We’ve been quiet of late here at Freebooted.

It was a symptom of a corporation-wide loss of interest in EVE which had a knock-on effect on this blog, sorry about that.

But having stepped away from the capsule for a couple of months and enjoyed a period of holidays, bathroom-redecorating and mutant-dog shooting (co-operative Borderlands is like a barren planet safari-trip for vacationing capsuleers), I feel I once again understand why we play EVE.

Before the imminent formulation of new plans, I think it might be worth indulging in a bit of reflective practice. I cannot speak for the other Freebooters, but I think I understand how we lost our mojo. I believe there were three contributing factors, each compounding the others.

1. The Fall of Old Providence in early YC112/2010

As an independent corp that enjoyed the freedoms provided by the NRDS in the Derelik region adjoining Providence, the routing of CVA and allies from the Providence region and the subsequent collapse of player-policing in the surrounding low-sec areas meant that our local neighbourhood quickly got a lot more hostile.

We considered our options at that point, however, we defiantly chose to stay despite the knowledge that we would have few allies remaining nearby. In some respects this made it more fun, but as we were a corp of only four active pilots based on the doorstep of 0.0 we often found the volume of hostiles passing through or hanging around to be quite overwhelming. We had to adapt; escape and evasion being the key strategies to adopt so we could continue to go about our business in low-sec.

In short, changing political and environmental factors pushed us toward keeping a low-profile and adopting a passive play-style. This was not in itself a problem, in fact for a while I quite enjoyed it; not so much player-versus-player, more player-avoiding-player. And so we continued supporting our industry and POS efforts in Derelik low-sec in a very quiet manner.

2. Embracing Tyrannis

Given the Freebooter’s increasingly industry-based direction, I was initially quite excited and intrigued by the industry-centric nature of Tyrannis and embraced it eagerly. Unfortunately, the repetitive and attention-hogging nature of Planetary Interaction turned my EVE experience into a nightmarish solitary slog through clicky treacle.

3. Summer

I think that a lull in player activity and a general drop-off in concurrent users is fairly standard in EVE over the northern-hemisphere summer months. Folk are lured outside* by the promise of sunshine, beer and good cheer (*UK residents should replace the word ‘outside’ with ‘abroad’). This is why I think CCP tend to release their bigger expansions in the autumn. Although if that is their strategy, surely they would benefit from making more of an effort to retain our interest over the summer.

In any case, these three factors combined caused us to temporarily ‘walk away from the table’. The strange thing is, despite the knowledge that a simple change in play-style would again make EVE fun, that solution just wasn’t visible from what felt like our sand-box dead-end. EVE had become as dull as dishwater and it was all Tyrannis’ fault. Everything in our EVE-world had combined to make it a very solitary and uninviting experience.

But the truth was we’d shaped our sandbox to be a massively single-player experience. With only four players in Greenbeard’s Freebooters, it only takes the disillusionment of one player to have a huge impact on everyone. We’d built our house on sand.

However, I’m glad to say there have been telltale signs of a resurgence in activity, both from the Freebooters and the wider EVE community. I was encouraged by the comments from the last blog banter, thanks folks. Greenbeard has been going about his subtle skullduggery over the summer which has yielded some results. So now is the time for a re-think and a re-build. I know where we went wrong – we need to be more sociable – but how best to put that right?

Should we open the Freebooters for recruitment and become a low-sec PvP corp with some teeth? Join a local alliance? Follow our old allies and move all assets wholesale setting up elsewhere? I’m not sure yet, but I’m open to suggestions.

I intend to get the Boot kicking Freely once more.