Everything You Ever Wondered About EVE Online's Backstory: Mark726's EVE Lore Survival Guide
New players entering the EVE Universe might notice that, beyond its celestial battlefields filled with star-kissed psychopaths, there are countless references to an incredibly well-realised backstory with dozens of factions, organisations, characters and technologies.
EVE Online has been running since 2003 and player “capsuleers” have been front and centre of New Eden's history thereafter. But that is just the tip of the comet's tail - the rich and diverse lore of EVE stretches back thousands of years.
The EVE: Origins cinematic (as seen above) touched on mankind's rise to the heavens, the discovery of the New Eden cluster and its subsequent colonisation and exploration.
Recent dialogue from EVE's senior producer, Andie “CCP Seagull” Nordgren, suggested that exploration and discovery will continue to be a driving force in EVE's expansion arc which began with Odyssey in June and looks set to continue with November's Rubicon and far beyond.
For many EVE players, this is tantalising news. Not all capsuleers are driven by the need for conquest, some are drawn by the mysteries to be uncovered and the discoveries to be made.
A Rough Guide to New Eden
One such EVE player is Mark "Mark726" Mazzone, a celebrated blogger who has spent many years exploring and documenting the unique sights of New Eden in his EVE Travel journal.
Mark726 is also a voracious consumer of the EVE lore who has absorbed the vast swathes of documented fiction found on the EVElopedia wiki, in three novels (The Empyrean Age, The Burning Life and Templar One), countless Chronicles and a host of other sources, distilling his findings down in to a (relatively) brief overview of the key facts about EVE Online's epic sci-fi narrative.
Written with verve, wit and tongue often firmly in cheek, Mark726 picks over the bones of New Eden's history, revelling in the detail whilst poking fun at the sci-fi tropes. He also shows he's not afraid to use brackets.
Here's a peek into Mark726's EVE Lore Survival Guide:
1. "EVE Online: The Greatest Story Still Being Told"
The foreword to Mark726's body of work is a brief, fanciful look at the past and the future of science fiction storytelling techniques through the ages; from Jules Verne and Fritz Lang through through Isaac Asimov and Gene Roddenberry to the rise of the epic, interactive entertainment frontier upon which we now stand. [Read the foreword in full.]
2. An Introduction
Mark726 warms us up with an explanation of what grew from a quick blogpost to his magnum opus, before taking us on a brief romp through 21,000 years of future history. He discusses the “lost civilisations” whose shattered technology remnants act as the MacGuffins for many aspects of EVE's ever-developing storylines. He also explains how one of these races - the mysterious Jovians – played a very Promethean role in bringing about the creation of the immortal capsuleers. [Read the Introduction in full.]
3. The Empires
The five superpowers of New Eden, once described as “a king and his four princes”, oversee the central regions of New Eden. The four racial factions and an independent police force provide security and protection to the residents of high-security space whilst being the conflict drivers in numerous contested low-security constellations.
The Amarr Empire: “God Has a Plan”
“We start with the largest and, depending on who you talk to, most diabolical of the four nations of New Eden: the Amarr Empire. Two parts theological empire, one part bureaucratic morass, with a sprinkling of lifetime indentured servitude for just a bit flavor, the Amarr Empire is founded on the idea that the State and the Church are one.”
Mark explains how the dogmatic Amarr used to be proper bastards, but now they're really trying not to be (quite so much). [Read more about the Amarr Empire.]
The Minmatar Republic: “7 Tribes for 7 Brothers”
“It shouldn’t be surprising that the history of the Minmatar Republic is intimately interwoven with the history of the Amarr. While the Minmatar are a rich culture in their own right, of course, the brutal enslavement for centuries left an indelible mark on their society, and in many ways still dictates how the Republic and individual Minmatar react to many situations.”
These are the folk who the Amarr mostly enjoy being proper bastards to. But it's okay, the aggressively tribal nature of Minmatar society means that, if they didn't have someone else to fight against, they'd probably be killing each other. [Read more about the Minmatar Republic.]
The Gallente Federation: “Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll”
“A nation where anything goes, as long as it makes you happy (and doesn’t hurt anyone else), the Gallente pride themselves of being on the forefront of the Cluster’s culture, fashion, and philosophy.”
Mark delves into the colourful history of the “Federated Union of Gallente Prime” to show that there's a lot more to them than thrill-seeking Frenchmen in space. [Read more about the Gallente Federation.]
The Caldari State: “Nothing Says Love Like a Giant and Soulless Megacorporation”
“Having developed in the same system as the Gallente, the State was born in blood and fire, through their determination to not be governed by anyone. Any description of the Caldari as a people have to start and end with the concept of megacorporations: gargantuan corporate entities that control a person’s life from cradle to grave.”
It's hard not to think of the Caldari State as the science-fiction love-child of German and Japanese industry, but there's a lot more depth to be found – from their early victimisation at the hands of their overbearing Gallente neighbours (akin to European treatment of native Americans) to the rise of their recently deposed dictatorial tyrant Tibus Heth. For a faction that likes grey, they've got a lot of colour. [Read more about the Caldari State.]
CONCORD: Policeman of the Skies
“CONCORD, short for CONsolidated COoperation and Relations commanD, was originally the brainchild of the Jove of all people. Devised as a way for the empires to maintain the peace, CONCORD was given broad authority over many interstellar affairs. CONCORD is charged with maintaining the status quo between the various empires.”
The device for keeping both warring NPCs and unruly player capsuleers in line, CONCORD are the big stick that EVE Online hits lawbreakers with. It doesn't help the victim much, but in high-security regions of space, CONCORD destroy ("Concordokken") illegal aggressors with 100% efficiency. Everywhere else, they're non-existent. [Read more about CONCORD.]
4. The Frontier Organisations
“For most video game companies, the four major empires, with their expansive backstories, would have been quite enough for their content teams... Beyond the four major empires, the Jove, and CONCORD, there are a rich number of smaller factions that, while you can’t necessarily play them as a bloodline, fill in more of the tapestry of New Eden (and let people get their yarr on in quite a few different ways).”
This three part section skims through many of New Eden's more prominent “pirate factions” (although they're not all pirates), such as the Angel Cartel, creators of popular ships like the Dramiel and the Machariel, the independent industrial giant Outer Ring Explorations, who manufacture many of EVE's non-combat ships and the Servant Sisters of Eve, a philanthropic group who work for the betterment of humanity (and will soon be making some sexy-looking ships). [Read more about The Frontier Organisations.]
5. Technology and Miscellany
“For a game that takes place 21,000 years in the future, technology actually plays a fairly secondary role in the lore. That is a testament to CCP’s content writers who avoid, as much as possible, the whole “technobabble saves us all” approach to conflict resolution (much as it pains me to say this, my beloved Star Trek is particularly bad at this). Still, it’d be ridiculous if CCP didn’t lay down SOME background knowledge on the technology that makes our lives in space possible.”
Mark does his best to demystify the technology which explains many aspects of EVE's gameplay and weaves the player into the universe. Chief amongst those is the sci-fi explanation for capsuleer (and DUST 514 mercenary) immortality and ability to “respawn” in a persistent game world. Also explained is the space calendar thing, the divergent evolution of language in the far future, wormhole generation and many other things. [Read more about EVE technology.]
- Mark Mazzone writes regularly on EVE Travel, can be found on Twitter as @webspaceships and will be in print as one of the contributors to EVE: The Second Decade, part of the Collector's Edition boxed set.
- All above linked online pages to Mark726's EVE Lore Survival Guide are hosted and maintained on Freebooted, an EVE blog maintained by the author of this article, Mat Westhorpe.
- Mark726's EVE Lore Survival Guide is also available for download as a PDF (with images and without) and an ePub version.
- All EVE Online and EVE Universe images and fiction are the property of CCP Games - they make the worlds, we just explore 'em.