated. For me, personally, the biggest issue, with the game, is (and always has been) the PvE.
Yes, the PvE.
Don’t get it twisted, I’m absolutely not opposed to PvP, whether it be Solo, Small gang, or large fleet ops. Absolutely no doubt that PvP can be an incredibly fun aspect of the game, and one of the three pillars that make a great game, IMHO (the others being Crafting/Industry and immersive, engaging PvE). But good PvP, these days, is becoming less common and much less fun. Your choices are to either head to Delve and submit yourself to heavy TiDi, CTAs, and the Politics of the war (Note - the war has basically ended, literally in the time that I have spent writing and editing this), or attempt to find good PvP in Solo or Small gang situations, usually ending with being utterly Blobbed to death. But what has always kept me coming back, to any game, has always been a great, immersive story and lore. My most played games are, unsurprisingly, RPGs. I’ve obviously played PvP games, and even been quite good at some, but the PvP has always been secondary, to me. No PvP game has kept me coming back like a game with a great story (plus, most PvP-focused games have a fairly short lifespan).
But, for as rich in lore and backstory as it is, Eve Online effectively has no story to it. There is no Storyline, no “Campaign,” for you to invest yourself in, at any point in the game. The generic missions are mind-numbing, repetitive, and utterly soul-crushing “Wave Spawn” grind-fests. Epic Arcs are marginally better, if only for the fact that they have some degree of a valuable, yet ultimately meaningless reward, at the end. Ratting in Anoms? You might as well be mining, for as fun and engaging as that is. Exploration is arguably the best PvE in the game, given the more active nature of it and the better loot, but it’s still irritatingly repetitive and griefing can be a really frustrating thing (though I don’t say that as an outright Condemnation of it), and there’s still no story to immerse myself in. No lore to get lost in. And, except for (arguably) the Trig Invasion, none of it feels like it has any real, lasting, and satisfying effect on the game.
All of it, literally all of it, is just repetition. Copypasta. Rinse and Repeat.
And event sites? They’re really nothing that has ever drawn me in for more than a few sites.
I know that you can read up on all the lore and whatnot on various sites. But I don’t want to simply read about the lore, I want to live it.
I know what many of you are thinking: "Eve’s ‘Storyline’ is written by the players!"
And that’s a truly lovely idea. Really, it is. But, at least for me, it completely falls flat, and far short of anything that I feel like immersing myself into. If I’m being completely honest, the internal politics, fighting, and general shitlording of the Eve Online Player Base is nothing special. In fact, it’s generally the kind of stuff that I see IRL and play video games to get away from. If I wanted to watch people, who have far too high opinions of themselves, talk about how great they are and sh!t on the “other guys,” I’d turn on Fox News or CNN, or hop on Twitter for 5min.
It’s nauseating and simply not fun, for me. And I don’t think that I’m the only one who feels that way.
PvE has always been my way of getting away from the stress and frustration of fighting and dealing with other people. A place where I can go to forget the IRL bullsh!t and immerse myself into a world that is devoid of the constant problems and ugly realities of my own. A place where I can actually feel like I’m having a significant role in the outcome of things because, frankly, the vast majority of us will have little to no lasting effect on this game. It’s just the way things are. That’s not to say that we are insignificant to our friends, or that our presence doesn’t or hasn’t had a profound effect on the lives of others. But most of us simply won’t have a major hand in shaping Eve Online through conflict and politics. And I think the majority of us don’t want that. We just want to have fun. To immerse ourselves into something that makes us forget about the sh!t we deal with, in the real world, and enjoy the experience with the great friends that we have made, along the way. This is what PvE has always been, to me.
In a perfect world, I’d see PvE in Eve Online completely overhauled, greatly expanded and refined, and become something truly immersive and rewarding (rewarding not just in monetary value and shiny loot, but in the effort and adventure, and even accolades for successful completion of difficult campaigns). I’d see the addition of interconnecting storylines that are not only engaging and tactically and technically challenging, with NPC enemies that are nearly as intelligent and dangerous as any player, but develops and progresses with the decisions you make; that branches out and actively changes outcomes, while opening up new possibilities. Successfully completing a difficult campaign would be something worth being proud of, because of the skill involved to survive it, rather than just another successful grind through wave spawn after wave spawn. Expansions would be built around a playable storyline that ties in and adds to the game’s story and lore, as a whole.
As a fiery, explody death will always be a real and ever-present possibility, the difficulty of the various “campaigns” could be tied to Skills, ensuring that you meet the minimum skill requirements necessary to attempt the next campaign, and that you always have something to look forward to as you progress and gain skill points, beyond just the next ship that you get to fly. Perhaps these Campaigns could even be done in small groups, so long as everyone meets the Skill requirements. PvE should not only be engaging and challenging, but should also train and prepare you for PvP (I have to say that Burner Missions and Abyssals are a great step towards this).
There are so many potential sources for different storylines and campaigns, ranging from the 4 major Empires, to the secondary and Pirate factions, within them. Each has the potential for rich and interesting stories and campaigns with unique outcomes and rewards. Speaking for myself, I’m incredibly excited by the idea of actually taking part in a storyline that has me working Directly with high-ranking members of the Federation or Amarr Royalty to take out Pirates or political rivals, start or stop a war, or work for a Pirate faction to infiltrate or sabotage their competitors and the authorities. The possibilities for truly engaging and immersive storylines in Eve are something that TRULY gets me excited about logging in and playing.
Admittedly, my imagination is running a bit wild, at this point. I have no doubt that there are limitations that I’m not considering, or important aspects that I am glossing over. Perhaps some of this is completely unfeasible. And I am sure that there are plenty of you who are completely content with the state of PvE, in Eve. I’m not trying to take away from your experience, and I’m not trying to pretend that I know it all. I’m just trying to voice my own thoughts and my own experience, and what I’d personally like to see, what I’ve always wanted to see, in Eve. While there are many things that would benefit the game that I am less passionate or less knowledgeable about, I feel that Eve would also benefit greatly from true and dynamic storylines and campaigns, as it is something that undeniably excites me to my core. And I believe that I am not the only one who feels this way.
Please understand that this is all my own personal opinion, based on my experience over the last 8 years. I say none of this with the intent to sound like an angry Ex who feels you can do nothing right. Far from it. I intend all of this to be much like chastising a friend for not living up to their potential. I, and many others, know that those of you at CCP are capable of doing great things. Eve is truly a testament to that. But we can’t help but feel that y’all have gone a bit astray, or at least started missing the mark. In the end, we simply want to see Eve flourish. I, like countless others, have so many great memories from this game, and hate that I am truly considering the prospect of shutting it down, for good, and trying to find something else to play. Fortunately, my corp has become less of an in-game corporation and more of a general gaming community, with real friendships binding us together. If we go, we will go together, but I think I can speak for all of us, when I say that we’d like to stay with the game that brought us all together, in the first place.
We’d like to stay with Eve.
Please, CCP. CCPlease. Eve needs a Renaissance.
A Humble Capsuleer