Sci-Fi Storytelling Revolution: CCP Seagull Ushers in a New Era

EVE Online's senior producer has her beady eye firmly on EVE's future, with 5-year vision, a 3-year road map and a 12-month plan.

[This is part three of a four part discussion of the EVE Universe and CCP Games‘ new approach to telling its stories. Click here to read part one first.]

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The EVE Universe is an epic, dystopian science-fiction setting, which shares a vision of humanity’s future with the likes of classics such as Asimov’s Foundation series, Huxley’s Brave New World, Herbert’s Dune saga to name a few. However, there is one defining difference which makes it stand out: rather than being the setting for a story already told, New Eden is a living, breathing universe with an active and invested population and a story that is still being told.

Every day sees new events unfold as deals are brokered and reneged upon, wars are declared, profits are stolen, friends are won and lost. These events are almost entirely driven by the player ‘capsuleers’, such is the nature of the sandbox universe of infinite possibilities.

However, there are challenges to successfully curating such an environment. I asked Andie ‘CCP Seagull’ Nordgren, Senior Producer of EVE Online, if maintaining the balance between keeping the prime fiction narrative moving along whilst continuing to give centre stage to the player-capsuleer population was achievable without compromising the game experience? After all, in a game which attracts such a diverse player demographic from eSports enthusiasts to dedicated role-players, surely these two extremes can never be happy bed-fellows.

Nordgren didn’t see it as a problem and explained her vision with the gentle clarity of someone with absolute confidence of the road ahead. She pointed out that it was not necessary for everyone to engage directly in the prime fiction. Just the knowledge that it was there and accessible would underpin the depth of the universe without forcing it into everyone’s game experience.

When asked if there were plans to introduce more prime fiction material via the client rather than the traditional wall-of-text format via disjointed out-of-client websites, she nodded enthusiastically and said it was something very much on the to-do list, citing a Jane’s Fighting Ships style in-game resource as one example of expanding on the current – fairly thin (at least officially) – information on EVE’s beloved stable of ships. You can’t fault her logic – in a game where knowing your shield resistances and optimal tracking ranges is more important to many than where the ship is built and who by, this seems like the perfect cross-over point for both schools of thought and may result in a little knowledge bleed in both directions.

Of course, you can’t please all the people all the time, but Nordgren identified that if the fabric of the universe around the capsuleers was sufficiently convincing and well-realised, then all player archetypes from min-maxing technical players to enrobed LARPers would see the value in the details of a good story well-told. The vast majority of players would gladly embrace improvement to both aspects of their EVE Online experience and that is the basis for the new thematic development strategy with begins with the mysteries of space exploration in the Odyssey expansion, due 4 June 2013.

But what about the in-game storyline experience from then and beyond…?

NEXT: Sci-Fi Storytelling Revolution: An Eventful Future

 

Series Index
  1. EVE Universe: Origins – This New Cinematic Introduction to EVE Online May Herald a Sci-Fi Storytelling Revolution
  2. Sci-Fi Storytelling Revolution: Showing the EVE Universe to the World
  3. Sci-Fi Storytelling Revolution: CCP Seagull Ushers in a New Era
  4. Sci-Fi Storytelling Revolution: An Eventful Future

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Image of Mat Westhorpe
Mat Westhorpe
Broken paramedic and coffee-drinking Englishman whose favourite dumb animal is an oxymoron. After over a decade of humping and dumping the fat and the dead, my lower spine did things normally reserved for Rubik's cubes, bringing my career as a medical clinician to an unexpectedly early end. Fortunately, my real passion is in writing and given that I'm now highly qualified in the art of sitting down, I have the time to pursue it. Having blogged about video games (well, mostly EVE Online) for years, I hope to channel my enjoyment of wordcraft and my hobby of gaming into one handy new career that doesn't involve other people's vomit.