This post was inspired by Rixx Javix over at Evoganda, who in his article raises a call for EVE Online players to help bringing the game to a wider audience. For me this was the trigger to finally start my blog, which has been sitting dormant in the pipline for some months now.
So I am going to write about my perspective of EVE Online. And that is the perspective of a casual rookie player, who has been spending a few hours per week in the game since January 2012. This first post has turned into a small guide on what I found worked for me in the game and I hope to convince you that EVE on a shoestring time budget can indeed be a wonderful experience. I am now a grunt in an alliance of players who hold sovereignty over their own space. So no excuses that something like this is not possible for a casual player. In the end all you have to do is get your feet wet and try it yourself!
EVE Online has a reputation of being a hard and demanding MMO. It is also known for its unique game mechanics and the sandbox paradigm, which empowers the players to shape their life of a spaceship pilot the way they desire. The huge, player driven economy where almost everything in the game has to be build and can be destroyed by players is the basis for this. A player is free to choose which way to go in EVE, what profession to follow, which contracts to engage in and even when to betray his business partners or to assault and plunder that freighter foolishly sailing past her pirate lair. She can explore the depths of unknown space or build her own starbase to produce illegal booster drugs.
Alas, this freedom also means a considerable amount of time needs to be spend on the more mundane aspects of living in space – making money, getting equipment to where it is needed (space in EVE is huge after all, with over 5000 solar systems) and keep your colonies and starbases in order. All this takes time and often time you’d rather spend on more excting things like shooting at spaceships. It is not without reason that many of the very active players treat EVE as a fulltime job. EVE is serious space business.
Now if you are like me with a fulltime job, a family and friends and gaming just one hobby amongst others — bear with me! I still play EVE and I have a blast doing it.
For a casual gamer who wants to dip his toes into the game but a few hours a week the pace of the game might seem like a huge entry barrier. There may be people who would like to play the game but think they do not have the time to do it properly and so never will have a chance against older players or people who spend all their days in New Eden. Maybe you are one of these people?
I do believe EVE can be played casually, a few hours per week and you can have a lot of fun with the game. Actually that is what I have been doing for the last year. So let me offer you some of the lessons I learned and some ideas how the game can be played on a shoestring time budget. There are certainly other ways to do it. I am known to suck at games and there are too many option to try out everything. I just write down what works for me. If you are playing EVE and have additional ideas, please feel free to comment below.
Disclaimer: If you give it a try and after a time observe you spend much more time in the game than you originally planned because it is so much fun, don’t blame me! I am not going to manage your EVE-life balance.
Get your expectations right
Starting with the right mindset and knowing what to expect from a game at a given level of dedication goes a long way to have a rewarding experience. As a casual player there will be certain things in EVE that will be very hard to do on a limited time budget. This mainly concerns corporate management. Running a corporation or even an alliance in EVE is very time consuming. Just face it: you will not be a CEO of an effective corp. Don’t let yourself be discouraged by that, just get your expectations right. You will be able to focus on the fun parts of the game instead.
Also recall the pace of the game. EVE is a lot about planning. It is a game that you will be playing across a longer period of time. While not much online time is needed per week to successfully play the game, it can take weeks and months to accomplish a goal you set yourself (such as building a ship from scratch e.g). The emotional reward when you finally have achieved that goal will be all the better. I don’t see EVE as an action game. There are of course frantic spaceship fights and epic battles that often make you shake with adrenalin. However, a battle must be prepared, ships and equipment must be acquired, an ambush carefully set up and all this takes time.
The fascinating thing about EVE is that it is you and you alone, who defines what your goals will be. The game itself offers almost endless possibilities but it will not guide you through the process. There are no real storyline quests that will bring you into some endgame. There are no levels to compare yourself to other players. You are free to choose what to do and where to find adventures and what to define as an achievement. As a casual player this means you can choose your goals accordingly. I will not give a list of possible goals that worked for me here. In the tradition of the early days of computer adventures, EVE is a lot about finding out how things work and what to do by yourself. Just go ahead and try it, or read through the resources at the end of this article. Or talk to your corp mates (see below).
For me typical gameplay in EVE involves logging in a few times during the week for a couple of minutes to do some spaceship management. Then, on the weekend or on a free evening I take a few hours to do a larger operation and fly with my corp mates. If you are in a well organised cooperation you might even get notifications when to be online in order to get good fights (although admittedly the fog of war can quickly change things once you log in, but that is part of the fun, right?).
Join a corporation
The single most important thing you can do is to join a good player-run corporation. It cannot be emphasized enough. Don’t try to create your own corp (unless you have a couple of friends with a lot of time). There are a lot of good corporations out there that absolutely understand that “real life comes first”. So don’t be shy to approach them. The ingame ,,recruitment” chat channel is a good place to start.
Make sure that while you are online you do interact with your corp mates. This is important! Get on teamspeak or mumble. The ingame chat is useful but really, when I mean “get in contact” I mean, talk to people on audio. Register on the corporation forums and use them. Make your precious online time count.
Your corp mates will save you so much time by giving advice, offering help with logistics, get you into the right ship for the right job, get you into fleets quickly and find ways for you to gloriously explode your spaceship alongside them. You just have to talk to them. Remember EVE is a social game. It is in the pack that the wolf will be strong and in the dark voids of EVE winter has come for real.
I was very reluctant at the beginning of my EVE career to talk to people. As a nerd this is how I sometimes am. Not being a native english speaker I still am shy on comms. But my whole experience of the game changed dramatically to the better when I almost accidentally joined my first corporation. EVE is famous for its enthusiastic community and you will find nice people out there! If you really cannot make yourself at least try to get in contact with other players I suggest the game is probably not for you.
Plan and prepare
It is worth to take a few gaming sessions setting up your ships and other things you need. Especially when you go out on pvp fleets with your corp make sure to have a number of fitted (fully equipped) ships in your station. Ask your corp mates for help setting you up. When you do a trip to fetch equipment from a trading station make sure you have a good plan (can be prepared offline) in order to avoid double trips.
Ideas to make money
In EVE things get destroyed. When you loose your ship it’s gone. You will have to buy a new one. So you need to earn the isk (ingame currency) to do so. In fact you need a steady stream of income to finance whatever it is that you like to do in EVE. Note that the nature of activity you engage in und the ships you fly in will largely influence how much money you need. To build up and sustain an income stream will be the most difficult part to do on a limited time budget in my experience (but might be this is just because I suck at this game). The following is largely inspired by Azual Skoll, who has written a very nice guide on the subject. His excellent blog is worth reading at length especially when you are intersted in PVP. Highly recommended!
Let me here just make a few comments on the items from Azual’s list that I think are especially suited for a casual play style.
- Planetary Interaction: Once set up, colonies on planets can be managed very efficiently with a few minutes per day. You can easily do this in your lunch break. The skills you need for Planetary Interaction (PI) can be learned in less than 2 weeks (you can start after just 4 days of training). Get the skill Command Center Upgrades to IV before your start. An introduction video guide can be found here. EVE University has a more complete guide. While PI will not make you rich it can provide a steady income stream without requiring much online time. This is especially true if you life in low or even better null security space where planets Yield a lot
of resources. Use http://eveplanets.com in order to plan your production. Notice how higher tier products provide more isk/m^3, which is important to optimize your hauling trips.
- Zen Mining: Many people do it. It is often despised in the community. If you are able to run an eve client while doing other stuff (studying, working, housekeeping..) you can mine asteroids in high security space with relative ease and minimum attention. Beware, there are people who will try to kill you while you are not paying attention even in high security space. This is allowed in EVE and it’s your own fault if you loose your ship. Having said this, semi-afk mining or “Zen-Mining” is still a good way to generate income. Just make sure your corp is ok with what you are doing and do not even try it in lowsec or nullsec.
- If you want to spend your limited time doing fun stuff like shooting other players and earn ISK while doing this try Factional Warfare. I never tried it myself so I cannot comment competently, but in 2012 FW as been thoroughly polished by CCP and you will find a quite active community doing this. Again make sure to join a proper FW corporation.
- Get an Alt: This may seem unintuitive at first for a casual player, since you will have to pay for a second account. However, most of the ships you will loose, you will loose to other players. And this is the isk you need to replace. You can have one character which engages in PvP and burns ships, while the other one is working to provide the isk for this expensive hobby. You can even dualbox the two characters and earn isk in the background while you chase other players with your main char. As with anything that requires additional real money to be burned, you will not do this from day one. But give it a try when you decide to stay in the game for a bit longer.
- PLEX: Finally, you can just buy PLEX from CCP and sell it for isk ingame. If you are ok with spending real money on ingame items that will be destroyed eventually, this is an easy way. However, there is a considerable risk of loosing perspective when you suddenly own so much isk without any effort. It might make you value the things in game less and utlimately deprive you of the sense of achievement which is so important for the game. I would not recommend this unless you know exactly what to invest the revenue in and how to deal with the PLEX in game. Never ever ever undock with PLEX in your cargo. Ever!
Use offline tools to stay in touch
Maybe you don’t have the time to be logged into the eve client too much but you enjoy surfing the web and thinking about the game on the train to work for example. Also remember: EVE is a social game and your corp mates will appreciate you being up to date on what has happend during the week when you log in on the weekend.
There are a lot of resources you can use:
- twitter: try the #tweetfleet hashtag!
- blogs: there are a lot of good EVE related blogs out there. You may want to start at the BlogPack.
- Aura for Android
- EVE Gate to access your character profile and read ingame mail in your browser
- Official EVE forums
- My EVE especially when you want to track th Big Fights of EVE
- Your corporation/alliance forums (you are in a player run corporation, right?)
Understand the EVE skill system
In order to understand why it is possible to play EVE casually it is finally important to understand the skill system. Skilling is entirely time-based. And this means subscription time. As long you have a valid subscription (or a trial account) you can train skills on one character per account. The training does not require the character to be logged in. Skillbooks have to be bought in game. Some skills have other skills as prerequisites. Once you fulfill the requirements you can submit a skill into your skill queue. The skill queue is 24h long, i. e. you are only allowed to add new items to the training queue if the current training ends within 24h. A skill training can extend aribitrarily long beyond the 24h mark. In that case you have to wait until less than 24h training is left in the queue before you can submit a new skill for training. A skilltraining can be stopped without loosing the time already spent training on it.
The time it takes a skill to train varies from skill to skill and it depends on the level you want to achieve. The 24h queue length means you will have to log in regularly as long as you train short skills to queue new skills. In order to minimize the number of times you do these short logins always try to schedule the longest training at the end of a 24h batch of skill submissions.
Each skill can be trained up to level 5. As expected higher levels either unlock new equipment to be used and/or increase the bonus the skill grants for whatever it is good for. At level 5 you are as good as any verteran player in that skill. For a reference: most skills you will be training as a beginner will take one to two weeks to max out. This makes specialization a very good opportunity for newer players to draw equal with veterans. In a few weeks you can be as skilled as anybody in a very specific activity.
Skill training cannot be sped up by being online. For our purposes this plays right into our cards, even when we are offline our character keeps getting stronger. This is what you get for your monthly subscription.