Set more than 21,000 years in the future, the background story of EVE Online explains that humanity, having used up most of Earth's resources, began colonising the rest of the Milky Way. This expansion led to competition and fighting over available resources. Everything changed with the discovery of a natural wormhole leading to an unexplored galaxy dubbed 'New Eden'. Dozens of colonies were founded and a structure was built to stabilise the wormhole, a giant gateway bearing the name "EVE". However, when the natural wormhole collapsed it destroyed the gate. Cut off from Earth and its much-needed supplies, the colonists of New Eden starved. Five colonies managed to return to prominence, each eventually rebuilding their own society. The states based around these colonies make up the five major empires in EVE Online: the Amarr Empire, the Caldari State, the Gallente Federation, the Minmatar Republic and the Jove Directorate.
Players start the game by creating a new character. Each account allows for up to three characters. When players create a new character they start by choosing one of the four playable races of Amarr, Gallente, Minmatar and Caldari. Each race is further divided into three bloodlines that give characters different pre-defined appearances and skills, which can be finely tuned by the player.
The in-game economy in EVE Online is an open economy that is largely player-driven. Non-player character (NPC) merchants sell skill books used by players to learn new skills and blueprints to manufacture ships and equipment. The players themselves gather the necessary raw materials to manufacture almost all of the ships and ship modules in the game. The in-game currency is called ISK, an abbreviation for InterStellar Kredits (ISK is also the currency of Iceland, the country in which EVE is written).
If you've never heard or seen of EVE before, here's an awesome trailer.
The nature of the open-ended game architecture means that players can literally do anything the want in the game. There are a number of "careers" that can be joined, each with a number of sub careers. The most common are listed below.
- Miner/Refiner - Mining asteroids and refining the ore into the raw materials used for production.
- Hauler - Moving goods from one location to another.
- Manufacturer - Using blueprints to construct and sell ships and equipment.
- Researcher/Inventor - All advanced items in EVE, of the Tech 2 variety, are made possible by the efforts of players who conduct invention.
- Trader - Buy low, sell high! Often linked to hauling
- Corporate Executive - Become your own CEO! Players can found their own corporations, recruit other players, and earn ISK from a salary drawn from taxes and fees. You can also create structures in space to host valuable research facilities, or you could join an alliance and negotiate for implementing a lucrative moon mining operation.
- Recruiter - The lifeblood of corporations is literally in the people who join, but many corporations do a poor job of finding the kinds of players they need to thrive as a group. For this reason, you can rent yourself out as a recruiting agency, to search for and pre-qualify potential candidates for your client corporation.
- Standings Pusher - Mining corporations need high NPC standings for tax-free "perfect" refining and some corporations will pay you for access to them.
- Explorer - Searching for wormholes and hidden space for valuable sites, then selling the relics and information you discover, can be a very productive way to generate ISK - and a lot of fun, too.
- Salvager - EVE is a place of constant combat, and as a result, there are a lot of wrecked ships left behind after every battle. Many items collected from wrecks are used to produce specialised rigs for ships, and so there is always a strong demand for these items.
- Mission Runner - One of the first ways that every player makes ISK in EVE is by executing assigned missions assigned by agents in non-player corporations, or by running through dead space complexes.
- Ratting - Hunting and killing NPC pirates (a.k.a. "rats") can earn some ISK.
- Mercenary - You can make a decent living by hiring your guns out to corporations that can use you for fighting pirates or war targets.
- Bounty Hunter - Many players that pursue outlaw careers have bounties assigned to them. Players can hunt down these characters using locator agents and intelligence gathered from other players, and collect the bounties.
- Pirate - Do you like the idea of combat for personal profit? Then the life of a pirate might be for you. Pirates specialise in player-versus-player (PvP) skills so that they can attack and pillage players (mostly hauliers) in low-security space, or capture them and ransom their ship or pod for money.
- Assassin/Suicide Ganker - If you initiate an unprovoked attack on a ship in high-security space (0.5 or higher), then CONCORD will destroy your ship. But losing a ship might be a small price to pay if you pick the right target - a nice fat freighter or a faction ship laden with high-priced modules, for example. By working with teammates, who can loot the victim after your suicide attack, you can earn enormous rewards.
- Drug Dealer - There are illegal substance abusers in the EVE universe - and this includes many pilots. Booster drugs can temporarily increase certain capabilities, and though illegal in Empire space, they are in demand. And where there are buyers, there is a market - one that a disreputable drug dealer can fill, and for decent profit, at moderate risk.
Is that enough to do in EVE? There are also a number of smaller professions, either specialised or low profit which I haven't listed here.