"EVE Online is a unique piece of science fiction that is ‘participatory’." - CCP Seagull, December 2012
EVE Online is heading into its Second Decade with renewed vigour and a new development strategy. At the CSM Summit in December, Executive Producer CCP Unifex and Development Director CCP Seagull explained how future development and expansions will be broader in scope than recent "collections of features" stating that CCP "want to create something more inspirational, that players aspire to play."
With the return of Live Events such as the Battle for Caldari Prime, clearly the prime fiction of EVE is back in favour as part of this new thematic approach to expansions. However, EVE's story is very much a tale of two playstyles, with an entirely player-driven narrative unfolding daily in parallel to the reinvigorated backstory. Often, they do not mix well. How can these two disparate elements be united or at least comfortably co-exist in a single sandbox universe?
Co-exist, it is such a relatively simple concept and yet the reality has eluded humankind for all of its existence. The first evidence of human warfare, which I studied in some depth as part of my previous profession, dates back 14,000 years to what would become Egypt. Archaeologists found a mass grave with men, women and children in it. One man had been shot in the face with 14 arrows. That was the deciding factor on whether this episode counted as war or raid. In a raid, they only kill the guards (if necessary) and get out fast. They don't stick around to shoot 14 arrows into a dying man's face. That's the logic for the warfare case at least. War is vindictive. It seeks to annihilate a people, a culture, a way of life. To engage in war is to express the deepest contempt one human can have for another. It makes a warrior waste 14 perfectly good arrows as an expression of that contempt.
Some societies, the pre-European Zulu Kingdom comes to mind, incorporated ritualized warfare into their culture. They scaled the carnage way back to merely a raid. It became their societal ideal of courage and manhood. The logic went something like this. In Zulu society, a man could not marry without permission from the King. Permission was predicated on his perceived courage and prowess as a warrior. A warrior could demonstrate that in war, but war is costly for the King in terms of warriors and wealth. Sans war, another way to gain prestige was to raid one's adversaries and steal cattle from them. Cattle were wealth and to successfully steal cattle, especially if there was no bloodshed, became a mark of courage. Such bravado was often enough to gain permission to marry - especially if the stolen cattle were given to the King. In typical Zulu fashion, marriages were done en masse, with hundreds of warriors getting married at one time. I highly recommend The Washing Of The Spears, by Donald R. Morris, to any interested - but I digress
With that in mind, here are the player-driven events I most remember since becoming a capsuleer over five years ago. After each is my evaluation of how they fall on the war versus raid, or if you prefer contempt versus acclaim, divide.
- Hulkageddon - Acclaim until it became contempt as forever-geddon.
- Bring Me the Head of Kirith Kodachi - Acclaim
- Jita Revolt - Contempt
- Burn Jita - Contempt
- Gallente Ice Interdiction - Contempt
- Death Race - Acclaim
The one event not in that list is the latest event. That was the Battle for Caldari Prime. It was unique in the fact that it was a CCP-driven event with player-driven interaction requested. It was completely successful according to the feedback I've gotten from those that participated in support of the story line. The negative feedback I've read came from those who wished to act against the story line. Interestingly enough, the group behind all the contempt events listed above is the same group that opposed the Battle for Caldari Prime story line, but that really is beside the point.
The point is, CCP was correct in shutting down those who did not want to "play along." That player-driven sub-event was not motivated by the right reasons. If CCP-driven and player-driven events are ever to co-exist, the players must understand their place and who is King. They are warriors seeking acclaim. CCP is the King. The warriors must do as the King allows. Acting against the King is an act of contempt, not acclaim. It is war against the King and deserves 14 arrows through the face.
If CCP is serious about getting players involved to the extent they claim, they need to also get serious about weeding out the contemptuous in favor of others who just want some recognition. CCP needs to reward those that play along and punish those who do not. They are the King, that is their right. To that end, I'd recommend the following.
- Have players sign up to participate - any active account will do. As part of the sign-up, there should be a mini-EULA. I list of dos and don'ts that clearly define how the player is expected to participate. If an advance sign-up is untenable, have the mini-Eula pop-up when they activate a jump gate into the system. Before they proceed, they must agree. Otherwise, they stay in the entry system.
- Give out virtual t-shirts or something to those who participate in recognition of their participation. Personally, I'd like so see custom ship skins handed out because that is much more visible to other players. It would shout to the Eve Universe, "I stole his cattle and got away with it!" Ouch...I guess I just pushed that analogy too far, didn't I?
- If a player attempts to "crash the party" without signing up, don't let them into the system. You're the King CCP, you can do anything you want.
- If a player agrees but then violates the mini-EULA, ban them for 30 days - no exceptions. If there is a carrot, there must be a stick.
So in summary, CCP is King and we are its warrior subjects. Act like it.