Into the COSMOS

Last Spring I quit EVE for the umpteenth time. In an attempt to make it permanent I donated the majority of my ISK to various NPSI organizations. It wasn’t much, maybe 2 or 3 billion and I didn’t liquidate anything other than my station trading operation in Jita. I was still very new to trading (still am, too) and I enjoyed it but real life obligations were bearing down on me. EVE just wasn’t a priority. Inevitably, things settled down and I found myself wanting to play EVE, kicking myself for not having any isk to get back into the market.

Fortunately I discovered two things when I logged back in:

1) I had two accounts worth of Geckos that I hadn’t sold and the price was spiking to 30mil each (it was high for the time).

2) Michi’s Excavation Augmenter was worth around 1.1 billion isk.

I knew about this implant from my time in a high sec mining corp; a rare 5% boost to mining yield that fits in a slot not normally occupied by industry implants that stacks with other mining boosts. It’s a min/maxer’s wet dream when it comes to mining yield and the price reflects that. I was told it is seeded by an eccentric NPC who refers to himself in the third person, located deep within the Caldari COSMOS storyline. At the time I had no idea what COSMOS in EVE was so I asked and was given links to a couple full-length guides. Though they were made in an entirely different era of EVE, the guides still hold up as not much has changed.

The COSMOS mission arcs are one of many parts of EVE that feel like a dead end. Unchanged for a number of years now, there is potential there but it feels untapped and forgotten. The missions are given by NPCs located at warpable beacons in space, often in secluded high sec systems. The missions include the standard courier and combat mission types most people are familiar with but also include fetch and gather missions that feel like quests from other MMOs; sending you to kill waves of NPCs that respawn in deadspace complexes and pick up certain loot. It’s interesting and feels unique to anything else EVE…. for about 17 minutes…. but it’s a variation from other content in the same way that getting punched in the testicles is a variation from getting punched in the nose. The COSMOS agents bounce you back and forth to one another as you complete several individual storylines in a chain, rewarding you with Caldari faction rep, isk, and bizarrely named modules that nobody uses.

As I had done a Caldari rep grind for trading in Jita I picked up the whole COSMOS story thing midway through in order to polish off the 6.00 standing one needs to talk to Zabon Michi. After several days of getting used to how COSMOS missions worked, I finally made my way to the Rush Town Ruins beacon to talk to Michi himself. The main combat mission he sends you on is a notch above the average level 4 mission in difficulty. The last room is quite tough but the a Golem with a micro jump drive was able to survive quite easily. Unsurprisingly, what once was challenging content, created years before the marauder rebalance or MJDs and bastion modules were added to the game was simply unable to maintain its difficulty.

I was able to activate the mission with 2 characters (and eventually a 3rd). That and the Geckos was enough for me to regain almost the exact 2-3 billion I had originally donated. I was able to get back into trading and have been messing around with markets ever since. I haven’t run a COSMOS mission since then, though.

The COSMOS missions were an interesting side project for me and served their purpose well. Besides the isk some of the rewards are worth, there is zero incentive to do them. If the modules rewarded were rebalanced to be useful, if the content was updated to reflect changes to the game in the last 5 years and if players were informed that they exist COSMOS missions could be quite a viable PVE path in EVE. The ideas of having NPCs give missions in space, individual storylines and a faction themed arc are good ones. As they stand now, it’s just a lot of ‘what ifs’ and squandered potential, something not uncommon in EVE.

Flying solo

A good number of people who chronicle their experiences in EVE Online examine the fact that they are more individual oriented players. It’s not particularly surprising. If everyone who played EVE joined a fleet immediately upon logging in, there wouldn’t be as much of a reason to share experiences out of game. Everyone in their social circle would have experienced it or been told the story about what they missed from their friends who were there. Ultimately, EVE is a series of intense, satisfying moments with a lot of dead time in between to mull over the complexity of the game. Those of us who would rather kick back and listen to music instead of logging in to voice comms have blogs to tell the stories behind those satisfying moments that can happen, even while flying alone. Also, I’m just anti-social most of the time.

EVE as a game does lend itself well to solo play, I disagree with those who say it doesn’t. One just has to come to terms with the fact that there is no point where you are in a self contained bubble and can’t be fucked with by other players. The atmosphere of the game is much richer when you accept that you don’t know who you’ll bump into… or who will bump into you… in your day to day activities.

EVE’s PVE experience feels very flat, no matter where you are in the game. It’s the preparations and precautions you take to avoid being killed by other players that can make the game so intense. This is why, as a solo minded player, I abandoned high security space long ago. A newer player to the game will eventually understand that highsec is safe unless you put a target on your back either through expensive cargo or an expensive hull…. and these days mining alone. There is a “This is it?” moment that I experienced after playing solo in highsec for a while (too long) that led me to explore PVP, nullsec, wormholes and eventually settle into lowsec.

The new player experience (NPE) has become a hot issue lately, mostly because CCP has stated they are working on it. There are those that say corporations and alliances are the way to go and new players need to be funneled into organizations and trained by other players. What is left unsaid is that putting someone in a frigate in a fleet of a hundred is a great way for some, but not all new players to be introduced into the game and feel engaged. I believe that there is a significant amount of people who come to EVE content to make their own story and forge their own path through New Eden. The problem is the current tools new players are given encourage them to put down roots in some Level 4 mission hub and never try anything else. It’s a shame and a big factor why most new players get discouraged, never to play again.

I consider myself fortunate to have finally found my niche corner(s) of EVE that get me excited to log in on a regular basis. My hope for an updated and improved NPE is that newcomers to the game are given the opportunity to sample the many types of gameplay EVE can provide both for social players and those who enjoy flying solo.

reed my blawg!

Writing about  my time in EVE Online for fun and profit. I’ve been playing this game since mid 2009 and have quit more times than I can count, only to restart again in a few months. Why start writing about EVE now? Excellent question.

What you can expect: stories about trading/running markets in high and low security space, stories about how I died/could have died/ should have died, booster dealing, building things

What not to expect: good advice, ‘how tos’ on making isk, pontificating about how great I am at EVE

If you’ve stumbled onto this page and play EVE Online, welcome. If you don’t… you’re obviously lost. Hit the back button on your browser and try again.

-Zenshift