EVE Evolved: The end of EVE Evolved

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By now, you will have heard that Massively is being shut down along with Joystiq and countless other blogs run by AOL. That unfortunately means this will be my final article for Massively and marks an end to the nearly seven-year run of the EVE Evolved column, which now holds over 350 articles on topics ranging from ship fittings and opinion pieces to guides and expansion breakdowns. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your readership and to express just how much playing EVE Online and writing for you really have impacted my life.

I've been asked by so many people over the years for tips on breaking into the games industry as a journalist or MMO blogger, but the truth is that I lucked into this gig. When a post on the EVE Online news page said that some site called Massively was hiring an EVE Online columnist, I almost didn't bother applying. I was a prolific forumgoer back then and had written some guides for EON Magazine and my own blog, but I wanted to get into game development and had very little confidence in my writing ability.

What I didn't know then was that writing for Massively would help improve my writing skills immeasurably and even help give me the confidence to launch my own game development studio. Massively gave me a platform on which to talk about EVE Online and an eager audience to share my game experiences with, but it turned into something much more profound. There have been low points dealing with trolls and organised harassment and tough times with budget cuts, but there have also some incredible experiences like attending the EVE Online Fanfest, investigating monoclegate, watching CCP redeem itself in the eyes of players, and collaborating with some of the best writers in the games industry.

In this final edition of EVE Evolved, I look back at the start of the EVE Evolved column, break down my top ten column articles of all time, and try to put into words how much this column has meant to me over the years.

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Breaking into the industry

I was hired as an EVE Online columnist back in 2008 along with two other prolific EVE bloggers: Phillip "Crovan" Manning and the infamous David "CrazyKinux" Perry. We each got our own regular column and joined the team alongside Massively's EVE Online expert James Egan, but with EVE being such a niche title and budgets being squeezed, it wasn't long before James and I were the only EVE writers left on staff. We worked our asses off to coordinate and produce the best EVE coverage we possibly could, spurred on by the influx of hits from the occasional highlight on Slashdot or the official EVE website.

At the time, we had no idea that our collective efforts would eventually raise EVE's profile at Massively to make it the most popular game on the entire site for quite some time. We were just so stoked to be writing about our favourite MMO and to be told we were doing a good job. These first few months really set the tone for the EVE Evolved column's entire run, with a roughly even mix of guides and opinion pieces and plenty of links for further reading. The column became equal parts admiration for a game I loved and criticism of its shortcomings, the same kinds of things I had previously written about on the EVE forum and my own small blog.

What surprised me the most about starting out at Massively was the absolute freedom I had to write what I wanted. Nobody ever came to me and told me to write about a particular topic or censored my articles, and the editors were just as happy to publish a rant that was sure to to draw CCP's ire as to publish a guide on getting started or beating the learning curve. As a newcomer with no professional writing or games journalism experience, I expected to have to temper any strong negative opinions or run topics by editors for approval, but it never happened.

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Massively Evolved

It was some years later that James left Massively and was snapped up by CCP Games as the Community Manager for DUST 514. I was daunted at the prospect of being Massively's sole EVE Online expert and covering the news posts and interviews that were previously James' forte but excited at having more ownership over EVE content at Massively. I took the opportunity with both hands and ran with it, writing most of the EVE news and launching the EVE Video Corner and EVE Spotlight interview features in addition to the weekly EVE Evolved column. I remember thinking how lucky I was to have the job, still amazed that internet spaceships were paying my rent!

Due in part to the long-term success of EVE Evolved, then-editor-in-chief Shawn Schuster decided to roll out the column format across the site at the start of 2010. New columns popped up for every major MMO on the market and some that were soon to be released, and new writers were even hired from the MMO blogging community when required. Massively became not just a place to read all the day's MMO news but a house of experts on individual MMOs, embedded reporters producing guides and opinion pieces for specific game communities. We even collaborated on some big projects like the Redefining MMOs series, our MMOrigins articles, livestreams, and The Soapbox opinion column. This is the Massively I'll always remember: a small group of MMO nutjobs given free rein and working hard to prove ourselves. If Massively is ever reborn, I hope that this is the form it takes.

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Top ten EVE Evolved articles

Throughout its lifetime, the EVE Evolved column has been home to around 325 featured articles, with opinion pieces, guides and commentary on everything EVE Online. The most fun articles to write were definitely opinion pieces critically analysing game design problems and suggesting changes, practice that serves me well today as an indie game developer. One of the most inspiring moments of my writing career was actually when a developer at CCP told me the devs sometimes printed my articles out and brought them into meetings to discuss.

But the articles I'm most proud of are those that involved investigative journalism, finding out things that CCP may not want made public and talking to players deeply involved in the game to expose sides of EVE that few ever get to see. I loved to explore some of the less tasteful gameplay that most players would never try, such as suicide ganking and corporate infiltration, and I covered every big event and scandal for rabid onlookers. It was incredibly difficult to pick just ten of my favourite articles from the column's entire lifetime, but below are the ten I'm most pleased with in no particular order:

EVE Evolved: The day that EVE Online died
I think it's safe to say that this week has been an unmitigated disaster for CCP Games. Following last week's $99 license fee fiasco for third-party developers, CCP Zulu managed to claw back some player support with a segment addressing the issue during the alliance tournament.

EVE Evolved: The human casualties
This time last year, EVE Online developer CCP Games was an untouchable powerhouse in the games industry. In addition to servicing around 350,000 EVE subscribers, the company was also developing the World of Darkness MMO and the full scale MMOFPS DUST 514 set on the planets of EVE.

EVE Evolved: Untangling the mystery of the Sleepers
When EVE Online's Apocrypha expansion was released, details on how wormholes and the 2500 new systems that came with them worked were sketchy.

EVE Evolved: Just another week in the Sleeper's den
Following last week's reassuringly popular article "Untangling the mystery of the Sleepers", our little expeditionary alliance has had an extremely action-packed week.

EVE Evolved: Top EVE news stories of 2010
This was a big year for EVE Online, with the release of the Tyrannis expansion and some awesome news stories spreading across the internet like digital wildfire.

EVE Evolved: Top ten ganks, scams, heists and events
It's been called "boring," "confusing," and "the world's biggest spreadsheet," but every now and then a story emerges from sci-fi MMO EVE Online and grabs the gaming world's attention.

EVE Evolved: The great wormhole heist, part 1
Several years ago, EVE Online's Community Manager CCP Wrangler made a statement that I felt really crystalised the sentiment behind the game.

EVE Evolved: The faction warfare mission debacle
When faction warfare went live with EVE Online's Empyrean Age expansion back in the summer of 2008, It was a magnificent success. It was intended as a way for newer players to get into PvP and as a stepping stone from the safe haven of empire to full-on sovereignty warfare.

EVE Evolved: What not to expect from EVE Online
Of all the MMOs on the market today, few are as polarising as EVE Online. While the game has over 330,000 active subscriptions and I've absolutely loved it for over six years, I still find myself introducing new people to it with the words "It's not for everyone.

EVE Evolved: History of the Interstellar Starbase Syndicate
Today's EVE Online is packed to the brim with warring alliances smashing each other's property to pieces, but it wasn't always like that. In EVE's early days, there were so few players that much of nullsec was wasteland and you could often go 40 jumps across the lawless regions without seeing a single soul.

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EVE Online became more than a game for me over the years. It's acted at times as a creative outlet, a social hub, and a place to explore everything from maths and writing to business skills and leadership. CCP's story of the "little game studio that could" is the reason that I went to university to earn a Masters degree in computer science and started my own indie game development studio. Two Kickstarters and a lot of hard work later, I'm now terrified to be releasing my first ever game on Early Access, and I think I owe it all to internet spaceships.

It's thanks to EVE that I first discovered a talent for writing and editing and thanks to Massively giving me a shot that I was able to develop those skills and gain confidence in myself. The writers and editors at massively have continually amazed me not only with their talent and a depth of knowledge rarely seen in the industry but also with the unique comaraderie that MMO players will know all too well. Even as writers left to pursue other careers or were forced out by budget cuts, I like to think that we remained an extended family.

I don't know for sure what the future will hold for the writers at Massively, but whatever happens I'm glad to have been a part of both the Massively and EVE Online communities for all these years. I owe an irrepayable debt to the crazy Icelandic devs at CCP for making EVE, to the talented crew at Massively for giving me a voice, and to all the readers and commenters who gave that voice meaning each and every week. Thank you, and fly safe o7

Brendan "Nyphur" Drain is an early veteran of EVE Online and writer of the 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