Friday, 6 November 2009

2003-2009: The EVE-olution

Although we have been playing EVE for just over a year, my corpmates and I originally began playing back in 2003, attracted by the huge potential of the game. As I recall, the only ships available in game then were Tech I frigates, cruisers and industrials (and possibly battleships - I can't quite remember, but if they were, they were certainly a rarity).

The player-base and available features were much thinner on the ground then, but the open-ended thrill was still there. I recall the spacelanes being terrorised by the pirate corps back in the day; 'm0o' and 'RUS'. Lord Zzap was one of the most feared pirates in the universe and I was furious and sick to the stomach when I was podded by him in high-sec shortly after purchasing my first cruiser which I had worked so hard for. I'd never played a game that could trigger such an unsolicited rush of adrenaline. I think, at the time of my podding, I spat my dummy out and refused to play the game for a week afterwards.

When I did return, I was incensed by the ability of some pilots to terrorise the high-sec dwellers and set about organising a coalition of corporations who would contribute to a defence fleet to prevent further random acts of terrorism. In doing so I discovered that others had had similar ideas and there were alliances springing up all around the galaxy. There was no in-game mechanic for this at the time and the administrative effort required to make it happen was enormous.

Ultimately though, despite being enamoured by the concept of EVE, our interest waned. Due in part perhaps to the infamous learning cliff, but also because we're a fickle bunch and probably got lured away by some other shiny new MMO.

In nearly fifteen years of MMO-playing, I cannot recall ever having been lured back to a game. But EVE was different and had somehow always stuck in my mind as a concept that, if it survived the harsh and competitive MMO climate and had the opportunity to evolve it could become truly exceptional. My corpmates and I returned late last year, having heard rumours of the imminent expansion (Apocrypha) including Ambulation. Obviously we were wrong about that, but so much else had changed it almost didn't matter.

A whole host of new ships, Tech II stuff, full alliance functionality, in-game voice-coms, fancy new graphics, the list is probably pretty endless. Whilst we were catching up, they hit us with Apocrypha and we got wormholes and Tech III and the spoofy new skill queue. Although they still haven't given us the ambulation that was part of the reason for our return, we now know it's coming in the shape of Incarna. And with the advent of planetary interaction and a pioneering multi-platform universe with Dominion and Dust 514 respectively, I am so glad that we returned.

Having dug a little deeper, another remarkable aspect of EVE is the community; endless in-game channels, a thriving forum, a network of informative blogs, regular amusing and professional podcasts and even an opportunity for players to interact with the developers in the shape of the EVE Fanfests and the Council of Stellar Management.

There is so much going on, we are probably never going to get up to speed, and I like that. EVE is enjoyably bewildering, endlessly deep, seductively terrifying and it doesn't wait for you.

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