So it’s been a while since I have written anything, and my real life is getting haywire. I haven’t really done anything in Eve since before the weekend and may go light for just a little bit, so I figured I’d write a post that diverges from the flavor of the recent ones I’ve been writing. Last week in Eve I ended up talking to some Hordlings about the lore of the technology in Eve, particularly the entosis idea. In that conversation, a few people, veterans by Horde standards, commented that they’d actually never thought about the lore behind entosis before. Following that conversation, my thoughts were drawn to a comment that Mox Nix made in his rather angry post explaining why he was quitting Eve. In that post, he says, “I expected futuristic technology based on real science, physics and realistic, believable science fiction. Not a horribly mismatched collection of unrealistic, unbelievable technology with absurd capabilities, equally absurd limitations, contrived rules and bandaid ‘fixes’ all cobbled together into one gigantic immersion killing mess.” I take issue with this statement, as I find the technological landscape of Eve Online to be quite artful and well-thought out.
Now when talking about Eve’s technology, we have to talk a little bit about Eve’s presentation. There are certain things in Eve that we are expected to take as representational. For instance, we don’t really consider CONCORD’s budget and how it affords to pay out to capsuleers. We just accept that the Guristas are invading, and don’t think about how they constantly recruit people to be constantly slaughtered by capsuleer privateers in the service of CONCORD. Also, we see that as players we install upgrades to make more Guristas attack a system. However, we say that it represents an upgrade we install because more Guristas have started to attack. We just accept that New Eden is a galaxy with only 7,000 stars in it. Eve has a certain balance that is representational, that we look at one step removed. That being said, the conceptual art created via Eve’s systems and technology is actually quite elegant.
So from there, let’s look at the historical influences on Eve’s technology. The latter half of the 20th century is generally labelled by historians as the Space Age. This is the era of both Dune and Star Wars, Isaac Asimov, and the great hard science fiction novelists of old. The central technologies of this science fiction are interstellar travel, spaceships, and laser guns. Now around 1990 with the creation of the internet, and certainly by 2007 with the creation of the smartphone, mankind entered the Communication Age, where information and surveillance are everywhere. Modern science fiction tends to concentrate on advances in this area. In between these ages, in the 80s, there was a genre created by a guy named William Gibson with his story Johnny Mnemonic and Neuromancer novels called “cyberpunk.” The movie Bladerunner was a part of this genre, and while outer space was often a factor, the theme was the dehumanization of humanity through technology and unfettered capitalism. The gadgets of this genre were cybernetics and virtual reality, which are still the mainstay of modern science fiction. So we have a science fiction environment developed over the last 75 years of spaceships, virtual reality, cybernetics, cloning, etc. Eve actually combines a lot of these archetypes.
Concerning Eve’s lore, for those who don’t know, New Eden was populated by human explorers from Earth in a series of distant, small, remote outposts and colonies, which ended up for some reason being isolated from each other when the Eve Gate wormhole from the Milky Way to New Eden collapsed. Because these colonies were small, think of the little colony in the movie Aliens, all of them ended up regressing back to the stone age except one. Over the course of 30,000 years, the colonies developed into unique societies on different worlds until interstellar travel again became a reality and they began to rediscover each other and form the human empires of the galaxy. That forms the basis of Eve technology: space ships, robots, and laser guns – standard Space Age hard science fiction. However, many of the distinctives of Eve’s technology come from that one colony that has not been climbing back up to the Space Age level of technology for the last 30,000 years, but rather has been moving forward. That colony evolved into what we call the Jovians. The Jovians developed unimaginable levels of genetic and cybernetic technology, to the point that they made themselves something completely beyond human, and actually genetically nonviable. Capsuleer technology, the ability to upload one’s consciousness into a computer and download it into a clone, was actually inspired by Jovian technology utilized by, I believe, the Caldari, generally known to be the most technologically advanced human group.
Further, a group of Jovians tried to escape their genetic and biological troubles by uploading themselves into a virtual reality similar to Neo’s Matrix called The Construct that is somewhere in the deepest, completely unknown reaches of wormhole space. These Jovians are called the Sleepers and have their own culture, being no longer really Jovians but something unique to themselves. Now lately in New Eden, we have seen these beings called the Drifters, who appeared shortly after the decloaking of the Jovian observatories and the appearance of the Circadian Seekers. We don’t exactly know what is going on between the Jovians and the Sleepers as to why this stuff is happening, but the Drifters are these semi viable biological entities that use cybernetic implants to stay alive, at least for a while. My guess is that they are Sleepers that are trying to get back into bodies somehow, if even only for a little while, in order to be able to affect things in our universe and somehow interact with these Jovian observatories and Circadian Seekers.
Now with the appearance of the Jovian observatories, Circadian Seekers, and Drifters, the human empires perceived new threats and began to advance technology reverse engineered from these new sources. One of them was this new shielding technology that the Amarr Empire developed from captured Drifter tech. This shielding is basically the foundation of the entosis system. The shields make that which is shielded, stations (for the time being), iHubs, and Territorial Control Units, completely impervious to harm. They have the ability to react to and counter hostile input with an accuracy so astounding that no computer that we can comprehend could be able to manage.
This is because the computers that manage these shields are not composed of transistors or integrated circuits or the binary technology that we in the real world know of. The “chips” of the “computers” that govern this shielding are actually sentient consciousness. Human souls power them. You know, like the unconscious mind that remembers everything you have ever experienced or whatever – actual perfect, unlimited computation. With capsuleer technology allowing humans to merge their consciousness with machines already being available, capsuleers in the vicinity of these shielded items (iHubs, TCUs, etc) integrate their unconscious minds with the defense networks of the shields. Therefore, the more capsuleers around doing more stuff and providing more “thought power” to a defense net, the harder they are to “hack”. This is the root of the Activity Defense Multiplier concept.
Of course it stands that the only way these networks can be hacked is through the merging of consciousness with the network in order to introduce soul-powered viruses into it, ergo the entosis module and the entosis hacker. Further, knowing that Drifters and Sleepers are pretty good at merging their minds with technology, the defense networks have a failsafe in order to facilitate the only advantage over these guys that we have: actual bodies in actual places, flying around all over the place. Whenever a defense network is cybernetically hacked to a certain degree, the network jump drive launches its processing power to various points in space light years away, so if any entity capable of hacking a defense network gets through to a certain point, they will then have to get in ships and get themselves to these “nodes” and hack them too. That should stop the Drifters, who are few in number and can only be in a few places and for a short time, right?
Well as fate would have it, this technology that was designed to protect human empires from Drifters and Circadian Seekers and a possible Jovian invasion quickly made its way to us psychopathic rogue capsuleers and our empires out in null security space. Fozziesov has been born. So what we see from this is that Eve’s technology is based on a foundation of 20th century space age hard science fiction supplemented with concepts of virtual reality, cybernetics, and advanced bioengineering that have appeared in more recent genres. Yes, we have to step back sometimes and see it as a representative system that plays out a certain way in the game mechanics for the game to work. However, it is based on real thinking about diverse science fiction ideas. Eve is certainly not “bandaid ‘fixes’ all cobbled together into one gigantic immersion killing mess.” It’s quite immersive and very advanced. Microchips are small time in our universe, where computers are made out of human consciousness.
I know some of the lore in this post is old hat for a lot of the Eve lore buffs. I do hope that I am corrected if I have made any mistakes of fact. I do hope, however, that this post serves to show that a fairly advanced and truly faithful science fiction has been brought into our game to drive the systems that allow us to have fun. Hopefully some of my newbean friends learn something here.