Thursday, October 6, 2011

Blog Banter #29: You think that's air you're breathing?

OK, enough hockey silliness, time to get serious. The last blog banter was heavily charged with political views, economic views and tons of emotions both positive and negative. But this time the atmosphere should be lighter, especially with yesterday's 1-2 punch from CCP Hellmar and CCP Zulu. Seismic Stan of the Freebooted blog asks this question:

"EVE Online is renowned for its depth. Its backstory, gameplay and social aspects are all qualities that draw players in. What does immersion in EVE Online mean to you?"

Link to Seismic Stan's original post here.

Immersion in any game to me means one thing: for a limited amount of time reality gets suspended and becomes what you experience in the gaming universe. Being a pretty hardcore gamer for a long time now, it doesn't take much for me to get this feeling as I love to play games that are intense and require every bit of concentration and skill to play with some success. When a good game grabs me I can not only forget that a world exists around me, I cannot even see the outline of my computer monitor. This is especially true of very fast first-person shooters, flight sims and race sims, where action is either coming at you from all sides or coming at you with great speed (or both in the case of combat flight sims). But in EVE it's even deeper than that. Not only can there be action around you, but you also have to be aware of action that can be happening many systems away. And this is the part that makes EVE truly unique.

Let's say I start a small gang for a roam. When the fleet assembles in a station everybody is usually comfortable with the ships they are flying, usually have a good idea of where they will be flying, and are usually prepared for the worst. As an FC, I have to start gathering intel about the action near me, along my path, or at my destination. I also have to have good knowledge not only of my fleet's composition but of the pilots flying the ships, of the positions they have in space, and I need the knowledge to make changes wherever possible to maximize my fleet's success. All this with the knowledge that the other sides (plural; in EVE you ALWAYS have more than one enemy) are doing exactly the same thing. This is simply not possible if you haven't immersed yourself in everything EVE has to offer in lore, ship technology, fleet tactics, etc. And when you have immersed yourself to that level it's as if New Eden in its entirety is a living, breathing and active entity. The pixels become real, reality becomes the game, you ARE the ship you're flying. As an FC your scouts become your eyes and ears. Your fleet's guns, missiles, drones and Ewar become your hands, feet and mouth. Your shields and armor become your skin, and your internal structure becomes your bones. When you are successful you feel satisfied as if you have dined on the finest roast and the finest wine. When you fail it feels like you've been stabbed, trampled, beaten and bled dry.

Many video games offer various levels of immersion; some are just pass-times you can go in and out of, while others demand you to be more active within the game and/or within the community that plays it. But the level of immersion offered by EVE Online... damn is this one hard to beat. When people get emotional about a game to the point of rioting within it, you know that despite all that has gone wrong to cause such a reaction, the immersion thing is working as intended.

No, this is not air you are breathing; it is pod goo!


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