"There's no good reason why one of the greatest stories in the history of video gaming should be left untold," former Penny Arcade Report writer-turned-author Andrew Groen tells Polygon.
Over the past year, Groen has been working on a book that compiles the history of war in the Eve Online universe. The result is A History of the Great Empires of , which Groen is taking to Kickstarter in an attempt to meet a funding goal of $12,500 and see the book finished, printed and distributed.
"Eve is one of the first truly inhabited virtual worlds that mankind has ever created," says Groen. "I think that in the future as virtual worlds become more intricate and common, people may want to know what life was like in one of them years ago. Even if you're not personally interested in Eve Online, I think it's beyond debate that this is going to be fascinating history 50 or more years from now."
The space-faring massively multiplayer online game launched over 10 years ago from Icelandic games company CCP, and has since been the backdrop to large-scale and strategically planned wars between thousands of individual players across nearly 8,000 in-game star systems."Right now, if you want to learn about the history of Eve there's no way to do so unless you can talk directly with the people who were there in-person," Groen tells us. "To me that's just crazy. There's no good reason why one of the greatest stories in the history of video gaming should be left untold."
A History of the Great Empires of Eve Online includes 20 interviews with in-game politicians, dictators, fleet commanders, a former history lecturer with Eve University, infamous gamer The Mittani and various CCP developers, with plans to have over 100 interviews ready by the time the book is finished.
"Some of the best stories concern wars that last years," says Groen. "But I still love reading and writing about people like the mercenary assassin Istvaan Shogaatsu who spent eight months infiltrating a player corporation to pull off one of the biggest heists in Eve's history. Or the tale of the traitor Haargoth Agamar whose treachery arguably sparked the downfall of one of the most powerful old powers in the game in 2009, Band of Brothers. Which is a story so wonderfully epic that CCP recently made a fictionalized comic book based on it with Dark Horse.
"... What makes all of these individual stories even better is that they all have a place in the overarching story of Eve and have affected the future of the game in profound ways."
A History of the Great Empires of Eve Online will follow the history of the game from the day servers switched on to the formation of the first regional alliances and the modern era of power blocs of player coalitions. These are the stories which are at risk of becoming lost, says Groen, noting that most of the game's past has been relegated to forum discussions and obtuse wikis.
"The Eve wikis are often extremely hard to read because they're overrun with in-speak, jargon, and community inside jokes, but I kept reading and was finally able to put together a decently coherent - if simplistic - picture of an entire war that lasted for months, maybe years," he says. "And two things occurred to me. Firstly, that it's possible to understand the flow of Eve's history as a sequence of events that all affect what happens in the future. Secondly, that it's ridiculously hard to do so. What I eventually found out was that those hard-to-read wikis were actually the easiest stories to learn. Much of Eve's history has never been properly documented, and exists mostly through oral storytelling."
Groen's Kickstarter campaign offers both digital and soft cover versions of the book for $10 and $25, respectively. A History of the Great Empires of Eve Online is expected to launch in May 2015.
"I think it's important that we document this kind of thing for future generations," says Groen. "For me it feels like being a photographer in 1908 photographing the Model T production lines, or a sports reporter in the 1850s covering the first professional Baseball games. Which is to say, not only is this fascinating and new and unique right now, but I think it will get even better with age. And even if it doesn't, this is still a fascinating story about a strange and inconceivably elaborate game of conquest that tens of thousands of people played together in the first and second decades of the 21st century. That's worth documenting."