Monday, August 12, 2013

Folklore in New Eden… BB48: Lore

~or, “The Power of Myth…”

"Welcome to the continuing monthly EVE Blog Banters and our 48th edition! For more details about what the blog banters are visit the Blog Banter page.

This month's topic is a request from CCP Sisyphus who wants to know how important is Lore in EVE Online?

How important is “fluff” in Eve online? Would eve online be the same if it were purely numbers and mechanics, or are the fictional elements important to the enjoyment of the game? Would a pure text, no reference to sci-fi or fancy names still be an engaging game? Should CCP put more or less emphasis on immersion?"

First, a few remarks on the above statement:
(1) I do not consider the Lore of New Eden (or any well crafted and seriously thought out backstory for any decent game) as “fluff”...
(2) I do not consider Immersion as a definition, or a main part, of Lore. The Lore assists with Immersion during gameplay (especially roleplay).

That said, in response to what I feel the Burning Question of BB48: How important is Lore in EVE Online?

First and foremost this is an extremely subjective question. Lore, the science fiction based backstory and additional scifi based current stories in EvE and the ongoing emergent (living) history of New Eden that we the playerbase are creating are collectively the 'Lore' of EvE.

Included in this are 3 published hardback novels, “EVE: The Empyrean Age” (Tor Books; Aug 4, 2009) by Tony Gonzalas, “EVE: The Burning Life” (Tor Books; Mar 30, 2010) written by Hjalti Daníelsson, and “EVE: Templar One” (Tor Books; Jan 3, 2012) also by Tony Gonzalas. The official cannon on older sites such as the (currently inactive) “Chronicles”, newer sites such as the official “EVE Timeline” and player driven site, “EVE True Stories”...

These just barely scratch the surface... the number of blogs and fanfic, official and player driven sites with ties and stories that relate to both the fictional and emergent Lore of EvE is quite simply astounding. My blog, “A CARBON Based Life” is basically a journal of my experiences as my main, 'TurAmarth ElRandir' a Matarii Empyrean and Anoikis Mercenary... and the stories I write of my exploits are as much 'Lore' as Tony Gonzales's “EVE Templar One” novel, just emergent Lore based on my virtual life experiences as compared to stories of fictional (sometimes blended with emergent) experiences.

Ripard Teg said the lore in games like the Elder Scrolls “...often has an impact on game-play...”, and “...the lore [in EvE] doesn't impact the game-play at all. And therefore I get no advantage out of learning it.”. This is because the Lore in EvE is not about game play or (directly) the mechanics of the game, it is not about 'advantage', it is about history... it IS our virtual history and while history does not give you direct advantages, it gives indirect advantages. It helps one to understand the mindset and culture of a group of people.

In EvE, as the 'offical' history is fictional and does not actually relate to the reality (or virtuality if  you will) of the playerbase. The real people playing EvE are not in actuality Gallente, Amarr or Matarii so we do not act in accordance with the Official Lore. This is where Emergent Lore comes from. Capsuleers are not Gallente, or Matarii, we may come from them but we are now Immortals, separate, apart and very different from the great mass of 'normal' humans that populate the worlds and fill the stations and...

...and yes, (asubbotin, commenter on Ripard’s blog) the hundreds and thousands of people who serve, and often die, as crew our ships (if anyone thinks for one second that one lone human mentally hot-wired into the computer systems of a STARSHIP could handle everything on his own is seriously delusional... (and you know what? That's ok by me as, of course, EvE IS a game after all as our ships [in the GAME] are actually piloted by one guy sittin at a keyboard and staring into a screen...) but, in the official Lore it is a well established fact that our ships, all except PODs and shuttles are crewed by more than just one lone guy, no matter how enhanced, implanted and plugged in he may be... Ignoring this is simply something players who want to just play a spaceship game like it's an FPS do... except EvE is not an FPS...
but I digress...

How important is the Lore, or would a “...pure text, no reference to sci-fi or fancy names...” game be as engaging as EvE is? Simply put, IMHO not to me... but to answer that maybe the question is not 'how' but 'why' is Lore important? The plain truth is that while it garners you not one single 'advantage' in playing the game, it fulfills the need for understanding and basis of the why of the way things are now and it gives a framework from which to work forward... Forward? How so you ask?

“EVE Templar One” is a novel by Tony Gonzales that is (1) a highly enjoyable work of good SciFi in and of itself but it is also (B) the Lore, the backstory that provides an explanation of how the DUSTers came to exist in New Eden and the technology involved. Is this important? Well, it won't help you kill anyone better, of fit your ships better, or take and hold Sov... but it does form the basis, the rationale behind, all Industrial production. T1, 2 & 3 assets.

New fictional lore could give us access to new tech. For instance Sleeper tech salvaged from the Sleepers themselves as the original consciousness transfer tech was... this could be a basis for new implant tech... this also is a good basis for WiS and backs up some of the proposed gameplay inherent in that Lore.

IMHO the best Lore in EvE is the same as the best Myth and Legend IRL... the Lore that we don't know yet. IRL the story behind the Anaasází ( Navajo for "Ancient Ones" or "Ancient Enemy" commonly called Anasazi) is fascinating because we don't “know” the story. There are no records and little evidence left behind for us.

In EvE the Sleepers and the Talocan take that place... all we have left from them are the artifacts they left behind and so we find them fascinating... we are discovering their Lore as we go. I will admit to, as some of you already know, a great disappointment when CCP dropped the plans for Walking in Stations which COULD have led to some facilitating and potentially profitable avatar based gameplay such as this...

None of the Lore gives anyone any real ‘advantages’ in gameplay per se... but like  history in the real world... the lore of the people, the folklore of New Eden if you will... is the tapestry created from the interweaving of the stories, both fictional and emergent, of our living history...

Whether or not it is important to you depends on whether you care about history, and a good story... now doesn't it?

Fly Safe and see you in the Sky  =/|)=


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