I have always been fascinated by the lore in video games and other fantasy worlds. Any time I played an MMO or RPG with any seriousness I made sure that I understood as many of the “rules” and stories of that world as I could without getting bogged down in obscure details. Eve Online sets its story apart from other MMOs in that the players ARE the story. This is not some gimmick like in Guild Wars 2 were the outcome is already certain, merely giving the illusion of player choice. New Eden has a living, dynamic story that is constantly being changed, adapted, readjusted, and refocused based almost entirely off of what the players themselves do.
On the other hand, just as players in Eve can choose to become part of the story, they can also choose to distance themselves from it. Any player can ignore significant aspects of the developing storyline, typically without any consequences.
Certainly Not Certain
Please keep in mind that due to the nature of a living story assertions and conclusions in the articles that follow may end up being total bunk. I offer no guarantees that the conclusions offered will be reflective of future events. The best I can is an informed guess; it’s up to you to decide what you do with this information.
Recently the drifters “invaded” Sarum Prime and were defeated by the combined forces of NPC actors and members of Provi-bloc. An elaborate stoyline involving Shattered Worlds, Exploding Stars and government secrecy has been slowly building in New Eden. The mysterious Drifters, with their super-weapons and unknown agenda, seem to occupy its center. Only CCP knows if this story is an optional footnote that uninvolved carebears can afford to ignore, or if these events will have a direct, long-term effect on all aspects of game-play in New Eden.
A Living Story
All the universe is a stage and the story (your story) unfolds in Eve, but what inspires this story? In Science Fiction, or any fiction for that matter, there are distinct patterns and similarities between narratives that can be traced back to previous stories and works of fiction. A good writer takes old material and reinvents it, invigorating a previously used narrative to give it new meaning and purpose. A bad writer will reuse the same tropes like recycled tricks at a magic show that ends when the last person decides to leave.
The Drifter/Jovian storyline is appealing at first glance but any avid reader of Philip K Dick will notice the similarities to “The Adjustment Team.” Superior Life form watches over us (“They are listening”) with giant cloaked music towers. Then a faction of the superior life form absconds with technology and goes dormant for thousands of years, only to become a main antagonist later on during the nascent evolution of humanity. Similar themes exist in popular works like Dark City, Half-Life, and Fringe to name just a few. All of these works have a common thread, but each chooses a different way to reinvent the source material that inspires the antagonist.
To What End?
So if CCP has gone to the trouble to put their own spin on these old ideas, what is the relevance? The Drifters as an antagonist are about as frightening to the average high-sec carebear as the idea that the Jove have been listening in on our lives since the first Empires. The Jove music towers and Caroline’s Star are certainly linked to the drifter emergence, but while interesting these events are not relevant to the care-bear way of life. The Drifters are prevented from having a real impact due to existing mechanics or design choices on part of CCP.
The player base would have a reason to care if drifters started attacking trade hubs like Jita or Dodixie, slaughtering players indiscriminately. The increased involvement of NPCs and their associated governing entities in the lives of players is a welcome change but will placing bounties on capsuleers for not turning over the corpse of Hillen Tukos provide any spice to the casual player? The story is there in all its depth and richness, but it lacks substance, as relevant to the average player as a cobweb swept aside while walking to work, or the store, or some other destination with real meaning.
Right now the magician is telling us he plans to saw a lovely woman in half but before the blades reach her the safety button dings green and nothing happens. Do you, the player experiencing this world, find amusement and enrichment in the performance thus far? Or have you decided that it might be time to finish your drink and head out? This is a turning point not just in Eve Online but gaming in general; the industry has become inundated with rehashed, rebranded +1 titles. My hope is that the magicians at CCP have better tricks yet to show us.