With the return of Live Events such as the Battle for Caldari Prime, clearly the prime fiction of EVE is back in favour as part of this new thematic approach to expansions. However, EVE's story is very much a tale of two playstyles, with an entirely player-driven narrative unfolding daily in parallel to the reinvigorated backstory. Often, they do not mix well. How can these two disparate elements be united or at least comfortably co-exist in a single sandbox universe?
So here's my take:
Eve is a science fiction game I'll grant you but the spaceships, odd-looking people, monstrous space drones are simply dressing for what is at heart a competition between players. Eve could be set in a World War 2 environment, as a football game, as a fantasy game or in Ancient Rome and would have the same basic character and story type. The Goons screw over BoB, the HBC ground down -A- in a long defensive dull war of attrition, the Guiding Hand Social Club social engineers its way into positions of trust then robs people. What is needed for this is an extremely hands off approach by the game developers and a flexible game where mechanics and complicated and open-ended enough to allow people to devise unexpected ways of using them.
Just about no one cares about the backstory, cares that 10 Caldari scientists got kidnapped by Gallente agents. The only reason people read that stuff is to glean hints about future mechanics changes or to figure out what to shoot to complete their mission.
In games like WoW and EQ2 we saw very clearly that players don't want to read quests They skim until they spot the important part - eg, kill ten rats - then race off to do it. They don't want to stop and read about the history of the war between the rats and the gnomes or whatever. Player app developers made an addon called questhelper that allowed you to skip even skimming the quest and it proved one of the most popular addons in WoW's history, later being subsumed into the standard game mechanics because it was so popular.
Same with Eve's missions - it doesn't matter what the story of The Anomaly is, you just need to know collect the dude, drop the quality street thing off in the box, deliver the dude into one of the floating drop boxes. Who cares about professor this and drones that? Just about no one doing the mission.
The thing with games is that once we gamers put our game-faces on we're in a different psychological state to the state we're in when we passively absorb entertainment like TV or novels. We're antsy, our trigger fingers itchy, poised to interact. We don't want to be read to, we're too hyped up for that.
And that's why backstories about Caldari Prime etc leave most of us cold. Want to know the stories players got excited about? Who scooped the loot.