Earth & Beyond--the game, not the review debates

Anyone playing this? I’ve been tooling around with it for a few weeks and ya know, I rather like it. It’s low-key, advancement is much faster than in EQ, and the space stuff is a nice change of pace. It has it’s flaws, plenty of them, but it’s a much better solo-ing experience than any of the fantasy MMORPGs IMO, and there’s just something about lasers and shields and stuff that I like.

I was tempted a little.

Can you play this game in a completely non-violent way? Like being a trader or something? I absolutely detest PvP in a game like this.

I was perfectly happy as a tailor/hunter (deer->leather) in UO until some stupid guy killed me and ruined all my “fun.”

I heard that after lvl 10 levelling really slowed down. Have you found this to be true?

Friend of mine picked it up, and said he was very impressed by the early part of the game, there was always something to do, interesting missions, etc. He said it was one of those games where the time just went by while he was totally immersed. He is playing a pansy explorer I believe, I mean a Jenquai explorer, that is…

Since I’ve heard so many things about the beta, however, I’ve told him to come back in 2 weeks and say if he still likes it. About a week to go now…

I played it obsessively for the first three weeks after launch and am still playing it semi-regularly. I have a level 58 Terran Trader and a level 17 Jenquai Explorer. (For perspective, the maximum achievable level is 150: 50 combat, 50 explore, 50 trade.)

E&B is very easy to get into. Out well past level 30 there are lots of things to do. However…

My main complaint about the game is that you eventually do run short of interesting things to do. As a trader, you hit a leveling wall around level 50 and subsequent levels are much harder to attain. 22 of my levels are in trade; I’m running goods between two profitable centres almost non-stop, building trade experience so I can get to Trade Level 25, at which point some useful skill upgrades become available. But it’s taking a long time, and it’s definitely getting tedious.

I’m hoping that the monthly content updates will keep the game interesting, especially for established players. There’s talk of a big unfolding story arc, but as of now, we’re only seeing the beginning stuff, so it’s too early to tell.

You can do well solo in E&B, but it’s good to have some regular buddies there to chum around with. I got into a decent guild, and have tagged along on hunting trips and exploration runs. We help each other out when we can. We’re in the process of setting up a web site store where guild members can order manufactured items from other members. You don’t get enough skill points to excel at everything, so traders tend to specialise in the sorts of items they build. My specialty is weapons, but we also have engine builders, device builders, shield builders…

No PvP. I hope that if they do add it later, they either create a PvP-only server farm, or confine PvP to certain sectors. For now, you only fight NPCs, weird space creatures, etc. And running away is a perfectly viable tactic, if your ship is fast enough and you keep your wits about you. ;-)

Lee, how many hours a week are you putting in to it? How many did you put in at the beginning?

The first three weeks, I was probably dumping in something like 15-20 hours a week. Now I think it’s more like 6-8 hours a week. My E&B time took a big hit the day Age of Mythology rolled into the store. :D I was on for about an hour last night, doing the Somerled-Xipe run back and forth.

I’m more interested in the trade XP than in the money at this point. When I started out as a trader, I had about 2000 credits in my pocket… now I have something like 1.3 million CR, and I’d have more if I wasn’t burning hundreds of thousands on new items to analyze and dismantle. :)

BTW, I see from reading the producer’s November newsletter that PvP is coming in December, but the details have yet to be announced. Hopefully they don’t screw it up for we live-and-let-live types. :?


How many people are playing the game? Is there enough people so the game will last or do you think it will die a slow death? The reason I’m asking is because I might want to buy the game, so a busy and active community is a big plus for me.

thxs :D

I’ve been playing E&B since it’s initial release. For the first 3 weeks, I played about 20-30 hours a week, making and trying out different character types before settling on 1 or 2 main characters. I have a level 38 Jenquai Defender, a level 22 Terran Enforcer, and a level 35 Jenquai Defender I recently made because I didn’t like the way my character and ship looked with my first JD.

Too many other games have pulled time away from my E&B playing, so now I usually log around 5-10 hours a week on it. It’s got a high “wow” factor when you first play the game, but as you progress in levels and play time, you start to feel the leveling grind of every other MMORPG.

There are a lot of neat things to see in the game, though, and combat is fun with a good group. Exploring can be interesting as well, although warping into a previously unexplored waypoint only to immediately get destroyed by some insanely high level and powerful space monster can get annoying. Luckily, experience debt goes away slowly when you log that character off, so a night’s sleep is good enough to wipe out most exp debt.

A pretty cool recent moment: hunting space pirates solo in the Ragnarok sector of Aragoth, only to have 3 more pirates show up to assist the one I was originally fighting. My psi-shield collapsed, so I “folded space” to warp out of battle, they chased me and hit me with some long range missiles; I folded space again, turned on my cloak, and ended up limping past the group of pirates while invisible until I was far enough way to risk decloaking and warping for the nearest starbase. Then I repaired at the nearest starbase, ran into a Progen Warrior and Terran Enforcer I knew, enlisted their help, went back, and kicked all their pirate asses.

I’ve found that leveling is pretty steady so far, but I’m only level 26. I’ve put in about 27 hours total in the game, according to the /played command :) I’m trying to get my Jenquai Defender to 30 so I can get my second hull upgrade.

It gets tedious, even at low levels, in the flying around bits, but not terribly so–certainly less so IMO than running back and forth across Norath. Faster engines at higher levels speed things up, but the best is to have Explorer friends who can wormhole you. The guild I joined is really nice; I’d recommed finding a good guild for sure.

You can do a lot non-combat, but not exclusively. Even exploration and trade missions will put you in harms way, and exploring is particularly deadly because as you pop out of warp–and you have to, in sectors you haven’t explored yet, as you can only warp to identified way points, at which time others become available, sorta–you can get ambushed by critters. Trading requires going to nasty places too, and getting recipes for building stuff means getting loot and analyzing it, which generally also means some combat.

But, you don’t have to be a tank-type player either. Defenders use cloak, summon, fold space, and beam weapons generally and play like thieves/assassins, for instance. Explorers and traders need combat levels to access better gear, but they (and defenders to some extent) can benefit from picking on monsters a few combat levels below their skill for relatively safe kills.

As for the game population, it seems small, and I do have some fears that a year from now EA will fold it up and sneak off into the night.

How many people are playing the game? Is there enough people so the game will last or do you think it will die a slow death?

It’s hard to say, and probably too early to tell. My characters are in galaxy Orion. I’ve noticed in the last week or so that there seem to be fewer people around than there were in the first month–which may have something to do with the fact that the first month is free, and maybe some of the players aren’t sticking around. However, the places that were busy before are still busy now, and I can always find some of my guildies online, even though we have a relatively small guild. It’s not like there are tumbleweeds blowing through deserted space stations. :-)

I’m determined to stick it out for a few months and see how the content and story develop. I enjoyed my experience with E&B the first month, definitely. Even if I quit now, I probably put more hours into it than I have with many of the games I bought for the same amount of money. According to /played, I’ve spent 87 hours playing my trader, and 7.5 hours playing my explorer.

EB’s running a pricing promotion on the E&B software; it’s been knocked down to USD 29.99. I don’t see how you can go wrong at that price.

“I’m running goods between two profitable centres almost non-stop, building trade experience so I can get to Trade Level 25, at which point some useful skill upgrades become available. But it’s taking a long time, and it’s definitely getting tedious.”

Why would this ever be fun? I mean it sounds like you could have a simple script that could do this. Then you leave and comeback a few days later to see the results.

Well, I know one time I was doing a Yasuragi to Paren Station Trade Route, and some Red Dragon Pirates snared me from warp with an artificial gravity well. They wanted money for safe passage, totalling more than what I would’ve made on the trade run. I refused, was promptly attacked by 5 Red Dragon Pirates, and ended up in a bizarre fold space-run-attempt cloak dance to get far enough away to escape their gravity well and warp to safety. On the one hand, I managed to escape their gravity well. On the other, while my ship was preparing for warp, I was hit about 7 times by missiles and my engine exploded.

My point? Sure, it can be tedious doing trade runs at times, but every now and then something like this happens to break the routine.

I would have thought that my use of the word “tedious” was fairly evident. When I’m doing trade runs like this, usually I’m shooting the breeze over the guild channel.

See, I’ve done most of the scripted missions, and passed through the relatively exciting part of the game where advancement was quick. I’ve had three hull upgrades; the last was at level 50. The next isn’t until level 75. This is why I’m hoping that EA will add more high level missions soon, so I have other viable ways to earn trade XP besides play interstellar long-haul truck driver.

After a few more levels of admittedly monotonous activity, I’ll be able to put much better equipment on my ship, and then I’m going to spend some time hunting pirates, which promises to be much more exciting. If I shoot enough of the Chavez pirate ships, my standing with the Red Dragon pirate faction will gradually improve. Eventually, I could gain access to the Smuggler’s Gate in Xipe Totec, which cuts the lucrative Somerled-Fenris run down to a measly six jumps, instead of the twelve-jump, twenty minute marathon it is now. If I can manage that, I can rake in some serious creds and trade XP.

So you see, I do still have goals. :-)

A year? Thats not what I’ve heard. If it lasts that long, then they really did something right.

Remember though that even though MCO is a money loser, EA still has it online (at least the last time I checked).

Dunno whats going on over at EA, to tell you the truth - but my contacts tell me that this one is already tagged as a lose leader. Its a space sim, so I dunno what they expected, really. The genre is not popular enough to fork out those kinda bucks and expect to make it back yesterday. Lets forget the fact that its a brand new property not based on any franchise to speak of.

Derek, I assume you’re talking about “loss leader,” but I’m not sure how E&B fits the mold.

The concept of a loss leader has to involve selling a product at a loss that would generate other revenue. XBox being a classic example (I understand they lose money on the console intending to make it up on the software.)

What future revenue do they hope E&B will generate?

He could mean a loss leader for EA’s entire online strategy. By funding these games that don’t do so well at retail and only garner a small following, EA gains more respect as an online game maker, learns more about how to exploit online gamers for more dollars and becomes smarter at what to do with each successive game.

EA maintains their strong publisher status not by making the best games, but by creating strong brands and using market research to hit the magical combination of happy hardcore gamer and happy casual gamer. They’re everything we hate about the game industry and a lot of what we love about it all at the same time.


Damn Dave, I always knew you were good (with interpreting info, providing facts etc), but not this good. :)

You’re right. Thats exactly what I meant. Though I expected everyone to understand wtf I was talking about. :D

Thanks Derek. With the assault I’ve been under on these boards lately, you don’t know how much that one simple post meant to me. :)


The dev money for E&B is dead money now. If the game is generating enough revenue to meet the cost of keeping it online, there’s not much reason to shut it down. That may be the story behind MCO too.

Or maybe the UO revenue is helping to float the other games? Who knows? EA’s online strategy has been a disaster so far, but The Sims Online is coming.

I could see EA bundling all the online titles together under a single $20-25 fee – UO, E&B, MCO, Sims Online, and whatever else they have. Players might go for that if they would otherwise pay $13 a month just for The Sims Online.