To fluff or not to fluff.
Kirith Kodachi has launched the latest (and what will be my first) blog banter :
How important is “fluff” in Eve online? Would eve online be the same if it were purely numbers and mechanics, or are the fictional elements important to the enjoyment of the game? Would a pure text, no reference to sci-fi or fancy names still be an engaging game? Should CCP put more or less emphasis on immersion?
“If this is empty space, why does my ship stop when I cut the engines?”
An age old question asked by new players, tittered over by older players and met with rolled eyes by bitter vets. I encountered this question recently in teamspeak, and without hesitation I offered an answer as per the lore laid down by CCP.
No it’s not because we’re playing Submarines Online in a giant space ocean! Obviously it’s because the sophisticated, space-bending nature of our warp engines creates a drag effect when inactive, thus slowing your ship!
My brazen, unashamed lore spouting was met with a mixture of amusement and horror. A conversation ensued encompassing many other topics of lore and revealed just how much our Average-Joe 20-30 million SP players actual knew of the lore. It seems many of us have been unconciously absorbing it even whilst simultaneously professing to not care (or even openly mock those that do; “Lol-RP”).
The pervasiveness of such fluff strikes me as an indication of its importance to the game. If as gamers all we really cared about was facts, numbers, mechanics then why do so many people get so worked up about the fact EvE has an ‘up’ and ships have ‘top speeds’ rather than acceleration levels and other trivia?
I was lucky enough to go to Fanfest this year, and everywhere I looked were corp logos and gurista skull bunny tatoos. I doubt there’d be anything like the passion and enthusiasm necessary for tatoos if the only choices were between Asteriod-type-01, and Pirate-faction-003.
But would it still be an engaging game? And that’s a specific wording. If it were to instead ask : “Would it be ‘as’ engaging a game?” it would be a clear and resounding no. However is there enough left in the core game to still be considered engaging when competing against other games? The pure theorycrafting and tactics of pvp without any fluff.
I’m not convinced it would. Think about it. Ship fits with no sci-fi names would become a confusing jumble of meaningless and generic numbers. Can you remember the difference between Weapon Rate of Fire boost 003, and Weapon Rate of Fire boost 007? Knowing one is the tech I version and the other is a faction adds much needed context.
The fluff turns the numbers into something a human can latch on to, provide context with, and ultimate use to engage with the game. Regardless of how little you think you care about it the moment you use some acroynm like DCU, the very second you wished more Null systems had names rather than all the letters and numbers*, or admire the sleek lines of a favoured ship design – you are a fluff-lover!
All that said – should CCP put more emphasis on immersion?
As a fan of the lore, and of RP in general, I’m never going to be one to turn down more immersion. However – with a more practical and less biased hat on. No, I think they have the balance at a pretty good level. Those who want to RP have a rich and interesting prime fiction to play with. Those who barely give a damn have plenty of numbers to spreadsheet. Those that simply want to blow stuff up can do so. It’s a great mix.
Happy Flying o7
* Or convert the letters and numbers into a psudo-word in your head! 😉