EVE is a new space-based MOG. On the surface its similar to Westwood’s Earth & Beyond: you have a ship that you fly around in, mining asteroids, fighting NPCs and exploring. But once you get into the game you start to learn that EVE is very different.
Basically, it boils down to this. Whereas E&B was a MMORPG with ships instead of player avatars, EVE is an alternate universe to make your mark on. There’s almost no hand-holding going on, there are no levels. You choose your own path… you can focus on getting the beset ship possible, or increasing your personal skills, or on getting rich…it’s all up to you.
At the heart of this is a player-driven economy that gives the players the tools to interact with each other in meaningful ways. From your first day in EVE you can start selling items when you’re offline, for instance. Players can hire each other to haul cargo, put a bounty on an enemy, or commission a star ship from another player.
Corporations, which take the place of Guilds, add long-term goals for players. A Corporation can build its own space station, albeit at great cost in terms of cash and materials. This will require all the members of the Corp pulling together to work towards a common goal.
You’ll notice I referred to EVE as a MOG, not a MMORPG. While a major portion of the game is about character development, there’s a solid economic empire building game in here, too. Be a trader sniffing out the best trade routes between systems, or be a miner, or a builder, or a bounty hunter. Or do some of each. Amassing wealth in order to buy better ships and equipment is a big part of the game, and the player-to-player economic possibilities keep things interesting.
The last thing that sets EVE apart is how ‘low impact’ it is. Make no mistake, there’s a lot of downtime in this game. Mining asteroids, or making multi-jump trips, can take a good little while. Oddly though, rather than being annoying I find this relaxing. If I need more excitement I can always hunt pirates for a while. But just as an example, as I write this, my ship is mining an asteroid on my other laptop (which accounts for how disorganized this post is…I had to go kill pirates a few times in the midst of it).
The thing that scares me about EVE is that its starting to remind me of my first online gaming addiction: Megawars III, on the old Compuserve Service. If I get as hooked on EVE as I was on that game I’ll be in trouble, indeed!