Tuesday, 24 January 2012
Celebrating the Community: The Free Boot Awards for 2011
Within the realm of digital entertainment, organisations have been doling out awards too, with MMORPG.com conducting a player poll to determine their 2011 Game of the Year. Despite (or perhaps because of) EVE Online's mercurial and tempestuous year, it won the award by a huge margin with 51.7% of the votes to second place Rift's 26.9%. It's nice to know as EVE creeps toward being a decade old it continues to evolve to stand strong against competitors.
Some more unkind commentators have suggested that EVE Online only won that vote because of it's community has little else to do but organise "poll ganks". If that's what happened, then so be it. That's just how we roll. More power to the EVE Community, quite possibly one of the most dedicated, creative, wonderful and frightening collections of warped genius on the internet.
In fact, with that in mind, the time has come again for me to name and shame those spend far too much of their time and talent doing things for the greater good of internet spaceships. CCP Headfirst recently claimed that the sort of people who play EVE are collectively so smart they should probably be running the world. I'm not sure that's such a good idea, but nonetheless, lets look back at 2011 and give some folk some meaningless but much-deserved recognition.
One note, these decisions and selections were entirely my own, made up on the spot with little to no research. No offence or omission was intended, there are many other brilliant contributors, but I think this post is long enough as it is. However, now I think of it, if you want to give someone some recognition for their parody song, smart phone app, blog, service or other contribution that I've overlooked, why not leave a comment.
Welcome to the Free Boot Awards for 2011
The Free Boot Legacy Award Section
last year's awards, this first section is in honour of fallen heroes. Here I give recognition to those who made huge contributions but for whatever reason are no longer doing so.
Our first Free Boot goes to a community giant who devoted years to building the vibrant EVE blogging community we now enjoy. Over half a decade ago a few individuals took up the quill and shared their thoughts on this niche internet curiosity that was EVE Online. A certainly "Blogfather" forged these scattered few into a genuine community, introducing the Blog Banters as a means of sharing readership and ideas, maintaining a blogroll as more blogs emerged and forming the Blog Pack to provide a one-stop-shop introduction to EVE blogging. Crazy Kinux, the man-mountain from Canada, finally stepped down from his many community roles last year to pursue a career within the games industry. Now known on Twitter as Social Dave, Crazy Kinux is the recipient of The Free Boot for Outstanding Services to the Community.
Another community leader that took his final bow last year was a man whose legacy is still going strong. He led the way in embracing new social media and conceived of the Twitter #tweetfleet community, a hashtag so hotly contested that ferocious defences have been mounted in recent months against attempted takeovers from The Deadliest Catch TV Show and Star Trek Online. They failed and 00sage00's Tweetfleet legacy remains strong. Props to Rickipedia for taking over. The Come Back and Fight for Your Legacy (You Slacker) Free Boot Award goes to 00sage00.
In the early part of 2011, a CSM5 led by Chairwoman Mynxee, showed foresight of the coming storm and, frustrated by communication bottlenecks and NDAs, controversially warned of their concerns in an open letter to CCP. This brave stand was the catalyst for much of what was to come and it is a shame that Mynxee (along with Teadaze) was worn down by her experience that she didn't make it to Fanfest and subsequently retired from EVE. Whilst credit is also certainly due her successor, this year's third Free Boot goes to Mynxee for Holding the Line before CCP's ill-judged Incarna implementation was apparent to all.
The Free Boot Blog Award Section
Buried amongst all the incredible events of last year was a quiet tale of truly machievellian genius that was recounted in side-splitting detail. A series of blogposts bestowed infamy upon an individual who can only be described as EVE's greatest celebrity victim. Zedrik Cayne's blog series explaining how he and co-conspirator Morin Blain managed to exile high-sec nuisance Socratic to low-sec is a true slice of EVE. Zedrik Cayne's EVE Blog is deservedly awarded the Free Boot for Blog Series of the Year.
The Summer of 2011 was a tumultuous time for EVE Online. The release of the "walking in stations" Incarna expansion was very poorly received, with unprecedented reactions from the playerbase including a vocal outcry against Monoclegate, with "rioting" in-game and mass unsubscriptions. CSM6, led by The Mittani, scrambled to assist in damage limitation by attending an emergency summit in Iceland. Amidst endless tidal waves of rage and indignation, one man's merciless satire managed to see the funny side of an otherwise bleak period in EVE's history. On his blog Fiddler's Edge, Mord Fiddle wrote 'Fever Dream', a Chaucer-esque imagining of the negotiation between CCP CEO Hilmar Pétursson and Alexander "The Mittani" Gianturco. Wicked, witty and at the time a much needed tonic, this post is the winner of the Free Boot for Blogpost of the Year.
In a blogosphere that has evolved into a cacophony of hundreds of voices, the past year heard one voice bellow out above them all. It's speaker is articulate, knowledgeable and prolific. In fact, the sheer volume of articles (sometimes 3 posts a day for an annual total of 531 posts) of a consistently good quality has earned the author the moniker of Roboblogger. Following a period of reflection following an unsuccessful CSM campaign last year, Ripard Teg bounced back from to write some influential and insightful articles. Particularly this one (Some Curves Aren't). All in all, Jester's Trek is the deserved winner of the Free Boot for Blogger of the Year 2011. Now Ripard, please stop and let us mortals have a go ;).
The Free Boot Behind the Curtain Award Section
A special mention must go to the 20%. Underserving of their fate, a fifth of CCP employees lost their jobs as a cost-saving exercise following the failure of Incarna. Whilst only a few names were widely known amongst the player population, I hope that the new year has found every one of them with good fortune and bright futures.
For those that remained and stepped up to steady the foundering ship, the first award must go to The Developer of the People, the voice of reason in the misunderstood and out-of-context Fearless internal magazine, The man published then as John Turbefield and now cementing his position as a much-loved Dev with his endless "stat porn" tweets and devblogs. The Free Boot for The People's Champion goes to CCP Diagoras.
With the community team devastated by the lay-offs, and communication being one of the key failings during the Summer of Incarnage, CCP's road to redemption looked hazardous. As the recovery was slowly made, a diminutive man of boundless energy managed to deliver more information to the players than should have been possible, CCP Guard was that voice in the darkness and did as much as anyone to repair the tattered player/CCP relationship. Although all members of the community team did well to stand tall in difficult times, the Free Boot for Community Dev of the Year goes to Sveinn Kjarval, a.k.a. CCP Guard. Woop woop!
In recognition of his innovation and the championing of a section of the EVE community that often plays second fiddle to the stat-mongers and min/maxers, the subtler, more machievellian story-weaving and clue-leaving that has seen the lovers of EVE lore not go without this year, for the live events that breathe life into a pre-generated world and for the glorious mystery that is the Arek'Jaalan Project, Nick Blood/CCP Dropbear is Freebooted's Most Innovative Dev.
Whilst the dramatic turn-around of CCP's fortunes was clearly a monumental team effort, every team needs a leader - especially in difficult times. I think that few would argue that despite vitriolic criticism levelled in Fearless-gate, the man who responded to the slings and arrows by stepping into the breach in heroic fashion and forging the path ahead to the acclaimed Crucible expansion was the former Goon named for a giant robot cassette tape. The Freebooted Dev Hero of the Year can only go to Kristopher "Stoffles" Touborg, CCP Soundwave. Well struck, sir.
I final mention should go to CCP CEO Hilmar Petersson. Whilst there is no Free Boot award for him, he should be admired at least for standing and being counted when he realised bad decisions had been made. Although it was too late for some, disaster was averted and some good decisions were eventually made.
Free Boot Community Award Section
With the departure of Crazy Kinux, the man who built the blogging community, the amorphous network of player-maintain sites may have drifted in broken up into disparate parts. However two (well, three) individuals worked to continue the Blogfather's work. The first was Black Claw who for a number of years had quietly maintained the EVE-Bloggers portal, a single live list of headlines featuring every published EVE-related article. With CK gone, his work now became of increasingly critical importance. Secondly, (and a little awkwardly) is erm... me. I run the Blog Banters so I'm giving myself a Golden Boot. I got told off for leaving myself out last year. Okay? Good. Thirdly, and arguably most importantly, the Neo-Blogfather, the new Curator of the Blogpack and drawer of good pictures, Mr Rixx Javix. let us all enjoy our imaginary Free Boots for Services to the Blogging Community.
Next up is a woman who is tireless in her work within the community. I've had the opportunity to work alongside her on a few projects and I know how passionate she is in her work. Curator of the Podpack - a collection of all EVE-flavoured podcasts, as well as long-time host of Voices From the Void, sometime writer for Tech4 and phenomenal voice talent, Arydanika is the velvet-voiced rose of the podcasting community. Truly she deserves a Free Boot for Services to the Podcasting Community.
Honourable mentions should go to all the other hard-working members of the 'casting community. If only more people appreciated the hard work and effort that goes into maintaining a regular podcasting service. So imaginary mini-boots go to Max Torps, Noise and Penelope Star, Ender Black, Jason Acinom and Erin Anwynn, Jade, Angus McDecoy, Priest Kristoph and Chad, Breki, Arkenor and Petter, Kil2 and Kovarix, Chyph3r, Marc Scaurus, Kirith Kodachi, Pixie Twilight, Mintchip, DJ Wiggles and anyone else who takes the time to make audio entertainment for us EVE folk. You're brilliant, please keep going.
Another tireless and sometimes under-appreciated community contributor is Riverini of EVE News 24. I recently had the opportunity to see how he runs his operation and he puts a hell of a lot of effort into providing a community news service almost single-handedly. Along with co-writer Bagehi, they manage to report and produce multiple articles each day in what is literal production line of news. Although sometimes divisive, there is no doubting Riverini and Bagehi's dedication to providing an ambitious community service. A Free Boot for Community Dedication to you both.
It would be a huge oversight in a community award process (because this is a well organised and deeply-thought-out event, honest) if recognition wasn't given to those very individuals who were elected to represent the community to CCP. A heartfelt thanks should go to every member and alternate of the Sixth Council of Stellar Management for all their hard work throughout the year, even the "King of Space with his crown at a jaunty angle". In the past, we've seen some burn-out from the pressures of the role so it's clearly not an easy task. A highly valuable imaginary Free Boot Award goes to The Mittani, Trebor Daehdoow, Seleene, Meissa Anunthiel, UAxDEATH, Killer2, White Tree, Vile Rat, Draco Llasa, Two Step, Elise Randolph, Prometheus Exenthal, Krutoj and Darius III.
The final community award goes to a man who has long been a quiet force who has long moved among us, masquerading as a mere mortal. Without complaint or ado, he has gone about his blogging for longer than some EVE players have been allowed to drink and is one of the original Blog Pack forefathers. Coupled with that he has supported and written for EON magazine and co-edited EVE Tribune. Not content with this, he regularly podcasts from his Inner Sanctum and has recently volunteered to help out with editorial duties for Tech4 News. Proving that you can be a gentleman, a grown-up, a parent, an EVE player and still find time to contribute to the wider community, the Free Boot EVE Online Lifetime Achievement Award deservedly goes to Lord Moose Beaver himself, Kirith Kodachi. And now I feel less guilty for not mentioning him last year. ;)
The EVE Online community. Unparalleled.
But we do have a reputation to uphold within the wider game community, so if you see any of these people in-game, kill them. Congratulate them too by all means, just make sure they're dead first.