Gwailar’s Requiem

2022-05-12

Header Art by Major Sniper

On May 4, 2022, I logged into EVE Online for the last time. After more than 14 years, I have biomassed everything, and a GDPR purge request is pending with CCP to delete my eight accounts. In the time since Gwailar’s birthday (April 8, 2008), I’ve invested thousands of hours and dollars in this greatest of simulations. I’ve enjoyed some of the greatest moments in the game’s history, and I’ve made friends and lasting memories. But now I’m finally—and permanently—done.

Gwailar: April 8, 2008 – May 5, 2022

This retrospective is my requiem. It looks back at the entire arc of my EVE journey, both to remember and to celebrate its chief moments, and also to reflect on what aspects of the game motivated me to spend more time and money on EVE—and what led me finally to quit. It may be interesting to lovers of the game; it may even be of interest to CCP as they navigate the game’s future. But for me, this article is simply the period punctuating the end of my EVE story. It’s my privilege to share it with you.

The Important Questions

This article is lengthy. For my own sake, I have been generous with my reminiscences and details of my story. But for you, my readers’ sake, I will lead with the main points.

What About my Stuff?

I donated my stuff to a space-poor and worthy friend. At the time of termination, my total net worth consisted of:

  • A fitted Marshal
  • About 3.5 billion ISK in cash
  • About 10 billion ISK in doctrine ships
  • About 10 billion ISK in random crap
  • 361 Large Skill Extractors worth of SP goo (He provided the LSEs in tranches that he paid for by selling filled injectors.)

All told, my no-longer-poor friend netted more than 100 billion ISK. Yes!

How Much did I Spend?

As best as I can calculate, in total I spent on EVE:

  • ~$4500 (This is a high confidence number because CCP keeps good records; roughly equivalent to two continuously active accounts for 14 years, although I was far from continuously active.)
  • >2500 hours in-client (This is a low confidence number because I stupidly failed to pull ESI stats before I biomassed. Best I have to go on is my Steam played time and dead reckoning. This I know: it was thousands of hours.)
  • Many more hours outside the client. I have no meaningful way to calculate how many.
Best EVE Moments?
  • Joining Karmafleet at the height of the Saranen hellcamp in 2016.
  • Joining my first ever organized fleets in the 2016 conquest of Delve.
  • Sitting at the library on my laptop for hours to kill the X47L-Q Keepstar. Glorious revenge!
  • Redditswarming during Beeitnam.
  • Joining and writing for INN.
  • Flying Tornadoes with Delta Sqad during Beeitnam.
  • Shitposting in the Delta Discord.
  • Whoring on the T5ZI-S Keepstar in my Marshal. Glorious revenge!
Why, and Why Now?

My decision to quit had three drivers:

  1. Less Interest in Gaming and MMOs:
    This is by far the biggest reason. I’m in my mid-40s, I’m about to have my second son graduate from high school, and empty-nesting is on the horizon. I am finding that I just care much less about gaming than I used to, especially about the time-vampire MMOs that after decades of heavy investment seem increasingly unworth the effort.
  2. Belief that the Best is Past:
    For me, EVE has always been about the player-driven story, the clash of virtual space empires peopled with real humans. When big wars aren’t happening, I get bored with the game. Looking back, I’ve accepted that the Imperium’s last stand in 1DQ in May 2021 was my peak EVE. The trend of the game seems bad. It seems unlikely that moment will ever be surpassed. But even if some moment in some future war is just as amazing (or even better), I don’t need to see it. I’ve been at the pinnacle.
  3. CCP’s Shady Monetization:
    The way I see it, the entire point of this game is to be a brutal, ruthless, player-directed sandbox. CCP seems to have lost that thread, especially in regards to how they monetize. Because I’ve played mostly for the fights, I’ve never had the same stake in core mechanics as the real industrial and market players. But I’m not here for a game where players can buy fitted ships for cash from CCP, even if player made.
Regrets?

I regret never being able to give back as much as I’ve been given. In leaving, I feel like I’m taking the good and the trust that was handed to me by the investment of others in the Imperium and, having enjoyed the best fruits of that investment, leaving them in the lurch. Part of me feels unworthy and selfish for leaving. My consolation is that this decision is not being made so that I can go play some other game more. It’s part of a larger reorientation of my life away from digital spaces towards real ones, and from anonymous online relationships to real personal connections.

Now, on to my EVE story.

For the Sake of an EVE Mail . . .

My EVE story didn’t really start at character creation or during the new player experience. It started many years later when The Mittani hit send on an EVE mail.

Trying Again

It was late May 2016, during the Imperium’s darkest days of the Casino War: the Sarenen hellcamp. Imperium holdings across Deklein and the wider North had collapsed, and the entire coalition was being hellcamped by almost the entirety of nullsec into that single Quafe station in lowsec. It was the culminating moment of the greatest EVE story since the collapse of BoB, a defining moment in the game’s history.

But I was completely oblivious to all of this.   

I was in a Condor, once again trying to make a start in this wretched game that seemed FASCINATING when I read about the adventures of others, but that for me had been an unending on-again, off-again string of boredom and disappointment. Eight years of periodic attempts and more than $500 invested had produced literally nothing, but nonetheless, the day before I had decided to try again.

On May 27, 2016, I ventured out of highsec, determined to stretch my legs in the game, and to take some risks. I would be careful, because I knew lowsec was dangerous without CONCORD to protect me, but I was done with doing the same old boring things. I don’t remember why (a mission? cheap decryptors on the market?), but I happened to set my destination to the Quafe Company Warehouse, anchored at moon IX of Saranen V, deep in lowsec. I would mind my own business, and I was in a fast little frigate with little of value.

What could go wrong?

Plenty.

The inbound journey went fine. But as I undocked from the station in Saranen with my business complete (whatever it was), I was instantly podded. It happened so fast I couldn’t begin to respond. It made me furious.

In the larger scheme of EVE things, the loss of a Condor with little cargo is the least of losses. It’s the sort of trash loss experienced players will inflict upon themselves simply to pod themselves home. It’s nothing. But for me, it was everything. I had just laid down a whole video game’s worth of money to resub three accounts, and for what? I literally couldn’t fly the simplest of routes in the cheapest of ships without getting destroyed at speeds faster than I could process and for no discernible reason, other than the sheer spite of gamers who delight in smashing noobs. Looking at the killmail in a rage, I saw that my killers were members of Goonswarm. That was a name I recognized, of course, and I knew who their boss was. With a salty sense of injured justice, I pounded out and fired off an EVE mail to the Emperor himself.

“Just resubbed to this game and some of your dudes just podded me for no reason. . . . I’m pretty pissed about it. Wanted you to know. I’ve played WoW for years and do really well. I’ve never been able to figure this game out, and stupid shit like this makes me wonder why I would even want to bother.”

Gwailar complains to the manager.

Honestly, That Might Have Been The End

I might have logged in a few more times and accomplished nothing (same as every other time I had tried EVE), but eventually I would have logged out, let the month run out on my three accounts and gone back to something else. But that’s not what happened. The reason it’s not what happened is because The Mittani forwarded my message to the entire alliance, harvesting my tears for the good of the tribe. Very shortly afterwards, my inbox began to fill.

There were a couple messages of the “lol loser go back to wow” sort, but the vast majority were something I would never have expected—genuinely kind and helpful. And some of them even sent ISK!


Big war going on, unaligned people are most probably trying to kill us. If you join KarmaFleet hit me up and i will send you 100 Million to start.


I was sorry to hear about the loss of your Condor. . . . I hope you stick around to enjoy this terrible game that we all love. I’ve sent you a few ISK which I hope will help to get you back on your feet.


there’s cool dudes everywhere i’m sure, but goons is by far probably one of the largest communities. if you apply, i’m sure you’ll be welcomed with open arms. this game isn’t meant to be played singleplayer.


As I wrote to The Mittani in a follow-up message, “I don’t really know what I expected, but it wasn’t that.” Within a week I was a member of KarmaFleet, and after eight years of false starts, my time in EVE Online had finally begun.

About Those False Starts…

I won’t say too much about the eight years before KarmaFleet because looking back they were so hilariously bad and pointless, but I will say a few things, both for the sake of the record and for the insight my experience might offer into how at least some new players approach EVE.

What I Brought to EVE

I brought three things to EVE that shaped my expectations and desires for what the game should be for me:

  1. A deep interest and investment in the heroic story and heroic role-playing aspects of gaming. From Sid Meier’s Pirates!, to Space Rogue, to Bungie’s Marathon series, to Deus Ex, my longest sojourns in virtual worlds had all been motivated by a desire to inhabit and shape a heroic narrative. With EVE, I expected the narrative to be massively epic and involve real people and real stakes, the way the Guiding Hand Social Club takedown of Ubiqa Seraph in 2005 had done.
  2. An expectation of independence and influence. In 2008, my most immediate gaming analog for what EVE would be like was the Escape Velocity series by 90s Mac shareware titan, Ambrosia Software. I spent many hours in high school and college roaming the (for the time) open universes of those titles, charting my own path as a courier, diplomat, and space hero. In many ways the analog was correct, except that—crucially—as single-player games, they were forgiving and almost guaranteed success after a reasonable investment of solo time. In this they were utterly unlike EVE Online.
  3. Family commitments that made extensive, regular game play impossible, particularly in the evenings. Gameplay would be irregular and squeezed in where it could be.

What I Tried to Do in EVE

In 2008, Gwailar was born on a trial that went nowhere.

In 2010, I tried with a different trial account that was followed by a month sub and a bunch of PLEX to buy stuff. Thinking that being a faction fighter for the Gallente would be a good path to heroism, I joined the Federal Defense Union — only to find myself dying in highsec where I thought it was safe. Things petered out.

In 2011, I subbed again (with three accounts this time) and started my own corp. I had figured out that alts might help, but three low-skilled alts run by one person do not an EVE corp make. (I did and still do dislike needing to run alts. It runs counter to my desire to invest in and inhabit a single character.) At some point I dropped a POCO and looked into applying to EVE Uni, but after two months things again petered out.

It wasn’t until 2014 that I tried again. This time my one corp became three, each with its own focus (industry, logistics, and security). The expansion to three corps was driven largely by the existence of James 315 and the New Order of Highsec. I hated the New Order. Even though I don’t believe I ever lost anything to them, I hated the idea of them: a bullying protection racket dressed up with messianic language, insulting the character and hard work of blue-collar players just trying to make their way in the universe. I resolved never to pay them a dime, and to protect myself I wanted to create the illusion of structure and numbers. All three of my corp descriptions had anti-New Order screeds.

Lenestar Tinsolis, original CEO of Knight Market Logistics. Don’t mess with us New Order! We’re serious business!

I would mine in highsec with a character in the industrial corp while a different character in the security corp would orbit the miner in a Thrasher or some such. It wasn’t well-thought-out or efficient, but I felt like I was taking a stand for something. For the first time in EVE, I was at least doing something besides getting bored, something that seemed slightly heroic. (So I guess, James 315 is vindicated? Ugh. Gross.) It was also in 2014 that I dug up that original trial account with Gwailar on it and put a six-month sub into it. I wanted what I (stupidly) perceived to be the “street cred” of having the oldest account possible. Also, I thought it might be useful to have a “clean” account not wrapped up with my other corps. But after a few months, the end of WoW’s Pandaria and the launch of Warlords of Draenor took my gaming attention, and I once again drifted away.

That brings us to May of 2016. I resolved to dispense with all the weight of my previous forays into corp ownership and just start fresh with Gwailar.

Looking Back on those Years

Of course I failed through all those years, because I tried to make EVE work as a single-player game, and that’s not how it’s meant to be played. The reason I consistently tried to make it work as a single-player game is because through all those years I carried a basic misunderstanding about what being involved in a corp would require of me. I thought it would require extensive, regular time commitment; that it would be inflexible in its demands. It wasn’t until Goons that I realized how utterly wrong I’d been. Membership in small groups may be demanding (I wouldn’t know), but membership in Goons was the least-demanding MMO group play I’ve ever experienced.

The other thing I carried through that entire time was basic role-playing assumptions that simply do not apply in EVE for the most part. At least in nullsec where the big, headline-grabbing stories are written (which is where I wanted to be), EVE isn’t a role-playing game in the traditional sense, even though it has all the (fairly misleading) character creation, character-growth mechanics, and lore trappings of an RPG. It’s a team sport. Players are “role players” not in the RPG sense of inhabiting a character but in the team sense of filling a role on a multi-position team. Trying to remain loyal to the RPG character values I was trying to inhabit held me back in EVE for a long time.

Life in the Imperium

Dispensing with Silly Notions

Membership in KarmaFleet exploded all my silly notions about EVE in a single stroke.

For one thing, everything was so EASY. I didn’t have to plan anything or struggle to figure anything out; detailed instructions were provided for every activity. How to relocate. How to stage. How to get doctrine ships. How to join a fleet. What to do in fleet. The EVE learning curve which had been almost overwhelming as a solo player was not even a thing as a member of the Imperium. For whatever task I needed to do in a given moment, precise instructions were available at that moment.

For another thing, there was literally zero pressure. The only expectation was that I get three PAPs a quarter. That was it. I could log in when I wanted, stay on as long or as short as I wanted, be immediately engaged in something useful and interesting while online, and log out when I was finished. The workload of being in a major corp in nullsec was so much less than trying to run an entire highsec operation by myself, and the fun quotient was orders of magnitude higher.

Also, it was stunningly safe in nullsec. Even joining at Saranen and then staging to and fighting our way into Delve, I always felt safer in nullsec with the Imperium than I ever had in highsec because I was never alone. I was always surrounded by friends, and if a fight came (or more realistically, when we took a fight to LUMPY), we took it together. For years I had carried this notion in my head that I’d never be able to make it in nullsec until I had more skill points, more game skills, and better ships. If I couldn’t survive in highsec, how could I possibly survive in null? What absolute rubbish.

And finally, I found that the best parts of EVE don’t take place in the EVE client at all. Mumble. Jabber. The Goonfleet forums. DOTLAN. The Mittani’s Firesides. GARPA. There were so many interesting and fun aspects to life in the Imperium that had literally nothing to do with the EVE client that I had simply never imagined during all those times I had tried to make EVE work as a solo player in the client. EVE went from being in an empty, dark room filled with hazards to a raucous, brightly-lit party filled with laughter.

Learning to Fly

My first green killmail on any character. Acquired by Gwailar while flying in a Harpy defense fleet in Saranen. “I helped kill a battleship! Wow!”

The Imperium’s conquest of Delve after Saranen was where I learned how to fly as a line pilot in EVE. Being part of a highly-organized, effective fighting force with a storied history was glorious—exactly the kind of thing I had always wanted. The training and support were simply excellent. Within weeks I found myself flying Logi, and before long I was even training as a Logi anchor.

Most importantly for me, I found the epic EVE story I was looking for. As I read through the Goon wiki and other online sources and learned more about the history of the Imperium and of Delve, I found that I was right in the middle of the biggest narrative arc in the history of EVE, in one of the most storied regions in New Eden. Helping the BoB-killers survive a bunch of Casino-funded mercenaries, claw back from the brink of annihilation, and defy all odds to retake the land they had won by dethroning New Eden’s original tyrants was a story I could get excited about! From then on I knew that, whatever happened, home in New Eden for me would always be Delve.

Failing to Live

By the end of the summer of 2016, things were quieting down in Delve and I was transitioning into peacetime life—and mostly hating it. I had already achieved a sort of EVE endgame by participating in big fleet battles and helping to conquer a region against all odds. What more was there to do? Fly bigger ships? Fly more ships at the same time? Maybe create spy alts and burrow into Horde? One thing was for sure, if I was going to be a proper EVE player and a contributor to the coalition, I had to start making some ISK.

Here again, the Imperium provided all the information and support a player could possibly want: detailed forum guides (written by people like Aryth; I mean, we’re talking about some of the best EVE economic guidance that has ever existed), standing fleets, Mumble channels, you name it. But as time went on, it became clear to me that I found ISK-making boring and too much like actual work. It was much easier and more time-efficient to PLEX whatever little cash I needed and fly fleets supported by SRP (part of the reason for this is that although I found structure in KarmaFleet, I did not commit the time or emotional bandwidth to try to make actual friends). Of course, I’d never be able to fly a Titan, but did I want to? I won a bunch of ISK by playing EVE poker (and lost it all again), but by the end of 2016, as I began to invest heavily in WoW Legion, I fell intermittently dormant, and in May of 2018 I was purged from KarmaFleet for inactivity.

The Arc of Vengeance

What brought me back was the Imperium’s campaign of revenge in the Northern War in the summer of 2018. To have fallen so far against so many in 2016, survived, and now be poised to exact just retribution upon many of those same foes was not a moment in EVE’s story I was willing to miss. By the end of July I was reauthed.

In accordance with a coalition directive for “everyone to get a FAX” I had pulled all the SP from my other characters and injected and PLEXed Gwailar into a Minokawa. (Putting my main in the FAX was a stupid mistake that would annoy me ever after.) On August 1, 2018, I got my first real taste of TiDi as part of the Imperium’s FAX contingent for the X47L-Q armor timer, and on August 8, I took PTO for the final timer.

Vengeance Achieved: Gwailar on grid for the destruction of the X47 Keepstar.

For that fight, I joined the Cerb fleet because I wanted to get on some killmails. Flying with the Cerbs was way more fun than flying a FAX, and I think I already regretted not putting the FAX on an alt. We buzzed around the grid in heavy TiDi harassing and cleaning up and just generally having a blast. I punctuated the day with my first ever piece of EVE-related writing, a Reddit post offering an analytical summary of Imperial Legacy’s superiority at X47.

After the Northern War’s negotiated peace (which I didn’t appreciate at the time), I hung on for a few more months, but by the beginning of 2019, with the allure of a big-story war gone, I was once again purged for inactivity.

The Best Year

When PAPI’s War kicked off in July 2020, I missed it completely. When the Horn of Goondor sounded in September, I missed that too. Because I had made no EVE friends who might tap me on the shoulder, and because I wasn’t following EVE news, I was completely unaware that a second massive war against the Imperium had been launched by the rest of nullsec, or that homeland Delve was under genuine threat. What finally broke through and got my attention were the stories of M2-XFE in the mainstream press. Reauthing took several weeks, but by mid-February I was back in the saddle and manning the hellcamp barriers in M2-. It was the beginning of six brilliant months.

Aside from the simple quantity and quality of the fights during the last stand in 1DQ (which I have no need to cover here), two things in particular took my experience of EVE in 2021 to an entirely new level:

  1. Reddit and INN
  2. Delta Sqad

The Mighty Pen

While I waited for KarmaFleet to process my reauth, I got up to speed on what was going on with the war, and on Feb 12, 2021, I published to Reddit an assessment of the current situation that I called “Hard Truths for Small-time Legacy Line Members.” At the time many PAPI members took it as pure propaganda, but it wasn’t meant as such. PAPI folks weren’t ready to hear any clear-eyed assessments of weaknesses in what they took to be their dominant position in the war, but time has borne out the basic accuracy of what I said.

Writing the piece was super fun, and it was fairly well received, and I thought to myself, “If I can do this, maybe I can write for INN.” I submitted an application and linked my Reddit post as an example of my work. I was accepted.

Finding my niche. And a team of friends.

Writing for INN became my defining experience of everything good about EVE Online and the Imperium. It vastly expanded my knowledge of the game and of the people in it and for the first time got me to really engage with the EVE community. Over the next six months I would, with the support of a fantastically dedicated and supportive creative and editorial staff, publish more than 40 articles on many aspects of EVE life (though mainly focused on the war) and interview a wide array of EVE personalities: from line members, to prominent FCs, to major coalition leaders, to CCP representatives. I was part of the EVE community in a way I had never been before.

A Contributer At Last

What’s more, for the first time I felt like a real contributor. In many ways, low-engagement, PLEX-buying line pilots like me are spectators to the events unfolding around us. It’s others who put in the real work that makes our fun possible:

  • The industrialists who mine the ore and build the ships we buy,
  • The logisticians and marketeers who move them and package them for us into contracts,
  • The FCs who plan and fly our fleets,
  • Most importantly, the many leaders, strategists, HR personnel, IT folks, and myriad other workers in coalition and corp command who make the whole show happen.

These people put in countless hours and do real work. They make many real life sacrifices for the sake of the in-game community. What had I ever done to help them, beyond show up to fleet in a single, fairly meaningless ship, press F1 and take some screenshots? Finally with INN, I felt like there was a small way I could give back to the coalition that fit my skills and my schedule.

And as time went on, I knew that my work was being noticed in ways that verified my “F2” (a reference to the Imperium’s coalition-wide campaign in the spring of 2021 to get line pilots to do more than show up to fleet and press F1) was providing real—if comparatively small—value. For the first time, I felt like I was beginning to pull my weight.

For the second time in history, The Mittani drew attention to something Gwailar wrote.

While writing for INN (which, despite the skeptics, I did and do view as a legitimate if not wholly unbiased reporting activity), I continued to publish propaganda on Reddit (most notably a series of “Hard Truth” posts aimed at various parts of the PAPI community) where I could more freely engage in verbal combat with the enemies of the Imperium. It was through that work that I earned a third mention from The Mittani and, to my mind, brought a full circle to the journey that began the day I emailed Mittani in a rage in May of 2016.

Third time lucky!
Others did the real work and made the real sacrifices, but what I could do, I did.
[Aug 1, 2021 Jabber transcript edited to remove other posters’ content]

There’s much more that could be said about the EVE writing I did in 2021. In particular, there’s much that I could share about the behind-the-scenes conversations I had with people in the EVE community as I gathered material or performed interviews. But I’ll spare you—and them. It was all a delight, and I’m forever grateful to all of them.

The Peerless Sqad

By the beginning May 2021, I had faced off against PAPI with main fleet many times, and on some of those fleets I had the opportunity to see Delta Sqad’s ball of Tornadoes zipping around the grid to the applause of many. That looked fun. When I checked out their recruitment thread on the Goonfleet forums, it was filled with irreverence and tomfoolery. That sounded fun. The application process involved loading a Badger, autopiloting from 1DQ to the Sqad’s ancestral home in Querious, and posting a report of results to the forums. That also sounded fun. Who doesn’t want fun? My application post went up on May 5, and within a week I, too, was part of the zippy Tornado ball.

Flying with Delta was by far the most fun I ever had in game. Aritzia is a brilliant FC, organizer, and group leader. Flying with him (literally being flown by him), one-shotting PAPI, and moonwalking out of bubbles was the best. I loved it.

I had also learned enough about the game by then to actually contribute in-game as well, albeit in a small way. I helped lay (a very few) of the (very many) bookmark grids needed at the potential objectives Delta might want to defend with Sax fleet (our Tornado doctrine), and I even got permission to draft a solo Tornado doctrine modelled on the lines of Sax fleet.

Solo Tornado doctrine cover art.
Courtesy of Delta’s top-tier propagandist, Dalmuti

Goonwaffe

In the Sqad, I found a Goony culture that was warmer, more intimate, more irreverent, and more hilarious than I had known in KarmaFleet. KarmaFleet had been fantastic for me. In 2016, it was the essential org that drew me into the Imperium and transformed EVE into something amazing. Kathy Iron, in particular, welcomed me into Pathfinders and made me feel like part of the team. But by the end of May 2021, my main relationships were in the Sqad and INN, and I was ready to move on. A fellow Delta was willing to sponsor me into GoonWaffe, and I was accepted at the end of June.

Denouement

By the end of June, PAPI’s invasion had run out of gas, their numbers were cratering, and the general feeling was that they would either withdraw or try to hold the game hostage with endless stalemate. In the meantime, everybody waited.

I spent a portion of my (by now fairly substantial) INN earnings on a Marshal built by one of my Delta sqadmates, achieving what was to me the height of sub-cap firepower and sexiness. I blew billions more badly rolling unstable mutaplasmids on deadspace mods, and basically waited for things to get exciting again.

Immigrant Song, Gwailar’s flagship

Then (finally) came the collapse of PAPI’s invasion in August, and the fall of the Tower of Legends. For both the August 2 defense against PAPI’s last push, and for the final destruction of the Tower of Legends in T5ZI-S on August 13 (oh, the comms on that last day), I flew the Marshal, as well as for several of the structure bashes in between. It was an enjoyable conclusion, but the real fighting had finished in May.

Within weeks, I had stopped logging in, and in January of this year, I was even purged off the GoonWaffe rolls for about a week due to inactivity (and for those who don’t know, the activity bar for GoonWaffe is so hilariously low that actually logging into the game itself is not required). The writing on the wall was becoming clear. In the absence of a big war and a big story, EVE—despite all the relationships I had gained—holds no interest for me. In May of 2022, I made the decision to permanently quit.

Closing Thoughts

Having told the story of Gwailar’s career in EVE, I have a few final thoughts to add.

Observations about EVE Online

I have always found the actual mechanics of EVE Online to be tedious. Mining is boring. Ratting is boring. Travelling is incredibly boring. Invention is boring. Even combat can be boring. The cliché that EVE is a terrible game isn’t wrong. Every facet of the gameplay is, for the most part, terribly boring. I was bored for almost a decade trying to play this game. Why do you think I quit so many times?

The only thing that has ever made EVE not boring for me—even after 2016—was the things players brought to it. Space politics. Big fleets with high stakes. The Goonfleet forums. Comms. Discord. Pyfa. DOTLAN. Zkillboard. And you know what? That’s totally okay because the things the players have been able to build on top of the foundation CCP provides has been awesome, and totally unlike anything else in gaming.

I don’t think CCP has really accepted this fact. I think they believe they need to make EVE Online cool on its own. They keep trying to make the game fun, and it’s a complete waste of time. If I wanted fun from the game itself I wouldn’t play EVE. Why on earth would I run “dungeons” or fight NPCs in a boring game like EVE, when I could run actual dungeons in a way better and less boring MMO like SW:TOR, or WoW, or FFXIV? I wouldn’t. Grinding murlocs for hours is boring, but it’s way less boring than grinding abyssals.

EVE, by itself, isn’t even a whole game. Think about how many man-hours outside the EVE client players have put into software development and organizational grunt work. Building casinos. Building mapping tools and killboard databases. Curating wikis. Building and maintaining single sign-on. Closing support tickets. Building fitting and skill-planning apps. Building news websites and producing videos and streams of all sorts. The list goes on and on… It is all these hundreds of thousands of hours of uncompensated effort, laid on top of CCP’s foundation, that have made EVE Online complete, amazing, and unique.

This is the popup most players want from CCP. Let CCP maintain the brutal platform. Players will draw other players in and help them survive, like those KarmaFleet guys did for me in 2016.
(Source: A Reddit Post)

If CCP would just listen to the players about how to curate the foundation and pour all their investment into foundational things like fixing faction warfare mechanics, raising the player cap for big fights, and producing more HTFU music videos, EVE would thrive in its niche for years to come. But no, EVE needs half-baked casinos that no one uses, instanced PvE that few people like, scripted world events that create regions most players avoid, Dr. Who crossovers, and crappy monetization and NFT schemes.

Observations about In-Game Morality

EVE is a simulation, and like all good simulations, it blurs the line between what’s real and what isn’t. This blurring is most apparent in how we emotionally respond to our losses (and our victories too, but especially to our losses). They can really hurt! The possessions we acquire in-game cost real time and money (and often too much of both!). For that reason, they can be quite real to us even though they are 100% simulated.

This leads to the reality that scamming and stealing and lying—although completely legitimate and even necessary forms of gameplay for the EVE simulation to really work—can have real negative emotional effects on both the victim and the perpetrator. For a long time I struggled with this real-world aspect to the virtualized victimization in EVE, and it wasn’t until I settled into the Imperium that things began to make sense. The touchstone of morality in a ruthless environment is the tribe.

As I wrote in an article that explores this topic more fully, “If you’re blue, you’re blue. If you’re not, you’re dirt.” I mention it again here because the recognition that the concept of tribe can provide its own form of coherent moral framework is my lasting philosophical takeaway from EVE. And as American politics grows increasingly tribal, I grow increasingly worried. A ruthless tribal existence made for a fun space-war simulator. It would almost certainly suck in real life.

So Many Thanks

The list of people to whom I owe thanks for all the great times I’ve had in EVE is long, but I would be remiss to not include it here.

  • Drock Agony, Alfius Togra, and Kashim Kintaro, for sending me nice EVE mails after my Condor got blown up.
  • Merkelchen, for running an absolutely top-notch organization that welcomed me in and gave me a home.
  • Kathy Iron, for being the first person to really take me under the wing.
  • Toni Delancor, for all the hours in application processing.
  • Mind1, for the sick beats.
  • Patrick Miller and Arrendis, for being fantastic editors who made my work better (and especially to you, Arrendis, for putting your blessing on Hornblowers).
  • Elthar Nox, for pushing me to write more to keep pace.
  • Rhivre, for running an outstandingly effective and chill organization that got me writing again for real after years of neglecting the skill.
  • Dirk Stetille, Jurius Doctor, and the rest of the INN staff, for being the best gaming-related team I’ve ever worked with.
  • Major Sniper, Redline XIII, and the rest of the art crew, for making INN look amazing.
  • Progodlegend, for being frequently available to give many good interviews. Easily my favorite source to work with. And for having the balls to start a losing war so we could crush you.
  • Dunk Dinkle, for throwing me under the bus to my editor-in-chief because he didn’t like the copy he approved ahead of time once he saw it in print. o7
  • Baculus Orden, for that amazing Kenny G video.
  • Furnok Dorn, for being the best space attorney in New Eden.
  • Visavis Qed, for always speaking immortal words.
  • Phlegmish, for being my Goonfather.
  • Dalmuti, for being the Michelangelo of space.
  • Aritzia, for making Delta Sqad the best Sqad ever.
  • Aryth, for being an inspiring super genius even though we never interacted.
  • DrMibbles, for making PAPI eat shit on Reddit week after week.
  • Jay Amazingness, Asher Elias, Dave Archer, Apple Pear, and the rest of the FC and SC team, for flying me around and burning yourselves out providing awesome content for the rest of us. Thanks FC!
  • Atrum Veneficus, for being a loveable teddy bear.
  • Tuzy and the GSOL team, for doing more essential boring things than I will ever understand.
  • Wibla, for talking down to me on Discord.
  • Pandoralica and Dark Shines, for May 14, 2021.
  • The r/EVE mod team, for curating the best sub-Reddit on the Internet.
  • The contributors to and maintainers of the EVE Uni wiki. I have enjoyed the content there since the beginning, particularly the ship pages.
  • Matterall, for trying to promote a balanced tone, especially when PAPI was losing.
  • Everybody in PAPI and the Money Badger Coalition, who worked to be the villains in my story. One player to another, I salute each of you. Genuinely. It was a great ride while it lasted.
  • Killah Bee, for telling all the faction Titans to deagress.
  • Gothicus, for speaking hard truth to the guys.
  • Brisc Rubal, for talking sense on the CSM and for that thing with the kiddie pool and a suit.
  • Cymoro, for starting the z0r chain.
  • Andrew Groen, for Empires of EVE.
  • Everybody in the Directorate (and anyone else with any responsibility in the coalition), for burning the candle to make the tribe amazing.
  • The Mittani, for harvesting my salty tears that day in May 2016 and for running the best coalition in the history of online gaming.

I know there are so many more who have contributed to my time in EVE. All the people behind DOTLAN, Zkillboard, Pyfa, and the rest. The folks who taught me Logi anchoring by precept and example. The folks at New Evolution Express for giving one of my alts a job. All the people who took interviews for INN. The list goes on and on. To all of you and anyone else, a thousand times thank you.

Finally, to the all folks at CCP who through the years have built and maintained the sandbox: Thanks. It’s been unique in my experience, and unforgettable.

Gwailar out.

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Comments

  • Eve_Osir1s

    First of all, I wish I had the courage to extract and biomass as you did; I took the cowards route and only gave my most of my stuff away before quitting. Secondly, it’s sad to see such a storied character leave Eve Online. Hopefully life after Eve will be great for you!

    May 12, 2022 at 7:35 AM
  • RaiderStu

    A fantastic story and parts I can certainly relate to. Thank you for recording your journey, I enjoyed reading it very much. I wish you and yours well in the real world and with whatever you do after the nest empties o7

    May 12, 2022 at 9:07 AM
  • un wicht

    congratz on winning EVE, mate.
    This story is an awesome read and reflects so much of what makes EVE and Goonswarm so enjoyable for me. Thanks for sharing it with us.
    Best of luck and happiness in real life to you, fellow Goon.

    May 12, 2022 at 11:14 AM
  • Tobler0nwed

    If you think CCP has shady monetization, you should try looking at Activision Blizzard and EA Games. Since they are publicly traded companies, you can go to their Investor Relations page and glance at their income statement. It’s a for-profit business.

    May 12, 2022 at 4:10 PM
  • Guilford Australis

    Great story.

    I joined EVE in 2016 and did damn near everything. Mined in highsec, ran combat sites and missions, did incursions blind-drunk with a SIG specifically dedicated to that purpose, explored the vast silent spookiness of j-Space, flew supercarriers in the biggest nullsec fights, made friends with the most extraordinary people, spent several years working with the incredible staff at INN as a writer, and learned many real-life lessons from all of it. It was an amazing ride.

    Best of all, I got to fly with my brother for a few years. We got evicted from Provi by PanFam (more on that later), flew in wars together, lost capitals in stupid and hilarious ways, later crushed our previous evictors (a former alliance you might have heard of called Pandemic Legion) in the Northern War, the Tribute campaign, and Beeitnam – all on the Imperium side, and spent one Saturday night flying to see the EVE Gate and the wreckage of Steve. My brother decided his time had come a couple years ago, and I knew it wouldn’t be long until I came to the same conclusion. I made it about a third of the way into Beeitnam, then finally walked out the door around December 2020.

    Most of all, I agree with reasons 1 and 2 for why Gwailar left. Virtually the same for me. I’m irked by all the nerfs, changes, and monetization, but ultimately it’s just that I believe I’ve already done everything I wanted to do, and I simply don’t have the time or drive for gaming anymore.

    Overall, my time in EVE was outstanding and will remain a fond memory. I think even in years to come, I’ll be sitting on the couch doing jack squat on a Saturday night around 10 and think, “Holy shit, Guilford, you’re going to be late for Saturday Night Swarm!” Then I’ll remember that the glory days are over for me, raise a toast, and imagine Merkelchen, Brisc, Innominate, and the rest of the gang are doing the same out there somewhere.

    May 12, 2022 at 7:01 PM
    • And we get to have your great article length posts once in a while too!

      May 12, 2022 at 8:06 PM
  • Thank you for the story: it was adorable.

    I first played EVE in 2006, joined Goonswarm in 2007, and was actively engaged with the game for most of the last sixteen years. I experienced a lot in EVE online, and I rate the recent defense of Delve as the best experience I’ve had in the game– mostly in spite of the state of the game and its mechanics.

    I haven’t played EVE since the end of the war, but your post has made me so nostalgic that I might have to write an article of my own. I’m glad you enjoyed Sax fleet. Thank you for helping us brandish 1400mm artillery in the general direction of PAPI, for your writing, and for doing your bit to build and maintain the best community I’ve ever experienced in a game (or out of one, for that matter). As you move on to other things, remember: it’s always better to take a fight– even if you lose– than to do nothing because you’re afraid of playing; it’s the people who make home, home; and, (of course): every ship counts.

    <3

    May 14, 2022 at 5:47 AM
  • Xa1n

    I got emotional reading the first few lines. I too started in 2018. Its a long time to be playing a game and hate the thought of the hours spent away from family. Will read your post fully once reality sets back in and give you a good send off.

    May 15, 2022 at 5:03 AM
  • A Wild Guest

    Goodbye posts are already premium cringe, but making an article out of it is creme de la cringe.

    May 15, 2022 at 4:00 PM
    • Guilford Australis A Wild Guest

      I might take the liberty of observing that you used the verb “cringe” as a noun, in a completely asinine, pointless, unnecessary, and ridiculously overly-serious comment on an article about a video game.

      Given the general stupidity of your reply, you don’t exactly have any standing here to lecture others about expressing their opinions.

      May 17, 2022 at 12:02 AM
      • A Wild Guest Guilford Australis

        Actually, I meant to adjust the prior post to the effect that, despite what I said, your article made for good reading and I always appreciate the effort that goes into free content. I don’t know what happened between that and the send button, but whatevs. I will get real serious about my “standing” for important internet game third party websites, because clearly I am too stupid to live and write.

        May 17, 2022 at 6:41 PM
        • Guilford Australis A Wild Guest

          (1). Not my article.

          (2). I did not say “real serious”, so “(sic)” is inappropriate since it doesn’t appear in the original, which is what the term means.

          (3). Your final clause is partially correct.

          May 17, 2022 at 6:54 PM
          • A Wild Guest Guilford Australis

            1. The “sic” was tongue-in-cheek self-referential to my use of “real” over “really” but you failed to make the connection. Maybe that was a little abstract for you.

            2. Since you seem to take pedantic interest in my grammar, I will return the favor:

            Asinine and and ridiculous are nearly synonymous, if not exactly. I would posit that any comment here is “unnecessary” and hardly a qualifier.

            As far as pointless, my point was rather plain, as initially written, and it doesn’t take a linguistic scholar to see that. I find goodbye posts to be generally pathetic. That’s a point, whether you agree with it or not and whether it stimulates you to incendiary, frothing adjective-laden, third-party defenses (aka “white knighting”).

            If you include what I meant to append to the original comment, the point is that I was juxtaposing the antinomy between the facts that, even if it made for a good read, goodbye posts are still cringeworthy (that proper usage of the root word “cringe” is just for you). If “sic” was too abstract for you, I can really see why you might not recognize any of this.

            The only thing about my comment that was overly serious was your response to it, until I decided to reply to your replies in a similar vein.

            Again, clearly, my mastery over the King’s English is worthy of your master-scrutiny.

            May 17, 2022 at 7:09 PM
          • Guilford Australis A Wild Guest

            Am I really “incendiary” and “frothing? My, my. I suppose my wife was right all along. At least I can change that. You’re an angry, petty little clown cursed with debilitating rage for life. Enjoy that.

            May 17, 2022 at 7:36 PM
  • porky75

    Awesome way to end it. Sir you have CLASS.

    May 24, 2022 at 10:52 PM