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...

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

My story is the same as yours just one chapter ahead

So Kirith Kodachi has launched the latest blog banter.  Here it is:
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!


  1. I'll be honest. The biggest loss of continued Eve lore for me was the Chronicles. I think those were the second place I learned about Eve(first being Empyrean Age book) and I looked so much to the next one, when they discontinued those, I lost much of my interest in Eve lore. The Chronicles presented the story and history of Eve is such a way that fit so well with Eve itself and could present pieces of Eve with out those pieces wearing on(the torture pieces for example).

    Eve would be a much sadder place without the history much as our day to day lives would be much poorer for not know our history. And I am ever hopefully that maybe someday the Chronicles will start up again proper.

  2. Have you ever considered that the Empyreans are so far beyond regular humanity that they simply don't care about the world around them, just the dealings with other Empyreans? I mean, we paid attention to the Fountain War and the War of the Omens, didn't we?

    That said, I do agree that there should be more connecting points, but I also think that lore influencing gameplay can be a really bad thing. In my opinion, you need to find a balance between the two, give a reward to those that care about it, but not punish those that don't. The Arek'Jaalan project was a great attempt imo, it just lacked substance and didn't go far enough.

  3. I could not agree with you more. Sure it is up to the players to make the lore real to them and in so doing make it live for others, but the mechs have to mesh. I believe the disassociation is a clique-esq mentality over at CCP where devs and gms shrug their shoulders say with conviction; "Not my department".

  4. I don't think lore that matters can be made compatible with sandbox.

    BTW I always was very uncomfortable with the idea that my ships are inhabited by thousands of unseen disposable humans. I had to actively unlearn THAT part of lore to be able to play comfortably.

  5. Well doesn't this attitude kind of fit regarding the position capsuleers hold within the political structure of New Eden? We are the most independent human beings that there ever where, we can be employed by the Amarr Empire on Monday, help the Minmatar on Wednesday and lead a fleet of ships into wormhole space on Friday. We are in no way bound to any existing power, those of us wo du subjugate them to the empires do this out of sheer convenience. And while there are capsuleers that are absolutely loyal to one of the Empires (i.e. good old CVA), I think it is quite in-character for a Syndicate dweller to know what is going on in the cluster, but not that much caring about it.

    Yes, more or less we all roleplay.

  6. IMO, once you start playing the game the lore is nothing but names to call things. But, I wouldn't have started actually playing without it. There's just enough back-story and such to hook you.

  7. "I can be immersed in the EVE experience without caring about the lore, and I am."

    So... should CCP put more or less emphasis on immersion then?
    Or are you fine with the situation?

  8. Actually to me, while I love the lore, I feel you find it hard to immerse in due to the 'no advantages by race' thing because unlike WoW and Elder Scrolls we are all one species... Human. Being French gives you no special abilities over a German or an African or an American other than access to better paying jobs and schooling, but those are not racial or species advantages, they are social. There are no real distinct racial differences inside our species... No one group of people are basically smarter, stronger, more capable in any respect than any other.... So the lore is just our history, where we come from and how we got here.

    The lore in EvE is just exactly like History IRL. You don't need to 'know' it to deal with your daily life, and like most of us during high school, it was pretty boring as it had (seemingly) nothing to do with getting a job or getting the girl... =]

    In this way I feel the lore lends itself to making EvE as a whole, IMHO, a better sim in many ways than a just a game. But unless yer a history buff, it doesn't really help you in playign the game any more than deep knowledge of German history helped the Allies defeat them in WWII... it just gives you an understanding of the basis for that society... and why Minnie ships are held together with spaceductape... =]

    The lore I am most interested in is the myths of EVE... Sleepers and the Talocan and Anoikis... Now there is where history (the lore) has yet to be discovered, and is therefore fascinating... because it is not well documented and known.

  9. Bingo, im a big RPer....but what you describe is why most people are not attracted to EvE's rich lore.

    1. Hmmm.... I worded that poorly, "Being French gives you no special abilities over a German or an African or an American other than access to better paying jobs and schooling..." I did not mean being French gave you advantages, but that any such advantages were social in nature no matter what nationality or 'race' you are.

  10. Personally I think the immersion in EvE comes mostly from the fact that aside from a few obvious details, what I'm doing playing the game is the same thing that my character is doing in the game. Yes, I'm not floating in goo and I use a keyboard and mouse rather than a neural interface, but otherwise, I'm controlling my spaceship and receiving the same information from sensors in the same way that my character would be.

    The parts of the game which support this direct analogy increase the immersion. EvE is a game which rewards doing your homework and bringing real-life skills into the game. Good FCs need real leadership skills, alliances need real diplomats etc. Eve is immersive because it isn't built like a game, but is more of a sim. A shared virtual world where real people live out their virtual lives according to a different set of rules than we have here in this world.

    So sometimes the things CCP does to increase immersion actually break it for me. Incarna is a prime example of this. Walking around in stations takes the character out of me and puts it "there" on my screen. Especially since there's nothing of value to do in the station. I never enter the captain's quarters because it's easier to just do all those things in station from my pod. (I dare say other than getting out to sleep, a capsuleer would likely be the same. Takes too long to wash off all the pod goo.) Similarly, the pretense that capsuleer spaceships have crews is just stupid and immersion breaking. Nothing in the game mechanics supports the idea that these are anything other than single pilot spaceships, and so sensibly EvE pilots behave as if they are single pilot ships. The ship's performance depends only on the state of its pilot, injected trained 'skills' and various booster effects. No accounting for the skill or condition of the crew. And for that matter where are all these people coming from? RvB would have depopulated The Forge by now. Like everyone else, I ignore this part of the eve lore because it's completely at odds with the game mechanics.

    Most of the rest of the lore pretty much plays out like politics does in real life: I hear about things on the news, most of which doesn't affect me much. You can go visit a few famous places and see the effects of these things occasionally, but otherwise it's just a bit of background noise.

  11. I agree with you, it's not that I've cared for the lore, I do indeed appreciate it, but it simply doesn't have much effect on gameplay.

    If only, for example, Incursions actually impacted people in hisec other than those who chose to run them. If they actually forced an uninvolved trader to change his route, or perhaps even *gasp* risk dangerous space, that would be a way to actually engage the community with lore.

    Last night we had a POS bash, and one of the characters I was running was a triage carrier in case we got jumped. Towards the end I pulled my sentries and launched some fighters, and zoomed in on one and followed it around as it shot at things. There's a figure in the cockpit, and I imagined for a minute being that fighter pilot, zipping around with his other comrades, at the behest of this cold, calculating, even inhuman capsuleer, ready to die at a moment's notice.

    These are the things that happen during the thrills of structure shoots at 3AM I guess, but it was nice for a moment to truly be immersed. Without these little details, the game would lose a good deal of it's meaning. Sure, many things are incredibly strange, first off the physics and sounds in space (submarines in space!) But at the end of the day, these are internet spaceships.

    That being said, Lander did say EVE isn't a game, but a social engine, which is largely true. The PVE in the game is, well, horrendous, and the thing that keeps people playing is each other.

  12. No, you are not wrong. In the first instance you are talking about lore and then the next you are talking about the game genre. Imho, they can co-exist as two separate entities, allowing players a pick and mix individual immersion experience. I'm much more invested in the sci fi feel, but may on occasion indulge in shouts of "Winmatar!" or "For freedom!" too :-P

  13. I think it is important here to separate the lore and the player generated history / meta game. I personally hadn't read any of the backstory/lore of the game prior to starting this game, and on some topics I would have to say that I'm still pretty ignorant of the backstory. But, aside from maybe faction warfare, no one really cares about the backstory as a game. The player driven story though, now that's a different. I would have to say that EVE is unique in that more of its players draw inspiration from player driven history than from the game lore.

  14. More chronicles would be really awesome as a way for CCP to "leak" upcoming changes to the game. Such as for example a second chapter of "Resurrection Men" leading to player-manufacturable implants which require resources extracted from PI, DUST, w-space, LP stores, etc.

    More chronicles would also be a nice way to flag upcoming EVE Live Events and DUST events.

    Chronicles would effectively substitute for having the Storytellers and the players sitting around the table role playing together. CFC does their own version of chronicles with TMDC, where they role play a bunch of goons who for no reason at all decide to assault ice miners in Caldari space.

    While explicit announcement of ship balancing changes are great for player confidence and surety, it might be worth exploring a chronicle or two along the lines of that forum post about the reason for the Gallente stealth bomber being based on the Tristan while the Ishkur was based on the Imicus.

    Of course we have to face the reality that CCP has limited hours per week in this disgustingly linear time frame we inhabit.

  15. Immersion can make a really huge difference between just fiddling around with some lines of text and taking part in real and meaningful gameplay. EVE could be way more immersive and appealing for the eye. Through lore and eyecandy alike.
    Even though the graphics of the game a far away from being ugly the whole feel of New Eden is somehow wrong in my opinion. I wrote an article about exactly this topic earlier today. You might find it interesting. Enjoy: http://capstream.de/idea-fail-scale-cascade/

    fly safe,


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