EVE Online is known for being a video game universe where players come first. Their alliances, decisions and protests change the shape of the fictional galaxy and the huge multiplayer game it lives in. And starting next year, the player-driven sagas of CCP's hit MMO will be providing the fuel for a new comic-book series from Dark Horse. EVE: True Stories pulls from the initial 10 years of the game's real-world existence, drawing on high points that players themselves have voted as the most significant moments in EVE history. It's being written by Daniel Way — the fan-favourite writer who's worked on Wolverine and Deadpool — with art by Tomm Coker (Daredevil Noir), Federico Dallocchio (Batman: Arkham Unhinged, Suicide Squad), Dave Ross (Star Wars: The Crimson Empire Saga) and Mark McKenna (Star Wars: The Old Republic) and others. The four installments will be available digitally on Feb 19, March 5, March 19 and April 2, with a hardcover edition to follow on June 4.
Way and CCP's Torfi Frans Olafsson spoke to Kotaku about turning the espionage, galactic dogfights and political intrigues of actual EVE campaigns into a comic-book series.
Kotaku: This series is a big departure for you, Daniel, since most of your work's been for Marvel on books that have leaned hard on action. This is an extension of something from another medium for a different publisher. Have you had to use different muscles in making the transition?
Daniel Way: Hmm...well, I hope this doesn't disappoint anyone, but the story I've come up with is pretty heavy on action... But, to answer your question: no, not really. Story is story. Whether you're writing a comic book, a video game, a film or a novel the story is the guiding principle. Once the story's worked out, you then adjust your presentation of the story to best fit the intended medium. All stories are adaptations. My job is to produce a great comic book...which, in this case, isn't all that hard because the game and the campaigns upon which it's based are great.
Er...I take that back — there was some difficulty in the beginning, but that was because of the unique nature of what we're doing with this project. I mean, the story's based upon actual events that never "actually" happened, y'know? Potentially, that added layer of...whatever that is could've made disbelief much, much harder to suspend but, fortunately, we've figured it out. The trick was to focus upon the initiative and intent of the players behind the campaigns. What they did was real and did actually happen.
Kotaku: The EVE community is known for being insular and ornery. How'd you find your way in?
Way: I haven't! And that's not because I was in any way blocked from doing so but because I felt that it was important to come into this project without any pre-existing allegiances or prejudices. The expansive, unlimited aspects of EVE are a huge part of what's made it as popular as it is and that's something I didn't want to lose by focusing upon a narrow field of interest. And really, it wasn't necessary; the events that take place in this book are pretty astounding when seen from any angle.
Kotaku: What real-life player-driven events are being used in the comics?
Way: Though elements from some other campaigns have been incorporated, the "backbone" of the story is based upon the campaign commonly known as "Band of Brothers".
Kotaku: Chronologically speaking, where in the fiction does this series happen?
Olafsson: It happened in 2009, which is YC 111 in EVE time, so it's around the time of the Seyllin Disaster and the appearance of wormholes. However, it's written so that it could happen just about anywhere in the past 10 years from a lore perspective, since it doesn't refer that much to the NPC races and characters. This is a story about capsuleers and their conflict, which has remained pretty constant since the game was launched, I've been told.
Kotaku: What's the level of involvement from CCP's developers? Did you get a list of do's and don'ts from them? An EVE bible? Can a bible even exist when players shape so much of what the EVE universe feels like?
Way: I was given a bible, but it mainly detailed the parameters of the actual game — the mechanics, basically, as well as the in-game history. While that's all very valuable information, the story is much more informed by the accounts I read of most of the more well-known campaigns.
Kotaku: Given the combat-centric focus of Dust 514, it seems like it'd be a natural fit for a comics series set in the fictional universe. But EVE started it all. How are you planning on striking the balance between the different sensibilities of the two games? How much EVE-style diplomacy will we see in the series? How much mercenary action?
Olafsson: The story it's based on happened before the release of DUST 514, so its protagonists are starship pilots rather than mercenaries. That said, the story is quite action heavy, with spaceships, fists and weapons.
Kotaku: Was there anything about the culture of EVE players that provided a eureka moment in terms of conceptualizing the series?
Way: Quite a few, actually, but the first that comes to mind is when I realised that — because players actually buy into the game, with real-world currency — the thefts that occur in the game are...well, real! The other side of that coin, of course, is that when you really steal from someone, you really create an enemy. Taking that into consideration, it becomes a lot clearer as to why the EVE community has the reputation it has, doesn't it?
Folks going to the New York Comic-Con this week will have a chance to learn more about EVE: True Stories and its companion book EVE: Source at today's panel.