TL;DR: Times change and people change, but how has the lore changed?
EvE is an old game, with a massive amount of lore and history behind it as well as a relatively consistent storyline running in the background, but it appears to me that there have been several changes in how the storyline progressed due to the nature of the medium, player actions, and developer turnover. This thread is intended to be a place where newer players such as myself can ask EvE veterans, lore nerds, and any devs that may elect to join in what changes have occurred to the direction of the game’s storyline throughout its history.
Since EvE is an MMO game instead of a novel or other literary work, the direction of the story is determined by several people working together instead of a single author. Since the game is over sixteen years old there has naturally been a lot of turnover at CCP; if I recall correctly, Hilmar is the only member of the original team still working there.
Since the devs have also been gracious enough to let the players affect the story of New Eden in various ways, certain events have played out in ways CCP hadn’t anticipated. As a very wise man once said, “If there’s one thing the internet as a whole can aspire to be, it’s infinite monkeys on infinite typewriters.”
All of these have naturally lead to changes in the direction of where various smaller storylines, and thus the story of the game as a whole, have been going. I welcome any corrections to my admittedly flawed knowledge of these events, especially if the person correcting me can provide links to reliable sources. There’s just so much material and history to go through that figuring out how the direction the storyline has changed since the game launched, or even before it launched, will be one hell of an effort on my part.
I’ll be expanding upon this using Archive.org links whenever possible to avoid webpages disappearing with time.
Judging from other players’ comments about the storyline (and I’m well aware that those should be taken with a grain of salt) I’ve learned that there have supposedly been three really big changes in the storyline’s direction, with an iffy fourth and possibly more. There have also been a larger number of smaller changes to the lore, as well as god-knows-how-many things that were never implemented for reasons of gameplay balance or feasibility.
Major Change #1: Tech Levels
This change is just as significant from a technical and gameplay standpoint as it is for us lore nerds, and from what I can determine happened pretty early after the game launched.
Word has it that back in the misty days of 2003, CCP originally planned on EvE’s technology tree going all the way up to Tech 10; supposedly what the best Terran tech available before the EvE gate collapsed would be classified as. Players would work their way up the technology tree, eventually gaining access to the same Jove ships the devs occasionally flew around in before discovering better and more powerful stuff as time passed.
Obviously, this never came to pass, and as disappointed as I am to know I’ll probably never own an Eidolon of my own I do understand why CCP binned the idea; just making higher-tech stuff be more expensive and powerful wouldn’t be enough. The game balance would become an impossible nightmare that inevitably resulted in older players being able to trample all over newbies who couldn’t afford or fly the overpowered beasts that Jove ships are, even in high-sec.
Gameplay issues aside, the glimpses we’ve been given of what New Eden’s precursor civilizations were capable of like the Jove Directorate’s (malfunctioning) interstellar teleporter, the Anoikis wormhole network, and Jamyl Sarum’s Isogen-5 powered superweapon used at Mekhios all hint at things both wondrous and terrifying.
Unless CCP decides to start talking, only time will tell if the empires, and by extension us, will ever get our hands on mass-produced T4-T10 technology. I’m willing to wait, they have more important issues to work on at the moment anyway.
Major Change #2: Empyrean Age
Major Change #3: New Management
The third major change supposedly happened around 2011-2014, with the contentious launch of Incarna, the failure of Dust 514, and CCP’s inability to produce even a working prototype of a World of Darkness MMO each resulting in changes at CCP.
It has been claimed that one of the effects of this change was CCP deciding to kill off the characters from Empyrean Age. Jamyl Sarum was assassinated (possibly kidnapped) by the Drifters to get at the Other inside her head, the Broker is MIA - presumed dead, and Tibus Heth went from “fascist and bigoted populist who cared about the plight of the common Caldari and worked to better their lives” to “would-be tyrant willing to order the murder of as many common Caldari as it took to expand his power” and got ousted by the rest of the megacorps who were no longer willing to put up with him anymore.
As a final cherry on top, it was eventually revealed in the Inheritance chronicle that the Jove had all but completely departed New Eden, and the Society of Conscious Thought would take their place. This will be discussed in the next entry on the list.
As with the previous entry on my list, I have no idea if these claims have any merit to them whatsoever, yet I can’t help but wonder how the game’s story might have played out had CCP chosen to keep Heth and Jamyl around. Unless they decide to comment on this, I suppose we’ll never know for certain.
(Possible) Major Change #4: The Jove
With how mysterious and reclusive the Jove are this not have been a change at all, but I decided to include it anyway for the sake of completeness.
Ever since the game launched there had also been rumors that players would “eventually” get to play as a Jove themselves, but as I mentioned in the first entry on this list that idea was scrapped due to how overpowered they would be. CCP devs, on the other hand, would fly around in Jove ships and roleplay as Jove characters, with the lack of a “CCP_” prefix usually indicating the dev had their RP hat on.
Due to the limited amount of time the devs had to work with and the Jove’s limited population this didn’t happen often, but lucky players could occasionally spot lone Eidolon-class battleships flying through space.
Naturally, this often resulted in the players trying to kill it. Sometimes they’d even win.
As time passed and the game’s population increased, these events became rarer and rarer until the Directorate’s ships were removed from the game files in 2014. The next year saw Caroline’s Star offlining the Jove stargate network and the emergence of the Drifters. Then, in December, Inheritance chronicle was released, revealing that the Jove were leaving New Eden in a second great exodus just as they had left Curse so many centuries ago.
It also revealed more lore about the Sleepers and their nature as offshoots of the Second Jove Empire (as well as some tantalizing details about the Talocan), but the Jove leaving New Eden is the relevant part to this entry. Even if the players would never get to play as Jove, they still had a presence in New Eden.
Had CCP always planned for them to die out or leave once they gave up on letting players make Jove characters, or was that something that only happened relatively recently? Furthermore, how much will we never learn about the Jove now that the people of the Directorate have departed the cluster?
I don’t think we’ll ever know the truth of unless the devs choose to answer, and that makes the lore buff in me sad as hell.
There are a lot of smaller changes that CCP has made with regards to the story and lore, and while some of them aren’t exactly minor I’m of the opinion that they’re not quite as important as the changes I’ve listed above.
First on the list: live events. They don’t happen like they used to, mostly thanks to the game’s population steadily climbing over the years, but back in the day, there were several high-profile events that had an impact on the game’s story progression.
Amarr Succession Trials
With the death of Emperor Heideran VII, the Amarr Empire announced Succession Trials would be held to select which Royal Heir would take the throne. The Trials were conducted as frigate matches between capsuleer champions representing Doriam Kor-Azor, Jamyl Sarum, Idonis Ardishapur, Temal Kador, and Davit Tash-Murkon. The winner was Ecliptical, representing Doriam Kor-Azor.
As per tradition, the other four Heirs committed ritual suicide upon Doriam’s inauguration, though Jamyl Sarum survived due to secretly being made a capsuleer cloned like any other capsuleer instead of holding to the doctrine of Holy Flesh, and would reappear five years later above Mekhios to destroy the Elder Fleet with an ancient superweapon.
Considering the circumstances, these trials could have gone to any of the five Royal Heirs. What might have happened if another heir had won, like Jamyl? Would events have played out differently? Would they have been assassinated two years later, as Doriam was?
Then there was the Amarr Championships in YC118 (2015-2016). How might events have played out if Catiz Tash-Murkon’s champions hadn’t won? What if it had been the Khanid champions? Would that have signaled the reunification of the Amarr Empire and Khanid Kingdom?
Finally, when I looked at the rules for the championship finals, I noticed that the competing champions were forbidden from displaying any livery belonging to the Blood Raiders or Equilibrium of Mankind. What might have happened if, upon winning the tournament, the victorious champions suddenly changed the SKINs on their ships to one of these heretical sects? I can only imagine what the fallout might have been…
In YC106 (2004) the Guristas Pirates, led by their founders Jirai “Fatal” Laitanen and Korako “The Rabbit” Kosakami, attacked the Crielere Research Laboratories after a scandal resulted in the Gallente Federation and Caldari State both pulling their support from the project, leaving it vulnerable to attack.
After the second assault resulted in Kosakami successfully abducting both of Crielere’s head scientists, the Guristas began to pull out. This is when the player named Doc Brown made his mark on the game: when Fatal’s ship was destroyed, he followed the pod through a stargate and obliterated it, which the man himself attributed to pure luck.
For those of you who don’t understand why this is significant, back in 2004 you had to keep your clone updated if you didn’t want to lose skill points when you got podded, which was a mechanical representation of a capsuleer losing their memories and experiences upon dying.
Fatal hadn’t kept his clone up to date.
The end result of this was the Guristas founder being rendered nearly invalid and eventually going into hiding. A major faction NPC had died at the hands of a player, and there were definite consequences for it in the lore.
What might have happened if Fatal had escaped, or if both founders had been killed during the attack? What might have happened if the pirates hadn’t managed to escape with the Crielere scientists? How would the Guristas have responded if events had played out differently?
I mentioned this above, but it definitely bears repeating because I think CCP has actually gone on record how they didn’t expect this event to turn out.
V. Salvador Sarpati, head of the Serpentis Corporation, decided that he wanted to humiliate the Gallente Federation by fighting his way into the heart of a naval yard and stealing a Soltueur-class titan, the FNS Molyneux. For those who are unaware, the titans we can use in-game are smaller and more resource-efficient “Promethean” titans, while the Empires a number of unbelievably massive “Iapetan” titans.
Just so you understand the scale involved, an Iapetan titan is New Eden’s equivalent to the frakking Death Star; comparing a Promethean Avatar, Leviathan, Erebus, or Ragnarok to an Iapetan Imud-Hubrau, Omnya, Soltueur, or Leviathan/Precipice is like comparing a guppy to a great white shark. This image may be fan-made, but it’s accurate enough to show you what I mean.
Setting aside the fact that his target was sitting inside a Gallente Federation naval base with all the security that implies, even Promethean titans have a minimum requirement of 6000-10,000 crew, many of whom are highly-trained scientists and engineers. Even if he actually managed to capture the damn thing, there was no way he would be able to crew the damn thing! By rights, Sarpati and his men would never be able to pull this off.
Obviously, they pulled it off. I wouldn’t be talking about it otherwise.
Of course, now that they had managed to get the Molyneux operational, there was still the inconsequential issue of getting it back to Serpentis Prime in one piece when half the capsuleers in New Eden were trying to kill them (have some video). The devs had started this event to show off the new titans, and they had expected it to end with the Molyneux dying in a blaze of glory.
Which made it all the more surprising when a group of capsuleers decided that they were going to help the Serpentis fleet abscond with their prize, as recalled in this Reddit post:
So I was there for this event. I recall that it was known something was going to happen but MC was doing a contract near Syndicate and we’d all forgotten about it. However, at some point we got wind of a Gal titan being stolen and half of EVE seemed to be trying to kill it.
It was a massive RP event. Several Devs were flying rail-Vindicators and escorting the titan as it jumped gate to gate (jump drives and player owned cap ships were still dreams) on its way to Serpentis Prime. The Serpentis ships were cutting a swath through the players but they were going down one by one as hundreds of players converged on the titan with the intent of destroying it.
MC, The Five and a few others had a different idea. We attacked the players going after the titan. Over a few hours, we eventually got it to Serpentis Prime. I don’t believe for a moment that the devs expected that outcome. The reward we got was kinda hilarious: 1 each BPC for a Vindicator, Vigilant and whatever the frigate was. At the time, these were worth quite a bit but it seemed REALLY on the spot.
I could talk quite a bit about this event but it’s late. What I can do is link to a couple of the posts about the event. The one by Trooper B99 (pay no attention the broken AAA tag) was done “in character” and is still a pretty cool read:
Needless to say, this event had gone completely off the rails, and I can only imagine how CCP’s story team had to scramble at writing the outcome on the NPC side of things. It makes me wonder how things would have played out if the Molyneux died like they expected it to; Sarpati was on that ship at the time, and I don’t think he’s a capsuleer. If he had died, it would be permanent.
Who would have taken over the Serpentis corporation in his absence? What else would have resulted from beheading the snakes? Inquiring minds want to know!
Next, we come to the ancient races of New Eden, and how CCP has dealt with them over time.
COSMOS and Ancient Civilizations
The Exodus: Cold War expansion released in June 2005 added static sites to the Ani, Araz, Okkelen, and Algintal constellations alongside in-space agents that gave out story-driven missions with unique rewards. These “COSMOS” missions could only be done once per character, which naturally limited the spread of the rewards the missions gave to players.
Some of these rewards are “storyline” BPCs, used to create rare, valuable, and (at the time) powerful modules with salvaged parts taken from the COSMOS sites. These stood out from other blueprints in that they required special components which had to be scavenged from the ruins of four ancient civilizations that inhabited New Eden before the rise of the current empires:
- The Sleepers inhabited Ani, in Minmatar space. Their technology was said to be comparable to Tech 2 in some areas, while in others they had much more advanced knowledge. Judging from the artifacts recovered from Sleeper ruins scientists were able to deduce that they were masters of virtual reality, neural interfacing, and cryotechnology. Their lore was expanded upon in Apocrypha and Inheritance.
- The Talocan inhabited the Okkelen constellation in Caldari space. Judging from the remains of their technology found in archaeological sites, they were masters of spatial manipulation and “hypereuclidean mathematics”, whatever that means. Like the Sleepers, their lore was also expanded upon in Apocrypha and Inheritance.
- The Amarr have been a spacefaring civilization for around six(?) millennia, which means when the Empire kicked out the Sani Sabik heretics those exiles were able to travel far, far away. They named themselves the Takmahl, took up residence in the Araz constellation, and somehow became technologically advanced enough - especially in the fields of cybernetics and bio-engineering - that their relics qualify as ancient advanced technology. The Amarr Empire gradually expanded into the Araz constellation and discovered the remains of the Takmahl civilization there; nobody knows for certain what happened to them, though many Amarr believe they were the ancestors of the Blood Raider Covenant. They haven’t gotten much attention from the writers since.
- The Yan Jung inhabited the Algintal constellation in what is now Gallente space, and are the most neglected of the four ancient civilizations. What little we have to go on indicates that they originated from Chinese colonists who settled in the Deltole system, with technology recovered from their ruins indicating they were masters of advanced gravitronic technology and force field theories. Some players believe they were the ancestors of the Jin-Mei due to both having Chinese characteristics, but even if that’s true it would no more make them Yan Jung than the Gallente are Tau Ceti French; too much time has passed and none of their ancestors’ knowledge remains with them aside from cultural and lingual traditions.
With the exception of the Takmahl, each race was presented as one of the highly-advanced precursor civilizations that died out after the collapse of the EvE gate, which made the fact that their ruins were only present in three small constellations scattered across the cluster rather fitting. IIRC, settlers were implied to have spread as far as possible and as quickly as possible once colonization of New Eden began; habitable worlds that a civilization can thrive on aren’t exactly common.
There was even a database entry for “Terran Artifacts” that CCP added around the same time, meaning that the devs had been planning to let players start unraveling New Eden’s connection to humanity’s lost homeworld at some point!
Unfortunately for those of us who love the idea of solving ancient mysteries, CCP didn’t iterate upon or expand these missions any further in the last fifteen years, with some becoming infamous due to (allegedly) requiring players file a support ticket in order to complete them!
While there have been two further additions to the lore of the ancient races (that I am aware of), neither tied into the COSMOS missions, and there was a gap of several years between each addition; Cold War was released in 2005, Apocrypha in 2009, and Inheritance was published in 2015. The ancient civilizations of New Eden still remain shrouded in enough mystery that much of our knowledge is still in the realm of theory and educated guesses, and their lore is such a puzzle that it’s only thanks to the exemplary efforts of players such as @Uriel_Paradisi_Anteovnuecci that we know as much as we do now.
Apocrypha expanded upon the lore of the Sleepers and Talocan with the opening to Anoikis, or wormhole space. Within those systems, we found Sleeper ruins and stations guarded by their ever-vigilant fleets of drones, along with the (seemingly) deceased bodies of the Sleepers themselves held in cryostasis.
Players also discovered abandoned Talocan vessels and technology in the wormhole systems, descriptions revealing that the Talocan had been a nomadic civilization with a definite connection to Anoikis. Little more was revealed about them, but it raised the possibility that the Talocan had simply moved on from New Eden instead of dying out entirely.
Six years later we get “Inheritance”, and it is as much an infodump as it is a Chronicle. In it, you can read about how the Sleepers are offshoots of the Second Jove Empire, get additional tidbits about the Others and how they originated from within the Sleeper VR construct, as well as several whammies about the Talocan.
We learn that from a technological standpoint, the Talocan were as far above the Jove as the Jove are above the other empires of New Eden. That’s tech 2-3 at best, and if the incident where a player got their hands on a Visitant blueprint are any indication then the Jove are Tech 5, meaning that the Talocan civilization would be Tech 7-8.
Not only that, but the UUA-F4 region is their old territory, and they constructed a massive Dyson swarm around the star of W477-P in order to power the creation of the Anoikis wormhole network. Instead of building stargates like the rest of us plebs the Talocan decided to start poking holes in the fabric of space-time and weave it all together to create a fifth-dimensional Autobahn! As far as I am aware, there’s no indication that the systems of Anoikis are even in the same galaxy as New Eden, Earth, or even each other!
When the Talocan were described as “masters of spatial manipulation”, they weren’t frakking kidding!
Also, remember what I said earlier about how the Talocan may have left New Eden instead of dying out? Well we can cross out the “may”; Inheritance tells us that the Talocan didn’t die out, they just left the New Eden cluster because there wasn’t anything left here that interested them.
Christ, if they come back and don’t like what they find then the empires are so frakking screwed it’s gonna be downright farcical.
Needless to say, Inheritance greatly expanded upon what we knew about the Jove, Sleepers, and Talocan, but it was all packaged together as an infodump along with the revelation that the Jove were leaving New Eden. Maybe I’m just being paranoid, but this strikes me as something done because whatever plans CCP had to let us discover this gradually and on our own just…fell through, leaving them to give us the information we were supposed to learn over time all at once.
Is that true? I mean, Arek’Jalaan (which I’ll cover soon) was supposed to involve players in discovering the history of New Eden and bring the people in-universe up to speed on what we knew out-of-universe, but it withered on the vine and there’s been no replacement.
Were we supposed to figure all of this out ourselves, with CCP dropping clues for us to put together on our own? Were the Talocan always supposed to be a civilization that survived the collapse like the Jove did, or were they originally going to be just another dead precursor civilization? Were the Sleepers always going to be Jove?
First mentioned in the short story Theodicy, these guys are separate from the last section because of how little information we have about them. What we learned there indicated that they were another civilization that had survived the closing of the EVE gate like the Jove did, but with two major differences. First, either their civilization hadn’t collapsed along with everybody else when the EVE gate closed, or they didn’t suffer from the same loss of technology the Jove did when the First and Second Empires fell apart.
The second big difference is that unlike the Jove, who were reclusive but willing to engage with and move openly among the younger civilizations of New Eden, the Enheduanni operated almost exclusively through patsies and proxies, with no one but the Jove knowing they even existed. Furthermore, the Jove seemed to think that the Enheduanni had become sufficiently divergent from baseline humanity that they should be considered a different species altogether.
Then came Templar One and we learned that the Enheduanni are, like the Sleepers, an offshoot of the old Jove Empires. Was this something that CCP had planned all along, or were the Enheduanni initially meant to be something else and then reworked later on? If so, what was the original plan for them?
As recounted by the (sadly defunct) Crossing Zebras, Arek’Jaalan began in the summer of 2011 at the behest of a dev character named Hilen Tukoss, and was intended to bring players’ in-universe knowledge up to date with what we knew OOC.
To my knowledge, Arek’Jaalan was the brainchild of CCP Dropbear, one of the biggest contributors to the fiction of New Eden from the Devs’ side of things. Players may write their own stories and impact the cluster through them, but the NPC factions are also active in the background, and Dropbear was at the forefront of these efforts. You can read up about the project on the Inspiracy wiki.
The project itself was very broad in scope, with research primarily being conducted into the Talocan, Sleepers, and Anoikis, but also involving the other ancient races as well as the rogue drones. There was some fascinating stuff hinted at in Arek’Jaalan’s published works, and several occurrences like the Awakened Infomorph and Rogue Drones communicating with players indicating that we were going to get more information as time progressed.
Then Dropbear got married and moved back to Australia, having quite understandably chosen to start a family over his work with CCP. It was a happy event, though as you can see from that thread I linked this didn’t stop people from accusing CCP of firing him for some asinine reason.
Unfortunately for us lore buffs, CCP didn’t appoint anyone to Dropbear’s position, and Arek’Jaalan gradually withered away without the devs’ involvement. Barring a successor project taking up Dropbear’s mantle, we’ll likely never learn what he had in store for us.