My first-time endearment with EVE Online lasted less than a month, I went from wide-eyed newbie to burnt-out bittervet with one late-night rage ping. You see, I liked the idea of EVE. Stories of galaxy-spanning conflicts and intrigues, tales of betrayal. All this made EVE sound more like a second world, rather than a mere MMO that – at the time – I would not touch after a too-heavy dose of World of Warcraft. I joined a small-ish corp and found out quickly that the expectation was to respond to whenever a ping went out. Or so I thought. Unsurprisingly, a while later I quit – the reaches of spin masters and spies seemed to be unachievable, the grind to anything ‘more useful’ far too long, as there was a years-long gap between me and the old players. Boy, was I wrong.
EVE is not a progression-centred game
Progression-centred MMOs keep you playing because you always need to achieve new goals to stay relevant. You’re either at the forefront or lagging behind. Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft is designed along this principle – with every new expansion, there is bite-sized content that you need to digest and regurgitate until you (and by virtue of loot) those around you have caught up. EVE is not like that. Sure, you can keep your skill queue running for all eternity and CCP have included more and more skills so that those that started training the day EVE launched are still going strong. But you do not need to be in the top 1% to stay relevant.
All that more skills do is give you more variety. The skills in EVE mostly follow Pareto’s principle, the famed 80/20 rule where 20% of the effort give you 80% of the reward, while the remaining 20% take 80% of the time (think level V skills). Perfection takes time – but except for very small subsets of solo PVP, perfection is not necessary at all. Here’s your first tip to avoid burning out and leaving EVE: Change your perspective – especially if you’re coming from a different game. By extension, this means that you do not really lose much if you dip in- and out of the game. It is perfectly acceptable to ‘go AFK’ for long periods of time if EVE does not take your fancy or you just do not have the time.
Similarly, you should not feel the need to become a space-rat, trapped in the eternal rat-race of ISK generation. You know what I mean: I want to fly a titan. This titan costs 100 billion ISK. I make 70 million ISK per hour. Thus, it would take me 1429 hours of effort to get into a titan. If you do this, you will inevitably delay your gratification in this game by 35 full work weeks of boring grinding. EVE is fun, but 1429 hours of some of the worst PvE in online gaming history? You will want to give up before you know what’s what. Instead, think of it as a game that you play for fun – with ISK that will accumulate on the way. The most successful market makers in EVE, for example, play a game – and do not adjust buy orders by .01 ISK to force a profit.
The second part of the statement contains another truth: EVE is still a game. Play it if it brings you fun. There’s a multitude of ways to succeed in this game, and almost none require you to log in when you are about to go to bed at night to kill a supercapital. Those amazing stories your corp mates tell you about ‘being there’ when something big goes down are often full of hyperbole designed to wash away the painful memories of multiple hours of time dilated server problems that led to those events unfolding. Once you’ve been to a few fleets you know how it is, and what remains are the good memories – but none of those are worth sacrificing a good night’s sleep for, or forcing yourself to play because of a fear of missing out. Reading about them, and being in the same group of people that achieved a victory is often enough to share in the camaraderie. And since EVE is full of good stories, you will come across one if you just play consistently enough for a while.
Choose your Kryptonite
I hate appointments when they relate to games. I just cannot bring myself to commit to firing up a game client at a set time and do stuff. This is the reason I do not play ARMA tactically anymore, and why ArcheAge loses a lot of appeal to me once I finished the initial grind in my own time. It is also the reason that I did not feel good in a corp that I joined shortly after returning to EVE. They were a nice enough bunch of blokes that valued a good work-life balance. They would mostly convene after work, once a week, to do stuff as a corporation. People knew each other and played the game with each other for a very long time. – But the perspective of logging in on someone else’s schedule sapped all joy out of the game for me. So I did the only thing that made sense, really – I chose to not do appointments. I only respond to pings when I am feeling like it, I only rat when I’m feeling like it – and so on. This is perfectly acceptable. You do not need to spend X amount of time in this game to make it.
This will likely be different for you, as there are many people that thrive in such a setting. But it boils down finding out what turns you off of EVE and then eliminating or mitigating those factors as best as you can.
Make it yours
In EVE, you have a near-infinite variety of not only play styles but also corps to choose from. You can be a massively important member of an alliance without ever being in a fleet, or in comms (think scouts providing background intel or jump freighter pilots). You can make money passively, or actively – if you do not want regular commitments, no one is forcing you to do planetary interaction or run a reaction farm. There is so much both in terms of the actual game and the metagame that you can do without compromising the way you play games. One of the main attractions of EVE that gets many of the older players (both in real years and character age) to come back often and/or stick with it is that you can do whatever the hell you want and still be successful. – So take advantage of it.
If you want to stick with EVE longer than with most games you might want to distance yourself from the rat race and remind yourself that you can be whatever you want in the game without compromising your way of play. – Make it yours and be a part of New Eden for the years to come. Best of luck doing that, and fly safe!