Last weekend at this time, I was in Iceland. My friend and housemate Matt spent the summer there interning with CCP Games, and I decided to take a long weekend and go visit him on his last full weekend there. (CCP are the people who make EVE Online, the second most popular MMO in the world, and the forthcoming World of Darkness MMO.) Our friend (and soon-to-be housemate) Kate was also there, stopping over on her way back from London.
There were a lot of reasons for me visiting, not least that, in my twenty-five years of existence, I hadn't yet left North America, and I was starting to feel a bit provincial and more importantly a bit bored. Also, I'm a terrible tourist, but surely one can learn these things, right? Besides, it would be fun. And indeed, I had a blast.
The trip was pretty much entirely comprised of me learning the practicalities of navigating a foreign country, more or less effectively, and hanging out with Matt, Kate, and Matt's coworkers at bars, cafes, restaurants, and apartments in Reykjavik. I had lots of good and sometimes unusual food (lamb hot dogs?), I went to the Laugar geothermal pools and soaked, I watched the fireworks on the harbor for Reykjavik Culture Night, and that was pretty much it. The scenery, even just on the bus from the airport to Reykjavik in the morning, was gorgeous, all ocean and mountains and low-angled light. It was a fascinating trip.
I'd read a lot about EVE, the game Matt's company makes, in computer gaming magazines, but being a student I was really scared of getting into anything that I might be more obsessed with than school. (Hear now the archetypal story of the guy or girl who got kicked out of school because they played too much
EverQuestWorld of Warcraft.) I'm no longer a student but I'm of course working, and work is very unlikely to ever be replaced as the prime sink of my time, but I feel like I need be less pathologically risk-averse now, and so I've been considering lots of different ways to spend my free time -- auditioning them, perhaps. So when Matt sat me down at his desk in Iceland and showed me around EVE a bit, I was paying attention. (Frankly I've been kind of looking for an excuse to give EVE a go.)
There are lots of reasons that EVE is interesting -- it's all a single gigantic world, rather than a bunch of parallel worlds like other MMOs; the economy is entirely player-driven; it's set in space rather than some fantasy world; yadda yadda yadda. That's not the most interesting part of EVE for me. Some background -- when I was in middle school, I was in the local equivalent of a Talented and Gifted program, because they didn't know what to do with me (a rant for another day). In eighth grade, as sort of a capstone project, we (well, I, mostly, I think) wrote a space computer game. It wasn't much better-specified than that -- I had grand visions of hopping from planet to planet, trading commodities, and maybe some space battle, and I eventually got together an interface inspired by the Star Trek computers, some basic movement, and a "market" with random prices. (I was writing this in Visual Basic, if I recall correctly; I was just discovering C and Linux. Shh, we were all fourteen and living in the boonies at the end of a crappy dialup connection once. Well, okay, some of us were.) We had a group of four or five -- a friend did some art, I don't remember if it ever got used or not; we theoretically divvied up tasks somehow, but I think I was the only one with significant programming experience. We tried to keep it going and improve it, after we'd met the (low) requirements for the TAG program, but it went the usual way of such projects. At any rate---
Friends, EVE is that game I was dreaming of. Trade, courier, mine, fight, loot -- it's all there. EVE is that middle-school space game, made by professionals. I'm not sure quite why I'm primed for those narratives so hard, but I am, and EVE hits those narrative kinks like whoa.
I may be hooked.
Now, history suggests that I may like starting games more than continuing to play them (what can I say, I just really like tutorial missions ;-), so we'll see if I come back to EVE after a week at work. But this is really kind of exciting -- perhaps the most excited I've ever been about a game after I finished the tutorial missions. It could be a wild ride. :-)
another rant for another day: why I
faileddropped microecon twice, or, how how we teach economics sucks (hint: students have never interacted with a real market as either a buyer or, particularly, as a seller)
also, I have no point here, I just like to say "New Game Excitement"