Given the recognition that the EVE community regularly receives, I was curious to lift the lid and take a closer look on the parts that affect my game experience. Having never been part of other gaming communities (apart from a brief involvement in the Battlefield 1942: Galactic Conquest mod community years ago), I have no real frame of reference.

I soon came to realise how many people outside CCP contribute to my game experience. The more I thought about it, the more I realised I should be grateful to this whole host of people who entertain me with their writing and support my EVE-playing with fantastically useful tools. So really this article is more-or-less just a thank you for making my New Eden a better place to be. It’s just a bit of fun and I hope don’t miss anyone out. Clearly everyone’s experience of the EVE community is different, so this post will be unashamedly subjective and tongue in cheek and should be taken with a cargo-load of salt.

I originally intended for this post to be an elaborately contrived semi-fictionalised awards ceremony in the style of the Oscars, with nominees and categories et al. However, not only would that be hugely arrogant and presumptuous of me, it would have required a degree of organisation, research and planning which I am unwilling to devote to a single post.

Instead, I would simply like to draw your attention to a number of EVE-related resources that have enriched my game experience during 2010. By no means is it intended to be exhaustive, simply a shameless exercise in backslapping, fawning and fingerpointing for my own amusement. But then isn’t that what awards are all about?

So, although still arrogant and presumptuous, now also poorly researched, scattershot and probably corrupt, on with the Free Boot awards 2010.

Before we celebrate the best and brightest of the EVE community, we should take the time for a moment of silence to mourn the passing of some fantastic services that didn’t survive to enrich our 2011s. The Posthumous Recognition Award for a Tragic Demise is shared by Capsuleer and EVE-Metrics. We commit their souls to the void… I hope CCP can see their way to relaxing their rules on third-party profit before more good resources go the same way.

On a related note, a Special Award for Most Valiant Attempt at Preventing the Inevitable goes to Nashh Kadavr for his attempt to save Pyjama Sam and Roc Weiler‘s Capsuleer iPhone app with this petition. Three hundred-and-twenty-seven signatories weren’t enough, but nice try fella.

Our first Blogger Free Boot is for Best Political Writer and it goes to Mord Fiddle for Fiddler’s Edge. This blog has consistently provided excellent coverage and in-depth discussions of null-sec politics and the ever-shifting player alliance arena. “High Tea” with Mord never fails to be enlightening and provides a fantastic insight into the machinery of EVEs much vaunted ‘end-game’ player politics.

The hotly-contested ninja-blog category has a number of leading lights, with Paul Clavet’s My Loot, Your Tears and Cyberin’s Hands Off, My Loots being leading contenders. However, for pure heartless élan and torturously amusing accounts of player-baiting (and for quoting me in his bio), the Free Boot for Best Ninja Blog goes to Aiden Mourn and Finders and Keepers.

Throughout the year I have been putting together increasingly ridiculous ship fittings, all made possible by the fantastic resource that is the third party EVE fitting suite. Now with the likes of EVEHQ (a powerful tool for far more than just fittings) and newcomer PyFA nipping at it’s heels, this years Best Fitting App award goes to Gripen’s EVE Fitting Tool. But the competition is hotting up, and this category is definitely one to watch in the coming year.

A tool to which I have referred obsessively, tweaking skill plans and monitoring character development, has been an invaluable aid to my EVE gaming. The Best Third Party Skills Monitoring Tool Award goes to EVEMon. Again EVEHQ provides competition, but old habits die hard.

The award for Best Browser-based EVE Utility goes to the fantastic resource that is Wollari’s DOTLAN:Evemaps. This absolutely superb resource can be used in or out of game and makes sense of the incredibly confusing stargate network, but provides so much more utility. I thoroughly recommend you give it a look and make use of it in your day-to-day New Eden travels.

The battle for Best EVE Smartphone App is one in which I apologise for having huge bias. Not being stinking rich, I only own one smartphone and it’s an iPhone (so apologies to Android users). Therefore, there were only ever two real contenders for this award and Benjamin Scott’s iClone wins by virtue of being the last man standing. iClone provides the iPhone user with the ability to monitor skills, check sales, browse items and much more. Quite possibly the most comprehensive third-party use out there for the EVE API and with the arrival of it’s nimbler little brother, iClone Lite, it has become a must-have app for EVE playing iPhone users.

Throughout 2010 the renowned EVE Blogosphere has slowly been getting a makeover. One by one many EVE blogs have become significantly easier on the eye by virtue of the artistic talents of one man, Rixx Javix. If ever EVE develops to the point where there is the opportunity to customise ships, he would be the go-to-guy for a spray-job. The Free Boot for Best Blog Artwork goes to Rixx Javix at EVEOGANDA. He is also a prolific and witty EVE blogger.

Another of my favourite sources of reading material is EVE’s Parity Bit. Sometimes providing insightful discussion and commentry, occasionally exploring the roleplaying aspects of EVE, but always entertaining and inspiring. A great example of his writing skills can be showcased by his coverage of the Noctis blueprint release (it helps if you’ve seen the EVE trailer: The Butterfly Effect first). The Free Boot award for Most Innovative Blogpost goes to paritybit for the Butterfly Effect: Industrial edition.

EVE Online’s universe is a harsh place and most pilots learn to ‘HTFU’ (Harden The Fuck Up, as explained in CCP’s informative video). This year’s HTFU award for Services to New Pilot Education goes to Gal’en for his Failmail Friday blog feature in The Wandering Druid of Tranquility. In true EVE spirit he regularly points and laughs at the fat kid who is no good at sport.

There is a wealth of EVE-related fiction writing going on throughout the community and I would not presume to have even scratched the surface. However I always enjoy the gentle humour of the cleverly fictionalised accounts of Mike Azariah’s in-game antics and the factual footnotes that follow. It’s a great format and I like to try predicting what his ‘lessons’ had been before the end of the fictionalised section. So my Free Boot for Best Fiction Writing goes to Mike Azariah for Mike Azariah: A Missioneer in EVE.

This next segment is sponsored by Interbus, who are always happy to support the promotion of travel throughout New Eden. Every day in New Eden, strange and wonderful things can be found or are are occurring that might go unnoticed by the average pilot where it not for some intrepid bloggers who travel from place to place and write about their experiences.

The Interbus ‘WoMan on The Scene’ Roving Reporter Award for Best Coverage of an In-Game Event goes, with absolutely no bias whatsoever, to Rebecca Aventine’s EVE Privateer for her two-part coverage (Pistols at Dawn and Fight Club) of some ‘local colour’ in the form of a duel for control of a small low-sec corporation that she stumbled upon during her reportage of the nearby more tectonic events in Providence. Those crazy low-sec dwellers.

The Interbus ‘Of Course It’s Safe to Go There’ Intergalactic Tourist Award for Services to the Tourist Industry can only go to one man. Mark726‘s tireless exploration of every nook and cranny on EVE Travel continues to provide us with an entertaining and informative resources of all those places we either can’t find, are too far away or are too dangerous. Read all his adventures here.

The Interbus ‘I Just Popped in to Borrow Some Coffee’ award for Coverage of a Real-World EVE Event has to go to the man who went above and beyond by travelling all the way to the CCP offices in Iceland to provide us with some excellent coverage of CSM Summits. Oh hang on… Mandrill’s coverage of the CSM Summits are on I Am Keith Neilson.

Having only recently discovered the joyous depths of the EVE podcasting community, I am still very much playing catch-up, but for coming up with such a great format in the form of a weekly blog round-up (and therefore mentioning Freebooted), the Free Boot for Best EVE Podcast must go to Garheade and Chainer Cygnus’ EVE Commune Podcast. An honourable mention goes to Warchilde and Dillon Arklight‘s Podded Podcast, their drunken, nihilistic style flies the flag for Brits in EVE and listening to their Christmas special almost convinced me that it would be socially acceptable to talk drunkenly and loudly about EVE in my local pub.

In a virtual environment where everyone seems to be out for themselves, or indeed at least out to undermine everyone else, organising anything in EVE is no easy task. So any kind of large player-organised event is truly a remarkable achievement. It shows that the individuals behind the events have a true understanding of the society in which they operate and have tapped into the psychology of the community to create a concept that is embraced. So in a society of virtual thieves and murderers, the recipient of this next award should be very proud. The award for Best Player-Organised In-Game Event goes to Helicity Boson for Hulkageddon III: Summer of Gank. With an honourable mention to Rixx Javix‘s Death Race. I look forward to hearing more about the 2011 editions of both.

Any community is only as good as it’s visionaries and leaders and as such a number of individuals are deserving of recognition for all that they do for the continuation and betterment of our shared EVE experience.

For services to the blogging and tweeting communities and for being the glue that binds us together and enables us to better share our work, Free Boot Community Legends awards go to Crazy Kinux (for the Blogroll, the Blogpack, Blog Banters and being the Blogfather), Alexia Morgan (for the EVE Online Bloggers Portal), Mandrill (EVE Blogs OPML files via Cognitive Industries), 00sage00 (for the Tweetfleet on Twitter).

A Special Recognition Award for all her work for the betterment of EVE, not only exemplified by her ascendency to chairing the Council of Stellar Management and leading them to make a real impact on CSM/CCP relations, but also her tireless work in encouraging the improvement of her beloved low-sec with the Making Low Sec Matter initiative. The Free Boot for Most Influential Player of 2010/YC112 goes to Mynxee. Thank you for your efforts and for those of your CSM colleagues.

To tie up this charade of an award ceremony, I would like to dedicate the final Free Boot award to a man (I presume) whom I have never met, yet his presence can be felt everywhere in EVE. His name is whispered with reverence on the EVE-O forums and an entire culture has sprung up around commenting on a forum post before him (some now simply post “IBC”). Many EVE-related web services seem to be made by his hand at OMG Labs. Famed for being passive, even-handed and apolitical, he is sought after to arbitrate in high-value deals. This year saw an ill-fated attempt to declare war on his corporation resulted in counter-declarations from an overwhelming portion of the EVE community. It also saw him being gifted with sovereignty of a station in null-sec. Truly an EVE celebrity, a King amongst capsuleers and pilot of the legendary Veldnaught. The Free Boot EVE Online Lifetime Achievement Award can only go to Chribba.

Thank you to everyone mentioned and any I’ve forgotten for making my 2010 in New Eden so enjoyable.