From humble beginnings:
All players in EVE started out the same way, appearing in the universe with only a rookie ship, 5000 isk and a smattering of basic skills. It is from these humble beginnings that all players have built themselves and their empires. With EVE's real-time skill training system you could be forgiven for thinking it's too late to do the same, a myth that I covered in detail back in May.
In addition, new players have never had it so good with new characters starting with almost a million skillpoints and attribute implant prices being lower than ever. With some focused skill training and a little instruction and direction from older players, your brand new character can be highly combat-effective in cruisers within a month. The main thing older players have over you is experience and knowledge of the game mechanics, something that will improve through practice.
The future soon:
Due to the evolutionary nature of EVE, new players are continually offered the same opportunity as older ones to access new content. Unlike in popular level-based MMOs where a player must reach maximum level to take advantage of new expansion content, EVE's additions are available for all. When new gameplay such as exploration or salvaging is released, new skills are added for the task. When the expansion goes live, nobody has the appropriate skills trained yet, starting a race to train them in which older players have very little advantage. The best a player can do is guess at what the prerequisites will be for the new skills and train those in advance.
The next big expansion for EVE is planned for march, ahead of the typical summer launch date. This expansion will bring wormholes to New Eden, areas of space that allow players to jump into new and completely uncharted solar systems. This immense expansion to the exploration system is likely to make use of standard astrometrics skills and several new ones. Players signing up now could easily train astrometrics skills in advance to prepare. Additionally, this patch promises Tech 3 ships and an entirely new production mechanism for producing them. Players joining now will have enough time to learn the ins and outs of production in EVE and train the relevant skills before the expansion hits.
Walking in Stations:
Following the march expansion, the revolutionary Walking in Stations expansion is tentatively slated for winter 2009. Players will be able to exit their ships and take on an entirely new life in a station environment. Players will be able to rent office spaces in the station promenade. You could run a bar, be a fashion designer or maybe set up your own corporate recruitment office. The Walking in Stations gameplay may not even require new skills but you'll probably need to familiarise youself with the game and make some isk in advance to get started.
EVE Online has showed for five years running that it's here to stay. In partnership with companies like IBM, NVidia and Microsoft, CCP keep themselves at the cutting edge of their field. With two massive expansions on the way and many more years of EVE to come, I don't think there's ever been a better time to get into EVE Online.
Brendan "Nyphur" Drain is an early veteran of EVE Online and writer of the weekly EVE Evolved column here at massively.com. The column covers anything and everything relating to EVE Online, from in-depth guides to speculative opinion pieces. If you want to message him, send him an e-mail at brendan.drain AT weblogsinc DOT com. Go on, he's probably lonely :D.