Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Early Days

I have a customer (and longtime friend and former coworker) in town this week.  That's meant long days at the office talking through very important office politics and going out to dinner every night like we're 27 years old (although when I was 27, I didn't have the money to go out every night.... but whatever).

Instead of logging into the game tonight, I'll work on this post.

Like most characters born in early 2003, my employment history is all jacked up.  It begins with my time in VentureCorp [VNTR], and omits my time in the noobcorp (about 3wks) after launch, as well as my initial ~18mo stint as CEO of Pukin' Dogs.

Abavus was born on 2003.05.10 00:52:00 (May 9th US eastern), a few hours more than 3 days after EVE's original launch of 06 May.

EVE launched on a Tuesday.  There were server burps and other issues.  I had played beta and preordered a copy of the game, but this was well before the notion of launch-day-delivery and download on demand was more or less a pipe dream.

May 9th 2003 was a Friday.  I arrived home from work frustrated to find no UPS box.  I frothed and stomped around the house for a bit, realizing that I'd go the entire weekend without getting to log in, while corpmates in the UK were making vast fortunes.  I was a few minutes from grabbing my coat and heading to the local game store to try to locate a copy when the UPS guy showed up with my box.  Crisis averted.  Mrs. Durden was out of town that weekend, and I recall installing EVE on her PC instead of mine (don't recall the reason) and setting out to mine in my Ibis.

By Saturday evening, I had graduated to a Bantam (which I may still own) and we were mining Gneiss and Hedb in Piak (Lonetrek).

These were the days before haulers.  On opening weekend we didn't do jetcan mining; you simply filled your cargo with ore and returned to station.  Over, and over, and over.

For whatever reason, we mined and mined and then realized that there was no refinery at that station.  Nobody had looked before we started.  I spent the next evening moving all my ore across system to another station.  Today this would be moderately tedious, but in the days of no warp to zero (WTZ, i.e. all warps dropped you 15km from station), docking and undocking was a big time investment.  Nevermind the frigate-sized cargo space.

In the weeks to come, we lived and died by cargo space and speed.  There were no freighters, of course, but there were also no rigs, no tech2 cargo expanders, and few people had the time investment to get into the larger industrial ships (Bestower, Itty5).  Named cargo expanders were a BIG deal and meta4 expanders were ludicrously expensive.  Most of us were Caldari, so there were a few folks who trained into Badgers only to realize that the Itty5 or Bestower was a better return on time investment and switch (I was in this camp).

The game felt immensely huge. No WTZ and poor navigation/burner/mwd skills meant that travelling even a few jumps was a big distance.

Pukin' Dogs existed in beta, but wasn't reborn in the live game until 2003.05.31.  Scraping together the extra cost to found the corporation (at the time the cost was a significant investment) and training the skills was a lesser priority than buying other skills and the first round of ships.  I believe we survived on a private chat tab until the corp was founded, but I could be wrong.

We had a core group of players that came with us from Earth and Beyond, so we had a solid start.  We recruited in/around Lonetrek and within a few weeks had a nice viable little mining and ratting corp.  We did corp things - group combat ops, group mining, and fun things like Ibis Fights.  A few of the guys ventured to null, Fountain in particular.  I had an alt in Great Wildlands that I used to roam around and bathe in the vast emptiness of the west (this was before the Russians moved in).

We took ourselves very seriously; there were meetings and meeting minutes and tense strategy sessions/discussions about the state of the game.  There was light roleplay on our website, which in hindsight was almost embarrassingly silly.  I don't mean that that RP itself is silly; I mean that the in-character content on the web page (which I was responsible for, ahem) was pretty horrid.

We flipped into lowsec without really thinking about it.  With max logins somewhere around 6k concurrent users (and only a couple of thousand online during peak US eastern), the borders between 0.4 and 0.5 were much more porous in those days.  The idea that we could get ganked (or we could go ganking) was almost unthinkable.  I remember ratting in a 0.1 one afternoon with many folks on local, all doing their own thing quite happily.  Someone came online and began attacking folks in belts.  He was bitched out in local for being "rude."

We were obscenely poor compared to today's standards.  We struggled to fund cruisers, and each hull purchase was agonized over.  I felt like a Battleship was a stretch goal that I would never reasonably obtain.  Our first blueprint investment was a Maller BPO.  We collected investment funds from our corp's players and then joined with ANOTHER corporation to spit the costs involved.

As the months went on, Mrs. Durden and I funded a Merlin BPO.  I filtered my mining results through this BPO to generate a little extra revenue.  I reinvested those funds into a Moa BPO, researched it, and then began building cruisers.  By this point the game economy was spooling up and folks had more disposable income.  I then cycled Moas until I had enough to buy an Apoc BPO.  I built dozens of Apocs, culminating with a "monster" build of 10 battleships (at 115M or so isk at the time, this was a huge investment for me).

At this point, we're talking late 2004.  Freighters were still not in the game, which meant hauling was all about Itty5 and Bestower humping.  I got tired of hauling minerals around, and could no longer mine enough on my own to support the production line.  It was also during this time that our membership was getting restless.  Many were pushing to "graduate" into 0.0.  The first alliances were forming, and while we were mostly a highsec corp by this point, it was accepted that "endgame" meant living in null.  It was time for [PUKE] to grow up too, but we had no idea the ripple effects that we were putting in motion.

And that's when the Corp basically collapsed.  But that, is a story for another post, so I'll stop here.

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