Countdown to EVE Online Fanfest: The Fiction Renaissance
[This article is the second part; you should read 'Laying Down the Lore' first for the full story.]
New Development Director, Andie 'CCP Seagull' Nordgren, has a notable history in fictional worlds, producing an award-winning ARG and being a veteran Live Action Role Player. Nordgren clearly has respect for EVE's sci-fi IP, stating in a devblog that CCP “will continue to develop EVE as a rich, coherent sci-fi world with a distinct and awe-inspiring look and deep setting.”
Nordgren's promised thematic approach to the continued development of EVE is good news for many reasons, but the task remains a difficult one. Over the past months, CCP's lorehounds, led by The Burning Life author Hjalti 'CCP Abraxus' Danielsson, along with CCP Gnauton and CCP Delegate Zero, have quietly gone about building an incredible library of prime fiction in the EVElopedia. However, this information remains distinctly separate from the in-client game experience and such information tends to be well-hidden from the average EVE player.
A critical part of the recent shift towards placing EVE's fiction centre stage is the formation of Team Illuminati, a crew specifically positioned to deliver live events. This movement began over a year ago with CCP Goliath, then a QA by day and the sole champion of live events by night, being joined by like-minded and enthusiastic developers CCP Affinity and CCP Gargant. They began their live event crusade in their own time but have proven their worth and now have access to official resources and have even had their ranks bolstered by new arrivals, the ISD graduate CCP Eterne and the EVE roleplaying community alumni CCP Falcon. CCP Zulu is the Product Owner (which I am assured has nothing to do with the supply and administration of performance enhancing pharmaceuticals).
Live Event Vivisection
The early signs are promising. A steady stream of prime fiction news interspersed with live in-game events has seen a new lease of life for EVE's lore fans, with a recent series of smaller events linked to the appearance of DUST 514 mercenaries building up to the climactic Battle of Caldari Prime.
However there is still much to be done before the EVE Universe live event experience can truly be lauded. For all the enthusiasm, the execution of events is sadly hampered by technical limitations and poor presentation. Not only does the team only have limited control over NPC spawns, the only real method of adding any kind of flavour to events is via the antiquated text chat UI, which is a sub-optimal narrative device even before it is sabotaged by nihilistic players.
The heavily touted Battle of Caldari Prime was sadly a mediocre affair - what was advertised as an exciting opportunity for players to influence prime fiction on a grand scale turned out to be an overly ambitious, rigidly scripted event. It transpired that the destruction of the Shiigeru Titan in orbit was disappointingly inevitable in order to justify the admittedly impressive DUST 514 art assets invested in portraying the crashed wreckage.
To compound this disappointment, the single system event meant that only a fraction of the players attempting to attend could actually participate, with the remainder were locked out in adjacent systems. Further opportunity to provide some polish to the event was missed with the official livestream getting awkward commentary and aimless camera direction from CCP developers who had no real comprehension of the relevant prime fiction.
The Future Arc
Despite these setbacks, Team Illuminati represents an encouraging trend--if their ambition and potential can be matched by the tools and resources they clearly require, they will be in a position to re-define participant-led storytelling on a grand scale. Even the flawed Battle of Caldari Prime exhibited some of the potential for an epic narrative experience.
There is suggestion that there is high-level support; in the December CSM Summit minutes, CCP Falcon spoke of “incredible buy in, all the way to upper management”.
In a recent interview of Team Illuminati by Orakkus on his blog, 2nd Anomaly From the Left, Orakkus asked for clarification on a “technical solution” suggested in the December CSM summit minutes, to which CCP Goliath's mysterious reply was:
“I’m afraid this is strictly under wraps right now. Sorry to be a tease!”
Mark up another CCP developer for a sodium pentothal laced beer at Fanfest. ;)
[Check out our other daily Countdown to Fanfest features for more information and speculation on EVE Online's Second Decade and the Party on Top of the World.]