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My first and prior foray into EVE Online was early in 2006. I gave the free trial a shot, was taken by the colorful nebulae, lensflares, and 1:1 scale astronomical distances, and lured two friends into joining me. We formed Yatsura Industrial (the name I was going to use for the unscrupulous corporation in Byzantine), mined plagioclase in 0.5 for a few months, then I got bored and left them behind. As I do about most games, I wrote a strongly worded treatise on my way out.

I was thinking recently about comments I'd made here about how much more fun I have in nonlinear designer-hands-off games (you probably know exactly where this is going already), and decided if I was going to rag on CoD4 so much I'd better actively start seeking out games that fit my preconceived tastes, and see if they hold up. I deemed FarCry2 noteworthy, thanks in no small part to weekly insistence on the part of Idle Thumbs, and it's now in the Steam list. There had to be more, though - what games out there provide players with open-ended systems to play with, rather than predetermined authored experiences to use and discard? Hmm.

I still enjoyed reading about happenings in EVE as much as the next guy, repeating the more-fun-to-read-about-than-play mantra just as often, and Goonswarm's hilarious trojan takeover of BoB space had me idly reading their wiki out of curiosity. Their article on what makes EVE awesome said

One could compare this to the difference between a playground, such as EVE, and a theme park, which would be the traditional MMOG. In a playground you have access to different kinds of toys and rides, and you are allowed to use your own imagination to figure out how to create games you enjoy. In a theme park all the rides have been created for you and are either good or bad by design. The playground clearly offers more freedom but it requires you to think and be an active participant, while the theme park has taken those responsibilities away from you and you can just go with the flow.

and I realized with no small amount of embarassment that I had been playing EVE all wrong the first time, and only now had my tastes morphed to the point where I could appreciate it. My cognitive dissonance dropped a notch, and I resubscribed.

I was pleased to find that the terribly tetchy and laggy interface was 99% cured, and that my old character was still there, even if all his money and ships weren't. (For some reason I did have 60,000 units of garbage in a hangar somewhere. Not assorted loot, I mean literally garbage.) I was also pleased to find an open, friendly, readily accessible collective to nestle into: the ShackNews crew. They even donated millions to alleviate my garbage-stricken poverty and get me back in a battlecruiser, without being asked, which was kind of disappointing in a way because I was looking forward to seeing how possible it was to really actually pull myself up by my bootstraps with only my skills and 60,000 garbage.

I may still quit again for other reasons, likely that I won't be willing to put in the time necessary to see the game's greatest benefits, but at least I can feel like I had a better idea of what to look for.