Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Two Types of Eve Playstyle? BB46 - The Main Event.

Blog Banter 46: The Main Event

"EVE Online is a unique piece of science fiction that is ‘participatory’." - CCP Seagull, December 2012

EVE Online is heading into its Second Decade with renewed vigour and a new development strategy. At the CSM Summit in December, Executive Producer CCP Unifex and Development Director CCP Seagull explained how future development and expansions will be broader in scope than recent "collections of features" stating that CCP "want to create something more inspirational, that players aspire to play."

With the return of Live Events such as the Battle for Caldari Prime, clearly the prime fiction of EVE is back in favour as part of this new thematic approach to expansions. However, EVE's story is very much a tale of two playstyles, with an entirely player-driven narrative unfolding daily in parallel to the reinvigorated backstory. Often, they do not mix well. How can these two disparate elements be united or at least comfortably co-exist in a single sandbox universe?

Are there only two types of people that play Eve? Can we lump everyone of the 500,000 accounts into one of two groups? Gamers or Roleplayers. Well, I suppose sort of....

Someone who really doesn't care about the back-story  the current story or the future story. They don't really care about the game's setting. To them Eve is like World of Tanks. They play for typical gamer reasons. PvP, amassing in-game wealth, levelling a character, to relax, to socialise, to expand their empire, to win. They either don't care about live events or are actually against them claiming developer time would be better spent on game mechanics/improvements/graphics etc. There is also the cry of "Its a sandbox game and it should be 100% player action controlled.".

Sci-Fi geeks who play as their character in the alternative universe that is Eve Online. They read all the fiction and articles and roleplay with their character in game. If their chosen corporation takes a policy against their in-game 'beliefs' then they move corps. They want CCP to continue the backstory and ongoing wider reaching storylines. When CCP runs a live event, they come. ;)

So is that it? Of course it isn't if you want to get picky. They are the two ends of the spectrum. They are the red and violet. In between we have the oranges, yellows, greens, blues and indego's! And we've all met some of each on our travels through New Eden.

Take me for instance:-

I'm really somewhere in the middle of this, may be a tad more blue than red. I do not roleplay in-game, but I love the lore and fiction of the Eve universe. If you hop over here to the fiction page on this blog you can read a variety of stories I've wrote set in the Eve-O universe. Even the story how my main, Drackarn, became a capsuleer. That's roleplayery for sure. But, I don't play Eve-O 'in-character'. Either in play style or typing in chat. I'm a sci-fi fan and want to see the Eve-O universe lore and fiction expanded.

But can the two styles, as Stan asked, comfortably co-exist in a single sandbox universe. The player-driven story and the CCP-driven story.

Yes and no. They can co-exist but never that comfortably. I doubt they can ever be united. You just need to read the forums to see how the players are. They see their own small area of the game as most important and in many cases are hostile to other areas of the game. The sci-fi guys want more CCP storylines, the sandbox purists want CCP to take a hands-off approach.

Like many things in Eve it is a balance. The Caldari Prime event is a great example. I'm happy how that played out. It has kicked off the storyline once again after a break and it was a good event, even if I couldn't be there in person because I'm -10. However, yes it was a "theme park" event. You could ride the ride, but I doubt anyone could have changed the direction. CCP has a story to tell and they are telling it. OK if the 1600 players at the event turned up in gank tier 3 battlecruisers and attacked the Gallente dreadnoughts then CCP would have had a major problem. I don't care how those dreads were fit, 2,000,000 DPS would have made the outcome very different!

Purists of the sandbox argued strongly that this event, and some of the ones before it, do not belong in the sandbox unless the outcome is 100% determined by the players. However, that does not make for good story telling. What if the Caldari had won and the Titan remained, back to the boring stalemate we've had for years?

There needs to be a balance and CCP needs to cater for as many different player groups as they can. I do feel sometimes that CCP are scared of the term "roleplay". Do they think it will put new players off? They seem to prefer the term "Space-combat simulator" rather than MMORPG which could be tied to Eve very easily.

I also think that CCP are realising that player-driven content is currently, shall we say, missing the big bang? With 99.99% of major null-sec entities blue or having some sort of non-aggression pact on structures, what interesting stories are coming out of null-sec? The occasional super gank? Apart from the weekends revenge tale there is very little interesting happening currently.

The Eve-O lore, back-story and live events are all optional. If you don't care, don't get involved. So let us all allow CCP come into OUR sandbox with their bucket and space and make us some sandcastles once in a while. If you don't like it, it is a big old sandbox and there is certainly a corner you go to and do your own thing!


  1. On the spectrum between gamer and roleplayer, I probably land in the same area you do. However, I feel the outcome of live events should be entirely dictated by players. You argue that had Caldari won the battle and the titan remained, it would be the same boring status quo. I argue that by the titan falling there is a whole line of interesting stories that are gone.

    Think if after the battle the titan still stood. There is no way Heth would not order immediate retaliation. What if the titan then followed through with its threat and glassed the Gallente cities? What if the titan moved over Gallente prime with all barrels pointing at the planet demanding an evacuation like Caldari prime was evacuated hundreds of years ago.

    1. He couldn't have done that. If Tibus ordered the Titan to glass the Gallente cities then the titan would have been destroyed. There is no way the Gallente Federation doesn't have a superior cap fleet in its home system. If it had even looked at Gallente Prime they'd have nuked it. The reason that there was the stand off was mutually assured destruction. Once it had kicked off, MAD no longer applies.

      Also, how did the titan get there in the first place. Who brought Tibus Heth to power? Who disabled the Gallente 'Tripwire' warning system? Player outcome or CCP story outcome?

    2. Granted all of that happened before I started playing so I may be incorrect, but there is a difference, at least in my opinion, between CCP story and a live event. If CCP wants to do an off camera story like Heth and the titan appearing I'm ok with that. However, if CCP has a live event it should be nearly completely based on player outcome.

      Also, if the cities were glassed, whether or not the titan was destroyed after, there would be plenty of stories that could come out of the fallout. The spark that started the first war was caused when a terrorist cell destroyed one Gallente city. What happens when the navy commits government sanctioned genocide across a planet?

    3. Exactly Drackarn, the entire background is contrived so CCP shouldn't advertise these things as "player-driven" when they are obviously not. They touted the battle of Caldari Prime as something unique to EvE and any player of any other mmo could turn around and say "umm no its not we have that stuff, and more often and they are even better written too"

      There is also the Elder fleet that allows someone who would be considered a heretic, traitor and a living abomination to become Empress. All the Amarr roleplayers really got a kick out of that one.

      The titan also luckily loses its entire engineering section before entering the atmosphere which we are told is the only part of the ship that could cause an extinction level event on the planet. Can't have the Gallente be guilty of collateral damage, that would make them look like something other than a cartoon.

  2. Uh... the Downing of the Shigeru was predetermined because CCP needed a DUST+EVE Trailer that had some REAL impact... Can't have much more impact than a friggin Titan destroyed by and Epic EVE Battle and crashing down from orbit right into an Epic Dust Battle...

    CCP can, with some work, easily come up with storylines that allow for emergent endings as long as they are careful to set the stage so no matter which 'side' wins or loses the outcome does not break the existing Lore and can be incorporated into the Lore and become our story too... The beauty of SciFi is ANYTHING is possible... =]