It is hard to be a gamer, and even harder to be a PC gamer, without having at least heard of CCP Games’s critically-acclaimed massively multiplayer EVE Online. Ever since its descent on the hapless internet world in 2003, EVE Online has created a community like no other – a massive collection of miners, bankers, and pirates that shape the virtual interstellar marketplace in a galaxy that spans more than 5,000 solar systems.
EVE Online has defied previous notions that to be successful in the MMO world, you have to be World of Warcraft. With over 500,000 subscribers as of early last year, it continues to stand in solid counterpoint to the flurry of MMORPGs that live, breathe, and die in the space of one historical EVE ship battle to another.
While gamers lovingly describe the experience as “Spreadsheets, the MMO,” EVE Online is so much more – a single person can find an awe-inspiring combination of stunning space graphics, exploration, character skill training, a variety of different professions, and both PVE and PVP space combat… and then at the same time become swept up in a huge world-encompassing power struggle where huge empires made up of thousands of players vie for control over vast territories of open space.
(Images by Imgur user rooksandkings – taken from raw in-game footage of the latest and greatest EVE Online spaceship battle, the Titanomachy, which incurred trillions of ISK in damages and where over 70 titans were lost.)
In A Tale of Internet Spaceships, the three-person team at Sorgenfri Productions has created an indie fan film documentary that questions the very nature of the sometimes strained love-hate relationship the community and CCP share.
While CCP itself has certainly taken steps, even as recently as last year, to document the complicated history of its persistent-world game with alternate mediums like the EVE: True Stories comic books, never have they taken so close a look at their own complicated relationship with their players.
Every year, hundreds of EVE players make their way to Reykjavik for EVE Online Fanfest, a celebration of all things EVE, and where both friends and old enemies will meet, drink beer, and party at the top of the world.
In 2013, after a partially-funded Indiegogo campaign raked in a little over $3,000-worth of support, the Sorgenfri team brought their cameras with them to document the community in action – through interviews, both behind closed doors and with the ground-floor festival-goer on the show floor, they sought to find the answer to “why the players love and live EVE Online in the way they do.”
From their Indiegogo campaign page:
“A Tale of Internet Spaceships won’t be an unashamed tribute to all things EVE. What we aim to capture on film is the relationship between CCP and the people that play the game; a love-hate relationship that, several times during the game’s lifespan, has been quite strained. What makes thousands of players start an in-game riot and what did it mean for the player base when it was all over? What did it mean for CCP? What kind of power do the consumers wield over the companies that supply a game service like EVE? Why do hundreds of players travel to Iceland every year to celebrate the game? What kind of bonds do massively multiplayer online games create between players, and between players and the creators? …
“Our aim is to create a film that will be fascinating for everyone – from the most hardcore of players to outsiders, an exclusive inside look into a virtual world and its denizens.“
All of this and more are discussed in the full-length documentary which premiered today at 8 PM on July 11, 2014 at STPLN, MalmÃ¶, Sweden.
A recent press release stated that at the same time, the one hour long film would be published for free to major video sites like YouTube and Vimeo for global viewing, but as of this writing, has still not appeared on either.
What do you think? Are you excited to take a look?
(Edit: Looks like it’s out now! Here’s a look at the documentary on YouTube!)