OK, here's one that's really geek philosophy. I'm not even sure how I feel about it myself yet. Don't say I didn't warn you.
One of the basics of fiction writing is "show, don't tell." Hell, it's practically something taught in freshman creative writing classes. That said, like "always follow the primary", it's one of those rules that is absolutely unbreakable... until it comes time to break it.(1) As you grow more adept as a fiction writer, you might choose to break the rule for narrative flow purposes to jump straight to the conflict in your story, for instance. This summer's blockbuster movie Pacific Rim had to do a good bit of this because while the history of the kaiju-jaeger conflict was interesting, it wasn't the meat of the story.
But when it comes to EVE Online lore, those who have been writing it have always had a brutal 1v1 going with this rule. It's rarely done in moderation: either it's all tell, no show (Chronicles) or it's all show, no tell (lots and lots of EVE Online live events).
Now I'm not an EVE lore guy and I've never claimed to be one. I'm not an EVE role-player either; when I play the game I'm only very vaguely thinking about the game in those terms if I'm thinking about it at all. But over the last year or so, I've had to pay more and more attention to the lore. Hell, part of the goal CCP Seagull has for upcoming expansions seems to be to drag a lot of us kicking and screaming into EVE's lore whether we want to go there or not. I mean, how do you think about "space colonization" as a CSM member and as someone who's interested in the future of EVE -- and I'm both -- without at least considering the lore and storyline aspects of it?(2)
So that's where I've been lately: paying attention to more of EVE's lore but not really all that comfortable with doing so.
But as I've paid more attention to it, the dichotomy between show and tell in how CCP has handled the lore has become more and more visible to me. And when the Luminaire live event happened earlier this year, I was dragged into the lore by the simple virtue that I had EVE players complaining to me as a CSM member that the results of that particular live event were set in stone such that players couldn't influence them at all. That Leviathan was going to crash no matter what EVE players had to say about it, and that aggravated a number of you. "Where's the player influence?!" some of you yelled. "Where's the player-driven sandbox?!" So there's a second dichotomy in addition to the one between show and tell, and that's the one between -- and cripes, I can't believe I'm about to type this -- predestination and free will!
I warned you this was geek philosophy, right?
To what extent do we as players want CCP making decisions about the lore of the game and the results of live events for us? Should all live events have an ending that players can have an influence on based on their actions? Or is a mix the right way to go? And even more than that, let's zoom out and look at the big picture. As players, we influence the sandbox. Does CCP get to influence the sandbox too? More and more, I feel like the most vocal branch of the players feel the answer is "no!" They don't want CCP influencing the sandbox. That creates the rather ironic situation where EVE players get ragey if their free-will is challenged! Hell, if there's a common thread between the annoyance over the Luminaire live event and rage over the SOMERblink stuff over the summer, that was it: that CCP was threatening the integrity of the sandbox through their actions.
As I said when I started this post, I'm not sure where I myself fall on this subject yet. I can see the merits to both sides. I feel like CCP should be allowed to tell the story they want to tell: that's one of the perks that goes with being a game designer. Without that underlying story, EVE's richness would be greatly diminished. Player actions defining 100% of the story would result in a pretty random story. But I certainly follow and agree with -- to some extent -- the "integrity of the sandbox" argument that is raised when this question comes up.
What do you think, Dear Readers? Where is the line between show and tell? Where is the line between predestination and free will? How much influence should CCP have over their own creation?
(1) If you're in the anti-tackle wing of a skirmish fleet, for instance, you ignore primaries called by the FC and instead focus on tackle ships like interceptors and frigates.
(2) Another example: when CCP Rise first made the CSM aware of upcoming Sisters of EVE ships, I was the CSM member that dug through the "Book of EVE" for him looking for past references to them.