I've lamented often here about the dearth of any themes in MMOGs that aren't swords-and-sorcery. Tabula Rasa could have been something stellar, but it lost its vision and died an early death; there's also Anarchy Online, which was fun back in 2001, but now looks like something beaten up by the ugly stick. If you don't want a fantasy setting you're pretty much limited to comic book heroes– as a sci-fi nerd, there's a sad lacking of anything science fictiony. And I'm not particularly looking forward to Star Trek Online, either.
One game I come back to time and time again, however, is the long-running EVE Online. EVE is probably the epitome of good sci-fi. It's every Isaac Asimov space opera rolled up into one digital package and pumped over the intertubes. But EVE is a bitch to play. I think you can probably define "hardcore gamer" by the level of excitement you get when you log into the game.
I've had a on/off subscription to EVE for years, although it usually lapses in a short space of time. EVE is a game I want desperately to love and play and enjoy but every time I try, I feel like I've walked into the middle of a group of people laughing over an inside joke and I don't get where the entertainment lies. EVE can be unforgiving if you're a solo player, as the bulk of it lies in epic fleet warfare requiring the synchronization of a large group of players. While there are things to do on your own, my experiences with mining are about as interesting as I suspect spending hours inside an actual mine would be.
So to those of you out there who have spent a lot of time with it, what can I do? I've attempted to join player-run corps in the past, but my interest usually diminishes pretty quickly. EVE is a game I very much want to love, but unlike other games like World of Warcraft, it's always lacked the hook that pulls me in to an addictive degree.