Another fabulous year of monthly EVE Online interviews comes to a close in style.
Narrative Complexities | Heraldry | Pride - EVE Online Interviews
Our final EVE interview of 2022 is here, and what a year it has been for EVE Online.
Below, our Head of Content Alex Sinclair Lack continues discussing EVE Uprising, the complexities of a 20-year storyline, as well as changes to Heraldry and why they matter to the fans. In this edition we're talking to two EVE Online interview classics: the glorious CCP Burger (Creative Director Bergur Finnbogason) and CCP Swift (Community Developer Peter Farrell).
Faction Warfare focuses on a narrative of politicking and scheming, like Game of Thrones set in the stars. How hard is it to strike a balance between complex sci-fi plotlines and accessibility for more casual players?
CCP Burger: We've been trying to find that balance for 20 years. It's a challenging thing. And the beauty about it is that it's not a solved thing. It's a decision for the moment. What is too much right now might be ideal in three months' time and vice versa. It's a very active task, that's the best way to say it. Over the years, we've become way better at doing these community-supported storylines. And it's a lot about staying humble while having a clear vision with clear goals in mind. Then with that established, allowing the events of the universe to affect the progression of the story.
I'm intrigued by the internal process of how you come to a decision on these universe-affecting matters. How does the creative process work in practice?
CCP Burger: We have a small but fantastic narrative team. And we have a great team of product managers, game designers, creative producers, myself and others that all work on it and contribute to it. We have certain features we want to deploy, and we plan them well in advance. What we've been trying to do over the last few years is to give a deeper narrative grounding in the universe. In some cases, it makes sense to just announce it and do it. But in other cases, you definitely want the community's involvement in unlocking them. Look at some of the exploration frigates, the navy frigates and battleships which all involved community participation.
I have a very, very strong opinion on this matter.
CCP Burger: As for the more epic, dramatic, shifting storylines where we take into account player involvement, we usually have a well-defined starting point and then multiple options for potential end states. Then how we get from A to B or C or D is fairly unknown. We just make sure that our shoelaces are not tied so tightly that we can't change course midway. But you know, this is the boring development speak. The more fun way to look at things is the fantastic enjoyment of letting go of control and seeing where our players will take us. Ultimately, at the end of the day, that's why we enjoy it so much and why we keep on doing it. Finding the exact balance of everything needing a narrative is something that we're still working on and striving to reach perfection
Between the focus on Faction Warfare and Heraldry allowing players to literally and metaphorically fly their flags, do you think these changes will lead to more hardcore role-playing and role-players?
CCP Burger: So, I have a very, very strong opinion on this matter. Oftentimes, people end up categorising players into role players or non-role players. I think we're all role players to a certain extent and there's always this role-playing element in anyone that plays games. Just as when you love a certain soccer team, you wear their jerseys -- but that doesn't mean you are playing for Manchester United. It's just to show your respect and support: "These are my colours." It's something that is deeply ingrained in us all. You want to be able to show off with pride what group or faction you belong to... who your people are.
CCP Burger: It's something we've wanted to do since forever. Finally, with Heraldry, we can grant people the ability to show who they are, where they came from, where they belong. It's about giving people purpose and meaning. Your faction, your social group, your friends, that stuff is meaningful and powerful. With this first step of Heraldry, allowing people to fly with their Alliance Corporation logos is great, but going forward, there are endless possibilities now that we have the framework and the platform.
CCP Swift: To dovetail off of what Berger was saying, there's a huge desire from players to show pride in their social group. We see this at EVE player meets, people turn up wearing merchandise from their Alliance, even if it's just a small pin. There have always been limited ways to do that in-game but knowing this has been coming has just filled me with excitement to see that first fleet flying in their formation colours. You just know there's going to be that one guy without it, and the rest of them are going to yell at him to get off his butt and go unlock it because they all need to look cool.
Are Bounty Risk Modifiers high for life now? Why the change?
CCP Swift: We increased the floor for the bounty risk modifier to help people fill up their coffers before the war. It will never go below 100% from here onwards -- which is something players requested.
CCP Burger: More money, more explosions.
With such extensive patch notes, was there anything in Uprising which you feel could do with a spotlight?
CCP Swift: There was a lot of stuff under the hood, not just the visually stunning stuff. Loads of work has been done behind the scenes to ensure that the cool new graphics don't hurt performance. There are also the audio effects for turrets -- each now make a distinct sound so you'll have an auditory clue as to what you're facing, and skilled players can memorise them for an edge in PvE and PvP combat. We tried to showcase those at EVE Vegas before Uprising had launched, but we didn't have the sound system. I had to end up making the "pew pew" sounds with my mouth which didn't have quite the same impact.
We recently wrote about a blind gamer who kicked ass at Street Fighter using a similar technique. That reliance on another sense really adds to the immersion of a game for all players though.
CCP Burger: I always talk about future unlocks and I think this can unlock a huge amount going forward. This first chapter of Empires at War and how that can spill over to the other security systems. This is breathing a lot of life into the game; there's been a lot of activity. We're hitting a beautiful balance between promise for the future and fantastic for the now.
Bonus Question: What would be the collective noun for EVE Online players?
CCP Burger: I think it would be a "passion". A passion of Capsuleers. Loss has meaning. Things have meaning. Things have purpose. If they feel we're doing the right thing, they're very loud about it and vice versa. Even in their more murderous moods it's all done through passion, right? The same goes for those headline-grabbing stories of multi-year plans to stab someone in the back. It all comes down to passion.
CCP Swift: I agree. Our players are incredibly passionate. Even the harshest criticisms come from a place of wanting to preserve a thing that they love. Sometimes they rightly tell us that we're travelling a dangerous path and other times we're right to insist that this is the path that we're meant to be travelling on. At the end of the day, it's a collaboration.
We agreed with Peter and Burger's take on the fans, that's why we crowned the EVE Online fandom as the best in the genre in our annual MMO Games Awards. Be sure to check out our other winners as well as a whole years' worth of EVE Online interviews here. We're already looking forward to next year's chats.
Some responses edited for clarity and brevity