Mixing Perspectives: EVE Lore + Game Mechanics

Hi everyone! Some time ago I found a collection of strange notes. Can’t remember where, maybe in a wreck. I guess these pieces are worth publishing.

The overmind conspiracy

The years of independent research allowed us to shed some light on the whole capsuleer project. Our Universe is facing yet another AI menace. All the big corporations involved in the capsuleer program are hiding the truth. Capsuleers (as clones) actually lose their will and consciousness at some point. They are in fact controlled by completely cybernetic entities with no embodiment, let’s call them… players. It must be some sort of AI tech, and everything shows that one player can control more than just one capsuleer clone. These overminds don’t actually possess the unique skills of a capsuleer pilot, they need a clone with trained skills as a medium, to give it high-level commands in order to control the ship. A clone in its capsule acts like a puppet. That means consciousness/memory transfer upon clone death is not important, and doesn’t have to work correctly 100% of the time. And it looks like a player can’t directly access any clone memories from the pre-capsuleer life.

One of the most important things: without player supervision, capsuleer clones quickly descend into a coma-like state. Some link it to the “mind lock” state. However, if a clone is merely a zombie, there is no need for a deep explanation. According to the records, players can discontinue their capsuleer puppets. In this case the entire clone-line gets literally biomassed. And, of course, a player can just stop piloting ships at any moment, then maybe return to it much later. Exactly what is expected from a cybernetic entity of a questionable origin.

Sometimes players use plain algorithmic AIs to control their clones in a set of predetermined conditions. This is supposed to be highly illegal: it clearly violates anti-AI laws, and capsuleer contracts can get terminated because of this. There are reasons why full automation is supposed to be avoided. For similar reasons players can’t pilot ships directly. They are not officially recognized as human persons. To be fair, they are not officially recognized at all. Those overminds hide behind their puppet human clones, protected by their semi-fake immortality, because they are not actually dying in fights.

The whole capsuleer project relies on players disconnecting from reality. Maybe this is not so obvious from an outside perspective, but capsuleers as players live in a fake world. They have extremely limited rights. They don’t have an option to contact actual people anywhere in space. They don’t even have access to planets. They are just guided by those who make money out of them and who provide all the infrastructure and whatever proprietary tools necessary to run the whole capsuleer project.

Mixed reality

Capsuleer clones don’t see anything directly from the capsule for obvious reasons. The most trivial way to observe the grid is to use camera drones launched from the ship. It looks like the way they work is changing over time, and manufacturers want to keep their technological secrets, but these drones basically act as cameras with MWDs and cap batteries.

Camera view is augmented with a customizable overlay showing additional info, physical and digital objects interactively projected into a mixed reality (MR) view. Dynamic audio (mostly digitally generated) is added on top of it. Also, camera view may or may not be altered in one way or another. Particular things can be prevented from being shown. And some reports suggest that MR view can produce artifacts while camera drones are in hyperspace “inside” different objects (including celestial bodies).

MR view requires a lot of support to function properly. The star systems with capsuleer-serving infrastructure (and the infrastructure itself) are called the cluster. All other systems are not available for capsuleers. The cluster infrastructure is probably one of the most advanced networks in the Universe. However it’s not flawless. It needs regular maintenance, and during the maintenance window capsuleers can’t even login to their interfaces. This is most likely a server-side issue. MR view requires every object in space to have its own entity in the cluster database, and every change needs to be persistent. The current technological limitations prevent the cluster from running continuously: special maintenance procedures can keep everything in check, but to run them you essentially need to stop capsuleers from doing anything.

Gravitational anchoring

Gravity manipulation is probably the strongest technology in our arsenal. This is the way to manipulate the space itself. With the right effort we can literally tear stars apart. Everybody knows that the main and the basic part of this amazing tech is, of course, power enhanced generators (PEGs), and the most important thing after energy generation and hyperspace travel is gravitational anchoring (GA). With GA you can create unified spacetime reference frames, usually centered directly on the star, so everything is anchored relative to it. This effectively changes how space physics works for people, there are a lot of jokes about ships operating in “liquid” space.

This is not just a unified coordinate system, but an absolutely necessary safety measure. The main reason to solidify the grid system-wide is to prevent objects from achieving relativistic speeds. Capsuleers would start to destroy celestial bodies if they could. And, thanks to GA, planets are actually stopped. They don’t rotate around their stars. The same is for planet moons. But this is reversible: due to further advances in the field, it would be possible to resume planet rotation without disrupting any significant infrastructure, even if it’s not going to happen in the near future (maybe because everything is stuffed with PEGs for free subspace energy or because system-wide coordinate systems are too convenient to be abandoned).

Even if GA is mandatory for spaceships, not every object in space is directly anchored, for smaller objects it’s often enough to be close to something already generating the anchoring field. Too much gravitational action causes time dilation, when induced mass gets close to blackhole levels (this can be detrimental to the cluster infrastructure, and very strange things could possibly happen). It’s easy to increase the mass of an anchored object, not so easy to reduce it. Hyperspace tunneling and warp bubble manipulations are used instead. Bubbles on different hyperspace levels don’t interact with each other, bubbles on one level are collidable and allow some interaction between objects inside. Bubble repulsion can be explained as antigravity created by different gravitational anchors trying to warp the same spacetime (the mass itself still always attracts).

Miscellaneous

Genetic selection of capsuleers is a real thing. Clone producing companies require maximum standardization possible in order to optimize their production costs. You can’t just request a genderless clone line, for example, because that requires a lot of genetic modifications that are currently unsupported by the mass clone production industry. However cybernetic modifications are less affected by this limitation.

Ship shields collect a lot of dust. Dust is an actual problem in space, mostly because of GA. Many things tend to stick to anchored objects, including defunct nanites, pulverized organic matter, and disintegrated ship debris.

It is interesting how capsuleers have no way to say if their ship SKINs are real coatings or just a fake visual augmentation in their MR. In any case, capsuleers think that SKINs are real, and a random third party can observe them in space. Probably because reduced load on the cluster infrastructure seems to be more important than possible cost reductions.

All the spaceships available for capsuleers are designed to be easily hackable and destructible by CONCORD. This global vulnerability works as a way to implement unavoidable retaliation in High Security regions, but in the core it’s a global security measure that allows quick destruction of all capsuleer ships if necessary and if other security measures fail for some reason.

The company that manages capsuleer connection to the cluster is also responsible for special “events” and “login rewards” for accessing their system. The company is probably trying to motivate pilots to do what they’re supposed to do. And there is some leaked evidence of the management being concerned about “player retention” and login stats. No matter how true this may be, such rumors definitely contribute towards the overmind conspiracy.


The context

Hi again! Let’s take a look at this from a higher perspective. The idea was to mix EVE lore with actual game mechanics as much as possible. Why? Well, you know, the difference between a game world and an actual gameplay tends to be strictly reduced to limitations of gameplay itself, it just gets removed from the scope, and you are supposed to ignore any inconsistencies while (role)playing. But what if the entirety of the game is meaningful? What if everything can be explained through the lore?

So this was an attempt to put everything together. No originality claims, I just assume that probably all of this was discussed earlier. Let’s briefly overview our main topics:

  • The overmind conspiracy (OC) shows that there is a way to put a player “inside” the game. It assumes that all capsuleers are controlled by players. If not, it would be a different story, of course. This whole thing doesn’t align nicely with all the existing lore, but it helps to explain things like perceived time dilation and, of course, actual in-game player behavior with all the alts and stuff. It also disrespects the assumption that capsuleers contact non-capsuleers behind the scenes. The real interaction with NPCs is very limited. There is no solid reason to believe that mission agents are real, as well as what they say. But I don’t know all the sources, I can easily be missing something.

  • Mixed reality explains the capsuleer perception in terms of modern tech, putting together a bunch of obvious observations. I want to believe that gameplay visuals can fit in the lore exactly as they are. This way (almost) any game client and server bugs/features can be incorporated into the lore.

  • Gravitational anchoring adds a higher-level layer to the liquid space concept. Basically, deceleration caused by GA is incredibly powerful, and mass increase by GA can slow down time. This is one of the most important things. Interestingly, I explored the physics model by Max Singularity only after writing my own piece. But I did make some corrections later to unify the terminology. His model looks super canon, and I really like it.

References

  • The Capsule and the Clone - EVE Fiction — One of the most basic lore pieces. From the OC perspective this is where “hiding the truth” begins.
  • EVE Lore FAQ: clones, poddings, crew deaths and backups — Going deeper into details. Many things are irrelevant to capsuleers as players, considering that “clones are nothing more than soulless shells” from this point of view.
  • Capsuleer Training - Requirements and Process — This can be real from the OC perspective, it’s even more harsh and tragic this way. Just as everything in the EVE Universe should be, for sure.
  • Mixed reality - Wikipedia — The source of the term. It’s accurate, but the current tech is very basic. Any level of immersion would be possible in the future.
  • Camera Drones - EVE Fiction — Official explanation. However I think that “a combination of an attractive magnetic force and repulsive electromechanical force” is not enough to allow everything that camera drones can actually do in game. They should be carrying PEGs just like other warp-capable objects.
  • Interstellar Traveling - EVE Fiction — It’s more lore oriented and doesn’t fill the gameplay gap. But this is where I started to think about writing the whole thing, starting from GA.
  • EVE Fanfest 2017 - The Physics Of New Eden — YouTube video where Max Singularity explains his space physics model. The model features the space anchor, but I call that phenomenon gravitational anchoring. I think it’s more precise.
  • EVE Vegas 2017 - New Eden Physics Class 101 — Another video that shows evolution of the model and answers more questions.

Feel free to point out any mistakes and inconsistencies, or suggest better terms and concepts. Thanks!


Largely, the ‘physics of EVE’ segments from fanfest 2017c while interesting are… very dubious. Charles White/Max Singularity went off the deep end trying to explain things that already had various in-universe explainations, or had been explained as just game mechanics and CCP, though giving him a spot to do his presentation, and a segment in the Frigates if EVE artbook, never officially signed off on or double checked what he wrote for that.

Moving from there, I admit to have only skimmed the above so far, and its… rough. Its not bad per se, but can certainly see why someone might come to the conclusions you have based on the information available to us as players and also to the characters in-universe.

It is an angle you could definitely work as a character, but as the devs and ISD have said on a few occassions, sometimes a game mechanic is just a mechanic.

It also gets a bit weird, trying to ‘mix perspectives’ as a good bit of being able to maintain a healthy interaction manner is maintaining in-character and out of character separation. You are not your character and such. My character does things I as a person probably never would, and it is similar for others. Trying to keep that separation is important.

I’ll read more thoroughly later today and we can dissect things a bit if you’re willing

Right, my post is clearly a step away from this status quo. This is the point. Maybe I just wanted to prove that it is indeed possible to make a more “hardcore” system of explanations.

Well, we can assume that capsuleers-as-players-in-game are still different from us IRL. And they are not taking their “work” seriously anyway.

By the way, I guess I know what would be the ultimate mix. We are just playing the game, but actually connected to the future of our Universe, and it’s not a game on “their” side. This however requires some sort of soft bidirectional time travel, which is not ideal for science fiction.

Are we talking about gravitational anchoring? I think we can ditch PEGs, but we need something else instead. Or maybe it’s not even a gravitational thing? What is the official in-universe explanation?

Warp Drives causing Subspace drag in the local reference frame is the previous, and less ‘black box tech’ reliant explanation, and the one many largely prefer.

And I’d say its not so much ‘status quo’ if its the way the Devs and respected Prime Fiction writers have chosen to go.

Again, I can see why these various conclusions could be drawn. I just don’t think that the ‘mixing’ outlook will catch on. It is an interesting thing to think about though.

Thanks! Actually, I don’t see a major conceptual difference. I’m OK with subspace drag, and warp drive being a black box here… Oh, wait, I forgot about Warp Drives article… Well, in this case, yes, I think that “depleted vacuum” explanation is inferior to the multilayer hyperspace one — when we talk about amount of things that can be explained by it.

OK, I agree, no need to call it this way. This is just something about why a prevalent choice is prevalent.

This is fine. And I’m happy with it being interesting to think about. :rocket:

The issue with PEGs overall, to me at least, is that it becomes a ‘Keystone’ blackbox technology as presented, required for the very basis of all major tech in EVE, when… it shouldn’t be. Some black boxes existing is fine, but when your black box(and a player made one at that) is presented as the explaination for all things ‘just working’ its… unpleasantly substandard in my eyes.

PEGs… nah. The best explanation I heard sofar is that the entire EVE universe is filled with gasses under high pressure.

It explains away not only the slow-moving ships experiencing high friction, but also the limited range of bullets, jettisoned mission characters surviving for hours in “space”, snow events, the bright background colors, space stations with big open gates in them, heat loss of ships through convection and scanning capabilities being so limited and radar/sonar-like.
Gravity also doesn’t exist, at least not beyond hundreds of kms.

Hmm… gases + shifted laws of physics. I guess it would be possible to make a working model based on this approach. Although PEGs (or PEG-like tech) can explain pockets of gas around things in space. But I haven’t thought about that enough to assess the coverage.

I’d largely disagree with the ‘highly concentrated gasses’ thing, as… well? Its directly stated that physics are fairly normal in the setting with the exception of things like warp drive and gate travel.