Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Easy Transition

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?
A new blog banter. Time to ruminate. Let's expand on the initial presuppositions before we get to the question first.

The characteristics of the "player-driven narrative" are kind of like stars in a galaxy, if you treat each player as its own celestial body. They swirl around on fairly predictable orbits, a few giants and super giants but lots of white dwarfs (and a few black holes and neutron stars and pulsars), interacting with each other usually at a distances but sometimes up close and personal with a lot of violence, and occasionally there are supernovae or even super rare star collisions (like when a Titan pilot clicks jump instead of bridge and turns a routine hotdrop into one of the largest battles in Eve's history). They swirl around in some predictable and unpredictable (by our science) ways and although each star has a unique history and tale to tell, the aggregate is a stately and relatively smooth galaxy constantly in space.

On the other hand, "Live Event Narrative" is like a game of billiards. A small number of balls are banged around by players on the sidelines for a short game or two and then the lights go off and everyone goes home.

Even if you bring them both to the same scale (so that the galaxy was the size of the billiard table) you can see at a glance how different and incompatible they are. They both operate under similar rules (i.e. physics) but in one the interactions happen naturally while in the other the players drive the interactions and can even cheat (by moving a ball for example).

The simple fact of the matter is that live events as they are now (planned large set pieces in tight locations) will always be incompatible with the player narrative for the most part except for tangentially. It is possible for a different live event approach to work better with the existing player narrative but they would require a lot more people doing the acting/eventing in order to pull it off and I'm not sure the overall return on investment would be good enough to justify the extra expenditure.

That being said, I'm OK with the two not being compatible. They are different activities for different purposes and people can join in them as they want (although, more NA timezone live events please).

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More on the subject from other authors found here at Freebooted blog.

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