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?OK. This is going to sound a little inconsistent. Here goes.
I have a confession to make: I don't much care any more about EVE Online lore.
Oh, I know it fairly well. I know the EVE Gate and the whole Empyrean Age thing and slavery and freedom and States and Republics and who keeps capturing the Damsel and why the Ishukone station in Malkalen is on fire and why Genesis is called Genesis and why Old Man Star is called that and why the monument in Jita looks a mess. So I know the old lore, more or less, and I know the new lore, more or less. I just can't bring myself to actually care about it a whole lot most of the time.
I used to. When I first started playing this game and I learned about the Caldari culture, I gave a couple of my early characters names that I thought were Caldariesque. But there were so many mechanics to learn in the game that I very quickly stopped trying to understand how the lore fit in, particularly since it didn't seem to matter a whole lot to how one played the game.
And I think that's the problem, right there.
I understand the lore of The Elder Scrolls more or less backward and forward. What's more, I care about it. Know why? Because it often has an impact on game-play. If I see a hostile Breton, I have a pretty good idea how he or she is going to attack me. When Elder Scrolls Online launches and I see someone playing a Khajiit character, I'll have an expectation about how that character will be played because the game-play mechanics will tend to support that player playing that character that way. Some regions will value magical abilities, others value physical skills, still others favor diplomacy and that impacts how people in each region respond to me and how I choose to play the game. That's game-play that supports the lore and vice versa.
EVE just... doesn't. The Gallente don't get bonuses to market skills. The Caldari don't get bonuses to leadership skills. I can dock my pirate battleship in Jita and nobody bats an eye. My Gallente character can hang out in Luminaire and nobody cares. Beyond a few very minor surface details (Caldari like missiles, Minmatar ships sometimes look haphazard), the lore doesn't impact the game-play at all. And therefore I get no advantage out of learning it. That makes it hard to care about. I do enjoy CCP-run live events, but those are so infrequent and limited that it's kind of hard to care about the lore there, either. I appreciate the lore, but that's not... quite the same thing.
Now here's where I yet again demonstrate my ability to believe two conflicting things at once.
Since I do appreciate the lore, I do think it adds a lot of value to the game. I do like to zoom in on the ships and look at them and appreciate the differences inherent in the Rifter versus the Talos versus the Navy Apocalypse. I also appreciate EVE's science fiction feel. It makes the game more immersive and enjoyable. So if EVE just had "Caldari Frigate Type 3" with "Standard blaster cannon +3", I do believe the game would be much, much poorer for it.
But the blog banter question links immersion to lore and I don't think that connection exists at all. I can be immersed in the EVE experience without caring about the lore, and I am.
Is that wrong? ;-)
Thanks for the question, Kirith! Interesting one!