Nine months ago I received my Windows 8 tablet (Acer Iconia W700) and immediately installed eve on it to test if I would be able to play. The result was my review of how eve played on a tablet and furthermore if it was a viable platform for playing games like eve “mobile”. The conclusion I came to then was that the tablet did successfully run eve, but that the touch interface was both aesthetically and technically challenging to use. Now that I have had the tablet for 9 months, I’ve decided to give an update on this, and discuss the honest usage I have gotten out of the tablet, and if my opinions on it for gaming (and eve in particular) have changed.
Let’s start with the broader stroke of windows gaming and the touch interface. A lot of games quite simply are not designed to be used with a tablet. Almost all of the games I own on steam either don’t work with a touch interface (requiring two pokes to click, similar to eve), or require more than just a left mouse Button to play. Some, such as Civilisation V and don’t starve work just fine out of the box, others are tolerable such as Revenge of the Titans or The Walking dead. Some require a keyboard and mouse such as Kerbal space program. Because of this I have purchased a Microsoft Wedge Keyboard and Arc Touch mouse (IMO the best travel kit on the market at the moment, despite the mouse taking up my one USB slot)
[Edit: during the process of editing this document the small USB dongle which connects to the Arc Mouse received a bump and has subsequently stopped working. This is a great pity as apart from the silly Wifi dongle the mouse is pretty much a perfect travel mouse. However because it used up an entire USB port, and now its discovered weakness (destruction of a 50p dongle ruins an otherwise working £50 mouse), I can’t say that I will be purchasing a second one).]
With these connected the tablet works just like a laptop would, but with more flexibility for where you place your K/M on the crowded commuter trains mine sees its most usage on. In the near future there is some software coming out which looks set to change this: Gameplay Gesture Works, but we shall reserve judgement on that for when its released.
This said, I rarely play steam games on the move these days, preferring to peruse my extensive list of RSS feeds on the go using NextGen Reader. This is where the windows tablets flexibility kicks in, on the train I tend to use it much like an android tablet, reading articles, perusing reddit, or playing the odd game from the Windows Store. But when it arrives at work the workout begins. Firstly I have several OneNote folders set up for various needs in the business, along with a good handful of Spreadsheets and Word documents. In customer requirements meetings, I can hook into the intranet and demo functionality, or remote onto my virtual development box and make minor changes to my code. When lunch time rolls around, I fire up eve and pop online to update my buy and sell orders, as well as organise my PI structure. Because the corporate network blocks eve, this is done over a Galaxy S4 configured as a portable 4G hotspot, it takes seconds to turn on and off, and the speed is plenty fast enough for eve, and I’m yet to have any connection issues.
Once my eve time is finished I boot up steam and spend a 20 mins or so in my current lunch hour game. This ranges from things like System Shock 2, through Mirrors edge all the way up into Skyrim. Lunchtime over its back to the grind, until I get home. There the tablet is hooked up as a 5th screen for the computer using Synergy. Here it gets used for stats tracking, or as a map for my roams in Faction warfare (using Dotlan’s Radar function).
For any one especially interested in playing eve over a 3/4G connections I can tell you that it uses far less data then you might expect. I found that is uses around 0.3mb per minute of light play (defined as flying about in a hauler, updating the market and doing PI, all in a relatively quiet system). I’m not sure I would want to attend fleets on it, or do anything of high-risk, but that is more my healthy paranoia of allowing technology to factor into the risk reward ratio of eve than any instability record. If there were a move op say when I was out of the house, I would certainly consider moving using the tablet.
So is it perfect? Simple answer is no. For a start I would like to see a tablet with a proper graphics card in it. Also if I were buying again right now, I would want a tablet with a Wacom Bamboo pen as an input option (taking notes at work would be quicker). Furthermore I am very surprised that very few tablets have a built in 3/4G modem which I could slot my sim into for mobile internet, but this is something I hope will be fixed with the next generation.
Despite these minor issues, I am still immensely pleased with this tablet, and it gets a great amount of use every day.
Fly a spaceship, in a plane,
Today the nice postman was kind enough to drop over a nice little package. My new Windows 8 Tablet arrived! So Extra Vehicular is taking a little sidestep into the world of mobile computing. Specifically the question which I’m sure every one reading is silently asking:
“Will it play Eve online!?”
Lets find out:
First of the tablet itself I wont go into too much detail on my selection process. Needless to say I picked a windows tablet specifically the Acer Iconia w700 NT.L0EEK.002:
The important statistics are as follows:
CPU: i5-3316U (dual core 1.70Ghz)
OS: Windows 8 64bit
Graphics: Intel HD 4000
Network issues sorted, it installed with no hitches what so ever!
So without further ado, I pressed play, and found a couple of minor issues.
Link to the Blog Banter Breif
This is going to a long one, stay with me people…
Before I begin if you are reading this while considering joining the game register and start downloading now no review can truly tell you if your going to enjoy eve online. That said it a big download, so you should keep reading, just to be sure.
Every review needs an introduction, this way you get to know me, and thus can judge if my views an opinions match your own. I’m Harkconnan, an eve player of 4 years (with a 1 year break). I started playing, as every one does, in highsec doing missions. After just under a year of mission running I got bored and quit eve (playing other MMO’s [wow and others]) however eventually I got bored of elves and pixies and the call of space brought me back into eve. Here I found my long time cohorts were in lawless space (called 0.0) with an Alliance (Clan) so after a short exchange I flew out to join them. My main has called 0.0 home ever since.
In 0.0 I have participated in small gang warfare, I have lead roams (kind of like free form Raids, but in PvP form, think running around with a group of friends looking for pvp) and helped form and build an alliance. I’ve worked my way from flying small fast frigate ships all the way up to capital class carriers. I would consider myself and well rounded experienced 0.0 player, with a lot still to learn. With this in mind let us commence the review.
This review will use a somewhat usual scoring system. I have laid out a series of headings some of which I consider important to any MMO and some which are important to PvP only. I will score this game out of 100 (100 good, 0 bad), but this will evolve as I go along. starting with a Score of 50/100, representing the expectation of mediocreness I presume when I start any new game. Every time I mention something bad I will subtract from the score (depending on how bad it is) and every time I mention something good I will add to it. Each time this happens I will note the change in square brackets like this [-50] or [+5] (each bad thing can only be marked down once) and at the end of each paragraph I will show what the tally is and the amount the section changed it. At the end we will see how well it scores.
Interface & Controls
Lets get the biggest disappointment out of the way: new players, please understand that if you are expecting a control system similar to Privateer, Wing Commander or X3, you are going to be disappointed. Eve online is all about point and click. A lot of early players come into to the game expecting joystick and keyboard controls and come away upset[-1]. But don’t let this discourage you, if you come in thinking of eve’s spaceships as behemoths manned by a crew of hundreds you should be able to understand why the ships don’t have a “Fly by Wire” system. Think back to watching popular SciFi; Kirk wasn’t sitting at the helm of the enterprise with a joystick, and Darth Vader didn’t do barrel rolls in the SSD Executioner; they both pointed to a bit of space and said “Make it so” (well they didn’t Pickard did), and so will you. Thinking in this way the point and click interface actually makes a lot of sense [+1].
Moving on from the mouse controls to the rest of the interface, we can begin to see the games heritage; launched in 2003 some parts of the game haven’t really changed much [-5], interfaces like the chat channels and the clunky corporation management pages really show their age. That said eve has a history of graphical and interface updates [+10] with the graphics engine in its entirety being overhauled in late 2007, and the last patch (2012) updating and elderly part of the interface (Targeting UI). The interface as a whole is however quite quirky, which I don’t think is either a good or a bad thing, and accentually sums up the entire game very well.
Total: +5 (55/100)
The equivalent to level 1-25 in other MMO’s takes around 3-6 months in eve, as it skill system is not based on grinding quests for XP [+5] but instead on time (both logged in and not). Some have expressed fears that this would cause older players to have an unbeatable advantage over younger players. Fortunately between the player skill needed to fly ships and the level 5 cap on any in-game skills younger players specialising can quickly outstrip older players [+5]. Indeed even when an older player has specialised in the same area, a new player can quickly level the playing field to leave player skill as the only remaining decider. Although eve has a pretty fair system for newer players, there is the sticky issue of the games community. Although I will expound on the benefits of the eve community at great lengths later, in this early game section I need to express its darker side. The eve community is ruthless and harsh to new players, the learning curve is famously steep, and new players are expected to keep up or fall off the curve [-5]. No place is safe in eve online, once you leave the almost-but-not-really safety of the starter systems, your fair game to scams and ganks. You need to be preprepared for this and ready to weather the harsh storms of life in space. To counter act this though there are many communities and groups who will help you getting into eve, and even a charity for new players, of course you need to find these first [+3]. Eve is a very hard game to get into, but those who do survive tend to have a great time.
Total: +7 (62/100)
Entry to 0.0
I said at the start of this that I am a 0.0 player through and through. As such I am pretty much reviewing my experience in the game, which revolves around 0.0. Getting into 0.0 was the biggest change in my career, and without which I doubt I’d still be playing today. My transition was pretty easy, I had friends in a 0.0 (sometimes called Nullsec) space who invited me to join them. Simple as. I think this transition was maybe a little bit easier than most, but really it represents the average transition [+5]. Of course you wont be able to join one of the top alliances off the bat (unless you come from an external community like Something Awful or Reddit), but you can have fun in a lesser alliance until you have enough skill and experience under your belt to make that jump. Joining a NullSec Corp/Alliance usually follows this process:
As I said above, in 0.0 you don’t necessarily get to pick when you get combat, but when you do oh boy was it worth the wait. Combat in eve is varied and intense. I am going to tell you now that I have done top level raids in wow, and nothing, nothing compares to the thrill of pvp in eve. Even the last 1% of the boss you have been trying to down for a month with only 5 members of your raid group left alive gives a fraction of the adrenalin of the smallest engagement in eve [+20]. Like the rest of the game combat has lots of different aspects to it, its more than just throwing slugs at each other through the void of space[+10]. There are weapon types, damage types, tank types, ranges, tracking speed, electronic warfare and that at the lowest level of abstraction (one vs one) zoom out to fleet combat and add; tactics, searching for the enemys co-ordinates to warp to them, battlefield manipulation (called grid fu), betrayals and even dropping reinforcements into the fight. You honestly never know what’s going to happen. Even better there is very little in the actual combat system which is truly bad since Time dilation (time slows down the more events are happening in the fight to combat server lag) fights have been amazing, with the only true downside being when the enemy decided to not show up (called blue balling) which always sucks [-1].
Total: +29 (116/100)
eve is often praised for its amazing level of community which may seem a bit odd considering my statements in the Early Game section. But its one of many doublethinks in this game. The eve community is at the same time harsh and cold, and warm and welcoming[+5]. We don’t suffer fools, but we do nurture potential, if you mess up bad people will smack you down, then teach you how to do things right next time. Not only that, but in this game, if you really, really want to succeed you will need to engage with the community and research your moves to progress[+5]. You cant just log in and play, you have to join the meta game (for current eve players: meta isn’t just about spying you know, its about gaining information), and that makes for a great community [+5].
Total: +10 (126/100)
Average play session
Average is a very misleading word, the average (median or modal) play session for me would be:
|Starting assumption of mediocrity:||50|
Interface & Controls:
Entry to 0.0:
Average play session: