To kick off our exclusive Fanfest coverage, we take a look at CCP's philosophy behind EVE Online.
At the top of the world, you might think there’s something a little strange in the water. Or the whale meat. Or the "cured" shark. Because one of the first things that the developers at CCP pronounced to a room full of wide-eyed, Iceland-shocked press members was just a little left of center.
"EVE is real."
I heard this statement multiple times while sitting in the first two press-only sessions that kicked off EVE Fanfest. Initially, that statement will strike anyone as odd. EVE Online’s just a game, right? It’s just a bunch of talking spaceships floating through a virtual space. Why would the developers want to come forward and say something so… daring?
That was the question I had to answer. Why would – after years of service as an online game – the developers behind EVE suddenly take this stance?
The answer wasn’t as simple as a single statement, however, and each developer on the panel – which included Dr. Eyjolfur Gudmundsson, lead economist; Arnar Hrafn Gylfason, senior director; Torfi Frans Olafsson, creative director of EVE; and Tony Gonzales, I.P. manager and novelist – gave their own reasoning behind the notion that EVE is real.
Despite the overall complexity of the answers, one idea was relatively common throughout: the core tenant that there’s meaning to almost every action that takes place in the EVE universe. This has been a common trait in the game throughout its lifespan, but only recently, with the coming of Incarna and DUST 514, will that meaning begin to take on a variety of additional faces.
Now the concept of “meaning” in EVE is obviously different for each person that plays the game. While one individual may be helping to progress his alliance’s bottom line by doing industrial-based activities in the high security portion of space, another might find his own meaningful actions in running covert operations through an enemy’s territory in nulsec (PvP) systems.
Compare that sort of gameplay with what can be found in a more traditional MMO. Rather than going out to slay the red dragon in the dungeon of darkness for the thousandth time, players fly out into space each day not knowing exactly what awaits them, whether that’s a notice that more materials are needed from a corp CEO to a full-on declaration of war with another alliance.
“Whatever does happen,” Gonzales said, “the players probably won’t forget what occurred because it’s never the same experience twice.”
And that’s a huge point of differentiation between EVE and the rest of the online gaming space. Not only is it a sandbox game where player greatly influence the world around them, but it’s also an entire 360,000 player universe on a single server. Players don’t find themselves waiting in server queues or having to switch servers to play with their friends; everyone is on the same server and the reputation of players becomes well known as they eke their way up the game’s food chain.
And while it’s well known that new players are hit with an onslaught of new information at the outset of the game, there’s still a huge amount of camaraderie among those players that do find themselves with common bonds, whether that’s due to their corp or their playstyle.
Those players not only share common bonds, but also common real world (or meatworld, as some CCP devs call it) emotions that are brought on by the actions that take place in their online game of choice.
“When EVE makes the news beyond gaming circles, it’s usually about something malicious that occurred in the game. People being people,” Gonzales said. “The side to the story that isn’t told is how much people bond in the face of adversity in response to these events. The guy whose fight went badly and he lost a ton of ships; his corp mates will usually give him what he needs to get back on his feet. That guy will remember what his corporation did to help him get back on his feet far longer than he’ll remember the villain that destroyed his ship.
“That is a very real bond,” he finished.
Throughout the rest of this week, we’re going to be bringing you exclusive event coverage of Fanfest and we will be doing our best to show you just how “real” EVE is. Keep watching ZAM for more information on upcoming EVE features, news on DUST 514, and more!
Cody "Micajah" Bye, Director of Content