cYbERpUNk

Themes and flavour:  EVE Online has a rich back drop to it and a unique style amongst MMOs, primarily because it has it’s own ‘IP’.  But translating that into something tangible ‘in game’ its not as easy as one might expect.  Whilst novels such as ‘The Burning Life’, chronicles and ISD news articles can all help to add to the feeling of immersion within EVE they can only go so far.

It was Casiella’s latest post on Ecliptic Rift that really prompted me to write this particular entry:  Casiella’s skill path is being based around a ‘cyberpunk’ theme, with specialisations in electronic warfare, criminal connections, hacking and the like.  Oddly Cailais has a number of similar skills which got me thinking if I had wittingly, or unwittingly, developed his character progression along a similar path.

Of course not everyone imbues their characters with a dollop of RP flavouring preferring instead to (using an old RPG term) Min/Max that capsuleer by selecting skills which are the most efficient for a particular task even if they sit at odds with any RP “persona”.  I expect the vast majority of players forgo even any pretence at RP and simply max out those specific skills they require.

But that doesn’t mean that immersion is irrelevant – after all would EVE have such a impassioned following if the game mechanics remained but the environment was hello kitty land? Probably not. We are, for the most part, drawn to EVE because it is a dark sci fi MMO in the style of movies such as  Bladerunner, or William Gibson’s / Ian M Bank’s novels.

Where  immersion falls down is when the background and themes don’t translate into the game itself.  A good case in point might be bounty hunting; here is a activity we can readily accept even expect within the EVE universe and yet the game mechanics that should support and enable it are woefully inadequate if not completely broken.

Combat boosters are another example – on entering the dark and corrupt universe of EVE we are delighted to find that not only can we consume narcotics but produce and trade them as well! Fantastic?! Well no.  Because we find our expectations muted when we discover their performance is rather lack lustre, they don’t result in addictive cravings for more or bouts of withdrawl symptoms and (if we’re being honest here) they just not all that commonly used.

Can we use hacking to gather information on a pilots location? Determine who’s on the other side of a star gate? Access a station facility normally denied to us? No.  We can open some cans, in much the same way we do when we salvage a can, or use archaeology. In this way our immersion is broken, we could as well be using ‘banana picking IV’ to open that can as any ‘Hacking’ skill.

The beauty of EVE is that, having it’s own IP, CCP can introduce and sculpt their own vision of what the level of technology is within that universe and how that technology interfaces with us soft fleshy pod pilots. CCP was resolute in saying that Incarna would not feature ‘in station combat’ or pvp not least because it could detract from creating a believable universe (without having blobs of players running around WOW style).  However I would suggest that such ‘in station’ environments offer a plethora of potential game elements in a cyberpunk style.

Perhaps from across a crowded bar you could hack into the mind of a fellow pilot? Review his combat logs? How much ISK does he have? What systems has he travelled recently?  Perhaps our victim could equally fight back with the requisite implants?

Can we expect our pod pilots to engage in Mind Clash duals in station? Or seek out boosters that skew their perceptions but allow them to ‘see’ tags sprayed on station walls or glyphs directing them to hidden clubs?

Not all of these ideas or variants of them will of course be applicable or even popular – I present them only to illustrate that even the best back story and lore needs to physically hook into the game via simple mechanics in some form or other in order to be truly relevant.  The recent news and implementation of Dev run Events has been very well received by the player base on the whole – and whilst there will always be some detractors I think that’s evidence of how much many player actually do want to immerse themselves more fully into the EVE Online universe.

C.

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4 Responses to “cYbERpUNk”

  1. Thanks for the link! And I agree, the game could do much more in this area. I’ve proposed, for example, that the salvaging / hacking / etc. mini-professions use some sort of mini-game to increase immersion, and I want to believe that Incarna will lend itself to these things too.

    • The mini game for the mini professions is an obvious route to take, but CCP seems reluctant to go down that path. Quite what ‘gameplay’ Incarna will have is anyones guess but I think CCP will be missing an opportunity if they dont include something like what I have written in here. We shall see.

  2. OkamiKurai Says:

    I am glad I am not the only one disappointed with some of the lack of immersive content. I had read in some blog posts about lack of anti-pirate corps….if they even exist or have ever existed. Bounty hunting, one would think, would be the nemesis of pirating. There are, after all, bounties on pirates. I see bounty hunter corps being pirate corps, really, that only feed on pirates’ ships and bounties.

    When I first started playing, I expected to see this – and was then informed of the reality. Same with Combat Boosters. When I first read up on them, I made an Industrial toon with the idea of him eventually getting into booster manufacture (cool – my own drug dealer ^_^) . I was even looking forward to small-scale cartel wars and the like. I still plan on doing it, but it would be more just for the sake of doing it more than anything else.

    I absolutely LOVE the idea of an addiction mechanic attached to the use of boosters.

    I feel some of this content (lack thereof) TRULY needs to be seriously looked at and addressed.

  3. krist valentine Says:

    its in this aspect that i feel eve fails. while it seems to an outsider (or an idealist) like the perfect game for roleplay and immersion, suspension of disbelief is made impossible on pretty much every level. the lack of interesting sounds and music (i used to love the music – well, a few tunes. but as the quality and volume has been nerfed this is a thing of the past) is the immersion killer at the basest level, which then spreads up to the top level where bounty hunting (what i originally wanted to do ingame before i realised it wasnt possible and turned pirate) and hacking, drug trade and lone-wolf play styles really arent realistic. ccp are (in my opinion) caught between the mainstream market and their original vision and the more features they bring in, the further they get from making the original content _work_ and bringing immersion in these cyberpunk ideals.

    hope its all goin ok + hope i coherently wrote all that stuff ^
    easy man
    finn

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