In my last post I got into a comment discussion with my friend about why missions in Eve are not as strong a part of the game as they are in WoW or other MMOs. It was hard to answer without going into describing Eve. So I decided a full post was the only answer.
Imagine a sandbox the size of a football field. Best quality sand. Found in the sandbox are various toys: shovels of all materials and sizes from little plastic ones to mechanized backhoes, buckets for kids and dump trucks, toys cars, dune buggies, tents, wooden forts, climbers, rockwalls, a small swimming pool, etc. And also there are tools and materials to make every toy found in the sandbox, and some materials are just lying around, some are buried and need to be found with a metal detector.
Now, imagine releasing about 500 hundred kids from age Kindergarten to grade 8 in this sandbox.
And one adult to supervise. That is Eve.
Quickly what happens is that the younger kids stay close to the adult for safety but the rest of the sandbox is the wild west run rampant. Kids can make elaborate sand castles using the tools, but only the bigger older kids can use the fancy backhoes and dumptrucks. Some big kids will help the little ones, others will push them over and take their toys. They might get in trouble by the adult if she's close, but maybe not if the little one wandered too far away.
Some older kids will get organized with their friends and work together to build massive sand castles reaching over their heads. And then a bigger group of kids comes over to knock it down. Why? Because it was there, that's why. Maybe a pushing war will start, maybe throwing sand at each other. Adult is too far away to stop it so maybe some kids run away and one group wins the say. Maybe the other kids will come back. You never can tell.
That is the mentality of Eve, but with adults instead of kids, free in a sandbox with no society forcing them to acceptable norms. The "adult" is the protection the game offers to new players that is not perfect but mostly satisfactory, and new players sometimes wander too far away from the protection and get ganked. The sand castles represent the deep space empires groups can build and fight over. It is literally a free-for-all on a grand scale.
In this metaphor, missions (aka quests) represent one group of toys out of the whole sandbox and that is how it was designed. A study was done and showed that Eve players had an average lifetime of 7 months, which I figure is about the time to get int a good mission running ship and master level four missions. People who stick only to that component of the game quickly run bored and quit soon after and I'm not surprised because missions in Eve are very simplistic and easy once you have the skills. They fail to see the rest of the sandbox beyond their one toy of choice. Those that do end up hooked for a lot longer.
There, I hope that rambling post makes sense.