By now, I think I have a reasonable handle on the Eve interface. It's not perfect, there's lots of small details that I just know there is a way to smooth out, but haven't yet figured out how to do it. For example, on the overhead display, I want to create a tab that just shows enemies. I managed to create a tab that shows stuff I can loot, and it's been an enormous help. But I just can't get one to show only enemies.
Ship-wise, I'm flying an Incursus, which seems to be the best Gallente faction frigate-class combat ship. So far, it's been pretty solid, and has allowed me to complete all the Level 1 missions I've been given.
Skill-wise, I've discovered certificates, which are groupings of related skills. Earning certificates is like a guide to what skills you should pick up. I'm going for what appears to be a standard fighter line, with things like Gunnery and Armor Tanking. Not really sure if this is the best route, but at least it's a direction.
The hardest thing in Eve, I find, is figuring out what goal to set for yourself. Or, if your goal is sufficiently advanced, figuring out the path from you to your goal, what sub-goals you need. The truth is that I don't really know what I want to do in Eve, and as a result I log on, do a couple missions, and then log off.
This is the big advantage of the theme park games. My goal is to get to max level. My sub-goal is to get to the next level. My sub-goal below that is to finish the current quest I am on.
There is a path there that really is not present in Eve. In Eve, even questions like, "should I be moving on to a new solar system" are really hard to answer. How is this solar system really different from the one next to it?
I guess my next goal in Eve is to get and fly a cruiser-class ship. And I can see the skills I need to take to get to that point. What I don't really see is how to afford that cruiser. A level 1 mission pays like 100k ISK. The cruiser costs something like 100M ISK. Am I really to run 1000 missions? Or are there higher paying missions at some point? Or am I expected to take up mining or trading?
I find Eve is extraordinarily opaque when it comes to questions like this. But in some ways that's part of its appeal. Any answer could be the right answer.
I really feel the appeal of a corporation at this point in the game. At least in a corp, someone could give me orders and I could carry out those orders and feel that something is moving forward.
In a lot of respects, I feel the same as when I was a junior programmer. I understood the core concepts, how to program, and how to solve simple problems. What I didn't understand was the jump to large programs, and the larger architecture. That's something I really only learned while working on larger programs, getting a feel for larger systems, and seeing what older and more experienced programmers did.
Basically, it's a lot easier to be a worker bee for a little bit before striking out on your own. You learn so much more that way.
Maybe the answer is that I should join a corp. But here Eve's reputation works against it. It is a notoriously unfriendly community. That makes the whole corporation thing seem even more daunting, especially if you're just playing casually and know you will be unreliable.