No Man’s EVE


I’ve been playing No Man’s Sky this week on PS4 and enjoying it. As an EVE player it doesn’t take long before your mind starts making comparisons between the two titles. NMS is an exploration game primarily, but is set in a science-fiction universe and shares many of the same thematic foundations as EVE. The similarities are as different as night and day from that starting point. They are not even close to being the same game; two ends of a vast spectrum separate them. While EVE’s universe seems vast, it is nothing compared to the 18 quintillion procedurally-generated systems of No Man’s Sky. And while No Man’s Sky is a relaxing and often challenging game of exploration and discovery, what good is it without people to share it with?

we stand on the edge of a new direction for EVE

All of which got me thinking. As we stand on the edge of a new direction for EVE – a direction that might include player-built Stargates, new space, Nova combat inside of ships, and perhaps even on planets – are there lessons to be learned from No Man’s Sky? What can EVE take from the experience of playing NMS and translate into New Eden, if anything?

You are all alone in No Man’s Sky. It is truly a single-player experience with some shared community data regarding discoveries and other information. But playing the game is a lonely experience. You are surrounded by life, by aliens, by NPCs that attack you, or warp into your field of vision, but the interaction with those elements of the game is extremely limited. The PvP, or what passes for it, is also extremely limited. Especially in the beginning. The game is “monitored” by Sentinels that are everywhere, keeping a watchful eye on your every move. Take too much, or cause too much trouble, and they will come down on you. A lot like CCP. (Just joking.) But there is no multiplayer aspect to the game. It is incredibly visual and a wonder to behold, but it is also very repetitive and often slightly annoying. It is also a weirdly relaxing experience in many ways. The normal pressures of game play don’t exert themselves the same way they do in other games; your goals are your own. The game itself demands very little of you. Sound familiar?

EVE Online large citadel

the person on the other side of the screen

In many strange ways No Man’s Sky and EVE share common traits. But they are also vastly different animals. And nothing will make you appreciate those differences more than playing ten or twelve hours of No Man’s Sky. I miss talking in chat. But mostly I miss the one fact about EVE that was most game-changing when I first realized it – the person on the other side of the screen. It is, after everything else, what makes EVE such a wonderful and challenging and rewarding experience. Interaction with real people. Defeating real people. Working together with real people. And exploring with real people.

Of course, No Man’s Sky is not an MMO and it isn’t trying to be. It is a video game. A video game that proves beyond a doubt that people will respond to exploration challenges on their own merits. A fact that is often debated inside of the EVE community. No Man’s Sky can easily serve as a template for PvE inside of EVE. As long as that experience is rewarding, interesting, and engaging on its own merits, people will participate. It can be difficult for EVE to build those experiences within the confines of space on a consistent basis. And that is where repetition rears its ugly head. But I think No Man’s Sky can help expand on those thoughts, perhaps not directly, but by showing us that more can be accomplished than perhaps we have become accustomed to believing. And maybe, from a PvE perspective, that is an important lesson. Maybe we could all use some new ways of thinking about content.

Soon we may need it. If we are to build our own stargates someday and explore new territory, then that needs to be considered carefully. In No Man’s Sky, every system is different and unique. But in that procedurally generated insanity, they all sorta kinda start to look the same. In my opinion it is a valuable warning that should be heeded when we consider new space in New Eden. Should it “be the same”? Or can we consider something new? Not just without local. Or with strange effects. But fundamentally different space. Space that demands attention from the players; space that perhaps requires an entirely new way of playing in it? Consider the possibilities for a moment. Will players bother building gates that simply take them to yet another system that looks just like the one they left? Will entire alliances conspire to work together to make a path to discover yet another New Caldari? They might not. But perhaps they would if that new space was truly something new. A place where things are truly different.

If EVE survives not only its second decade, but moves on into its third, what sort of place should it be?

It is an interesting concept to consider. If EVE survives not only its second decade, but moves on into its third, what sort of place should it be? Can EVE transform itself over time? Can it mold new dynamics, present new challenges, and warp itself slowly and surely into something almost unrecognizable to its founders? It is a mind-bending concept. If any game in history has the chance to do something like that, over such a long time, perhaps EVE is the one to do it.

No Man’s Sky and EVE are distant, far-removed cousins. Cousins that grew up in different lands far from one another. But maybe No Man’s Sky can teach EVE a thing or two about thinking differently. And maybe EVE can teach No Man’s Sky a thing or two about opening up a little bit. As they both rocket into the future it should be interesting to see how they both evolve.

As both EVE and No Man’s Sky would tell you, it isn’t the destination, it is all in the journey.


Tags: rixx javix

About the author

Rixx Javix

Artist, video maker, blogger, lowsec pirate and overall a pillar of the EVE community for years - Rixx Javix wears many hats (and makes them!).

  • Bill Bones

    CCP and EVE are too old to learn new tricks from new games. vºv

    Tasked with figuring a way out of the post-Incarna control damage phase, CCP just could come up with “moar no sec space, moar space ownership, moar stuff to shoot at”. And it’s working so well that the average PCU for 2016 has reached 2007 levels, so there’s less people playing EVE now than during the Revelations/Trinity cycle.

    • trollsroyce

      Or EVE just is an aging game and no matter what, aging games are played less.

      IMO CCP should do the thing that has kept every single game (e.g. Skyrim, Starcraft and CS) on the map:

      Make the sequal.

      • Bill Bones

        Don’t be silly, how do you sequel a game where the content are the players? Let’s say CCP make EVE 2, five weeks after release there would be the exact samr aliances with the exact same guys exploiting whatever new mechanics to achieve their best imitation of the exact situation in EVE 1. Would be literally the same game in a different wrapping.

        • Rob Thompson

          I like the cut of your jib, Mr Bones. We all know that we’re basically creatures of habit, mostly doomed to repeat familiar patterns.

          The ‘creatives’, of course, simply find new ways to do exactly the same things and that is why, as you imply, there’s nothing new under the sun.

    • rixxjavix

      Im shocked you didn’t manage to say it was dying.

      • Bill Bones

        Well, the Rubicon plan *haves* an audience so at some point a balance will be reached between who plays the game as is and what the game is. That balance point might be 20,000 PCU o 15,000 PCU or 10,000 PCU, but at some point the people who enjoy the “core” game will be the only ones left, and certainly they are a lot of people.

    • slowdive

      Oh Sure.. CCP is a dinosaur. That’s why they have an established IP into
      VR Technilogy and are on the cutting edge with the development of new
      augmented reality IPs. EvE is going to expand by learning these “new tricks”. Of the top of my head – EvE VR, Integration with Valkyrie and the new FPS, maybe even exploration of procedually generated space specifically for explorers.

      • Bill Bones

        Let’s put that into perspective, shall we? Valkyrie started as a weekend project by 7 developers. CCP the corporation just jumped on the wagon with those smart guys. Then Gunjack started as another weekend project by not 7, but 4 employees from the Shanghai office… once again, CCP the company just jumped on the wagon.

        We are still to see what comes out from the VR investments, but personally I think VR will tank again and AR will just roll over it so CCP the company has picked the wrong horse for the very clever reason that VR was a cool try when they were young and CCP’s CEO is absolutely head over heels for VR.

  • DireNecessity

    While it’s certainly pleasurable to speculate on possible, wide open futures, I, like Wilhem Arcturis, tend to approach such speculation with caution: Go have a look/see. It reads pretty close to a direct response.

    The difficulty with wide open futures are their very limitlessness. Unconstrained by history, unconstrained by technical concerns, unconstrained by business realities like available funds and a vast number of already in pocket customer expectations, wide open futures are most anything and everything an individual happens to spin into their gossamer threads. Sadly, lived reality rarely lives up to such alluring webs.

    As compare and contrast I quite like this piece Rixx. As anything more, I’m rather more dubious.

    • Bill Bones

      “Art is limitation; the essence of every picture is the frame.” In a world of infinite possibilites, a infinite number of them will not be worth it.

      • rixxjavix

        That is possibly the saddest definition of art I’ve ever heard. Glass half empty bs, in an infinite world of possibilities an infinite number will exceed worth. Oh look, tgat was just as easy to say!

        • Bill Bones

          I think it’s one of the smartest actually. The frame is the essential decission of an artist: what will be in and what will be left out. No matter what kind of art, we call it art because it’s set apart from the world by a frame, virtual or literal.


            I like what you are saying. However I, like Rixx, am a little turned of by the negative ‘frame’ in which you choose to present it. ‘the essence of every picture is it’s frame,’ and the philosophy around that idea, are sound, but ‘infinite disappointments’ are also off-set by infinite opportunities for awesomeness. I dig on your point, just not the tone.

          • Bill Bones

            Well, awesomeness happens easier if someone picks away all the worthless stuff from a random pile, or focuses on making a little something awesome. You can have 18 quintillion planets which look like copypastes of each other (specially to our pattern-loving brains) or one single planet with ten thousand awesome unique sights.

        • Dejara Thoris

          Rixx, stop it…you are making me agree with Bill. Limits are important to art. You can choose the limits to some extent, as either a challenge or a consequence of other decisions. If you don’t limit yourself, it usually ends up as an incoherent mess. A lot of synth based music comes under this heading, however the good synth musicians take a approach/theme and stick with it (wendy williams work being a great example of the latter) even though their chosen instrument can literally make any hearable sound.

          • rixxjavix

            You are both making the wrong point and perhaps it is because you are not artists yourselves. Anyone who considers the frame, which is an artificial construct imposed by engineering constraints, as part and partial “essential” to art is blind. Art itself is boundless. A limitless expression of human imagination, creativity and desire. Hell most art doesnt even exist in a physical frame to begin with.

            Your music example is a perfect example. That is not a frame, that is a self-imposed constraint that the artists have decided to impose upon themselves. One of a thousand decisions that every artist makes and which are different for every other artist.

            The frame is non-essential and inconsequential.

          • Bill Bones

            I am not a professional, but I am of the artist kind, amateur level. In my art, literature, the frame is as real as with each other art. What do you say? To what detail? Does the character go into a bathroom? Do you describe him urinating? The color and smell? Maybe a bit of scattered pee and the color of it on the floor? Does that make a point? Is it in or out? Fits to the mood and pace? Those are no trivial decisison, often you make them unconsciously since you “know what you want to say”, but by doing that, there is a frame. The action stops by a bathroom door and what happens behind is never written, is never a part of art. Or you dig all the way down to the silliest details if you seek an emotion, make the reader laugh or be embarrassed or bored… or are staging a surprise. Maybe there’s blood in the urine, and you seeded that the character fears he’s ill of something that causes blood in urine. So the story goes in one direction or another, and the content and pace and everything else is created on the decisison of what goes in (and what is left out, even if you never think about it). There is a frame, always.

            Even you Rixx decide how much background will be in your works, don’t you? That’s a literal case of framing… how large will be the subject compared to the whole picture, which depends on where exactly do you draw the frame. But also metaphorically, if you want to draw a Chremoas speeding amidst a hail of gunfire, you don’t just draw in a planet 50x the visual size of the Chremoas because it would completely obscure the scene… you *could* create that scene with that giant blob of color, but you don’t… because your topic is a Chremoas running away from a hail of gunfire. That’s what you decide it’s in the frame and that’s an essential part of why it’s art and not some random screenshot. And maybe you don’t even let any star slip into the frame…

          • rixxjavix

            We are arguing semantics. I’d hazard a guess here that we both know exactly what each other is talking about but choose to look at the glass in different ways. Of course all of life is defined by limitations, a finite set of rules, factors, and limits that each of us have to live within. Thats because the universe itself is set up that way. As a result of those limitations, art is ultimately constrained. It has to be. Because it exists. I would argue however that the artist is not confined by those limitations and only confined by the ones they choose to be confined by. And those choices may very well vary drastically from one work to another, and from one artist to another. And by reflection often inhabit a world without limitation as a pure expression of limitless imagination. That is how I choose to look at things. Which, in and of itself, is a form of self-imposed limits I suppose. All of which steps into philosophical territory.

            You are free to look at art anyway you choose. But I would argue that your definition of “frame” is a mental construct that isn’t doing you any favors. Open your mind and stop seeing frames and start looking at what is inside those frames.

          • Jathen Codexus

            I would argue that seeing the framing as a restriction is the same as viewing white space as pointless. In the same way as white space can offset, relax the mind, etc, the framing itself is a part of the art. It is a decision that the artist has made. In reality there are so many potential settings, objects, lighting, that what you choose to do is far more important than what you have prevented yourself from doing, and even then you are adding to the work in what you don’t say or paint as much as what you do.

            By the way, Rixx, I love the podcast, your battlecruiser posters are literally the only art on my walls, and Stay Frosty always seems to bring good fights. o7

        • DireNecessity

          Edited my initial comment. Only fair to the developing conversation that I mention this where the conversation is actually developing.

    • rixxjavix

      But it might be rather glorious.

      • DireNecessity


        Might be. Might also be the final nail in the coffin. CCP, being shepherds of the Eve flock, will make the decisions they do while the players will continue to play the game they actually have. Both sides will dream. If we’re lucky, those disparate dreams just may link up.

  • slowdive

    NMS is a farse, marketed as a AAA game it copies some elements of a survival/crafting game and mixes it with random ganarated bullsh*t.

    Repetative, often nonsensical, uninspired. And don’t even get me started on the price tag.

    • Its a Farce

      Farce .

      • cloaky sniper raven

        A generated Farce.

  • Stralisemiai

    I find pleasure in repetition, it is why I mine so much in EVE and revel in its crafting system, so I was very hyped when I read about NMS pre release. However – I decided not to buy NoMansSky due to many real life factors first and foremost – as well as knowing I have free access to twitch (and I possibly watched more gameplay live, than I would have actually achieved playing it myself.) I got pretty bored of watching NMS within a few days, it quickly seemed to scroll, a hunt for repairs and fuel, to the next system, rinse and repeat.

    When I originally played EVE I spent a considerable amount of time (a good month at least playing every day) exploring high sec in a way I imagine many others have not. I penciled out my own maps, wrote down each station / faction and the types of agents inside them – and I really enjoyed exploring the universe in this way. It made EVE feel huge.. and even though NMS is ‘bigger’ – with the lack of other players to interact with, i’m afraid the game becomes very small in the sense of lived player experience imo.

    I love the idea of player owned stargates, but I fear these will replace jump bridges without jump fatigue. I hope I am wrong.

  • Great article Rixx! I’ve been playing a lot of NMS this past week and, personally, I really love it. As an artist IRL, the constant explosion of color and creativity makes my heart swoon. That said, it is a pretty lonely experience. I’m a solo explorer in EVE so I think those aspects of NMS were a built-in win for me. I don’t get bored with exploring, resource gathering and item crafting. But there is no substitute for interactions with real people and no amount of procedural generation can match the surprises real players bring to your game.

    What NMS has taught me is that I think my perfect game is somewhere between these two; NMS’s freedom to go wherever you like and EVE’s community populating a real, lived-inuniverse. If CCP can give us that, I’m officially retiring and never leaving my chair again 🙂

    • rixxjavix

      That was the point I was trying to make. Certainly NMS is not perfect, but I do believe there are some lessons that Eve could take from it. And vice versa frankly. NMS and Eve are both going to continue to evolve and perhaps they can learn a little from each other.

  • Provi Miner

    now you can play eve as a solo player you can even go places where almost no one else hangs out. the trick the challenge is thus “the one time you wander off” is the one time someone decides to see if you are at the keyboard and shoot you. Of all the ganks I have been a part of almost none involved a person on the other side if there was they almost always get away. Get bored, do something else while logged in and you die.

  • Freelancer117

    Just an fyi, in other news Ambulation has landed !

    source: (30sec clip) (30sec clip)

    Regards, a Freelancer

    • Messiah Complex

      Beautiful vaporware.

      • Freelancer117

        Needs more money :p