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OK, here’s one that’s really geek philosophy.  I’m not even sure how I feel about it myself yet.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

One of the basics of fiction writing is “show, don’t tell.”  Hell, it’s practically something taught in freshman creative writing classes.  That said, like “always follow the primary”, it’s one of those rules that is absolutely unbreakable… until it comes time to break it.(1)  As you grow more adept as a fiction writer, you might choose to break the rule for narrative flow purposes to jump straight to the conflict in your story, for instance.  This summer’s blockbuster movie Pacific Rim had to do a good bit of this because while the history of the kaiju-jaeger conflict was interesting, it wasn’t the meat of the story.

But when it comes to EVE Online lore, those who have been writing it have always had a brutal 1v1 going with this rule.  It’s rarely done in moderation: either it’s all tell, no show (Chronicles) or it’s all show, no tell (lots and lots of EVE Online live events).

Now I’m not an EVE lore guy and I’ve never claimed to be one.  I’m not an EVE role-player either; when I play the game I’m only very vaguely thinking about the game in those terms if I’m thinking about it at all.  But over the last year or so, I’ve had to pay more and more attention to the lore.  Hell, part of the goal CCP Seagull has for upcoming expansions seems to be to drag a lot of us kicking and screaming into EVE’s lore whether we want to go there or not.  I mean, how do you think about “space colonization” as a CSM member and as someone who’s interested in the future of EVE — and I’m both — without at least considering the lore and storyline aspects of it?(2)

So that’s where I’ve been lately: paying attention to more of EVE’s lore but not really all that comfortable with doing so.

But as I’ve paid more attention to it, the dichotomy between show and tell in how CCP has handled the lore has become more and more visible to me.  And when the Luminaire live event happened earlier this year, I was dragged into the lore by the simple virtue that I had EVE players complaining to me as a CSM member that the results of that particular live event were set in stone such that players couldn’t influence them at all.  That Leviathan was going to crash no matter what EVE players had to say about it, and that aggravated a number of you.  “Where’s the player influence?!” some of you yelled.  “Where’s the player-driven sandbox?!”  So there’s a second dichotomy in addition to the one between show and tell, and that’s the one between — and cripes, I can’t believe I’m about to type this — predestination and free will!

I warned you this was geek philosophy, right?

To what extent do we as players want CCP making decisions about the lore of the game and the results of live events for us?  Should all live events have an ending that players can have an influence on based on their actions?  Or is a mix the right way to go?  And even more than that, let’s zoom out and look at the big picture.  As players, we influence the sandbox.  Does CCP get to influence the sandbox too?  More and more, I feel like the most vocal branch of the players feel the answer is “no!”  They don’t want CCP influencing the sandbox.  That creates the rather ironic situation where EVE players get ragey if their free-will is challenged!  Hell, if there’s a common thread between the annoyance over the Luminaire live event and rage over the SOMERblink stuff over the summer, that was it: that CCP was threatening the integrity of the sandbox through their actions.

As I said when I started this post, I’m not sure where I myself fall on this subject yet.  I can see the merits to both sides.  I feel like CCP should be allowed to tell the story they want to tell: that’s one of the perks that goes with being a game designer.  Without that underlying story, EVE’s richness would be greatly diminished.  Player actions defining 100% of the story would result in a pretty random story.  But I certainly follow and agree with — to some extent — the “integrity of the sandbox” argument that is raised when this question comes up.

What do you think, Dear Readers?  Where is the line between show and tell?  Where is the line between predestination and free will?  How much influence should CCP have over their own creation?

- Ripard Teg

If you would like to read more we invite you to visit his blog here.

(1) If you’re in the anti-tackle wing of a skirmish fleet, for instance, you ignore primaries called by the FC and instead focus on tackle ships like interceptors and frigates.
(2) Another example: when CCP Rise first made the CSM aware of upcoming Sisters of EVE ships, I was the CSM member that dug through the “Book of EVE” for him looking for past references to them.

16 Comments

  1. Billbo

    So those minutes? Any fucking day now, Does someone need to go “Spartacus” on Dolan ffs.

    November 12, 2013 at 3:32 pm Reply
  2. charlie

    “Lore” in EVE means what actual players actually did, that’s what matters, that is the history of the game.

    Some random story made up by CCP means nothing to anyone.

    November 12, 2013 at 3:35 pm Reply
    1. DD Grunt

      Good point…it would be great if CCP take that in consideration when it comes to create new events and content…

      Fly safe.

      DD Grunt

      November 12, 2013 at 3:46 pm Reply
    2. Bairfhionn Isu

      Maybe to you. People like story and lore.
      Imagine how exited you would be when the Factions really lose control over their space and people can “conquer” hisec (of course, there still will be Concord). You would be happy. This is lore.

      November 12, 2013 at 3:48 pm Reply
    3. The14th

      Because you speak for EVERYBODY, right?

      November 12, 2013 at 3:48 pm Reply
    4. Lukas Rox

      I wouldn’t be so sure, there are people for whom only player action matter, and there are those, who love the backstory and roleplay in EVE. While in minority, they still exist. Don’t forget about them, please.

      November 12, 2013 at 3:50 pm Reply
  3. Mike

    Where is the csm minutes, you plan on going to the next summit before we get the minutes from the first?

    November 12, 2013 at 3:47 pm Reply
  4. santa

    “What do you think, Dear Readers? Where is the line between show and tell? Where is the line between predestination and free will? How much influence should CCP have over their own creation?” Dude just Goblin!

    November 12, 2013 at 3:53 pm Reply
  5. 2.4

    I’m going to safely assume those minutes will be heavily modded…hence why it’s taking so long to publicize them!

    It’s all in the CCP/CSM song and dance…personal agendas, job hunting, RMT management, etc etc.

    November 12, 2013 at 4:41 pm Reply
  6. Provi Miner

    Well thanks for asking for I have your answer. First my back story, I am a huge history/lore buff (not so much eve its a time management thing, not a lack of want). That said the line is where history impedes progress. A simple example: A local community wants to build a nice addition to the local rec center, only problem is that in order to build it they have to tear down a house. Normally not much of problem pay off the owner and tear it down. However the house belonged to some general from the WWII, and the local historical society says no to removing the building. And that is where the line is. Progress vs history/lore. Progress first unless it is a touchstone moment or place ie the graveyards in normandy, Arlington cemetary, Buckingham palace, well you get the idea. Just because Joan of arc once slept here is not a strong enough reason not to build something new and needed.

    November 12, 2013 at 4:55 pm Reply
  7. shit csm

    wheres the csm minutes?

    November 12, 2013 at 7:34 pm Reply
  8. Me

    Show us the minutes.

    November 12, 2013 at 7:49 pm Reply
  9. Justin Cody

    The Live Events Team needs to do more of a run up to it. Players need a bit of time to get their heads around the story. I have the sense that CCP needs to treat the plot like some sort of noir detective novel. Little clues hidden all over. Easter eggs in story-line missions that are constantly updated between patches as a bridge to the big events like this. Update the galatic news bulletins in null sec to reflect the changes npc factions have made (not just OMG GAS).

    Stain itself should be taking a more central role in incursions and that part of the story line. Definitely should have events out there especially for those residents…like a region wide incursion event or something. But have sansha missions hint at it 4 or months in advance as players help sansha progress towards it with mission help. On the other side have the imperial navy missions and neighboring pirate factions (angel cartel and bloodraider) attempt to sabotage sansha’s efforts and/or steal his tech for their own ends (parallel live events when this actually goes off).

    CONCORD should be the ones marshaling the empire based capsuleers with their own story-line missions to oppose this sort of thing and even Sisters Of EVE. But mainly through the low sec based agents. High sec agents could always give you a story line agent in low sec that would hook you into this plot starting at L3 missions.

    That is just one example. People don’t say much about the Intaki story line and wormhole story line has few hints dropped about it. We have some ideas but there needs to be a method of confirming what we know officially. OOG player efforts to compile information are all well and good and I understand that CCP wants tight control on the story and all associated IP, but more interaction has always been necessary.

    All of this would be made easier if money wasn’t being pissed away on WoD btw. *hint hint*

    November 12, 2013 at 8:45 pm Reply
  10. Batholomew Q. Schmecklestein

    I love the lore of EVE. I don’t know most of it but what I do know is cool. The problem is that playing EVE has almost nothing to do with the lore. The missions give a little background, sure. But those are randomly seeded… there’s nothing in game that makes me care whether I picked Caldari or Gallente to start with. The game is divorced from the lore and it shouldn’t be. “But the sandbox!” Well, you have to train skills in the sandbox. No reason to not have other arbitrary starting rules.

    November 12, 2013 at 8:55 pm Reply
    1. bob

      But that’s what those awesome CCP events are all about.

      November 13, 2013 at 3:00 am Reply
  11. morebortsigns

    there is no reward or penalty for knowing or not knowing the lore so its not really part of the game.
    i wish they added epic arcs that pulled you in to the lore.
    why not have a smuggler arc that had alot of text reading and dialogue retelling the lore.
    for every mission you would be rewarded a chess piece when you complete the arc and have the full set you can play chess with other players in you quarters while docked.
    The mission would require you to answer questions in the dialogue and that would force you to read and understand the lore.

    November 13, 2013 at 7:54 am Reply

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