Picking the most influential EVE player was much tougher this year than last year. It wasn't Mittens. Mittens was certainly important (see below), but he wasn't influential. After Fanfest he kept a pretty low profile, in fact. And it wasn't anyone on the CSM, and for the same reason. Had eveiseasy.com been successful, then its developers would have been an easy choice. Likewise, if there was a public face behind somer.blink, that person might have been a good choice. It also might have been tempting to pick someone from among EVE's "media" presence -- it was tempting to go with Marc Scaurus, for instance. But as with all questions of this type, once you find the answer the answer becomes self-evident.
This year's most influential EVE player was Raivi, formerly of Pandemic Legion, now known as CCP Fozzie.
Is that cheating a bit? You betcha. But it's the truth nonetheless. Raivi was already an important presence in EVE's player community when the year started, both for his influence on early-year ship re-balancing on the forums and acting as a commentator at Alliance Tournament 10. One of Raivi's strengths as a player is that he's been playing the game for many years, but he's still able to put that aside and easily and clearly explain the most basic EVE concepts to new players. But he also has the skills and the knowledge to argue very esoteric points of EVE mechanics with veteran players. Though he doesn't have the encyclopedic knowledge of EVE's ships that his former corp mate and CSM member Elise Randolph does, he has shown the ability to look beyond the stats to where each ship fits in EVE's overall game mechanic.
Nowhere was this shown more clearly than in three things Raivi wrote about once he became CCP Fozzie:
- the re-balance of EVE's electronic warfare cruisers just before Retribution's launch;
- alchemy for technetium; and,
- the trampling on heavy missiles and the Hurricane in September.
EVE PvP combat has been benefiting from this since. We don't have access to CCP Diagoras's stats any longer, but I'd be willing to bet a large sum of ISK that they would show a very large upswing in PvP combat since Retribution's launch.
The top ten events of the year? As with last year, the top five events are going to have continuing impacts on the game well into the future. The bottom five were important events, but not so influential as the top five.
1. Faction warfare button orbiting
This one had an enormous impact on EVE's economy, PvE, and new player expectations. It's still reverberating around the game and is going to continue to do so for years to come. Trillions of ISK were transferred into the hands of newer players (and into ISK sinks) through this mechanic, which ought to be a good thing. But sooner or later, all of that money is going to run out and all of those players are going to be stuck with EVE's remaining PvE options... which aren't nearly so lucrative. What happens then is going to be interesting (and probably alarming) to watch.2. Alliances become coalitions
First, there were corporations. Then there were alliances. Then there were agreements between alliances. And now we as EVE players don't even talk about alliances any more. We talk about the Clusterfuck Coalition or the Honey Badger Coalition or the "drone Russians" (many of whom are not) or a half-dozen once-active-now-dead coalitions of alliances. I've been chatting with a couple of old friends from the CFC, both of whom are bemoaning the fact that they are quite literally running out of things to shoot at. This one can't help but have a massive impact for years to come.3. The Mittani at Fanfest
Star Trek: The Next Generation had an episode called "Darmok" about an alien species that communicated entirely in metaphor. If you knew the story behind what the person was saying, you didn't need to have its impact or implications explained to you. For EVE players, the phrase "The Mittani at Fanfest" is going to be just this sort of metaphor. If you know the story, nothing more needs be said. I doubt anyone can argue that CSM7 would have been an entirely different entity with Mittens at the wheel from the CSM we've actually had. This one can't help but have an impact on the next couple of CSMs and the influence they can have on CCP.4. RIP Vile Rat
And that starts right here. Mittens had reportedly already chosen Vile Rat to be Goonswarm's representative to CSM8, which effectively means that had he not been killed in Libya, Vile Rat would have almost certainly been Chair of CSM8. Whomever is eventually selected, whether it's another Goon (perhaps Mittens again) or someone else is therefore going to owe his position to this event. That can't help but have a marked impact on the focus of the next CSM. Just as important, VR's loss as the CFC's chief diplomat is still having an impact on the CFC and their actions (or lack thereof) late in the year.5. The clash of EVE player media sites
We began the year with five functional -- if not always frequently updated -- EVE news websites. We end the year, for all intents and purposes, with two. Likewise, we've lost a number of bloggers and other important voices in the EVE player community this year, several of them to arguments with other bloggers or with one or the other EVE news website. In addition, the two "EVE news" websites make no secret of their intent to expand beyond EVE into covering other MMOs. It's been interesting to watch which ones will carry stories about important events in New Eden and which cover what is going on in other games instead... The impact to the EVE community will be felt in the years to come.6. Burn Jita
Once removed from the CSM, Mittens for a while set out to become the best Goon he could possibly be, and that started with this breath-taking attempt to shut down major trade in EVE's largest trade hub. It became an event that lasted almost 100 hours in total and had a remarkable impact on both the players and CCP. The latter -- for the first time ever, so far as I can tell -- issued a public player warning not to travel to one of New Eden's systems unless you had to. And the former learned -- for a couple of days at least -- just how fragile the bedrock the EVE economy rests on is. This one, however, did not have the lasting impact that it potentially could have. Mittens said further events would follow to attack EVE's market hubs unannounced, but those events have not materialized.7. The fall of Red Alliance and -A-
I wrote a good bit about these when they happened, and like the fall of IT Alliance in 2011, showed that nothing lasts forever in EVE. But these events really showed the impact of the coalition in the new EVE meta. Red Alliance started the year as one of the game's most powerful and resilient entities, with 70 outposts, sovereignty in 150 systems, and more than 2000 members. They'd been on the map for so long that it was tempting to call them a permanent feature. But they were relatively isolated and relied more on persistence and pure grit than "having friends". That cost them, and it presaged the fall of Against ALL Authorities late in the year for the same reasons. Whether either will ever recover remains to be seen.8. Peaceful transitions
However, these falls were the exceptions and not the rule. Most of the sovereignty changes this year happened peacefully, even between enemies. As I've said a few times this year, null-sec is not "stagnant"; it is changing all the time. But much of that change happened not through open conflict but through back-channel dealings that have become the norm for null-sec diplomacy. In several cases -- notably Querious in the south and Tenal in the north -- whole regions were invaded, conquered, and parcled out to new owners in the space of only a handful of days.9. CCP slays the incursion community
One of the most important events of 2011 was the creation out of whole cloth of New Eden's first true integrated high-sec community. This block of players, in terms of size and common goals, was nearly equivalent to the size of a null-sec alliance and could have potentially had the same impact in terms of influencing CCP or selecting a CSM delegate to represent them. Then CCP came along and drove a spear through its heart with the game's first quadruple nerf. The community has spent all year trying to recover.10. The New Eden Open
I choose this one provisionally. Certainly, it was an important event from CCP's perspective and their first toe in the water of eSports. CCP shows every sign of wanting to continue tournaments into the new year and patiently push this initiative through. I think it has a lot of potential. But at the end of the day, only about 4000 people watched any part of this, only 27 out of 32 potential teams joined, and it's arguable that few or none of the teams put their full effort into the enterprise. But in an interesting sort of way, even if this effort is ultimately unsuccessful, that has an influence all its own, doesn't it?
That's my ten and one for 2012. Anything that I missed? Discuss.
(1) "You will also see that the direction we're going with these frigs means that our plans have changed somewhat since the dev blog a few months ago," the ship-balancing dev-blog from June says, rather blandly...
(2) I myself think in the aggregate, all of these changes were positive steps.