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Can Eve Online be played casually?
This is the second in a series of blog posts which focus on eve-online. The last question I focused on was could eve-online be educational? The answer: maybe, but probably not.
Now I’d like to focus on casual gaming (also see here for casual game). The question: can eve online be played casually?
Eve is, of course, a MMORPG. These games have traditionally catered to hardcore gamers, and demand from players a large investment in time. That is, the longer you play, the more quickly you ascend and become more “powerful” in the game world. Some games become quite difficult for new gamers as the older, more powerful players have a monopoly on the best items, skills, and power (this is actually a criticism of Eve which I do not agree with). Another common experience of MMORPG’s is the “really fun” stuff is reserved for the more seasoned players (who are often pushing on the limits of the game world!). Adding to this interesting situation is the idea of guilds (or companies) in eve-speak. any missions in Ev simply cannot be won playing solo - it must be a team effort; this adds to the time sink that eve can become (although this is mitigated by Eve’s single-server solution).
The question is then, can I play Eve for a hour a day, or maybe an hour every 2 days, and still have fun?
My answer is yes. Eve is absolutely playable as a casual game, a few hours a week, and remains a fun, dynamic game. Among the more interesting aspects of Eve’s “casuability” are:
1) The skill system, which moves in real-time; it doesn’t matter if I am logged in or not, my avatar continues to gain in skills and “place” in the game. This is especially important as playing more doesn’t make your skills progress any faster.
2) The PvE game in Eve is rich. There are hundreds of agent missions, where I can login, take a mission, go have fun, and then logoff. The missions are cumulative; the more I do, the more I “stand” in an organization.
3) Eve is a single-sharded game. This means the game isn’t segmented into separate servers. Instead, the game is one giant virtual world; there is always someone on to help, or play with.
4) The storyline is not one. There aren’t epic quests one must complete; Eve is more of a sandbox which is fun to play in - you can really do your own thing (mine, produce stuff, fight, etc…)
5) Moving isn’t slow - jumping from one system to another system is pretty fast, so if I want to meet some friends, I can do so without having to wait for a long time.
6) For me, Eve works brilliantly on OS X, so I can play at home for an hour or so, and still have time for fun, exercise, and life.
There is huge PvP aspect of Eve, but I haven’t played it. My sense is it doesn’t lend itself to casual gaming (since the other people who play PvP seem to play in groups!).
I think Eve is a great game, and is quite enjoyable as a casual experience. When starting Eve for the first time, I suggest setting aside 2 full hours to fully play the tutorial (it’s good, and it is supposed to get better with a new release).