BB36: The Wonder and the Blunder

"With the Inferno expansion upon us, new seeds have been planted in the ongoing evolution of EVE Online. With every expansion comes new trials and challenges, game-changing mechanics and fresh ideas. After nine years and seventeen expansions, EVE has grown far more than most other MMOGs can hope for. Which expansions have brought the highs and lows, which have been the best and the worst for EVE Online?"

Nine years and seventeen expansions later. Castor, Exodus x3, Bloodlines, Revelations x2, Trinity, Empyrean Age, Quantum Rise, Apocrypha, Dominion, Tyrannis, Incursion, Incarna, Crucible and Inferno. Whew. What a long and strange road that has been.

Just for the record I started playing Eve during the Empyrean Age expansion, which was 2008. So I  don't have much to say about the earlier expansions, although obviously they were important in so many ways for setting the universe up.

This Blog Banter is too easy honestly. It would be simple to re-hash the horrors of Incarna, the way Dominion ruined much of what made early Eve so much fun, the underlying death of PvP that Apocrypha would bring us in the shape of T3 ships, and the rest. Each expansion brings with it unintended consequences, some of which are immediately obvious (like monocles) and some which we still haven't admitted to (like T3 boosting). Yeah, that would be the easy way to go.

I loathe easy. I love Eve. I miss much of what made early Eve so much simpler than new Eve. But at the same time I enjoy new things. Each expansion has done just that, expanded the game, the universe, the amount of crap, the amount of good, the wonder and the blunder. ( I just change the title of this post that was so good).

Eve is expanding. At a rather rapid pace. We have more systems, more ships, more skills, more modules, more ratting opportunities, more, more, more of everything. Soon we'll even have a whole new game! DUST is coming. Eventually we may even be able to walk in stations!! My God, Eve is getting freakin' huge!!! Is this a good thing?

Seriously. Fundamentally is this a good thing? Or not? What CCP has accomplished is nothing short of a miracle. Unprecedented. And it is only going to get more so as time passes, with DUST integration, WiS someday, and who knows what the heck else. But the real question is this, in my opinion, is bloat the thing that will eventually kill Eve as we know it?

Bloat kills a lot of things. It kills software, browsers, major league baseball pitchers, and eventually everyone reading this post. Eve is getting bigger, it is expanding, but has it reached the point of actual "bloat"? In my humble opinion, not even close. And that is one of the wonders and one of the blunders of Eve. It is inherently open to further expansion, it is after all an entire universe of possibilities, but it is also extremely sensitive to blunder. With a continuing reliance on a limited player base, Eve can be rocked by the slightest transgression or false step. Which is a tad unfair, given all that has come before. CCP has a lot in the vault, but that doesn't change the facts. Even an improvement in the inventory UI can somehow cause rage.

Eve will continue to expand. But until it really starts to expand the player base, mostly by implementing changes to the price of entry ( such as this great idea! ) and spread the potential for rage out to a manageable thin layer of boundless subscriptions. DUST will, if it works, be an important linchpin in that process. But the next nine years need to be focused on the duality of pleasing the current players and, at the same time, adding new ones. Not an easy task for a game approaching a decade of expansions. But not impossible either.

So yes, some expansions have been better than others. Crucible and Inferno have been two of the best and they also happen to be the most recent. That is excellent news for the future of our beloved Eve.

CCP has proven lately that they listen. And they've proven over the years that they can lead. They make mistakes, they screw the pooch sometimes, but in the end - Eve marches onward. Where exactly it is all headed?  Even I can't see that far ahead.

I've been around awhile. I feel nostalgic when I think of the simplistic universe that presented itself when I first undocked only four years ago. That universe has changed significantly and fundamentally since then. Right underfoot. Some bad, most good and a few brilliant. But the most important part is that they keep coming. They haven't stopped yet. And when you stop and realize how lucky we are to live in the world where Eve continues to grow and expand, that should cause you to pause. Take a deep breath. And undock.

Fly safe. One and all.