One of the truths in EVE Online passed down through the ages is that EVE is more fun when played with others. I'll even agree that one should join a really good corporation at least once to get a feel for everything EVE has to offer. Yet, I've now played in my one person corporation for over 4 1/2 years and don't see myself joining another corporation anytime soon. Here's the dirty little secret. EVE taught me to play by myself.
In the other two MMOs I played before EVE, World of Warcraft and EverQuest 2, I always belonged to a guild. I joined a guild in WoW when I hit level 17 and stayed in it until I was kicked out for lack of raiding at the then level cap of 60. Shortly afterward, I quit WoW. In EQ2, I spent the time from around level 20 to level 40 in one guild, then the guild broke up. I found another guild and stayed in that one from level 42 to level 80 until the drama llama showed up and I left for EVE. Basically, I'd been in a guild in one game or another for almost the entire 4 years I'd played MMOs up to that point.
Then I started EVE. The starter NPC corporation was a pretty bad place, but I had done my research and knew I wanted to join EVE University, so I tolerated the crap until I could get into a real corp. I had fun, so much fun that I started a second account. That's where my path to solo play began.
That second starter NPC corp was worse than the first. The corp had people in it that enjoyed picking on others. I'm talking they enjoyed trolling people out of the game. I tried to get one player to join the Uni, but he'd had enough and just unsubbed. I couldn't take the environment any longer. If that was my first account, I would have cancelled my account myself and walked away from EVE. But since I did have Rosewalker in EVE University already, I took a different path.
One day Wandering Rose was mining in a Retriever and a recruiter showed up in the system. In short order, I saw an escape from NPC corp hell and joined his corp. I lasted less than five days. The corp I joined was in a bit of trouble with alliance leadership and instituted a policy in which anyone who was suicide ganked would have to pay a fine. Yeah, right. I left, but not before someone tried to tell me that the corp would teach me how not to get ganked. Yeah, right.
I entered a new NPC corp and basically turned corp chat off. In the meantime, Rosewalker left the Uni after a 5 1/2 month stay and joined a factional warfare corp. Unfortunately, I wound up the only member in the U.S. time zone and never flew with anyone. I flew around in Amamake and the surrounding systems until I lost my Cheetah. At that point, I realized I couldn't afford to play in factional warfare and dropped corp.
Before I left my FW corp, I knew I needed to create my own corp. I refused to reenter an NPC corp. I would rather quit. So Wandering Rose created a corp and Rosewalker joined her the next day.
Interestingly enough, my bad experiences with corp in EVE carried over into other games. I haven't joined a guild in any other game I've played in the past five years, although I was going to join a friend's free company in Final Fantasy XIV. The only reason I didn't was due to Square Enix shutting down the server to new accounts the day before I bought the game.
In EVE's defense, I'm not sure if the game made me anti-social or just picky. In both WoW and EQ2, I didn't join guilds until I'd either had a long talk with a recruiter or grouped with a corp member so I knew I'd be compatible with the guild. In every other game since, I just get blind invites. Well, except in FFXIV where I turned down an invite from someone I met, but that was because my subscription was going to end in a few days and I had already determined I wasn't going to resub. So perhaps EVE hasn't soured me on group play after all.
Don't get me wrong. I still think new players should get out of the NPC corps as soon as possible. Finding a good corp is preferred. I know my time in EVE University probably is the reason I'm still playing after five years. But I should add that I've managed to survive 4 1/2 years in my one person corp. Then again, I've managed to engage with the community through the blog and Twitter, so I'm probably a really weird case. So go out and join a player-run corp. Just remember that playing solo is not necessarily the end of the world.