Today, CCP released a brand new trailer for EVE Online along with a new marketing campaign centered around the concept of “the butterfly effect”.  The theory goes that even the smallest actions will lead to larger effects — travel back in time to see some dinosaurs and inadvertently step on a butterfly and the effects on the present day would be profound (see A Sound of Thunder by Ray Bradbury).  The trailer itself is impressive, as are most visual marketing efforts for EVE, but how close is the trailer to the true gaming experience?

We begin with the hypothetical situation: a lone player flying a Wolf (Minmatar Assault Ship) encounters a poor unfortunate miner under attack by a small gang of enemies.  The pilot of the Wolf makes the decision to engage, saving the miner and driving off the attackers.  In so doing, the pilot is met by the miner’s friendly gang who was on the way to help out, and they invite him along for some roaming fun.  They then join up with a larger fleet on patrol, which runs into a large enemy fleet somewhere in a war zone, and a large engagement ensues.  The trailer then tells us that this battle could be known by hundreds of thousands of people, only possible because of the single shard nature of the game.  It ends with a welcome to EVE, informing us that this single universe is all ours.

The initial situation sure is plausible.  One of the first lessons people get in EVE is that you should pay attention to the Local chat window.  A lone miner certainly will come across difficulties, and an undefended Hulk presents a nice target for a small roaming gang.

Would a solo Wolf pilot be effective versus a small gang working on blowing up a mining vessel?  I suppose it would depend on the skill of the pilots involved on both sides and what ships they were flying.  It’s certainly possible, and a lot of the time people can be driven off by the mere threat of losing their ships to one pilot of what might be a gang of fast moving enemies just a jump or two away.

The pilot being thanked by the miner and invited to hang out with a rescue gang could happen as well.  This is entirely dependent on the disposition of said gang, of course.  A more likely scenario could be that the pilot is shot at by one of the gang members and the lone pilot is blown up before the situation could be explained by the miner, solely because to the inbound gang he looked like a neutral target.  Mistakes like that happen in situations like that, as well as larger fleet scenarios, quite often since if someone’s standings and overview settings aren’t properly configured someone who is friendly could appear hostile.  In scenarios like that, usually apologies would ensue and probably some payment would be exchanged to cover the loss.

The following scenes of the small gang snowballing into a larger fleet are definitely possible, though not one hundred percent of the time.  In some cases it might not even be preferable depending on your play style.  A lot of people prefer the smaller gangs because they tend to cover more territory over time, thus find themselves in more engagements.

There has been plenty of occasions that I’ve personally experienced when roaming, when suddenly someone pipes up on an intel channel with information on an enemy gang or fleet, and suddenly you find that your initial group of ships is now a tiny piece of a huge battlegroup.  This kind of thing happens a bit less nowadays in EVE, since large fleets of roaming battleships aren’t normally seen unless they’re going to secure a specific system for a capital fleet, help in blowing up control towers, basically sovereignty-related tasks.

In terms of the rest of the trailer detailing the ripple effect of the actions of this lone pilot, it does a good job of indicating how specific events of the game can end up on the radar of a lot of players in the game.  This is because of the single universe approach of EVE, where massive battles are eventful and relevant to the interests of thousands of other players.  That one battle could begin a shift of power in the region, changing aspects of the local economy, and creating new economic opportunities in other areas.

Did this “butterfly effect” begin with the actions of the solo player?  Not necessarily, as the events probably would have unfolded as laid out in the trailer whether the miner was saved or not.  His help along the way would have a ripple effect for sure.

More importantly, it sets in motion a potential series of events which can easily happen in EVE, and has an even greater “butterfly effect”: the social aspect.  This solo pilot now has a taste of how teamwork functions in EVE.  He/she is one application away from joining this  corporation, and experiencing the full barrage of EVE Online.  The options open to this person are now huge in scope.  You could just fly as a pilot, or succeed well enough to elevate through the ranks of the corporation, becoming a leader.

Whatever direction you decide, the trailer puts it perfectly: your actions are going to affect countless players, either directly or indirectly.  It may be an idealized version of all of that, but it summarizes the spirit of the game in excellent fashion.

The main commentary that I would add to that statement is that EVE succeeds where a lot of other games fall flat: representing that spirit in the actual gameplay.  The trailer might not have that usually-present line of text stating that the trailer consists of one hundred percent in-game footage, but truthfully it’s probably the best representation of what can happen in-game than any trailer which has preceded it.

8 thoughts on “Lepidopterology

  1. It’s an intriguing concept, and certainly different from the normal advertising you see for games (actually, it’s refreshing to see a trailer that actually shows what gameplay looks like for the player). As far as marketing goes, I think it does exactly what it needs to do in expressing the best aspects of the game for people who aren’t familiar with it.

    My flatmate says it seems a little bit dull — ‘it lacks the shiny’. I guess he’s referring to the Whoa Factor the other trailers have. This one brings things back down from the grander scale NPC end shown in the earlier trailers to the players’ level, which may make it seem less impressive.


  2. This is probably my favorite trailer yet, simply because it’s so clearly makes the point that your choices in the game are up to you, that your actions have consequences and that making friends in the game is a good idea. Plus I really liked the “everyday” scenes in the footage as opposed to some of the “Big Hollywood” production scenes in previous trailers.

    Nicely written analysis, WB.


  3. The miner made his choice to go to a certain system, in a certain ship, in a certain belt, to mine.

    The pirates made their choice to roam, to that particular system, to scan (instead of ignore), and to get a quick jump in on the miner.

    The miner made his choice to be stuck in a group of rocks, with bad positioning, unable to warp out in time.

    The Wolf pilot made his choice to roam, to scan, and warp in on this group fully knowing it could be a trap, to attack, and during the attack to make the right decisions to have him win.

    This IS just one of the many possible scenarios demonstrated in this video, and I quite enjoyed it!


  4. I agree that the initial reaction of the miner to the Wolf pilot wouldn’t be but so favorable. In the long-term, perhaps there would be a friendship, but I don’t think anyone should take from this that he would immediately be invited to join a fleet on the way to an engagement.

    By the way, I thought “The Butterfly Effect” took its name from the idea that a butterfly flapping his winks in England could cause a typhoon in China. That’s what I recall from James Gleick’s Chaos, at least.


  5. It’s a great video. Of course it could never happen in high-sec.
    I’ve never lived in null-sec but it seems to me that both it and empire are places of extreme rules, and if you want to do stuff like in this video, low-sec is where you have to be.

    It’s interesting to see how despite all the appeals and relative freedom of low-sec hardly anyone but pirates are willing to go out there. Do we need better low-sec rewards? No more high-sec POSes? That would at least force carebear corps to try to have some presence there.

    I also forgot W-space. I like wormholes a lot, I think they could’ve and should’ve worked that in.


  6. WB…Good summary and evaluation of the video.
    I think the lack of shiny of other trailers is overshadowed by the depiction of the breadth of the game experience, which I believe will appeal to a lot of people.
    While the actual string of occurences is somewhat unlikely for those of us who have played for a while, it could happen, and that is one of the things that is so cool about Eve.
    I wonder if the Wolf pilot had been imbibing your favorite Icelandic liquor?


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