Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Rabid Bloggerations: Welcome to Freebooted

Welcome to Freebooted, the community-focused EVE blog for capsuleers with style, intelligence and a sense of humour.

Within these pages you will find entertaining and irreverent blogposts, regular community discussions, a glimpse into the true art of playing EVE Online (snigger) and some genuinely insightful information.*

EVE Online is a rich sci-fi tapestry woven from barbed wire and string theory. What follows is an overview of Freebooted's scattershot interpretation of this dark MMO universe and its arguably darker communities. Take a look:

*One of these statements may be untrue.


Amplifying the Echo Chamber

A long-standing blogging community tradition, Blog Banters harness the hive mind of the blogosphere to discuss the big issues of EVE culture on a monthly basis. The result is focused and intelligent conversation on a scale not possible in forums and a summary that includes every participant's voice.
  • BB33: The Capsuleer Experience (In Progress) - With the inception of the new CCP Player Experience team, their request for input on the tribulations of New Players is being knocked about in the blogosphere. 
  • BB32: Non-Consensual Combat Restrictions (Jan 2012) - Should EVE show a softer side? Or continue to strike fear into the hearts of the weak? Here's what the bloggeratti thought.
  • BB31: Community Review of EVE Online (Dec 2011) - A true MMO review is generally considered impossible given the scale of content. That didn't stop these twenty-one bloggers from trying. 
For more information on previous Blog Banters and how to take part in the current or future banters, check out the link at the top of the page.


Peculiar Podcasting for Podders

Over the last year Freebooted has had an eclectic podcasting journey, starting off with a few comical skits, through taking part in traditional podcasts (EVE Commune, Claims of the Normal, Voices From the Void) to conceiving the fully scripted audio-editing behemoth that is Tech4 News (more on that later).

The following shorts are probably my personal favourites and another timely opportunity for some to learn a little more about leading our CSM candidate. ;)





More Freebooted-flavoured downloadable audio randomness can be found here.


Exclusive "EVE" Content (Extinguisher Not Required)

In a desperate attempt to retain the interest of a playerbase with melting graphics cards, I was commissioned (by the voices in my head) to provide an alternative to last Summer's Captain's Quarters feature with a showcase of the full gameplay potential of a solitary, enclosed environment. Haha.

Incarna: The Text Adventure was the result of an insomnia-inspired caffeine-fuelled night's work. It was just a joke, but it proved to be surprisingly popular. I should probably do a sequel, but despite 80,000 pageviews in the first weekend, as far as I can tell only two people completed this episode. Bah, and I thought EVE players were proficient gamers.

If you want a challenge, try finding all four ways to escape from your Captains Quarters in Incarna: The Text Adventure (now optimised for smartphone use). I promise your graphics card can handle it.


Tech4 & Tech4 News

In my ongoing crusade to push what I believe to be one of the finest science-fiction universes out from under the shadow of the e-sports fleet PvPers, a conversation with CCP Dropbear at EVE Vegas last year resulted in Tech4 News, a fully scripted and voice-acted in-character podcast with supporting webzine articles.

Pitched at the newcomer to EVE Lore, Tech4 focuses on life in New Eden from the perspective of the little guys who don't have the benefit of capsuleer technology to save them from death. Read and hear about life from the perspective of the dock workers, the ship's crews and a poor unfortunate Slaver hound called Empress.

An entirely voluntary, community-driven effort with contributions from over thirty individuals, with another (outrageously overdue) audio episode in the works and a regular stream of quality articles to read, the Tech4 website and the Tech4 News podcast are both things that everyone involved should be proud of. Thanks and credit to all.

Bonus points for identifying the 'celebrity' voice in the following audio trailer.



If this trailer has piqued your interest, there's much more where that came from along with the latest news articles on the Tech4 GALNET portal. The story of how Tech4 came about is covered in more detail in The Accidental Podcaster.

If all this lore stuff still confuses you, fear not, I know a guy. Mark726's brilliant EVE Lore Survival Guide is hosted here on this very blog and will tell you everything you need to know about New Eden but was afraid to ask. Don't believe me? This is what others thought of it.


Not Serious Business

Despite claims from some quarters that "Internet Spaceships are SRS BSNS!", I value my health and what's left of my sanity so I prefer to explore the lighter side of EVE. It's good to laugh and despite popular thinking, EVE-related humour doesn't have to be generated by ruining someone else's day.

Some of my favourite articles have included a battleship review in the style of a Top Gear episode, a look at Sansha's Nation lifestyle influences (which ultimately inspired the Pimp my Pod audio as heard above),  the weirdest frigate competition you'll read about, or what happened when CCP broke clothes on Singularity.

If your health does become a problem, I've also got that covered in Dr. Stan's Capsuleer Clinic. Oh, and whilst you're here, please join the campaign to get CCP Soundwave to sing "Rocket Man" at Fanfest. If you don't the threat of Brokeback Stations might come true.


Important Stuff Here

 Hilmar is serious. Now own up, who broke that blind?
Freebooted is mostly about keeping it light, but there is an occasional swerve toward serious content. Previously covered "serious business" includes:

Putting the Fact into Fiction

Whilst I no longer own my own wizard hat, I do still have a light-sabre somewhere (and a medieval broadsword, but that's another story).  I also have a genuine affection for the backstory of EVE Online and can see that it, like the game mechanics, has so much potential as it continues to grow.

Every once in a while I like to write a little bit of EVE fiction, something that might add a little to the bubble of disbelief required to feel immersed in New Eden.
  • Docking Games: The Secret of N.I.M. - Why does a ship become unresponsive when docking. What happens when the screen goes black shortly after? Why do docking ships just disappear from view? Here are the answers.
With the help of Angus McDecoy, this story has been adapted as radio play and I hope to record it at some point in the future, possibly as a pilot for a regular series. Watch this space.
  • Social Clones - How do capsuleers manage to loiter in intel channels, socialise in bars and attend meetings, all whilst simultaneously piloting a ship into combat? Here is an explanation.

  • Meat Salvage - It's not just the wrecks of ships that get re-used after a battle. Read the gruesome truth about what lies in store after death for a capsuleer.



All in all, welcome to Freebooted.  Established in 2009 and now in its fourth year, there's much more to discover.

Just don't feed the ducks, they're fake.

Monday, 27 February 2012

CCP's "Walking in Stations" Expansion Schedule Revealed

Aha, I'm onto you Team Avatar.

I note that in CCP Unifex's devblog, his announcement that the next expansion is to be called "Inferno" came shortly after all the missiles were renamed, with one missile type also being called "Inferno".

Coincidence? I think not.

Some careful research has revealed the true nature of EVE Online's upcoming avatar-based expansions.


Summer 2012 - EVE Online: Inferno

The first expansion will see the optional inclusion of open fires in our Captain's Quarters, with a hearth fashioned from a disused Inferno missile. Not only will this serve as a statement of style, it also provides an entertaining way to delete items, dragging-and-dropping in order to make the blaze higher. Sometimes things may melt together to form rare loot, other times it will explode, wiping out your clone.

With the ability to invite one other player into your quarters, this will lead to exciting games of fireside Russian roulette.

New animations such as "furtive glance", "hand-holding" and "knee-touching" will enable players to get to know each other better in an intimate environment ripe for some awkward yet romantic moments.

Jita 4-4 will be renamed Brokeback Station.


Winter 2012 - EVE Online: Trauma

With the release of the highly anticipated CARBON Internal Organ Simulator, players will be able to manually insert their implants in a location of their choosing, with creative placement yielding additional benefits and comical side-effects.

Accidentally put your 'Deadeye' gunnery implant too close to your optic nerve and your clone becomes irreversibly boss-eyed. Stimulate your growth hormones with your 'Yeti' implant to become fantastically hairy, or shove your 'Beancounter' implant into your brainstem and become embarrassingly flatulent.

With technology advancements now allowing up to five other capsuleers to join you, players can enjoy entertaining 'Operation' style party games such as Implant Darts, Pass the Kidney and Scalpel Fight.




Summer 2013 - EVE Online: Nova

Nova, the expansion all the teenagers had been hoping for, sees the introduction of fully customisable pole-dancers. As a licensed clone service utilising state-of-the-art AI, Nova will be available on all stations. Nova will do everything she can to please the ship-spinning capsuleer, with a variety of provocative dances. A variety of alluring costumes will be available from the NeX store.

After the first few weeks, Nova will start to expect the player to be more attentive, setting increasingly unreasonable missions, demanding gifts and sometimes requiring the capsuleer to remain docked for the session. The optional male variant (Dave) will just become inactive and sit on the couch watching holovids.

Fortunately, Nova is backwards compatible with previous expansions and can "interact" with all Trauma devices and the Inferno features.


Winter 2013 - EVE Online: Mjolnir

Named for the hammer of Thor, Norse God of Thunder, Mjolnir will indeed allow your avatar to get to grips with a hammer. In fact a full set of DIY tools will become standard in all Captain's Quarters and will be stored in an all new annexed area of the CQ called the Self-contained Hassle-free Engineering Dome (SHED).

Better yet, the CQ will now be extensively customisable. With fully-featured world-building tools, the player will now be able to manipulate 3D versions of many in-game items and build unique constructions. Tinkering with strange devices in the SHED can lead to the creation of unique and marketable objects.

Unfortunately, every time you dock, you will find Nova has moved things from your hangar and won't tell you where they are until certain amendments have been made to the main Captain's Quarters area. Expect DIY missions such as "Wardrobe Construction", "Curtain-Pole Adjustment" and "Fix the Holoscreen (cos it won't turn on any more, I don't know what I've done)."


I can't wait. The future is coming. ;)

Sunday, 19 February 2012

EVE Online's Story Starts Here


EVE Online's "New Player Experience" is a hot topic now more than ever, and CCP's newly formed Player Experience team have been assigned to the case. One of the things that may bewilder a new arrival is the sheer depth and volume of the backstory to the already disorienting universe of New Eden.

The freshly reworked EVElopedia is a fantastic repository for all canonical EVE lore, but with over 13,000 pages of information it's difficult to know where to start.

That is no longer a problem, >>Start here<<, with Mark726's EVE Lore Survival Guide. In just twelve pages of concise and witty explanation, Mark delivers everything the budding capsuleer needs to know about the harsh universe they are about to enter, from politics to lunatics to gadgets.

CCP Approved

Here's what the CCP developers had to say about Mark726's EVE Lore Survival Guide:

"We strongly recommend those interested in the lore and fiction of New Eden to read an excellent EVE Lore Guide by Mark726."
- CCP Spitfire, Community Manager.

"Awesome job."
- CCP Abraxus, content guru and author of The Burning Life.

"I finally read the intro. http://bit.ly/zdL24d @freebooted, I am speechless :)"
- CCP Manifest, Social Media and Marketing man
  (Okay, so this one was about my foreword, which can apparently render its readers mute. Whether through quality or awfulness, you decide.)

The "Content-Seeker" in All of Us

Encouragingly, providing proof that there is a widespread appreciation for the content and lore of New Eden beyond the "hardcore roleplayers", the general EVE player community have also embraced Mark's guide.

"I just spent the better part of my morning plowing through the Lore posts; you have officially outdone yourself... and this is from a guy who really never delves in any of the RP of Eve beyond 'RAWR I'm a space ninja!'"
- Aiden Mourn, Ninja Salvager and Professional Scoundrel

"Really concise, covers everything you need to know to get started with the lore of Eve Online. Highly recommended. ...My inner RP nerd is struggling to burst out."
- Marc Scaurus, Blogger, Podcaster and Tusker.

"Mark's guide is a must-read for anyone looking for an easy-access overview to the universe of EVE, and a great reference for those looking to start roleplaying to boot."
- Morwenn Lagann, RPing stalwart and Lorehound

"It is short and to the point. It fills you in on the back story of Eve without boring you to tears. And it is brilliantly done."
- Harrigan Vonstudly, PvPer, blogger and sufferer of ADHD and Twitter Tourette Syndrome*.

"Anyone with even a passing interest in the Eve Universe backstory, check it out!"
- Kuan Yida, blogger, Faction Warfare player.

"Great work ... as always. Wish I'd been able to read it when I was a noob!"
- Rhavas, explorer and Interstellar Privateer.

"The finest resume of all the lore of New Eden."
- @Karthwritte

"Good job! Inspirational work."
- @Shaker

"Dude, you're interfering with my hauling!"
- @DruurMonakh

"Been a great read, really enjoyed it."
- @Drackarn

"Your lore guide is good, I enjoyed reading it."
- @Zama118

"On tech lore I'd say its very well written :) not too technobabbling just enough to get the idea and moves on. i like :)"
- @shadowshian

"Your stories on Lore are awesome!! Great job. Lots of fun reading them!"
- @NectaarisMikakk

Embrace Your Sci-Fi Side

So whether you want to know why the Caldari and the Gallente don't get along, or how capsuleer technology works, or even if you just want an introduction to a fantastically realised sci-fi universe, start with Mark726's EVE Lore Survival Guide.

Don't undock without it.

Download the PDF with illustrationswithout or the ePub version.

*probably not a real medical condition.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

CCP Soundwave is New Eden's Rocket Man

This morning, @ktouborg (aka CCP Soundwave) tweeted the following.

"Rocket Man by Elton John is a damn good song. Not in any way connected to the fact that I make imaginary spaceships for a living." - Kristoffer Touborg

I would imagine it has been a tumultuous year for Soundwave, from the controversy of the Golden Ammo debate to becoming the poster boy for old-school game design, iteration and the saviour of the free world (of New Eden). Or something.

Anyway, reading the original lyrics of Rocket Man, I can see why they would strike a chord with Mr. Touborg. It makes you realise the challenge of leading a games development team on a remote sub-arctic island might be quite tough. Especially as he's arguably Nik-Nak to Hilmar's Dr. No. Poor fella - for those going to Fanfest - I reckon he may need a hug. Or a beer. You decide.

Whilst purists may prefer Sir Elton John's original, I am a huge fan of the awful genius of the William Shatner version and I think Mr. Touborg, being the multiskilled media personality that he is, would do a fine rendition of this on stage at Fanfest this year. Watch the Shatner version below whilst imagining CCP Soundwave performing on stage at the Harpa Centre in Reykjavik.


I believe this needs to happen. It would be cathartic for CCP Soundwave to channel all that angst and emotion from the last year into a crowd-winning performance. It would be both moving and inspiring. And really funny.

I have taken the liberty of rewriting the lyrics for Mr Touborg's performance. Part lament, part celebration, I think they capture a year in the life of EVE Online's very own Rocket Man.

Rocket Man (New Eden Edition)

VERSE:

We launched our patch last night - it's tight.
Downtime lev'n AM
And I'm gonna be drunk as a goon by then.
I miss outside so much I miss daylight.
It's lonely building space
In such an endless fight

SOLO CHORUS x2:

But I think it's gonna be a long long time
Till patch day brings me round again to find
I'm not the man to give you golden pants
oh no no no, I'm the rocket man
Rocket man - battlecruisers, loot and balance.

And I think it's gonna be a long long time
Till Fanfest brings me round again to find
I'm not the Fearless guy you think I am
oh no no no, I'm a rocket man
Rocket man - making stuff that goes pew pew

VERSE:

EVE ain't the kind of place to hold your hand
In fact it's harsh as hell
And you'd probably lose some fingers if it did
And all these tears I don't understand
It's just my job five days a week
A rocket man, a rocket man.

[Enter Team BFF, Stage Left]

GROUP CHORUS x2:

And I think it's gonna be a long long time
Till Iceland brings us round again to find
We're not the guys that want to break your game
(that's the Goons) We're rocket men
Rocket men - making stuff that goes pew pew

And I think it's gonna be a long long time
Till Fanfest brings us round again to find
We're just the guys that want to make your game
Fuck yeah yeah yeah - We're rocket men
Rocket men - fixing shit 'til the mountain blows.

And I think it's gonna be a long long time...

[adlib to fade] "bring me beer", "can I haz yur stuffz", crowd-surfing etc.

If you like the idea of a Soundwave/BFF/Shatner/Elton John mash-up, please comment below or show your support in the official EVE-O thread. Let's get the big fella to smile and sing a song. ;)

Friday, 17 February 2012

Blog Banter 33: The Capsuleer Experience

Like mana from Valhalla (yes I know I'm mixing my religious metaphors), the recent Dev Blog by CCP Legion asks questions which make for perfect Blog Bantering. To quote him,

"...we want to make the first days, weeks and months in EVE enjoyable and not just something ‘you have to plough through in order to get to the good stuff’" and the newly formed Player Experience team will focus on "...where and why people lose interest in EVE...".

"We invite you to pour your heart (or guts) out and tell us what you think is good or bad with the current new player experience and what you think could be done about the problems."

So let's get self-eviscerating. Banter on.

[For more information on Blog Banters, read this.]

Inspired literary self-harmers will be listed below.

Mark726's EVE Lore Survival Guide: Miscellany & Conclusion

There’s just a few things left that I want to touch on, and then I PROMISE I’ll stop writing. These are things that either seemed to fit either everywhere, or nowhere at all, so I figured it would just be easiest to separate them out into their own little category.

Calendar

I realize that I swap a lot between saying years in the traditional AD system and in the newer YC system, but I’m working off of what the timeline gives me. It’s easier to keep it set that way rather than referring to YC -18,000, which just seems silly to me. In any case, I just wanted to make a brief note on the timekeeping system used in New Eden. YC refers to the Yoiul Convention, a timekeeping system established aboard the Jove ship Yoiul in 23236 AD. The new calendar, which is used to transact all space-based business, was established to simplify things when time is of the essence (since each empire had developed their own calendars based on each planet’s own length of year and length of day). Through complete accident (I’m sure), one of the few things Amarr scripture preserved from the very early days of settlement just happened to be our classic Gregorian calendar, down to what day corresponds to January 1, leap years, and when midnight happens. Those crazy Amarr.

When the time came to negotiate a universal time system, there were a number of factions advocating different calendars. Some wanted a completely physics-based calendar, based on some celestial source. Others wanted to set the clock to the human body’s natural 25 hour clock. And the last set, known as the traditionalists, wanted to align New Eden’s calendar with the ancient timekeeping systems that researchers reconstructed. Obviously, the traditionalists won out in the end, and YC 0 was celebrated throughout New Eden on January 1, 23236 AD. We continue to use the system to this day. As noted in the introduction, the real life year of 2012 corresponds to the in-game year of YC 114.

Naming Conventions / Languages

One of the things I wanted to touch on was how to set up appropriate names for the bloodlines. Most of the bloodlines developed on completely separate worlds, and as such, they developed their own languages through the Dark Ages, and they continue to use those languages today. Of course, from an in-game perspective, the use of different languages doesn’t matter thanks to the development of translation software in our ships (though why local remains untranslated remains an open question). Regardless, crafting appropriate sounding names is an important aspect to most RPers, so I’ve included a brief review of most in-game languages and names. I should mention that most of this research was done by my host Seismic Stan in the course of preparing his excellent in-character website at Tech4 News, which is dedicated to covering news from a non-capsuleer perspective, though there are other excellent player-researched sources out there.

Before I dig into these, I want to again mention that these should only be seen as very general guidelines. In modern day New Eden, cultures are mixing like never before, meaning that there is no particular reason why a Gallente couldn’t have an Amarr sounding name, or vice versa. And, of course, given that our own planet has developed hundreds of languages over the course of human existence, these rules are by no means the only ways to create names.

Amarr: Little is known about the native Amarr language, and what little we do know can seem at times contradictory (though that hasn’t stopped some intrepid players from attempting to put together a more comprehensive language). Still, it appears that True Amarr names often have a Persian or even Farsi feel to them (somewhat oddly, given their Catholic origins), while Khanid seems to have a more Mongolian background to it. I unfortunately wasn’t able to find any information on the Ni-Kunni.

Minmatar: Given the tribal background of the Minmatar, it should be unsurprising that language probably varies from tribe to tribe, though since they all developed on the same world (originally), there’s probably also a unified Matari language. That being said, there’s still some patterns apparent in the various tribal names. The Brutors tend to have a Maori feel to them, while the Sebestior (somewhat randomly) seem to be derived from Nordic names. The Vherekior seem to derive from Urdu names.

Gallente: As might be expected, the Gallente language and names seem to derive mostly from French roots, with perhaps a Gallic influence to them. The Jin-Mei, meanwhile, seem to have Chinese-derived names. The Intaki language, derived from Indian origins (though with obvious French influences), is a bit special. The language has been surprisingly well-developed by RP groups, to the extent that entire sites (this site is being redeveloped but we have been promised it will be live soon) have been dedicated to the language. To my knowledge, no other in-game language has been developed to such an extent, but if that’s incorrect, please feel free to let me know.

Caldari: We’ve only seen snippets of the Caldari language in the Prime Fiction (helpfully aggregated here). What little we’ve seen suggests a combination of Finnish and Japanese influences, however.



Seyllin Incident/Isogen-5

There’s one last topic to discuss before concluding. It’s a slightly odd topic, in that it is both integral to the overall EVE storyline these days, but also somewhat self-contained compared to the rest of the story. I’m talking, of course, about wormholes and the fateful day that they first opened to us citizens of New Eden.

March 10, YC 111 started as an ordinary day, but it certainly didn’t end like one. Before the day was out, 10 separate Class-O stars across the Cluster simultaneously suffered what astronomers have rather boringly termed “main sequence events.” In reality, these “events” were massive explosions, creating coronal mass ejections that were powerful enough to destroy the first planets in these systems. The broken husks of these shattered planets can be seen even today in these various systems (Rhavas has done an excellent and in-depth study of all known shattered planets in his Shattered Planet Datacore). Of course, anything merely man-made had little chance of surviving events that could destroy planets. While a number of systems were thankfully uninhabited, we do know that an Intaki Syndicate station was destroyed, as well as a Thukker caravan in the Great Wildlands.

These losses pale in comparison, though, to the loss of life in Seyllin. Seyllin was a small but successful Federation mining colony housing roughly 500 million people on it. Troubles first arose when the local solar monitoring satellites dropped out of contact, followed by the colony itself a few minutes later. This was due to the massive electromagnetic pulse that essentially flash-fried any inhabitants on the sunward side of Seyllin I. However, a significant number of citizens were on the dark side of the planet, protected from the pulse by the planet’s sheer bulk. It took a while for both the Federation and others to figure out precisely what was going on, wasting precious moments that could have been used to evacuate citizens from the doomed planet. Finally, the Federation Navy, assisted by the Sisters of Eve and other factions, managed to begin lifting some citizens, but not nearly enough. Only 843,000 out of a population of 500 million were ultimately saved from Seyllin I.


After such an event, of course, governments and scientists alike were eager to determine just what caused these “events.” Eventually, the signature of a rare substance known as Isogen-5 was found at the site of each explosion. Isogen-5, a rare isotope of the somewhat more common Isogen, is an extremely unstable substance (if that wasn’t obvious from the, you know, massive explosions it caused). We’re not entirely sure who or what placed the Isogen-5 near the stars, but there’s at least one proven case (though not one that’s known publicly, to my knowledge) where rogue drones were hoarding the substance for unknown reasons. In that case, however, rogue drones were hoarding the Isogen-5 apparently under the command of Empress Jamyl (who had yet to make her return to Cluster politics following her apparent death), to power the Terran superweapon that she used to devastating effect in the Battle of Mekhios against the Elder Fleet. Prior to her return, she tested her superweapon once on a Blood Raider fleet, with a similar result. There is at least some evidence that the March 10 detonations were, in fact, an accident. Under this theory, one of the Isogen-5 caches made by the drones under Jamyl’s command accidentally detonated, which set off a chain reaction amongst the other Isogen-5 caches. However, that theory doesn’t quite explain why some shattered planets are found in wormhole space (where New Eden rogue drones couldn’t possibly have traveled to before the wormholes opened), so the question of who created the caches in the first place is still very much up for debate (as is the question of rogue drone motives for creating their caches).

In any event, the Isogen-5 detonations did more than just kill a few hundred million people. The explosions were so severe that they ripped holes in the fabric of space-time. Apparently random wormholes soon appeared throughout the cluster. Intriguingly, out of the trillions upon trillions of stars in the universe that the wormholes could lead to, they all lead to about 2,500 that are inhabited in some capacity by the Sleepers (the reasons for why wormholes only lead to these select systems is unknown). These systems, known as Anoikis, (Anoikis and w-space are equivalent terms, but I believe there’s a slight preference in RP circles to call it Anoikis) are located in an unknown area of space (though Templar One does mention that the only identifiable objects in Anoikis are quasars, which would make Anoikis incredibly distant from New Eden). However, within hours of the first wormhole opening in Vitrauze, the Gallente were sending ships through. Soon, the empires and CONCORD all agreed to buy certain items taken from Sleeper salvage at a standardized rate. Sleeper salvage led to a number of technological advances, including Tech 3 strategic cruisers and the technology needed to create the immortal soldiers in the soon-to-be-released game Dust 514. Needless to say, research on Isogen-5, Anoikis, and related areas is still ongoing (including a project by yours truly!). How all these pieces truly fit together may never entirely be known, unfortunately.

Conclusion


Well, that about wraps it up. I confess that after writing all of this, I’m ironically not entirely sure of the best way to conclude. Some grandiose statement on the interconnectedness and depth of New Eden’s story seems appropriate, but it turns out that Seismic Stan already said everything I could on the subject and more in his excellent foreword. But one of the things this project has taught me is that the best way to learn the lore is to really dig into it yourself. I took pains while writing this to cross-reference to the bigger articles on the lore, but there’s still so much out there that I just didn’t have time or room to talk about. Dig into it, and you can see the kind of story CCP has built for Eve. At the risk of sounding cliche, there’s a universe worth of stories out there to discover.

I will say that EVE has a fantastic backstory though, and the best part is that it’s still being written. Whether it be the political intrigues of New Eden’s null security alliances, discovering more about our past history, or the next scandal or crisis to hit the empires, the story of EVE lives and grows every day. It’s one of many great things about a great game, and I had a blast putting this guide together and digging back into the lore again.

I’d like to thank Seismic Stan for letting me take over his blog for a few days to post the blogpost version, as well as instigating this guide in the first place. He acted as a constant sounding board whenever I needed it (much to the detriment to his sleeping schedule), and his suggestions and editing proved invaluable. And all of that says nothing of the promotional help he gave or how he dealt with me making hundreds of updates to the Guide. I can’t possibly thank him enough. And I must thank Morwen Lagann for acting as my second set of lore-familiar eyes on this, making sure I didn’t commit some grievous RP faux pas. I’d also like to thank the EVE Content Teams, past and present, that really made this possible. Without dedicated lore people such as CCP TonyG, Abraxus, Dropbear, and the others on the Lore team, this kind of project never would have been possible (nor, for that matter,would a 13,000 entry wiki). This Guide was as much a way to showcase their painstaking work on this as it was to summarize it, and I can’t give them enough credit for the fantastic universe that they’ve created.

If you guys have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to contact me in game or out of game. My contact info can be found on my website, and I check twitter constantly. Thanks again, and I hope it you had as much fun reading it as I did writing it!





PREVIOUS: Technology

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Mark726's EVE Lore Survival Guide: Technology

Ah, the miscellaneous category. When all the stuff I think is either important or just kind of neat can get shoved in somewhere in no particular order because I didn’t think I could fit it anywhere else (would any one even WANT the empire section to be any longer?). In any case, welcome back to the last part of the Eve Lore Primer. Today’s post will roughly be split into two parts. First, I’ll be looking at a few of the more critical pieces of technology in Eve that work hard to make our internet spaceship lives more friendly and, you know, plausible. I’ll be ending on a few miscellaneous things that don’t really fit anywhere else. If you’ve made it with me this far, thanks!

Technology

For a game that takes place 21,000 years in the future, technology actually plays a fairly secondary role in the lore. That is a testament to CCP’s content writers who avoid, as much as possible, the whole “technobabble saves us all” approach to conflict resolution (much as it pains me to say this, my beloved Star Trek is particularly bad at this). Still, it’d be ridiculous if CCP didn’t lay down SOME background knowledge on the technology that makes our lives in space possible. I’m only going to be covering the big ones here, but there’s a LOT of lore out there for anyone who’s interested in the more mechanical side of things.

Capsules

Ah, the capsule. The pod. The egg. As particularly bad trolls try to say in help chat now and then (feel free to say hi to me in there if you see me), some think it’s a sign that you’ve leveled up when it first appears. The capsule is the singular achievement that separates us players of Eve Online from the general unkempt masses. The deep history of the capsule is, to my knowledge, completely unknown to us, in game or out. What we do know is that the Jove (for reasons unknown) offered the Caldari capsule technology in 23224 AD, shortly before the battle at Iyen-Oursta. In exchange, the Caldari handed over significant amounts of cultural and social information.

The capsule offers a pilot complete and unfettered access to a ship using only one’s mind, while cocooning the body in a hydrostatic fluid that dampens undue stresses. Connections are made directly to the pilot’s nervous system that allows them to feel each time a ship gets hit, to move the ship as one would move a muscle, and to see out of a ship’s camera drones as if it were their own eyes. The ship’s computer even creates sounds to feed into a pilot’s auditory cortex to help the pilot situate himself in space. This direct connection to the ship drastically lowers a ship’s crew requirements, while also dramatically decreasing reaction times. The end result is a faster, leaner ship that has even more capabilities than a ship with a crew twice its size. This, incidentally, is the theoretical reason why we players are able to kill rats as easily as we do. Capsule-piloted ships are so efficient they take on ships the same size or even larger vessels with nary a scratch. Obviously, when a pod-piloted vessel explodes, one of its last orders of business is to safely eject the pod from the dying ship (the rest of the crew may or may not be as lucky).

But the capsule is not without its risks. Beyond the risk that a potential pilot doesn’t have the proper genetic makeup, the biggest risk to the average would-be capsuleer (ignoring the apparently painful process of adapting your body to the capsule; you know, holes in your spine, parts of your skull peeled away to make way for implants, etc…) is something known as “mindlock.” It apparently occurs when the brain isn’t able to “shrink” itself back down to a mere human body. It got accustomed to controlling the pod and/or ship, and once unplugged, it couldn’t re-engage its connection to the much more frail human body. In the chronicle I linked here, it’s quite clear that a mindlocked pilot is still fully conscious and aware of what’s going on around him, just unable to move. However, even the Jove apparently didn’t know at that time whether a person was still conscious in a mindlocked pilot. It’s still not clear where the state of research is on mindlock in modern times. What IS clear, however, is that the incident rate of mindlock is very low today, thanks to better training techniques, so it's not a big deal these days.

Cloning

While the capsule alone dramatically increases a ship’s effectiveness, the thing that truly makes us pod pilots truly immortal is the joining of a capsule with cloning technology. Cloning has been around in New Eden for a while (a business prospectus of one cloning company, Cromeaux Inc., can be found here, which describes the basic process). But this isn’t modern real life cloning, where your DNA is taken and a clone is grown like a child would be. Rather, biomass of some kind (usually, human cadavers in the high quality clones (yes, it’s made of people), but apparently any kind of biomass will do) is used to create a human body with functioning organs. These generic humans are then seeded with a customer’s DNA and stem cells, so within a few months the body is made up mostly of a customer’s own actual DNA. Tattoos, skin coloration, and piercings can be applied as the process continues. The one organ missing is the brain.

The brain is instead grown individually after a cloning contract is created. When a person becomes a clone company’s customer, a brain scan is taken to get the brain’s shape and major nerve clusters positioned appropriately. This scan is used to create a gel model that eventually leads to neuronal growth that matches the customer’s own brain structures. This new brain is seeded with receptors attached to an FTL communication receiver (we’ll talk briefly about that in a bit). If that’s a bit too technobabble-y for you, the process is essentially that a person’s personal brain is created from the scan, it just doesn’t have any power to it yet.

At the moment of a customer’s death, a snapshot of the brain is taken using a transneural burning scanner. This scanner is able to see, down to individual neurons, the exact state of a person’s mind at the time of death. The scanning process has the somewhat unfortunate side-effect of completely destroying the original brain (and if that’s not sufficient, a quick-acting neurotoxin is injected just to be sure), but it is able to then transmit the brain’s state via FTL communications to the new clone. In the new brain, the transmitted patterns can quickly be almost precisely duplicated using the aforementioned receivers. The “almost” is key: the quality of the scan and how well it’s copied to the new clone at the moment of death can vary. As you learn more, you need a higher quality of clone to make sure the more complex information is transferred properly to the new clone, which is why you need to upgrade your clones now and then to hold more skills. The whole process of transferring consciousness can be completed within moments.

Unfortunately, modern burning scanners are somewhat large contraptions that require a person’s head to be in precise alignment at the moment of death. Because planning death this precisely can be difficult, cloning and transfer never quite gained wide traction throughout the cluster, remaining the province of the rich for the most part. This changed, however, when engineers realized that there was a significant and growing population who would always be in the same position when they were most likely to die: pod pilots. The neural scanner is now tied to a pod’s structural integrity system. When the pod detects a breach of any kind (since the chances of surviving a pod breach are minimal anyway), the scanner is automatically activated and that body is instantly killed, with the consciousness of that person transferred to the new clone body. CONCORD quickly authorized (and, indeed, required) the use of cloning technology in pod pilots in YC 105 (conveniently, the game year that Eve Online starts in) when the two technologies were safely combined. The age of the pod pilot had begun.

In the novel Templar One, Sleeper wreckage is discovered that eventually allows the same cloning technology to be miniaturized to such an extent as to be implanted into individual soldiers without the use of a pod. A small device, Sleeper in origin, lets the consciousness be saved at the moment of death and passed on to a waiting clone. This essentially allows the creation of immortal supersoldiers, and conveniently sets up the upcoming first person shooter Dust 514.

DUST 514 Technology

DUST 514 will be adding some new technology that, while it technically won’t have much of an effect in our game, will certainly affect the game universe. The most important of the new tech involves the mercenary implants, which takes the aforementioned cloning technology to a new extreme. I mentioned above that normal cloning scanners require the head to be precisely positioned in order to properly scan and download a pilot’s neural patterns. However, in Templar One (if you haven’t figured it out yet, you may want to consider reading this book if you have an interest in deep EVE lore… but if you’re looking for a (very) brief over, see the video below), a new conscience transfer technology is discovered. Found in Sleeper ruins, the new implant is functionally equivalent to the old-style (I use the term loosely for something that won’t be invented for another 21,000 years) transneural burning scanners: it allows all knowledge and conscience to be transferred to a new brain even at the moment of death. However, instead of relying on an outside contraption to scan and then kill the old brain, this device implants directly into the brain (and if the DUST cinematic trailer is to be believed, replaces part of the brain stem), so the transfer can occur with the head in any position. No more need to have the head positioned in the scanner; even if the head is sitting 3 kilometers from the rest of your body (who knows what those orbital bombardments will do to you), the implant will make sure everything is transferred safely to a new body. With speed that generals around the world would envy, the technology was immediately militarized and incorporated into an elite group of Amarr soldiers named Templars One through Six (in a shocking turn of events, one of Templar One’s main protagonists is… well, Templar One).

There was, however, something wrong with the implants. Well, not so much wrong as much as they were still occupied. The Amarr first stumbled across these implants while investigating Sleeper ruins. They found intact, but seemingly dead, bodies and took them in to study. They eventually discovered the implants discussed above, and what they were able to do. However, the Amarr were unable to reproduce the implants themselves. Faced with this unprecedented military technology, they did what any God-fearing society would do: they resorted to grave robbing. They soon culled hundreds, if not thousands, of these implants and used them for their own purposes. The other empires (with a little help from CONCORD and good ol’ Directive Alpha Gamma 12) soon caught wind of these programs, and set to work on their own research initiatives, following the same grave-robbing techniques the Amarr first pioneered.

The problem, of course, was that the Sleepers they were culling the implants from weren’t actually dead. They were simply living up to their names: they were sleeping. The implants, apparently, not only serve to transfer a conscience to a new body; they also help connect that conscience to the Sleeper mainframe, as it were. When the implants were removed from the Sleeper bodies, at least parts of the Sleeper conscience remained in the implants. And it turns out they didn’t much appreciate being ripped out of their own bodies and used for the designs of us lesser civilizations. They would briefly take over the new mercenary soldiers, making them speak in tongues and have strange visions.

The Amarr eventually recognized what was going on (indeed, Templar One implies that the Empress is dealing with her own Sleeper conscience, take from that what you will) and, with massive effort, managed to create their own functionally equivalent implant technology. Seeing that harvesting more of these implants could incur further wrath from the Sleepers, Empress Jamyl authorized each of the empires to have access to her alternative, Sleeper-less implants. And thus, we head into the launch of DUST 514 with each empire having their own sets of immortal infantry, and apparently free of the terrifying visions that hampered previous incarnations of soldiers. Despite obvious advantages, it doesn’t look like capsuleers will be gaining access to this technology anytime soon. Oh, and I should mention that I believe the same strict compatibility requirements for capsuleers apply to the new implants.

Beyond that, the technology in DUST revolves around guns, guns, and more guns (along with vehicles that carry aforementioned guns). EVE Online players should recognize some of the guns as miniaturized versions of our beloved space pew pew modules, but there are sure to be new things out there. The Art Department seems to have done an excellent job with keeping the themes of each race. Gallente merc technology has that green, organic feel to it, while at times it looks like Amarr mercs are clothed in pure gold. I haven’t seen much to indicate that, beyond the implant technology, there will be much to revolutionize EVE technology. Still, the ability to bombard planets back to the stone age from orbit ought to put a smile on anyone’s face.

One final note before I move on: CCP has made it clear that DUST 514 refers to something, but what specifically hasn’t been quite spelled out yet. I would guess that DUST (which, according to CCP, is meant to be capitalized as such) is an acronym for something. And the 514 chronicle states that each soldier with the Sleeper implants had terrifying visions. Visions of the number 514 written in blood… (Cue the Twilight Zone music…)


Faster-Than-Light Communications

FTL communication was actually developed significantly after the development of FTL travel. Strangely, after FTL travel was developed, a ship became the fastest way to spread information, a situation not really seen since the great Age of Exploration on Earth before the development of radio. As the interstellar community grew, some form of communications proved necessary to allow communications across the hundred light-years of New Eden. Many attempts were made to solve the problem, and it was such a problem that even the ancient civilizations seemed to have their own problems with the concept. Some had hoped that the idea of entangled particles (quarks and atoms that, through some quantum mechanical wizardry, instantaneously respond to a stimulus on one of the entangled particles, regardless of how many light years apart the two particles are) would solve the problem. While this line of research seemed promising, no data seemed to be able to be transmitted through entangled particles; only random noise made it through the gauntlet of quantum statistical probability.

The breakthrough came from a young Gallente scientist, Li Azbel, although she might well have been Minmatar given her solution. Her solution is complicated and filled with technobabble that would make a Trekkie proud, but it essentially comes down to using that random noise to her advantage. Rather than transmitting data bit by bit, she discovered she was able to modulate the amount and frequency of the noise itself, which lead to being able to transmit data. With this breakthrough (using useless junk to piggyback data onto), engineers were quickly able to construct fluid routers made up of entangled particles. These routers were soon joined into a massive communications network that today spans the cluster, and allows us now to contact any person anywhere.

Stargates

Stargates are the backbone of New Eden, shaping the cluster and its politics as we know it. The gate network snakes throughout New Eden, and today lets us cross over 100 light-years in just a few hours. Conceptually, jumpgates are actually fairly easy to understand: they’re artificially contained, static wormholes that take you from one system to another. It’s their construction that mucks things up a bit.

As I mentioned during the Empires section, our modern stargates are based on the wrecks and ruins of stargates originally built during the first colonization of the Cluster (while we know the reason for the fairly rapid colonization of the cluster, ingame scholars apparently continue to debate the reasons for it). The Amarr were the first to discover the near-perfect ruins of a gate in Amarr Prime, which let them fairly easily reverse-engineer the working principles. The problem that they ran into was that a single gate is not enough: it needs a partner. So before the Amarr could activate the gate in their own system, they had to send out ships filled with crews in cryogenic suspension. The ships would travel on their own for years or even decades until coming to the new star system, at which point the crews are woken up and they construct the companion gate. While most of the time these journeys ended well, there have been some very close calls. The discovery of jump drives only came about recently, and even today there are dozens of ships heading out into the unknown to try to construct the next set of gates.

Stargates can only work in certain systems. The artificial wormholes are created at points of gravitational resonance (essentially, where gravity waves can cancel each other out, like at Lagrange points for the more scientifically inclined, or when you create a standing wave). At these resonance points, the gravitational shear is so intense that it becomes easy to just poke a hole through space-time. The hole doesn’t necessarily connect to anywhere at first, but if two gates are near each other and each trying to form a connection, the two gates are attracted to each other and eventually a stable wormhole can be formed between the two gates (though it can take a while). However, the amount of resonance needed can only really be found in binary star systems (this has ALWAYS bugged me because there’s never been any evidence in the Cluster of where the second star is, but I suppose that is neither here nor there), meaning that only 2 of every 3 star systems is theoretically able to hold a gate of any kind. There’s more maths and technobabble involved in the article linked to in this paragraph for the people interested, but suffice it to say that using a gate can be an uncomfortable experience since, even with modern technology, you’re still being stretched along a pretty steep gravitational gradient.

Today, the technology of stargates have been miniaturized enough that capital ships are able to create their own wormholes capable of carrying themselves to nearby systems without the use of stargates, though the use of a jump drive (this jump drive should NOT be confused with the jump drive mentioned in the interstellar travelling article I’ve been linking. That ‘jump drive’ seems to be referring to what we now call the warp drive). The general principle of the jump drive seems to be the same as stargates, only now the use of cynosural beacons allows the forming wormhole to easily latch onto something in the destination system. Jump bridges work on a similar principle.

Warp Drive

While on the notion of interstellar travel, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the warp drive. Formally known as the Sotiyo-Urbaata drive for the two Caldari scientists that developed it, warp drives are the things that allow us to zoom around the solar system at multiple astronomical units per second (as a reference guide, it takes light approximately 8 minutes to travel 1 astronomical unit, so traveling at the standard 3 AU per second is quite speedy indeed). First developed in the year 22821, the drive was built to solve the problem of how to quickly travel between Caldari Prime and Gallente Prime. Even though developed over 600 years ago, the Amarr and Minmatar took a while to catch on (the Minmatar had independently developed acceleration gates for their intra-system travel needs, the Amarr apparently just enjoy rocking back and forth and slowness).

The warp drive works through the magic of “depleted vacuum.” Even empty space generally has SOMETHING in it, be it atoms here or there or even just random particles that pop into existence only to be annihilated mere moments later. So even the vacuum of space is never truly “empty.” The warp drive works to create full, “depleted” vacuum, so there is literally nothing in it. No specks of dust, no virtual particles, no energy or matter of any kind. Such an empty place, according to the game lore, has special properties. Rather than being affected by friction, it actually has anti-friction: things (including light) actually move faster in this kind of space, rather than slower. By creating a depleted vacuum and expanding the field to cover the entire ship, the ship then slips into faster than light speeds as it tunnels through space. Navigation at FTL speeds isn’t easy; the ship can only detect gravitational sources at warp speeds. When the drive is activated, it locks onto a sufficiently massive object (even stations can do) that acts as a beacon, so the drive knows when to cut out. The need to lock onto a gravity source to activate the drive is the nominal reason why you can’t just pick a random direction and warp off, but doesn’t quite explain how we can just warp to bookmarks in the middle of nowhere (but WHATEVER). Furthermore, you can blame your warp core (essentially, an aneutronic fusion reactor coupled with the depleted vacuum generator) for creating “four dimensional drag” that pulls your ship to a halt (this is ostensibly why we play submarines in space (from a physics model perspective), as opposed to the Newtonian motion that we would see in real life).

Vitoc

It’s hard to control slaves. They tend to not enjoy the experience. It was a lot easier to control slaves before they learned to read (since reading allows radical ideas like “hey, let’s not be slaves anymore” to be easily transmitted throughout a slave community), but in order for most slaves to be useful in this day and age, the ability to read and write is basically required. So as time went on, the Amarr had to develop more advanced techniques to control their slaves. One of the more devilish techniques they developed was the use of vitoxin and its antidote, vitoc.

The methods have varied over the years, but the underlying concept is the same: inject the slave with a toxin that will kill the slave (in, of course, the most gruesome and painful way possible) unless an antidote is injected every day or two. That antidote is vitoc. To make matters worse, vitoc was also created to be extremely addicting, producing intense states of euphoria after it is injected. Thus, even if there were a way to remove the toxin from the slave, they’d still find themselves intensely addicted to the substance. In the modern era, the Amarr have swapped to using a virus that ultimately produces the deadly vitoxin. The Amarr use this to control their slaves, threatening to withhold the vitoc if they do not follow orders.

Various attempts have been made to fight vitoxin and vitoc addiction over the years. One of the most promising cures, Insorum, was developed by Ishukone. Otro Gariushi, Ishukone’s former CEO, gave the antidote’s formula to the Minmatar free of charge (apparently enraging the mysterious Broker in the process, who had been bidding on it), and it is now part of the standard treatment regimen. However, research into other cures, both scientific and holistic, continues. One of the primary centers for vitoc research can be found in Yrmori, at the Forlorn Hope institute (which is admittedly not the first name I would have picked for an optimistic “yes, we can beat this thing” research institute), and a full cure for the toxin and addiction have yet to present themselves.

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