2008 was quite a year for the sci-fi massively multiplayer online game, EVE Online. It was chock full of surprises -- both good and bad -- and of course the requisite drama you get when putting as many as 45,000 players in one galactic setting.
So much has happened that columnist Michael Lastucka has written a recap of 2008 in New Eden for Massive Gamer Magazine. Longtime EVE Online players also know him as Winterblink, someone who's been playing the game since its beta days, and he shares a bit of his perspective on the major happenings in EVE over the last year -- and what a year it was:
- The self-professed overlords of New Eden, a player alliance called Band of Brothers (aka BoB), lost much of the space they once claimed when rival alliances joined together in an attempt to crush them. While Band of Brothers proved to be resilient, the legendary alliance Mercenary Coalition ultimately folded.
- EVE Online became the first MMO to be distributed on Steam.
- The Great War that raged between Band of Brothers and their opposition -- namely Goonswarm, the player alliance born within Something Awful, fizzled out. Members of Goonswarm began a movement called Jihadswarm and unleashed a rash of suicide attacks in high security space which essentially forced EVE's developer CCP Games to change the game's mechanics, making these acts hold more consequence for aggressors.
- Factional warfare erupted in the Empyrean Age expansion and also ushered in the first EVE novel, which established the backdrop for factional warfare. Later in the year, the Quantum Rise expansion added new dimensions to the game for EVE's industrialists. Quantum Rise also brought with it some major changes in game mechanics, namely the speed nerf.
- 2008 was quite a year for player contributions to the game. The Clear Skies machinima was a standout example, blending EVE Online's backstory and ships with Half-Life 2 character models. After 2 years in the making by player Ian Chisholm, it was well-received by the MMO gamer community and went on to win top honors at Machinima Filmfest 2008.
- Player elections and the Council of Stellar Management (CSM) began in 2008. The CSM is an elected body of representatives who work with CCP Games to -- in theory -- ensure the game is developed in ways that reflects how the subscribers choose to play EVE. The first Council's term ended, with no small amount of controversy surrounding it, and a second CSM has since been elected and is already active.
- On the topic of player involvement with the game, the EVE blogging community absolutely exploded in 2008, largely due to the efforts of CrazyKinux, (who we were fortunate enough to have with us here at Massively in 2008, although too briefly.)
- And of course, no recap of a year of EVE is complete without at least mentioning the various dramas. EVE's source code was leaked and (in an unrelated turn of events) players found a way to manipulate the game client to gain proximity warnings when hostile ships approach. While one player managed to pull off a 200 billion ISK heist, which seemed substantial at the time, it was absolutely dwarfed by the multi-trillion ISK exploit that was exposed at year's end.
- On the 0.0 alliance warfare front, having survived a major offensive to wipe them from EVE's star map, Band of Brothers announced a radical shift in their approach to controlling New Eden, launching the MAX campaign -- essentially an initiative to use their military strength to lay waste to the holdings of their numerous enemies, unfettered by concerns over holding territory.
- Despite troubled economic times, CCP Games seems to have avoided much of the troubles affecting Iceland, (although they did consider the possibility of leaving their home country due to currency restrictions). Indeed, EVE Fanfest 2008 went off without a hitch, and featured some interesting previews and announcements -- namely details of the March '09 expansion (Tech III and wormhole exploration), a preview of the forthcoming Walking in Stations expansion, the game's return to its retail roots in partnership with Atari, and a first-person-shooter based in EVE's setting of New Eden.
Lastucka goes into more depth on these events in his "Year in Review". While this all seems like a lot, and it is, these are really only some of the highlights of the events within and surrounding EVE Online in 2008. It's the single-world approach to the game that makes much of this possible -- note that most of these events in-world don't focus on raids or PvE or quests -- it's mostly what players do in the sandbox that really makes the game interesting.
Lastucka also notes how different EVE is compared to other MMOs on the market -- "Perhaps the most astonishing thing to take away from a look back at 2008 like this is how different it looks from other games out there. What do you see here? Just a brief chat about a single expansion? No. What made EVE in 2008 wasn't just the changes CCP made, but what the players did."
Not bad for a niche title, and here's hoping 2009 is just as interesting.