August 19, 2015

Lore, Content, and Fairness

Sugar Kyle wrote a blog entry (Should Lore Be Fair?) that I thought was very interesting, but really begged a question about the difference between Lore and Content.  I think a lot of the commenters on the blog quickly agreed that the arc of the lore storyline has no need to be fair to anyone in particular, but the complains one will see out in the meta is more about the content that is coming along that is built on the lore.  So let's disentangle those, focusing around the recent Amarr / Drifter plotline.


The lore here concerns the threat of the Drifters in general and how it has been focused upon the Amarr.  This comes from the announcements and actions of the NPC characters, primarily Empress Jamyl, and largely tying to events in the published books on her mysterious connection to the Sleepers.  I won't get into the details of the plot, but the point is that the leader of the Amarr faction is the focus on the main arc going right now in Eve.

This is huge for Amarr role-players.  As far as I know, this is the largest group of role-players in Eve by a long shot (even more if you count The Imperium), so this is a great choice for CCP in terms of player involvement for effort put in.  I'm not even aware of any Caldari role-player focused groups for instance.  But this group is a huge minority in Eve since the game culture long ago turned away from the MMORPG roots and is often quite actively hostile to RP.  So that's a pragmatic bang-for-buck business win for CCP.  But is it fair that the plot arc focuses on Amarr?

Nope, it's not fair, but if you're into RP I'd be surprised if fairness in plot is really a criteria.  What you want is a good story and opportunity for involvement, and we're seeing that.  Just like it would be boring if the protagonist in a book or a movie had a "fair" life.  We want to see them smashed down and then get back up and succeed despite it all.  If you're anti-Amarr this is a great RP opportunity to point out the hypocrisy of the Amarr nobility and the Empress in specific, and cheer on (or even assist) the Drifters, or use this as an opportunity to push them while they're distracted.  The ultimate example of this would be if The Imperium does come down on Providence while CVA is trying to help defend the Throne Worlds.  RP win for the Mittani!


The other side is the in-game events that provide content.  Drifters and Circadian Seekers are all over Eve, but the mysterious Drifter bases are in specifically in W-space and the upcoming Drifter Incursions may be specifically in Amarr space.  This is where I think people get more upset, not even counting the confusion over the "Amarr LP" placeholder in SiSi (listen to the Hydrostatic Podcast on this topic for clarification).  Is it fair (or a good idea) for content to be focused on one area of space?

I would suggest that in the short-term it is okay (and even a good idea) for content to be localized.  In the longer-term aggregate CCP should strive for distributed (or "fair") content across the game though.

For instance, we saw a short term content focus when the T3Ds rolled out starting with the Amarr in recognition of their in-game (and to some degree RP) focus on the exploration contest.  Instead of all four factions magically making a technological advance at the same time, as has been CCP's norm, we had the factions each make the advance in turn much like you'd actually see in the real world.  Long term the content was rolled out across all the faction though, restoring balance and "fairness."

Similarly there are some clues that the Drifter Incursion may start in the Throne Worlds, but then appear throughout the game including null-sec.  So again we'll see a short-term imbalance that rewards the in-game dedication of the Amarr players, then the content spreads out from there.

The content doesn't have to be copy-paste either, and in fact it's nice when it isn't.  W-space may not see the Incursion content, but instead they do have the new Drifter Unidentified Wormhole PVE content.

Dynamic Eve

All this comes together to make a more dynamic Eve.  Lore itself does not need to be fair: it is an expression of a plotarc.  Content should be balanced in the aggregate over a longer term, but does not need to be fair and balanced in the short term.  If everything was fair it would be less realistic and more boring.  Enjoy the unfairness!