EVE Evolved: Does EVE make players better at other MMOs?

Every now and then on the EVE Online forums, someone will make a post about World of Warcraft. Sometimes a player will ask why CCP doesn't adopt an idea or two from the industry giant, or sometimes he'll just announce that he's quitting as soon as the next WoW expansion comes out. Recently, I saw a rather inflammatory statement in one of these threads that made me think. Someone wrote that "When a player quits EVE and goes to WoW, the average IQ in both games increases," implying that only stupid people quit EVE and that even the stupidest EVE player is smarter than the average WoW player.

It's an absurd and really quite offensive statement to make, but the above quote did get me thinking about whether playing EVE actually helps players to be more effective in other MMOs. Having gone from EVE's harsh world to more forgiving lands, I've definitely found that my experiences in New Eden have taught me to play MMOs more effectively. From the situational awareness that EVE's PvP forces on players to the organisation required for co-operative ventures and the complex trading experience EVE provides, there are definitely lessons to be learned that can apply to other MMOs.

In this week's EVE Evolved, I look at a few of the ways playing EVE can make someone more effective in other MMOs.

PvP safety

It's no secret that EVE has a rather harsh death penalty, with the permanent destruction of whatever ship you're flying. Even if you use cheap ships, every death means you'll have to spend time and ISK to go back to base and get a replacement. In PvP, this death penalty plays a pivotal role in shaping the way fights take place. The fact that there's something very real on the line makes players naturally wary of dangerous situations.

We gain a sense for when an opportunity to make a kill might be a trap, we learn the value in knowing the exact capabilities of the enemy, and we learn to deal with new situations as they emerge. In the games of cat and mouse played daily in low-security space and nullsec, key skills like always keeping an escape route open and keeping all of your withdrawal options in the back of your mind develop out of necessity.

Most other MMOs I've played have a very tame death penalty, especially when it comes to PvP. At worst, you'll respawn nearby and lose a few minutes of time running back to your corpse. Despite the lack of actual danger and the fact that there's really nothing on the line in any fight, I still find myself practicing the same basic survival techniques I picked up in EVE. In games like WoW, the only thing at stake is a 30-second wait and a brisk jog back to the fight, but by quickly reacting to emerging situations and always being mindful of possible escape routes or traps, I find myself coming out with a better score than I otherwise would have had.

Organisation

It's said that running any kind of corporation or organisation in EVE is like herding cats. Since I've run only relatively small corporations over the years, starting up the ever-growing Massively Mob corporation recently has given me a new appreciation for cat-herding. Corporations in EVE are much more than just a collective chat room and a shared bank space.

The members of a corporation are often forced to rely on each other, a fact that is especially visible during times of war. Since any corporation can pay a small fee to declare war on another corp and engage in hostilities, corp members can find themselves in the middle of a battlefield with as little as 24 hours notice. This can put some real stress on a corporation, but EVE players have found ways to keep the spirits of their members high throughout times like these.

Ad-hoc PvP fleets to fight off war-targets can be a great bonding experience, as can other motivators like contests, medals, propaganda posters and corp videos. These are all things that can be used to make much more cohesive and successful guilds in other MMOs. My experiences with EVE group gameplay and PvP also had a massive impact on my ability to raid in WoW. As EVE fleets are orchestrated with almost military precision and failing to follow orders can have serious consequences, the accurate execution of tactics and following of orders required for raiding came very naturally.

Marketeering

One of EVE's signature features is its unrivaled player-run market. With so many players trading in a single instance of the game world, the markets have reached a kind of critical mass. Due to this, players can get practically anything they want and prices tend to balance themselves almost automatically based loosely on the laws of supply and demand. The market is generally segmented based on factors of resource availability and distance from major trade hubs. During normal play, we learn to find and capitalise on opportunities created by this resource scarcity or changes in demand for certain items. The most ambitious among us will even find ways to create those opportunities ourselves, manipulating the market for a profit.

With the sharded server environments offered by other MMOs, the lessons learned from playing the market in EVE are even more effective than they are in EVE. With fewer people refueling the market with items, market manipulations in sharded MMOs often last long enough to reward a crafty player with substantial profits. Shortages of supply are equally easy to profit from, especially in cases where an item is short supply only because it's found in an unpopular or underused area. A trick I've found to work very well in several MMOs is to find something you can get with relatively low effort, such as an item you can buy from a vendor in World of Warcraft or a collectible that appears on the ground in underused zones in EverQuest II. I then try to sell the item for ridiculously high prices, and to my surprise, this strategy has always been extremely effective.

Summary

In my own personal experience, I've found that playing EVE for several years before trying other popular MMOs has taught me to be much more effective in other games. I've found that my PvP experience with EVE has led to a heightened sense of awareness and a better ability to focus on tactics as part of a group than I would otherwise have had. The biggest thing I've noticed is the sheer amount of gold I've managed to generate in WoW and other games just through applying some typical EVE Online business sense to the game. These are just a few ways that playing EVE has helped me with other games, but I have to wonder whether there are others. For that matter, I wonder what elements of other MMOs can make someone better at playing EVE.

Brendan "Nyphur" Drain is an early veteran of EVE Online and writer of the weekly EVE Evolved column here at Massively. The column covers anything and everything relating to EVE Online, from in-depth guides to speculative opinion pieces. If you have an idea for a column or guide, or you just want to message him, send an email to brendan@massively.com.

This article was originally published on Massively.