I'm not dead yet! I've been semi-AFK again because of some serious malaise. Real life factors and hitting a rut in EVE have really taken the steam out of my desire to play EVE. I have been building some carriers and a few other items as well as some low level trading. My trading has pretty much stopped after I lost my access to regular JF runs. The guy that owns the JF had RL hit him like a truck and hasn't been playing. I used Black Frog for another run, but paying that much for transportation caused me to need to raise prices quite a bit to compensate. Plus I seem to have some under-cutters right now. When I could be pretty sure of a constant (albeit low) margin and good volume, the time I spent maintaining the market seemed well spent. Now it doesn't really seem worth it. But, that's not what I want to talk about today.
I recently read the Brave Newbies Community Spotlight on the Eve Online website. I got there by way of Jester's post in response to the newest blog banter. I realize I'm a bit late to jump on that bandwagon, but that's ok, because I'm not actually jumping on it. I don't really care about the blog banter. In this post, I'm concerned about what makes EVE fun? Why do I keep logging in?
This is what keeps bringing me back. If I take a break and come back a year from now I still have 5 T1 cruisers, 2 Logistics cruisers, a carrier, etc (these are completely hypothetical). Sure the meta changes and some ships may be re-purposed/re-balanced, but I will still have roughly the same utility as I did. If you take a year off of wow, your gear is completely worthless in comparison to your competition and you may be several levels behind if an expansion has dropped. You can undock and pew pew immediately with more or less what you had before. I have all of the ISK I had when I quit. Granted, there is inflation, but if you buy assets and hold them you can offset this, at least partially. PLEX would probably be a good choice for this. This is what appeals the most to me and why I bother with industry or trading. Every ISK I make, I can keep. The market is real and player run, I can change what happens. The effects of my change could possibly be felt weeks or months after I stop interacting.
To me, what makes the game fun is the fights. 1v1 or in a fleet. Fights are what I will remember. I will have kill-mails to document them. I can look back at my kill-board and say "Oh, that's the time I went on a roam with Kaeda Maxwell and tanked my security status." Not fighting does not leave a mark. To me, the selection of a corporation hinges on where they live and who they fight. If I like the descriptions of their fights I will probably like their corporation. How the members work together and how they approach battle is a good indicator of what makes them tick as a group. Mining ops don't usually attract new members (unless you are a miner). Mining ops are pretty much a commodity. If you have Orca boosts in a decent location, you can exchange that for Orca boosts in another location. The only differentiator is the social aspect. Maybe a group's comms is really entertaining. Or not. It's hard to tell. Its hard to write a compelling story about bullshitting over some rock crunching.
TL;DR: Fights are what makes the game fun, but permanence is what keeps me coming back.