EVE: 9 years

9 years.

What do 9 year old MMOs look like today?

What will your current MMO look like after 9 years?

Odds are, it won’t be growing, won’t be a technological marvel, and won’t be pushing the genre forward. It might be offline, or it might be a shell of its former self, or it might even be under some trendy new payment model that sells the games soul for a buck, letting anyone with a care to take it for a weekend spin do so.

But it won’t be EVE.

And that, as a fan of the genre, is sad. It’s sad that EVE is the exception. It’s sad that 9 years of continual growth is a unique accomplishment, rather than a standard to aspire to. It’s sad that in a genre that started off with the promise of an unlimited adventure, only one game has delivered.

Those who bought into EVE in 2003 are still playing the same game. There is a lot more to it today, it looks a hell of a lot better, and allows more people in one area than most games have on an entire server, but it’s still the same game it was in 2003. New players still mine veld, produce frigates, and venture into low-sec foolishly. Alliances still fight over the same sections of null-sec, for mostly the same reasons, and use age-old ships while doing it.

Yet at the same time corporations are venturing into wormholes to deal with the Sleeper AI, running Incursions, and refining fittings based on the latest available mods. They are spinning V3-enabled ships, looking at nebulas, and occasionally walking around in a station. They can use EVE-voice, jam 2000+ people into Jita, and know that a shot won’t be missed thanks to TiDi.

Players also know that the next expansion, the 17th for the game, won’t replace missions or mining with newer and shinier content. It will add, but it won’t replace. The ships players fly today will be just as viable. They might need some tweaking, their roles might differ slightly, but they won’t be scrapped because the expansion has raised the iLvl for ships.

All of the above is why players can confidently sign up for a year of EVE and know what they are getting. It’s why those who have been around for 5, 6, or even 9 years are still around. They know that their current gameplay options will remain viable, and will only need ‘replacing’ when the player is ready to replace them. And when they are, they have countless other, viable avenues to continue down. If you want to prove yourself as a PvP player, EVE caters to that. If you want to be a market baron, EVE caters to that as well. Want to lead thousands to make history? EVE. Hang out with a small group of friends carving out your place in the game? EVE. Mining solo and just enjoy the scenery? EVE has a place for you as well. The paths might not be the ones I would select, but the beauty of the game is that not only do they exist, they interact and affect each other in meaningful ways.

The recent major event, Burn Jita, is the perfect example of this. Thousands of players entertained themselves in Jita, and those who witnessed the event first-hand will likely not forget it for some time. But the ripple effect goes far beyond one weekend and one system. Anytime you buy or sell a T2 product, Burn Jita had an effect on you. When players mine today, that action has been impacted by other event, Burn Jita and Hulkageddon being just two examples.

In addition to EVE being consistent with what it provides, it also catalogs every action. Events from 2005 impact all players in 2012 to some degree. Nothing is lost because it happened on another server, or before a ‘soft’ reset (typical MMO expansion that raises levels/gear). The T20 scandal might be ancient history, but its implications are still felt today. If you were around for that event, or any other, you sit knowing what you did then matters now, just like players today are setting the table for 2013 and beyond.

Credit is due to CCP for maintaining their vision of EVE, for not caving in to the latest trends or abandoning one player group in favor of another. Credit is also due to the influential pilots of New Eden, who create content and stories with their ideas and leadership.

All virtual worlds should aspire to what EVE has accomplished in 9 years. It’s sad none have been successful, and so few have even tried.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in EVE Online, MMO design. Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to EVE: 9 years

  1. Mite says:


    You fucking charming asshole.

    /downloads eve online trial.

  2. doonewoodtac says:

    You keep trying to sell Eve as this under-seen, under-praised, little-known gem in the MMO market. I don’t understand why.

    I’ve played Eve for 4 years. I love the game. But I completely understand why it’s growth is so tiny and why it’s likely to cap out — I think it already has. Dust 514 and similar endeavors represent the game’s only shot at continual growth and an exit out this bizzare death dance. This makes CCP smart …but certainly not the smug geniuses you build them up to in every post. They understand well the death trap they’re in with a hostile playerbase who will do everything it can to destroy the game rather than see it grow outwardly. The insular nature of Eve is both it’s charm and it’s weakness. This is compounded by the fact that there’s no such thing as “catching up”, something they’ve worked hard to mitigate over the years (and which I think has been very well addressed thus far). A new player will rarely grow to rival an old player, and while novelty and veteranship have their place in MMOs, Eve is at an unsustainable extreme with it.

    Further more, a commenter not long ago (can’t remember who) put it quite well: Eve is a game in which the game world isn’t affected by anyone, though the players seem to believe so. It’s static as hell, with PvP being the sole dynamic content offered. And that is as dynamic as any other MMO currently on the market. The other aspect is the economic portion of the game, which is player run but alters no Eve factions, relations, solar systems, stations or whatever. Oh sure a little reputation meter grows and shrinks, but things like Concord never change. Ever. It’s just a sandbox in which sensational stories by criminal masterminds show up on the games radar ever once in a while. There’s a reason these events get low reporting: they’re not a big deal. This despite the intrigue within the concept of having the freedom to do such a thing in a game. That novelty wears off quite quickly. See 20-boxing accounts for added fun as reference.

    I do love the game. But I hardly think it’s the holy grail, second coming, or any other amazing thing. It’s got what it’s got. And really, all MMOs have just as much except most manage to interest more players.

    • wloire says:

      For someone whose been playing for 4 years, you have an uncanny ability to be completely wrong on every point you make.

    • T'ango says:

      What Wloire said.

    • Dex says:

      What thems two said. Also, if there’s no such thing as “Catching up”, tell that to the numerous 60-80 mil sp Toons my 12 mil sp (And actually, more like 8-10 mil sp) blew up. The great thing with EVE is, skill wise, there’s only so much damage/ship bonuses you can get. So you can catch up, and those of superior player skill and/or luck can finish the job. Anyway, lets not bash on the 4-year Veld Mining Veteran anymore…

    • doonewoodtac says:

      You all epitomize the point I’m making. Carry on ye blindmen.

      • Xyloxan says:

        Sure. You said that you “love the game” and I cannot disagree with you; it’s your love after all. You said that EVE is not “the holy grail, second coming.” But who said that it is “the holy grail” or “second coming”? Can you provide a reference other than your own comment?

  3. So the savior game everyone has been waiting for was here all along, right in front of us? Who knew?

  4. muckbeast says:

    Not sure how Eve is “pushing the genre forward.” What is it adding to the genre? A demonstration of how to encourage and reward grief play?

    Eve is a static world. Nothing truly changes. The lines on a map move around a bit but that’s just sands in the hourglass. Ultimately its the same exact world from one day to the next. There’s just tons of PvP and lots of scams. What’s revolutionary about that?

    This is not to say that Eve hasn’t done some cool things. The single server concept is great and I’m surprised it isn’t replicated more. TiDi is interesting – I’m not sure if its the right solution to massive lag, but hey, at least they are trying.

    But as far as “pushing the genre forward”….. how exactly?

    There’s nothing new, original, or (imho) interesting about a game world designed around griefing people.

    And people can tell little anecdotes about how their 12mil dude beat an 80mil dude, but so what?

    The point is, take two people of equal skill, and the guy who starts today will NEVER be able to pull equal to a guy who started 1, 2, 4, or 6 years ago. There’s no capping out and no catching up, which is frankly pretty stupid for a PvP based game.

    A truly great PvP game has caps. Like pre-Atlantis DAoC, for example.

    -Michael Hartman
    @frogdiceinc
    http://www.frogdice.com

    • WeaselOvercome says:

      Wrong. the skills DO cap out, at level 5. This means that it is possible to cap out all applicable skills for a particular ship setup. The newer player will cap out for the ship setup of their choice and expand the number ships they can fly perfectly (or not, the benefits are low enough that few people really do cap out before chasing some other ship)

      A major downside of EVE’s skill system is that it takes too much space to explain to a semi-interested MMO news reader. Consequently, most people will just think “skill points increase with time? It’s been out for 9 years! I’ll never catch up!”

    • SynCaine says:

      Funny that you mention DAoC, a game that plays nothing like it originally did, furthering my point about EVE.

      I’ll let others correct you on the rest.

    • KSC says:

      It really annoys me that you continue to berate the game design while refusing to play it. Your assumptions about EVE are wrong so often. I found a few aspects of Threshold pretty smart back in the day, so it makes me very sad to see the designer irrationally shit on a game he has so clearly misunderstood.

    • Rammstein says:

      “The point is, take two people of equal skill, and the guy who starts today will NEVER be able to pull equal to a guy who started 1, 2, 4, or 6 years ago. There’s no capping out and no catching up, which is frankly pretty stupid for a PvP based game.

      A truly great PvP game has caps. ”

      I don’t know what makes a truly great PvP game, but I know that capping out one’s power after a few years makes for a shitty sandbox game, which is what EVE actually is. Sandbox includes unlimited opportunity to gain influence/power/wealth, fairly obviously excluding it from fitting into your definition of a great pure pvp game. Luckily for you, there are thousands of pure PvP games, but only a few sandboxes. This being the case, kindly go away and stop messing with my one sandbox or I’ll have to sic the goons on you ~_~

      I’m a very new EVE player, (6m SP). If not having enough SP bothers me, I can make a ton of ISK ingame, and use it to buy a 120m SP toon, through a CCP-supported trade. Actually, since I tend to play MMO’s as a trader/industrialist, that probably will happen in the next year. If I were a great scammer/corp infiltrator/pirate, I could make the ISkies that way instead.

    • kalex716 says:

      Come on man, level with us and at least admit the fact that they’re making a completely different game under the same IP umbrella, and tying it to another on a completely different platform isn’t at least trying to institutionalize their sci fi experience in a way no one else in the genre has ever tried before.

      That my friend, you cannot argue isn’t an attempt to push the genre forward.

  5. WeaselOvercome says:

    Here is my conception of EVE and why it is good:
    The inherently asymmetrical nature of the PVP creates incentives to be social. A fight in any open-world PVP is more exciting then a battleground or an arena because you don’t know if your opponent is calling for help and you may have to call for help yourself. This combined with meaningful losses and the open world facilitating a complete relocation\reorganization if you are beat too badly make eve great.

    I have some hope for GW2 because I hope the server v server conflicts are big enough where different guild leaders on the same server will develop working relationships and rely upon each other, fostering social bonds.

  6. Chris K. says:

    The paths might not be the ones I would select, but the beauty of the game is that not only do they exist, they interact and affect each other in meaningful ways.

    …………………………………………………..

    This is the primary reason of why I play. It is refreshing to see an MMO that doesn’t force combat down your throat as the only viable path of progression.

  7. Gevlon says:

    The people who say “you have no effect in EVE, you are just a hamster in the wheel” are simply small people who FAILED to make effect. Some did, Helicity Boson for example. I’m aspiring to make effect too. Those who just mine/rat, spend it all on fitting some ship to blow things up and finally lose it REALLY ARE just hamsters in the wheel who make no effect. But it’s not the game that sucks. It’s them.

    • To be fair to those people, I don’t believe that they are implying it is impossible to have an impact. But rather that such player stories are not representative of the game as a whole.

      In any case, I plan to set up a trial account to find out for myself.

    • Random Idiot says:

      I’m a hamster in the wheel and I love shooting someone in the face with my new shiny, and will continue to make my shiny even better

      if I made an effect and my char became known, I would leave…

      • Cyndre says:

        And only because of Eve’s revolutionary nature, do you have the ‘option’ to play that way. You can choose to be a nameless spoke in the wheel, or you can aspire to greatness.

        The critical point, is ‘choice’.

        It is there in Eve, not in most other MMOs.

  8. Sullas says:

    It’s a great and unique MMO, and yes, the only virtual world out there where you can make your impact felt indefinitely, if that’s your bag. I’ve played it a bit intend to do so again, read more about it than I needed to, and adore the complexity of its systems, even without having used/experienced or indeed still knowing most of them.

    It’s just not the be-all and end-all of MMOness. Most people don’t need to leave their mark on a complete virtual world to enjoy a good, long ride and carry away worthwhile memories. Being in a guild together for years and killing whatever procession of opposing faction/dragons/Sith Lords the theme-park throws at them, with all the accompanying social ups and downs, can be quite enough.

    Even in EVE, most people follow one of that finite set of beaten paths, do they not?

    • Red says:

      Eve’s a geek’s game. It’s unpolished, completely complicated, very unforgiving, and awesome. It’s never going to be a mass market game like wow is. Eve is a huge success on the level of ever quest.

      I think the real question is why is wow so popular? I lost all interest in the game after BC. The graphics and storyline are not interesting enough to keep me raiding and if the raid’s aren’t hard enough to give you status for killing a hard boss, what’s the point? Wow has zero community, no shared history, and frankly it’s boring to as hell to play. I can’t fathom paying 15 bucks a month when games like skyrim have much better graphics and are much more fun.

      • Sullas says:

        The real question is why do you insist on overegging the pudding of the pro-EVE argument so much? It stands on its own merits in opposition to the theme-park MMOs without this kind of hyperbole.

        The comparisons between Skyrim and WoW/TOR are good for a laugh, but not quite for much more than that.

  9. HebusOlivier says:

    My question is : does Eve cater to Casual gamers ? Can I play 1hour a week, 6 the following one, and 0 during other one ? Will I enjoy myself ? Will I be able to build something ? Can I play six months and stop there and think this was 6 really cool months ?

    My understanding (but if i am wrong, and I will be really happy to try this game) is that Eve’s goal is not that sort of players. And that’s good ! As you explain in this blog, there is so few game that really caters to hardcore (in the meaning of long term and “big” investment) players, that I do not want to destroy this game for me to be able to play it.

    I would be really interested at the distribution of the market between “casual player” – less than 2 hours a week, “medium” player – 5-10 hours a week and “hardcore” player – more than 2 hours a day.

    • SynCaine says:

      I have Corp members who are pretty casual, and they make it work. You very much can play EVE for 2 hours a week, and get something out of it in 6 months. The ‘what’ will of course be different from what I do in those 6 months, but with reasonable expectations you won’t be disappointed. Will you be Mittens or a Wormhole resident? Of course not. Can you be a Corp member and contribute when you can? Of you find the right Corp, yes.

    • Cyndre says:

      You can do precisely that in eve and feel it was meaningful, in many way moreso than a level grindy themepark.

      Take a Rifter pirate for example… you can be one in your first day in eve, fly out to losec, and start playing the ‘endgame’ of eve in your second casual day.

      Then you take a week off… when you get back you are ALOT more powerful. And you spend 2-3 hours pvp’ing with your gang, and log off for another week.

      People do that all the time in eve.

    • T'ango says:

      TBH I think EVE is probably one of the MOST casual friendly games around, specifically due to the way your character will skill up when you are offline.

      There will be a basic learning curve that honestly requires quite a few hours to get through – but after you get the ‘hang’ of the UI, honestly as little or as many hours you decide to commit to EVE really doesn’t matter, and shouldn’t ‘hurt’ your gameplay.

      I currently have 3 accounts – one with 5.5 mil SPs (3 months) and 2 with ~1.2 mil (month old). It’s actually quite fun to log on to my skilling up alts and horse around doing missions, mining, playing the market, hanging out with corpies etc etc. I might not log those characters in for days or weeks at a time, and as long as I make sure I always have a skill being trained my character’s “power” is always growing.

      It’s nice to jump back into them after an extended vacation and have them be able to do things that you weren’t able to before.

      As for the amount of time to commit – it just simply depends on what you want to do and your time management skills. Salvaging every single wreck you ever see/create while randomly flying around won’t make you millions and millions overnight, nor will it get your reputations up in the most optimal fashion. But if that’s what you chose to do – that’s what you chose to do. It’s all fun and if you aren’t having fun doing a specific thing in EVE – STOP – DO SOMETHING ELSE.

      As for building things – I love the fact that you can build things, sell things, invent things, research things all while offline. If something that was cooking happens to be done and ready to delivered for a few days… who cares?

    • Random Idiot says:

      /quote
      Can I play 1hour a week, 6 the following one, and 0 during other one ?
      /endQuote

      yes, yes, yes…

      even though you mix with real people in a corp/alliance there is no expectation on your part by them, other people expect you when they see you, as for your char, the game is geared perfectly for random play…

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