“With the Inferno expansion upon us, new seeds have been planted in the ongoing evolution of EVE Online. With every expansion comes new trials and challenges, game-changing mechanics and fresh ideas. After nine years and seventeen expansions, EVE has grown far more than most other MMOGs can hope for. Which expansions have brought the highs and lows, which have been the best and the worst for EVE Online?”
As reducing distance caused the mist to dissipate from around it, the true scale of the floating mountain of white hit home.
The massive flagship of the CCP line, the “Eve”, despite her engines already winding into full astern, was still pulling a respectable twenty knots and Captain Hilmar Veigar Pétursson suddenly found himself needing a change of underwear. This, he thought, was going to be very, very close.
How had it gone so wrong? The Eve had smashed all records in her sea trials and had crossed the vast waters of the MMO Ocean for over eight years now. No other ship was anything like her. Passengers happily paid out good money to sail in her time and time again; indeed many had been on every voyage since her maiden one.
The professional management of the CCP Shipping Company had assured him that this voyage to the land of Incarna was going to see record profits. Incarna was where many ships voyaged to, they hastened to assure him, and most had profited greatly.
As soon as the destination was public knowledge, however, the trouble had started. Some of the passengers demanded their fares back immediately and refused to board. Of the ones who did board, many among them looked doubtful; some looked angry. But they loved the Eve and would take passage anyway and see what eventuated. Passage on the good ship Eve had never been in any way ordinary, an exciting and unique experience was always to be had. So the Eve’s loyal passengers remained convinced that if they just stayed the course, things would pay off in the long run.
After all, with the navigation policy that had been in place from the start, many of the more seasoned passengers felt a kind of part ownership of the ship; being as how the course of the Eve was always set with the input of the passengers taken into account, now through the unique voice of the Council of Ship Management .
Not this voyage though. The CCP Shipping Company had grown over the years, new ships were being built and new corporate blood had charted the course for this latest voyage. Across the MMO Ocean by way of the Pay To Win Straits and on to the land of Incarna, there to dock in the Bay Of Big Profit at the mouth of The Greed River.
Of course word had got out, after the ship was some days into the voyage some idiot wrote a staff memo verbally rubbing his grubby little hands together and that memo had somehow ended up in the wrong hands and gone public.
That’s when the first passengers started grabbing liferafts and jumping overboard, they would wait for the next ship to come along; enough was enough. The passenger count started to drop, a trickle at first, but after that damned memo it became a veritable flood.
Then there were murmurings among the crew, little groups started to form, covert meetings were held and passionate arguments for and against broke out. Even some of the officers had voiced doubts as to the veracity of this latest voyage.
As the journey wore on, the temperature started to drop. Captain Hilmar remained firm and determined; it had been explained to him that Incarna was always a controvertial destination, many ships had lost passengers but the profits had soared from many new passengers eager to travel to somewhere they felt coddled and safe.
When the first ice was spotted, the rumours and dissent grew worse. It was getting close to black mutiny and scuffles in the main function rooms started. The ice became more frequent as the air grew decidedly frigid. Still he held firm, telling himself it would pass and the people they lost would be replaced by many more.
It was late in the afternoon when the lookout had screamed the words that would ring in his ears for the rest of his life – “ICEBERG, dead ahead!!”
He had immediately flung the telegraph to Full Astern and now he gritted his teeth and waited.
Suddenly a Petty Officer crahsed onto the bridge, the cabin door nearly flung off its hinges.
“Captain! You’d better come quick! The passengers are smashing the statue in the Jita Lounge on deck 4!”
Pétursson’s gaze never left the shimmering wall of ice that was getting ever closer. His knuckles white on the ships wheel.
“I said let them,” he snarled, “It can be fixed, it’s not important now.”
Out of the corner of his eye he noticed a crewman near the bow, his face turned to look at his Captain, at least as pale as the monster crawling ever closer.
The petty officer wisely remained silent and joined his Captain in staring at The Eves impending doom.
At last the way was coming off the ship quite rapidly and it suddenly looked very possible that they were going to make it.
In my opinion, Incarna was without doubt the worst expansion ever. But it became the turning point for Eve Online.
As the great ship sat at rest, literally within feet of the lumbering giant, Captain Hilmar Veigar Pétursson had an epiphany.
For the first time since his nemesis had hove into sight, he tore his gaze from it.
“Midshipman, gather the entire crew and remaining passenger complement in the main convention room.”
The speech he gave was conciliatory and heartfelt. True, some mocked. Most, however, were ready to believe his sincerity. As he left the podium to heartfelt applause he whispered to his Executive Officer,
“Get this ship turned around right now and get us out of here.”
He then cornered the Navigation Officer, “Plot a course for the Straits Of Crucible.”
“Change of plan. We’re sailing for Inferno.”
As the days wore on, they managed to pick up many of those who had jumped ship earlier.
The Council Of Ship Management found themselves being consulted as never before, with constant updates made to, and taken from, the passengers.
At night the MMO Ocean sparkled with shiny things for the passengers to be entertained with, new facilities were installed and constant improvements were being made to every facet of the ship.
It was on one of these nights that he got a visit from a corporate representative.
“I have been asked to tell you Captain, that some of the companies investors are less than pleased with this seeming return to the Eves old ways. What is the meaning of leaving the statue in the Jita lounge broken and in pieces? How can you justify the restructuring of this ship in such a heavy handed fashion?”
Captain Hilmar Veigar Pétursson looked the man straight in the eye and growled, “If you don’t like the way I sail, then get the hell off my ship.”
In my opinion, as the Inferno expansion is still only partly done, I have to say Crucible for the best expansion ever. Not for what it was, but for what it will always represent.
It’s all in the mind, you know.