The Five Year Spree, Part 4: The End

By Jim Rossignol on September 3rd, 2009 at 3:52 pm.


In this, the final part of my look back on five years of the Eve Online corporation, Statecorp, we see our plucky heroes wander Eve, struggle for survival, and ultimately burn out in the long search for a home. Previously: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

With the changes in Fountain giving us ample reason to move on, we looked around for another similar locale. This was probably a mistake, but I was keen to persuade the gang to find actions elsewhere, and I would spend the following year trying to recreate the same scenarios we’d tasted in Fountain. The closest we were able to identify was a system called FDZ4-A in the region of Geminate. This seemed to be to provide similar opportunities: there were multiple alliance regions to be raided in the surrounding area, while FDZ itself was distant and obscure enough to be relatively quiet. We packed up our best toys – leaving a huge amount of assets in WY-9LL, which I believe remain there even now – and headed, once again, across the galaxy.

Initially Geminate was quiet, because the only people using FDZ were a small alliance called Fang. We began to engage them fairly regularly, and run missions out to the nearby alliance-owned outposts. Large conglomerations such as Roadkill and Hydra provided ample entertainment, not least when we piled straight into Roadkill’s core system and killed the faction battleship they put out as bait.

However, it wasn’t long before Fang had company in FDZ. Another alliance called Ground Zer0 turned up, providing us with regular (smack-talking) combatants in the same system. Now experts in this sort of warfare, we harassed them daily, culminating in the kill of a carrier which – for reasons unclear – had warped to an asteroid belt, and in a stand-up fight on one of the FDZ stations. This fight remains clear in my memory because it was such a beautiful turn of events. Fang and Ground Zer0 had brought together their largest gang in several weeks, causing StateCorp to dock at the station. The enemy gang surrounded the station at close range, hoping to kill one of our ships when we undocked. The hostiles outnumbered us at least two-to-one. Needless to say, we all jumped into very high damage ships and undocked all at once. I think we lost a battleship. They had nothing left on the field.

Once the locals were properly trounced we began to lose interest in Geminate. It was nothing like as rich or dynamic as Fountain, and the lack of sparring partners made things dull. We decided it might, after years of of independence, be a good idea to join up with old alliance friends and see how things would work out. The first foray in this direction was to return, for the final time, to Great Wildlands and to Veritas Immortalis.

The old names were still fun to fly with, but the -V- we found in Great Wildlands at that time were a shadow of their former selves, being harassed by the new Foundation, and battered by formidable Red Alliance and Tau Ceti fleets. We used the opportunity to raid old haunts in Scalding Pass, Wicked Creek and Curse, but it was clear the magic was gone. After a couple of months we moved back to Geminate, beating on some more transient locals, before looking north to what Celestial Apocalypse – the corporation who had enticed us to Fountain in the first place – were doing now. Again, what they were doing was a bold project.

Celestial Apocalypse, by then the lead in a larger alliance known as Insurgency, had moved into Venal, a neutral NPC region in the midst of the North. It was a giant version of what had been going on in Fountain. While Fountain’s core provided a good place to attack alliance assets in the region, Venal provided a base to attack assets in the whole of the north. The north of Eve, or The Northern Coalition, is a huge power-bloc, where many different alliances are in a non-aggression pact with each other. Insurgency was hitting some of the weaker members of this coalition, Stella Polar and Phoenix Allianz, and the rest of the coalition was doing little to intervene. StateCorp decided the tales of 100-ship heavy assault gangs rampaging around were too good to miss out on, and we moved on up.

As we arrived, however, bigger things were in motion. Insurgency were in the process of attacking a small arm of a region called Branch. It was a dead end section of space which could easily be blockaded, cleared out, and captured. Insurgency was, unbeknownst to us, and even the rest of the North, going to use this backwater assault as a trial run for claiming the entire Branch region.

When the assault kicked off it was the biggest collection of capital ships we had ever seen. Insurgency had swollen to around 1500 pilots, which was easily enough to produce the kind of fleets needed for the attack. It was also the size needed to produce massive capital ship action. While StateCorp had been off skirmishing and raiding we had also been buying capital ships, which were seldom used outside of logistics. Of course we weren’t alone: all the large PvP alliances of Eve had begun to amass gigantic capital ship assets, and Insurgency was no different. The sight of the massed capital ship fleet during the Branch assault was astonishing.

RoBurky made a video:

Insurgency crushed the far weaker alliances in a sudden blitzkrieg: they had taken Branch. This, however, woke the slumbering enormity of the rest of the North: a power-bloc that could field four or five fleets the size of Insurgency’s own. They begun to circle for the kill.

Roburky made another video:

And soon Insurgency would be crushed, and the north was lost.

But so too was the regular high attendance of StateCorp. The long, arduous attrition of the war for Branch was simply not the StateCorp way. As thrilling as 100-ship capital jumps were, it was our small, tightly organised gangs that had really kept us interested in the game, and now we were waning. By the time Eve’s northern powers rolled in to retake Branch, we were already making plans. We evacuated to a backwater system in Pure Blind, and spent a few weeks beating up a random Russian alliance who were picking on local mission runners. It was a brief flicker of the past, and of what StateCorp did best. Our numbers, however, were not enough to sustain interest on a regular basis. We were going to need to recruit, or to join up with larger, more active Eve entity.

We got in touch with the resurrected Huzzah Federation, which had been living in Syndicate since our own roadtrip out there. We would join up with them again and fight a few more campaigns with our old Huzzah friends. First we’d boot Red Skull, Thorn, and Controlled Chaos out of their pocket of Syndicate, and then we messed around in Cloud Ring, making of a nuisance of ourselves as the region’s sovereignty changed hands. Fun escapades indeed, but a potent mixture of real life and Eve-fatigue was going to end my run, and that of most of our other pilots. StateCorp’s run had been long, and glorious, but our most active players had begun to fizzle out. One by one we just weren’t turning up for the ops.

Finally, last week, we realised it had come to an end.

Even without the fact that we were growing tired, and finding ourselves busy with other responsibilities, I think we had grown apart from Eve. We idealised small scale ship combat in 0.0 space. Neither the new generation of faction warfare nor the proliferation of capital ship combat really appealed, certainly to me, and possibly to other members of StateCorp. I think we existed during a sweet spot for both the game, and for the time our pilots could commit to it. Some of us will stay and play on – I’m certainly taking a break – but it’s clear that the singular joy of StateCorp had run its course. Insurgency was our last taste of what it meant to play the alliance game at a high level, and once again we decided we didn’t want it. We’d mastered small scale skirmishing, and so that no longer held challenge either. We’d done the lot.

Of course that should not diminish how incredible the journey had been up to this point, or how it could be for others in the future. All this stuff could only ever have happened in Eve. No other game or virtual world has the same vast potentials, or the intricate amalgam of sandbox freedom and ludic constraint. While StateCorp played out its many battles I wrote a book containing detailed ruminations on the subject of Eve, and many other essays and features besides. It’s been the most fertile source of story-telling and game design discussion I’ve ever come across. And most of those stories don’t belong to me, or to StateCorp. From the vast political intrigues, to the Great War, through the scams and the scandals, the pirates, the traders, the moon-miners, the explorers, the idiots, the savants: there are billions of stories within Eve. StateCorp has generated countless vignettes and takes of spacewar on its own, and there are hundreds if not thousands of corporations who have also lived through the past years of the game. Their stories, perhaps, can be told elsewhere, and will continue to unfold in the future.

Eve Online has been profoundly significant in the landscape of gaming. It saddens me still when I interview MMO developers who can’t say why Eve is interesting or unique. It’s so special that no other game can replace it. There will be another shooter, another RTS, another clever puzzle game, but it’s not clear whether there will ever be another Eve. For that reason alone, I can’t see myself ever stopping being interested in CCP’s amazing project.

Nor, ultimately, will I want to lose contact with the friends I’ve made. Thanks to the lot of you – you all know who you are.

Finally, I’m thankful it turned out like it did. I know our adventures might not have gone that way. I might not have written that feature for PC Gamer. I might have genuinely lost interest in that patchy first year of the game. Hell, Eve might never have happened at all.

Way back, when I first saw screenshots of Eve in 2002, an editor of the time leaned over and looked at them: “Pff,” he said, “an MMO by a little Icelandic studio? That’ll never even get released.”

I’m glad he was wrong. And how wrong he was.

Eve Online, StateCorp, I salute you.

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100 Comments »

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  1. Ian says:

    I don’t know whether to be a little depressed that I’ll never get into anything Eve to that extent, or just appreciate that there’s good reason for that and continue playing what I play.

    Either way these write-ups, as with all the stuff I’ve read that you’ve written about Eve, have been splendid.

  2. Ian says:

    Gah:

    *anything like Eve

  3. Jockie says:

    Had a similar experience of a completely different game, where it became an important fixture in my gaming life, where i’ve made friends that I’m still in touch with today and which ultimately lost the magic that had made it so amazing in the first place. It’s always sad to move on, but those gaming experiences tend to stick with us.

    Whilst Eve never grabbed me in the way it did you Jim, I think a lot of gamers can emphathise with how important it should be to MMO’s and how the journeys and vignettes found within are what elevate games beyond a ‘timsesink’ or a diversion.

    Great articles.

  4. Sam says:

    Great series. Others have said this several times, but I love reading about Eve. It produces such good stories.

    Really wish I had gotten into Eve years ago, but at this point in my life I don’t think I ever am going to put the kind of time I’d need to into any game again.

  5. Ben Abraham says:

    *applauds*

  6. Ubernutz says:

    Brilliant. I think that because I was a bit of a late comer, I could never really get into Eve, though it was certainly fun.

    Even so, I really enjoyed these articles, and I think it’s quite telling that on AmazonUK “Customers buy this book [‘This is Gaming Life’] with Phonogram: Rue Britannia by Jamie Mckelvie”.

    RPS is brilliant, kudos to all of the writers (even the one’s who don’t have books) and people who make it possible for me to sit on my fat hole rather than go buy a magazine. You all put a lot of work into the site and we thank you.

  7. DF7 says:

    “but our most active players had been begun to fizzle out.”
    Is it just me or does that not make any sense?

    Other than that, great read. I’m another one of those people who has never played Eve but loves hearing about it.

  8. Gurrah says:

    Great stuff! Nothing else to add.

    Fly safe, where ever your are.

  9. mihor_fego says:

    It doesn’t matter that I can’t afford the time to play such a rich but demanding game; I feel like gaming has made a giant leap forward with EVE.

    Having played WoW and GW, I know these can in no way produce such experiences as those Jim described in this series of articles. Perhaps this game should be an example of what MMO games really ought to be. Politics, alliances, territorial wars… The usual MMORPGs can’t really immerse you in a persistent world when your actions have no consequence whatsoever. No guild can conquer an opponent’s outpost, nothing is really at stake if raiders kill Thrall. Everything sets back to “normal”.

    Perhaps a MMORTS game could feature many of those characteristics but then again, would it be able to get you in the shoes of the tiniest tank commander? In EVE it sounds as if you can be pilot, trader, politician, diplomat, general.

    Of course, tackling all the above takes a lot of dedication, but if I ever was to play any MMO other than casually, I’d like to know something this deep is around…

  10. The Fanciest of Pants says:

    Great series Jim. You really do write about Eve well, cheers.

  11. Zarim says:

    Awesome series of articles. I’ll admit that I didn’t have a very good idea of what made EVE so great; I could only ever play for a month or so and never joined a corp. This article really makes me understand and appreciate the game a whole lot more. I think I’ll also look at buying your book too! Again great stuff.

  12. Mike says:

    This was a seriously good feature. It’s a shame to see something like this come to an end, I know Eddie/James talked to me about StateCorp a lot too. The thrill of a small, social group is always working as a team on what you love, and when a game loses those things it is inevitably time to move on from it. Still a great loss.

    EVE is a fascinating game. More than any other game out there, it’s one I can’t play but wish I could. The time and understanding required are immense, but so is the payoff. It’s an unreal and brilliant idea, yet one that no other dev has learnt from.

    I hope EVE and Dust keep doing well into the future. CCP are a really special developer.

  13. -bok says:

    Nice read.

  14. Kieron Gillen says:

    Jim: I still smile at that Ed comment too.

    KG

  15. Steelfists says:

    Really absorbing and gripping. Makes me want to play Eve more than any advertising banner. I wonder how long before game companies start using NGJ to sell games?

  16. animal says:

    Props for the great articles.

    I flew with you guys in Insurgency battling the odds, sadly I was part of the ill-fated Helios Inc. I lost the will to play after the corp maracas, and when the corp/alliance started fragmenting I just stopped playing one day.

    I’ve only been back once since then to check out the wormholes/game changes…but who knows, maybe I’ll give the game another proper go some time and see what happens.

  17. Steelfists says:

    http://www.press.umich.edu/titleDetailDesc.do?id=293023

    “His [Jim Rossignol’s] populist group-blogging project rockpapershotgun.com continues to expand its cult popularity.”

    So now we know who’s really pulling the strings…

  18. Jim Rossignol says:

    As if there were any doubt.

  19. Eben says:

    INSRG was the best fun ive had in Eve. The feeling of pure desperation, it was like being at Rorkes drift every time you logged on.

    A point on Eve burnout i really think that INSRG was responsible for a vast number of total Eve fatigue cases, i certainly never really got involved in anything seriously since the evac and disbandment, i dabbled in the MAX campaign and tried to reignite my love of the game with BoB’s last stand but niether gave me the heroin hit id become used to. Now 5 months later I’m attempting to re-invigorate Eve for myself in a whole new way, i hope some day that you do too.

    Grats Statecorp, fly safe

  20. Acosta says:

    I wanted to wait until the last episode for saying how awesome has been these series. My hat would go off to you if I had one, has been really fantastic.

    After six months playing Eve in and out, what pains me more each time I log is knowing I won’t live these kind of adventures, or won’t come anywhere close to the big alliance game that made me create an account in first place. Yes, I will be able to fly a BC, but I doubt I will participate in anything small or big, 0.0 cation is completely out of my reach.

    I don’t mind, but my obsession these days is locating the new Eve. I will keep playing MMOs because I love the genre, but I want to be part of the new Eve from the beginning, I don’t mind if it´s 10 years ahead, I will be there and I will be part of it.

  21. feet says:

    Read all 4 of these articles today. They genuinely capture the imagination, truly excellent stuff.

  22. Acosta says:

    By the way, we demand the name of the ed to point and laugh. Who was he? Ross? Mark? Spill the beans, we want to know the dirty secrets of PCG. (when I say “we” it´s a more effective way of saying “I”.)

  23. Vasagi says:

    wow the year and and a bit i hung round for was a blast, but im looking for large changes to 0.0 before i return for some zoom in my malediction

    /hugs

  24. Eben says:

    @ Acosta dont be daft man! Theres still plenty of life in the old girl yet, especially with some as yet undisclosed sov changes on the horizon, im desperately trying to get people like yourself to come together in a corp and show you that not only is .0 within your reach, its within your reach right from the get go! Please have a look at my (admittedly poorly put together) spiels on the forums in the “Eve Online:Again but please bear with me” thread and if youve got 1/2 an hour come and have a chat at 21:00 UK time tomorrow.

  25. Psychopomp says:

    O7

  26. Serondal says:

    Aw, this is sad :( I Was hoping that Statecorp would become a super power and dominate the galaxy or something, but hey you had fun and that is all that mattered.

    This has been a great read I think you could very well write an entire new book just detailing the adventures of Statecorp

  27. chesh says:

    Thanks for writing these, Jim. I doubt I’d be playing EVE today if it wasn’t for your writings on it.
    For what it’s worth, my corp (EPIME) is part of one of the smaller NC alliances (Majesta Empire). While we do occasionally take part in huge NC cap-heavy fleets or even smaller alliance POS bashes, we absolutely love small gang pvp, and have been at or near the top of the alliance kb for the last few months because of our incessant gate camps and small roaming gangs, and even a few intrepid and skilled pilots who like to roam solo. The 15-man HAC gang is far from gone, mate!

  28. chesh says:

    @Acosta also I must second what Eben said. I’ve only been playing for six or seven months and sure, I’m not in Morsus Mihi or anything but I’m in a quite accomplished and capable pvp corp in a very nice part of 0.0. My ship choices are still fairly limited — right now I fly interceptors almost exclusively in pvp — but each time I go out I get better at it. It’s scary to make that jump out of empire but it’s quite doable and the rewards are more than worth it, IMO.

  29. iamseb says:

    o7 Jim

    A fitting tribute to Statecorp. Fly safe!

  30. Jim says:

    Nice series. I’ve never played EVE, but I’ve always been interested in the game. I will check it out when I get a capable computer.

  31. Serondal says:

    Jim have you guys ever been in battle where two Titans faught each other? Are they really as powerful as they appear to be ?

  32. abhishek says:

    Nice series of articles Jim :)

  33. roBurky says:

    Titans don’t really have any ability to fight each other. They only have one effective weapon – the doomsday – that can only be used one an hour, and is only used for clearing a site of smaller craft. When not firing that weapon, they have no reason to be on a battlefield.

  34. Vinraith says:

    These write-ups have been fascinating, thanks again Jim.

  35. wyrmsine says:

    Indeed, thanks Jim. I’m currently in the first year of my time away from Eve, and while I’m frequently tempted to go back, I suspect my enjoyment of the game reached a zenith when playing the small game. As opposed to the massive corp engagements, which were starting to turn into a second job…

  36. Billzor says:

    /ovation

    Bravo, sir.

  37. Baltech says:

    Bravo indeed. What a fantastic series of written words in four parts. They also whet my appetite for this game considerably so I inted to take a gander at the 14 days trial this weekend. Unfortunately, none of my regular folks has an penchant for space stuff, so I want to humbly ask the RPS retinue… wanna accompany a n00b to the edges of that particular universe? I prithee, drop a line.

  38. Acosta says:

    Hey Eben, thanks a lot. I have just read all your posts, I loved the part of selling something to someone and then making him pay to leave for not being destroyed. The idea of joining is really tempting but I’m already in corp and they helped me a lot on the first months, so I don’t want to leave them without feeling I have gave them something in exchange. Thanks a lot for the offering, I will keep an eye on the thread (name in Eve is Azkabeth).

    However, when I wrote my last post I didn’t specify that some of the reasons I feel that way are personal and not related to the game:

    a) Big combat, when I joined I tried to be a tackler in Faction warfare. Problem is that each time we engaged, 30 vs 30 more or less, the lag went crazy and I couldn’t even move. My connections tend to sucks, so I guess is that.

    b) Language, my English is far from perfect and I have serious problems to understand some stuff through Vent or EVE voice, because the quality is not great and there are certain type of voices. In fact, I don’t even have microphone because I tend to avoid any game that requires voices in multiplayer. Sadly for me, it´s mandatory in EVE which lot of times meant that I didn’t even understand which one was the primary.

    c) I suck at PVP in EVE. Really, I have lost an insane amount of coercers and punishers these months without being able to do anything at all. I don’t mind losing, in fact I like a game where I feel I’m losing something, but I would like it more if I had a real chance to fight.

    I think I could have ironed some of these problems being there from the beginning. But now people are way too experienced and I’m kind of embarrassed to ask them for patience while I understand the basics of not blowing up my stuff the first minute of fighting.

  39. Duoae says:

    Great series of ruminations…. Thanks for sharing Jim!

  40. Ergates says:

    Hurrah for Statecorp. The bestest Eve Corporation that ever there was.

  41. arqueturus says:

    If there’s anything that people need to realise from these recollections is that we, 40 random individuals of StateCorp became players on a Galaxy wide stage with a cast of thousands, the parts we played mattered and we acheived things together that had lasting effects on Eve’s history.

    In no game but Eve is this really possible and despite what you may think it can be still be done and is done every minute .

    I’m a veteran of StateCorp, a veteren of Eve in fact and when I bought the game back in 2003, I considered long and hard whether it was worth playing a game with fee. I reasoned it would be worth it if I could squeeze 6 months out of it. There’s no reason why the same logic still can’t be applied.

    To Jim, Jamie, Rob, Janek, Seb, Hardie, Simon, Walker, Michael, James, James, Mark Andrew, Andrew, Neil, Dan, Owen, Thesp, Rogue, Ryan, Bobsy, Dark, Jon and the many others, it’s been an utter pleasure.

  42. Saad says:

    “All this stuff could only ever have happened in Eve. No other game or virtual world has the same vast potentials, or the intricate amalgam of sandbox freedom and ludic constraint.”

    I recognized this in EVE from the very begining. It was a shame; I played through the trial 3 times, but each time, after 3-4 days I was turned off by the meticulous combat, the fact you can’t fly your own ship, the money grind, and the _vast_ distances between places you’d want to go.

  43. Colin says:

    Damn you Jim, now I’m thinking about resubbing. Though knowing me (especially in light of the probe changes from like eight months ago) I’d probably spend a week flying around with people, then go and get lost in wormhole space and maybe come out for cap ops.

    Either I’d burn out again while trying to get all my junk out of Upper Syndicate, one or the other.

  44. TooNu says:

    woohoo! great read, cheers Jim :) now if only your book didn’t cost £20

  45. Jim Rossignol says:

    A cheaper paperback version of the book will be out soon.

  46. Vinraith says:

    @TooNu

    If you didn’t want to wait for the paperback, I do notice that the version from amazon.com here in the US is $20. With the exchange rate, that should be a significant discount for you island-dwellers.

  47. Janek says:

    To paraphrase an old friend, I have a wobbly heart.

    Been a fantastic run, and I’d do it all again. Many thanks to all those we’ve fought against and alongside, and of course my lovely corpmates past and present. Even Whispous.

    o7

  48. Nallen says:

    Where do we get the paperback version you mentioned in your last blog?

  49. Nallen says:

    wireless show even…

  50. We Fly Spitfires says:

    Great article (again). You should write this isn’t a book :) Awesome video too.