July and August 2011, well over five years ago now, is when my Hat Empire started. At first the hats were a direct protest against Incarna inspired clothing and monocle pricing. Vanity items. Gold ammo. And other dangerous trends towards "winning" Eve based on the amount of money you spent. Yes, for you young people out there, Eve almost went there. After the Summer of Incarna hats transformed into two directions, first as a fun vanity item for members of #tweetfleet and secondly as a direct challenge to CCP to start thinking in new directions.
Five years of hats and now we finally have some in-game. Pardon me if I take a moment to remind everyone that this was deemed impossible many, many times. There are actual CSM minutes from actual CSM meetings were hats, we were told, couldn't be done. I've been ridiculed on Reddit, called out in local, and generally called every name in the book (as I assume people are rolling their eyes) for my stance on hats over the years. The thing is, and this is where most people miss the point, it was never about hats.
If you've been playing Eve for less than five years you wouldn't think it, but Eve was a LOT different before Incarna. It was different in ways that are hard to comprehend now. And easy to forget. But back then the community existed as an often angry opinionated mob with torches, always ready to jump on the merest mistake handed down from CCP. There was a wall between players and devs that was almost impossible to cross. Massive expansions were released and players dealt with the consequences. Communication was rare and Jita riots, petitions, forums, blogs, were often on fire.
Alot has changed over those years. Twitter changed a lot of it. The CSM has evolved into a change agent over the years, after many rocky starts. Slack has helped. Player meets have helped. Facebook has helped. The o7 Show has helped. CCP has evolved over the years in large part due to the leadership of CCP Seagull and others. The new expansion schedule has also helped to relieve the pressures that used to build in anticipation of those rare and massive releases.
Into that environment, during the worst example of its consequences in Eve's history, I started making hats. I did so to illuminate the ludicrous nature of both sides immaturity. Hats are silly yes, but they also represented the true nature of what it means to be an Eve player and, I believe, an Eve dev. It is all silly. And we needed, we still need, a bit of silly in our lives. Hats helped provide a visual metaphor for the root of Eve's very nature. We are all in this together.
I'd like to believe that hats helped pave the way for the environment that Eve is today. A much, much better environment. A community that has, more often than not, started working together across the divide and helped usher in a new era of Eve Online. One that can often dream big together.
And now we actually have hats in Eve. The impossible has become reality. And yes, it remains silly. It might even be stupid. But I'd ask you to remember a time when people said it couldn't be done. And then look back up at the image header and realize that it has.
Next thing you know and we'll have a Player Memorial in-game (something I've been working on for even longer than hats!) and something will finally be done about Warp Core Stabilizers. Each of those also have deeper and longer-lasting meaning behind them as well.
But now I can finally relax a little and let the sweet cash of those hat royalties start rolling into my bank account. Pirate Faction ships for everyone!!
Keep the courage.