August 31, 2015

A History of the Great Empires of EVE Online at PAX

I'm sitting in the airport at Seattle right now. My flight is delayed two hours. I won't get home until like 1:30am and then have to go to work tomorrow. That wouldn't be so bad if I had been to PAX purely as a fan, but I'm doing this for work. That kinda sucks.

I didn't get to spend too much time inside of PAX actually. Most of my time was spent in meetings outside of the convention. What free-time I had I preferred to spend it outside and at the REI headquarters (which is freaking AWESOME by the way). I walked a couple of laps around the convention and saw some cool stuff, considered buying a few things but realized I could probably find it cheaper online. It was fun to see, but nothing really sucked me in. Except for the panel on EVE's history.

Of course, being a rabid EVE fan I know a lot of EVE's history. I've read multiple accounts of multiple wars. I think I have a fairly good grasp on the overall history of the game from the player's perspective (less so from the in-game lore perspective). Nevertheless, I was compelled to attend the panel titled The EVE Online History Lecture. I'm glad that I did.

First off, it was packed. 
There was probably 200 people there. Strangely, when speaker Andrew Groen (who wrote the book the lecture was based on) asked how many of us in the room regularly played EVE, very few of us raised our hands. There was probably 10-15 hands raised.

So for me, I was going in just to spend some time steeped in EVE while away from my computer. I always like going to EVE-related events when I can. For the rest of the crowd, I assume they played semi-regularly and were similar to me or they had some sort of morbid curiosity that so many who hear of EVE have.

Andrew was a great storyteller. His presentation started off in 2006 with the tale of RED Alliance's destruction, last stand, and resurrection as Redswarm Alliance. He expertly weaves that tale and the story of BoB attacking Ascendant Frontier, destroying Steve and the alliance as a whole together. Perhaps it was easier for me to follow along, but I thought he did a great job of explaining the context of the situation, why certain events mattered, who the players were, what their motivations were, and how things came to be. His voice (I mean writing voice here, not his actual voice - although that was fine too) was very engaging and entertaining. If the book reads similarly to how he spoke, I'd tear through it, unable to put it down.

He showed us a really well done footage clip which explained one of the major events in his history during the presentation. He said he had the help from a member of CCP who did the "camera work". It was definitely easy to follow along, but I had two thoughts:

  1. Why are there Tech 3 ships in this video about 2006?
  2. How am I going to experience this via a book?
Maybe there will be a CD included or something. I dunno.

Unfortunately he left us on a huge cliffhanger. He had just explained T20 including, again, the major players, what their motivations were, how they came to be there, and what that meant. So after setting up the Great War, letting us know the highlights ("it lasted two years and involved over 50,000 real people"), he ended with "That's all the time we have in this presentation. You can read the rest in my book."

Andrew, you bastard. 

I chatted with him a bit right after the panel, just thanking him and regretting that we didn't get to talk about Mercenary Coalition. He asked me if I was in MC and I said I was. He let me know that he spoke with Seleene and Sabre A quite a few times during the process of writing the book. I asked when it was going to be released but all he said was in the next few months. He did let me see an advanced copy he had in his bag. It was a hardcover edition in all black, similar to the limited edition EVE Source book. It was probably 3/4 of an inch thick. He flipped through it some and I could see quite a bit of artwork. You can see some examples on the Kickstarter page.

To be honest, I was hugely impressed with the panel. Andrew is, without doubt, a great speaker. With his pedigree I expect his writing to be equally impressive. I've alread pre-ordered my copy from his website evehistory.com. If this sort of thing seems interesting to you, I highly recommend reserving a copy. 

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