I’ve never been one for MMOs, for one I’m scared of them, what with all the talk about EverCrack etc, and for two they kinda sound like too much work. I’m not sure I want a game I can never actually finish playing. My only foray so far into the genre has been Dungeon Runners, which won brownie points with me just for sending up the whole fantasy genre in the old tradition of Bored of the Rings.
I can’t entirely explain therefore why I decided to try Eve Online tonight. I’ve always thought the screenshots looked a bit sexy and sounded like it might be a deviation from the usual grind-em-up fantasy gameplay. I didn’t have any intention of becoming a subscriber, I just thought I’d try it for an hour and see what I thought.
It turns out it’s the perfect thing to be playing before bed - I don’t think I’ve played anything quite as tedious as this for some considerable time. Space looks pretty nice, not as nice as the screenshots would have you believe and you can’t seem to go five minutes without tripping over ten nebulae, but the tutorials are full of the most mind-numbing, incredibly banal tasks I’ve ever seen - kill pirates by selecting a few menu items. Deliver documents, by selecting a few menu items. Mine an asteroid, by selecting a few menu items. Refine and trade the ore, by selecting a few menu items. Slap self to stave off catatonia - no menu items required, amazingly. I can’t help thinking that I could have written a script to click all the menu items, and gone to bed earlier instead. Throughout you’re guided by a monotone female voice explaining the tasks you must perform - now I know it’s supposed to be an AI or something, but I swear if I listened her for another ten minutes I would have ended up slumped across my keyboard, drooling over the space bar and snoring like a hill giant. And I actually think that had I done that, I might have ended up continuing to play via some kind of audio sleep-suggestion thing; her voice had precisely the kind of tone and meter that I imagine works well for those kinds of things.
My goodness, how could no-one at CPP realise how irretrievably, soul-crushingly dull that tutorial is? It’s drudgery at an Olympic level. One of the golden rules of game design is that you put one of your best levels / experiences right at the front of the game to hook people in. I spent my first hour in Eve utterly bored out of my skull, and as such I will never touch it again. I only played for as long as I did because I couldn’t believe it would continue in that vein, but by the fourth or fifth set of tasks I couldn’t take it anymore. I don’t think I have an overly short attention span, this is just dull. Maybe you have to really, really like spaceships to put up with all the meaningless crap you’re supposed to do in the initial stages. Or maybe you just have to have nothing better to do. Neither applies to me, I’m going to bed. 😀