I've been playing EVE “casually” for the past few months. Thinking of CCP Quant's fanfest presentation on “types” of EVE players, I went from something of a full-time “professional” to a weekend traditional and maybe bi-monthly aggressor. Even though I've been almost exclusively a solo player for the past 4 years, something I never fully realized until now is that EVE is surprisingly well-suited to completely casual play.
This all started last spring when I got fairly burned out on EVE. It wasn't from a lack of content in the game—there's always something going on (i.e., people to shoot, places to explore) even when the log-in numbers are low, and always goals to work toward. But, in the spring and summer there was a lot of negativity in the general community about the health of the game (i.e., “EVE is dying”), and it was slowly draining my enthusiasm. I took some time off from the community as well as the game. I was also busy with life—moving, new job/internship, in addition to lacking a computer that could reliably play EVE for a time, so I went into super-causal mode, doing occasional solo PVP, exploring just a few systems a week, updating markets maybe twice a month, and training some long skills. I even—for the first time in a few years—found the time to play some games besides EVE.
In addition to having more time in life to play EVE for extended periods, what brought me back to “full-time” EVE play was a combination of three things: EVE Vegas generated a lot of excitement about the current and future state of the game, with a lot to look forward to. New ships, new mechanics, the return of expansions, better hardware, and of course Citadels. The Blood Raider Gauntlet event—a type of special event that's a staple in every other MMO and MOBA but rare in EVE—brought a lot of PVP opportunities in addition to faster skill training, the latter of which EVE has never really seen before. And after four months of casual play, I had a bunch of skills completed and ready to use—HAC, EAF, and Recon ships all to V, for instance. Oh, and I suppose playing other games, including some MOBAs, made me realize just how awesome EVE is (or how much some popular games are overrated).
For all of its reputation as a fierce, competitive, life-consuming virtual world—all of which is true—EVE equally deserves a reputation as a fantastic game for casual and solo play. First of all, there is not a traditional grind, unless your playstyle demands one. Skills, ships, and game knowledge do not typically become obsolete in EVE with new releases. If you were good at something in EVE years ago, chances are with some brushing up you will still be good at it now, making it a great game for occasional breaks and eventual returns.
On my first week back, I did hit some lucky breaks, first killing a random 2.5b isk Paladin; then looting some 1.3b in BPOs from an offline high sec POS. Oh, but I am sure the moment I go out to do some solo PVP I won't see such luck...