Escape Velocity

Click to see full sizeSo … this has happened before.

In June of 2011, I had gotten through my newbie and EVE University period, had spent a great deal of time exploring and writing Shattered, and was enjoying pirate life. But I had despaired that the EVE story would ever move forward meaningfully in-game. I had spent months searching for that “something special” in exploration but had found nothing of any real consequence to the storyline itself. I had done some great exploration but found nothing that wasn’t plain as day in Dotlan. I was getting tired of paying a subscription. So I quit.

Within two weeks, CCP Dropbear announced the unprecedented Arek’Jaalan project, and I came back in game by a mere month after quitting. It was a real chance to make a mark on the game, and make a mark I (and others) did.

I did what is still my landmark, most-hit post (all screenshot photography – this will be important later), and watched Arek’Jaalan for renewed activity as Crucible dropped. But it was not to last. By November Dropbear’s appearances were increasingly rare, and by Christmas 2011 he had all but disappeared. Disenchanted again, and tired of paying my subscription fee but spending most of my time either chasing security status or writing Evelopedia articles, I threw in the towel again at the end of the year.

In August 2012, a full 8 months later, prodded because I surprised myself by having enough to say to fill a three part answer to a Blog Banter, I resubscribed. But this time I told myself that story would be a sidelight. I had wasted too much time and effort on it already. This time, it would be about the game mechanics and about the people and about the PVP. I told myself that if it became about sec status or I ever could not pay with ISK-bought PLEX, I’d be done for good. The blog changed to reflect it; unlike the first years, little since my return has been in-character except for story contest entries and the occasional game mechanic that prompted me to think “what would my character say“? Instead, I focused on the game, the CSM, and various other commentary.

And for more than 10 months, I PLEXed the account, flew PVP and Sleepers, scouted to my heart’s content, and got more blog hits than I ever had previously. I watched as the story was revived under Team Illuminati, which I applauded, but despaired when despite any avenue that was taken, the wormhole and Sleeper plots were held at arm’s length.

An email with CCP Falcon wearing the hat of the representative of The Sanctuary of the Sisters of EVE (remember that, it will be important later), dismissed the Arek’Jaalan work and effectively declared it a dead end. It turns out that Faulx and Mark726 of Project Compass fame had been doing the same thing, not knowing I was as well. The Sisters had been hearing it loudly from some of the most visible explorers in New Eden. Mark and I had a frank conversation in chat in late May that was essentially: “Fuck it. CCP’s going to ignore it and we’re done trying to convince them otherwise. It’s not worth our time and effort.”

And finally, Real Life decided I was spending too much time with EVE. So I resolved that after E3 this year, I’d be taking a very long, possibly permanent, vacation from EVE. It felt like the CCP party in LA would be a nice bit of punctuation with which to mark the end. I’d go quietly and without fanfare to deal with my out-of-game stuff, knowing that my corpmates would likely welcome me back if I decided to return, and I was confident that CCP would stay focused on the empires-shoot-each-other-round-15 stuff. They certainly wouldn’t do anything that drove real exploration (Odyssey turned out to not really about what I considered exploration – which had nothing to do with minigames, it was about discovery and finding things that just every Joe Schmo with a (now instamagic) anomaly sensor could find in almost any system with near zero effort or skill).

I spent two weeks moving my ships out of the wormhole, made some sizable donations to worthy causes (including a space-poor RL friend who could barely afford to buy a cruiser, my POS-mates, and the SSC Alliance Tournament fund), and sat quietly in my Proteus in a highsec station talking to my corpies as my subscription expired on June 26.

Five days later, CCP Eterne publishes a devblog, on behalf of Team Illuminati. Read it if you haven’t. I want to highlight a few salient points.

In an effort to revitalize study and exploration throughout New Eden, the Sanctuary, the scientific wing of the Sisters of EVE, have asked all capsuleers to help them catalog the historic and interesting sights throughout the cluster.

Yep. Same Sanctuary, same Sisters – and there’s another letter hinting at future collaboration that they sent Rhavas right before I unsubbed – which of course I can’t access to quote. Now, maybe they had this planned before Mark, Faulx and I started carping via in-character channels. Maybe they didn’t. But if they didn’t, why would they bother doing this in character at all? It could have simply been another contest with no in-character connection. And why the Sisters instead of the SOCT or the empires? And there was a wormhole renamed and rumored that another was added. Maybe that’s happenstance. Maybe.

The winner of our grand prize draw (held live during the Alliance Tournament Finals weekend) will have their name forever engraved on a unique landmark in New Eden, as well as 10 PLEX.

I’ve been advocating loudly that fame and lasting impact is as important as any gift. The landmark is the real prize here. 10 PLEX is nothing to sneeze at, but the Arek’Jaalan documents at Eram with Rhavas’ name are still, to me, the top achievement I’ve had in game.

Each screenshot must have the system clock visible.

Dear Mark & Rhavas: No old screenshots. We don’t care if you have 30 of each. Get new ones by the end of July or you miss your chance to be part of the official storyline revitalization of the stuff you took pictures of over the last three years just like you asked.

God damn it, CCP. I hate when you do this to me. I have my first SimCity built and it’s doing nicely. My kids each have one in the same region and it’s pretty funny how amazed they are by it. I was going to finally play Fallout 3. I caught up on tons of back paperwork. I painted part of my house. It’s been a productive week.

I have a PLEX sitting in Amarr.

I haven’t activated it.

Yet.

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6 Responses to Escape Velocity

  1. Helena Khan says:

    I tweaked Mike Azariah a while ago and said they needed to do something big that leverages off the current mechanics and soon – otherwise, the new shinies for exploration are just an overlay on existing systems. The sites and anomalies haven’t in themselves changed at all. So far as I’ve found anyway.

    They may point to an upswing in exploration numbers, but I find the cherry picking of certain sites to trumpet their success somewhat disingenuous. Couple that with the significant lowering of the bar…. well, I’m not holding my hopes up.

    Exploration should be hard. It should be dangerous. It may or may not bring any reward, but if it does it should be significant. But above all, if it is used to progress the storyline of New Eden, it should absolutely knock your fucking socks off.

    Anyways, if you do come back (and you should – that’s a given), I will gladly add my voice to yours for whatever you suggest as far as improvements to exploration and/or lore goes.

    • Rhavas says:

      While I do have some frustration around that, I mostly am *headdesk* about how just when I give up something I’ve been agitating for suddenly happens. Obviously it’s not attributable to my agitation causing a CCP reaction but the timing is uncanny sometimes.

  2. We left an affectionate farewall and good fortune tweet. Are you sure you aren’t the head of a shadowy cabal of EVE meta gamers controlling the future direction of EVE using an unsubbing strategy refined in the forges of the original Burn Jita? You can tell us. Who would we tell?

  3. TurAmarth says:

    I am deeply interested in and a follower of the lore, and all of your fine work in that area… I was so completely put off by an ‘exploration’ themed expansion that crapped all over the idea, the ‘basis’ of what exploring actually is… I simply could not believe CCP felt what they had done was ‘exploration’… Huge unavoidable billboards flashing “HERE is the Hidden STUFF–>” is not exploration… it’s marketing.

    It scares me deeply as the next theme according to CCP Seagull is colonization… (1) we, the playerbase, have BEEN deeply involved in colonization since Apocrypha… I live in a C6 with over 20 Lrg POSes… imagine the logistics of fuel alone… If Odyssey is CCPs idea of exploration, what will their idea of colonization be like? Will we build a huge stargate only to jump into a system no one has ever seen before, except the developer who put up the McDonalds and the golf course?

    May I throw my hat in the ring? I would like to assist, in any way I can, with any endeavors you might get involved in if CCP does move the Sleepers and lore along… =]

    • Rhavas says:

      Not much to help with at this point. That said I am hopeful that CCP is doing one of a couple smart things. 1) They’ve been up to something in recent patches. If I’m them, I snuck in a cool unique find at one of the “Group 3” sites. 2) This gives them the in character path to push the SoE storyline in a player-influenced way for the first time in two years by “finding” something unexpected in a capsuleer pic.

      Here’s hoping.

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