Quick fixes and brief sessions

27th September 2008 – 10.18 am

I have not been piloting from my pod in EVE Online much for the past couple of weeks. This is owing partly to a hectic week at work and partly to the progress I've been making in World of Warcraft, where I've been able to hook up with my US friends a couple of weeks in a row. I have run through an instance with both my rogue and my warrior and am keen to gain levels on both of them. With Knifey, it would be good to gain some levels so that I can enter some more battlegrounds hopefully to enjoy some PvP, and my warrior, Sapphire, could use some more levels so that I can tank my way through all the interesting instances in Outlands.

World of Warcraft also seems to be a game where it is easy enough to play for short periods without any commitment, as well as being most familiar to me, which has made it my game of choice recently when needing a relaxing distraction. I'm not entirely sure how true that is, though. Because I am not at the level cap I would be foolish not to park my characters in a settlement with an inn so that I can build up the rested XP bonus, and that means I need to take time to travel to get anywhere I have quests, and this time is not always trivial. It also means I should get back to an inn before I log out, which normally means using my hearthstone, so I have the same travel time to endure each time I log in. As the adventuring areas get more distant with higher levels I can log in to find myself several minutes away from actually getting involved with the game. This isn't always so much a chore, as I can do the washing up from dinner whilst my character flies across half of Azeroth to the destination, but it still requires a bit of forethought.

The travelling has become particularly noticable on my warrior. Being a jewelcrafter I have her hearthstone set to the Exodar where, I believe, although I could be wrong, the only jewelcrafter trainer exists in Azeroth. Travelling from the Exodar isn't a simple matter of running to the flight master and catching a gryphon, instead requiring a brief journey by sea before the mainland flight master can be found, because of the separation of the content of the original game and that of the Burning Crusade expansion. I need to run to the dock, wait for the ship, board the ship, wait for it to travel, disembark, run to the flight master and catch a gryphon to my destination, and that's if I am adventuring in Kalmidor. Quests that take me to the Eastern Kingdoms require a second journey by ship.

Having written all this down I think I am better off setting my home in Stormwind and making only the occasional journey to the Exodar when I actually need to level up my jewelcrafting, which is not often. But my point is that my intuitive notion that World of Warcraft allows some quick gaming is perhaps misguided. Should I instead log in to EVE Online, unless I am in the middle of moving to find a new agent, which is an infrequent occasion, I will find my battlecruiser and salvaging destroyer sitting in my hangar, along with all of my ammunition and modules, in the space station where my current agent resides. To get in to some action all I need to do is open a channel with my agent and accept whatever act of destruction he asks of me.

There is a lot more depth to EVE Online than simple mission running, not that I have advanced much beyond that at the moment, but for a quick fix of gaming, happily involving space combat with satisfying explosions, the ease and speed of getting in to the action is excellent. Log in, grab a mission, ensure the right shield hardeners are fitted and there are plenty of missiles in the hold, then blast out of the hangar in to space. Warping to the stargate gets me in the right frame of mind for what is to come, and sometimes it is a straightforward warp in to deadspace right out of the station. Before I know it I am surrounded by debris and wreckage and warping back to the station, mission completed. Whilst I might not get the most out of EVE Online by running one quick mission it is certainly a good option for a brief distraction. The only problem is that you cannot choose which mission you'll get, so you could find yourself getting a courier mission that takes ten minutes to complete or a huge battle against dozens of rats that lasts over an hour.

Either way, it is good to recognise that EVE Online offers a quick and easy route to the action, and one that is normally a short burst of activity to be extended as one's own time allows. My familiarity with World of Warcraft will continue to make the game the easier choice for a while, particularly as I have some specific, if unfocussed, goals to gain some levels whereas I am still finding my footing a little in EVE Online. If I take more time to explore the world of EVE Online I am more likely to find some goals I would like to achieve and I will grow more familiar with its galaxy, encouraging me to spend more time there.

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