Welcome to the continuing monthly EVE Blog Banters and our 48th edition! For more details about what the blog banters are visit the Blog Banter page.
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?”
Late to the party as always! I know, I’m terrible.
Why Lore Sucks
The majority of players don’t care about the back-story, what the NPC factions and corporations are up to, or what the hell a Khumaak is.
There is a minor caveat to the above statement, which applies to story-backed gameplay mechanics, such as wormholes and incursions, but again, the emphasis is on the gameplay funtimes it brings rather than a genuine interest in what’s up with them there Sleepers, or where exactly this whole Sansha Kuvakei thing is going.
In fact, while less so in the last few years, there’s still an element of stigma attached to ‘roleplayers’, who are seen as crazy in the head, living in a fantasy land, and terrible at everything in the game. Regardless that these three statements are no more or less applicable to roleplayers as they are to non-roleplayers, there’s still a lingering element of ridicule attached to the label of ‘roleplayer’.
But why? Because these people just want to blow shit up. Preferably in space. Which is perfectly fine; I’m not knocking what anyone does in-game as long as they don’t exploit.
So it could be seen as a complete waste of time for CCP to keep up with the back-stories, the chronicles, the novels, and all that jazz. But there’s always two sides...
Why Lore Doesn't Suck
Let’s take a look at incursions, with a quick run-down of the changes you could expect if there were no lore-type stuff:
- Sansha — this are just a name associated with the blips that show up on your overview so you know they are from the incursion (yes, I know they are also present over in Amarr space, shush).
- Incursions themselves — just happen because CCP decided it was a fun way to pass the time. There’s no reason behind them happening, they just do. You read about it in a devblog — so you could test it out on SiSi and prepare — and that’s all the matters.
- Sansha Kuvakei — doesn’t exist. Hasn’t been referenced anywhere. There’s no rumour of an evil dude who loves prosthetics and implants a little too much. He just never existed.
- Sansha Loyalists — also don’t exist — there’s nothing for characters to empathise with, so nobody roleplays it. There’s nothing to it at all in fact, so there’s no serious groupings of people determined to ‘stop it from happening’ and ‘free us all from the tyranny of the unknown assailants’. Just doesn’t work.
Without the ‘fluff’, there would be a lot less roleplayers in the game. Sure, they would still be about, interacting with each other and creating their own stories, but without a decent background to the universe and many of the things in it, there’s nothing to use as a springboard to develop your character.
And yes, we’d still have all the wonderful stories of nullsec battles and sov wars, of espionage and thefts, but wouldn’t it be terribly dull if this was the story of Eve? Super-entities battling out for a bit of virtual real-estate that they’ll hold for a couple of months and their members will never see the benefits of. Cue another big battle and repeat. Yawn.
Isn’t it more interesting to have those ‘crazy’ roleplayers whose characters are secretly being controlled by rogue drones through their implants; or have aspirations to kidnap other pilots to run hideous experiments on the nature of immortality; or for ridiculously complex, but fascinating reasons sympathise with obscure, fanatical NPC factions? Isn’t that more interesting than “Dude X killed Dude Y lolfail”?
I find learning about people — their motives for things they do, and understanding where they are coming from utterly fascinating, and I transfer this fascination into virtual worlds. If Eve really was just about who killed who, or which alliance has the best log-off tactics, then I’d have no reason to play. I may as well go play Call of Duty on a console or something; because that’s basically the same thing.
Who doesn’t love buts (lol)?
What I find makes things truly magical, is the combination of the player-created stories and history with the CCP-created stories and history. It creates such wonderful depth and colourful diversity to the universe. So much so, that I know a number of people that don’t play — would never play — but they love reading about the back-story and what happens in the game. Not just the huge battles and world record virtual thefts, but about the world itself; the NPCs, the factions, the alliances that have formed up around ideals rather just pewpewing for the hell of it.
Eve is a living, breathing organism. Its wonderful yet terrible, beautiful yet despicably dark, and all at the same time. But it couldn’t be this way without the ‘fluff’.