Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Blog Banter #48 - Link the World

This month's topic is a request from CCP Sisyphus who wants to know how important is Lore in EVE Online? "How important is “fluff” in Eve online? Would eve online be the same if it were purely numbers and mechanics, or are the fictional elements important to the enjoyment of the game? Would a pure text, no reference to sci-fi or fancy names still be an engaging game? Should CCP put more or less emphasis on immersion?"
Kirith Kodachi - Blog Banter #48
When someone picks up a game they look at it. It may be screen shots, trailers, reviews, or an advert of some type. Whatever it is that they look at, be it a moment or an in depth search, they look at what the game is to see if the game will interest them. It may have been a recommendation from a friend to try something.  For those that find Eve, few find Eve and go, "ahh it is a meta game full of people doing things to people. Mechanics and the game part of the game interest me not at all." I am sure there are some. There are always some. But the average player wanders in to fly spaceships in space.

Now, many players may come to that feeling later. But that is part of being a veteran. That is part of moving into the deeper layers of Eve that sinks its claws into its audience. But everyone started as a new player. They got it not heir rookie ship and wondered how they made this thing fly. How they explored space. How they attacked other spaceships. What were the rules? How does all of this work?

A sandbox has sides. Eve's sand tends to flow over those sides. In my bio, I write this about Eve when I was a month old:
Everyone says that Eve is a sandbox.
I don't agree with that.
I believe that Eve is a beach.
On one side is the ocean. It is an ever changing, fluid environment... that's PvP.
On the other side is land. Its stable and solid and familiar and supports you. That's the life of a carebear. It's comfy and tempting to stay there.
But in between is the sand. And that's where worlds are created. It may be bordered by the two forces. But that is balance.
On the beach are trillions of grains of sand. Each one is a choice, a decision, a moment, and instance, a chance, to be used or discarded or bypassed or noticed. The ocean may pour over it and the land may shake it, but it is a flexible, fluctuating, ever changing world. It is the world that I mold.
That is my Eve. 
I believe that Eve has a tendency to flow over the walls of its sandbox. The meta game becomes its boundaries. Intangible. Fluid. Flexible. Real. But at its core is the game that Eve is. Its foundation that the metagame sinks its roots into is sturdy enough for it not to fall over. Usually.

Over the last two or three years I have played several different MMOs. Only two have hooked me into long term play. One was Eve and one was City of Heroes. Both had something different from the start that set them apart a bit from the others I have played, such as Age of Washu, Aion, and the Secret World. All games that I have enjoyed but that failed to sink me in.

Eve and City of Heroes both do not start you are the one. You are one of many amazing people in those games. There is no special, super secret only you can do type of thing. You are an amazing creature. Go forth and play with other amazing creatures. City of Heroes, like Eve, also was very focused on social game play. I played a healing character in that game. I had zero offensive abilities and I was highly sought after because I had built my character into a complete support character. Alone, City of Heroes was a bit boring and sometimes unplayable depending on your build. With others, it was amazing. A very similar theme to Eve.

In many other games you are someone special doing something special. The problem is, lots of other people are doing the same special thing because they are someone special as well. It creates a repetition that makes no actual sense to the player. Instead of focusing on the world people focus on other aspects of their play and the world becomes tasks. Tasks that they don't even take the time to read anymore because they are silly and make no sense.

Eve drops the ball at this point.

Eve's missioning system is the main link between most players and Eve's world and it is neglected. Terribly neglected. It is a withered dried husk that should be ripe and bursting forth with information, history and interaction. It does not have to tell a player that they are the one special person int he world. They simply have to tell the player about the world they have invested themselves in to draw their interest.

One reason many people play Eve is because it is a science fiction game. Many of the players are probably fans of science, science fiction, mathematics, or various other things where space and the future fascinates them. The lore of the game is an aspect of this. It is also a catalyst. People who are entering into a fictional world expect there to be fiction. Everything and anything can be explained through the lore. It is a vast tool and people will accept it because they are in the game world. This is separate, in my opinion, from role play. To accept and work within the lore of the world is not to automatically role play inside of the world.

Currently, there are in game events that happen. News and articles as the world is shaping and changing. For some players this is very interesting. They follow it. They know Eve's past and its political present. For a larger number of players this holds very little interest. That is where Eve veers off a bit and the two struggle some as they collide.

The Eve player does not need to interact with the Eve Lore world to play Eve. They need to interact with the other Eve player. The Eve world is background noise. But that background noise can be music. And music can be used to set the mood, tone, and pace of the game. It does not have to be intrusive. I'd hate an Eve Online game where because Sugar was Minmatar I was trapped into some preconceived, strictly structured world based off of that. But being allowed to choose that path (role play) or reject it and run off to the wilderness (Sov Null) is what brings the appeal to the game.

But not having hard lined paths that tie players to the lore is not bad. The lore itself is vivid and interesting. It's no longer neglected and it is being fed to those that value it. I wish this would spread to more aspects of the game. I'd love to see the boards at the gates show current news stories. The same with the captain's quarters screen. I'd love for the main page to be updated with these shifting stories and the NPC politics. I'd like players who want to be involved more in the world story of Eve to be able to be involved in it. Many people expect that level of immersion when they start. The new players are the key to sinking the lore deeper into the game.

I tried my hand at writing a more lore based story when I wrote my short story, Distress.  I did the same thing when I wrote Falling Immortal for Dust 514. Both of these stories I took time to try to craft out of the game world and validate them within the lore and story of Eve. I enjoyed working with the lore of Eve. I used the Mark 726's lore guide. It was invaluable. But the writer in me asks why CCP does not give me something like this. Some type of detail filled packet to give me the resources to create content, even if it is fan fiction, on a more officially correct scale. Of course, at the other end of the scale is my Origin of a Spaceship series, which is nothing more than tongue in cheek humor intertwined with facts.

Just like missions. I'm sure crafting missions is terrible but the story lines are things that the player population could be tapped to produce en mass. If there are more people would drink more. And even if I am not a roleplayer I fully support the efforts CCP's team has made to adding more content into Eve. I'd love to write for the chronicles or some type of archive to expand and spread Eve's story world history. I have three books about Eve Online on my shelf and really, I stare at the game world and wonder why I don't have 10 or twenty. Eve would reach an even larger audience if it produced fiction based off of its world and it has more than enough NPC and player history to do just that.

In conclusion, the lack of aliens is ridiculous.

The end.

1 comment:

  1. "In conclusion, the lack of aliens is ridiculous."

    There are aliens, just go do the mission "Furrier Fiasco".

    They just don't last long :3

    ReplyDelete