For many players, EVE Online is a game where the developers provide the galactic setting of New Eden but it's them, the playerbase, who makes their own stories. They join together or band against their rivals in alliance warfare, drug cartels, pirate organizations, and industrial powerhouses. The complex interplay of involvements that allow the game's players to establish and destroy invariably triggers cascades of drama. This is the point of the sandbox design of the game, what you do in New Eden affects other players on some level.
For some players, EVE is just about their interactions with one another and the fiction underpinning of the game is of marginal concern. While not all players choose to immerse themselves in the game's backstory, the setting is actually quite rich -- built on roughly six years' worth of lore fleshed out in the Chronicles, short stories that provide snapshots of the various levels of activity in New Eden.
The EVE Chronicles have primarily been written by one man, Hjalti Daníelsson, more commonly known to EVE Online players as CCP Abraxas. Hjalti's dark style of writing has really helped to set the tone for the game and, until now, what we've read from him has solely been in the form of short fiction. However, the depth of the game's lore lends itself well to more expansive storytelling through novels, and Hjalti has recently completed his first novel -- The Burning Life.
The first EVE Online novel, The Empyrean Age by Tony Gonzales, released last year and tied in with the game's storyline and the factional warfare that players engaged in with the expansion. Where The Empyrean Age novel focused on the capsuleers, the immortal societal elite that all EVE players rank among in the game, The Burning Life will tell stories from a very different perspective. Hjalti's novel will go beneath the surface of the existing lore and storylines and look at how the actions of capsuleers affect the common people of New Eden.
In lore terms, they comprise the hundreds of people who crew your ships. They die by the thousands when you blow up stations and structures in the missions you run, much less the pirate NPCs you kill to collect ISK bounties.
Most players rarely consider this when they click "accept" in a mission dialogue window or melt pirate NPCs in asteroid belts. After all, it has no bearing on the actual gameplay. In terms of story, though, if you've completed a combat mission or blown up a pirate battleship, you've slaughtered hundreds or thousands of people, not all of whom may be 'the bad guys'.
What's also interesting is The Burning Life will focus on the game's pirate factions. Hjalti explains more about this in his most recent dev blog: "For quite some time I've been dying to put more focus on the pirates. They've been there with us all this time, like creepy nannies - watching over us when we mine, hanging out to greet us at the gates..."
This should be good news to the EVE players who've long hoped for more background on the game's pirate factions. The Blood Raider Covenant must obviously do more than hunt 24/7 in search of victims for their religious rites and the Serpentis are clearly more than drug pushers. Still, in the years EVE has been running only some of their tales have been told. This will change with The Burning Life.
Hjalti writes, "There is a wealth of story material to be had from them, particularly if we look beyond the initial facade of evil ratting scum. How can a society like the Blood Raiders, driven by such grisly traditions, function on a daily basis? What kind of person would ever willingly join Sansha's Nation, and how does it feel to be one of the True Slaves? What are the Angel Cartel and Guristas factions like, different as they are?"
Unlike The Empyrean Age, the game's second novel will not be linked to a specific expansion, but rather aims to add more depth to the game's existing lore. The Burning Life will, however, tie in with actual game content, Hjalti writes. The novel's plotlines will extend to missions and other PvE content in the game, and on a more subtle level, to in-game items and their descriptions.
So who will The Burning Life focus on specifically?
The protagonists will be a survivor of the destruction of a low security space mining (pirate) colony haunted by the tragedies he's lived through, and a mission agent losing her mind, who seeks redemption for the strife and death she's caused. Hjalti has also hinted that readers familiar with The Black Mountain Chronicles may see a familiar face in The Burning Life.
The Burning Life is slated for a November release.