Though daily success in EVE Online can be a struggle, it also pays to keep your eye on the prize. Every field in EVE has its own path of progression. The further along you are in your particular field, the more you can plan to improve your situation and increase your expertise.
This article discusses possible long-term goals for Miners, Mission-Runners, and Pirates. Some of the goals are practical, while others are things that players in that particular field might want to try, just to be able to say that they have done it. These are suggestions and ideas, and not every one is going to be right for or appeal to every player.
Mining For Ore And Glory
Mining is arguably the easiest and most basic way to make ISK in EVE. You sit in a belt and turn rocks into more or less valuable ore, with the main risks being boredom and the occasional suicide ganker. This ease of entry does not mean that it is a limited field. In the long term, there are goals to strive toward and milestones to make and check off.
The skill training milestones for most miners include: a) training to use larger ships with a lot of turrets; b) training Mining IV to use Miner II modules and improve ore intake; c) training into mining barges and other mining-specialized ships. The end goal is usually to fly a hulk, which is the best ship at mining in the game. There are tons of other things to do as a miner than just train mining and ship skills, though.
-A dedicated miner should be getting the most from his ore by either training refining skills or joining a corporation with someone else that will use their superior refining skills on your behalf. Additionally, refineries in empire are all owned by NPC corporations, and will take a share of your refined product unless you have corporation standings of at least 6.67 with them.
-Manage a full production chain in order to make the most of your minerals. If you sell your ore or minerals to buy orders instead of setting up sell orders, you are losing a good amount money. But if you use the minerals to build ammunition, modules, and ships, you will increase the sale value of those minerals, effectively improving the value of each cycle of your mining modules.
-Run mining missions. Mining, Manufacturing, or Production agents all offer solely non-combat missions, with a decent shot of getting a mining mission any time you talk to them. You don't get to keep the ore that you mine, but that's all right because you are collecting mission rewards and loyalty point rewards. Eventually, you can take advantage of the many rewards of mission running, while still training and using mining skills.
-Join (or start) a corporation that will give you access to better mining materials. Moving to a null-sec corporation living in a peaceful region will drastically improve your ISK return per hour. Other options along those lines include finding a corporation of people that will help you mine in wormhole space. This can be a lot safer than living in null-sec, but requires more skills as a player and a character.
Running Missions Into The Ground
Mission runners have built-in milestones in the form of the levels of mission they have access to, and the quality of agent that they can use. Once you are able to use level 4, quality 20 agents, you've won. Right? Wrong.
Beyond the grind for mission levels and standings, you should be thinking about making the best use of your loyalty points. Higher-cost items tend to fetch more ISK per loyalty point than lesser items. Thus, the mega-expensive faction battleship blueprint copies tend to fetch the most money for your time spent, though it can take a very long time indeed to accumulate the hundreds of thousands of loyalty point costs required of them.
There are other things to do with mission running aside from just grind standings and loyalty points, though:
-Get into an end-game mission running ship. To run level 4 combat missions you are probably already using a battleship. But you can strive towards an even better ship. The best options include the NPC-murder-specialized Marauders, faction battleships (the same ones that fetch such a high price through the loyalty store), and the tech three strategic cruisers.
-For most peoples' money, you're probably better off just fitting a normal mission-running battleship with more expensive gear. Pricier faction modules can give your ship that extra tanking and damage that it needs to race through missions even faster.
-Try epic missions. They're the champagne of missions. As of this writing there is a level 4 epic mission for each empire faction. Because they are more interesting and out of the ordinary, every diehard mission runner owes it to himself to try these out. The new speedboat missions that came out with the Dominion patch are also fun, especially because they rely on speed and moving around null-sec along pre-determined paths, rather than more typical mission tropes.
-Try moving to low-sec or null-sec to do your missions. The mission rewards get more lucrative, the lower the security status of the system where the agent resides. Additionally, the difficult level 5 missions are not located in high security space, so acclimating yourself to safely running null-sec mission running is a good idea if you ever want to try one of these difficult yet brag-worthy missions.
Piracy For Fun And More Importantly Bragging
Piracy and fighting other players is fun and challenging, in any ship. But there are things to try along the way and long-term goals to strive towards. The usual progression is something like: a) learning to PVP against war targets; b) learning to PvP in low-security space; c) learning to PvP solo in recon ship or other end-game PvP hull. And so forth. But there are a lot of other things to try your hand at.
-Fly in a giant fleet battle involving hundreds of other people. This is one thing that EVE Online has, that no other MMO out there can touch. Flying in a fleet with hundreds of pilots at once in a massive exchange of firepower can be frustrating, but it's also inevitably exhilarating to take part in something that huge. Every PvPer should try it, at least a couple of times.
-Lead a fleet of ships. Leadership in EVE Online pays off exceptionally well. Effective fleet commanders are a sought after commodity that corporations try to woo away from each other. More than that, it's the highest level of involvement and achievement that you can have as a PvPer. You are like a chess player, rather than like one of the pieces. When you are victorious in leadership, or just plain have fun with your friends, leading fleets is the finest EVE Online has to offer.
-Fight in the alliance tournament. Each year, alliances that pay a fee can participate in a massive battle royale, with each alliance fielding teams of ships under highly controlled conditions. These tournaments are filmed and commented on by CCP employees and are widely watched by the EVE Online player base. The rewards can be quite lucrative, and in the past have included nearly unique ships that cannot be gained through other means, and fetch a high price to collectors. Fighting in the alliance tournement is
-Buy and fly a supercapital. It's every EVE pilot's dream to fly a titan or mothership. The ISK cost involved is impractical and will take most players years to accumulate, if ever they do. Nevertheless, the dream lives on.