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EVE Online

Mapping the future of EVE fiction

If you’ve not read that rarest of things; a dev blog by CCP Abraxas, you really should. Especially his latest. It’s dense, full of trepidation and in turns joyful and rambling – but in a good way – like much of his fiction. If you haven’t read it, can’t be bothered or won’t, I’ll tell you the news: There will be no more chronicles. Not for a while at least. When they do return, there won’t be quite so many of them, or they won’t come quite so fast as before. Something like that anyway.

The reason the fiction tap is being temporarily turned off has something to do with integration, it seems. Abraxas being Abraxas, he doesn’t exactly spell it out, but the plan as I see it  is to have more words tethered directly to EVE – in-game, or at least more easily accessible in-game. These would be words that add a bit more life to the lifeless parts of New Eden, of which there are still plenty of in spite of all the wonderful chronicles that have been poured out over the last few years.

Let me ponder an example of how this might work (although I might be extremely wide of the mark here): Take the mediocre and ancient chronicle Children of Light. It elaborates, unnecessarily perhaps, on a phenomenon in EVE that can be explained away by the term ‘weird lights in space’. To pretend space captains like you and me the lights would be the result of a non-critical graphics card malfunction, but to the unwashed masses of New Eden the ‘fabled Lutins’ are a historical reality. And they are (or were) specific to a particular stargate in a particular system. The thing is, you wouldn’t know about such contrived nonsense unless you’d read the chronicle. Seeing as it’s old and buried on a web page somewhere, the chances are most people only recognise the picture that went with it.

Ah, but what if you could access the chronicle, or a précis of it, out in space as you passed through that statgate (right-click ‘show info’). Quite cool, no? Ok, sure, it hardly offers critical information, but it injects interest and character into parts of the game that might be otherwise mundane (like a bog-standard stargate), without necessarily having info rammed down your throat. Imagine if every stargate had a story to tell, should you wish to read about it. Every station, moon, planet… even every sentry gun. Very cool, no?

I suspect, although I’m not sure, that this is the kind of thing that Abraxas is hinting at.

I’m reminded of a chat I had with Tony Gonzales – who’s dev name escapes me – a couple of years ago (about fiction in EON). We were on the phone and I started up a bit of a rant about the in-game EVE map and generally how under-utilised it was as a hub for all sorts of non-critical information delivery. Then (as now) we got much of our info via the official EVE site, which is fine, but what if, I suggested, the in-game map was the hub for news in-game? Let’s say IC have just reported on a huge alliance battle in Curse, a pin would float above the region for anyone who pressed F10 and you would roll your mouse over it to reveal the story. A similar notification would flick up if a news item was posted about another system.

In short, I felt (and still do) that the EVE map, as well as being a tool for navigation, could also be a hub for in-game news and story-telling. Perhaps even for communications too. If EVE is all about New Eden, then surely the common view we all have of New Eden, via pressing F10, should be our window over all of it – not just of the geography of EVE, but the history too?

Of course it’s hard to tell what CCP’s exact plans are for integrating all these disparate story elements into the game. As mentioned it’s surely going to be a lot of hard work. It would appear that the EVElopedia is getting all the love, or some future form of it. If so, that’s great, but I still think there should be more to F10 than a bunch of coloured dots and jump lines. Maybe CCP think the same, who knows.

(Hmmm, that’s three fiction-related posts in a row. I’ll try to write about something else next time.)

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Discussion

2 thoughts on “Mapping the future of EVE fiction

  1. Since reading CCP Abraxus’ blog, I now hope for something similar. In Warhammer Online, one of the key innovations was the Tome of Knowledge, which serves a similar purpose to your interactive map concept. It was a fantastic way of increasing immersion, gathering information and – it turns out – crashing my PC.

    I really hope that’s the kind of context-sensitive interface improvement he is alluding to. Except with less BSODs.

    Posted by Seismic Stan | December 9, 2010, 11:23 pm
  2. Now that you mention it, the Tome was(is) excellent. It was about the only thing about that game that made it feel like a world rather than some of kind of fantasy Team Fortress.

    Anything that hides the fact you’re playing a game and expands the illusion of being part of a “living, breathing universe” can only be a good thing in my book.

    Posted by Zapatero | December 9, 2010, 11:36 pm

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