As we hang the new calendar on the wall, it is customary for many of us to look back and muse over the events which marked the year that has just gone by. For some players the prospect of being part of what has virtually become an existing parallel universe and knowing how their actions, for small they could be; can change the course of history of this universe simply grants Eve Online an appeal which cannot be found anywhere else.
The Cosmopewlitan – 2011: Not the year Players deserved, but the one Eve Online Needed.
On 31st we asked “Which they felt was their defining moment” for the year 2011, Eve-wise. After several rewrites of this article it became clear for us that we had asked the wrong question; we should have requested players to ponder which word could be described as the emotion which defined 2011. Since emotions don’t lie, they don’t have an “agenda”, they simply.. “are”. Eve Online players and CCP Games were raptured by this ambition desire to “over-achieve”. Should we sum it all in one word; we feel this word to be “GREED”. For Players, Developers, Carebears, Industrialist, PVPers, Incursion Runners, Worm Hole raiders, Botters and RMTers alike; Greed defined a lot, if not all, of what happened during 2011.
“Greed is not an emotion, is being human”
The Jita Spring – Players “Incarnate” into Paying-customers.
After the T2 scandal, players thought the worst scandal to ever hit Eve Online was way past them, the truth couldn’t have been far from this, since “Monoclegate” was bound to explode. The whole ordeal lasted less than a week for CCP Games but its repercussions are still rippling throughout the way players feel and CCP Games develop Eve Online.
Many players and observers tend to forget when the first brushes started between CCP Games and the player-base. The Eight-teen months promise, having waited four years to finally walk in stations, the Dominion sovereign changes. The crisis of the “Licensing Issue” was the first time in recent history were the player-base felt new CCP politics were destroying the game, in this case destroying a notable developing community by proposing a regulation of their actions. The $99 yearly tag for the “privilege of doing CCP’s Work for free” was met with a wild commotion. Some players were already showing the signs of an upcoming confrontation against CCP Games. High profile developers like Chribba and Wollari stepped up from their usualy calm and silent position and basically taunted at CCP Games for their short-sightness and what they and many of their fellow developers felt it was an ungrateful move against the developers purely motivated by avarice.
A controversial CCP Games internal news-letter was one of the igniters of the drama, in the letter CCP described their upcoming projects and objectives to their employees, the highlight of the piece was an open speculative discussion between two developers regarding the pros and cons of introducing a non-vanity RMT factor into Eve Online. Eve News24 was the first to break the story a month after it was sent, we were surprised to see how well spread was the distribution of the news-letter among the Eve Online underworld, nearly every big intel trader had a copy of it, yet it was a shouted-secret that everyone was waiting on the release of the Incarna expansion and judging on it, deciding whether going public or not. As Incarna released to great disappointment (shame since it was a killer idea), the newsletter inevitably went public. It served as the trigger of the “Jita Spring”. The uproar spilled into nearly every Eve Online forum. The reaction was anything but what CCP Games actually expected, for the first time Eve Online players stepped up, stopped being mere “subscribers” and started behaving as “disgruntled paying customers”; a different kind of beast. The effect snowballed beyond the half-a-million plus responses to the Eve-O forum thread-naught. Vocal customers reacted by mailing the story to the big-game press and aggregating the resulting news pieces to virtually every popular social network available.
Feeling this wasn’t enough, players delved into New Eden’s trade hubs and staged demonstrations, locking down the trade-hubs and surrounding solar systems, finding an effective way venting their anger against CCP Games. An anachist’s heaven rose as a disinformation war waged both on the web, the forums and specially in game; for example a savvy player created a character named “Jita Protestors” which was used to aggress other players on the 0.9 security trade-hub, this led to a system wide announcement of “Concord shootings of the Jita Protestors” which trended very well. Others
made really far-fetched efforts to spread the false idea of CCP Games was being considered for a game-studio sale.
Words really can’t describe the level of discontent the players threw against CCP Games; Kotaku put it this way:
when a fiasco gets a Downfall-meme video, that’s a kind of visual Esperanto for “this shit is officially fucked.”
And fucked up it was. Only after the promise of having the player elected Council of Stellar Management flown over Iceland in less than a week and the promises from many of these CSM 6 representatives to find a solution, CCP Games managed to quench the blood-thirst of the disgruntled player base. A discussion on the exact nature of CCP Games revenues and their right to find and generate new avenues of revenue continues until today. A once complacent community turned into an unforgiving one, having unhappy players is one thing; having a large base of disgruntled customers, calling for a boycot was another. CCP Games took the hint and along the CSM 6 made the needed commitment to turn things around.
In a ridiculous example of life imitating art, many of our readers pointed out the analogies between the unrest in the middle east and the short-lived unrest within Eve Online, while the situation in the middle-east is a real and serious issue and one that dates back decades or even centuries, there is one shared emotion which both could vaguely relate: “Yearn for actual change”.
For this reason only, we have chosen The Monoclegate and the following Jita Riots as the turning point of the year.
What about the Rest?
Everything else pales into comparison to the scope of the Monocle-gate scandal. Nevertheless there are things worth noting.
Dominion Hit the Fan.
The year started with players still getting accustomed to the 2009 Dominion mechanics, specifically the super-capital changes which were not introduced until further into 2010. An arms race had kicked-in, where super-capital producers could barely met the huge demand for the greatly improved Super-Carriers. If 2009 was the year the Super-Buff was proposed and 2010 was when players started building them in mass; then 2011 was the year of the “coming-out” party. Once the production reached critical mass, the effect of the Super-Carrier fleet were felt and drastically changed the landscape of Null-Sec after more than a year of complete stagnation, new avenues of income were presented to the players and the sandbox found – within the bounds of powerbloc stagnation – ways to prove itself worthy of being played in. The prowess of the Super-carrier empires became an “absolute” when single squads of these hulking monsters were able to slaughter tens of enemy Carriers and even a larger number of Battleships with no sub-capital support. Their immense tank allowed them to log off whenever things went awry; effectively casting a veil of impunity for their actions.
A year of Great Heists
It is hard to quantify how much isk was stolen from the chests of wealthy players, banks, bonds, corporations and alliances during 2011. A safety estimate would round the 3.5 trillion isk figure. The SOLAR FLEET heist, The Phaser Inc. Ponzi, the BORG snatch, the Majesta Empire pillage and the Somer.Blink jita clearing account for three quarters of this figure. These are the cases which leaked into the public, there are many undocumented instances were greed motivated moves toppled empires.
An unseen Worm Hole Civil War explodes
The sole indisputable lawless space in Eve Online was tamed at as astounding pace. It took Null-Sec coalitions years to fully conquer 0.0 space; while parts WH-Space are still an unexplored jungle, the best of it has already been colonized, industrialized by the cogs and gears of industrious player; bringing countless riches to the settler’s coffins. Greed soon kicked in, players formed into factions and vowed to wage costly wars inside this unassuming purgatory.
The Worm Hole Wars or World War W, as we named it, took many observers by surprise as the inherent nature of Worm Holes were long preached as “Coalition Proof” by armchair-analysts. The scope of this conflict proved them wrong. The repercussions of this reality are yet to be seen.
The fall of a Long Standing Giant
For anyone roaming the North, what was once a thriving empire, encompassing sixty-percent of the Sov Map and being home of more than 50,000 pilots; the ruins of the greatest null-sec empire of Eve Online is a somewhat striking landscape. Is almost akin of walking thought an ancient city. There is a sort of eerie feeling once you warp into the now deserted solar systems.
The NC downfall was a roller-coaster ride. An ill planned war against the Drone Russian had started well for the Northern Coalition, but the complacency of their leadership, their hedonistic tendencies and they careless management of critical situations led to their downfall. The great Battle of Uemon being the prime example of this, in this battle the Northern Coalition Titan fleet was destroyed. Along with it, the reputation, trust and pride was lost. The Northern Coalition leaders resorted into not fighting their own wars, foolishly finding solace in the promises they made for themselves of a GoonSwarm deux-ex machina. A promise which was never fulfilled.
It is interesting to note that Chad Mesiroff, a writer and friend of Eve News24 once commented how the Deklein Coalition intentionally left the Northern Coalition to die in order to take its place. Should this be the case of not, the North as a region took a well needed “new management”. Once strong RMT rumors implicating NC leaders began came afloat few people really cared about saving the face of the Northern Coalition in the following months.
The Gallente Casket of Ancient Winters is stolen.
GoonSwarm Federation opened the Pandora’s Box by announcing a campaign to “grief” gallente ice miners in empire space and tickle a very delicate part of the market eco-system. Sure, there had been several campaigns against miners before, but the GoonSwarm target wasn’t just the miner, but to grief the market itself. As predicted, the effects of the interdiction didn’t really kicked in until the market Ice product reserves depleted and speculators entered the game, greatly helping GoonSwarm Federation’s goal.
The price of vital null-sec commodities like oxygen isotopes
incremented rose by folds, peaking at 1800 isk a piece as Jita turned into Jew York.
Although not officially stated as the reason of it, CCP Games responded by tweaking the suicide insurance mechanics, showing how severe the interdiction campaign had been. GoonSwarm closed the faucet for the time being, ice is back to the low 900s yet a precedent has already been made and it will be only matter of time before an alliance or individual with enough money launches another attack against a delicate strand of the market and make a good profit out of it.
Incursions are introduced, PLEX prices goes sky-high
A few kept lamenting the loss of their Northern care-bear heavens once they realized the potential of the “gift” CCP had given them during the Incursion expansion. The prospect of making over a 150mil per hour “ratting” was something only null-sec carrier dual boxers could dream of before Incursion. CCP had originally set “asian” for the difficulty setting for Incursions, this lead to a couple of shameful loses and CCP Games nerfing the raids a bit. The “99%” rejoiced as they figured out the mysteries of the “Sansha Incursions”, reducing the collective PVE grind to an exact science.
Observers were quick to correlate the rising price of PLEX licenses with the new found wealth of incursion-running capsuleers. The market reacted and today we have a close Dollar to PLEX to ISK conversion to what the black market proposed a year ago. Whether this inflation inflation is a good or bad thing for CCP Games PLEX sales is unknown, what is really known is the fact that playing Eve Online for “free” is getting really expensive.
Isk Bank and their clients get exposed.
Ten thousand soliciting customers and their black-market Real Money Trading outlet were outed by Eve News24 in a five part release. The entrails of a quarter of million dollars a year business got exposed shedding light on the severity of the botting/RMT rings and how little did CCP Games to stop it. Despite CCP Games actions toward Isk Bank and their customers, to this day Isk Bank still trades ISK as if nothing would had happened.
LulZec attacks on CCP
The then prolific hacker pranksters LulzSec staged a never before seen DDoS attack on Eve Online server, coming hot from the excitement of attacking the MineCraft and League of Legend servers, not to mention other attacks against FBI affiliates, Sony, the US Senate and a string of porn sites. What differentiated the attack on Tranquility was the fact that, being a non-sharded environment, the Eve Online service went down for all players. Sad thing is they weren’t protesting or making a point, they were just crying for attention.
Hilmar’s Epistolary Novel and a Crucible Solution.
There is really nothing more to say here than acknowledging both Hilmar Veigar and CCP Games having finally listened to their customers. A letter was send to a wary player-base, but it was the work done on Crucible really gives hopes on the future of Eve Online. It is not odd to see old players struggling against their “bitter-vets” instincts and making a return to the game. The Super-Capital changes, the fixes and the enhancement on the game play are yet to hit fifth gear, just as Dominion did last year. The road was tough for both CCP Games and their customers but CCP’s credibility has been restored beyond what it was a year ago, should CCP Games keep the route they plotted in the last four months, we can say the best of Eve Online is still yet to come.
Regarding the effect of the Crucible changes on the whole political landscape; there isn’t a single entity not trying to fuck the brains out of their enemies and the stagnation of late 2011 is over as war is raging throughout every corner New Eden, a war ironically motivated by greed, but a sort of “greed” that is really good for everybody’s business.
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