“How important is “fluff” in Eve online? Would eve online be the same if it were purely numbers and mechanics, or are the fictional elements important to the enjoyment of the game? Would a pure text, no reference to sci-fi or fancy names still be an engaging game? Should CCP put more or less emphasis on immersion?” (http://www.ninveah.com/2013/08/blog-banter-48-lore.html)
In a pure game-play perspective, the fluff is just that. It isn’t ‘needed’ at all. You can have Faction A/B/C/D fighting in faction warfare. And Faction A/B/C/D ship types. The universe could just be a generic universe. No need to add in “Jove” or “Caldari’ any of the races or pirate factions. You put placeholder names in and the core mechanics of the game will be just that.
But it would seem cold, and clinical. It would be boring. Same ship shapes, same weapons, same mechanics and the same uniform space.
The fluff may not be needed for the game, but it certainly gives it some oomph. It gives it soem colour. Some flavour.
How many times have you heard of a player quoting the Minmatar prayer: “Trust in the Rust” and marveling in the awesomeness of the Rifter. Or the Amarrian player who starts quoting scripture just randomly, because they love the golden ships? These aren’t players who fully immerse themselves in the lore, but do like the setting enough to at least be aware of it. Removing the fluff would remove some of the emotional motivation. So having it there for players who don’t fully immerse themselves is a good idea.
Have you visited the Eve Gate? How about the monolith? These are small parts of the lore, but people who are casual do make pilgrimages there, just to say that they were part of it. Or that they were there. That’s an evenings worth of content right there. Just by adding in some lore. An evenings worth of personal game-play.
Then we get to those who love lore. Who love the chronicle, and who love reading the meta-game drama of the empires. And these players, those who love the setting, is what this lore is amazing for. Check out C.V.A (http://www.cva-eve.org/) . Have a look at the blogs that provide IC prose and fiction (http://satyrwood.wordpress.com/2013/08/04/preparing-for-null/ is a more recent example). With no lore, this part of the game-play would evaporate. And what is an MMO, if not a vessel for escapism. This lore provides the deeper immersion these players want.
It isn’t just the hard core. Many of the players get a kick out of being part of these universe events. The titan battle at Caldari Prime was a major example, with so many players being a part of it, and loving that they got to shape the world a little, or at least get involved.
You can remove the fluff. But it would have no soul. And Sci-fi fans are nothing , if not obsessive, about the ‘fluff’. And if you develop a deeper lore, and give players the ability to uncover it for themselves, then you will be rewarded with greater engagement by the player base. That is something we have been lacking, that players can uncover detail for themselves.
I think CCP should put a bit more thought into Lore, and back-story, especially in light of the “Build your own star-gate” mechanics coming soon. It would not be wasted time. And could retain current players, while opening up the game to new players who love engaging with the greater universes story.
That’s my first attempt at a BB. Hopefully it is up to scratch!