Today marks the release of Cataclysm, but rare among the blogosphere, I am completely unfazed. I don’t mean for this to sound like a judgement at all, nor am I trying to be condescending in my uniqueness. I enjoyed the little bit of World of Warcraft that I played, and I could see an alternate universe me really enjoying it. I definitely have a soft spot for the slightly-cartoony, all-awesome armor, I think that the character designs could aptly be described as “lovely“, and the WoW rogue epitomizes what I’ve long considered to be my ideal playing style. But WoW just… well, the one thing that really interested me about Cataclysm was archeology (gee, I wonder why that is?), and that singular draw isn’t enough to bring me into a new game.
So instead, I form an extremely rare minority that, right at the launch of the newest expansion for the world’s largest (real) MMO, is instead re-subscribing to another MMO, EVE Online. I guess that together, Harbinger Zero and I will form the contrarian position, even if I don’t have the hard edge of opinion that HZ does.
Like I said earlier, buried somewhere in my fanwankery, I have a long history with EVE. I’ve probably make four different characters on as many accounts; I’ve never really been wed to an EVE avatar the way I have my STO captains. I thought I’d take today to look back on my previous escapades in the EVE universe, and why this time (might) be a little different.
In the winter of my first year of undergrad, some gamer friends from down the hall discovered EVE. Bloodlines, the fifth expansion to EVE, came out that season, and introduced a new race for each civilization.
In yee olden dayes, the race you chose determined attribute statistics, and attribute remapping (to the best of my recollection) wasn’t yet implemented. This meant that there were clearly better races to play than others–for instance, some races were really charismatic, which is the same thing as saying they unattractive and detested.
The new bloodline introduced for the Caldari was the Achura, and their bonuses in intelligence and perception made them the clear best choice. It didn’t hurt that Achura females were also pretty cute, and that I really liked their backstory the best.
See, the Achura are loyal to the Caldari State, which is really just a collection of superpowerful corporations united by a shared sense of nationalism. Their original homeworld was extremely harsh, and survival was only guaranteed by individual subordination to an extremely powerful state. This makes them the ideological and natural enemies of the Gallente, which the EVE lore constantly reminds us is the galaxy’s “only true democracy.” In real life, I love democracy and the U.S. of A., but I’m willing to be a little more explorative in my science fiction. In EVE, the Gallente are “the good guys”, but it’s also clear that they regard themselves as the good guys, even while denying they do just that; the whole shebang is just insufferable. (In this regard, the Gallente remind me very much of The Culture).
Anyways, one of the guys from down the hall was playing the Gallente, and he was sort of a prick. If war ever came (and come it did, eventually, two years later), I didn’t even want to be ideologically on his side. So, Caldari it was.
All I really remember of this character is the loneliness of fighting with missiles, the Caldari’s ‘racial’ weapon preference. Jump in, lock onto a target from dozens and dozens of klicks out, and fire. You’d never even have to see your enemies, and if you want to loot the wrecks in a timely manner, you’d best have an afterburner. Destroying a gang hideout or weapons cache was particularly aggravating and time consuming.
I also remember being grindingly poor. At this point, the pinicle of my EVE ambitions was to fly a Caldari Caracal, and even though they only run ~3.5 million ISK (at least, now), I just could not get the money together to buy one.
Then I got one, and lost it in Jita while on autopilot. My interest in the game faded, not so much because I lost my ship, but because I had died, and I felt like my character wasn’t really my character anymore, but a clone, and therefore some sort of terrible, probably evil doppelganger.
I toyed around with some characters in the intervening years, but the advent of the Apocrypha expansion pack was what finally brought me back for an extended period of time. I’ve always wanted to be an honest-to-goodness explorer, and the unstable wormholes created by this expansion, coupled with the overhaul of the probing system, were just awesome. I was really happy to play; I even splurged on some PLEX, and contributed ISK to help an up-and-coming wormhole exploration corp set-up a small base in a wormhole system. My new dream was to fly a Drake, a ship that I believe to be one of the coolest spaceships ever designed, ever. Look up “awesome shield-tanking missile boat” in the dictionary on the internet, and you’ll see many pictures of the Drake.
But, well, all good things must end. I broke if off with my small corp (there were security breaches, and we never seemed to get around to fighting Sleepers), parked my Drake, and walked off into the sunset.
My experience has taught me that being a missile-using, shield-tanking Caldari is the normative EVE experience, and I finally decided that for once, I was going TO GO CRAZY and DO SOMETHING ELSE.
I got over my aversion to the Amarr, and their backstory–a religiously-motivated empire of conquest that seeks to enlighten and uplift the other, lesser, heathen races–has grown on me, in a very dark way. “It’s just more fun in
the Culture the Amarr Empire!” I decided I’d go with lasers, and with armor, and that I’d place less emphasis on getting to a specific ship (Caracal! Drake!) and more emphasis on getting the skills I need to fly my current ship well. In this regard, the new(ish?) Certificate system is really handy.
Next time, I think I’ll talk about how the “New Player Experience” has changed over time–or, more interestingly, the (apparently) age-old argument between investing in Destroyers, or going straight for Cruisers.