Over Christmas I finally confronted a minor personal demon of mine and read Jim Rossignol's The Five Year Spree. It, along with my original blog about why it was a personal demon, are required reading for this blog, which I should warn you is little more than a jumbled collection of my thoughts about and reactions to the RPS piece.
It's bloody great, of course, but I didn't ever doubt that it would be a good piece of writing. What was greatest was how much Jim's account resonated and intertwined with my own memories of the game: on a very simple level, this was because our paths crossed a couple of times, but it was also because what he wrote about and the way in which he talked about the Eve experience felt a lot like the sort of account I would (try to) write if the time for doing so wasn't long past.
While mentioning it didn't really fit with my original piece, I knew that we crossed lasers with Jim and the State bunch during the heady Fountain days, and those times were some of my favourite in the game as well as his. Not only did the legend that was Norman Protector get a mention, but so did we! It was kind of emotional to see the words Coreli Corporation after all this time, that being the virtual organisation to which I devoted what was often my hard work as well as hard play.
While it thrived, Coreli was an absolute blast to be a part of, in, by the sounds of it, a similar way to State. We kept small and nimble and did mostly as we pleased, with a minimum of logistical and territorial responsibilities to tie us down. Fountain helped this sort of approach to be successful, being a sort of three-quarters-way house between the safety of Empire, the semi-policed expanse of low sec 0.1-0.5 and the alliance territorial playground of NPC-less 0.0 (you can see how much this game has stuck with me if I can type a sentence like that years later).
A less happy parallel is that the movement of the game towards capital ships, large scale "blob" tactics and territory holding coincided with our downfall. In our case this was a lot more sudden and causal: the boss man decided we should build and own a player outpost, while almost no one else in the corp wanted this kind of logistical burden. Our leader, Josh, was an interesting guy. Outwardly an austere and serious roleplayer who maintained Eve's community territory map, those who flew with him knew him as a sarcastic, funny and intelligent, if slightly dysfunctional figure. He lead us well and usually had the sense to let the corp develop and have fun in the way its members saw fit, taking hands on decisions only when necessary, so I'll always wonder why he condemned the corp to fail in such an out of character way.
I guess that was the only thing I felt was missing from The Five Year Spree: the personal stories of conversations and conflicts with the personalities behind the spaceships. This isn't really a criticism; Jim chose to write and account of what his corp did (helped by the fact that he only flew with a single corp), and whereas that means a tighter and more coherent account, I couldn't sum up my time in the game without talking about Reyrith yelling over voice coms at his Taranis the day I joined my first alliance corp. He was a great guy, and a pilot I would fly with in both Dark Synergy and Coreli. To this day I can still hear his voice shouting "Fuck. Fucking warp! Fucking ship-from-hell! Fucking Warp" as he tried to escape some gank or other in GW. I remember that day, as I took my pitiful ship and meagre possessions into nul sec, knowing it was the day that I really started playing.
I just googled "Reyrith Eve" to see if I'd spelled Reyrith correctly, and up came a surprising number of killboard links and forum threads. This place was - is - real, and its history is meticulously recorded. There are the battles we had in Fountain and Scalding Pass and the recruitment post for Dark Synergy, promising free beer (never did get any of that). There are the names I'd forgotten: Akira, Viper, Spyder, Arcazz, Yoku, but I can remember their voices and could tell you tales about them all. Then there are the people I didn't know, but knew of: leaders like SirMolle, Evil Thug and The Mitani and characters like Heikki whose online personas and political antics cast shadows over the entire game. No one - not even I - will remember my best and most dominating rounds of TF2 or what I got up to during a month of two of WoW, but I remember the time I killed a pirate Zealot with an Arbitrator in low sec and somewhere out there should be a killboard to prove it. I'll remember the political manoeuvring around the great battle of F-T or the fall of MC alliance, and so will hundreds of others.
The other fascinating thing about reading The Five Year Spree is getting a different perspective on the same events. Much of post one occurred while I was still an un-blooded hi sec newbie: an awed and eager onlooker for many of the conflicts that State were involved in. Moving on, and perhaps my time-lines are a little off, but I believe State must have joined -V- around the time my corp, Dark Synergy, was crumbling and leaving the same alliance (in an unfortunate foreshadowing of future events, due to being given a station to maintain when the corp was spectacularly ill suited to it). One final example: while the invasion of D2 into Fountain proved to be a bore-fest for State, once the initial blobs had died down and their pilots got careless, some of my best and proudest PvP moments occurred during our reasonably successful guerilla campaign against the much, much larger invading forces.
Ultimately, it felt great read a passionate and detailed account of someone else's journey through the experience that is - or was - Eve. It made everything seem a little more real once more, and if I was sad that I'll probably never live anything remotely similar to my Eve-life again, it was worth it to know that someone had a similar experience, and saw fit to chronicle it so that others could know a little about what a special thing it was.