Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Story Behind The Challenge

"I think CCP, what they wanted to do, they wanted to do something RPG-wise, but as we know EVE is not exactly an RPG game."

Chitsa Jason, CSM 8 delegate,
CSM Town Hall, 19 January 2014

Despite what some may say, EVE Online is the MMORPG that I have played that has best incorporated the role-playing element into the game.  I think, in large part, that is due to people not really knowing what a capsuleer is and how a capsuleer is supposed to act.  Sure, traditional role players have a wealth of background information to draw from in order to create a back story for their characters.  But whereas traditional RPers usually are shunted aside, CCP's single shard world draws those who don't want to try to act like an Amarrian theocrat or Caldari corporate drone into a capsuleer culture all its own.

The capsuleer culture, like EVE itself, is not simplistic.  Some would argue, with some justification, that the term "capsuleer culture" itself is too simplistic to describe play styles that range the gamut from performing tasks for authorized agents in high sec to low sec piracy to the empire builders in null and explorers in w-space.  But if we can lump the trillions that live in each of the four political entities in empire space into simple stereotypes, then we can do the same with hundreds of thousands of capsuleers as well.  If the "Grr Goons" crowd doesn't like the association, they should remember they have a lot more in common with The Mittani than they do with those who inhabit New Eden's dirtballs.

That leads to the latest challenge I've set myself to, as Aura exhorts every capsuleer, "forge my own path to greatness."  Perhaps not greatness on the scale of a leader of a null sec empire, but accomplishment and satisfaction just the same.  My latest goal is to make 1 billion ISK in low sec during the month of March.  Some may wonder, "Why all the restrictions?"  Would you believe that role play had a major influence in the rules I set for myself?

While I don't really write about my characters' stories, they both do have one.  Currently I play my characters as a group of hard-scrabble scavengers, space truckers and miners trying to put together a manufacturing business.  While my corporation headquarters (and all my big ships) still sits in high, I spend almost all of my time living and working in low.  Low has become home.  The thought of just stripping the area of raw materials and selling them in high sec rubs me the wrong way.  Perhaps I remember Earth's colonial past, but I don't want to live in an area whose fate is perpetual exploitation by both the First (high sec) and Second (null sec) Worlds.  I'd like to help make my small section of Minmatar low sec a more developed and self-sufficient place to live.  If I happen to make a lot of ISK, well, I am a capsuleer and we all crave ISK.

My characters, a brother/sister duo from the Vherokior tribe, don't need to look to ancient myths from beyond the EVE Gate for motivation when CCP has so thoughtfully provided the Amarr.  With its dark practice of slavery still keeping one-third of all the Matari people in bondage, the Amarr are a present-day reminder of the dangers of letting anyone become dominant.  While the Republic still remains independent, Amarr's hired mercenaries continue to try and recapture systems in Minmatar low sec and return them to the Empress' control.  My combat pilot, Rosewalker, even joined the Minmatar militia to fight the encroaching menace a few years ago. While a noble impulse, Rosewalker quickly realized he was a mystic, not a fighter, and withdrew to help his sister run the family business.  My only PvP losses in EVE have come at the hands of pilots in corporations that are a part of the Amarr militia, although I've had to fight off bandits from null sec as well.

That desire to resist domination extends to the economic arena as well.  My characters don't want to just take resources and allow the high sec cartels to use the materials to sell overpriced manufactured goods in low sec.  The goal is to produce goods that reasonably compare in price with the nearby trade hubs in Rens and Hek.  That desire meshes well with the concept behind Sugar Kyle's Cougar Store, which is why I sell most of my products in Bosena.  Well, that and the fact that Bosena is one jump away from the Vherokior tribes headquarters in Teonusude.  While I am selling out of a Republic Fleet station in Bosena, tribal connections in the region never hurt.

So that's the motivation for my latest actions and goals in EVE.   While my primary play style in EVE is solo, the environment that I live in, and thus my actions, are heavily influenced by other players.  That covers the "massively multi-player online" part of MMORPG.  And the motivations, and my reasons for having them, definitely fit the "role playing" part of the acronym.  The fact that my role and motivations were created by me and not handed out by CCP is one of the distinguishing features of the sandbox.  Also, in my opinion, why EVE Online is such a great role playing game.

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