I was introduced to EVE in May 2009 by a long time real life friend. For several months we’d get together nearly weekly for a little face to face EVE, hauling laptops back and forth to each other’s houses to fleet up and do space stuff. In the off time, we’d do our own things. It was great fun.
roleplaying a belligerent criminal was always a bit of a push
When the real life friendship died, I found myself adrift in EVE for nearly six months until hooking up with a couple of Seattle based players in November 2010 to partake of highsec griefing: first ninja baiting, then suicide ganking and finally highsec wardeccing as we and game mechanics evolved. It too was great fun. We three attended Iceland’s 2012 Fanfest which, while enjoyable, was a bit awkward. I am by nature non-confrontational, meaning roleplaying a belligerent criminal was always a bit of a push for me. Fun push to be sure, but push nonetheless. Meanwhile, subtle belligerence was the natural state for my Seattle buddies, meaning they and I would be friendly, but not really friends. Still, there was enough common interest to keep the shenanigans afloat into early 2014 when they went inactive and I once again found myself adrift in EVE.
Some six months later I discovered EVE blog commenting, which kept me engaged all the way to EVE Vegas 2015 where I met several of my favorite bloggers in person. It was great fun. Unlike 2012’s Fanfest, this wasn’t a role playing push for me, rather this was much closer to real life me. Accordingly, these folk weren’t just people I could be friendly with, these folk were well met friends.
With face to face connections in pocket, I left Vegas determined to turn those happy meetings into long term in-game connections. So followed several months of effort where I tried, truly tried to build something off the real life meetings but alas nothing came of it. Instead, two of my bloggers went inactive and the other folk I was chatting up remained more interested in their old gigs rather than a new gig with me.
If long term EVE play teaches one anything, it teaches one about transience. Nearly every ship you fly is eventually going to die. Along the same lines, nearly every EVE friendship you inculcate is also going to die. EVE, by design, is fragile place. Not only is your favorite space ship but one alpha fleet salvo away from demise, your favorite EVE friendship is also but one unrenewed subscription away from similar fate. Eventually you get used to it. Eventually you proactively prepare. Eventually you stop flying what you can’t afford to lose.
Just look at all that content
Having already been set adrift twice, I wasn’t about to be set adrift a third time. Accordingly, I’d placed multiple pans in the fire meaning when the Vegas 2015 follow-up didn’t shake out I instead hiked the little blog I myself had started into a staff writer position here at Crossing Zebras. Consequently, EVE Vegas 2016 wouldn’t find me a lost little lamb, but rather a professional space writer looking to suss out a story. Its good fit for me – both engaged and simultaneously aloof. When I saw that mezzanine full of space nerds I smiled inwardly whispering, “Just look at all that content.”
EVE Vegas 2016
Big stories may well have busted out in EVE Vegas 2016, I may even know one or two, but being primarily a soloish player since 2009, I’m a small pilot who deals in small story. Accordingly, small story is what you’re now getting dear reader. Welcome to my bait and switch.
When the hand’s behind the Dire’s parents died in 1999, the brothers and I inherited a whizbang, stunningly flexible time share vacation condo and over the years we’ve tossed our yearly accrued points back and forth between us as vacation desire and timing allowed. 2016 found us with decent number of late year use or lose points which I chose to expend on a two bedroom late October Las Vegas Suite. Being a single fellow, I had no need of two bedrooms so I contacted an EVE associate I knew was a little tight on cash to see if he’d be interesting in a free room. Being no fool, he accepted. The place was palatial. Along with shared full kitchen, dining area and central living room we each had our own private bedrooms and bathrooms. We puttered around like mice in a pickup truck, the echoes of our tiny footsteps fading into empty space.
While I was at it, I signed us up for early morning timeshare upgrade spiel providing free breakfast and Las Vegas show tickets. I’ve endured these 60 to 90 minute held hostage sales pitches before. If you keep your head about you, they can be worth the effort. So my concern wasn’t for myself but rather for my guest; not that he was going to get swindled into buying a condo he couldn’t afford but rather that if one can’t possibly afford such things, the whole process can be rather humiliating. I needn’t have worried. The sales team spent the first 50 minutes hammering exclusively on me only to turn in desperation to my guest as the clock ticked down to ask, “What does your son think?” Sweet Jesus, I have a space son! This not only generated much mirth on our part but also created the perfect opportunity for me to pat my watch explaining we had a convention to get to, they drop point, we garner our Blue Man Group show tickets (I was confident Space Son would enjoy Blue Man Group) and make our escape.
Arriving at the Planet Hollywood convention venue fashionably late, we more or less butt into line when I spy a couple of congenial fellow members of the EVE literati. Conversation busts out including not only us but the skinny girl (and I do mean girl – middle twenties – just a kid) in line in front of us who comments that I’m saying what I’m saying with undue confidence because I don’t live in a wormhole. Not long after the venue doors open and everybody enters to wander off in their own direction.
Photo by Chitlin Soulfood
Later, Space Son and I take our seats at a presentation of our choice. Being an old fart, I stand to stretch for a moment only to see Skinny Wormhole Girl sitting by herself six rows back. This will not do. We’ve exchanged a good 45 to 90 words – we’re tight. So I call back to her asking, “Are you sitting there alone?” When she confirms this is indeed the case I respond, “Well get the hell up here and join us!” Reintroductions are made and she then launches into a wormhole story. It’s important to point out that Skinny Wormhole Girl’s earlier observation is correct. I know very little about wormholes. I’ve never even been in one. It’s a big game and I’m in no rush. Still, I have been around since 2009, meaning I’m passingly familiar with the mechanics. Accordingly, if I choose to follow her story closely I probably could but I’ll tell you the truth, I don’t so choose – instead I’m utterly enchanted by the infectious enthusiasm with which she tells it and I know that’s a magic you don’t want to disturb with side explanations to keep one perfectly up to speed.
Unlike me, Space Son has spent some time in wormholes. He subsequently responds with a story of his own. The moment I hear the word ‘Orca’ I know which story it is (we’re family after all, I’ve heard this one before) so I take that moment to excuse myself and fetch me some coffee and cookie. When I return the two are still chatting away and I rejoin the conversation for the few remaining ticks prior to presentation start.
Next day I bumble across Skinny Wormhole Girl a couple of times but by then she’s holding court with batch of fellow wormholers so I just smile and wave. By day three Space Son too has found some old buddies and I hardly see him until near conference end; I am his ride to the airport after all and he’s no fool. To be honest, I don’t mind. It gives me a chance to truly nerd out at the presentations I do attend paying near complete attention to what is in front of me while disregarding what’s beside me. Later, once the conference closes and Space Son and I are about to exit the mezzanine, we run across Skinny Wormhole Girl leaning against a column texting on her phone. As there’s no urgent rush, we stop to chat. Where do you live, how are you getting there, what’s the schedule? Typical conference end small talk. With pleasantries exchanged Skinny Wormhole Girl steps forward and gives each of us a hug. It’s beautifully unthinking. Not awkward at all. We three have never flown together. Probably never going to. Still we’re space friends – the hugging type.
So Space Son and Skinny Wormhole Girl, I’ll very probably be attending EVE Vegas 2017. If you’re there too we should fleet up to share a meal, maybe catch a show.
EVE’s an extraordinary game.
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