EVE Online was released eight years ago today - and developer CCP has said that it knew even then that the online space game would be "huge".
"At the risk of sounding arrogant," senior producer Torfi Frans Olafsson told Eurogamer, "we had tremendous belief that EVE would be huge from the start.
"There was almost a cult-like mentality in the studio. We would have sacrificed small animals and performed arcane rituals for EVE. We had a special language full of terms and concepts that outsiders didn't understand, and an undying belief that we would succeed.
"That's what kept us fighting through the darker periods of our early development days, where all seemed lost and carrying on struck outsiders as futile or even a little naïve.
"EVE has lasted eight years and is still growing," Olafsson added. "Who knows how long EVE can last? It's impossible to tell since the medium is relatively new. Also, EVE isn't a product that you consume, level-cap or finish. It's a world you can live in and have meaningful experiences, engage in plots, intrigue and complex efforts involving thousands of people.
"The level of collaboration is actually the thing that has surprised us the most. We thought that Metcalfe's law still applied in worlds like this, but it doesn't. Alliances counting in thousands engage in massive fleet battles, huge communities have risen and fallen and provided the people that live in New Eden more interesting content that any linear game could ever provide."
To celebrate EVE's eighth birthday, CCP will give everyone six bottles of Quafe Zero, which you drink to receive an hour-long five per cent boost to Speed and Scan Resolution. Simply log in and click the redeem button on the character select screen to claim your six-pack of Quafe Zero.
EVE Online personifies hardcore gaming. Skills take days to learn, there are complex political alliances and representatives elected from the community take player concerns to CCP. It's serious business, EVE. And EVE hasn't simply survived, according to its makers - it's flourished.
"Our non-linear sandboxy single shard approach, coupled with player empowerment and the strong collaboration that the dev team has with players through various means, are some of the key elements that have allowed EVE to grow continuously over these eight years," explained Olafsson.
"We've seen huge IPs enter the MMO sphere with highly talented and bright dev teams come and go. It's highly competitive and simply damn hard to survive.
"We don't rejoice in their failure," he continued. "As we see it, any successful new MMO will introduce new people to the genre, and thus they will eventually be curious about other MMOs, benefiting the whole industry.
"It has been a hugely interesting ride and we owe it all to our players that both support us and challenge us to become even better and make the world of New Eden deeper, more interesting and meaningful with each year that passes."
Eurogamer's John Bedford flew to CCP headquarters in Iceland for March's annual Fanfest convention. There, Torfi Frans Olafsson talked about how EVE had become "real" - must be something to do with the volcanic air.
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