CZ Minutes: Awesome

On CZ Minute last week, we discussed the prerequisite of alts for many styles of gameplay in Eve. This week we turn the concept of MMORPG on its head and discuss whether or not Eve can be played successfully in any capacity ‘solo’. Xander: I was watching a very high-brow movie last night. In it were uttered the following profound words: Everything is awesome, Everything is cool when you’re part of a team! And from this unlikely seed, a tree of thought grew in my mind-brain for this week’s Minutes! So here goes… It is often said by many folk (myself included) that Eve as an MMO must be played more socially. The harshness and difficulty of life in New Eden is said to only amplify this problem. My question this week is this – can Eve be played successfully solo? Should there be more avenues for people who want to play solo in Eve? (Obviously, I’ll also need you to define ‘solo’ as part of your answer. The ‘lone gunmen’ out fighting 1v1 every evening – is he a solo player? What about the industrialist producing and station trading in his one-player corp with an army of alts?) How much experience do any of you have with solo gameplay in Eve and should it be a niche in Eve that is cultured or utterly killed off and why? Forlorn: Eve is real. Nailed it the first time. Joran: It definitely depends on the definition. If by solo you mean a guy who is a member of the Tuskers, or the BSB channel, certainly. Even if you are piloting solo, you’re still engaged with the community, you’re reading blogs, you’re on forums, and you’re interacting with people in game. Same could be said with industry. The problem exists where you try to play the solo highsec missioner playstyle with absolutely zero interaction. Even a high missioner corporation breaks that mold, although if you have a group of people thinking together I feel like they will come up with something more profitable than level 4s. When you play without social interaction it kills your motivation and hurts the game. Tarek: Since I joined Faction Warfare I had my first experiences in actual solo PVP where I am looking for fights all by myself. Even if I am doing that, though, I am never really alone. There are alliance and militia channels where I can and do talk to others. Even in my beginning days I was engaging with people in local or in the NPC starter corp I was in. When I had joined my first corp, we were running missions together or went exploring for sites in small groups. I wonder if there is anyone who truly plays in absolute isolation. If there are those people, I wonder why they play an MMO. Isn’t the whole point of shared online gaming that you interact with others? TheLegoMovie_EverythingIsAwesome Niden: There is definitely something to be said about the solo experience of EVE. Why play an MMO if you’re doing it solo? Because you are interacting with a living world rather than a static one. Even the most reclusive and anti-social mission runners trade with the market, get tips from help channels and get suicide ganked once in a while. Rumor has it some people enjoy this type of minimal interaction with New Eden, but no-one is truly playing EVE in ‘single-player mode’. Nor should they be. For those of us who are deep in the meta and part of the narrative it can be difficult to understand this approach to playing the game. For some people the un-tethered and casual approach is a key value to their gaming experience. Playing with others often means a level of expectation and it’s something that some gamers aren’t comfortable with. I get reminded of this world when I pass through highsec, it’s easy to forget that it’s there. Hidden amongst their number however, are the players who need to make the leap into an active corp and a social life in EVE, but never do. The EVE community can be intimidating, a lot of people avoid taking that step by fear of rejection and ridicule. Instead they bide their time, thinking they need to develop some skills before they do it, but often end up killing their game in the process. I know I’ve been there. Both these types of player is something Mike Azariah often talks about – the unrepresented masses that think the rest of us are the Big Bad and that we in turn have very little interaction with. The question is how to bridge that gap. A type of solo-ish gameplay that holds great personal value to me is solo PvP. Fighting solo in EVE is unique and one of the best experiences the game has to offer in my mind. No man is an island in that world however, solo PvP requires support and opponents. In any case I strongly believe that it is a cornerstone of EVE Online and should be taken into account when we talk about expansions and features. The lowsec changes in Kronos are a good example of that – solo PvP-ers are heavily involved in the debate. Tarek: I do not think that casual and social gameplay in EVE are necessarily antithetical. Not every corp in EVE requires you to log on every day and participate in fleets. There are even several corps that specialize entirely in solo PVP and there are many highsec corps which are just hanging out and do casual gameplay. The real issue lies with the isolated mission runners that Joran also refers to. I find your statement about the anxiety such people might feel quite interesting Niden. I remember when I convinced a friend to try and start playing EVE she refused to talk to anyone or join any corp at first because she was too paranoid about being scammed, ganked or otherwise messed with. She would only join as soon as she felt that she could do so from a position of strength. In a recent piece of mine I tried to address the issue of the hostility which the community projects in the public domain (forums, reddit, comment sections). Like I said there, I think it would help a lot if all of us would take a more active role to make it clear that while EVE is a very hostile game, the community of players is not necessarily that horrible. Solo gameplay can be very exciting for advanced players, but I do not think that it is a good thing for newbies to do. The more we work on integrating new players into existing structures the better.
Tags: awesome, cz minutes, solo

About the author

Xander Phoena

The good looking, funny, intelligent member of the team, Xander set up Crossing Zebras with Jeg in April 2012 mainly because he was talking too much about Eve on his other podcast. Playing the game for almost five years, Xander still has absolutely zero clue about how to actually play Eve but somehow still manages to talk a good game.

  • Foobles

    I have no patience for this new obsession of CCP’s to force everyone to group up all the time. You know what’s even more awful than flying the same goddamned content for the thousandth time because CCP stopped(*) adding new stuff years ago? Waiting around for some other motherfucker to log in so you can fly that same shitty, obsolete content in a group.

    All accounts now un-subbed.

    (*) Obviously I don’t mean that they literally never add anything ever anymore. But if you look at, say, level 4 combat missions then they added all of them (dozens) except maybe 4(Dread Pirate, The anomaly x 3?) pre-Apocrypha and 4 since, none in the last 3(?) years. Content that CCP claims people spend 600,000 hours/month running or something insane.

    • Batman

      Remember who runs the CSM now, and by extension, the development direction of Eve. These are not solo players. It is all group based players, who do not speak for a huge chunk of the player base, and have no interest in catering to them. Instead of trying to improve the solo play game, at every turn, they try to destroy it to try to force these solo players to “see the light”, and join some group.

      • Niden

        Not true: Mike Azariah. Also: if you don’t like it – vote. It’s that simple.

  • Ldwater

    Its simply impossible to play solo in EVE because you’re affecting the universe either directly or indirectly.

    I hate the phase “create content” which is often thrown around as an insult to high sec mission runners which basically means “you don’t let me shoot you”. Even the create content for themselves, others (if they want to run missions in a group) and the rest of the universe by either buying and selling of goods – which is creating content for industrialists to attempt to capitalise on placing buy orders in mission hubs or try and profit from mission runners who sell off modules at a fraction of their actual value. Those modules are often reprocessed to go into making ships & equipment for the entire cycle to start again.

    Playing solo often is a gameplay style choice too – solo players need to be more aware of their surroundings as they often has no alts or intel channels to tell them of incoming threats. Also you get a great sense of accomplishment as its all on you – you’ve not sat around while someone else has done all the work; you’ve had to do it all yourself.

    Equally solo play is simply more accessible – people with limited play time want to make the most of it, so they want to log in and jump into the action straight away. Having to ask in corp chat, what fleets are going on, try to join one, then find a ship (at worse buy & fit one), then fly out to the meet everyone is all extremely time consuming and by the time you’ve actually got to the good part you’ve probably used up most of your free time and it feels wasted. So playing solo gets you into the stuff you want to do quicker and with less hassle of dealing with the logisitcal & social issues of getting a fleet together.

    Larger corps may have multiple fleets running and the ‘time to action’ turn around maybe quite short with some planning, but even then your play time and activities are determined by other people and often that can be too restrictive or make people feel obliged to join fleets when they would rather do something else.

    At the end of the day the sandbox means that people can play it however they want and if people want to play solo then it should be catered for as much as group content. Yes I agree that activities should encourage grouping as much as possible but the current PvE content (ie missions) as it exists only re-enforces the solo attitude simply because running missions in groups is both less profitable and less fun because the content is no longer challenging.

    If you can make missions promote grouping you’ll find that this solo attitude will dissolve, even if its just in high sec missioner corps as players will want to group together to face better content for higher rewards (without the elitism of Incursions)

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