Every single player in EVE Online is connected, in some way. The game is next to impossible to play truly “solo,” especially because of its single-shard environment. Each and every person that logs into the game connects to the same server, flies in the same space, uses the same resources, and can fight in the same battles. This has, over the 15 years that EVE has been online, created a uniquely bonded community of players. When the unthinkable happens, and one of those players loses their life in the real world, those close to often reach out to other players to help commemorate their fallen comrades.
Funeral rites are a long-standing tradition in MMORPGs, where player avatars gather together to show respect to fallen friends and enemies alike. In EVE, the tradition often involves what is called a “cyno vigil.” Groups of players gather in a set spot in ships equipped with a cynosural beacon. The in-game purpose of these beacons is to create a signal strong enough for massive capital-class vessels to use as navigation beacons, like a lighthouse shining into a dark night, showing the way home. These beacons ignite the liquid ozone stored in a ship’s hold to create a fire in space visible from light years away, creating a candle blazing in the darkness.
Sometimes hundreds of individual players attend these funerals, each adding their own candle flame to the vigil.
Mourners also attend after equipping their ships with harmless firework launchers, creating dazzling displays of color and noise. These players prefer to express their respects and grief with celebration and extravagance. Some even go as far as to offer their own vessels as a sacrifice in memoriam, either asking their attendees to destroy their ship, or self destructing them in viking-esque rituals.
On January 27 of this year, a memorial was held for a player named Luke, known to the EVE community by the handle Diana Sarain. Nearly a thousand players including Luke’s father, who introduced him to the game, gathered together in EVE to celebrate him. Luke’s father organized the gathering, and provided a supercarrier vessel intended as sacrifice in his son’s memory.
EVE is a game about combat and destruction at its heart, though, so not everyone attending these memorials seeks peaceful remembrance. Very often, fleets of combat-ready vessels are fielded to guard those holding vigil, as hostile players very often show up to attempt to “contribute” to the event in an antagonistic way. Massive battles have been known to break out on top of vigils, with players fighting for hours in and around those assembled to remember a fallen friend.
These combatants are not always reviled, however. Not infrequently, they are in fact invited to participate by those organizing the event. The bonds formed with the deceased were often forged during in-game combat, and some see one last fight in their name to be a fitting tribute to a fallen ally or foe.
In the days, months, or years following the loss of a community member, some groups maintain a lasting tribute to fallen friends. Space stations are renamed to bear their names, fleet doctrines gain nicknames referencing them, or vital parts of an organization’s infrastructure are branded in remembrance. The Brave Newbies alliance holds a vigil once a year in honor of John Bellicose, a member of their group whose death shocked their community. They renamed their home station “Mothership Bellicose” in honor of John’s mother, who has become an honorary member of the group and attended several real- life player gatherings since her son’s passing. In some cases, annual events have been created so that the community can pay lasting tribute to the people that they have lost over the years.
A final tribute often associated with the permanent loss of an EVE player, often shared in memorial posts on forums, is a poem inspired by the cadence of a traditional naval goodbye, “The Watch.” It was originally written and shared by the Reddit user Dranchela.
Eyes forward, capsuleer, the cyno is not yet lit.
Consider your modules, your rigs and ammo before you undock, for the cyno is not yet lit.
Break free of the station and witness the universe before you, For the cyno is not yet lit.
Set your ship to fly through the vastness while you wait, For the cyno is not yet lit.
Pay attention, capsuleer, for those who have gone before you call for you to join them.
The cyno is now lit.