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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

BB42: It was a Rebuilding Year

A gaming universe as vast and unique as EVE Online is constantly evolving and the experience is different for every participant. Conventional games review techniques cannot possibly hope to provide an accurate measure of every aspect of EVE’s gameplay. However, with a community initiative like the Blog Banters, we have the resources to deliver the most thorough and up-to-date review ever. 
By combining the experiences of contributors from across the EVE metasphere, we get a wealth of opinions from veterans and rookies alike. We’ll be able to combine input from faction warfare specialists, wormhole residents, null-sec warriors, missioners, pirates, industrialists, roleplayers, politicians and more to paint a complete picture of the health and progress of EVE Online in its current Retribution incarnation. 
Who better to review EVE Online than those who know it best?
I'm not much of a broadcast sports person. Sitting in front of a T.V. hooting and hollering from a Lazy Boy isn't my idea of sports entertainment. I've always preferred my sports live. If I must watch it on a screen, the screen has to be really big in the company of other sports fans who happen to also be beer connoisseurs. Nevertheless, I think the best way to review EVE Online for 2012 is with a sports analogy.

The original players had done very well. They'd won several championships. Morale was high. Being used to winning, they could not imagine anything else. Consensus was reached on a bus to Abilene: they were too good to be anything but champions. Arrogance blinded them to the truth. It's not what you've done in the past that matters, but what you'll do in the future. They believed they were the pinnacle of their game, and perhaps they were, once. In truth, as their egos grew their performance declined. They thought they executed the playbook just as well as before but that was a conceit.

Previously mastered fundamentals were never revisited  This led to a slow erosion of teamwork. Some played for personal glory forsaking the strength of the team. Others become more enamored of the fame than the game. Leadership both on and off the field lapsed. As fundamentals atrophied, unforced errors eliminated any chance of a playoff birth in 2011. For the first time in eight seasons EVE Online had a losing record. By that point they were a team in name only. It was time to rebuild.

Options were exercised. Under-performing players were released. The coaching staff was shaken up. The playbook was rewritten. The team refocused on fundamentals. Execution became more important than flash and dazzle. They started with the simple plays. In the games of the 2012 season, they advanced steadily on the ground; every gain hard earned. It took perseverance to win and required a team once again dedicated to themselves and the game. Though there was no playoff birth for this year's team, they compiled an impressive winning record. The fundamentals relearned, they can again dare to think about championship titles.

But like any franchise, the future is as much about ticket sales as fundamentals and execution. The best team unwatched will never succeed in being true champions. Without the fans, a team is nothing more than an afternoon social club. In 2011, attendance dropped for the first time in franchise history. Many long time fans had become disillusioned and left for other teams in other stadiums. Now they are back but fickle as ever. Furthermore, many seats are still empty. Even the best of the old seasons had only ever filled half the stadium. Attendance continues to be a problem for this team.

I am certain the General Manager knows this. I expect flash and dazzle will again creep into the playbook. After all, it's the thrill of the big play that pleases fans most. Win big and more fans will come. Everyone desires to claim membership in a winning organization. They want to shout "we're number one!" at all the losers on the other side. People crave that vicarious glory, but only the most exciting teams can bring them into the stadium and keep them there.

I just hope the coaches and players don't forget the fundamentals. They are the foundation of the game and without them flash and dazzle will always sputter and fail. Die hard fans will put up with this, but not the fickle glory seekers. They will leave in droves if you disappoint them even once, and the team will never be the champions they wish to be. In the end, the stadium will slowly fall into disrepair. One day the city will decide to build a hall of fame where it once stood.

Fly Careful

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