This months Blog Banter: How important is lore? Are the fictional elements of Eve Online important to the enjoyment of the game?
Do you remember the Summer of Rage? The Incarna expansion?
I remember that Everyone Lost Their Collective Minds.
In short, players lost their ability to spaceship spin and got an avatar that could walk around in a three room shoe box. Players rebelled. Many quit. They didn’t want to play space barbies, they wanted to spin spaceships. At least I think they wanted to spin spaceships, because when they gave us the option of looking at a wall instead of using the Captains Quarters, people still cried and complained that they wanted their spaceships back.
Seems kind of strange to me, that people were quitting Eve over Walking in Stations 0.1. But the people spoke: This is stupid. This is too CPU intensive. This is a waste of programming effort when there were so many other things in the game that CCP should be working on.
And I agreed that it was a waste of time and effort, but my reasons were different from most of my peers.
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I am a capsuler. I am one of several million pilots who accepts the burden of immortality in order to move the ships, people and commodities that make these vast star-faring empires work. Immortal because otherwise the investment to train me would not be worth the cost. When my friends and family on Perimeter are dust, I will still remain. The Caldari trained me at State War Academy, and I am grateful for their investment in me, because I certainly could not have afforded immortality on my own.
There are 500 thousand of us that make up the Independents. We are the pilots that tip the balance between the empires: the pioneers on the frontiers of null security space, the pirates and privateers battling in low sec, the explorers establishing colonies in wormhole space. The pilots who fly for Concord, for Amarr Navy, for Theology Council, they are not like me: they are not free. Not truly. But they are the blood running through the veins of Empire, for Empire cannot survive without them.
I do not truly know why I was selected to be a capsuler, I just know that I am suited to be one. Plugged into my capsule, filled with biometric gel, I give myself, body and spirit to running my starship. My mind controls the modules, weapons and great engines that make up the most complex machines known to man. My weapons are devastating, my defenses formidable.
I can cross almost any star system in less than a minute. What a “beer run” would be to a mortal, is a quick trip though 20 star systems to gather supplies, fill a contract, or destroy an enemy. The most lumbering ship I control travels a mile in the 16 seconds that it takes preparing to go to warp speed.
From my ship, I can pinpoint the exact position of every planet, moon and asteroid in every system I enter. I can tell the difference between man made objects in space a billion miles away. If I concentrate, I can find starships and spacial anomalies several billion miles away.
I’ve been in starship combat with hundreds of ships on a side. I’ve been in solo fights where I’ve won with my ship in structure, bleeding atmosphere like blood. Pain inhibitors prevent capsulers from feeling the agony that comes with damage to their ship. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to turn them off. I am wise enough not to try.
I have lost over 200 ships. This gives me great sadness. To me, my ships are precious, unique creatures that I bring to life. But ships are not immortal: they are born, we give them life, they serve their purpose and they die. I have saved my share of ships, through planning, piloting or just plain luck. A thousand times, so many near misses that I’ve lost count. Of this, I am very proud.
I’ve destroyed thousands of ships. There is a dark part in my heart that takes great pleasure at this.
I communicate with my peers, fellow contractors in my corporation and associates from other corporations, via the communications protocols available to me. Voice. Video. Text. Face to face meetings are rare and, for the most part, completely unnecessary to conduct the business of running an interstellar corporation. My capsule provides the nutrients required to keep me alive. I neither eat, drink nor breathe.
I sleep. Technological advances have not removed that need. I think this is what keeps us human.
When I dock in station, the load masters fill my orders, repair my weapons, change out my ship fittings to meet my specifications. When things are not right, I can only blame myself for not directing them to make the changes I desire, when they refill my magazine with Caldari Scourge instead of Mjolnir. I’ve learned to use checklists.
I rarely leave my capsule. I feel diminished when I do. Small. Minute. Insignificant. Why should I spend time in my quarters again? Oh, I watch the videos, experiment with ship fittings. I’ll have a nice meal, sushi perhaps, sip some whiskey. Maybe I’ll share some time with a companion or two.
I’ll admire myself in the mirror: Still as handsome as ever. Haven’t aged a day. For a spell, I’ll remember what it’s like to be merely a man.
Then I’ll undock and warp to the sun, admire the beauty and the vastness of space, and take pleasure in knowing that I am limited only by the music of my immortal soul.
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Lore important in Eve Online? Let’s just say that I’m pretty sure I don’t feel the same way about Call of Duty.
How ’bout you?