EVE Online is a massively multiplayer online space/science-fiction role-playing game developed by CCP Games that launched in 2003. The EVE universe comprises over five thousand solar systems that pilots can navigate through in a variety of ships. These systems contain space stations, planets, moons, asteroid belts (for mining) and complexes. Players can participate in a variety of roles in the EVE universe, including manufacturing and trading items, mining ore, combat with either non-player ships (through missions given by agents or through shooting pirate computer-controlled ships) or fellow players.
Unlike other massively multiplayer games, EVE does not have a system of experience point-based training, but rather 'skill points' are earned by training specific skills - the training process continues even when one is not logged into the game. The length of time skills take to train is determined by attributes, and one can train Learning skills or fit neural implants which increase those attributes. The skills are organized into levels, which usually provide a certain amount of increase in ability. Each skill has five levels, and each one is a geometric increase in training times - thus skills can range from as little as a few minutes to many months in training.
Solar systems in EVE are given a security rating, which ranges from 0.0 (no security) to 1.0 (maximum security). 0.5 - 1.0 are dubbed "high sec", 0.1 - 0.4 are "low sec" and 0.0 is "no sec". High security systems are ones where CONCORD, the game's police, roam and have sentries. If one shoots at another player in high security systems, CONCORD will fire back at the player and destroy their ship. This does not mean that attacks in high security space are impossible (until recently, pirates would use a method called fleet ganking to invite players into a trap, and they can still practice a method called suicide ganking), but the game is designed so that player-on-player combat takes place in low and no security systems.
There are four playable races - the Gallente, Amarr, Caldari and Minmatar. The Minmitar is a race of slaves who have been, and continue to be oppressed, by the theocratic Amarr Empire. The Minmitar ships, space stations and stargates have a distinct look - as if they've been pieced together from scrap. The Gallente Federation believe in liberal democracy, while the Caldari State is what could be described as a corporation-driven state capitalism.
Beyond the four factions, there is also the Jovian race, and pirate factions - the Blood Raiders, the Angel Cartel, the Serpentis Corporation and others. Non-player "rats" of different strengths fly around (with weak rats in high-sec and strong rats in 0.0) - killing these rats increases one's security status - the standing one has to CONCORD, as well as earning a financial reward for helping rid the universe of dangerous pirates.
Players, upon joining the game, are automatically made a member of an NPC corporation (usually titled as a school or university or agency of the particular racial faction one is a member of), but players organize into their own corporations which provide both companionship and support for players in their chosen roles. For instance, a pirate corp may provide subsidized ammunition to players, loans to purchase ships, or offer insurance for ships lost during corporate operations. Corporations are able to declare war on one another (called "wardeccing"). In addition, corporations may join together into alliances, and those alliances can declare wars on other corporations or alliances. Alliances are used mostly to colonize areas of 0.0 space, with the individual corporations serving different roles (manufacturing, mining, defense).
As EVE does not have a set storyline, players have to find their own "end game", some role they enjoy doing. For some, this will be the pursuit of ISK, the currency in EVE - through manufacturing and selling items, through mining the minerals used in manufacturing, through running missions for NPC corporations. Others choose to pirate - 'gate camping' in low-security areas and ransoming high-value ships. There are also 'anti-pirates', who hunt and kill pirates and outlaws. Others will get into 'faction warfare' and represent their particular racial faction in combat.
At any time, there are around 30,000 players logged into the main Tranquility server during busy periods, and there is a separate server called Serenity used in China. Many users also take advantage of Singularity, a test server which allows players to test both changes to the code and also try out ship setups without it affecting their account on the main Tranquility server. Testing ship setups on Singularity can be done very easily since all ships and fittings sell for a very low, flat rate, and there are arena complexes available to test the ships in combat against other ships of the same class.
There are three basic classes of combat ship: frigates, cruisers and battleships. Each is larger, slower and has more fire-power than the lower class, and each has a role in combat. Frigates serve an important role in tackling and jamming an enemy while the larger ships inflict damage. There are more than just these three classes. Between frigates and cruisers there is a class of destroyers, mostly used for killing fleets of frigates in missions where larger ships cannot get into a 'complex' (an area of space where one has to use an acceleration gate to enter - the gates are often locked so particular ship classes cannot use them). Between the cruiser and battleship class, there are battlecruisers. And for each class of ship, there are "Tech 2" ships, much more expensive variations on the Tech 1 ships which require significant amounts of training.
Each faction offer 'Navy Issue' ships which can be obtained by completing missions for particular corporations and earning Loyalty Points. For many roles, there are also ships made by non-racial factions. Mining barges or exhumers (as the Tech 2 variants are called) are made by the ORE Corporation and are capable of mining large amounts of minerals (and ice) at high speed.
The different race's ships are suited for different combat roles: Gallente ships work particularly well for combat at close quarters using turret-mounted railguns and 'blasters', while Caldari ships are good for long-range missile lancher combat. The Gallente also have particular strength in the use of drones, with ships suited to carrying large numbers of drones. Other combat mechanisms include the distinction between "armor tanking" and "shield tanking" (boosting either the shield or the armor on a ship), as well as the use of electronics warfare to 'jam' ships. Ship fitting is something of an art, and players can spend many hours planning and perfecting a setup. One is not limited to flying ships of a particular racial faction.
Ships can be fitted with a number of modules. These are split into three slots: high, medium and low. Low slot modules tend to be those which affect the armor, shield, hull or cargo. High slots tend to be turrets - guns, missile launchers, lasers, salvagers, tackles and mining lasers. Medium slots hold support modules: MicroWarpDrives and afterburners (which make the ship increase in speed), scanners, webbers and warp disruptors.
In addition, ships tend to have one or more "upgrade hardpoints" where "rigs" can be fitted. These are expensive addons which cannot be removed once fitted without destroying the rig. They tend to provide a benefit at a certain cost. They may, for instance, increase cargo hold space at the expense of speed.
Not all modules can be installed on all ships. Turrets tend to come in different sizes for different ships, and ships will have their own fitting requirements. For instance, the Strip Miner modules can technically be installed on any ship, if it can cope with the very high CPU usage. On Mining Barge and Exhumer ships, it has a 99.5% reduction in CPU usage, which means that in practice it tends only to be fitted in those classes of ship.
Finance, business and industry
The EVE universe has a well-developed industrial and business aspect. Although real-money trading (RMT) is banned, Game Time Cards can be purchased in real-world currencies like US dollars or Euros and then sold in-game for ISK. EVE characters can also be sold. Inside the game, ISK can be earned from "ratting" (killing non-player spawned ships) and from doing missions, or by trading items found in-game. For some, this will mean mining ore from asteroids, while others sell fittings and equipment salvaged from destroyed ships. Pirates make money primarily through ransom of ships, and salvage of the ships that don't pay. The prices paid for items vary depending on region and over time, so trade in EVE consists primarily in either stockpiling goods until prices rise, or by transporting goods from cheap market hubs like the Jita system to far-flung areas of the EVE universe. For this, a special class of transport ships are used - the Tech 1 variants are equipped to carry large quantities of goods around. The Tech 2 variants are better equipped for traversing low-security or no-security space to supply goods.
In addition to the primary market of goods, a secondary money market has grown in recent years. Two player-run banks have been setup: EBANK and Dynasty Banking (often shortened DBANK). These offer a number of banking and investment services including those which match savings accounts, loans and bonds. For many, the corporation and alliance structure is used for getting loans of ISK to purchase ships or equipment. Loans in EVE can be guaranteed by using the 'contract' system - contracts allow those making loans or conducting more complex transactions to specify the conditions for meeting them, as well as putting security on them. For instance, if one had a package worth 25 million ISK that needed to be transported, then one could place a courier contract which would specify the start and end location of the courier job as well as specify a monetary reward for completing the job within specified time limits. To prevent theft of the goods, the contract creator would specify an amount which the contract accepter would have to put down as a security deposit. The game keeps that amount in escrow and returns the deposit and the reward if the job is completed to the satisfaction of the contract.