This is a collection of short in-character fiction pieces about Awakened Industries, a group of capsuleers and their crews living in the enigmatic and dangerous regions of Wormhole Space in EVE Online. None of the protagonists are actual characters or corporations in-game. All similarities with persons fictional or real are possibly coincidental and only sometimes intentional. - Emergent Patroller

For an introduction to this blog refer to this link. You may also want to check out the guide for new readers

Warning
: The stories on this blog contain mature themes involving sexuality and violence and are not suitable for minors or sensitive people.

29 Apr 2012

OOC Entry 21 - A guide for new readers

While I know there are a handful (at most) of people who have read my stories from the get-go, I seem to be getting new readers recently. (I wish more of you woud write comments or send me emails so I get some feedback. Please do)

If you are one of the two or three people who have faithfully followed the whole narrative, you can skip the rest of this, except if you feel you need to be reminded of something.

For the rest of you, here are some references to previous stories that make it easier to understand what is going on:

So, in the most recent story, Sylera was brought to Syndicate for experiments. There is also a reference that this happened to her earlier. The beginning of that lies within the story Equal Measure where the crew first find Sylera. The back story to her being brought to Syndicate by the Amarr begins with the third chapter of The Wrong Crowd. Also, the whole chain of events that takes place in Turning the Tide is a consequence of what happens in the other stories.

Hey, I just realized that this poor Amarr girl is my main plot driver. I actually never planned this.

An Angel in Hell opens with a scene told from the perspective of the Caldari trader Mikkai Aluvetti. He makes a few references to the past too. All the background on this can be found in the story A Trader's Woes.

The other characters, Cedrien, Keram, Alira, Sandrielle and Shisei are central protagonists of the story. Look up their character pages (on the right in the list of Dramatis Personae) and find references there to stories that feature them.

In the most recent story there is an allusion that Sandrielle and Sylera shared a sort of teacher-student relationship. This begins in The Wrong Crowd part 2, and finds it's continuation in Shattering Tranquility. Previously in Angels and Demons Sandrielle reveals her motivations about why she is so interested in the young Amarrian.

There is a hint at the end of one of the earlier stories that all might not be as coincidental as it seems. I leave it for you to find that.

So basically those are the main back references in the latest story. The short one before referred to Cedrien having to choose between a lover and a crewmember. Well that tragic story is told in Dreams of the Past.

I think that is enough now to provide a guideline for new readers so they can find their way backwards in the storyline to understand what is going on.

Be aware though, that I am constantly making small references to things that happened in the past. Also, there are certain traits that characters have which are much more elaborated on in earlier stories, and so they are basically implied knowledge in the more recent ones.

There is also a lot about the capsuleer experience, technical details, supporting characters and the background of Awakened Industries in the older stories too. So if you care, and if you don't want to feel lost and/or disconnected from the story, I would just recommend reading the whole thing from the beginning or, if you can't be bothered, ask me a question in the comments.

Addendum 03-2013: When I wrote this I had just started my thirteenth story. Now I have just finished my 20th. Everything above is still very valid (apart from phrases like "latest story") but also things have changed quite a bit. Sylera has lost her ties with home for good. Keram's past has caught up with him in unexpected ways and Sandrielle has revealed some of hers. If you are new to this story series, you can still just jump in anywhere and the same things apply as I wrote above. I still think it's worth reading some of the older stories as well.

OOC Entry 20 - Menticide

So the next installment of my latest story is out there, and it looks pretty grim for our protagonists.

Since I used the term in the story, I thought I should explain what menticide means:

[fr. L. ment-, mens; mind + cidium, killing]
The undermining or destruction of a person's mind or will, esp. by systematic means such as mental and physical torture, extensive interrogation, suggestion, training, and narcotics: brainwashing

It's a torture technique not necessarily used for interrogation, but for breaking down a subject to make them dysfunctional or prepare them for complete reconditioning. Even though I am not sure whether the latter is not just a myth that exists mainly in spy fiction.

In the cold-war era such techniques have been used by both sides against political opponents or intelligence operatives, mostly to neutralize them. There are strong allusions that similar techniques are used today against prisoners in Guantanamo.

Don't even ask me why I am familiar with things like that. I just thought it would make sense to explain the word before some reader goes like "what the hell is this all about?"

21 Apr 2012

An Angel in Hell - Part1



'You just got to love the Syndicate' Aluvetti thought to himself as he reclined in the gel-cushion bench inside his recessed booth at the back of the nightclub. His gaze drifted across the people writhing and cavorting on the dance-floor, enraptured by the immersi-sonic system of this well visited establishment. His own body tingled with the afterglow of the sensations caused by frequencies expertly amplified and tuned to evoke both physical and psychological reactions. A smile tugged at the corners of his lips.

It had been some time since he last visited Poitot. A fact he regretted. To him, there existed nothing better than the mixture of Gallente hedonism and Caldari business-sense which characterized this region of space. The full potential of this combination achieved by a lack of regulations and CONCORD interference.

He couldn't care less about the supposed spiritual depth of the Intaki people. They offered deals available nowhere else, and pleasures illegal even in the Gallente Federation. If trading wasn't second nature to him, the sensory distractions would be enticing enough to forget that he was here for business. His eyes followed two passing, youthful Intaki girls wearing more adaptive nano-makeup than clothing, but then his awareness latched on to the one individual standing out from the party crowd and club habitu├ęs.

The craggy-faced man weaved through the assorted revelers with his deep-set eyes intently focused on piercing the dark recesses of the establishment. His functional, loose-fitting robes looked Amarr, and were definitely setting him apart from the spectacular outfits most other people here wore. Aluvetti nodded to himself slowly. That must be the man he expected.

The contacts of that unsettling Gallente woman had seeded rumours throughout the surrounding systems for days now. It had only been a matter of time until someone followed up on them.
The Caldari trader suppressed a momentary shudder when his thoughts turned to the Awakend Industries capsuleer who had hired him for this job. He dispelled the thought and raised his cocktail glass in a subtle gesture to catch the attention of the other man, when the narrow-featured visage turned his way. With a nod the Amarrian acknowledged and approached the booth tucked away in the back of the club.

***

Shisei's mind resurged from the instant trance he had conditioned himself to fall into whenever his ship shot through a gate. For many capsuleers gate-jumps were disorienting. Even after years of experience, the sensations transmitted to the nervous system as a result of the staggering forces catapulting a ship across many lightyears of space, affected a pilot. Many veterans of the spacelanes found their own way to deal with it. For Shisei it was meditative conditioning as taught by Achura tradition.

Immediately after landing, he focused his awareness on the local system's sensor broadcast. He did not find a record of his ship's beacon. Satisfied he concluded that Sandrielle's operatives had successfully bribed the local gate operators to omit his jump record. The absence of CONCORD control from this out-of-the way system, operated by loose collectives, made such subversion a question of money alone. Shisei's body twisted subtly in his pod with residual movement as he turned the massive bulk of his Orca into alignment to the station in orbit with Poitot's fifth planet. Then he willed his ship into warp speed.

'Are you sure it is the people we expect?' he inquired on their encrypted fluid-router channel.

'Aluvetti gave an affirmative signal.' Sandrielle's disembodied voice answered back 'Also, my contact has told me that an Anathema class Amarr vessel has docked, using the registration of a defunct corporation.'

'Are we cleared to dock close enough to them?' Shisei checked further.

'It is all arranged.' The Gallente woman replied.

***

'I know you have a past with Awakened Industries.' the nameless Amarrian revealed with an earnest expression that made his pale face look even more like a corpse's visage. 'How can I trust you?'

Aluvetti scoffed and set down his cocktail glass. 'I sure do. They kidnapped and tortured me.' he leaned forward and stared into the other man's eyes through the stroboscopic flashes of the club's lighting. 'They cost me my commission in Amarr space.'

He returned to his reclining position. 'Believe me, I have no reason to like them.'

A mirthful smile appeared on his face 'Besides, there's only one thing I really care about, and that's striking a deal.' He rested his palm on the data-storage spindle that lay on the table in front of him. 'So do you want to make this deal or not.'

A smirk appeared on the emaciated features of the Amarrian. 'You have made sure it is authentic?'

'Directly from a Republic-commissioned black-project of Eifyr&Co.' Aluvetti assured him. 'If you don't believe me you can verify it.'

The other man pulled a portable neocom from the folds of his loose robe. The display illuminated his sharp features while he ran his checks on the storage unit. 'It looks genuine.' he concluded curtly and turned his dark-eyed gaze back at Aluvetti.

'What?' the Caldari trader inquired after a few wordless seconds only filled by the reverberations of the immersive sound. 'I have no idea what this actually is or what to do with it. All I know is, you want it, and that is all I need to know.'

A slow nod was the Amarrian's response, and then he entered numbers into his portable device. 'The funds you requested have been transferred.' He paused and held Aluvetti's gaze again 'Along with a bonus to ensure your continued silence about our dealings.' The Amarrian got up while Aluvetti checked the fund transfer on his own neocom and slid the storage unit across the table.

'Be sure to never forget that part of the agreement' the robed man added.

Aluvetti looked up at him and smiled disarmingly 'I never forget something that people pay me for.'

***

Inside the station's vast docking bay Shisei maneuvered the bulk of his craft through the cavernous tunnels toward his assigned position. As promised, he could see the small covert ops craft of Amarr design floating above a docking ring right below the one assigned to him. Ignoring proximity alerts and overriding repelling force-fields he dropped the full mass of his ship into the chasm of the main docking well.

The powerful levitation field of the docking ring slowed his descent, but not enough to prevent an impact strong enough to justify the next action. With a mental signal Shisei unlocked one of the cargo bays and sent a cascade of unrefined ore raining down on the small Amarr vessel.

'Registration MOD775, what is your problem?!' came the irate inquiry of the local dock operator.

'My excuses for this mishap' Shisei answered and noted that the forged beacon of his ship had transmitted properly 'My proximity sensors got damaged in a brush with pirates coming in.' he sent a faked damage report across the link with a quick command.

'Please let the captain of that ship know that I will compensate him for any inconvenience. The same goes for any cleanup costs you will have.'

'Allright.' came the response 'Just make sure you get your ship properly repaired before you create more problems.'

'Certainly.' Shisei replied calmly.

In the meantime, nanites embedded within the dumped ore, began to integrate particles of the spilled metals into the hull of the Anathema below. Not enough to change the composition of the ship's outer layer in a conspicuous way, but sufficient for a vessel with finely tuned metallurgical sensors to spot the difference.

Sensors like those available on an Orca.

An Angel in Hell - Part 2



Nanites crawled through Slylera's spinal plugs and burrowed into her nervous system She could feel them like needles threading razor-wire through her flesh. Somewhere far away, she knew, her body twisted with tortured cramps and her mouth opened in a reflexive scream that would go unheard inside her liquid prison.

Sylera withdrew further into the deepest recesses of her mind. Or was she pushed? Evicted from her own consciousness. She almost wished it to be over so she could curl up in that dark isolation and stop feeling this agony. But here it was, where what remained of her would make it's last stand against the onslaught.

They had taken her sight and replaced it with a blinding storm of hypnotic patterns that razed her awareness. They had deafened her ears to everything but tortuous psycho-acoustics that shredded her mind. All her tactile senses had been turned into conduits for agonizing pain. Now they had sent machines into the very core of her nervous system.

For Sylera it had been a fighting retreat. Further and further away from that world of agony she had withdrawn, enduring as much as she could at every step. By now she had lost her sense of time. She found it hard to remember what it was like to have a physical form for anything else but to be a source of suffering. Her self-awareness flickered like a dying ember in the ashes of a scorched landscape. As if fanned by an invisible wind, her imagination suddenly flared into a manifestation of memory.

***

'May God help me with this.' Sylera prayed as she faced Sandrielle yet again on the practice floor.

The Gallente woman rose from her stance of readiness and glared at the young Amarrian. 'This is why you keep failing!' she berated her. 'You rely on a supposed force outside of yourself to help you, while you need to have the will and discipline within.'

Sylera frowned offended. 'My faith lends me strength and guidance.' she exclaimed defensively. 'Besides that, it offers me broader view of existence than your bland atheism.' she accused the other woman.

Sandrielle shook her head and continued in a more benevolent tone. 'You mistake my lack of faith in your god for a lack of spirituality.' she said in an attempt to bridge the gap between them. 'Have I not taught you many things that are deeply metaphysical.'

Sylera relaxed her stance as well, now that their sparring session was diverted from the physical to the mental. 'That may be so, but none of them have to do with faith.' she conceded.

'My intention is not to convert you or undermine your belief in god.' the older woman explained soothingly. 'Still, to master the skills I teach, you need to find the strength within yourself.' she paused when Sylera still looked at her defiantly. 'Doesn't your own scripture tell you that it pleases god if you develop yourself?'

'It is also written that excessive self-absorption leads to the sin of hubris.' Sylera retorted.

'And I would caution you against the same.' The Gallente woman readily answered. 'This does not have to be an argument about theology or faith.' Sandrielle continued after a pause. 'All I am asking of you, is to learn to focus your mind to fully control your body's actions. The earlier you realize that this has to come from inside of you, the more you will progress.' she smiled disarmingly then. 'Or do you think your god helps me of all people?'

'Clearly that can't be.' Sylera replied dryly.

***

Prakevi's dark eyes dispassionately regarded the lithe body contorting inside the pod under agonies he could only muse about with curiosity. He smoothed his shining black hair back with a slender hand, and looked at the readouts of his instrument console. 'What is the magnitude of pain those peak oscillations really represent' He wondered to himself. Questions about such extreme experiences always jabbed at his inquisitive mind.

His reflections were interrupted when he heard the heavy steps of the Lictor approach from behind. Prakevi straightened his thin body and turned to bow to the imposing robed figure. 'Your eminence.' he greeted deferentially.

Lictor Kel-Udar drew his bushy eyebrows together in the shadow of his cowl. 'How far is she?' he demanded curtly.

The Ni-Kunni scientist took a step to the side. With a graceful, sweeping gesture he presented the wide instrument panel with it's various reports and collected data. 'There is only very little of her that remains inside that body.' he announced with a voice as smooth and cultured as a silk scarf, and as deadly as the same article of clothing would be when used for strangulation.

'How long until you have achieved complete menticide?' the Lictor's grating baritone inquired further while the tall man leaned closer to check the readouts.

'It can't be longer than a day or two.' Prakevi replied with quiet confidence. Again he stroked over his black tresses with subconscious pride. 'I have begun to introduce nanites into her spinal cord, rebuilding her reflexive responses.' he continued and directed the attention of the Lictor to a particular status monitor showing the invasion of Sylera's vegetative system.

Kel-Udar reached into a pocket of his robe and retrieved a storage spindle of obvious Matari design. 'See to it, that you can make use of the schematics contained on here.' he commanded. 'They were used in the original experiment.'

The Ni-Kunni scientist looked at the storage-unit. An affronted expression cast a shadow over his bronze-skinned features. 'Your eminence' he began 'I must most humbly protest. Those are most certainly the inferiour results of those unsophisticated …'

'Enough.' Kel-Udar boomed at him and Prakevi seemed to shrink visibly before the large, broad-shouldered Lictor 'Those unsophisticated Matari managed to succeed with this. I order you to find a use for their results.'

Prakevi bowed deeply and presented his hands to receive the spindle. 'As you wish your eminence.' he replied. His face softened in obedience.

***

“That must be it. The sensor readouts point to this location” Shisei broadcast a three dimensional rendering of his sensor-scan across the channel.

“Looks like a mining colony.” Keram replied sceptically when he saw the cluster of interconnected asteroids dotted with several small constructions materialize before his mind's eye.

“It may seem so.” the Achura replied “But the thermal readouts indicate no significant industrial activity.”

“It probably was one, but has been re-purposed.” Cedrien agreed over the line. “Shisei, see whether you can bring us in closer.”

Slowly the long, flat shape of Shisei's Orca command ship began to turn and align on to a trajectory through the slowly rotating masses of mineral-rich asteroids. The three bulky mining barges floating close-by mirrored his maneuver while they kept their powerful drill-lasers trained on different drifting rocks, melting ores from stone as they went. For all intents and purposes the Awakened Industries fleet looked like yet another mining crew out to make a profit in this dangerous but rich environment beyond CONCORD controlled space.

“Why could we not have the mining ships flown by baseline-crews?” Alira complained over the fluid-router link. “I feel defenseless in this thing.”

“Because that would put too many lives at risk.” Cedrien reminded her. “We discussed this.” he added brusquely.

Inside her pod Alira's face displayed only a slight frown. As a result of the nerve-impulses diverted from her brain to the ship, the interiour lighting of the mining barge darkened significantly, but nobody was present in it's deserted halls to notice.

“It's your fault that you learned how to fly those rock-skips.” Keram taunted “If you hadn't, you could be out here with me trying to dodge asteroids and avoid getting decloaked.”

“Quiet! We have been spotted” Cedrien interrupted the Amarr pirate's provocations.

Casting fleeting shadows on the asteroids, a squadron of baroque-styled Amarr navy ships swooped in from behind one of the largest space-borne rocks. Weapon systems rose from recesses along their hulls and targeting sensors locked on to the ponderous mining ships.

An Angel in Hell - Part 3



Small frigates, shaped like the disembodied pincers of gigantic crabs, swiftly circled around the group of defenseless mining barges, held them in place with warp disruption fields, and battered at their weak shields with short-range energy-beams.

Two cruisers followed, closing in on the group of industrial vessels which drifted in close formation around their massive Orca command ship. The design of the Amarr combat ships spelled dread for their opponents: Built to resemble diving birds of prey with cruel and powerful beaks.

The shields of the first Covetor-class miner failed under the searing heat of accelerated photons. Already the insufficient armour plating on the ore processing vessel began to melt away in strands of liquefied metal, trailing off into space.

The main blow was still to come, though. With slow inevitability the massive hull of an Amarr navy battleship maneuvered itself through a gap between the indifferently spinning asteroids, soon it would have a free field of fire.

'Everyone, release drones and send them against the frigates.' Cedrien tersely commanded. The channel was close to breaking up as his ship rapidly approached it's violent end.

'Shisei, undock the ships! Everyone eject and board your ships now!' he shouted his last oder before a new salvo tore through the core of his Covetor and the bulky industrial hull came apart in an explosion of burning plasma and molten ore.

Hangar bays opened on the ventral side of the large command ship while the remaining Covetors ,and the Orca itself, released a swarm of small automated fighters which engaged the enemy frigates. The docking clamps which secured the now revealed attack ships disengaged and released the deadly vessels into space. The pilots abandoned the humble mining barges and within moments their capsules were cradled within the open pod receptacles of three strategic cruisers.

The swift operation was the assigned cue for Keram who had followed the ponderously maneuvering battleship which just obliterated another mining craft with it's first broadside. A useless victory in view of the changed situation.

Above and behind the long, slender Amarr hull, the forked wedge-shape of Keram's Pilgrim cruiser cast off the shroud of it's cloaking field. Immediately he began to send bursts of disruptive charges into the enemy ship.

'Shisei, make sure Keram gets energy transfer and keep his armour in full repair as best as you can' Cedrien instructed while he readied the weapon systems of his Proteus.

'The battleship is our primary, send more drones against the rest. Let's take them down.' he added and accelerated his organic-looking hammerhead hull towards the target.

***

'Your eminence, that mining fleet …' the holographic projection of a deck officer on the patrol battleship was barely coherent.. Fire, smoke and screams on a rapidly darkening bridge formed a backdrop of devastation for the jittering image.

Lictor Kel-Udar looked on with subdued rage simmering in his gray eyes. '… it was a trap. They are draining …' finally, the transmission broke down.

Kel-Udar pressed his lips together. 'I should have known.' he grumbled, then he whirled around and pointed at the station's combat commander who fidgeted nervously behind him. 'You!' the Lictor bellowed, and the uniformed man saluted with a jolt 'Mobilize every ship we have at our disposal.' The Lictor underscored his final words by adding a sweeping cut with his thickly-veined hand. 'I want them annihilated!'

The bald-headed Khanid commander bowed quickly and prepared to leave, but suddenly the command centre was bathed in red light and filled with the wail of alarm sirens. Heavy blast doors locked the startled crew inside the circular chamber.

'Intrusion detected! All non-authorized personnel are considered hostile.' the synthesized, genderless voice of the station's control system announced. 'Intrusion detected. Perimeter defense programs initiated.' it added in between the alarm sounds.

On cue, automated laser turrets slid from strategically placed recesses in the operations room and began to slice through the panicked crew with impersonal efficiency

***

Cowering inside the ruin of her self, Sylera's consciousness barely registered that the pain had ceased. A dystopian serenity replaced the relentless sensory barrage, and eventually a new sensation filled the ravaged void of what she once called her mind. Like an unexpectedly beautiful sunrise after a long night of terrors her awareness expanded across a new vista.

She felt vast, extending through space and rock. Not a ship, but something else. Larger, more spread out. She reached out into the new channels that opened to her. Many things were familiar to her. Weapon systems, shields, the feeling of human beings moving through her insides.

But those were not the helpful crew-members she usually felt. They were a disease that infected her. They were the ones who had imprisoned and tortured her. The systems of the station were hers to command. She gave them instructions. Her will was rekindled by the desire for retribution and she cut them down with lasers, suffocated them with decompression, crushed their ships by overloading the forcefields of the docking bay until the powerful field generators melted down. Like a ravaging Maenad she laid waste to the construct until every single one of them was dead.

All but one. His end would not be so swift.

Invigorated by the very systems which had held her prisoner until now, she willed her stationary capsule to open.

***

Prakevi looked on with shock after he had fed the Minmatar schematics into his system. He realized something was wrong at a time when it was already too late. He was locked out of the interface and he could hear the alarms sounding all over the station. Fretfully he stroked over his sleek black hair and finally reached for the emergency shutdown.

His hand never touched it.

A perimeter defense turret sliced it off and left his wrist a cauterized stump. His howl of pain drowned in the screams of the alarm.

He ran for the door, but an emergency shutter blocked it before he could get there.

He desperately stared across the medical lab at the exposed pod in it's centre. The young woman inside it stirred. He needed to shut down her life support. With no interface to do it, the only way was destroying the system's main feed. Frantically he ran for the weapons locker while clutching his amputated wrist.

The beam of the defensive turret burned through consoles and laboratory desks on it's trajectory, until it finally was free of obstacles and continued it's path to cut Prakevi's legs from under him.

His legless torso hit the ground heavily. For a moment he looked in disbelief at his own twitching limbs lying there. The impact of the experience even erased the sensation of pain from his awareness. Until a few seconds later. Then he screamed at last, as the dam burst and the agony washed over him like a drowning wave.

When the turret finally severed his other arm at the shoulder his nervous system was so overwhelmed with shock that he hardly registered it.

Helpless and reduced to a whimpering mass of mutilated flesh, Prakevi looked on as the stationary pod opened.

The slender girl emerged among a cascade of viscous fluid. That elfin face twisted into a mask of wrath. The long whitish-blond hair clung to her pale naked body like living snakes. In the crimson glow of the emergency light she was an apparition of terrifying beauty. To Prakevi's agony-clouded vision she appeared like an avenging angel. Her eyes blazed with cleansing fire and in her wake followed the heavenly legions.

A silent prayer moved his lips before he finally lost consciousness and the host of the seraphim chased him into it's imaginary depths.

***

Cedrien and the other capsuleers had waited for reinforcements which never came. When the directional scanners showed no ships, the squadron of advanced combat ships left behind the smouldering wrecks of their enemies. Eventually they maneuvered close to the covert facility nested in the midst of this asteroid field.

No lights shone behind the many windows of the interlinked constructions, but fires blazed within and the mangled wrecks of ships vented burning plasma at the docking facility. Everywhere breaches in the constructions had spilled glowing debris and the bodies of occupants.

'What happened here?' Keram wondered on their internal frequency. 'Looks like we are late for the party.' he added with a dry, mocking tone.

'I guess my cleverly hidden viral protocol released our little angel from hell.' Alira responded with smug satisfaction.

OOC Entry 19 - Recapitulation and Announcement

So, for a month now I have criminally neglected my story blog. The reasons for that are many, but now I am picking up where I left off.

To start with, I'll do a short recapitulation of the most recent events.

Awakened Industries successfully defended against the invasion fleet of the Janissary Order through a combination of creative strategy, crafty deception and finally the sacrifice of Sylera who is now in the hands of a group of Amarr scientists operating in secret. Officially she is already declared dead. If she can not be rescued, her life is most likely forfeit.

The tenuous trust between Cedrien and Sandrielle has become strained because of her repeated schemes and insubordinations, but in all this, she has shown a side of herself that is more than just cold calculation: She disobeyed her leader's orders on grounds of empathy and acted against her own interests.

Now, as most of the corporation's crew is occupied with repairs, the small group of capsuleers is preparing to attempt a daring rescue of their lost member. An operation that will lead them into the anarchic region of Syndicate, facing an unknown enemy.

The continuation of the story will begin this weekend. 

13 Apr 2012

Blog Banter 35 - Through the Lens of Past Experience

I have criminaly neglected my poor story blog, and I really need to get back into things, so as a first step I decided to participate in this month's Blog Banter:

So here is what we are going to discuss:

Now approaching its tenth year, the EVE Online player community has matured into an intricate and multi-faceted society viewed with envy by other game developers, but is frequently regarded with suspicion by the wider gaming community. 

Is this perception deserved? Should "The Nation of EVE" be concerned by its public identity and if so how might that be improved? What influence will the integration of the DUST 514 community have on this culture in the future?

[Unrelated and random bonus question sponsored by EVE News 24: What single button would you recommend be included on an EVE-specific keyboard?]


I am going to approach this issue from a personal historic perspective. It may seem like I'm getting beside the point, but bear with me while I tell you a little story.

The past

Back in the 1990s I was playing online multi-user games in text based form.
There was no complex AI driven PVE content, so everything that happened in the game did so because some players made it happen. Sometimes GMs would run live events too, but that was the exception. Virtually all of the game was PvP or at least player interaction.

Over the years, I played on two different Shadowrun MUSHes. In this dystopian cyberpunk-fantasy gaming universe, almost everyone played some sort of professional criminal or operative, living on the dangerous edge of an unforgiving society ruled by ruthless corporations. 

If you got killed, you were really dead. End of story. No clone, no magical resurrection. You had to start over with a new character. You did get to start your new character with as many skillpoints as your old character had at the time of death, though.

The only mitigating factor was, that there had to be some RP based in-character reason why you were killed. If you had the impression, that your death was just arbitrary griefing, you could petition with a GM and maybe get it retroactively undone, but due to the harsh game universe, there were usually plenty of justifications to kill someone. People betrayed, scammed, robbed and killed eachother for all kinds of perfectly viable role-playing reasons.

How do you get by in such an environment? You act cautiously. You find creative solutions for difficult problems. You try to make friends and build relations of trust. Everything you did in every interaction would have consequences for yourself and the people you were involving yourself with. You had to really invest thought and consideration into your actions, and that made it exciting and meaningful.

Does all that sound familiar already?

The present

Many gamers these days seem to approach their hobby with a strange sense of entitlement. Everything has to be easy and consensual. Any real danger for your character or your style of play is an unwanted factor.

This is why I never got into any online game except EVE.When I first heard about it, an old RPG friend of mine told me that there was a game which was almost as dangerous and rewarding as the online games of old, and that made me decide to try it.

So if you read this far, you will sit there with the question: How does all of this relate to the Blog Banter subject?

Allright, EVE has a certain reputation. This reputation will attract some and wont attract others. Like the people who played on the old Shadowrun MUSHes, the people attracted will be those who are looking for a gaming experience that means something (to the extent that such a thing can exist).

Sure, some things could be better. When I read some of the horrible stuff people post on forums, I sometimes can only shake my head at the incredibly immature pseudo-macho-culture (after all real machos would get into real fights instead of posting stuff online), but that's in no way different from every other forum on the internet which is for a large part frequented by men with arrested development.

As for the rest I think EVE is doing fine in terms of public representation. There are great examples of wonderful creative output, community spirit, helpful content and more.(*) Some people will never opt for that style if gaming, but that's fine, because an ever increasing number of people do.

Is there a problem for CCP? Well they seem to be making money consistently, and that during a time which saw the collapse of the Icelandic financial sector and a global economic downturn. Any real problem CCP had was related to their interaction with the player base rather than the public image of EVE.

Has the recent Mittani incident tarnished the public image of EVE? I don't think so. After all, the man's apology was as public as his drunken mistake, and how often have you read about a player publicly apologizing for something he did wrong in a game-related context. If anything, it shows that the real people behind all this grief play and scamming are probably not so bad after all.

And the final question: Will the DUST415 community engage with this environment? Well I can not answer that, because I know nothing about FPS communities. One thing I do know is, EVE players will flock to DUST415 in significant numbers, and the spirit of gaming that makes EVE the most intriguing environment of the modern online game world will "infect" DUST425 no matter what.


My answer to the Bonus Question: Lock Target. The most fundamental function of them all.


(*) My selection of links was not meant to say that those are the only good ones. Voices from the Void, Fly Reckless, Notalotofnews, Podgoo, Roc Wieler, Kirith Kodachi, Ripard Teg, Tiger Ears, Pixxie Twilight and all the others out there I didn't name here. You are all great, and you deserve just as much credit. I just didn't want to start a link list.