A blogbanter on Lore? Can’t resist
How important is “fluff” in Eve online? Would eve online be the same if it were purely numbers and mechanics, or are the fictional elements important to the enjoyment of the game? Would a pure text, no reference to sci-fi or fancy names still be an engaging game? Should CCP put more or less emphasis on immersion?
For me, the backstory of every game has always been a double-edged sword – too little and the world seems empty and out of sync, too much and my fantasy is weighed down by doctrine. Even as a teenager, I read Lord of the Rings and never fell in love with the arrogant and ethereal elves, I much preferred the tough-as-rock dwarves, in my mind, I chose to see the books as written for them.
Later, in my World of Warcraft days, I tried to get into the Lore but failed. I rolled a dwarf (of course), made my own path and when irritating questgivers asked me to collect 10 rabbits, I obliged for Gold and “ding”. What these 10 rabbits were for, I didn’t care. And while I had no issue shooting at Orcs (who does?), Tauren seemed oddly friendly to me but I never cared to find out why we are fighting with them. The backstory surely was buried somewhere but I never cared to find out. Instead, my character developed his own little story made from experience he made while chasing monsters and those stories made up my reality.
In EVE, my approach has been similar. While I value the backstory, I can’t get too deep into it, I want to “write” a book with my character, not “read” one. Too much lore is smothering my fantasy and imagination. I already have a real world where the rules are set by others, I don’t need another one. But I do value the context in which my characters operate and when it was time to join Faction War, I chose Gallente, the free people, against the oppressive and slave-holding Amarr. That is about the level of backstory I can handle, it gives me enough context to develop find my own path without getting bogged down in too much detail.
Having played EVE now for a few years, my character’s backstories are formed by their own experience. When I fly through Grinacanne, I remember how I started running missions there when we got wardecced forcing us to abandon high sec and join a wormhole corp. When I fly through Villore, I fondly remember my outings with Oreb’s Faction War team.
And in this vein, I wrote my own fiction, clearly inspired by EVE’s backstory but lifted off the “canon” to some extent and more infused with my own experience. My friend and Alliance mate Aurelie Thalys (*) writes amazing stories with much closer observation of the official lore than I do but my characters are also operating in a very different world – the one of “mortals” and the brutal and arrogant capsuleers. It is not a story that is easily fit into the usual fanfiction pulp of steely-eyed, square-chinned muscular supermen and voluptuous vixens in tight catsuits ruthlessly killing various side characters with cobra-fast reflexes. My story deal with us normal folks, thrown into dire circumstances and persevere. In other words, hobbits.
The blogbanter asked whether EVE’s backstory is important and my answer must be “yes, very”. But I reserve the right to pick and chose what I like and reject what I don’t. Fundamentally, I don’t treat the backstory as The Truth but – as Aurelie taught me – as canvas on which to paint my reality.
* Aurelie hasn’t left EVE. She has won it. She’ll be back and a better person – if that is possible
PS. Happy Birthday Illusion of Solitude!