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EVE Evolved: Storytelling in EVE Online


Storytelling is a major part of most MMOs, with each game having its own unique back-story and fiction. Fantasy settings like Everquest's world of Norrath have even been made into novels and some original fantasy literature like Lord of the Rings has conversely made its way into the MMO scene. Quests and expansions in an MMO usually lead the character through an interactive story where the player assumes the role of a hero. Although space-borne MMO EVE Online doesn't share that pattern and the the game's storyline doesn't develop during play, storytelling may actually be more important to EVE than it is to its fantasy counterparts. In the same way that EVE lends itself spectacularly to making videos, the EVE community has created some awesome fiction and there are some incredible real stories of in-game events. Combined with the wealth of prime fiction and the regular release of official chronicles, it's clear that storytelling is a big deal in EVE.

Read on as I delve into the EVE storyline and the various forms of storytelling that players can expect to take part in. If being part of epic events and telling the story sounds like your cup of tea, perhaps EVE is for you.

Back story:
Like all MMOs, EVE online's universe has a history that was decided by the game's developers. While a great deal of this history is known, it includes an 8000-year "dark age" in which the societies of New Eden fell to the brink of extinction and technologically regressed. Relics from these eras such as partially destroyed stargates have formed the basis for much of EVE's current technology. Most recently, the game's developers have drawn on this back story by beginning to introduce the remnants of EVE's ancient races inside systems only reachable via natural wormholes. Reverse engineering the technology possessed by these ancient enemies is the key to producing tech 3 strategic cruisers, the first ships from the next level of EVE's technology hierarchy.

The earlier prime fiction of EVE has changed very little since EVE's launch. In addition to race history time lines, it's also composed of scientific articles explaining everything from faster than light communication and warp drive to cloning and pod technology. Perhaps one of the most important things about this back story is that although it's old, it has been the inspiration for a lot of the game's development and many player-made stories. In addition to the ancient races of EVE being part of the existing storyline and tech 3 technology being reverse-engineered from ancient relics, the wormholes now appearing in space have the same scientific basis as stargates. This makes the back story not just a story but a living part of the game that can be drawn on for clues and is routinely used for development inspiration.

The one part of the official storyline that has seen movement over the years is the chronicles. These are short stories relating to every aspect of EVE and form an evolving part of the official prime fiction. There was a period when new chronicles stopped being released but recently new chronicles have been released regularly. There are now 168 of these stories, including several popular continuations like the six-part "End of the world" chronicle and the sixteen-part "Black Mountain" series. In addition to the chronicles, there are nine "short stories", which are short novellas interspersed with artwork. With material like this, it's no wonder CCP opted to release a full paper-based EVE Online novel.

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