Saturday, 11 April 2015

EVE Re-evaluated: Hydrostatic Fluid is Thicker Than Water


At Fanfest 2013 - the last I attended - I idly speculated with CCP Guard at the press buffet about whether or not I would be attending the following year. I recall he laughed and said something along the lines of 'of course you will, we won't let you leave' (I'm still not sure whether he was referring to my membership of the EVE community or if he was threatening to kidnap me until the next Fanfest). However, it was a prescient conversation as events transpired which did indeed lead to my no-show in 2014 and 2015.

It's been a challenging year at Freebooted Towers. Life - and death - eroded my capacity and desire to participate in time-hungry computer games. Caring for my dying Mum, dealing with the loss, and then the birth of my second daughter a few months later all changed the paradigm of my existence completely. The animated pixels of EVE and other games which had held so much allure for so long seemed empty, pointless.

But my relationship with EVE didn't end there.

Despite my lack of presence and the virtual and psychological distance between me and my hangar full of spaceships, other aspects of my EVE experience persisted. I continued to be included in the occasional #tweetfleet Twitter conversation and I received the occasional email from folk checking for a pulse. To them, as well as those to whom I have other outstanding commitments, I apologise for my absence and my silence. I hope in the future my schedule relents to the point where I can once again make a contribution and fulfill those commitments.

It was telling, I think, that when I announced my Mum's passing last year via my other blog, the healthcare-focused Broken Paramedic, it was EVE community members who took the time to offer their condolences.

That I am still able to drop into a chat channel in-game or participate in social media conversations is not something I take for granted. It's genuinely heartwarming that folk with whom I've had only virtual contact or a few brief meetings on a cold, rocky island in the North Atlantic remain part of a welcoming community and that I might consider some of them friends.

Rebooted Freebooted?


Nonetheless, this blog has been silent. But I'm not writing in search of sympathy, instead I'm looking to reignite my enjoyment of writing.

Because of my enduring EVE community ties, my absenteeism has served to give me a fresh perspective from a high level, which may prove useful. In a coincidental twist, what time I have had to pursue my interests has seen me take a trip into EVE's genealogical past. I've been flirting with the new version of EVE's great-grandfather, Elite: Dangerous, and developed a mad obsession with Magic: The Gathering (none of that online nonsense - the real collectible card game). I suppose to complete the triumvirate of games that inspired EVE, I should also be playing the new Ultima Online, Richard 'Lord British' Garriott's Shroud of the Avatar (like I'll have the time!).

In any case, through EVE there's a clear gaming DNA link between them all and I'll likely blog about those things from time to time as well.

The Evolution of EVEkind



Throughout my absence, I have remained a curious spectator of EVE and it's been fascinating to watch the ebb and flow of the EVE meta-community and the various successes of its members; EVE Travel blogger Mark '726' Mazzone's EVE Vegas appearance cementing his role as one of the 'go to' lore experts on the big stage, Rixx Javix finally getting to a Fanfest (and pimping his art!), the defiant persistence of the blogging community and the Blog Banters (still ably led by Lord Moose-Beaver), Xander Phoena's march on e-fame and power (he shared his ambitions with me at Fanfest 2013 and he's looking good on his word with his growing Crossing Zebras empire and his CSM tenure), my former Aideron corpmates launching the successful Hydrostatic podcast, the positive influence on EVE of former high-profile players turned CCP employees such as Verone/Falcon, Raivi/Fozzie, Kil2/Rise, and many other good people doing good things. EVE's community remains a veritable breeding ground for talent.

CCP itself seems to have evolved and matured too, having become a more stable, yet evergreen studio with improved awareness and a more focused direction for EVE. I sense that this was made possible by the now departed Jon 'Unifex' Lander's steadying hand and has been cannily capitalised upon by current Executive Producer, Andie 'Seagull' Nordgren. The frantic new release schedule seems to be creating merry chaos of a good kind and I'm definitely loving the new Scope news video series, weaving player interactions into the broader fictional narrative of New Eden. What a great idea! ;)

From the outside looking in, CCP is looking confident and competent, the community appears as resilient as ever, and the EVE universe seems again full of mysteries, stories and opportunities. I've certainly got some catching up to do - so much doesn't make sense to me any more. But hey, making sense is overrated and has got no place on Freebooted anyway.

Thanks for reading this far and, more importantly, for proving that there is much more to EVE's community than some give it credit for.

'o7' to a fine collection of internet space nerds. I hope to see you around.