Daily Archives: May 6, 2023

Twenty Years of EVE Online

EVE Online turns 20 years old today.

That is no small accomplishment for any online game, but it is all the more an achievement for a game as wild and chaotic and with a history as strange as EVE.

New Eden 20 Years Later

What do I even write about at this momentous anniversary?

I have, for the better part of 17 years, alternated between gushing and complaining about this game.  It is a title that brings out passionate responses from people, even people who do not play it.

The highs… the highs can be like no other game… you will get a taste and spend years hoping for another.

And the lows… when you lose, when you’re evicted from your space, when you aren’t careful that one time and get ganked and lose a precious cargo, when you feel like you’ve achieved some sense of mastery and CCP changes the rules and pulls the rug out from under you… the lows have inspired many a rage quit.

Some times you have to walk away.

It is a complicated game that gives up its secrets reluctantly.  Even its history is complicated.  I started writing a timeline of CCP at the start of the year, the way I did with Daybreak a couple of years back, and… it is not done yet.  It gets hard to trace accurately, to follow the threads, once expansions go away… even with me blogging about most updates.  (Note to self: Blog more details about updates.)  Maybe it will be done by Fanfest.  We will see.

And the game has changed.  The feel as it approached the end of its first decade was summed up well by the Permaband song HTFU.

There was a well earned arrogance in that song.  CCP was in the decade of growth and expansion.  Other MMOs would launch, peak, and begin the long decline while EVE Online, off to a rough start with only 30K copies of the game even available in the wild on day one, saw a decade of continued increasing popularity.

The sky was the limit.  They had the touch, and they were going to apply that magic to first person shooters and vampires and whatever else.

Even a fumble like Incarna, where the company’s arrogance was exposed to the public briefly, ended up being little more than a speed bump on the way to the game’s peak.

But peak it did at around the ten year mark.  And then we entered the second decade, which saw the failure of the companies other plans and the slow decline of EVE Online, the core of the company.  The on again, off again adversarial and dismissive tone the company tended to take with its customers and the CSM in the first decade was a bit harder to shake.

Still, the second decade meant less HTFU and more reaching out to the base and more accomodation to the realities of the market they had to live in.  We got free to play and catch up mechanisms… because if skill points are your levels, then skill injectors are your catch up plan… to make trying out and getting invested in the game easier.

It has been a decade of trying to make the game better, less hostile, easier to approach, and more engaging.  New Eden isn’t all one big group hug yet, but I feel like the Permaband song that sums up what CCP was going for was Warp to the Dance Floor.

Now we’re flying the best ship in New Eden, the Friendship.  Light, happy, fun, we’re all friends here.  And older.  We’re all a lot older and somewhat slower on the dance floor.

But it is recognition that it is the people who hold the game together, the community of friends and foes alike.  Fanfest and EVE Vegas were often high points of those years, where the company and players got together to party and celebrate this joint venture into madness, this strange pretend science fiction future that affected our daily lives and well being.

And here we find ourselves, in 2023… arguably “the future” from the perspective of my childhood… and the game is still going.  It is still trying to find its way, trying to balance the path forward, trying to find the right things to keep the core of the player base engaged while attracting new players.

Barring any huge technological leap, world spanning disaster, or drastic corporate shenanigans I am confident that EVE Online will celebrate 25 years, and even 30 years as going concern.

What it will look like at those milestones… and what it will take to get the game there, that remains to be seen.