Header Art by Redline XIII
For the uninitiated, EVE Online is a sandbox game. This means that its creators, CCP Games, created the universe, the mechanics within, and are responsible for maintaining balance within the tools its given us to create our own experience. Everything else is left up to the players of EVE Online, for better or for worse. What this means is that you can have fantastic player-driven story lines, large scale alliance versus alliance conflict, and battles that shake the core of the entire universe with time itself needing to be slowed down to support them. However, now that all of the large conflicts involving nullsec alliances are done and the universe is at a relative state of calm (no earth-shaking battles to write home about) what do we do?
Kinds of Content
There’s plenty to do in New Eden without getting involved in massive conflicts, and the game relies on every day content creators to stay alive. If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “I wish someone would put up a fleet,” or “I wish there was something to do,” I have one simple request: be the change that you seek in the universe. In almost every group within the game anyone can put together a fleet of friends and corp mates and go out and get into trouble. That could even be you. I hear you asking, “But Redline, what would I do?” I have answers for you. The next few paragraphs are going to go over a few of the most popular types of content I got myself into and threw my friends at and it’s the same kind of content you can do too.
One of the most hit-or-miss types of content is roaming space looking for someone to fight. This can be done with as little as two people or as many as you can fill into a fleet. The reason it’s hit-or-miss is because it’s entirely dependent on the locals of whatever region you’re traveling around to undock in a fleet to fight you. A lot of the time, you can simply head to any system that an alliance considers their staging system and start asking in local chat for a fight. They either come out or they don’t. When they do come out, they’ll already know what kind of ships you’re flying and will likely form a counter doctrine to yours. You must remember that their primary goal is to win whatever fight is coming and get you the hell out of their space. This type of content is fantastic for practicing the mechanics of leading a fleet; anchoring, calling targets, monitoring your losses, etc. These are skills that every fleet commander needs.
One of the most popular types of content generation is whaling. This is the action of hunting ratters and miners in a region of space (or multiple regions using wormholes) using tools like Dotlan and the in-game map/information. Of course, once you find them, your goal is to kill them, often-times providing an expensive lossmail to an enemy and a shiny killmail to your fleet. Some targets are easier than others, though, and provoking the wrong crowd will get a swarm of angry supers and titans dropped on your face. Some people like that and thrive on the excitement of the chase and getting out of the area with minimal losses, even if they don’t kill anything. This type of content promotes planning, using your resources, and paying attention to patterns of activity to ensure your continued successes – another set of skills that are crucial to fleet commanders.
The last type of content I’ll talk about is the low-sec and wormhole side of things. Characteristically, this type of content is much smaller scale, consisting of pilots that I would say number no more than 10-15. Most people would call this type of fleet a “gang” and it’s commonly referred to as “small-gang”. The reason for this is these types of areas are much less populated than the primary areas of nullsec space. You probably won’t find something to do here for a massive fleet, so prepare accordingly. Some folks will go out to faction warfare space and bother the people running (military) complexes, until a response fleet is formed. Others will simply be satisfied killing these “plex runners”. Better still, low-sec is a great place for solo PvP, where a budding fleet commander can hone the skills required to hit their enemies as hard as possible without getting hit with a reciprocal “wrecking” blow.
Picking the Right Tools
Of course, there are more types of content available to those in New Eden who are willing to go out and chase it. These three are just the most prominent forms and the ones that are seen consistently outside of massive conflicts. Surprisingly enough, each style of content has its own set of best tools that go with it.
For instance, if you’re roaming, you’re most likely in cruisers, destroyers, or frigates. These are faster warping ships which means you spend less time traveling to your destination and more time fighting whoever’s there when you get there. You’ll also have a number of logistics ships meant to keep your fleet in the fight longer.
On the contrary, whaling requires low-profile, high DPS ships. The flavor of the meta is bombers and Triglavian vessels, but you can also use things like Nagas and Talos if you’re in for a bigger challenge. The goal here is to kill the target before you get caught and executed in explosive fashion.
With small-gang and solo, you’re going to need specialized ships that perform specific roles in the “gang” composition. Think of it as running a dungeon in other MMOs that shall not be named. Each person has a role and each person has a purpose. Design your composition with that in mind. If you’re running solo, you’re likely running a ship fit for a specific purpose but, because it’s just you, that purpose is mostly staying alive long enough to deal more damage than whomever you’re fighting.
Getting the Band Together & Playing Your First Show
Next on the to-do list of content creation is getting your group together for a fun time. Depending on where you are, whether it be wormholes, nullsec, low-sec, or even high-sec, you’ve likely got a way to notify people in your group that you’re wanting to go out and have some fun. Many nullsec corporations and alliances have groups for budding fleet commanders and can even assign you a mentor of sorts to make sure you’re doing the right things and learning the right lessons. Whatever the process is for you to become a content provider for your group, start it! It’s never too early and never too late. I started leading fleets two months after I installed EVE Online and, if I can do it, you can too!
Once you’ve got everyone in the same place, in the right ships, and the right composition, it’s time to test your mettle and throw yourself into space. Hopefully, you’ve made a plan for your fleet and now you’re ready to figure out how to get there. One of the most useful websites in planning travel is EVE-Scout’s Thera Wormhole Map. You can also check the in-game map for useful jump gates, or even use your alliance’s larger toys to bridge you closer to your destination. Begin your travels carefully and make sure you check any systems that you travel through for bad guys to kill!
As you arrive at your destination and await that fight, sit on your wormhole and wait for the confirmation of tackle on a hostile capital, tackle that plex runner who had no idea you were coming, or get that first (or even hundredth) solo kill, you’ll feel a sort of anxiousness rush over you. You might even start to shake a little bit. That’s completely normal and will happen all the time. Embrace it, enjoy it, and live the life of EVE’s next content creator.
Learning, Growing, Advancing
As with anything in life, you don’t just do something to do it. Every fleet that you run, every gang that you fight, and every kill that you accomplish is a lesson. Just like every fleet that you lose, every gang that destroys you, and every sneaky polarized hull-tanked dual-web Retribution that murders you in an instant is a lesson. After any engagement, figure out what you could’ve done better and then apply that to your next outing. Grow yourself in the areas that you need to grow in and hone your skills as a fleet commander. Most groups will have a way to advance in the ranks of commanders if that’s something you aspire to do. But remember, at the end of the day, without content creators this game dies.
Every time you undock a fleet, you breathe life into EVE. Every time you kill another spaceship, you sow the seeds of vengeance. The next headline on this website could be about how you, a seemingly innocuous bystander, started the largest battle in EVE’s history. So, what are you waiting for?
The sandbox is waiting.