Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Blog Banter 48: suspension of disbelief

This month's topic is a request from CCP Sisyphus who wants to know: how important is lore in EVE Online?
How important is “fluff” in Eve online? Would eve online be the same if it were purely numbers and mechanics, or are the fictional elements important to the enjoyment of the game? Would a pure text, no reference to sci-fi or fancy names still be an engaging game? Should CCP put more or less emphasis on immersion?
For more entries, see here.

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Many media related activities, such as watching tv or movies, require some sort of 'suspension of disbelief'. We know that those hideous monsters on the big screen don't really exist, but we consciously ignore that fact, especially when we are immersed in the story. Good camerawork or well done special effects - good visuals - make it easier to immerse ourselves, reinforcing our ability to suspend our disbelief.

Unless it is too scary for the kids: in that case we willingly break the suspension of disbelief and the immersion: 'don't be scared, it's just a movie, it's not real!'

Eve Online lets you create and experience your own stories. It's one of the sandboxy elements that make it stand out, when compared to many other games. And that's probably the main reason why even major mainstream news outlets print stories on the battle of Asakai or 6VDT, as they are original, player made stories. But it's the lore and the scifi backdrop that provide the screen upon which Eve pilots create these stories, it's the frame or reference, the canvas they paint upon. The lore and the detailed scifi data available give us pilots a reason to suspend our disbelief and the gorgeous visuals help us immerse ourselves in this otherwise obviously fake universe. New Eden would be meaningless without lore and it's scifi backdrop, and why would anyone care for something meaningless? Why would we want to create our own stories there?

CCP can be proud of the level of immersion and suspension of disbelief it is able to evoke in their customers. It's something to cherish and if possible, improve. It should never be ignored!

So what about the mechanics? Well, when I just began playing Eve, I began to learn these mechanics, and thought that, in itself, these could be repurposed for other games. You could create a sandbox game about primitive hunters/gatherers, surviving on some earth like planet. Mining would be gathering nuts, fruits and roots to eat, or flint and other raw materials to fashion spears and such. Industry: making those spears, bows, wooden shields or other usable objects. Missions would mean fighting with wild animals or scavengers, and nullsec could be about conquerable hills or caves to live in. Wormhole space? How about large marshes with ever shifting paths and ways? It would be a totally different experience but the mechanics could be pretty much the same! So in my opinion, it is the lore, the scifi background and the beautiful visual aspects of New Eden that make Eve Online what it is, not the numbers and mechanics.