In Part 2 I discussed the definition of The Sandbox, quests and raids (EVE Online's analogues to them), the end-game (or lack thereof) and the all-importance of user-generated content.
In Part 3 I discussed the psychology of stuff, to give you, the new capsuleer, the proper mindset with regards to the stuff you own. Don't get attached to it, your stuff will be destroyed eventually.
In Part 4 I discussed the PvP differences between EVE Online and Theme Park MMOs, the unimportance of balance, the types of PvP, and good places in which to learn PvP.
This final Theme Parker's Guide will be a mish-mash of assorted topics that fit in nowhere else.
Veterans versus NewbiesIn the theme park MMOs, you eventually reach that maximum level, along with everyone else. It no longer matters if you've been playing for three months and someone else has been playing for three years, you're equal. He's really no better than you are.
With EVE, you're probably thinking that because of the nature of the skill queue, that there's no way to ever reach the same level as the oldtimers (affectionately known as bittervets), that there's no way to compete with them. As long as they keep playing, you can never catch up to them.
True, but also very much false.
Every skill is maxed out at level 5. If you, as a relatively new player, has Minmatar Frigates maxed out, as well as all the support skills maxed out, you're on equal footing with the bittervet. The only thing that differentiates the two of you is your ability to manually pilot your ship, to effectively wage a fight. Your skill as a 1v1 pilot may be superior the the veteran, thus even though he's been playing the game longer, you're able to defeat him time and again.
Your ability to pilot a ship often trumps skill levels. Even if you don't have your frigates and support skills maxed, you can often find yourself defeating veterans regularly.
Time played is simply an indication of how broad a players skillbase is. The newer player may be proficient at frigates, destroyers and cruisers of a particular faction, whereas the veteran may be proficient in every factional ship up to battleships. The veteran simply has a wider range of ships to choose from, but by no means does that broad skill base guarantee any sort of victory over the newer player.
Player HousingWhen people think of player housing in MMOs, they think of a personal space that they can decorate to their heart's desire, perhaps even inviting in-game friends over for some roleplay and relaxation. While EVE doesn't have housing as most MMOs implement them, there are some analogous spaces and structures that players can own.
There are the captain's quarters. Part of the Incarna expansion from 2011. There's no ability to decorate the room (or to invite over friends), but it is your room to chill in. It does store the clothing you purchase from the NEX store.
Further, along the lines of owning fixed structures, there are player-owned customs offices [POCO] and player-owned stations [POS]. These are not structures that you can dock at, wander through with your avatar, but these are structures that you place in space and that you own.
With POCOs, you can earn an steady income from players who invest their time in planetary interaction. To get their materials to and from planets, they (usually) have to pass through custom offices. If you own that custom office, you can set a tax rate on materials passing through them. POCOs are placed in the orbit of a planet, and only one POCO is allowed per planet.
POSes are stuctures that are set in orbit around a moon. Again, one POS per moon. These have a wide variety of uses. As a place to park your ships (especially capital and super-capital ships). As mining platforms to extract minerals from moons. As manufacturing platforms for modules, ships, ammunition, and drones.
Alliances in sovereignty nullsec can own starbases, stations which allow for the docking of ships.
TerminologyI did not explain every piece of EVE terminology used in the previous four parts of this tutorial series. Rather than create my own giant lexicon, I'll simply link to a three different lists that define a broad number of prevalent EVE terms:
TG's EVE Terminology
The EVE Lexicon
Unique StoriesYour EVE experience is yours.
In Star Wars: The Old Republic, for example, your Jedi experience is basically the same as tens of thousands of others before, alongside, and after you. The stories that you run through via the quest system are all basically the same. There might be minor differences, but the number of stories and paths within those stories are limited.
Once you reach max level, there might be some differences between you and the next guy, depending on what raids each you have done, but there will be many people that have killed the same bosses as you, many people who have the same general experiences as you.
EVE is different. There are no raids, no quest and level systems. It's the players that create the stories. The experiences of the six-month old Test Alliance player are is going to be radically different than the six-month old EVE University player. Every player in EVE has a vastly different story to tell.
Free-to-PlayA lot of games allow players to play for free. There are different models. Some games will gate areas for paying players only. Some will place many inconveniences in the way of the non-paying player, selling convenience to those that don't want to put up with the inconvenience.
EVE does things a bit differently. There's no gating. There's no built-in inconvenience for non-paying players.
EVE has the PLEX. A PLEX is an item that is purchased for real-money, and then can be sold for in-game currency. Activating a PLEX gives an account another 30 days of play time. It is possible for players to play for free, the caveat is that someone paid for that time. CCP gets their money, no matter what.
Many players purchase PLEX to sell on the in-game market. Many players purchase PLEX from the in-game market to fund their play time. A PLEX, at the time of writing, sells for around 600M ISK. Players that tend to make a lot of money, more than they spend in a month, will buy PLEX off the market to fund their play time.
Every PLEX that is in-game is a PLEX that was purchased from CCP. (A small percentage of PLEX are gifts and rewards from CCP, but they write these off on their books as promotional expenses.)
MicrotransactionsMany MMOs sell items for small dollar amounts. These can be purely fluff (vanity) items that have zero impact upon the game (such as pets and clothing), or they can be items that give an in-game advantage (ammo that does more damage, or guns with better range.)
EVE, currently, only sells vanity items. The NEX store sells a wide range of clothing items for your character.
There is No ScoreIn most MMOs "money" and "bling" are your score. There comes a point in most theme park MMOs where you don't need to spend money to survive. Since you don't lose items, and since these games have little in the way of gold sinks (mechanics that remove gold from the game), you constantly amass monetary wealth. Since the requirement to spend money is so low, money itself becomes one of your gauges for success.
Equally true with loot. You never lose the armour and weapons you amass, so those items become a diary, of sorts, of your experiences in the game. The stuff you collected from Boss X is proof that you defeated Boss X. (Since in most MMOs, raid loot is soulbound, the only way to have loot from Boss X is to have been there when Boss X was brought down.)
EVE is different. The stuff you buy is constantly being destroyed. You need to amass wealth so that you can spend it. Thus money is not an accurate gauge of your success at the game. The same goes for loot, since all of it can be lost and destroyed. Make yourself the blingiest of ships, you're going to eventually lose that ship.
Since EVE is a PvP game, one of the most popular gauges of success and failure are killboards. The most popular of which is eve-kill.net. If you're in a corporation or alliance, they likely have their own killboard for its members.
If your an industry person, you probably have profit-loss spreadsheets that show earnings over time. These are likely your own personal scorecards for success.
Final ThoughtsIf you're coming to EVE from a Theme Park MMO such as World of Warcraft or Everquest or Lord of the Rings Online, I hope this five-part series has helped you to understand the major differences from the mechanics you're used to, to the play style and mechanics that make EVE Online what it is. I hope you now more fully understand the differences between theme park and sandbox play.