EVE Evolved: Freeform professions


EVE Online is a game often lauded for its sandbox style open-ended gameplay. Some of the best parts of the game have been entirely developed by the players and this trend continues in the field of professions. At launch, CCP advertised the professions miner, trader, bounty hunter and pirate. Little did they know that players would add double-agent, stock broker, artist and many others to that list.

What makes a profession freeform?:
Put simply, a freeform profession is any job a person can fill that wasn't explicitly created by the game's developers. While mining and mission-running were deliberately created by CCP, there are plenty of professions that the players themselves came up with. In EVE's hyper-capitalistic world, everything and everyone has a price and if there's a demand for something, you can make a career out of it.

In my early days in EVE, I noticed a shortage of research labs in the game and decided to capitalise on it. I flew around the fringes of empire space renting all the available labs and then sold them on to players for a huge profit. Going from a run-of-the-mill miner to a self-made real estate agent made me realise that EVE was something really special.

Find out what innovative professions the players of EVE Online have come up with over the years.

Marketeer:
The marketeer is something of an oddity in EVE, a pilot who doesn't even fly a ship. This profession concentrates on making money using nothing but market skills. Starting with a relatively small amount of isk, a player docked in a trade hub station can begin to use market trends to his advantage. Buying low and selling high, a skilled marketeer can work with as little as a few million isk or as much as several billion without ever undocking.

In a gutsy venture in January, market expert Ricdic attempted to turn 5,000 isk into 1,000,000,000 isk over a period of only one month without ever leaving his trade hub station. Real life restrictions on Ricdic's playing time caused the project to fail but he reports that over half of the target goal had been reached despite these and other setbacks.

Spy:
One of the most famous moments in EVE history involved a network of planted spies known as the Guiding Hand Social Club (GHSC). This great heist saw a network of Guiding Hand spies infiltrate a leading corp and work their way into positions of influence over the course of an entire year. When the group finally engaged their target, the codeword "Nicole" was given out over the corp chat channel. Immediately, every agent positioned at separate corporation offices looted the corporate hangers.

The ever-increasing isk value of the tech 2 blueprints stolen in the heist makes it the highest confirmed value heist every to have been perpetrated. While not every player can hope to achieve the same level of success, a player can infiltrate a corp and make off with significant assets. GHSC mastermind Istvaan Shogaatsu told PC Gamer in their September 2005 issue, "If there's another game in which 'Valentine Operative' is a viable occupation, we've yet to play it.".

Hauler:
Hauling is one of EVE's oldest professions. The developers intended players to haul NPC trade goods from station to station for their isk but like many other aspects of EVE, the hauling profession took on a life of its own. The biggest money is to be made in hauling loads for players rather than NPCs. Since cargo space and player's time is a limited commodity, your time spent hauling something from A to B is worth isk. The best tool for the job is a freighter, which with good skills can pack a whopping 800,000 to 900,000m3 into its cargo hold.

Hauling in recent months has been plagued by suicide attacks. This is where dozens of high-damage ships park at a stargate in high security systems and attack a hauler. Although CONCORD destroys the attacker's ships, they are always fully insured and cheap to lose. Since they can scan the cargo of passing freighters and industrials, they can choose to only attack haulers carrying enough to make the attack worthwhile. The best advice for avoiding these attacks is to never leave your ship on autopilot. Carrying less than a billion isk's worth of cargo in your freighter will also make you a much less tempting target.

Janitor:
The janitor is an odd profession that surfaced some time last year. Essentially, it's someone who follows mission-runners around and cleans up the wrecks they leave behind. Collecting the loot and salvaging the wrecks, a janitor can make millions of isk with little or no experience required. The ship of choice is a destroyer with four salvager modules, four tractor beams and cargo expanders. Some pilots even use scan probes to find players running missions and salvage their wrecks without permission.

Lab owner:
Public research labs today can have queues of up to a month long to install a job. With a demand being present, a huge market for private labs opened up. The first public research alliance was created with the intention of providing lab slots for a fee. Corps join the alliance for free and gain access to pay-per-use labs built at special player owned structures. Many competing research alliances have been created since then to fill the ever-increasing demand for cheap research labs.

The demand for public research alliances is so high that a secondary profession opened up to help people create them. Players offering their skills in setting up an alliance are able to charge upward of a hundred million isk for the task. Creating corporations with high enough standings to set up labs in high security space is also a marketable skill.

Artist:
Most MMOs frown on providing out of game services for in-game payment. Allowing any exceptions is seen as a slippery slope that ends with real money trading of in-game currency. EVE Online broke this convention by allowing pilots to exchange a very specific list of things for ISK. These include forum signature art, graphic and website design, website hosting and teamspeak server rental.

In summary:
Freeform professions are something that very few MMOs have. The social nature of EVE Online combined with the huge player density produces opportunities that wouldn't otherwise be available. Where there's a demand for something in EVE, you can be sure there'll be someone there to fill it for the right price. I've barely touched on some of the most popular ones in EVE, there are dozens more jobs you can fill. From stock broker to starbase technician, graffiti artist to grifter, there are more professions in EVE than most people realise. What other freeform professions have you had in your time in EVE?

This article was originally published on Massively.