Blog Banter #48: The Importance of Lore

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?”

I can’t imagine having to deal with the extreme challenge that is managing the lore of EVE Online. Whatever you do could mean so much to the game and how it’s played, or it could mean absolutely nothing to everyone. Meanwhile you have to do it all with a feeling for the overall plot that holds up to scrutiny from one of the most passionate gaming communities.  It’s important for sure… but why?

Maelstrom

One can’t really completely separate the graphs and maths of things from the inspiration behind them. The rust and duct tape experts we call the Minmatar use artillery and machine guns, relatively simple by science fiction standards. As a race that had bee subjugated by others for so long, they didn’t have the resources and time to worry about things like beautiful design and next-gen technology to exact revenge with. Their stuff looks slapped together because it draws upon the history of that race.

Hyperion

Contrast this to races like the Gallente which fly sleek ships with fantastic railgun-based weaponry, all funded by a society which favors pornography and drugs to complex corporate maneuvering and religious zealotry. Their libertarian history has resulted with smooth ships which employ the up close and personal touch to dealing with their enemies.

That basic starting point leads then into the design of how these two very different races operate as part of a game. Each favors a different style of tanking, their preferred weaponry force different approaches to combat, the speeds and maneuverability come into play in huge ways; and yet it’s all driven by that basic underlying concept of the story behind the races.

So you hit 2003 and the game launches, and you’re clear to kick back and let the players run around and play in your lore-filled sandbox, right?  Wrong. Reading about the backplot to the game is fine for an hour’s diversion but at some point you’re going to want to change the game in some interesting way, and you’re screwed if you think you can do it just because CCP Obama says he can change things for the better.

Complex plots involving defecting scientists and espionage have been used in the past to introduce new technologies for players to use. These usually start as slow burns, small news stories building up over days to much larger plots and sometimes culminating in some sort of crazy in-game event involving players.

Capsuleer

Is any of it “important” to EVE, though?  Well no, we don’t really need the lore to justify changes to the game; players by now generally get their information about changes through forum posts and patch notes.

However this is one of the few ways these days that CCP can still directly communicate the game’s vision with players. That vision isn’t just about balancing and UI improvements, it’s also directly involves and affects the day to day actions of players, corporations, and alliances.

Michael Lastucka

Also known as Winterblink in-game. Warp Drive Active's overlord.

  • Petr Deák

    Lore is important, without it, you just respawn. Lore is what makes EVE “realistic”.

  • kl

    Absolutely, lore is important. I read some of the stories and chronicles. These give the game a foundation, and impacts many of the players and events, such as the battle for Caldari Prime.