I look around me to see the wreckage all around. Already, several of my buddies who started this climb have given up and moved on to other endeavors. They had reached their breaking point early on. I had to wonder if my own breaking point would be just up ahead.
I have been playing Eve for a couple weeks now and I find my initial analogy—playing Eve is like climbing Everest—remarkably on point. It’s one of the most difficult games I’ve ever played. But the difficulty is part of its drawing power. Some people see climbing Everest as the culmination of their climbing career; some people see the climb as a fool’s endeavor. The climb tests people on every level—the mental as well as the physical. Playing Eve is testing me on a number of levels, several of which I will talk about in this installment of my journal.
I recently read Chase Gamwell’s article on INN entitled “Hard Games—The Unending Thirst for Challenge.” While Gamwell only briefly mentions Eve, his concept applies to all aspects of this game—it poses extreme challenges! Indeed, a part of Eve’s gaming stance revolves around weeding out a lot of players early on, almost encouraging them quit, much like anatomy and physiology courses might do in college with would-be pre-med students.
I can see where I need to go. It looks close, almost within reach; then I analyze exactly what I need to do in order to reach that nearby spot. I’ll first have to get more rope, which means going back the way I’ve come. Oh, the frustration. Every single step seems to require three substeps.
Five days ago. I learned by reading on Eve University that I could fit my current ship, a Venture, with some rigs that would increase its armor. So, I looked at how much those rigs would cost to purchase and the amount seemed—pun intended—astronomical, at least for a new player. I thought to myself, Maybe I could just make these modules. I’m wanting to go into production after all! I defy the vicissitudes of the market. I am the master of my fate. I shall construct my own field extenders! Sherpas must hear a lot of talk like that as they guide some unsuspecting rube toward Camp 1.
I priced the blueprint for the Small Core Defense Field Extender I module, which was expensive, but not ridiculously so. I bought it, but had to pick it up nine systems away, a journey which included some sections of low-security space (which increased my chances of dying). With the blueprint in hand, I went about purchasing the materials to make the module. This required more jumping through stargates and a fair amount in ISK (the in-game currency). Finally, I had the blueprint and all the ingredients. I looked in my docking station to find the Industry facility, only to discover that there was none. What the…? I would have to travel to a different station! So, I packed up my stuff and went to a station in another system to use their industry facility. I produced three of those modules in a little over 60 minutes of production time, but the whole process took about three-to-four hours of gameplay.
Someone on a ledge high above me is throwing down a rope. Saved! I can grab the rope and be at Camp 1 in no time. What’s this? I can see the rope but can’t grasp it? To quote Sean Bean in Lord of the Rings, “What is this new devilry?”
I was talking in a corporation chat room about how difficult it is to manufacture ships and items. I had considered making a better mining craft instead of the faithful Venture. But when I studied what this would entail, I saw that it was actually more expensive to produce the new ship, a Procurer, than to buy it. This defies all economic logic, but it was so. I was expressing considerable indignation and regret when a fine benefactor suggested he would give me his own Procurer outright—all I would need was to pick it up in a distant station. Of course I took him up on his generous offer, and I flew off happily in my capsule to pick up my new ship.
Once docked, I tried to make that Procurer my own, only to find I didn’t have the training to fly it. I needed to train several skills before I could enter the ship, including industry to level V, which would take five days, twenty-two hours, and thirteen minutes. My capsule ride back to my Venture was completed in depressed icy silence. As I type this, I still have three days, twenty-one hours left before I can fly the Procurer. I’m still in the Venture.
What makes the climb worth it, in spite of the challenges and setbacks? In part, the friends I’m making along the way. I’ve found a lot of help available in the chat rooms. I’ve been hanging out in the KarmaFleet public chat that one of my buddies recommended. Eve players are very knowledgeable and remarkably generous, and the KarmaFleet crew enjoy humor, wit, and sharing information to players just like myself. Because of the game’s almost vertical learning curve, it forces players to seek out interactions with others, so such chat interactions are not only encouraged but practically mandatory. Many players have gone out of their way to help me. I suppose they remember what it was like to be a new player with few skills, but big dreams, dreams of the summit!
Also, as Chase Gamwell noted, the challenge of difficult games, like Eve, keeps us reaching for the next goal. I WILL get my training and I WILL be flying in the Procurer. Each day brings me that much closer.