Why I didn’t play EVE at launch

It seems everybody I know is ill at the moment. In contrast to my typical behavior when it comes to games and hardware (I’m typically a late adopter), I was ahead of everybody this time. I was ill all of last week and half-ill this week, which I’ll blame the lack of posts on this time. Because I need something to put the blame on this time around, right?

Anyway, Ripard asks whether his readers would have played EVE Online at launch in 2003. I like that question, because it is not at all hypothetical to me. I actually tried out EVE at launch. (Or maybe shortly afterwards. Must’ve been before Castor released in December of 2003 because I remember rumors in chat about T2 ships.) I tried it, and was turned away fast.

Ripard names a couple of things that weren’t in the game at launch and that are considered fundamental pieces of EVE these days: war-decs, POSes, capitals, T2 ships, a mature player market. None of the these turned me away from the game, though.

No, the thing that made me boggle and leave after just a few sessions was… seriously, you develop a game about fighting and trading in space… a game like Privateer, an online game like Jumpgate, just grander… and I can’t fly my spaceship?

Most EVE players probably don’t think about this any more when they log in, but at that time, it felt utterly ridiculous to me that “flying” your spaceship meant choosing targets from a list and hitting a button. That system surely was designed by someone who sucked at even the most basic flight simulators! I wanted to use first-person view out of my cockpit, and my joystick! In a way, all flying in EVE is autopilot-based. “Manual” flying means clicking somewhere in space and hoping the ship will fly in vaguely that direction. All normal flying is based on choosing a target and a command (approach, orbit, warp to).

I mean, how strange is that? At that point, I came from trying out Jumpgate, which annoyed me for other reasons (which I have mostly forgotten). A spaceship game which didn’t allow you to actually fly your spaceship seemed like the weirdest idea to me. Surely, only crazy Icelanders who had too much rotten shark could’ve come up with such an idea? That would never fly! (1 Euro in the pun jar, yes yes…) The game would crash and burn and nobody would remember it in 5 years!

Yeah, I’m obviously great at predictions.

Anyway, that’s why I didn’t play EVE when it was released. If EVE were to be released for the first time today, I still wouldn’t. Only playing this weird “space simulator” which really isn’t one made me think that such a concept might work, after all.

6 thoughts on “Why I didn’t play EVE at launch

    1. It is. One of them is why I’m still subscribed if I don’t really do anything meaningful in the game, and haven’t for more than half a year.

        1. I really should get around to playing it a bit again. But I’m not sure what I want to do, and I’m always worried my choices might block other possibilities in the future. Like joining up with group A, then not being accepted in group B any more because I’m “tainted” and could be a spy. On the other hand, I’m very probably overly worried. F1 monkeys might be able to switch even between alliances.

  1. That’s actually one of the first reasons I’ve seen for playing EVE. My main objection to SF video games is that they bear almost no similarity to anything I recognize as Science Fiction. Same applies to movies. And TV.

    When it comes to “flying” spaceships, one thing you almost never see in what I would class as “real science fiction” is the equivalent of a pilot flying an airplane. You have sentient AIs, non-sentient machines, organic gestalts, drug-enhanced or psionic individuals and massive teams but, other than for the space equivalent of sports cars or taxis you don’t have one guy heaving on a joystick.

    If EVE delegates control of ships to something more capable than the human player at the keyboard that seems eminently reasonable to me. Maybe one day I’ll download the trial and see for myself.

    1. You have a good point there, for long-distance traveling. (EVE indeed has an “auto pilot” you can program with waypoints, and the ship will fly through systems and jump through gates to get there.)

      The main problem is that, in my opinion, when it comes to fighting, that is, close-range piloting, EVE delegates control of the ship to something that isn’t more capable than the human player. All you can do is choose a target and “approach” or “orbit”, or click somewhere in space and let your ship fly in that direction (with the fundamental problem that choosing a 3-dimensional point to fly toward on a your screen’s 2-dimensional input field can lead to “interesting” results).

      In a way, it’s as if EVE is the other way round from the standard MMO fighting: instead of controlling your character’s movement, but having an auto-attack (supplemented by hotkey attacks), EVE gives you full control over all your actions, except movement. I know that you like some sort of “automation” in your games, for the lack of a better word: stand and exchange hits, auto-attacks, etc. And I’m with you to a large extent. It’s just that with EVE, doing it the other way round always struck me as a strange decision.

      Then again, the game would be unplayable (well, even less playable) during extra-large fights. Flying a ship during 10% time dilation already sucks, from all I heard, but I can’t imagine how bad it would be if you had to manually pilot it.

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