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?
Oh man, this is a tough one.
Bear with me. I love the lore in Eve. I read as much of it as possible. I'm a huge, huge fan of Eve Travel and Mark's work on the Lore Guide. But honestly, it doesn't impact my day-to-day play at all. Not even one tiny, itty bitty bit.
Stepping aside from my own personal viewpoint can get a bit tricky, but this is where the tough part really comes into being. Lore is essential and non-essential all at the same time.
It is both meaningless and meaningful. It doesn't draw players into Eve, but it helps to keep them there. It is possible to imagine New Eden without lore, but would you want to? I know I wouldn't. It is the perfect example of a powerful, engaging, and deeply interesting painting that has nothing to do with how the artist intended to paint. Or what he intended to paint. Or even how he paints.
Lore is the back-story, the history, the legends, the meaning behind everything that happened in New Eden up until about 11 years ago. "Story" is what has been happening since then. The story of New Eden continues to be written, as does the Lore. Both are an evolving, adaptable, newly discovered tapestry of engagement. One is driven by players, the other by players who hear God's voice in their heads. ( God in this sense being CCP )
Lore should never, ever be used as a crutch. Or an excuse. Just as our own history is usually ignored, but never forgotten. If you think about it from a real world standpoint it starts to make even more sense. Of course History is important. It is in many ways, crucial. It forms the framework for everything that happens in our world. And yet, it has no impact at all on the day-to-day lives of a single human being. Except perhaps the historians, archivist and non-fiction writers among us. You cannot separate history from the world, or its lessons, but you can live without them. And most do.
Likewise I think most players are not actively aware of Lore within New Eden, but I believe most of them would miss it if it was gone.
As our own "story" fades into "lore", which is happening more and more right under our feet, the telling, archiving and meaning of history becomes even more important. I personally believe that our Lore is a treasure to be guarded, loved, and learned. It is a living thing that forms the fabric of the soul of New Eden.
Without a soul? New Eden becomes an arcade.
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