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Friday, January 7, 2011

EVE: It All Makes Sense

The nice thing about deep, intriguing backstory is the distinct lack of gaping plotholes.

EVE's developers explore the creation, effect and consequences of as many actions and items ingame as remotely possible. (theoretically) Weekly Chronicles written give insight into the consequences, benefits and effects of simple actions we perform on a daily basis, as well as insight into how we capsuleers affect the universe.

For instance, when we destroy a station of some sort in one of our missions, a crate is often left behind, including a survivor (or 10). This seems a bit odd at first, as you'd expect other means of escape. Rather than ignoring this and writing it off as a plothole, the writers turned it into a gimmick for one of their shorts. It takes an intriguing look at how one person onboard a station might have gotten into this crate, for us to pick up.

The ability of us players to change our portraits is explained in a chilling two parter.

The origin of Aura, the AI who gives you the tutorial is explored in-depth as well.

Each chronicle is a separate peek at the lives of the people in New Eden and it fleshes out the universe to make it a much deeper place to live in.

Depressingly, Jagex never seemed to get that from the start and in their bid to become World of Warcraft's competition and left curious players wondering things like, "How did I ever get my hands on a one-of-a-kind weapon the gods fought over in some of their greatest battles?" or "How come my opponent has that same one-of-a-kind weapon and is currently beating me to death with it?"

Runescape feels like much more of a singleplayer game, where you are the great hero destined for a place in history; so where do the thousands of other great(er) heroes fit into this picture? Why did my adventurer friend just break the wonderful news that he stopped an ancient demon named Delrith from causing Varrock's destruction? Didn't I stop that same demon a month ago?

These small things pile up slowly and only start to prove Runescape as content-based MMO. Every player eventually follows the same path as the other guy before him and Jagex keeps adding on to these paths, never allowing us enough room to branch out and do what we want. Faruq's tools was a step in the right direction, giving us players tools and letting us run free with it. If more options were available to us for customisation, we wouldn't be cooped up in this box anymore.

Realism and justifiable interaction are all cornerstones of a good MMO. I can suspend my disbelief if the Grand Exchange delivers items to essentially anywhere with a bank instantaneously, even though items are always handed in at the Exchange first, but justify it with a network or something. Don't just leave us hanging at where some guy got a bullhorn and a Renaissance outfit and set up a giant trading plaza in Varrock which sprung out of nowhere.

These kinds of things are explained in EVE Online. The currency is isk. The InterStellar Kredit. Fun joke, isn't it?

It ain't no joke.

How much does it cost to travel into space with our technology? In the dozens of millions (of US dollars, standard Earth currency). Even with space-faring races in a highly resource rich universe, this sum is still obscene. The amount of planetary currency needed to buy an armoured and shielded frigate would be obscene to calculate, and then you move up the queue. I say planetary currency because there are so many currencies. Empires have currencies, planets have currencies, individual nations have currencies, the sheer amount of effort involved in conversion and customs would make it useless once us capsuleers attempt to spread to the stars, only to found our Amarr Throne is not accepted in Minmatar territories, where they only accept Matar Grands and our exploration gets stonewalled by bureaucracy.

The isk is a standardised currency, bought in by CONCORD (United Nations, but competent and in space) who act as mediator between the major factions. A single isk is worth incredible amounts of planetary currency due to the obscene amounts of cash needed for effective space travel. It's given a humourous nod in a mission where you are told to deliver ransom money. Thankfully, the incompetent kidnappers asked for planetary currency, which is near useless. You are given the money as an item to deliver. The item in question is 'A Lot of Money'.

Let's take an example; the Caldari Chimera Class carrier. It costs approximately 950 million isk. Would 950 million dollars by you a space carrier with built-in faster than light travel, crew, a complement of top-of-the line drones, logistics equipment and so advanced that you can interchange modules as you like, with minimal issue? You can turn your carrier into a repair specialist, supporting your fleets and repairing damage from dozens of enemies on your own or become fleet support, using warfare link to coordinate attacks and bolster allied defences. You can switch between these if you have the modules and are docked. Would 9.5 billion dollars even buy you that? That's how much an isk is worth.

Even our in-universe equivalent of the gold coin is explored in depth, with effects and consequences examined. One could comfortably retire to any planet in the universe with a few isk in their pockets. Each of us can easily earn our first million on the first day. That's why I always make unfunny jokes about how the missiles I launched in the last battle could feed an entire starving nation (if you read those 'A single cruise missile fired during the War on Terrorism cost...' things or hear about them on the news, you get the idea.

Stellar Dawn promises to bring "rich sci-fi storyline" with it, but that will be for nought if the rich sci-fi never extends past a single player. The interactions of ALL players and their consequences on the universe. Look to one of the previous posts entitled 'News from the Front'. There's a link to a story about players attempting to ferry 59 million isk in strippers and over 2 billion in booze to their fellow pilots. That freighter was destroyed, taking most of the cargo down with it. 2 billion. That's dozens of fully-equipped battleships, multiple high-tech ships, 2 full carriers in alcohol that's what happens when players get too much money and freedom. That even wasn't a hindrance on backstory or realism, that was an opportunity to tell a story about capsuleer wastefulness, our enigmatic actions and the damage we cause over trivial things. What kind of Alliance diverts a fleet to escort a ship full of strippers and booze?

The sermon's over. On my end of the spectrum, I hit the jackpot yesterday. I was still at 101 million (spent 10 million on an implant) and a friend offered to let me join on a very lucrative mission. I collected 11 million in bounties from the kills alone. In a magnificent stroke of luck, I accepted the same mission right afterward and we went through again. I took the mission, so I got the salvage from that mission. By the end of the day, I had gone from 101 million to 156 million.


Regards, IVIilitarus

1 comment:

  1. Yes, a specific friend in mind always criticised the plotholes whenever he catches one. I always find't amusing t'item duplicate one-of-a-kind items such as Korasi's sword, though I'm not certain if they'd be considered true plotholes.

    "A Beautiful Face" was an awfully disturbing read. 'Tis difficult not t'feel sympathy over people whose faces are severed and are given nerveless mask in place, even if they're life-long prisoners.