My first few hours in Eve Online involved watching Youtube videos on how to play Eve Online.
WHO AM I, AND WHAT MAKES ME (NOT SO) FAMOUS
My name is Hoots, and I started playing Eve Online in May of 2012 shortly after the Inferno expansion launched. Prior to playing Eve, my experience with MMOs started as a 14 year old proto-nerd who, with the help of his younger brother, managed to somehow convince his mother to shell out $10 or $15 a month to play Everquest (I don’t actually remember the exact cost of an Everquest subscription circa 1999). I never got a character to level-cap in Everquest, but I do remember joining a casual guild named after a reference to Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. This was amazingly cool, since as a 14-year old it was apparent that Robert Jordan was the greatest author to have written anything ever, never mind the past 2000 years of actual literature.
As an adult, I sank an unhealthy amount of time into World of Warcraft, managing to mostly treat it as a single player game. I very briefly raided with a group of coworkers, but I mostly stuck to pursuing silly achievements like “Brewmaster,” and “Seeker.” I have also briefly played most modern MMOs currently on the market, but I would consider my playstyle much more casual than hardcore.
MOTIVATIONS AND CHALLENGES
The first exposure to news about EVE that perked my interest was various outlets reporting on Burn Jita in the earlier part of May of 2012. One of the general gaming podcasts I listened to made a comment about Burn Jita that surmised EVE Online was wonderful to have around as a source of story-generation, but was largely uninteresting to play and completely impenetrable to outsiders.
A little bit after the Burn Jita events, near the end of that May, Steam had a sale on the new Inferno expansion for a little over six dollars. I purchased the game on impulse, only having two clear objectives. First, I wanted to give it a fair shake and see if it was really as impenetrable as nearly every mainstream gaming news outlet was claiming it to be. Second, I wanted to be able tell my friends and co-workers horror stories about absurd things that happened in a 9-year-old game. I assumed I would last a month or so and mirror my pattern with other MMOs, save World of Warcraft.
My first few minutes in EVE were relatively pain-free. I spent a good five minutes stressing over my racial choice until a quick alt-tab and Google search revealed that racial choice really didn’t matter. I easily spent another 30 minutes fussing over my avatar, as I assumed that I would be using it all the time to interact with other players. Right?
With my avatar built, I started actually playing. It wasn’t too bad; I walked around a space station using the familiar WASD configuration found in almost every modern PC game. After entering space in my pod, and shortly thereafter a newbie ship, getting from point A to point B in space seemed pretty self-explanatory. Sure, the Overview panel was technically a spreadsheet, but it wasn’t that horrible of a spreadsheet. I did notice “Free Stuff” and variations thereof around some of the newbie stations, which I promptly ignored, assuming the stuff wasn’t free or there was some sort of shenanigans involved. My progress was completely unimpeded in my first half hour of actual gameplay, and I moved my newbie ship to the appropriate station that housed all the Career Tutorial agents. This game wasn’t really that hard at all.
MAKING MOUNTAINS OF MOLEHILLS
For those of you who don't know or can't remember, the first mission in the Making Mountains of Molehills series requests some amount of Veldspar brought back to the station from a specific spot in the system. The tutorial pop-up at that time in EVE’s history1 helpfully suggested how capsuleers typically go mining. Aura told me to equip a mining laser, travel to an asteroid belt, and mine any asteroids found there.
Easy enough. I equipped a mining laser and found an asteroid belt in system. I then proceeded to mine a bunch of Veldspar and promptly return to the space station. As it turns out, I did not yet meet all the mission conditions and was therefore unable to complete the mission. I paused and considered that I might have gotten the wrong type of Veldspar, or that maybe I was supposed to have an excess amount than what the mission specified. So, I went back to the asteroid belt and mined more Veldspar. No dice. I went and mined Dense Veldspar. Nothing.
At this point the possibility was slowly dawning on me that perhaps I needed to mine the Veldspar from a particular location. There were multiple conditions for the mission, and I had a green checkmark next a condition that seemed to indicate I indeed had the right amount of Veldspar. However, a second mystery condition persisted as still incomplete, and the only information it provided was a yellow circle with the name of the system I was in. Fantastic.
I glanced at all my menus under the journal button in the neocom, and I even went so far as to read carefully read the mission text. Twice. Either this game simply wasn’t going to tell me where I needed to go to mine this particular ore-of-annoyance, or I was doing something else wrong.
I did the next somewhat-logical thing I could think of, and I went to a different asteroid belt in the same system and mined all the Veldspar I needed for the mission all over again. I tried trashing the Veldspar I had, and then I tried splitting up the Veldspar into the exact turn-in quantity for the mission. Nothing. I still couldn’t turn in the mission. I must have spent a good hour and a half mining Veldspar, except it seemed like a Sisyphean eternity. I was becoming increasingly annoyed at both myself and EVE. Why, why couldn't I figure out how to complete a simple tutorial mission?
I then exercised the only other option I felt that I had available, and I alt-tabbed out of Eve did a search for the mission. The first search result I got was for a Youtube video of the career tutorials for from Eve University. I ended up watching that very video tutorial explaining how to complete a tutorial. The absurdity was not lost on me.
The video explained some of the finer points of EVE. For example, the “Free Stuff” I encountered earlier was indeed a form of shenanigans that would result in my death. The video tutorial also kindly explained how right clicking out in space brings up a wonderful navigation menu, and that location-specific places for missions pop up there when a mission is accepted and you are in the appropriate system. Huzzah. I had found the information I needed.
Ore in tow from the proper place, I was finally able to complete the mission. I remember a feeling of elation that I figured out this terribly inscrutable puzzle. I was not going to be beaten by this game and its complete inability to tell me about its own interface. I had triumphed, even if it was with the help of YouTube.
Six months later, I somehow haven’t stopped playing. But I never went mining again, and to this day I suffer from an irrational hatred of Veldspar.
1. Subsequent changes in the Tutorial system, and a couple needed tweaks to the user-interface, now more clearly communicate where to go and how to complete missions. If only I had joined the game a few months later.