Art reminds us once again that one of EVE’s greatest potential strengths–its lore–lies rusting at the bottom of a corroded dev bucket. It’s a vast yet unfinished science fiction universe underpinning the game we know and love, and yes, it’s also a source of frustration. Why didn’t CCP get around to finishing it…or if they did, why didn’t they bother to set it in motion?
The answer, of course, is that that’s supposed to be our job. We are the ones who invest hearts and minds into making all the space politics go. NPCs, their corps and even their alliances are supposed to dance with us, fight us, and perhaps be bent to our will.
It’s been a colossal failure, hasn’t it? Perhaps you’re having too much fun to have noticed.
The one thing NPCs have in common with each other is that they all have jobs. Their behavior is oriented around activities that would further the economic or political interests of their bosses. This is convenient for our player characters, because the NPCs can be counted on to be in certain places, doing certain things.
Time was, there would be news posted. A bit of power would change hands here or there. Sometimes it would be written around faction warfare or live events. I never paid it much attention, because it didn’t seem to intersect with my game-play. You see, I didn’t notice the gaping hole where lore should be, either, being too busy flying pretty spaceships with my friends. Art seems to think this disconnect is potentially fatal. Surely not. Surely? A decade ago, it was a marketing slogan; in what may be EVE’s twilight years I think it is a lost opportunity.
I didn’t need EVE to be any more than it was, and perhaps I still don’t. I didn’t have a job, either, beyond the occasional mining ops with my crew. In that respect, I am a little like the HTFUest pilots out there. What fun there was to be had, I helped make, and I made it on my own terms, because I didn’t have a job.
While considering how my and Art’s points of view could be so similar and yet so different, I think I came up with a theory: capsuleers are not part of New Eden. While some of us have jobs (shout-out to miners, faction warriors, DUSTies and industrialists everywhere), the socioeconomic background of the game doesn’t really touch most of us. At all. NPCs are busy working for a living 24/7. Guess who that makes us? That’s right; we are the spoiled rich kids driving the Rolls into the swimming pool. We are the interchangeable Britneys and Shias, grabbing headlines for what amounts to less than nothing, unless a lot of ISK being destroyed or stolen counts.
Art’s already made the connection before, but the one thing that might cause us to reconsider the pool as parking is standings. Without some responsibility to NPCs (beyond a few crabby agents), we are rootless inhabitants of the playground the working folks have to live in. Standings are what could force us to engage with the opinions of non-capsuleers and thereby become citizens of New Eden rather than its vacationing assholes.
Give us standings, CCP! Give our standings hits and buffs when we interact with your myriad NPCs. Make those standings matter. Make it expensive to live beyond the law; make it less remunerative to operate within empires, and make the back-and-forth between these spaces be difficult to cross at a whim. Make the CFC (along with perhaps all PC and NPC sovereignty) a de facto empire; they’ve long since earned that status, and while you’re at it sov that can shelter carebears in relative safety need not give up as much loot as the wilder spaces.
That crew I just lost came aboard my battlecruiser in a station, where people still remember them and who may resent my stewardship. I might be able to buy a replacement ship in that station, but it will come at a cost, and my next crew’s loyalty will also be expensive. Where are the colonies and outposts who could use a helping hand from a capsuleer, and who will remember his or her name after a service done them? Should I be able to run for political office on Luminaire, leveraging my standings from the war into a lucrative income or a place at a strategy table?
Come on, CCP! Reward daring and ingenious players by working them into the lore. They belong on the screen in my CQ, not just on a statue in the parking lot. Let them drag NPC corps into their schemes. Make governments take notice or take flight.
That’s how to make your lore live, breathe, shout, fight, shit and fuck. Maybe it will even feature in a real-world news story someday.