I eventually tired of Trickster, and wanted to move on. I've been playing Eve Online for the past few months, which still makes me a complete newbie. I decided to fire up this thread just in case anyone might here might be interested, which I truly doubt, but here goes anyway.
First off, it's pay-to-play, but there is a free 14-day trial available at the website and it's also possible to play for free buying timecards off folks in-game (more on this later).
It's a space ship MMO where you start out in your little frigate pew-pewing your way around the galaxy. In terms of playable space, it's the single largest MMO ever made. Seriously. Systems are huge and the number of systems is mind-boggling. Anyway, before I go in-depth here's the pros and cons of Eve:
* A vast array of ships.
* The most vicious form of PVP you will ever encounter.
* The GMs (for the most part) have a hands-off policy when it comes to them running the game.
* No grinding. (Explained further down)
* Almost limitless options to how you want to play.
* really low level of hax/exploits
* blowing up other people's ships and watching them cry is fun.
* Empire Space (no PVP, but there are exceptions) is relatively safe for the newbie.
* Steep learning curve. Eve isn't a game you can just jump into and expect to be a PVP superstar.
* When your ship gets blown up in PVP, it's gone. Even special event ships, there was one (and only one) particular spaceship handed out to the event winner got blown up and is gone from the game forever.
* PVE can be boring.
* Scamming is not only tolerated but encouraged, as long as it's kept-in game.
* There is no mercy in space. Roaming PVP gangs will find your ship, blast it to almost smithereens, demand a ransom on your ship which you pay, and they blow you up anyway.
* Skill training can take FOREVER. At least, it feels like it.
* 0.0 Space (non-Empire) is brutal.
* There's a lot of people who play just to ruin your day.
There's four different playable races in the game: Caldari, Minmatar, Amarr, and Gallente. Kinda like on TO, each race specialises in certain departments. For instance, the Caldari is all about shield tanking and using missiles, while Amarr prefer armor tanking and using beam weapons. For the first few months, these racial distinctions matter, but over time and skill training race becomes meaningless.
When you first start the game, you are put in a dinky little frigate that's only worth using for the tutorial (which you should play all the way through). Eventually you'll train your skills to put yourself in bigger ships, with the endgame Titans being the biggest and baddest thing you can pilot. Let me put it this way, if your little frigate is the size of an ant, a Titan is the size of a schoolbus. Click here
to see all the different ships and sizes (warning, huge).
Titans are worth about $5000 in real world money, and there's not too many of them in the game.
Just because you're starting out and stuck in a dinky little frigate doesn't mean you're outclassed by guys in bigger ships. Each ship has its strengths and weaknesses, and even the newest players can put the hurt on players who've been on Eve for years because they showed up at the wrong place with the wrong kind of ship.
Skills are what "levels" would be in other MMOs. You buy skills at a station, and train them up. You don't grind them in the traditional sense, you simply turn them on and your character automatically starts training. Each skill has five levels. On base skills, it takes about 15 minutes (generally) to train to level one. Then it takes an hour to train to level two, five hours to level three, a day to level four, and just short of a week to level five. The nice thing is the client doesn't have to be on and you don't have to keep playing to train. The downside is you're going to be waiting a long time before you train enough skills to be proficient enough to fly that ship you've always wanted. Advanced skills train more slowly and of course have prerequisite skills. Using implants can reduce this time, but implants are also super-expensive.
Suppose you started playing today and decided you want to be in a sniping battleship with big guns and all that. For the average (Amarr) player from the start, just to get into the hull of the ship will take you no more than nine days of skill grinding. Add another five days and you can outfit it with the most basic of fittings (turrets, micro warp drive, etc) - even then you're just one very large target. To be really effective with good fittings, though, you're looking at over 130 days of skill training and that's not even counting other necessary support skills.
PVP and Alliances
This right here is probably the biggest draw to the entire game. Outside of Empire Space is conquerable space that is governed and policed by players. Players are free to fight, take over, invade, what have you in this space. Alliances tend to be very passionate about this and there isn't a moment were one alliance isn't at war with another.
Almost all the major alliances have their own private websites, forums, and wikis where they share information and plan operations and raids. These are all susceptible to spys, and player empires have fallen and been destroyed by this. In fact, a few years ago a spy caused a corporation fallout that equalled about $16,000 in real world money with all the assets they destroyed and stole. SRS BIZNSS.
Here's a rundown of the Eve bigshots:
Redswarm: This is the single largest alliance, made up of Russians and Something Awful goons. Unlike most other alliances, Goons don't care about high kill ratios and they're not averse to swarming larger, more powerful ships with tiny cheap frigates and dying en masse. Their philosophy is to make their enemies "choke on our corpses" which has been effective, they own the most space and are the largest single alliance. Red Alliance (the russians) have a reputation for using exploits and cheats while fighting. Just about everyone hates them, which makes the Goons and the rest of Redswarm very, very happy.
Band of Brothers: Elitist pvp alliance that at one time almost took over all of conquerable space. They think they're number one when it comes to PVP, and they hate goons with a passion.
The Northern Alliance: A group of several alliances, some of which who hate Band of Brothers, others who hate Redswarm, and those who hate both.
More info: Eve Wiki
Lots of info and guides