After you've gotten the client running, the first thing you'll need to do is make a character. This guide should help you do that intelligently.
Your choice of race, bloodline etc. will primarily affect your character's portrait. The only difference will be the minute amount of default skill points you are given for your particular racial frigate and racial weapon system. These default points are such a tiny investment that you shouldn't feel bad ignoring them if you choose.
Players from other MMOs tend to think that your character creation choices will set your playing style or roles in stone, when it couldn't be farther from the truth in EVE. In fact, in EVE, all characters are created equal. Any character can learn any skill given enough time, so having a low attribute won't lock you out of a career path. Also, since the advent of Neural Remapping, you can change your attributes to whatever you like. EVE characters are entirely mutable at all times, and there is no "cap" on the number of skill points you may have.
TL;DR Any race can fly any ship and follow any career path. You can change everything except your name later.
If you don't want to read this whole article, here's the lowdown: Perception and Intelligence are important stats. Try to think of a good name as it is permanent.
Do those two things and you won't go too far wrong. That said, the guide below should give you a bunch of information not immediately obvious from the Character Creation screens. Reading it will help make sure you make the character you actually want instead of the one you just thought you wanted. It's pretty hard to drop the ball here- effectively, nothing you do on the character creation screen has any impact on the practical use of your character- however, the cosmetic choices you make will stick with you. You will be making all of your major decisions about your character in the course of play.
The first screen you see will be a “race\xE2\x80\x9D selection. This will determine what sorts of ships you fly initially. You can train for any race's ships, and even though most people tend to play with their own race's ships at first, training to your starting level of competency in another one will only take you a grand total of a few hours. Since each race’s ships have a slightly different playstyle and required skillset, it helps to know a little about each.
Races in Ship Terms
Although every race's particular ships have general themes like large capacitors or sizable drone bays, there is considerable variation between ships even within a single race. The Osprey mining cruiser for example, is radically different from the Moa sniping cruiser, even though they are both Caldari and require the same Caldari Cruiser skill to be trained before use. Flying one race's ships will not severely limit your ability to experiment with ship fittings. Your choice of race will determine some of your basic starting skills, and what sort of ships and weapons you can initially fly.
- Amarr: focus on laser combat and armor tanking, which means slugging things out and blasting, with a lot of monitoring your ship's energy levels. Fun, somewhat one-dimensional though; great if you like a tough ship, and you only have to train a comparatively small number of skills to be good at it. The drawback of Amarr ships is that they lack versatility, and are generally limited to one damage type.
- Caldari: Use railguns and missiles offensively, and shield tanking and electronic warfare for defense. They also get the longest-range gunnery options of any race. They're a good choice if you like long-range sniping combat, or if you like support roles and/or combat denial of enemy fleets.
- Gallente: are generalists who borrow parts from the other races and add huge drone bays, which function somewhat like "pets" from other MMOs. Gallente ships are known for their versatility and numerous different configuration options, but they tend to specialize in drone warfare and close-range blasters.
- Minmatar: fly fast ships with either very short range or very long range, slow firing, heavy damage projectile guns, but low general defenses. Can either armor tank or shield tank depending on the ship. Takes a lot of skills to fly these ships well, but once you have all the skills, they're very dangerous on the battlefield. They have some of the strongest small, fast ships.
Remember, choosing a race does not set in stone what you will do in Eve or what you can fly \xE2\x80\x93 it’s perfectly possible to make an Amarr character who specializes in Drones, or a laser-loving Gallente, or a Minmatar who flies a Caldari Electronic Warfare (EW) platform, or what have you. Almost everybody will eventually choose to cross train for several racial classes.
Races in Roleplaying Terms
Some people choose their initial race for Roleplay reasons, for unlike most MMOs, EVE has a very large and detailed background that contributes to a very vibrant-- if marginalized-- role play community. The race/heritage choice screen upon character creation has much better descriptions of each races' background, but here is a brief description of what each race means to the roleplayer:
- Amarr: Religious fundamentalists who consider the other races to be their rightful slaves. Imperialistic, arrogant, dominating; the Amarr are the largest and oldest empire and most populous race in EVE. Slavery is legal and alcohol is banned in Amarr space, and a heavy class based system keeps everybody in a perpetual hierarchy. At one point the Amarr even grew arrogant enough to attempt an assault upon the mysterious Jove empire, but were quickly humiliated with a total defeat, allowing the Minmatar slave race to free themselves and leaving the Amarr currently weak enough to be forced upon an uneasy truce with their one-time slaves. Amarr ships are streamlined, goldenrod, and have cruel sounding names. They generally look reminiscent of Romulan combined with Cardassian ships, in Star Trek lore terms.
- Caldari: An oligarchy of numerous corporations united under a single state-run corporate empire. The Caldari praise efficiency and utility over everything else, caring nothing for such wasteful concepts as "art" or "looks" in their designs. The Caldari once hailed from the same home system as the Gallente, but their drastic differences in cultures have at one point caused the two to war. Eventually brought to a stalemate, an unease truce eventually settled upon, with the unfortunate agreement of the Caldari being forced to leave their home world and resettle to the north... something the Caldari have never forgiven nor will forget. Caldari ships look like they were made for function over any sort of form, even lacking any sort of paint job. They are probably what ships of a near-future Earth would look like: ugly, but as efficient as can be.
- Gallente: The democracy-loving entertainers, producers, artists and innovators... but also very much semi-libertarians of the EVE galaxy. The Gallente admire the Minmatar for their freedom loving ways and agitate against the Caldari and Amarr for their rigid systems of authority. The Gallente actually elect their leaders and make choices as a Republic, unlike the other races. Gallente ships are the exact opposite of Caldari: form over function. They have all sorts of bizarre almost alien-looking designs, with the general sort of black and green color scheme of the Alliance ships from Firefly. Besides their bizarre look, Gallente ships would probably fit in well with the Federation from Star Trek--all around good at everything thrown their way.
- Minmatar: Tribes of freed slaves who rebelled against their Amarr overlords in the past and set up an uneasy truce with the other empires. Many Minmatar are still renegades and continue to wage war on the Amarr in retribution for centuries of abuse. Many of the disjointed tribes are composed of nomadic traders and merchants. The closest allies of the Minmatar are the Gallente, who respect their desire for freedom and self-governance. Minmatar ships look pieced together from scraps found at junkyard only also held together with string and duct-tape. Their ships have a dark blood-red steel look reminiscent of Reaver ships from Firefly.
Attributes and What They Mean
You won't be making any decisions about attributes immediately. All characters' attributes are set at creation to 8 Perception, 8 Intelligence, 8 Willpower, 8 Memory, and 7 Charisma, which may be altered at any point using Neural Remapping. This is a free process that allows you to shift attributes in any direction you may prefer. Each new character is given two chances to use this feature immediately, and thereafter you may do so once per year.
What are attributes good for?
How you allocate points to the five attributes, as listed in (rough) order of game-mechanics importance: Perception, Intelligence, Willpower,Memory, and Charisma, will affect how quickly you train various skills (more on this later). Roughly speaking, each point in an attribute that is “primary\xE2\x80\x9D for a given skill means about an hour’s saved training time, per day, in that skill. For example, gunnery, missile, and ship piloting skills rely primarily on Perception, Drone-related skills rely heavily on Memory, and most ship outfitting skills (very important) rely on Intelligence. Many of the “late game\xE2\x80\x9D skills that take the longest time to train -- such as skills for piloting Capital Ships and advanced weapon skills -- rely heavily on Perception. Intelligence is primary for many "support" skills and will help your character become more effective generally. Willpower contributes secondarily (half-hour per day per point) to missile, gunnery, and ship piloting skills, and is generally less important than Perception or Intelligence, with one exception: Willpower is primary for advanced Tech 2 ship skills, so if you're planning truly long-term, it is helpful. Perception and Int are still more important, though.) The learning skills, which are important for character development, rely on Memory, as do drone skills. Charisma is somewhat useful for a few specialist builds -- leadership and trade and the like -- but most players consider it the least desirable, as these specialist skill categories take up less than 10% of all of the skills in game (the only combat-related paths that emphasize Charisma are the Command Ships paths and the Leadership Skills).
The reason that Perception and Intelligence are so important, and the other attributes are generally less so, is that most of the "high end" skills, that take long periods of time to train and unlock high-end ships and weapons and the like, have Perception as Primary. The order listed above -- Perception, Intelligence, Willpower,Memory, and Charisma -- is an approximate ranking of which attributes have the most (worthwhile) skills that use them as a primary, from most to least. (It should be noted that the Devs are continually adding skills, and these priorities may change as more skills are added to the game). Because a lot of the perception-based skills are "end game," though, the longer you play, the more important Perception will become.
A remap that emphasizes Intelligence and Perception will make you well suited to exploring a good amount of career options quickly at the start of the game, since most of the "support" skills that all characters need to train use Intelligence as their prime attribute, and all of the spaceship-piloting and shooting-people skills use Perception.
Next you'll pick your character's gender. We hope you don't need this explained. It doesn't make any direct in-game difference what your character's gender is.
Picking Your Ancestry
Next you will be asked to select an select ancestry, also known as a bloodline's heritage. (In Eve, you can choose your relatives!) These are bloodline specific, such as Gallente Intaki having heritages of 'Artist' or 'Reborn.' This has basically no impact on later gameplay.
Picking a Portrait
After you pick race and bloodline, you’ll go to a character portrait screen. Feel free to spend a few minutes picking a face you like-- feel free to read this very excellent guide to professional portrait making.
Be warned: there is an annoying bug with spending too long of time making a portrait! If you spend over three to five minutes editing your portrait, the login server will idle you off, and when you go to submit your portrait it will disconnect you! A simple solution to this is to every few minutes go forward a step to the portrait confirmation screen, and then type in a name-- which can be anything and does not have to be final. When you enter your name it will 'refresh' your status on the server, resetting the idle meter, from which you can simply go back two steps to continue working on your portrait.
Choosing a Name
After you decide you like your portrait, you will be asked to enter a name. Your name is permanent, and case sensitive! There is no way to change your character name at a later date short of completely restarting with a new character. This goes for capitalization and so forth as well -- Eve will reproduce your name exactly as you type it, with or without capitals. It will not autocapitalize the first letter, etc.. So if you forget to capitalize your name, it will remain like that forever.
I say this because I know quite a few people who have been playing for two years or more, and they have horrible names they wish they could change, but they can't without losing those months or even years of training. Probably the best known example of this is Goonfleet member "Buttpipe." Apparently, the name seemed like a good idea to him at the time. Now, months later, he's still stuck with "Buttpipe" as his handle, despite his daily GM pleas for a change. Don't be a Buttpipe. Pick something you'll like down the road.
Take this advice only if you're positive you want a dumb name: pick a name that is as unpronounceable and unspellable as possible, and that begins with a letter in the middle of the alphabet. This makes it less likely you will be targeted in a group engagement, as you have a really awkward name to call out over teamspeak, and you will never be on top of the FCs overview which will always be sorted by name. Use a random name generator if you can't think of a name with these attributes. The downside to this is obviously that nobody on our side will be able to pronounce your name either.
Note that since every account can have 3 characters on it, you might want to have one PvP pilot, one production pilot, and one "whatever" pilot-- just remember only one character per account can be training at once!
Some people like having lots of alts, others just have one main character. Suit yourself, and have fun! For more information on alts and playing with multiple accounts at once, please refer to the article here.