MMO Meltdown: EVE Online
Somewhere, the Mars One team is going through over 200,000 applications to find the right humans for the Mars mission. The chosen will train for seven years before their journey. As a second option -depending on budgetary restraints- they may just play EVE Online for three weeks. Not only would that give them technical abilities beyond what the mission calls for, they will also have faced the darkest depths of mental anguish that man has yet to construct or conceive of. It is only through that type of psychological alienation that the team in charge of the mission can be sure of success.
As you may recall from my last column I am one of the many refugees of the game City of Heroes. And this is the second instalment of my column, MMO Meltdown, in which I search for a new MMO to call home. That MMO is not EVE Online.
I shouldn't be overly harsh because some people probably enjoy EVE. If I was dark, demented, and devoid of basic human warmth I think I might find this game reassuring. 'Look mom' I'd say, 'you said there was no place for me and yet here I am snuggled in amongst the black holes and endless expanse of nothingness.' At which point I would remember that I am alone and need to do laundry sometime soon.
I want to get into a new online game, I really do. I gave EVE a chance and it wasn't all bleak. It actually started out with hope as the game launcher told me I was joining 19560 other players. With that many people I was sure there would be a lot of cooperation and a lively chat (both staples of CoH). 20 thousand people -to me- seemed like a stamp of approval. It turns out 20 thousand people is less than 10% of the total population of Earth, so it's actually not that strong of a polling number.
Let's disregard the numbers and continue... The first thing you need to do in EVE is create a character. I chose the MinMatar, an anti-democratic slave race. Then it advances to the next screen where you have to pick your bloodline. And what's the first bloodline featured in the slave race MinMatars? The Brutors. Who, if they weren't dressed like they just awoke from the Matrix, would have fit right in at a Kanye West concert. The Brutors are black. This is two minutes into this game and my spidey sense is going crazy. I decided to go against my instincts and do some actual journalism. It turns out CCP -the company that made EVE- was started by Reynir Harðarson, Þórólfur Beck and Ívar Kristjánsson. If my hunch is correct those are some extremely white people. I decided to dig deeper. It turns out that a couple years ago they laid off around 20% of their staff worldwide with Atlanta, Georgia being hit the hardest. We're talking about the ATL people. Hotlanta. How deep did this go?
Another interesting thing I came across during my investigation was that the company recently changed their focus (when I say investigation I mean I read the first paragraph of the CCP wiki page). They shifted their focus from the MMO World of Darkness to EVE online. This told me two things. One) these are some morose motherf'ers (to borrow a phrase) and two) No wonder EVE Online makes me question my soul's eternity. These guys are isolated in Iceland cooking up ways to spread desolation around the world. And their plan to sneak it upon us is genius. It's called character creation. Ask anyone who played CoH and they will tell you how vital character creation is. The guys down at CCP know. You can adjust the cheeks and eyebrows, pick hairstyles, clothing , eyes, etc. Cut to 45 minutes later and I come out looking like Marlo Stanfield from "The Wire" and ready to praise EVE online as being the successor to the MMO. The portrait studio is also a unique feature. Next you pick the ancestry, and I went with 'Slave Child'. 'See how far they've taken this' was my thinking.
So off I went, Marl0 Stanfield with a zero instead of an O because Marlo Stanfield with an O was already taken. A good sign, I thought. After that it's really a blur, the tutorial is super slow and cumbersome and the flying around in the capsule that I was controlling with my mind is what lead to the tone of this post. Here's my notes as I was playing (I use playing loosely):
"Pretty trippy... warp drive... deep space... eerie... mushrooms... techno music... "
I swear that's what I scribbled on my notepad. It just got deeper and darker until there was a feeling of being on mushrooms while terrible techno music played. Do not start playing this game in a really positive mood, preserve that fleeting state. As I floated through the bleakness that is EVE Online in a capsule smaller than a Smart Car I decided to turn on the intergalactic radio (chat) to try and maintain my humanity. Nope. On the chat I heard "Insuring ships... transferring money... minimal costs". If my boss told me I could skip the board meeting to play EVE Online I'd have some deliberating to do. As I was floating aimlessly contemplating these things I drove into a big billboard in space. Interstellar travel, check. Massive universal knowledge, check. Slavery and annoying advertising, Check? Honestly, flying into that billboard was disgustingly refreshing after an hour of floating past dimly lit moons and over-industrialized space stations. Despite my MinMatar origin, I was no longer anti-democratic, or anti-capitalist, or anti- anything if it meant companionship and conversation.
"Get me out of this pod!!!"
Final thought? EVE Online makes me wish I was smarter. Next up: Star Wars The Old Republic. Until then, watch out for billboards, what's up to anyone from Guardian server, and what's up with Iceland?
Editor's note: upon further investigation Iceland appears to be an OK place. So disregard the above. Thank you.