The highlight of the year for me has to be creating the official Massively Mob corporation. I expected around 50 people would join and perhaps a few extra readers would idle in the Massively channel. Instead, almost 200 pilots have joined the corp, and new applications come in every day. Several corp members have already begun organising their own events, and many spend their days answering questions or otherwise helping newer members of the corp.
In this week's EVE Evolved, I look at the year's top EVE stories. I examine the EVE community's artistic side, some of the most positive and negative stories of the year, a number of extremely high-value kills and heists, and the emerging Sansha storyline.
EVE Online's player community is known for producing some awesome artwork, from cinematic videos and wallpapers to space ship concept art and alliance propaganda posters. This has been a good year for art, with some great videos and posters being released. The highlight of the year for me was definitely Kale Ryoko's Future Proof, the epic story of a Caldari faction warfare operation in Black Rise region. Created in the Unreal 3 Engine using EVE models and textures, Future Proof is a 12-minute masterpiece and an absolute must-see.
Another impressive work of art released this year is OEG's incredible photoshopped wallpaper collection depicting EVE ships blended artfully into real-world scenes. Some of the impressive backgrounds include an apple core made of two Avatar titans, the Caldari Rohk as a steam train, and a Megathron-styled mecha. At the start of the year, we also took a look at Pantheon, the sequel to Rooks and Kings corporation's impressive instructional video Clarion Call: Triage special.
Feel-good stories of the year
Every year, there are some stories that just make you feel good about a game and its community. EVE is known for having a particularly ruthless community of players, with the harsh world of New Eden playing host to the violent and often political machinations of capsuleers. This year, the shining example of how wrong people are about the EVE community has to be the overwhelming player response to CCP's call for PLEX to aid the Red Cross relief effort in the wake of a terrible earthquake in Haiti. CCP provided players with a way to donate in-game ISK and help people in the real world. Players donated PLEX they had bought on the in-game market for ISK, and CCP accepted each PLEX for the full real-world value of the game time it represented.
Players raised over $40,000 U.S. for the Haitian earthquake relief fund in just a few weeks. The response was so great that it prompted CCP to try again later in the year when Pakistan was hit with massive flooding. Another very good case for the EVE community was made this year by Jef Rehard during his Community Detective series. In the series, Jef tested how helpful many MMO communities were by asking some simple questions in chat channels and seeing what kind of response he got. Responses in other games have ranged from helpful advice to outright mockery, and EVE Online definitely came out on the more positive end of that spectrum.
Although 2010's been a big year for EVE Online, the game has seen its share of growing pains over the past 12 months. In April, an exploit was discovered that allowed players to hide themselves from the local chat channel. Several players were accused of using the exploit to kill targets in nullsec by combining the exploit with a cloaked ship to sneak up on unsuspecting pilots. Several months later, some more negative press hit the table as members of EVE's Council of Stellar Management voiced their disapproval of CCP's attitude during the biannual summit in Iceland. The council had all of its important issues critically challenged and was told that there would be no resources to dedicate to CSM issues for the next 18 months. These issues came to a head in late July when CCP asked players to vote for EVE in a game award.
As if that wasn't enough negativity for one year, two more major gameplay exploits were uncovered in the past few months. The first was a bug that allowed pilots in wormhole systems with a magnetar anomaly to boost tracking disruptors to over 100% effectiveness. Due to a trick of programming, this could be used to boost the tracking speed and optimal range of a friendly pilot's turrets to practically infinite levels. A month and a half later, Test Alliance was caught up in some drama when its members tried to deploy territorial control units under the protective screen of an extended server downtime. GMs destroyed the claim units, and Test Alliance retaliated with complaints of favouritism.
Whenever a large non-political event happens in EVE, it can be very hard to relate the significance of those events to people who don't play the game. Making some great headway in battling this problem was a video showing the scale of EVE ships and an interesting diagram showing the potential real-world cash value of losing ships. Since then, we've been trying to put some of the awesome in-game heists and attacks that have happened in context by showing the potential real-world value of the ISK involved.
The biggest heist of the year has to be when EVE player Bad Bobby managed to gain a majority shareholding in his supposedly secured Titans4U investment scheme, allowing him to unlock and steal the corporation's colossally valuable assets. The other big heist of the year was the theft of 125 billion ISK from gambling giant Somer Industries by one of its trusted claims handlers. On the more violent side of EVE, several notable kills occurred throughout the year. The regular Hulkageddon event in particular ended with 288 billion ISK in damage being done. The most interesting attack involved a player moving $1000 worth of game time codes to Jita for sale, only to have the shipment intercepted and destroyed by war-targets. This came shortly after CCP made changes to allow PLEX to be transported as cargo.
This year saw some major plot progression in EVE's storyline, with a huge story unfolding around the Sansha menace. Unlike many previous plotlines, the Sansha storyline began as a live event and has played out almost entirely in-game. The plot began with leaked documents appearing on popular file hosting service EVE-Files. The classified CONCORD documents appeared to talk about a mysterious Sansha military buildup inside a hidden wormhole system. It wasn't long before Sansha's Nation began launching attacks from a hidden base, using an unknown new technology to open wormholes directly above populated planets.
The events have continued for months, with some major plot points along the way. Players even organised themselves to fight the Sansha incursions, setting up intel channels and forming combat fleets. The Sansha storyline has since become the basis for EVE's Incursion expansion. When the expansion's third phase goes live next month, Sansha's Nation will periodically invade and annex entire constellations of space. Players in the affected star systems will suffer a variety of negative effects, which will continue until the incursion is defeated.
It's been a big year for EVE Online, with some awesome news stories and events. The coming year looks like it'll be the biggest yet, with the Incursion expansion's key features going live in January alongside the new character creator and Incarna expected in the summer. Stay tuned to Massively in 2011 as we'll be right here covering everything that's going on in the world of EVE.
Brendan "Nyphur" Drain is an early veteran of EVE Online and writer of the weekly EVE Evolved column here at Massively. The column covers anything and everything relating to EVE Online, from in-depth guides to speculative opinion pieces. If you have an idea for a column or guide, or you just want to message him, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.