EVE Online

Tagged: Game

Videogame (2003). CCP Games (CCP). Designed by Reynir Harðarson. Platforms: Win (2003); Lin, Mac (2007).

EVE Online is perhaps best described as a Massively Multiplayer Online Space Sim (see Massively Multiplayer Online Games). While the game has role-playing elements, including the ability to improve the skills of player characters, it could be said that in EVE Online a player's true character is their Spaceship. The setting is a Space Opera universe in which a group of humans have reached another galaxy through a Faster Than Light gateway which then collapsed, leaving them to fend for themselves. EVE Online's core gameplay is similar to that of Elite (1984) or The X Series (from 1999), concentrating on mining, trading, exploration, combat and improving the player's spacecraft; planets and Space Stations exist, but cannot be visited. The most interesting aspect of the game, however, is its strongly Libertarian society. In contrast to such Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games as Anarchy Online (2001), which enforce limitations on players' actions by dictating the rules of their reality, EVE Online has very few restrictions. Within the civilized parts of its simulated universe, local military bodies will enforce the law, but in unsettled space players indulging in piracy, protection rackets and fraud are common. Another unusual feature is the nature of the economy, which is simulated in considerable detail, allowing players to create complex financial schemes. EVE Online is also distinctive for its maintenance of a single coherent Online World for all players, in contrast to such games as Star Wars: Galaxies, which create multiple separate images of the simulated reality, each inhabited by a fraction of their total population. While a war of all against all may seem the likely consequence of this design, the combination of the high cost of dying (which can result in a player paying for both a new ship and a Clone of their character to be grown before they can resume play) with the ability to form capitalist corporations (for mutual defence and profit sharing) appears to have encouraged the emergence of a frontier mentality, in which large groups of players enforce their own informal laws.

EVE Online is a slow game, with moments of striking, unpredictable beauty, which can be very immersive (see Game Design) for players who find its freedom appealing. While the designers do impose some large-scale narrative structures, including intermittent warfare between the major spacegoing cultures, the primary source of story in the game is the players themselves. Such features as the ability of groups of characters to construct starbases and claim sovereignty over solar systems have encouraged the formation of alliances of corporations including thousands of players. Some alliances have fought galactic wars with each other, an interesting indication of the game's ability to engender environmental narratives (see Interactive Narrative). It is also notable that EVE Online's players have formed an unusually strong attachment to the work; disagreements with the developers over corporate policy have triggered virtual rebellions within the game. Arguably, the participants' creation of much of the Game-World's fiction has fostered a sense of ownership. As of 2012, EVE Online had more subscribers than the number of inhabitants of Iceland, where it was developed; it will be interesting to see how much more it can grow.

Related works: Dust 514 (2013 CCP, PS3) is a Massively Multiplayer First Person Shooter set in the universe of EVE Online. As in an MMORPG, players' characters can be customized by selectively training them in various skills, but – in a common development for members of this form – participants, who can normally play without charge, will find that boosting their characters' abilities is very much easier if they are willing to pay. While much of the gameplay is reminiscent of such earlier massively multiplayer FPS games as PlanetSide 2 (2012 Sony Online Entertainment, Win), the firefights are generally on a smaller scale than those supported by such works. As in EVE Online, dead characters can be resurrected, here through the medium of an implant which records brain activity. (In a similar manner to that described in such sf novels as Richard Morgan's Takeshi Kovacs sequence, these memories can be downloaded into a Cloned body in the event of the original's death.)

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Dust 514 is its integration with its companion game. As in such predecessors as SPI's board and counter Wargames Starsoldier (1977) and Starforce: Alpha Centauri (1974) (see Starforce: Alpha Centauri), the tactical battles of the FPS can represent conflicts for actual possession of planets in the universe of EVE Online, with players of the latter game providing support by bombarding surface targets from orbit. In the current version, however, this pairing resembles that between SPI's games in another and less fortunate way; the coupling between the two works is relatively weak. This can leave players of the FPS with little sense of participation in the complex struggles of the larger milieu.

EVE: The Second Genesis CCG (2006 CCP) designed by Pétur Örn Þórarinsson, Stefán Friðriksson, Reynir Harðarson is a Collectible Card Game based on the franchise. Eve: The Empyrean Age (2008), by Tony Gonzales, is a Tie which fills in the background to the events seen in the Empyrean Age expansion, made available to subscribers as a download in 2008. Further spinoffs include Eve: The Burning Life (2010) by Hjalti Daníelsson, one of the designers of the game, and Eve: Templar One (2011), also by Gonzales. [NT]


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