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 »

  1. dartt says:

    Great stuff though endings always make me sad.

    I hope you keep writing about EVE even if you aren’t playing it any more; it’s always been a pleasure to hear about.

  2. DSX says:

    Excellent series, Eve proves yet again it often makes better second hand reading then playing for those on the sidelines – especially when penned by someone so talented.

  3. Railick says:

    OKay so titans don’t have any weapons on them other than a giant doomsday weapon O.o that doesn’t make a lot of sense but okay. Do they provide some other service besides randomly destroying an entire sectors worth of smaller ships out? I’m pretty sure I read you could dock ships at them, are they like moving space stations?

  4. Janek says:

    Titans are also able to generate jump portals, effectively allowing normal sub-capital ships to bypass the gate network and instantly jump to an endpoint potentially many systems away. Makes them an incredibly valuable tool for logistics.

  5. roBurky says:

    Titans do have conventional weapon ability as well, but nothing that matches the other combat-specialist capital ships, and nothing that you’d want to risk a titan in order to use. They are typically fitted with smartbombs and energy neutralisers instead of guns – stuff that helps them survive or escape a tricky situation.

    They have all of the fitting and ship-carrying abilities of the smaller carriers and motherships. They can also give large command bonuses to the rest of their fleet when in the same system.

    But the main other unique ability of a titan is creating jump portals for moving fleets of conventional craft instantly around the galaxy. I would say that’s probably the main thing Titans are used for.

  6. Jag says:

    Great series Mr Z, although it ends on a bit of a depressing note. We’ll be sorry to see you go, although I think we’re all hoping some of you will stick around.
    Two things have kept me playing EVE: (1) it is ever-evolving and expanding and (2) it is what you make of it. The key, in my opinion, is not to play it too intensively and enjoy it for the slow burning game that it is.

    Anyway, fly safe and may the zoom-zoom-zoom be with you, always. :)

  7. Railick says:

    Awesome! Thats for the info guys that really clears it up.

    For some reason this story really reminds me a lot of some of my own stories in Ultima Online. I know it is a totally diffrent style of game but the early days there were lawless and wild as well. I have nothing that really compares to this though.

  8. nill says:

    Awesome — I could read stories like these all day long!

    Will have to pick up EVE soon, if only to support games such as this one.

  9. Railick says:

    Eve is one of those games I REALLY wanted to play the day it came out with a public trial and I played the trial about 5 freaking times over the years but I could just never afford to play it : ( One of my friends really wanted to get into it with me too but he was to addicted to WoW (You see his brother gave him his WoW account and kept paying for it so my friend could play for free, why wouldn’t he get addicted right? Not to mention he was one of the best PvPers I’ve ever seen. Once watched him slaughtered 5 enemy hoard who were all about 5-10 levels higher than him in some sort of bezerk rage , was very fun)

  10. Deepo says:

    Fantastic series of articles, thank you.

    They make me sad though. I always thought Jim would continue playing EVE for it’s entire 50 year lifespan. I started dreading the end of this article series from the moment I read the first one. Now I’ve finished reading it I feel empty.

    Ok, that may be slightly over the top, but it really moved me in some strange way. Impressive writing I must say! Hope you find your new EVE, Jim.

  11. Railick says:

    What is kind of amazing about all this is that, not only are there stories out there that are similar to Jim’s but there are stories out there that are 100% different than State Corps. There are stories out there, no doubt, about extremely intelligent corps that trade and construct and build and made insane amounts of ISK off of all these wars. IF you think about it with all this huge corps going to war with each other business must constantly be good for miners/builders/traders ect and I’m sure a lot of people out there have very interesting stories about politics and back stabbing ect.

    Maybe Jim can write a new book that combines several personal stories from people he has interviewed for the book. Say a story for a master politician, a story from a dreadful pirate, a story from a daring trader, a story for a gallant warrior who protected his friends and laid low his enemies (Jims own story perchance) A story from a CEO of a massive corp about epic war and the feelings involved in watching all your plans and hopes and dreams stand on the pin point of a needle ready to fall either way, for or against you. The crushing feeling in your chest when you read the reports that your entire fleet was destroyed or the uncontrollable elation you feel when your entire fleet is unharmed and the enemy is totally destroyed and broken after weeks of fight. The feeling only the man at the very top, who put in all those nights of hard work laying down every little plan and making sure they turned out the right way could feel. Maybe a story for a pirate hunter who tracked his prey through 0.0 lands nearly dieing countless times only to pull victory and bounty out of almost certain defeat with interesting new tactics that had never been used before.

    I have a feel that the range of stories you could get from players is just as broad as the colors of the rainbow Jim, you could REALLY put together one hell of a compilation.

  12. Cunk says:

    Can I have your stuff?

  13. Funky Badger says:

    Wonderful articles, thanks.

  14. Pedwarpump says:

    Funny, my alliance, similar to your own, fell apart lately for pretty much the same reason. The ISK saturated, cap and blob fest that 0.0 had become has smothered the small gang tactics we mastered and enjoyed. The game’s changed, some of us are still hanging on, but it’s not the same.

  15. Psychopomp says:

    @Railick

    As one of the devs put it, “Titans were never meant to be cost efficient. They’re a giant dick.”

  16. SuperNashwan says:

    Amazing stuff, thanks for sharing it Jim. Many writers would’ve been tempted to embellish the text too far, but you’ve got a real talent for writing directly and engagingly about this kind of thing.

  17. Tapin says:

    Jim great series of articles sad to hear that you are officialy ending the story of StateCorp was fun to fly with you guys while I did.

    I’d Just like to add that while in Pureblind you helped fund my first capital and that was very much appreciated, you might even be glad to know shes still in one peice after over a year of being put in harms way.

  18. arqueturus says:

    @Conk

    In all my time in Eve I’ve never met anyone that is as bad at making ISK as Jim. Hand to mouth for almost 5 years.

    If he does have any stuff left (unlikely) he probabably owes it to other people for loans in the past :)

  19. TooNu says:

    Oh I live in Sweden, I could order the hardback version but I will wait for the paperback and relish in its words of gaming spirit :)

  20. luckystriker says:

    Loved the 4 articles.

    Anyone know of a good site where I can find more ripping yarns about the EVE universe?

  21. luckystriker says:

    Loved the entire series.

    Anyone know of a good site where I can find more ripping yarns about the EVE universe?

  22. megaman says:

    Thanks for these great articles, Jim! I wish I had played Eve, and I wish I had more time to play games. I’ll take a look at the book.

  23. TinyPirate says:

    Hands up if you miss EVE! o/

  24. Zwiebelkopf says:

    Besides being overwhelmed by EVE tales (once again) I really have to know the title and artist of sont used in the first video.

    Thanks :)

  25. Tony says:

    Man, I wish I had stories like this.

    And I wish EVE was twitch, because then I might enjoy it. Alas.

  26. Mr. ThreEye says:

    Excellent article series, thank you.

  27. Sunjammer says:

    It’s a damn shame Eve simply isn’t going to let me in. It’s an exceedingly hostile game experience to get into, demanding more from you than any other MMO i came across. It asks you to spend a long, long time doing unfathomably boring things before you grow a social network large enough to make the political game available to you, and even then you’ve got literally years ahead of you until you have a real impact.

    I absolutely applaud what the game represents, but it’s one of those things, like DCS Black Shark, where all the knobs and cool twiddly bits are obviously there, but still hopelessly far away from you to get to effectively play with. From playing the beta up until release, the game had an absolutely opaque user interface and painfully limited number of things to do as a beginning player, it just repeatedly turned me off every single time i tried to get back into it.

    As important and awesome Eve is to some people, i honestly can’t help but compare it to obscenities like Darkfall, which are so idiosyncratic and limited in appeal that only a select few ever become privvy to what is actually offered. Honestly, at times it almost feels elitist; like a kind of in-crowd of MMOs.

  28. Will Tomas says:

    I love these articles, and reading about Eve in general, so congratulations Jim, on finishing 5 years of what sounds like the most fantastic gaming experience. Your regular articles on Eve have made facinating reading.

    The videos though do show why I won’t be joining Eve, in spite of all that, partly due to lack of time, but also because the actual mechanics of playing it are much less interesting than what they seem to inspire people to write about. I get the feeling that half the fun of Eve is in relating what happened later, as much as it is the process of going through it. I like it’s there, even though I know I won’t be joining it anytime soon.

  29. Davee says:

    Awesome read.

    I was myself in a smaller alliance called RISE around this time (BoB allied). Altough we were based in Feythabolis, so I wouldn’t be able to meet you guys in combat. We had this awesome “fort” that was almost impossible to take control of. A single “pipe” of about four systems leading to a central system wich spread out into four others – all with a station each. We fought bravely to defend it from Goons and Reds – we even had a BoB titan aiding us at one time to repell the invaders. But small as we were and strong as the RedSwarm was, we eventually sucumbed. But it was damn fun.

    Hail StateCorp, RISE, CCP and EVE! And fly safe ;)

    @ Zwiebelkopf: That’s music from Team Fortress 2, made by Valve. Fits the vid perfectly.

  30. mpk says:

    Goodnight Statcorp, sleep tight. To everyone who has flown under our banner, farewell. It’s been amazing. This is genuinely part of my life changing here.

    Love you all
    M

  31. nutterguy says:

    Thanks for this Jim, been a really good read. Definitely an RPS high point.
    I really miss EVE but there is very little point in only playing it every so often…

    I point I would like to make is that, with EVE the more time you put into it the more it will become one of, if not the best gaming experience of your life.
    Time played = Enjoyment.

  32. pepper says:

    Great reading,

    EVE is the only MMO i really seriously looked at. I’m just no fan of pay per month thingy’s. Maybe someday when there is a new EVE around….

  33. neems says:

    I never played it (well except for the tutorial in the trial version for about ten minutes) but i always got the impression that Eve wasn’t a game so much as a genuine fantasy world, second life, call it what you will – far more so than your WoWs and what have you. As so many have said, amazing to read about, but somehow playing it just doesn’t appeal to me.

    The overall tale of StateCorp, to me, comes across as some sort of ‘How The West Was Won’. You were pioneers, carving out your own little piece of space to call home (well, you kind of sound more like brigands at times, but heh). Kings of The Wild Frontier, as it were. Unfortunately ‘civilisation’ always catches up in the end. It sounds like you need a new frontier…

  34. Val says:

    Despite being a fairly hardcore gamer (most FPS), there has never been an MMO that has appealed to me and substantial subscription costs put me off further.

    After enjoying this series immensely, I’m now 2 days into the trial for EVE and have even subscribed for an additional month. I’ve even managed to drag another of my regular gaming buddies with me.

    The idea of travelling around with a small squad of players appeals a lot, hopefully I’m not too late to the game for that still to be possible and fun, we’ll see. Think I’m already persuaded to but your book when it’s out in paperback, thanks for the great articles.

  35. Eschatos says:

    I’ve decided to try the free trial. Anyone got a buddy code available?

  36. Jante says:

    Ah, some of my best EVE moments have been in FDZ4-A and the surrounding area, hunting Fang and their numerous allies. :D

  37. Kirrus says:

    Its this type of story that makes me want to play Eve. But then I get fearful that I’ll never actually find any clans or groups to play with, and so don’t get past installing the client :(

  38. cowthief skank says:

    This series should be compulsory reading for anybody who ever says games are just “games”. Sincerely, well done.

  39. Knathraq says:

    This has been most enjoyable reading Jim, you always get my attention fast when posting, this time I had to support and subscribe for this great story hub, Thnx!

  40. K.Boogle says:

    Eben,

    Would you happen to have a link to the thread you refer to as the “Eve Online:Again but please bear with me” thread?

  41. Hermit says:

    I always enjoy reading about EVE. The game itself I’ve never really managed to get into, but it’s definately one of the few unique MMOs out there. CCP don’t get enough credit for it, and not enough MMO devs take note. Warhammer Online could have learnt a lot about PvP and real risks and rewards from EVE.

    Roll on Dust 514 as well.

  42. Damien says:

    Great series.

    Like a bunch of people, I tried to get into Eve a few of times after reading stories like these, but the style of gameplay kept turning me off.

    It does say something about the ways games can keep a player-base interested over time — the pull-a-lever, get-a-pellet grind-fest that is something like WoW against the emergent, socially-engaged and consequence-filled PvP that is Eve.

    I’m waiting for an FPS Eve: something more skill-based, with a persistent, open world that offers the ability to gain real power at the risk of great loss.

  43. ry says:

    Statecorp was good times indeed, and space without Statecorp is a cold harsh vacuum. State was the only corp i was ever pert of, and will likely remain so.

    It’s difficult to explain to non-members just how great state was, so i won’t try. i’ll just say Thank You to jim, rob, jamie, arq, aram, rogue, red, jannek, jaldo, owen, kael, dark, sg, steve, thesp, tapin, everybody i forgot to type and – goddamnit – even bloody whispous! you guys made Eve-Online one of the best and longest games i’ve ever played.

    Years from now my little boy will look at me and ask, what did you do during the great war daddy, and i shall proudly reply: I smacked them son, i smacked them hard on the forums.

    I’ll raise a toast to Statecorp this evening.

  44. feremir_grey says:

    Great article. Would read again.

  45. Dizzident says:

    I played the beta of EVE, the patchy first year and a large part of the second year…and I miss this game so incredibly much. I was part of the ill-fated CFS alliance, that failed miserably in the end, due to bickering and, dare I say it, cowardice of a lot of its associated member corps. Being hammered on by a competent opponent makes you learn quickly, but it can also be a hard lesson that can end in failure.

    With the CFS gone, I couldn’t really find another corp or alliance that had the same ‘ideals’ to fight for, and it was clear where the game would go..massive alliance battles.

    Without a doubt the best gaming experience of my life that year and a half.

  46. Owen says:

    It was a great time – I just found this and what a wonderful tribute.

    To all I flew and fought with, it was an honour.

  47. Sardaukar says:

    Just some words for those having trouble grappling with the appeal of EVE.

    First, if you find yourself troubled with the indirect combat, ask yourself: Did you like Nexus: The Jupiter Incident? For what is nowadays an obscure game, it’s one that almost every single PC-owning sci-fi geek has played and loved- at least the many I’ve asked have. Would you like a supersized version of it? That’s pretty much what EVE is, as far as interface goes.

    Regarding room for budding empires, I cannot speak for nullsec (0.0) space today; I have no idea what it’s really like out there since I’m spending my time in the Amarr Militia. What I can say is that before this, I was about to join a wormhole corp, and wSpace is like a new EVE. It has its own new intricacies, even more risks, even greater rewards, and for the most part it’s largely untapped.

    It’s like Oregon Trail in space- success in wSpace is all about that first preparation before you embark, but with enough provisions and allies, adequate knowledge of wormhole navigation, and one good prober, you can plant the seed for a new stellar powerhouse. I think it’s just a matter of time until, one day, a wormhole opens and thousands of ships pour out bearing a banner no one recognizes, flying ships so advanced you can only make them outside the mapped galaxy, and trained in combat against the smartest corps and AI EVE has to offer. I think New Eden will tremble that day.

  48. Sauceror says:

    I don’t have any experience with Eve, though I secretly researched stuff about it, wanting to know about the titan class ships and the guy who ripped a lot of people off by offering a funding system..,
    but still this reminds me a lot of the times I had in other games. I played WoW since release, with smaller and longer breaks until I stopped for good half a year ago, yet it is the smaller more insignificant games that gave me the same experience. Getting to know someone you will be in contact with for life.. having high times battleing in the big leagues and in the small, until it all looses its charm.
    Even if you stop the game, you still fondly look back to the time spent and wish you could live it again.

  49. S Jay says:

    I never played EVE, but this really gave me the wish to try it.

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