Community Spotlight - EVE Travel
The EVE Online universe is incredibly huge, filling a volume of more than 210,000 cubic light years. It contains tens of thousands of planets and countless known and hidden locations. Some of these locations mark the impact of massive player events, many other sites are tied to the living background story of EVE Online.
Exploring and charting these sites may appear to be a daunting task for some people; for others it means pure excitement and a challenge. What can be found out there? Which secrets will be unveiled? Will I be the first to find this site? Are there any deeper connections between some locations or is everything nothing more than a random occurrence in an entropy driven universe?
The EVE community is brave and extremely curious; naturally we've seen many deep space explorers and travelers around the universe, but only few have such an outstanding record of stories and articles as Mark726 and his EVE Travel.
EVE Travel – Charting the Universe
EVE Travel is a website dedicated to cataloging every notable site in New Eden, the vast universe of EVE Online. Mark726, the operator of this website and a veteran EVE Online player, discovered during his still-ongoing explorations many fascinating sites and has written about them on EVE Travel in more than 130 articles.
EVE Travel opens a window to many seemingly random sites which are hidden in deep space or forgotten along major space lanes and add to the intriguing background story of New Eden. The travel guide part of EVE Travel invites everyone to a sightseeing tour and encourages the reader to start their own travels and explorations
Beyond the travel guide itself, the site is also home to a few other projects. Most notable is the EVE Lore Survival Guide, which is an attempt to condense the most important pieces of EVE lore - sprinkled across many chronicles, wiki entries, and books - into one document. Another project includes a photo album of every nebula backdrop in the known space to help pilots orient themselves should they ever be lost.
The site also contains “Project Compass”, an interesting and deep reaching joint research project to understand the (spatial) relationship between the known space in New Eden and wormhole space.
With about a total 240,000 page views and an average 200 daily views EVE Travel is quite popular; the more than 1200 images which are hosted on all the posts and blog pages add further value to this incredible site.
Mark726 – Explorer extraordinaire
Mark726, the operator of EVE Travel, entered New Eden with the Trinity expansion several years ago. While Mark726 has done over the years a bit of wormhole exploration, incursions, and Planetary Interaction, he always comes back to his true passion: Exploration.
Usually flying around in his trusty Buzzard-class Covert Ops ship, called “Professor Science”, Mark726 sets out to discover locations, both centuries old and just created recently. As long as they add something noteworthy to the universe, chances are high that we will sooner or later read an article on EVE Travel about them.
In general the article research time is based on a number of factors and can vary vastly. Travelling to a deep null-sec site to take pictures poses a considerable challenge, something you do not have to worry about when visiting a high sec site for example. Some sites are much more interwoven into the backstory (for example the Titan above Caldari Prime) than stand-alone sites (such as the ship-wash in Ashab), so collating and putting together all of that information can also consume vastly different amounts of times. The actual time to write the article also varies; sometimes it takes several days, sometimes it is done within a few hours. Not considering travelling and research time, the writing alone takes around three hours.
Being an explorer of many sites now for years, Mark726 has valuable hints and suggestions to anyone starting into this profession:
“My biggest suggestion for anyone who wants to start out is to just go. It's easy to get bogged down in preparing and getting the perfect fit together or whatever. Pick a few places you want to see, and just do it! It helps if you have something small, quick, and with a cloaking device in order to get past most pirates (I use an interdiction-nullified Tengu for null sec sites and a Buzzard for just about everything else). For what it's worth, I've rarely run into problems going to or from sites. And anyone who has any questions should feel free to contact me!”
Asking about the biggest challenge he has ever encountered so far, Mark726 mentioned getting to the First Sergeant Hakiro’s Lookout in Vale. Ha had been operating EVE Travel for about six months, and it was starting to get popular. A group of in game friends had decided that they wanted to accompany him as he profiled a site. It was also the first time he had been able to afford a Tengu and he was excited to try it out. Mark726 was the only one in a Tech-3 ship such as the Tengu, everyone else had only Tech-2 Covert Ops ships. Unfortunately, the group got hunted for much of the trip in null-sec space, and Mark726 was the only one of the five originally in fleet that was able to actually make it to the site!
How the voyage began
EVE Travel started as many best ideas do: by being bored. Mark726 had been in game for almost two years at this point, mostly following a relaxed path of completing missions for NPCs and the occasional attempt at joining a player corporation when he decided that he wanted to go on sightseeing tour in New Eden.
To that end, he tried putting together a list of the places he wanted to visit. After quite a bit of research, he was surprised to discover that no one had put together a comprehensive list of remarkable landmarks and places to visit – no “tourist” guide was available back then. Although partial lists occasionally existed, no one had comprehensively cataloged the various beacons and sites to visit in New Eden. After noting this on the then-new #tweetfleet, a few friends encouraged Mark726 to make his own list. Supported by friends, especially regarding the publication of his work, this project developed its own dynamics and within a few weeks Mark726 had set up his own website and put up a number of well-received posts: EVE Travel was born.
Although Mark726 hadn’t much experience with blogging at that time, EVE Travel was set up without any difficulties. Putting a list together of interesting sites to visit and report was also fairly easy at the time: the in-game map pointed out a number of sites and external search tools helped too. However, this list was (and still is) always changing and evolving as Mark726 explores systems and finds new potential sites to go check out.
The first post for EVE Travel was made on December 17, 2009, and featured the famous EVE Gate. EVE Travel received a major overhaul in 2011.
Stars glittering in the dark
The reception from the EVE community has been overwhelmingly positive since the earliest days. Nothing but encouragement from both #tweetfleet and members of EVE Online at large for both Mark726’s writings and the research he put into each site. It has come to the point that he keep a document of the praise he has received over the years for his writing; he looks at this list every time he feels like he has no idea what he is doing and is reminded at the fantastic support of the EVE community.
Perhaps most astonishingly is the support Mark726 has received in game. Obviously, a number of the sites that he has covered are located deep in null sec space, and he always personally visits each site. While he certainly had his share of scrapes getting out there, it is much more common for people to be supportive, leaving Mark726 alone as he tries to document these sites. It can happen that someone hasn’t heard about EVE Travel before and might be hostile at first, but after showing the EVE Travel website and sharing a bit of history, the overwhelming majority becomes very supportive and let Mark726 gather the required information. Multiple times people have even pointed Mark726 to new sites he hasn’t even heard of so far. To quote Mark726: “I couldn't be happier with the support I've received from the community.”
In the past Mark726 has gotten special support from some specific people as well; he would like to mention Rixx Javix, of Eveoganda, who has made the banner on top of the site. Seismic Stan, of Freebooted, was the one who encouraged Mark726 to write the Lore Survival Guide. And Rhavas, of Interstellar Privateer, has always been there for a lore sounding board or for helping double-checking something quickly if necessary. Mark726 also wants to give a shoot-out to the #tweetfleet in general as there a lot of his daily interaction with the community takes place.
To the future
EVE Travel already hosts an incredible amount of interesting articles and other resources. That however, doesn’t prevent Mark726 from looking ahead and preparing for more articles and projects. To do that he could use suggestions for sites to profile as he is definitely running low in his backlog. If anyone has an idea for anything that hasn't been covered yet, Mark726 would like to hear these suggestions: “I know of a few more sites I need to go check out, but the backlog is getting lower by the week it seems. Any help in this respect would be appreciated!”
As for further future plans, nothing is decided yet. Although some ideas exist about the future direction of EVE Travel once the cataloging is complete, nothing has been definitely solidified yet.
”Never stop because you are afraid - you are never so likely to be wrong.”