Noah J Nelson on Thursday, Apr. 11th
The massively multiplayer game EVE Online is a siren song for sci-fi fans looking to lose themselves in a starfaring society. Those who grew up on Star Trek, Star Wars and the Wing Commander games can’t help but feel the pull of the 10-year-old game and community.
That decade, however, can act as a barrier. The EVE Universe is complex. Thick novels that detail the thousands of years of history. Massive factions made out of real players who have competed with each other for a decade. Layers of lore–that’s the gaming term for backstory–which is as daunting to some as the elaboarate continuties of comic books and Doctor Who are to others.
At least that’s how I feel about EVE.
[Read up on the transmedia strategy the game’s makers are using to combat this after the jump.]
The imminent arrival of a Playstation console shooter–DUST 514–set in the same universe only makes this lore barrier all the more accute. CCP, the makers of both EVE and DUST, are hoping to lure gamers who don’t have any interest in role-playing the lives of space frieghter captains and intergalatic crime lords into their universe. Yet the one thing that really sets DUST apart is the promise that it is part of a rich universe.
Which is where the timeline comes in at the newly revealed EVE.com.
As of right now, we’ve launched the first version of an interactive timeline that explains the setting and lore of EVE Online and DUST 514. To begin with we’re sticking with core concepts: how the New Eden universe is discovered and colonized, how the collapse of the EVE Gate isolates the pioneers and how they eventually become the major empires and controlling forces in this dark and unforgiving universe. In coming months we will expand on the functionality of this timeline to include excerpts from the True Stories initiative as well as other accounts of significant player events. But for this first iteration, we’re focused on the setting and lore of EVE.
Establishing the timeline at the easy to remember EVE.com is a smart step in an of itself. If you know the name EVE it is likely the first thing you’d try looking up. This puts the lore of the universe at the center of the experience CCP is selling.
What makes this exciting from a transmedia perspective isn’t just the multi-platorm approach (computer MMO, console shooter, novels, websites) but the degree of interaction the EVE community is going to have in the process. They’ve invited their players to help choose what parts of the history are canonized in the timeline. Even more adventerous is the promise of incorporating the “True Stories initiative” mentioned in the excerpt.
The “True Stories initiative” is an archive of player generated stories based on their expeirences inside the game. This means that a player narrative can get elevated to the level of canon, and become part of the offical backstory that every particiapnt in this story world is expected to know.
It is the kind of fantasy/sci-fi noterity that role playing gamers have dreamt of for two generations. As niche as EVE has been so far, it could still be a bellweather for where entertainment franchises are headed.
EVE may not be the most powerful sci-fi franchise in the world, but the spell CCP has cast over their fanbase creates the kind of loyality that every major entertainment company wishes for.
h/t Caitlin Burns