I love EVE Online.
I have a deep and long-standing affection for EVE Online and what it represents. I understand its history and its pedigree. EVE was the ambitious product of pioneering Icelandic underdogs who dared to push boundaries and chase impossibilities. I am in touch with EVE's decades-old roots in Braben and Bell's Elite just as I see EVE's potential in the future of digital entertainment. I see the genius in EVE's grand “emergent gameplay” sandbox and the tendrils that grow beyond into its unrivalled “metagame” environment. I have felt the full-body tremble of adrenaline and the entrancing serenity that EVE's gameplay can provide. EVE Online is unique and I understand how and why it is “Real”.
I hate EVE Online.
I have a grinding frustration and burning resentment for what EVE promises. I have seen EVE grow from a single brave idea into the half-formed expression of a thousand great ideas. As EVE has unfurled its wings and matured into the beguiling creature that it almost is, it has often faltered in its achievements, undecided in its purpose. In trying to catch the eye of every possible suitor, EVE has sometimes failed to please her current escort. EVE flirts with concepts that could stun the soul, yet can turn away with whispered promises barely delivered. EVE flatters to deceive - she is a honeytrap, a tease and a bitch. EVE is the Other Woman and she is endlessly cruel.
Surviving and Thriving in New Eden
That's the opening flourish done with. I hope that buried within the metaphor and hyperbole I managed to convey my intimate comprehension of EVE Online culture and the powerful contrasts that drive it. I believe it is important for any commentator to understand that EVE Online's complex metagame can be as much a part of its gameplay as the core mechanics. There are a myriad of communities that interconnect and interact to form the wider society. And within them are parties whose opinions are radically opposed. The relationships that EVE players have with each other, and indeed the game itself, run far deeper than is traditional for a game community. In an impersonal world where neighbours barely acknowledge each other, EVE Online fosters kinships and enmities that are lasting.
Of course, to some this may all seem ridiculously heavy-handed and romanticised. I often step back and remind myself "it's just a game" before continuing my endless pursuit of the casual EVE experience. Having played intermittently since its release in 2003, I have experimented with a multitude of play-styles and explored many aspects of EVE's depths. I have come to understand how demanding this pastime can be. For some, EVE is simply a pleasant spaceship-themed distraction, for many it is an engaging hobby, for a surprising number it is an all-encompassing lifestyle. For a few it is a religion.
Undoubtedly, the lifeblood of EVE Online is interaction. There are a plethora of ways for players to interact in-game, from simple text communication channels to a multitude of competitive environments from industry through trade to non-consensual combat. As well as the in-game organisations of corporations and alliances, the many social circles that comprise EVE society also take place across a host of out-of-game social networking environments, from various forum communities to the Twitter-based #tweetfleet and elsewhere.
Another unique aspect of EVE Online is the relationship between CCP staff and their customers. The player-elected Council of Stellar Management facilitates this relationship by serving as a liaison. This opportunity for insight and influence into EVE's development rarely fails to be the source of some acrimony. Whilst it is encouraging to have this degree of developer/player interaction, it is something of a sword of Damocles and is as often the cause of controversy as it is the remedy.
Personally, as a player I just want to be Buck Rogers, Han Solo, Mal Reynolds and Dave Lister. EVE is a sandbox, so happily it lets me do that within the constraints of my own mind. Like a good book, EVE provides the framework and plants the seed, letting my imagination do the rest. I have traded, missioned and roleplayed. My actions have led to the destruction of many ships and other in-game assets (mostly my own). I've managed an active corporation, organised their migration into the hostile regions and participated in grand alliance operations involving hundreds of players. The beauty of being an EVE player is that you've never quite seen it all.
Me, My Quill and My Mic
I have previously explored and discussed the endlessly stimulating world of New Eden and its associated themes through various other written ventures, largely centred around my blog, Freebooted. I have a passion for writing and blogging gives me the opportunity to experiment with various writing styles and concepts. Having this complete freedom has allowed me to report on my Fanfest experiences, conduct interviews, offer editorial opinion and technical suggestions.
Freebooted has also allowed me to write more fanciful works, such as a TIME magazine article from the future, a game mechanic review disguised as the script for a Top Gear parody, an interview with my own in-game character, sci-fi fashion tips and a ridiculous knockout competition mocking the ship names of EVE.
Due to the popularity of some of these pieces, I became involved in the vibrant EVE Online podcasting community where I fell into producing various short audio skits before embarking on an ambitious new fiction podcast project. I also recently authored the unexpectedly popular satire 'Incarna: The Text Adventure' in which I gently poked fun at both the much-maligned Incarna expansion and its detractors.
Throughout my writing endeavours, I am always mindful to remain positive, constructive and good-humoured. I am a passionate EVE player and a versatile writer with a good understanding of the subject matter and the audience. By writing for Guild Launch I hope to obtain the opportunity to put these attributes to good use.
This article was originally written as a submission for the EVE Online Correspondent Contest at Guild Launch.com. A winner has yet to be announced, but I recently contacted Guild Launch and they confirmed that the competition is still going ahead despite "a few delays". The original prize included a tour of the CCP offices in Atlanta and an audience with some of the staff there. Clearly the subsequent layoffs would have made that a very awkward encounter and the rethink was unsurprising.
I note that several of my blogging associates have entered. I recall Myrhial Arkenath tweeting to that effect and Ender Black's entry has just been published on the Guild Launch Development Blog. Yikes, tough competition! And they're just the two I know about. I wish Myrhial, Ender and anyone else from the EVE blogosphere the best of luck in the competition.