A Brief History Of Pie
I couldn't hope to do justice to the complete history of PIE's involvement in online gaming, nor could any one person. PIE is the heart and soul of hundreds of individuals who have contributed over the years to upholding its name and spirit.
Instead, I offer an insight to PIE from my personal perspective; how it formed, how we progressed through numerous games and our hopes for the future.
Again, I reiterate that this is but a fraction of the story told purely from my vantage point, as to chart the entire adventure of PIE and her hundreds of dedicated members is a novel unto itself. However, I hope you enjoy reading my little slice of PIE as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Takumi (Stuart), 9 Oct, 2008.
A brief history of PIE
PIE logo, circa May 2004
Not as thought provoking as Professor Hawking's seminal classic, but hopefully as interesting. Allow me to lead you down memory lane and explain the journey that has been PIE Inc., from humble beginnings to where it stands today...
Some time in 2001, a friend introduced me to a game called Jumpgate. The basic premise was that of Massively Online Elite, a space trading game that is undoubtedly all too familiar to older gamers. Unfortunately, having only sampled the game in offline mode, I found myself unable to dedicate the time needed to play.
In October 2003, I found myself in a position whereby online gaming was something I could dedicate far more time to. Originally testing the water with Counterstrike, I recalled the space combat game Jumpgate, which I'd tried over a year earlier. Not having played any form of Massively Online Game before, I wasn't sure what to expect, but was instantly hooked. A combination of, what were at the time, convincing space graphics; sublime, Elite-esque physics and a lag free, twitch environment meant that I instantly signed up. Shortly after, my cousin, Rogue 13, joined me. Whilst he opted to join the out and out War based faction, Octavius, I had elected to join the Solrain, who were primarily traders. Although we rarely became involved in factional conflict ourselves, the Jumpgate universe centred around 3 platyer factions: Octavius (fighters), Solrain (traders) and Quantar (miners). There were also 2 non-combattant NPC factions, Amananth and Hyperial, and finally the NPC faction Conflux, who provided the sole means for combat against the AI.
Players of Elite would be instantly at home with the dynamics of Jumpgate, although with the added twist that mission work, be it trading or combat based, leads to experience points gained. The more experience gained, the further your character "levelled up". Although I'd played RPGs in the past, from an online perspective, this was something entirely new to me. As players progressed through the levels, new equipment became available to them, such as better ships, more accurate missiles etc. There was also a rank for each of the 50 levels within the game, and so attached to level was also the prestige of the rank title, something actually respected in Jumpgate.
Approximately a month into playing, fighting conflux together etc, Rogue and I decided that we were going to join a squad. At that point, I had not been involved in an online clan before, although Rogue was no stranger to them from his time in Counterstrike. Browsing through the list of squads on the Jumpgate database, we chanced upon a squad of 12 entitled ZX81. The description was ideal, and went along the lines of "a group of miners out to have fun and look after each other". With a name hinting back to both mine and Rogue's roots as Sinclair ZX81 owners, the laid back atmosphere and non-factional stance seemed perfect.
Unsure if we'd even be considered, both Rogue and I applied and contacted the leader, Chris, outside of the game to explain a bit about ourselves. Chris struck us as immensely friendly and was happy to take us both on. Instantly, a whole new avenue of online gaming opened before us, namely the community aspect. No longer flying by ourselves, we now had the experience of Chris to pool from, who had reached the maximum rank of Optimus, and the other players within the squad. It was at this point that Rogue and I met a familiar face - BigBanjo. BB was second in command of ZX81, and along with Chris took us under their wing and began advanced combat training and other activities.
One such hugely memorable squad outing was that of "flux" (abbreviation for Conflux) towing. Essentially, once a pilot had reached level 15, he was able to pilot his faction's scout class vessel. Although poorly armed, the scout ship was extremely fast, sufficiently so to out run high level flux. Whilst these flux had the capabilities to destroy the scout ships with barely a round of ammo, the key to the operation was in the speed.
To begin towing fluxes, the group of pilots would first meet outside the Jumpgate (devices which permit instant travel to other gates within the galaxy, a network of which allowed full galactic traversing) to an unpoliced sector of space, where high level flux were likely to congregate. First, the scout ship would jump into the sector. Immediately after doing so, a number of high level flux would spawn and would set an intercept course. If desired, one or two fighters would also warp in, spawn more flux and then jump out of the sector, thus "dumping" the flux onto the last remaining ship, which would be the scout vessel. At this point, the scout vessel would now fly away from the gate and attempt to keep all the engaging flux at a distance of around 20km or so, to ensure they were out of gun range. This involved delicate throttle control, as each flux ship had different cruise speeds.
At this stage, the higher level pilots (usually level 26 and above, as this rank permitted piloting of each faction's advanced fighter) would jump into the sector and 'park' approximately 10km from a known object in the sector, usually a Jumpgate. After noting this, the scout pilot would fly in a large circle of radius 50km or so and eventually bear down on the fighter pilot. The arc ensured that as the pilot flew toward the fighter, all the flux vessels would be lined up perfectly behind the scout. The scout would then fly directly "through" the fighter, taking advantage of the lack of collision detection within the game. Thereafter, everthing was in the hands of the fighter. After performing a 180 degree turn, the flux were in a level plane with the fighter, perfect for shooting. Engaging his engines, the fighter would pursue the flux and engage them one at a time, taking advantage of another gaming dynamic, i.e. once a flux had locked onto a target, he would not deviate, even if his fellow flux around him were engaged. With the distance closed to 1km, the fighter opened up and, if done correctly, would have destroyed the flux before it even managed to fire a shot.
This was the basic premise of flux towing and, with the possible exception of large scale PvP (to come later), was the most exilerating online experience I've ever had. Nothing came close to the adrenaline rush of either having these large flux barely out of shooting range in tow behind, or flying within touching distance of their rear, ready to open fire and, hopefully, destroy them before they began firing back.
Big team players and well versed with forums, Rogue and I began to move up the ranks within ZX81, and the rejuvinated spirit within the squad saw a lot of new members join and ZX81's name recognised throughout the Jumpgate galaxy. With the squad at 30 or so members, it was decided that a proper heirarchy was needed, along with a website to add a professional edge. Wanting to exercise my novice html skills and with the kind assistance of Yashiro, I created the following site which served as our central method of organisation, and our front for advertising the squad:
Please note that many of the links, such as forums and links to the Jumpgate database JOSSH will no longer function.
It was at this time that ZX81 also gained its official logo:
Now a well established squad, it was not unusual to encounter fellow ZX81 pilots when out and about on daily travels. Team spirit was high, a regular flow of new pilots forthcoming and everyone was looking forward to a major new addon, entitled Attack of the Conflux. More familar faces were now well established within the squad, such as Snook, who had been in Jumpgate since the beta, and MartyG.
Unfortunately, it was at this point that ZX81 became embroiled in community politics. It was a well established practice for squads to have arranged non-agression pacts, or NAPs, which meant that pilots in either squad were unable to engage each other in combat. The most common source of this was of course with pirate squads, and such NAPs meant that pirates would not engage pilots and attempt to extort money out of them. For larger squads, this was a far more cost effective method than allowing member pilots to be subjected to 'highway robbery'.
It was during the negotiations of a NAP with one of the more prolific pirate squads, TDP (The Dark Path), that politics reared its ugly head. Our leader, Chris, decided that we would not pay the required fee and the implication was that we would instead be at a state of war with the pirate squad. Opinion within ZX81 was instantly divided - most hadn't signed up for PvP (Player versus Player) combat, and sadly tempers began to flare.
In March 2003, having been with ZX81 for 4 or 5 months, a number of us decided to leave ZX81. Although on the surface it looked as though we were abandoning our roots, in actuality we were hoping to save ZX81 any conflict at all by reducing the total size of the squad (and thus meeting the demands of the pirate squad, who feared, although peaceful in its operations, ZX81 had become too large).
Prior to leaving, a debate on IRC (Internet Relay Chat) took place between those unhappy with the current situation within ZX81. The following is the uneditted log of the conversation which took place:
[22:22] <superstu>if we formed a new squad, what would we call it?
[22:22] <madhawk>zx82 ?
[22:22] <steele->Vic20 ?
[22:22] <superstu>none of them existed
[22:22] <superstu>except that one
[22:22] <superstu>what about Amiga
[22:22] <superstu>did u all have one of them?
[22:22] <madhawk><*-- had a Amiga 500
[22:22] <steele->I used to have a zx16
[22:22] <steele->and a C64
[22:23] <madhawk>1mb ram
[22:23] <steele->and an Amiga
[22:23] <snook|freelance>i like c64 i had 1 of those
[22:23] <superstu>our stations could be A500, A600, A1200 etc
[22:23] <snook|freelance>how about the name : PIE</snook|freelance>
[22:23] <madhawk>but still...
[22:23] <steele->Weebl rules
[22:23] <superstu>what, and call the stations different pies?
[22:23] <madhawk>I'm staying at ZX81 for the time being
[22:23] <snook|freelance>cc m8
[22:23] <superstu>Cream, apple, steak n kidney, hairy etc
[22:23] <snook|freelance>hehe i take apple
[22:24] <snook|freelance>make it fun
[22:24] <superstu>gah, i dunno
[22:25] <snook|freelance>well i like the naming of stations to pie
[22:25] <steele->http://www.weebl.jolt.co.uk/pie.htm <-- for all of you who have been missing out
[22:25] <madhawk>something that can't relate to ZX81 then.... but still
[22:26] <superstu>how about calling it "Not-ZX81, so fuck off TDP"
[22:26] <superstu>chris would boot us from the squad if he saw us chatting like this:p
[22:26] <snook|freelance>well i am logging it all
[22:26] <snook|freelance>will mail it later
[22:27] <snook|freelance>just kidding m8
[22:27] <madhawk>Steele: I can make something better then that
[22:28] <madhawk>Denis Leart - Traditional Irish Drinking Song
[22:28] <snook|freelance>hehe i still like the pie idea ;)</snook|freelance>
[22:28] <madhawk>heheh me2
[22:28] <madhawk>would be fun
[22:28] <snook|freelance>well we all play for fun
[22:29] <madhawk>might even consider switching squad for that
[22:29] <snook|freelance>yea : PIE INC.
[22:29] <madhawk>I wanted the apple pie
[22:29] <superstu>Pie Inc.
[22:31] <snook|freelance>ok no comments so Pie Inc. It is :)</snook|freelance>
[22:31] <madhawk>make the squad then
[22:31] <superstu>hang on, let me ask rogue
[22:31] <superstu>he just resigned officially from zx81
[22:31] <snook|freelance>cc ask him first lol
[22:32] <snook|freelance>let somoene besides me make it. I dont know shit about the html in jossh :)</snook|freelance>
[22:32] <madhawk>that's east
[22:32] <madhawk>that's easy
[22:32] <superstu>ill make it</superstu>
[22:32] <snook|freelance>and get a picture of apple pie
[22:32] <superstu>ill go make it now</superstu></superstu>
[22:32] <madhawk>and a reciept for apple pie !
[22:32] <superstu>the man from delmonte, he say yes
[22:33] <snook|freelance>cc if your done warm me i will trow snook and pudz in
[22:33] <superstu>ok, gimme 5 mins
[22:33] <madhawk>oki dilema time...
[22:33] <madhawk>zx81 or pie
[22:34] <madhawk>If we guys go for it... I seen no problem with joining pie
[22:34] <superstu>im gonna make pie inc.
[22:34] <superstu>is that ok/
[22:34] <snook|freelance>i go for it m8. Otherwise it means i have to leave jg
[22:34] <madhawk>but we are treading on Chris
[22:35] <superstu>if zx81 drops to 30, he wont have a war anyway</superstu></madhawk>
[22:35] <madhawk>I dont like going over Chris's head like this
[22:35] <madhawk>but still
[22:35] <superstu>im saving zx81 here
[22:35] <superstu>by leaving
[22:35] <madhawk>I feel like going over his head
[22:36] <superstu>can u edit your motto?</superstu>
[22:36] <snook|freelance>its your own choice m8 i am not forcing you
[22:36] <superstu>"we bake em, you eat em" is our suggestion so far</superstu>
[22:36] <snook|freelance>yea you can
[22:36] <snook|freelance>i like that one
[22:36] <superstu>ill enter that
[22:36] <snook|freelance>it even suggest trading
[22:36] <madhawk>PIE.. ffs..
[22:36] <madhawk>oki.. the choise is made
[22:36] <madhawk>Pie it is
[22:37] <superstu>"Pie Inc."</superstu>
[22:37] <superstu>or "Pie Inc"
[22:37] <superstu>with no . ?</superstu></superstu>
[22:37] <madhawk>I like it with a .
[22:38] <superstu>ive clicked ok
[22:38] <superstu>waiting for it to be made
[22:40] <snook|freelance>kicks jossh in the nuts for being so slow
[22:41] * Steele- is now known as Steele-FA
[22:41] <madhawk>Sesamstraße <-- mental note nope.. not that one
[22:42] <madhawk>close though
[22:43] <madhawk>Can I have a PoS named Kiwi Pie ?
[22:43] <snook|freelance>lol shure
[22:44] <snook|freelance>its m8
[22:44] <superstu>ive left zx81
[22:44] <superstu>and made Pie Inc.</superstu></superstu>
[22:44] <superstu>ill go apologise to chris now
[22:44] <superstu>not in f2 tho,it wont work heh
[22:44] <madhawk>I have applied for Pie Inc. SuperStu
[22:45] <snook|freelance>2 new members there stoo
[22:45] <superstu>1 sec
[22:46] <superstu>u guys sure u wanna leave zx81?
[22:46] <superstu>i hope chris doesnt hunt me down
[22:47] <snook|freelance>i already left remember
[22:48] <superstu>im trying to pick ranks here
[22:49] <snook|freelance>command pie
[22:49] <snook|freelance>dirty pie for wing leaders
[22:49] <snook|freelance>cake for recruits
[22:49] <snook|freelance>something like that lol
[22:50] <superstu>this is hard work
[22:50] <superstu>ill call u all Crumbs, pending something more inventive
[22:50] <snook|freelance>lol that are recruits m8
[22:50] <snook|freelance>then make us at least apple pie
[22:51] <superstu>i tell u what
[22:51] <superstu>ill call all the ranks various pies right
[22:51] <superstu>apple, cream etc?
[22:51] <snook|freelance>cc apple is highest
[22:51] <snook|freelance>i am still searching for a picture
[22:51] <snook|freelance>and crubs is for recruits
[22:51] <snook|freelance>Crumbs i mean
[22:52] <superstu>ah fuck this
[22:52] <superstu>pick a pie mate
[22:52] <superstu>everyone pick a pie
[22:52] <snook|freelance>Apple Pie
[22:52] * Rogue_13|Pie (~SuperStu@roguetrooper.demon.co.uk) has joined #zx81
[22:53] <superstu>kiwi pie?
[22:53] <madhawk>I'm weird U know
[22:53] <snook|freelance>need 1 pie for the command staff m8 we need to get is seperated a bit
[22:53] <superstu>Big Fat Pie for staff
[22:53] <snook|freelance>hi rogue
[22:53] * Snook|freelance sets mode: +o Rogue_13|Pie
[22:54] <rogue_13|pie>i would like banoffee pie for command staff any thoughts
[22:54] <superstu>ok, so far i got:
[22:54] <superstu>Head Baker
[22:54] <superstu>Kiwi Pie
[22:54] <superstu>Banoffee Pie
[22:54] <superstu>and Pastry for recruits
[22:54] <superstu>this is fucking dumb hehe
[22:54] <snook|freelance>hehe cool
[22:55] <snook|freelance>we dont wanne be taken seriues anyways
[22:57] <superstu>hang on
[22:57] <superstu>which order do ranks go in
[22:57] * Madhawk is hanging on
[22:57] <superstu>pastry should be last
[22:57] <superstu>but its 3rd
[22:58] <superstu>ill sort sommit out mate
[23:02] <superstu>superb stuff:)
[23:02] <superstu>im having fun already!
[23:02] <snook|freelance>i will be ingame in a hour m8
[23:02] <snook|freelance>i need to get nick to still like me on his freelance server
[23:02] <superstu>we need to rename the stations
[23:02] <superstu>Pie Inc :: Apple
[23:02] <superstu>and so forth
[23:03] <snook|freelance>shure can i do mine apple ?
[23:03] <superstu>heh.. Pie Inc :: Apple (core)
[23:03] <snook|freelance>as i got the biggest
[23:03] <superstu>hehe u can be apple
And so, from slightly less than serious beginings, PIE Inc. was born. I formed the squad within Jumpgate and created a simple homepage using the automated system provided, with the now familiar PIE Inc. logo.
First PIE Inc logo, circa March 2003
As luck would have it, Jumpgate was now entering a transitional phase. Delays regarding the major patch were creeping in, and enthusiasm was waning somewhat. In a conversation with Snook on IRC, he happened to mention that he was presently in the beta test for a game called EVE Online: The Second Genesis. At the time I was still on ISDN dialup, and so the prospect of wasting a day's online play to download a 450meg beta wasn't entirely inticing, but I went ahead to satisfy my curiosity.
Suffice to say, I was gobsmacked. From the moment you first ran EVE, you could see the professionalism that had gone into the game. The sublime music, the visuals (which to this day I feel haven't been surpassed), the sheer scale of the game saw Rogue and I join Snook in the beta almost immediately, leaving Jumpgate behind.
Thinking ahead to when the beta finished and retail began, I made a post detailing my initial impressions of EVE on my regular gaming website haunt, NTSC-uk.
NTSC-uk impressions/advertisement thread
(apologies for broken links etc, files now moved to different host)
Rogue, Snook and I spent our time in beta learning the game and druming up interest elsewhere, and slowly the foundations for PIE Inc. within EVE were laid. Although we took no factional stance in Jumpgate, Snook was keen that we should choose a single race in EVE, and adhere to the 'roleplay' background that the developers had written for them. As Snook seemed to have a good feel for the various backgrounds and overall plot, I left the decision to him, while Rogue and I continued to explore tactics etc.
Shortly before the launch of EVE, we eventually decided on the almost zealot-like religious fanatics, the Amarr. A race steeped in holy traditions, imperial rule and a devout code of conduct, the Amarr were once the masters of other races in the EVE galaxy, having enslaved them during conquests. Following an uprising and eventual redemption of the enslaved races, the stage was set for an interesting roleplay.
The launch itself was not without its problems; I think even the most keen of EVE advocates would have admitted to the game’s less than completed state, and major updates, such as Autopilot, were added during the final week open beta, prior to retail. Undeterred by any such teething problems, on the 6th May 2003 myself, Rogue, Jobe, Snook and other PIE members set about creating the corporation. During beta, the cost associated with this was a mere 700 isk, an extremely moderate amount of work. To our astonishment, we suddenly found that we required 170,000 isk in order to setup a corporation. The race was on in our “noob” ships to mine as much Omber ore as we could. After a number of hours, we had sufficient money and PIE was officially born, although a corporation called New Birmingham Technologies beat us to be the first to setup a headquarters office in our chosen sector of Sehmy, deep within Amarr space.
During the first few days of operating in Sehmy, Mora and the surrounding sectors, we met many faces which will be more than familiar to PIE members. Our enigmatic Public Relations guru Hardin was found in Mora, parked up and mining. After a week or so, we also bumped into our brothers in arms in the corporation First Praetorian Guard, whose pilots Gazon and Baeloc joined us in acting out our first Amarr roleplay, chasing a foreigner from Empire space. Much fun was had by all present, and the seeds were sown for a lasting relationship.
The guild quickly expanded and more familiar faces joined our ranks, including many now long since departed. Their presence and influence on the guild cannot be stated enough however, from Riseth with his seemingly limitless ability to kill high level NPCs, to Beniore and his ability to devise highly creative ship configurations, and many, many more.
After approximately a month of play, PIE had some 20 or so members and the guild was well established. We had undertaken a number of sorties with First Praetorian Guard, who themselves had just began their RP proper on the official EVE forum, in the Intergalactic Summit. The outcome of this was a declaration of war from Minmatar corporation Oracle, comprising some 70 members. It is fair say that this was the beginning of the full scale conflict between the Amarr and Minmatar population. It was also at this time that, in musing over our close working partnership, that Gazon and Tharrn, leaders of the Guard, entered into merger talks with myself and other senior PIE members. With the merger complete, PIE was now over 40 strong of active members and engaged in conflict with Oracle.
The tide turned. After initially fighting bravely but against greater numbers of fighters, the combined pilots of 1PG and PIE rose against the Oracle terrorists and dealt them repeated blows, turning the tide of the conflict. The rest, as they say, is history. PIE has now forged a name for itself within the EVE universe, based on honour, camaraderie and being at the forefront of Empire roleplaying.
Along the way, a great many relationships were forged with other corporations, including the creation of the Curatores Vertatis Alliance, or CVA. Comprising Amarr-only corporations, CVA members shared wars against the terrorists and other would-be trouble makers, as well as undertaking other joint ventures, such as the historic joint purchasing of the blueprint for one of the Amarrian Navy’s greatest: the Armageddon battleship.
Our time in EVE was wholly devoted to RP of course, and the close-knit nature of PIE has resulted in countless comedy moments. On one occasion, for example, those who were with PIE at the very start might recall our venture into a 0.5 sector to mine Gneiss. The inspired thinking behind the operation was that, even though we were all in starter ships with little firepower, sufficient numbers should see us able to fend off the NPC pirates likely to be found at the asteroid belts we wished to mine. Suffice to say, ten PIE members charged full of bravery into 0.5 space and were promptly slaughtered, although a small amount of Gneiss was indeed mined.
PIE's fleet manoeuvres, including 20 or more strong fleets of battleships and cruisers flying into battle, are too numerous to mention. However, there was one operation in particular which I feel symbolises the very ethic of PIE and EVE itself, involving a broad range of pilotting skills and exemplary organisation: The creation of weapons, munitions, ships and other components often involved rare minerals which were found in the un-policed sections of space. One such sector was discovered which had a good supply of a rare mineral required for cruiser and battleship production. A mining operation was undertaken, which first involved a fighter sweep of one of the asteroid fields and the surrounding area - the opposition we were likely to encounter could do considerable damage in a short space of time, so ensuring these pirates were kept at bay was paramount. When satisfied the area was clear, our miners warped into the asteroid belt and feverishly set about mining, dropping the ore off into canisters.
When it was observed that a certain volume of ore was stored, one of the industrial class ships capable of carrying such large hauls was ordered in from where they were safely parked at a local moon, out of harms way from pirates. The indy pilot then collected all the ore and then made haste for the 30 minute round trip to drop the ore off at the nearest space station and return to the moon. During that trip, the miners would have undoubtedly mined sufficient ore for another indy pilot to make the round trip, and so a convoy of 3 or 4 industrial ships were in constant transit back and forth the system in question, paying particular attention for local player pirates who might be on the look out for easy prey. This operation lasted 7 to 8 hours and for me, as mentioned, it completely symbolises what EVE and indeed PIE as a guild is about.
Star Wars Galaxies
All good things come to an end however, and, having experienced perhaps one bug too many, without announcing my departure I ordered a copy of Star Wars Galaxies. Rogue and I had previously undertaken quite a bit of background reading into the game and the mechanics sounded good. Of course, neither of us had played this kind of MMOG before, so were unaware that, broadly, SWG followed a general system, common to games of this ilk.
I quite literally knew nothing of any specifics, but liked the idea of a scout so proceeded to create a human, based in the city of Theed, Naboo. Upon loading, it was a dream come true for self-confessed Star Wars addicts - Naboo created faithfully, the visuals, the sounds, people walking about outside the star port, the water fall just around the corner. Of course, the manual gave no real clue as to what exactly you should be doing, so spent the first hour or so wandering about, grinning like a Cheshire cat. It wasn't until the 3rd day of play that I chanced upon a young lady who spent an afternoon walking me through taking missions, gaining xp and countless other things. Suddenly the game made perfect sense, and Rogue joined me in moving over full time from EVE to SWG.
Having now progress from scout to ranger, Rogue and I set about seeing the various sights within the game. In our travels, we got to know a number of people, spending most of our time in the city of Tyrena. Despite the size of the game, close knit communities developed easily if you find yourself frequenting single places often. It wasn't long before Jobe and Akra decided to join us from EVE, as well as a few others who have since departed. Whilst our escapades are sadly too numerous to list, as promised, I'll share the "tent" story, which after all this time still serves to mildly ridicule!
Picture the scene: Rogue and I had barely travelled within the game yet, and my first foray to Endor had resulted in a small group of new players dying all too quickly. Indeed, we were so new that not all of us could afford the ticket back to Corellia! Looking to last a little longer this time, Rogue and I set off for the absolutely beautiful planet of Endor. Staying well clear of the local wildlife, we proceeded to hike for quite some distance until we eventually chanced upon a small village, late at night. Assuming it to be some sort of quest, I looked for someone to talk to. At the top of the village was a woman, who appeared to be some sort of witch. It was immensely dark at this point, and all that could be seen was this woman, a few torches and some standing stones. I approached her, talked briefly and accepted a mission, at which point Rogue joined me and accepted the mission too. As Rogue turned and began walking away, I found myself trapped and unable to move. As it was pitch black, I couldn't see anything obvious which might be blocking my way, and tried quite frantically to move forward, strafing left and right in case I was caught on some scenery. It wasn't until I turned on my in-game light that I suddenly realised I was in a tent! I had absolutely no idea I was inside this structure, as the tent itself was completely black and masked by the time of day. Cue much hilarity and joking about the now master ranger who couldn't navigate his way out of a small tent.
After two months of play on the US servers, it was decided to switch operations to the newly formed EU servers, and at this time the leadership of PIE in EVE was handed over to Hardin. A number of new people joined us, including a small number from EVE. Initially, we settled just outside the Tatooine city of Bestine, and began working our way through the Imperial ranks, with the intention of involving ourselves in the Galactic Civil War. A great many familiar faces joined us at this point, including Loc and Praetorian. It wasn't long before routine group hunts were undertaken, employing the lessons learnt, largely through trial and error, on the US servers. We also began to meet a great number of people outside of the guild, and eventually moved our base of operations to the newly formed player city of Mos Luna, outside Bestine.
It wasn't long before PIE felt itself outgrowing Mos Luna, and wanting to have direct control over its surroundings. Late one evening, ten PIE members trekked to Corellia and found the perfect spot to begin our own city - and so Akina was founded, at the heart of the Corellian landscape. Expansion continued at a heady pace, and whilst some people decided to leave the game, many, many more household PIE names chanced upon Akina in their travels and joined us. Large guild hunts involving up to fifteen or more members became a regular occurrence, often accompanied by voice comms and indeed beer.
Now fully established, PIE looked to more fully involve itself in the Galactic Civil War, and began meeting with leaders of similarly large clans. It wasn't long before an Imperial network was setup, to share information on terrorist activities, locations of base installations and so forth. With members now looking to explore PvP, PIE became involved in a number of raids on rebel cities, and also came to the defence of Imperial outposts.
Sadly, cracks within the game began to appear, and it's something which many feel SWG has since yet to recover from. As time progressed, more advanced armour and weaponry was being created, buffs were more commonplace and a move away from group hunting to soloing took place. This was undoubtedly fuelled by the fever surrounding Jedi, the most efficient path to which involved considerable solo play. This was the catalyst which sparked the disbanding of PIE and a move to the barren planet of Lok, wherein the Imperial city of Redemption was constructed, complete with Detachment Headquarters, Storm trooper patrols and AT-STs on watch; it really was a magnificent sight to behold.
For two or three months, PIE became highly embroiled in PvP on the server, planning and undertaking many raids and coming to the rescue of a number of Imperial cities. Indeed, it was heartening to see approximately 50 fellow Imperials arrive in Redemption after about 10 minutes notice, having been subjected to an assault from local terrorist guild Crater Cave Criminals. In conjunction with local Imperials, CCC were later raided and their facilities destroyed.
Yet, whilst the sense of camaraderie returned to PIE, the game was unfortunately slipping away from us. The entire outlook of the game changed significantly from which we originally played, and the sense of teamwork hard to foster. One by one, key members of PIE resigned from the game, until eventually PIE was disbanded. The story does not end here, however; a large group of those still keen on the game created the guild The Black Rose TBR, and set about creating the city of Black Rose Beach, which still stands now, a short distance north of Theed. If not in name, the PIE spirit certainly lives on within SWG.
World of Warcraft
And so attention turned to World of Warcraft. I admit to knowing very little of Warcraft itself at the time, having only dabbled briefly with Wacraft 2 in LAN multiplayer. Over the summer months, however, it became fairly evident that there was a rich history to this universe Blizzard had created, and that WoW certainly had a great deal of potential.
As is almost traditional now, numerous PIE members spent the entire summer of 2004 researching background stories, applying for beta keys and making plans for our arrival in the game. The original intention was to be an Alliance guild, staunch defenders of Allied territories. People had gone so far as to select race, class etc, when the question of going Horde was proposed. It sounds superficial, but my initial thought was something along the lines of "but they all look bloody awful." Which is true to an extent, but is actually one of the lures.
So, everyone abandoned their prim and proper Alliance toons and mused over which ragtag ruffian they were going to roll. Switchblade, having joined PIE in SWG, put his excellent narrative skills to good work and created the PIE background story. Rather than adopting the standard "defending Horde lands" stance, PIE took on an altogether different philosophy.
Takumi Akagi, a wizard of reasonable standing within the halls of Dalaran, was bestowed the honorary title of Lord and retired from the mage ranks. The serenity of retirement was soon interrupted by the events surrounding the plague, and Akagi, along with numerous servants, found himself awaking to flesh hanging from his limbs and the nauseating smell of rotting corpses. For a short time, they continued their existence as best they could, but eventually conceded to the inevitable and left for Horde lands. Not wishing to attack old allies, nor subscribe to the increasing barbarism of the Horde tribes, Lord Akagi and his growing band of men carved out their own niche, born of a desire for peace.
Fast forward to November, and several members of PIE were able to obtain keys for the US closed beta. It was at this point we learned, much to our chargrin, that US servers would be separate and inaccessible by EU players, and vice versa. Unfortunately, this would require US players to purchase EU copies of the game, which most elected not to do. However, it allowed PIE members to take their first tentative steps within WoW and, suffice to say, we were hooked.
Come EU launch of WoW in February 2005, PIE wasted no time at all, and landed in the game with our feet running. After two days, we had recruited over 50 people without advertising in-game at all; almost all of these were existing PIE members or members of guild who had played alongside PIE in SWG and, in particular, EVE Online. Unfortunately, this earned PIE a reputation of being mass recruiters; I prefer to think we were merely extremely well organised.
Wishing to waste no time in making our mark on Earthen Ring server, we organised a march and PvP event (INSERT PICTURE LINK) about a week after server launch. The warriors of PIE first assembled in Bloodhoof village, on the outskirts of Mulgore. Approximately 30 strong, they listened to Lord Akagi speak of PIE's duty to peace, and celebrated around the campfire. In the video of the event, captured by Switchblade, the voice of Takumi was played by Mortis, one of the first level 60s on the server, whom joined us from the opposing side of the roleplay war in EVE.
Falling in to rank, the warriors of PIE marched from Bloodhoof village, through Crossroads and North in to the forests of Ashenvale. Therein, Lord Akagi and his men delivered a message, through the spilt blood of allied insurgents, that we would no longer tolerate their brazen attacks on outposts along the Barrens. We held the area of Ashenvale known as Maestra's Post for some time, forcing the gathering of Allies to die time and time again at the hands of coordinated attacks from disciplined PIE forces. It was a superb event, and everyone who had partaken enjoyed it. In particular, it was amusing to learn of the defence chat channels on the Alliance side, during our march. A PIE member, with an Alliance "alt", monitored the channel and bore witness to frenzied claims of "there's 100s of them marching!!!!" and so on. The members of PIE certainly made their mark, as best they know how.
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PIE guild intro movie, including footage of the march on Maestra's Post
Thereafter, PIE engaged in roleplay, responded diligently to Alliance attack on Horde soil and remained true to their vision. Of course, it was not all work and no play. Two or three weeks after the march, warriors of PIE assembled in The Gurubashi Arena, in Stranglethorn Vale, for a combat tournament. Whilst onlookers from the rest of the guild cheered for them, the two lowest levelled players walked down in to the arena and met in combat, the winner remaining to fight the next lowest level player, each new challenger announced by our talented master of ceremonies, Cabot. Whilst the each twosome fought to remain in the competition, the Unseen Order, a secretive squad within PIE comprised only of druids and rogues, remained hidden in stealth, swiftly dealing with anyone daring to enter the arena and interfere with the fight. After crowning our tournament winner, every man and woman of PIE entered the arena for a free-for-all fight to the death.
This was one of my favourite events with PIE. I recall being announced by Cabot and all eyes turning toward me, feeling a chill down my spine as I walked down the ramp to the arena floor. Nerves got the better of me, sadly, and I left my mage character in walk mode whilst I fought one of our tauren warriors. Not the closest of contests, but I enjoyed it nevertheless.
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PIE "Fight Club" promotional video
Unfortunately, World of Warcraft wasn't quite the game some people had anticipated, certainly true of some players who had migrated from SWG, where newcomer and veteran players could quest alongside each other without worrying about player levels. Arguably, WoW promotes a different sense of camaraderie, centred on the improvement of one's character, rather than, say, crafting or the community. As ever, roleplay required a concerted effort and wasn't always appreciated, as compared EVE.
Whilst this uncertainty brought about my early departure from WoW, under the leadership of Cabot and, later, Kabuto, PIE continued forging links with other guilds and went on to form raid group Determination. In a game whereby optimal play and "theorycrafting" is rife, Determination adopted an altogether more laid back approach, something oft missing in raiding. Though Determination no longer exists, PIE raiders continue to slay bosses and look forward to Wrath of the Lich King expansion earnestly.
Que Sera, Sera,
Whatever will be, will be
The future’s not ours, to see
A lot of things have changed over the years since PIE was first created, including my own personal circumstances. With a family of my own, I'm unsure as to how much time I can dedicate to future games. However, never say never, and I am looking forward to potentially excellent titles, such as Jumpgate Evolution and Star Wars: The Old Republic immensely. Further, for the last 2 or 3 years, a group of very talented individuals have been writing a server emulator for Star Wars Galaxies, prior to the numerous major upgrades. All very exciting!
So, who knows where PIE will be in the future? Keeping up the excellent fight in EVE and WoW, and tinkering with other games along the way.
PIE in Pictures
I, like most avid MMO players, like to take a number of screenshots to record our favourite gaming moments. I've assembled all the images of my time in PIE that I've been able to lay my hands on and uploaded them in to galleries:
This is but the tip of the iceberg however, you can find the countless screenshots submitted by other members of PIE in the screenshots and images forum.