So happy together: A review of “EVE Online”

“The Office” is over and Dwight Schrute is doing whatever it is he does best: beet farming, running his bed and breakfast and generally being obnoxious. There is probably one thing different about him. Maybe he is successful and happy in life, but I doubt he is successful and happy in “Second Life.” This is due to one fact: he has moved on to the wide expanse of space in “EVE Online.”

Convoluted opening aside, “EVE Online” is a Massively-Multi-player Game (MMO) that came out in 2003 and has, for some odd reason, only grown in popularity. Other games like “World of Warcraft” or “Everquest” saw a lot of growth for the first few years of their existence but are now in a period of decline and the question of “when will it die?” is seriously being asked. “EVE Online” does not have the ridiculous number of subscribers that “World of Warcraft” (WoW) has. All the subscriptions of “WoW” in a year is higher than the GDP of some countries, but the players in “EVE” seem devoted to the game more than the regular player.

A great example of the dedication is the CTO (chief technology officer) of the company that creates the game “Lost a Friend’s Ship.” The impulse anyone would have would be to just create another version of that ship using whatever backed the game. I mean, it is just a few lines of code and not an actual ship. Instead, the CTO decided he felt uncomfortable doing,, that so he spent dozens of hours of his own time off to gather enough resources to purchase a ship for his friend.

“EVE Online” seems to somehow encourage this atmosphere of dedication rather than one of obsession, unlike other MMOs. It is an extremely overwhelming game for new players, more so than other games. The game’s economy is incredibly complicated where everything revolves around harvesting resources from moons, planets, nebulas and shipwrecks. All of the resources you gather and the technology you can create – like bigger and better ships – translate to a real-world value due to the time that people must spend either on their own or, the more productive solution, in a group.

Cooperation is the name of this game (well, technically it is “EVE Online,” but I am trying to make a point here) because it forces you to work together. To start with, instead of having the player base divided between multiplayer servers, all of the players in “EVE” all play together in one server. Your actions can affect any one of the other players. As a player, you are able to be a pirate roaming space, the captain of your own fleet, a spy tasked with espionage or part of one of the player-run organizations. Each of the choices you make impacts other players in small and, in some cases, huge, ways.

The emergent gameplay that comes from the chaos of the various systems and players interacting with each other is where the game really shines. It is almost impossible to guess what will happen. Just a few weeks ago, the largest battle happened. 2,200 players waged war online with the destruction costing around $200,000 in real-life currency due to a mistake that caused one faction to lose control of a system. A different faction came in and took control, so the original faction came back with a fleet to forcibly take it back. Various players streamed the war; it might be impossible to see what is happening, but there are many lights and ships exploding to watch.