EVE Online

EVE Online
Everything non-EVE players don't understand about playing EVE Online

Everything non-EVE players don't understand about playing EVE Online

It's just spreadsheets in space, right?

It may seem an absurd suggestion for many of our community, but believe it or not, a very few people in dark, Luddite corners of Earth struggle to grasp the appeal of EVE Online. The game has a reputation for being spreadsheet-heavy and immensely confusing, but everyone here has fallen in love with EVE despite, or perhaps because of, the fact it’s unlike any other video game out there.
So in the spirit of celebrating our weird and wonderful space MMO, we asked you, our expert community, for all the things that non-EVE players simply do not understand about EVE Online. The wacky, hilarious moments you can try and explain, only to be met with blank faces, or the parts of the game that people may think simply don’t sound fun at all.

Finding fun in the mundane

One of the most common themes throughout all your responses was around activities in EVE that, were you to do them in real life, would (probably) be immensely dull. @Schadsquatch explained that large alliances all need “pencil pushers, diplomatic relationships, and accountants” - something you won’t find in pretty much any other game. They also explained you’ll need “a strong grasp of trigonometry” if you want to succeed in PvE or PvP combat, which strangely we’ve not been able to find in any of the game’s marketing.
@ANTIJHINN spun the idea of these real-life jobs within EVE into, well, real life. EVE’s simulation at least approaches that of our own - fine, call it ‘reality’ if you wish - in some areas. They gave the example of the New Eden economy: if you can profit there, you can probably make money on a real stock exchange. Multiple replies all mentioned loving the fact the game is essentially just spreadsheets in space: “it isn’t an insult”, claims @macgybo.

Losing everything is part of the experience

In most games, if you were told dying meant you’d lose all the belongings you had with you at the time of your death, you’d be very cautious, and you’d reconsider ever taking your best equipment with you. Few games do this thanks to how frustrating it can be, while others, such as Escape From Tarkov, build themselves around the tension it creates. According to many of you, the same tense and risky nature of combat in EVE Online (which, of course, predates Tarkov by many years) is what makes it great.
@Salartarium explains how this "leads to a high-stakes environment where every decision can have long-term consequences":
“Even if you’re a non-PvP player this adds excitement to the game. If you play in a safe area the prospect of a quick trip to a more dangerous area adds thrill to what otherwise may be a more mundane task. Doing high-end industry or mining in areas like Pochven or wormholes adds complexity to these tasks that allows players to feel like they are part of the larger economy as every little conflict spills over. For PvP, the fact that even if you’re a skilled player, someone else can out-plan you, out-spend you, or put in a lot of preparation to get the drop on you makes you appreciate that EVE is a true sandbox game and that even though everyone plays it differently it is all the same shared world.”
@BrotherGrimoire agrees, simply saying “losing your ship can be fun”, while Schadsquatch has a personal story of spending real money on a ship, only to lose it within an hour of playing. It’s a brutal universe, and that’s one of the reasons you all love EVE so much.

Huge battles aren't always the best parts

They may grab the headlines more often than anything else about EVE (even if, try as they might, some gaming journalists can’t hide the fact they don’t play the game when they write about it, according to Brother Grimoire!), but huge wars aren’t the best thing about the game for those that actually play. @swagger0lacar explains it best:
"Because of how long progression takes, yes EVE does have massive fleet fights, you have hundred-dollar ships dying left and right, there are so many roles and things you can fill and do, but you need the right ships and set of skills to experience all of that. And even when you have them, sometimes you get bombarded with content to take advantage of, but sometimes not even a shuttle comes your way. Sometimes the moons are not ready to be mined, or you don’t have the standings required to do high-level missions. It’s not like other games, even other MMOs, which offer a quick hit of action/content.
 
“The grind, and the fact you depend on so many variables to even access the content you want to try instead of simply joining a match and getting right into the action, is what deters most players from trying EVE. But to me and other EVE players, the grind is what makes the whole thing worth it: when you get that ship you’ve been saving for, it makes it more valuable to you; or when a shiny target finally comes out to play and you get to kill it. For EVE players, patience is rewarded, patience is the name of the game, and all of the good things happen to people willing to wait. That’s not very appealing for some people.”

"Shapes in space"

Finally, @funinc had a wholesome anecdote about why EVE Online is so tough to understand for spectators and those unfamiliar with its mechanics:
"When zoomed out in EVE, you can’t really get a flavour of what is actually going on. The overview doesn’t really make sense, terminology is like a foreign language, and voice comms are probably just confusing as to what is actually being communicated. This is because EVE on TQ (Tranquility server) just really isn’t a spectator sport. It is for the player - the FC, the pilot, the support pilot and the line member - but it isn’t for the spectator, as it is just “shapes in space”.
 
“Which leads me onto why the AT (Alliance Tournament) is such a great thing! It balances the playing field - equal numbers of players, like your traditional field sports events - provides a visible UI as to what is actually going on, and summarises things very succinctly.”
Do you have any other thoughts on what non-EVE players simply don’t understand? Let us know in the comments if there’s anything we’ve missed!
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