Every CSM Summit, a session and lot of dialogue is spent talking about live events. The aim of these events is to further the EVE Online story, to create more backstory for the game, to give players a chance to effect the ongoing story of New Eden.
To be blunt and upfront immediately, I could not care less about live events. I talked a bit yesterday about the contrivances of online roleplaying. I find the idea of players affecting some overarching developer-defined story to be even more contrived.
So what’s my problem with developer-derived plot-driven events? Well, for one, these events are simply carrots. Most players show up to them hoping for loot drops or cool killmails on favourite (or not) developers. It doesn’t really matter what story-element is meant to be forwarded by these events, because those story-elements will always be driven-forward. The event will always “be successful” in the players’ favour. These things are mostly linear, and it would take a complete meltdown of the player community if enough people didn’t show up to complete the objective. Completion of the objective is nearly a guarantee, which is hardly effective storytelling.
The story itself is hardly even the point. And most players have no clue what’s going on. All most people know is “Devs, cool stuff in their holds, kill them, get loot.” Imagine a live event, the backstory being a small group of rebels is heading out to kill the Amarrian Empress, Jamyl Sarum. If the small group of rebels is destroyed, the assassination plot fails. This would be the usual local chatter during the event:
Player01: What is this about? I heard devs were here. Is this some story thing?
Player02: Just kill devs. They have deadspace and officer mods equipped.
Player01: Oh. Cool.
Player03: WHERE ARE THE DEVS?
Player02: Planet 2, Moon 6.
Player04: Can I use a cruiser to destroy devs?
Player05: If devs kill me can I petition to get my ship back? I don’t think devs should be killing players.
Player06: Kill: CCP Punkturis (Vindicator)
The small rebel fleet of devs is, of course, killed. They were mauled by over 100 players. Later, on the forums, six people crow about how cool it was to alter and have an effect on the storyline of EVE.
(And even if, through some billion-to-one chance where players didn’t show up in droves, Jamyl Sarum were killed, what effect would it have on the game? None, at all. Some new NPC leader would be appointed and the game would carry on as it ever does.)
The problem with live events, in any MMO, not just EVE Online, is that they are devoid of consequence. Even if two possible outcomes are given for an event, the outcomes are never negative. Events always result in some net positive to the player community (usually loot drops), or nothing at all. The face of the game never changes, the game remains as static as it ever was. So the stories themselves are meaningless. If furthering
Rather than waste time and resources on these live events, companies, such as CCP, should be developing more tools so that players can affect the status quo themselves. In a sandbox, like EVE Online, players are the content, they create the content. More ability to shake up the static nature of the game should be available, especially to highsec and npc nullsec space (areas of New Eden don’t get more static and meaningless than this.)
Take sovereignty nullsec. Or faction warfare lowsec space. These are areas of space where players have control over their stories, and the outcomes of their stories have a meaningful effect on the gameplay of other players. They’re dynamic environments. In faction warfare, the results of battles can result in the loss of access to stations, can result in the lowering of loyalty point rewards. These are meaningful mechanics that create positive and negative outcomes.
Nothing players do can affect anything in highsec. Or NPC nullsec. So rather than waste time and energy on live events, which have no consequences on the gamespace, the development of mechanics that can affect the gamespace in these areas would be useful, perhaps even needed and lauded.
Hell, perhaps the results of faction warfare have an effect on their factions as a whole. Perhaps if the Amarr are losing their war against the Minmatar, taxes and broker fees increase across the board in Amarr space. The converse happens if a faction is winning the war. Perhaps key systems are programmed to flip allegiances or stargates are programmed to turn off/on given the current status of a war. There are likely a tonne of ideas that could be implemented. Things that don’t overly skew the game towards any particular side, but give (or take away) enough utility to make players care a tad more about involving themselves in the player-content.
Live events. I think they’re a waste of time. Some of you don’t. For those that do support live events, what exactly do you get out of them? How do they benefit the game overall?
You can read more of Poetic Stanziel’s opinions at his Poetic Discourse blog.