EON Magazine Issue #001


EON Magazine / Issue #001 / Autumn 2005

I’ve wanted to do little capsule reviews of EVE’s magazine for a long time now.  I figured hey, no time like the present, and what better place to start than the beginning.

EON is EVE Online’s official magazine, and as such has a considerable uphill battle ahead.  Lets face it, EVE as a game is pretty niche, but that niche game gets its own print magazine?  Right from the start this is a serious limitation to the mag, and one which I’m sure everyone involved in the production was aware of right from the start.  The solution to the problem ended up being a simple one: make the magazine special.

The table of contents of the premiere edition contain the following featured articles, crammed into its inaugural 66 pages:

  • Cover Story: Super Size EVE
  • In Crowds: Kjartan Pierre Emilsson (CCP LeKjart), B. Borkur Eiriksson
  • Chronicles: “Exchange Rate”, “Legionnaire”, “Are You Clonesome Tonight”, “Bedtime Story”
  • In Characters: Freewheeling, Cyvok, Trigger
  • Online: The EVE-I Story
  • Testflight: Heavy Assault Cruisers
  • Insider’s Guides: Navigation, Trading

eon1Gracing the cover of this issue is an introduction to the then-upcoming Kali expansion, bringing the promise of the large-scale ship classes to the game.  There’s some great stuff here, with Nathan Richardsson (CCP Oveur) describing the intended vision of how the behemoths will integrate into various aspects of EVE.  A lot of this is amusing to read in hindsight, knowing now players use capital ships currently in EVE and how they’ve been adjusted by the developers from carriers on up to Titans since their implementation; however, there’s also the inherent promise in an article like this, whereby you can see what they wanted to do with them.  You really get the sense that they don’t just throw these things in just because they’re cool looking.

“In Crowd” articles focus on the people behind the game, and this edition brings us two of them. In the first, showcasing then-lead designer LeKjart, EON poses the question of what we can expect in EVE circa 2010.  The answer: a mix of genres, including but not limited to RTS and … FPS?  Battlefield-style gameplay in ambulation, yes please.  We’re then treated to insight from Borkur Eiriksson, who pretty much anyone who pays attention will know as the man behind those fantastic illustrations which accompany some of EVE’s online marketing and Chronicles efforts.  The man’s list of movie favorites reads like my own almost verbatim, and the article gives some great answers to great questions, such as (paraphrasing) “what single piece of art would you run to save if CCP was under attack by pirates?”.

The Chronicles in EON are a departure from the ones found on the website, in that they are written by members of the community, garnished with artwork from CCP’s art department which is inspired by the submitted story.  Issue #001 does not skimp on this content, handing you four short stories to read.

Exchange Rate by Tom Czerniawski tells the tale of a pilot’s first foray into space as part of the State War Academy.  It’s an interesting take on a moment all new players to EVE go through, though the delivery is slightly overdone at points.

Legionnaire by Jacob Lounsbury takes you to a place we’ve all wanted to go in EVE: tactical squad based shootouts.  I love the style of this one, with the visual writing style really punctuated by one of the coolest bits of artwork to come out of EVE’s art group.  Action oriented, and probably the most serious of the stories in this issue.

Are You Clonesome Tonight? by Richard James gets the award for the cleverest title.  Experience cloning from the standpoint of those keeping the vats running.

Bedtime Story by Tom Czerniawski is a second offering by this author this issue, by far the most creative of the four.  A long lost group of early EVE cluster citizens return for a homecoming you’ll never expect.

DigitalCommunist takes on the first Testflight article, a series which gives commentary on a particular class of ship and discusses the strengths and weaknesses of each other.  He starts with the Heavy Assault Cruiser, a ship which was relatively new at the time of printing.  It’s not as much of a specific technical comparison, but the discussion dealt mostly with the broad details of their intended roles and how successful they are at them.  It’s a good taste of information for pilots considering flying that class of ships.

Insider Guides in this issue cover the topics of Navigation and Trading.  Both of these things have change drastically since this issue has come out, but the overall logic being presented by the authors has core elements which are still meaningful.

I mentioned earlier something about the magazine being special and there’s a lot of reasons this first issue of EON shows off how it’s trying to be unique.  The overall presentation of the magazine itself is in high gloss, well produced and well edited, with a very new media layout style similar to magazines such as Wired.

The biggest draw here is that the content is one hundred percent about EVE Online, right down to the advertisements of corporations and services which are created by players and submitted for the magazine.   Players can contribute to this magazine easily, and that content is integrated into the magazine for all the readers to take in.  If you’re good at writing, submit some fiction or guides and there’s an excellent chance it’ll get added.  Took an awesome screenshot?  Send it in for the Postcards from the Edge gallery.

As I continue doing these little hindsight reviews of EON, slowly but surely leading up to the most current editions, I hope you’ll stick around with me and see what you might have missed, and maybe see if there is value in getting some copies for yourself.

Review: Mass Effect

Mass Effect CoverIt took me long enough, but I finally managed to finish off Mass Effect on the Xbox 360. The start of a proposed series of games, but a self-contained story in and of itself, Mass Effect tells the story of Commander Shepherd as he tries to stop a rogue Spectre named Saren from carrying out his evil plans.

Lets get the bad out of the way right now. This game isn’t perfect, there’s some seriously gimped inventory management and a godawful lot of texture popping happening. Sometimes it’ll switch to a scene with a character and they’ll look like they’re made of clay, then *zing* they’re back to normal. It shows up more often than I’d like, and really shows how technologically stretched thin the 360 is as a platform.

All of that aside, Mass Effect is a brilliant cinematic experience. The presentation is top notch, essentially like a 20 hour long movie where you play the protagonist. Combat is relatively simple and accessible. There’s very little tutorials in this game, but things aren’t too tough to figure out. And once you do, combat will probably get pretty easy for you depending on the role you’ve chosen for your character.

RPGs can get pretty tiresome, what with a lot of dialog reading and such, but with Mass Effect this is made more interesting by the fact that the game’s cast speaks to each other instead of forcing you to read a book. And it’s all done in a very cinematic style, again making it feel more like a big movie rather than a game.

The story is at first glance fairly standard fare for a sci-fi, but there’s enough political and military intrigue to separate it from other games of its kind. There’s a lot of depth, especially with all the interpersonal relationships the characters have with one another.

You can blow through the game in around 15 hours or so, I’m guessing, if you focus on the main thrust of the storyline and don’t steamroll through it. There’s a ton of side quests, which I haven’t finished.

I’m definitely going to give this game another run through, maybe trying a different class and completing more of the side quests themselves. All in all, even with the glitches, I highly recommend this.

Review: The Orphanage

The OrphanageProduced by Guillermo del Toro of Pan’s Labyrinth fame, The Orphanage is a story of a couple living in an old orphanage-turned-house, with their adopted son Simon. Simon’s got issues, having all sorts of friends of the imaginary variety. When he goes missing, his mother Laura (a former resident of the same orphanage she now lives in as a house) begins to suspect these imaginary friends could be more.. supernatural in origin.

The story is not the standard-fare ghost story you might be expecting, and the slow story buildup at the start is so worth it in payoff later. It’s very well written, the characters are excellent, and the performances are all believable.

It’s a foreign film (spanish), so expect to read subtitles.

There’s some genuinely amazing bits in this film, and your heart rate will increase rapidly on many occasions. Best part is the film doesn’t suffer the hollywood scary movie failing of doing so by making loud noises and using psychotic editing. There’s some seriously scary crap happening on the screen to freak you out, and it’s damn effective.

It’s also used to service the story, not for pure adrenaline value.

I love writers strikes. They should happen more often, because the focus shifts more to foreign films, where the real talent is lying these days. If you were a fan of Pan’s Labyrinth, definitely do not miss this.