Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
You can follow along, if you want...

Monday, April 29, 2013

No dichotomy

In all the run-up preparations to Fanfest, I haven't had time yet to complete my response to Blog Banter 46, which you can find on Freebooted.  The key question of the banter is put this way:
With the return of Live Events such as the Battle for Caldari Prime, clearly the prime fiction of EVE is back in favour as part of this new thematic approach to expansions. However, EVE's story is very much a tale of two playstyles, with an entirely player-driven narrative unfolding daily in parallel to the reinvigorated backstory. Often, they do not mix well. How can these two disparate elements be united or at least comfortably co-exist in a single sandbox universe?
Now I'm going to make this response short because delving into this topic deeply could easily result in a novel's worth of material.  And honestly while such a novel might be very amusing to write, I think the basic question is flawed because it suggests a dichotomy that doesn't exist in EVE Online.

EVE Online is made out of its stories.  And New Eden doesn't care where they come from.

There are alliances and coalitions in EVE that drive the great stories of the game, there are those that have those stories inflicted on them (hee), there are smaller events -- heists, for instance -- that all of us hear about, and there are CCP-run events.  As a player, I've been involved in all of them, and all have contributed equally strong memories of my time in EVE Online.  They're all part of the overall story of New Eden.

Yes, sometimes the CCP-driven ones feel a bit more artificial than most, but even that's just an illusion.  Who could have guessed that a Band of Brothers director would defect?  Seems kind of contrived and overly convenient, right?  Who could have guessed that Goons would suddenly forget to pay their alliance bill.  Seems equally cringe-worthy as a story-telling device.  ;-)  Sometimes, the stories of EVE aren't pretty and don't make much sense.

But when they do, we're all hooked.  And all of us are hooked by different things.  Walking around Fanfest and seeing the great variety and imagination of faction costumes, I can say with a great deal of confidence that there are lots of players that get off on EVE's developer-created thematic story elements.  But there are thousands of players that enjoy the player-crafted stories.  And there are not a few that are just here to pew, or to mine... but are contributing to the story in their own way.

So nope, don't see much difference between one and tother on this one.

Thanks as always for the interesting question, Mat!

11 comments:

  1. This reminds me: chatting briefly with CCP Goliath, he said that they know that the heavily-scripted events are less than perfect, and they they are looking forward to give players more influence into the outcome of some of the events. This sentiment was mirrored in the storyline RT. Fully scripted events won't go away completely, though, as they are required for the scaffolding of the storyline(s).

    Of course it all comes down to available resources, and interest demonstrated by players.

    And the above is heavily paraphrased from memory, because I forgot to take notes.

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  2. In many ways I believe the real battle is between what stories get boasted. Skal. To me, big H's Thorax grinding anecdote is just as interesting as the carefully imagined narrative of two sweaty men on a remote barren planet. The True Stories is a start at pulling it all together to make a single unifying codex - but it is an immense challenge. One I sincerely hope we collectively master. But, even if we don't the personal stories of the true fans are rich in each individual's mind's eye.

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  3. I think the question behind the question was "What can CCP do to increase player participation in the story of Eve?" In that regard, I think your answer is a little trite. Yes, it's true that a lot of stories are created by players in Eve, and CCP occasionally holds live events. But they are in completely separate silos. FW rarely interacts with 0.0, unless a bloc decides to slum it for a bit. 0.0 only effects players in HS when MiniLuv or BJ happens. Luminaire has had no impact on the overall meta game, and served mainly as a PR stunt. The NPC and PC stories don't interact or work together to create conflict or content, with maybe the excetion of FW, in a small way.

    With your coming access to CCP, would you tell them that the interaction between NPC and PC stories is fine, or can you see ways to improve the integration? I hope your answer would be closer to the latter, as there is plenty of fertile ground for PC stories to influence the NPC stories.

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  4. Yeah. "Two disparate elements"? That ridiculously oversimplifies things. CCP simply injects a fairly coherent group of political backdrop over which our stories play out.

    There's no need to talk of reconciling CCP's content with ours. It's a big ol' universe with room for all.

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  5. Jester always the on to take the road... no one else sees.
    Reminds me of Home is a Post... oh, wait, or was that post-home? =]

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  6. I think the question here is more about the difference between meta and RP game within EVE.

    The issue potentially is that a story of a someone ganking a miner and saying in local chat "lolz noob I gankde you hard wiv my 1337 haxorz" doesn't really fit well into the EVE / sci fi feel :P

    Equally events like when a pilot presses the wrong button and ends up starting a massive battle in low sec, the event itself is cool and interesting, but the mechanic (ie, someone pressing the wrong button :P) sounds less cool.

    I would imagine that you could 'gloss over' some of the more mechanical details of the actual game interface with a bit of RP (ie the incorrect jump was due to a jump drive malfunction) and some facts could be 'modified' to allow the story to be a little more compelling within the RP environment.

    But most often than not the game 'fiction' and the mechanical 'fact' don't always work together to make an interesting story; but maybe adjusting some 'facts' to make for better 'fiction' is the answer :D

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    1. No, the pilot pressing the wrong button is interesting because you can play it out as..

      "Attention to Detail is important, it's the hallmark of well ran military forces; so it should come as a surprise that the first mistake was one a new cadet should have caught when the captain instructed his titan Jump Gated instead of opening a Jump Bridge".

      Then start telling the story, listing each domino that fell as you come to it in a chain of mistakes starting with the first; going into detail on each and the effect it had. You can zoom back and forth between what you think was going on in peoples minds, and their reactions to events which caused more mistakes to be made. Like committing more ships to the engagement to save it out of knee-jerk reaction of horror than just writing it off. How it escalated. The button press is just a link in a chain.

      A talented writing could spin that one engagement out for a few chapters, jumping viewpoints as they go to tell the story, and keeping you enthralled while doing it.

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  7. Hey Jester, CCP just uploaded a video of their welcoming party, and you're in it!

    http://youtu.be/y1NhbnKTCbM?t=1m57s

    Now everyone knows who you are!

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    1. Holy Crap! So that's what our esteemed author looks like. If it weren't for internet spaceships, Jester might actually be respectable.

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  8. Hmm... saying there's no dichotomy doesn't address my doubts about interactions between, for example, the Thukker of Molden Heath and the DUST+EVE-support groups that are rolling in and essentially claiming territory there.

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