If my trip to Fanfest in March 2011 was my first contact with the passionate core of the EVE Online community I dubbed ‘The Cult of EVE‘, then my summer visit to EVE Vegas was a pilgrimage to rediscover that passionate community and re-energise my love affair with New Eden.

My personal journey from Iceland to Nevada had been a strange and wonderful ride. From becoming an accidental podcaster to my continued and ever deeper involvement in EVE’s meta-community through bloggery and tweetification, it was clear that I had fallen deep into the rabbit hole despite my intentions to do otherwise.

Generation Pod

Prior to my Iceland attendance, I had occasionally listened to a number of EVE podcasts, with the anarchic The Planet Risk Show amongst my favourites. So I was quite excited to have met the entertaining Planet Risk hosts, Quivering Palm and Luminus Aardokay. Lumi, a talented musician who runs the internet radio station SI Radio, was an inspiring source of hints and tips about the dark art of audio entertainment.

Over the course of Fanfest, I enjoyed rubbing shoulders with a number of other podcasting luminaries; Song Li of Missions Collide, Alekseyev Karrde of Declarations of War and Crazy Kinux of The Drone Bay. There was even a drunken attempt at a collaborative podcast in my hotel room, but this sadly never saw the light of day due to technical issues (apparently, Song Li forgot to press ‘record’).

Finding Voice

On returning from Fanfest, I settled back into to the comfortably familiar surroundings of the blogosphere and gave podcasting nary another thought. That is, until Garheade of the EVE Commune podcast contacted me to ask if he could read out an article I had written. Armed with knowledge gained at Fanfest, I offered to record it myself. The result was a little dry and my wife’s critique was that I “should probably just stick to blogging”. It had been the first time I had been let loose on a mic and an audio editing suite and it showed.

However, after my recording aired on EVE Commune Episode 21, feedback was generally positive and I was hooked. I started looking through my previous blog posts to see what other articles could be given the audio treatment. Before I knew it, I was providing regular material for EVE Commune in the form of audio fiction, parodies and comical interviews and I was having a great time doing it. These skits have subsequently been made available on iTunes (although I note some have now disappeared).

Casting a Net

Up to this point I was pretty much doing all the writing, voice work and editing by myself (although I did conscript my best mate and my Mum for some dialogue). But it occurred to me that there was huge potential for so much more from EVE’s vibrant podcasting community.

I approached several leading podcasters and EVEcast was formed. Angus McDecoy (Fly Reckless), Arydanika (Voices From the Void), Garheade and myself starting promoting this central resource for EVE-related audio projects. Sadly, with the later demise of EVE Commune, EVEcast was effectively shut down as well. The only project that made it off the drawing board was Max Torps’ The ISK Bucket, a comical audio drama that airs with each episode of Starfleet Comms podcast. Although I do have a script ready to record my Docking Games project at some point in the future.

Fighting the Cannons with Canon

It was around this time that the vocal segment of EVE society started to unite in dissent at various issues. With CCP’s Cannons of Controversy firing regularly, there was a rising tide of negativity as many players became increasingly hung up on complaining about what they perceived to be wrong with EVE, whilst forgetting to celebrate what was right about it.

The depressing and negative atmosphere pervading the EVE community gave purpose to my EVE Vegas trip – I desperately wanted inspiration, something positive that would fuel my passion for EVE and see me through to Fanfest 2012. On the last day I found it.

Enter CCP Dropbear and the Arek’Jaalan storyline.

Amidst the insanity and inanity that was the EVE Vegas Goonfest, CCP Dropbear told of his grand plans for driving forward engaging and interesting storylines with player-focused initiatives and live events. I rejoiced. Here was a concept that couldn’t be shackled by unfinished features or cut down by unbalanced mechanics; the telling of a good story needed only the imagination. CCP Dropbear and his team (aka CCP Headfirst) held the reigns on one of the most inspiring and positive aspects of EVE, it’s endlessly immersive and engaging canon.

After listening to CCP Dropbear’s presentation and spending the following afternoon with him in a very exciting impromptu brainstorm, the seed of a new writing/podcasting project was planted: A fully in-character broadcast set within the lore of New Eden aimed at supporting the ongoing storylines provided by the CCP content team.

Later, I rushed back to my hotel room with a head full of half-formed ideas and hyperbole. I needed to see who else wanted in on this and managed to contact Arydanika via Skype. She loved the idea and suggested Angus McDecoy might also be interested. Emails were sent, ideas batted around and the wheels of creativity were set in motion.

With two of the most distinctive voices on the EVE podcasting circuit involved in the project and more to come, the next few weeks would give me some incredibly funny, rewarding and frustrating moments as we worked toward the completion of the first episode of Tech 4.

(to be continued… in part two.)