Now four months in, I find myself at a compelling point in my experience with EVE online. I am above complete ignorance but also still enough of a whelp that I must remember my place – my rank- in this indifferent universe bristling with pilots of mixed motivations and alignments. Nonetheless, I am finding myself a little more situated within New Eden, making my way around with a little more grace, and am beginning to perceive the workings within and without, though my untrained eyes may still misunderstand or overlook things.
When pondering the immensity in which I now find myself, I feel like someone listening in to Marlow, the primary yarn-spinner of ‘Heart of Darkness’, whom at the onset it is said: …and to him the meaning of an episode was not inside like a kernel but outside, enveloping the tale which brought it out only as a glow brings out a haze. The linguistic design of Joseph Conrad and the programing design of EVE Online developer CCP Games share a likeness in that both created a place that is somewhat enigmatic but still definite – we may not immediately understand the essentials of this place, nor the higher workings, but so long as we are here let us do with it what we can and increase herein.
To an extent this is how my rookie mind perceives the fundamental mechanics of EVE online. To label the game as endless is a bit of a misnomer; it would carry the context of something that has a solid beginning and a centralized, climactic ending that is forever out of reach. Let us then label the universe of EVE – if label we must – as a singular levitating entity that could care less if you’re in it or not. The purpose – the meaning – therefore exists in all those glowing nebulous hazes dotted with planets and streaked with asteroid belts, and other celestial bodies rich in resources. Yes. EVE is a naturalistic experience. Indeed, as Marlow begins his descent into the African jungle he muses: I wondered whether the stillness on the face of the immensity looking at us two were meant as an appeal or as a menace. The affairs of an EVE pilot are self-made, even when they unfold under the self-made affairs of tens-of-thousands of other pilots; the universe does nothing more than provide the space, time and resources. No favors.
Increased knowledge and ability is the motivating – nay, the compulsory – force that prompts me to log in daily. New tactics to apply, new keyboard shortcuts use, a new attempt to work around a particular problem or a new fitting to balance a ship’s weakness. There is a reoccurring realization that something can be accomplished, but done so without the need to grind or level up. Indeed, the universe is abundant enough. If you find yourself grinding I posit that 1) You’re moving too fast, 2) you’re not being creative enough, and 3) you need to practice six sigma – EVE Online is just as much game as it is MetaGame.
CCP Games just reported a record-breaking 500,000 Eve subscribers. When I log in, the game has reported anywhere between 22,000 to 62,000 players currently online at that time. These are the people who fulfill my buy orders for Upgraded 1mn MicroWarp Drives. These are the people who undersell my batch of Combat Scanner Probes. These are players who fight with other players for wormhole space, stage sieges, gank, coordinate fleet attacks, reprocess, refine, buy, sell, and operate in corporate hierarchies far beyond my meddling rookie mind. Marlow confesses: Nowhere did we stop long enough to get a particularized impression, but the general sense of vague and oppressive wonder grew upon me. I am just one pilot in a universe of 500,000. I am my own. I am responsible. So, grow a pair, make a plan, and get out there.