New Eden’s Empires Ignore Sixty-Two-Million Deaths

2016-12-29

A few weeks ago, the largest concentration of players in gaming history to date converged on a Keepstar citadel in the system of M-OEE8. It was such a big deal that CCP even made Scope videos about the days leading up to the destruction and a synopsis of the final battle. CCP even gave us an estimate of the amount of people in the Keepstar: 132 million people, or the combined population of the top 7 most populated cities in the world. Another way to put that into perspective: the population of Russia was 143.5 million as of 2013.

Active Citadel

 

Polygon compared the Keepstar to the Death Star from Star Wars. I was originally going to try and point out how the first Death Star (120 km axis) was slightly smaller than a Keepstar (197 km axis), but still only had roughly 400,000 people on it; nowhere near 132 million the Keepstar has. Then a friend pointed out to me that the Death Star was really a military installation, whereas citadels come in multiple sizes and have various uses. Both the industrial complexes as well as the proper citadels are meant to be staging points and full of life. The closest real-world example of this is perhaps how castles were used in the middle ages. CCP marketed citadels to players—and the people of the in-game universe—as “your city in the heavens”. They are places of trade and commerce, while also being dangerous weapons of war. They are a place for a garrison to stage attacks from and have significant anti-siege weapons as well (most notably the Keepstar’s doomsday device). Still, 132 million is a lot of people to be trapped in a single structure in the middle of a war zone.

In CCP’s defense, they did mention that CO2 organized “Civilian Evacuations” via a title during a segment in their second video as they evacuated their own ships. However, the excerpt was still very brief and vague. While there were several days before the battle actually started, millions would have had to have evacuated in less than a week. In the end, an estimated 62,455,000 civilians were left onboard the station at the time of its destruction. CCP notes in the second Scope video that the remaining occupants had dug their heels in as the final CO2 Leviathan-class titan jumped out of system, determined to take as many attackers with them as possible.

leviathan on keepstar

This brings to my mind not only the capsuleer who was manning the citadel, but also millions of workers who had made that station their home and wanted to defend it. Similar to the scene in Star Wars a New Hope where Luke and Han Solo are fighting off TIE fighters in the Millennium Falcon, I can see many of those defiant souls manning the guns and blasting away with tears streaming down their faces as they looked death in the eyes and continued to fire anyway. When the final explosion came, I can easily imagine the terrified screams of those panicking from the destruction of everything around them, running through the halls to futily escape the inferno licking the walls as it barrels towards them similar to how the viewer feels the panic of the inhabitants of the USS Kelvin in J.J. Abram’s Star Trek as the time-travelling Romulan Nero obliterates pieces of their ship. All before their voices were “silenced.”

Lack of Galactic reaction

Much like the Titanic, I feel that the Keepstar event would spark some kind of controversy among the empires if it has not already. Where is the outrage from the Gallente Federation or the Minmatar Republic that the Citadel did not have enough escape pods or civilian mass evacuation transports? Why has the new Tash-Murkon Empress of the Amarr Empire not commented on this immense loss of life? Where is the Upwell Consortium’s comment on how the Citadel performed in combat and how many of the inhabitants ended up dying in the process due to evacuation protocols they plan to amend? Would this not put a damper on the enthusiasm of those interested in going off into Nullsec since Citadels are supposed to be somewhat safer than a ship? The Keepstar could be considered one of the largest civilian casualties caught in the crossfire of capsuleer conflicts in New Eden’s history and yet there is naught beyond a peep about their deaths.

In a previous Scope video regarding the initial Drifter Sightings, CCP mentioned in the underlying text that there was a controversy among the families whose loved ones died on the Thanatos carrier that the capsuleer pilot Dantheus lost when he said “Don’t fly what you can’t afford to lose.” This would indicate he was more concerned about the loss of his ship and not the lives of his crew. If this caused controversy, a mere 350 to potentially 18,000 civilians, why has the loss of millions not been commented on by the empires?!

If nothing else, why have we not seen some kind of demand for better evacuation protocols from the empires to try making the possibility of giant battles like this be less of a threat to those who want to make a new life for themselves on the frontier? The most recent (at time of writing) World News article is about Alpha clones bolstering Capsuleer numbers despite drifter assaults. While I get CCP is full of real people with real lives, and this happened right before a major holiday, it still strikes me as somewhat of a disconnect that they would go through so much trouble to cover the battle and yet they barely made a blip about the people who lived on the station? I mean do we really care that there are dangerous NPCs coming to get us when giant wars are happening that have less scripted consequences? CCP dropped a bomb of specifying 132 million people and then somewhat mention it again at the end as yet another punch to the heart and that was that. Seriously.

Immersion breaking

As a roleplayer in nullsec, I have found myself discounting the roleplay ramifications of the choices I make on my character because the Out-of-Character reason is that it’s fun. I was able to participate in the battle that destroyed the Keepstar in question as a member of Pandemic Horde and just barely get on the killmail. But that choice raises questions about who I am as a player vs who my character is. I could simply say he was supporting his faction in their war for the Tribute region. But I know Vulxanis would also struggle with seeing the Scope video and view it with pain in his heart knowing that he and his friends destroyed millions of innocent lives. He is a very grandfatherly character who has done a lot of humanitarian work and this would hit him where it hurts.

Keepstar Killmail

 

There is a little bit of a disconnect philosophically on how unaffected by the loss of life we are as capsuleers (and as players) that we inflict in this videogame. Ultimately, they are just pixels. But EVE is arguably a different entity altogether in some ways. It is not just a videogame, or even a simulation. It could be argued that EVE’s living world is an alternate universe that is simply controlled by our own. Your character would be affected in some way by the experiences they have in New Eden. Thus it would not be too far fetched to consider the ramifications of your ingame actions while happily blowing ships up on your merry way.

I am not saying you as a player need to feel guilty for blowing up pixels. This is a videogame, not Aleppo. My personal favorite form of relaxation in EVE other than chatting with friends is ratting or running a mission and watching all the things explode. However, CCP has presented us with a living, breathing world, and this universe has major inconsistencies in how it presents itself. The lack of reaction by the empires to the Keepstar is not the first time CCP has done this and it likely won’t be the last. I mean really: a blood raider fighting in the Amarr succession trials? Really CCP? Did you forget how the Theology Council feels about heretics? But I digress.

Many players may chalk this article up to a roleplayer simply being too sensitive or overthinking these events too much. But please keep in mind that over 13,000 people signed a petition for the ending of Mass Effect 3 to get changed because they felt disrespected. If those players cared so much about a world that they had invested themselves in, are the gripes roleplayers and lorehounds have with CCP any less valuable?

This oversight on CCP’s part for not mentioning the rest of the universe’s reaction to the battle for the Keepstar in M-OEE8 can be potentially slightly excused by them not having enough time. Better yet, rectified by a new article or video coming out after New Years talking about the rest of New Eden’s reaction to this giant battle. But if the bar is set as high as CCP has regarding the quality of immersion from the universe as a whole, it can be very frustrating to those who throw themselves into this universe as deeply as possible when there are inconsistencies that are not addressed. They released a video covering the battle, why not mention how the empires reacted to it? Even a simple article of 500 words written in 20 minutes would be sufficient. We expect more because of how good we know CCP can be.

Ultimately, these disconnects cause “Ludonarrative Dissonance”, or in EVE’s case, “Ludoworld Dissonance”. Ludonarrative Dissonance is a conflict between a video game’s narrative and its gameplay. While it is unreasonable for everything to fit perfectly and make perfect sense – if we did not have magically reappearing asteroid belts or sites to rat in, the game’s economy would collapse – because it is ultimately a game, this battle is kind of a big thing that happened that I feel CCP should address a tiny bit more. I want to know more about the living world’s reaction to what I affect.

If nothing else, the entire battle for the Keepstar would make an absolutely EPIC film.

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Comments

  • malikorDuskryn

    Completely agree

    December 29, 2016 at 12:07 PM
  • Hanonymouse

    Look at the virtual tears shed for the virtual deaths.

    December 29, 2016 at 2:41 PM
  • Sidrat Flush

    I agree that CCP could and should do a lot more to push the role playing and lore aspects of our narrative to the forefront.

    Sadly 130 million souls is a bit much to comprehend for most, certainly for myself. For a very long time players didn’t know there were any crew members on board ships of any size until they were told and directed to the stories still available to read on https://community.eveonline.com/backstory/chronicles/ click it again so Fedo is the first title. There’s other longer multi-part stories too and I urge anyone who wants to either learn more about the lore or have a cracking short story experience to read through them.

    The Jovian Wet Grave can be found on the Short Story section and is the original telling of the technological gift from the Jovian race giving the four Empires Capsuleers.

    Back to this article however, even today with the number of hours of produced TV in a single language on a single planet it’s still too much to watch in one life time so things are obviously going to be missed, getting a filter to spend an hour a day from an entire star cluster is going to be slightly more insane to achieve. Personal preference on scope will of course depend on future travel plans, and given the public nature of a call to war in the South, CCP Could do well to get those stories of mass evacuations or digging in defenses to readers who may not otherwise know of the null sec movements.

    December 29, 2016 at 3:23 PM
    • Vulxanis Viceroy Sidrat Flush

      Thanks for your feedback! I agree it is a tall order for CCP to get everything, but I thought this was something simple and was a missed opportunity that could be easily rectified.

      December 29, 2016 at 7:12 PM
  • Apostophe Noodle

    Good article.
    I would say though that as a capsuleer, I am wholly unconcerned with the lives of non-capsuleers.
    For one, they are simply beneath me. I am an immortal space god able to obliterate entire Serpentis fleets single-handedly. In one evening of clearing Sansha out of Forsaken Hubs I kill thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of people. Their lives counted against the going price of faction cruise missiles.
    The lives of non-capsuleers in some outpost I’ve never been to mean even less.

    The empires certainly should be talking about it. More SCOPE coverage would make perfect sense. But CCP has a habit of dropping a story line right in the middle. Just like the Drifter assault on Amarr— that went nowhere quick.
    Heck, many of us are still waiting for the line ‘The Empires are losing their grip on power’ to come true. For the distrust of capsuleers to boil over into conflict. But we don’t get that. CCP will fart out another half-baked story line to be abandoned in the next expansion.

    December 29, 2016 at 3:27 PM
    • Vulxanis Viceroy Apostophe Noodle

      Thanks for your feedback! I agree. I just thought they should at least address this missing piece with at least a short article and I would be satisfied.

      December 29, 2016 at 7:10 PM
  • Caleb Ayrania

    Nice article, but I do believe it was pretty lore/RP covered during the events. There were 3 or 4 videos about these things, and it was mentioned around the destruction of the first citadel how Upwell were criticised. I think its a question of the holiday season and the speed of development, that is behind the lack of further content from CCP about the topic. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rcjgVMWWwfs

    December 29, 2016 at 4:23 PM
    • Vulxanis Viceroy Caleb Ayrania

      Thanks for your feedback! I think so too. I just thought it was odd they would go through so much trouble and then stop right without telling us how the world reacted to the Scope videos.

      December 29, 2016 at 7:07 PM
  • Marenteius

    Well, I think the answer is much simpler than you’d imagine. The total population of the 4 core empires runs in the trillions, with who knows how many more living outside empire space. That being the case, 62m deaths isnt even a drop in the proverbial bucket. In all likelihood, outside of a certain demographic of the Gallente Federation, no one gives a damn about a bunch of yokels trying to colonize the sticks.

    Beyond that, think of scale… each capsuleer, in game, is a mass murderer of mortal humans, considering that non capsuleer crewed battleships require large crews, and most of us have killed many MANY such ships.

    TL;DR, being a mortal in New Eden has a very high chance of being a shit deal, and everyone knows it.

    December 29, 2016 at 7:09 PM
    • Vulxanis Viceroy Marenteius

      Thanks for your feedback! While yes this is true, CCP made it a big enough deal to mention in the Scope. And since New Eden is going through a surge of alpha-level capsuleers, and since people in the universe would have seen those videos, I just thought it would have stood out since it was more civilians getting killed rather than simply combatants. The empires like to present themselves as humanitarians (especially the Minmatar and Gallente), so while yes it does not seem that it would affect them much, I feel it would still bother people due to the nature of how the people died, rather than how many of them died.

      December 29, 2016 at 7:19 PM
  • waffle911

    I wonder if allowing citadels and industrial complexes to be conquered or captured would be a worthwhile gameplay avenue to explore. It would allow attackers the opportunity to show mercy to the inhabitants caught in the crossfire, and to re-use and repurpose an existing structure rather than tearing it down to replace it. But I suppose this would just be taking away a necessary ISK/resource sink.

    December 29, 2016 at 7:48 PM
  • Borat Guereen

    Nice article!

    You do ignore the largest issue, which are the billions of Minmatars still held in slavery by the Amarr Theocracy and killed every single day in New Eden.

    Our revolution fought to defend Tribute and its Keepstar from the imperialistic aggression, and we are fighting against the slavers and the imperialists for freedom
    And not the “freedom” that the PLooNS want you to accept so that they can get richer and more powerful.

    So what are *you* doing about it?
    Words are simply a “feel-good” band-aid but do not change things.
    Deeds with guns and ships do…

    http://chao3.net/news/ploons-i-rebel

    December 29, 2016 at 9:25 PM
  • Sarus_Gailen

    It certainly is disconcerting and disheartening by the fact that not much people are reacting to these staggering numbers of deaths in M-O. But there is also an old saying.

    1 death is a tragedy, but a million is a statistic. I guess a lot of people think that way, especially in New Eden where capsuleers think of death as simply a learning experience.

    Personally, I do think that CCP should cover this more. I mean these are people working in our citadels, making a living, feeding their families, and fighting alongside us as crew for our ships.

    December 29, 2016 at 10:22 PM
  • supercloon

    It took roughly a week to get through the reinforcement stages… don’t you think the visitors or residents that were not essential to the citadels defense would have left the station? I’m quite sure there would be a mass evacuation when it’s destruction became a very real possibility. And for those who were too stupid or stubborn to leave wouldn’t be missed.

    December 30, 2016 at 6:17 AM
  • Bill Bones

    If you come to think of it, it is unreal that a Keepstar haves a binary state: functional/inexistant. In any kind of real world, the station would have been blown bit by bit, slowly erasing pieces of it, destroying weapons and defenses, until a mangled wreck was left behind. People would have evacuated the destroyed sections and seeked refuge in the functional ones, much as they do in every bombed city in history. Also such a big structure would have networked services, not centralized ones, i.e. would have several power plants scattered around, not a single “power core” to blow up ih the event of a single failure. It’s a bloody city in the sky, not a bomb!

    A crate hundreds of kilometers across being perfectly functional until it dissapears, all or nothing, is unreal. It’s just a shoddy lifebar mechanic, not even an attempt at being plausible.

    December 30, 2016 at 9:41 PM
  • David Matterall

    Great Article. Thanks for writing it, it was a good read.

    January 3, 2017 at 5:21 AM