With Marvel’s Cinematic Universe conquering the box office, with both Marvel and DC greenlighting tons of new series on both traditional networks and Netflix, and with Star Wars set to resurge in a big way under its new Disney masters, Hollywood is positively gaga over the notion of shared, cross-media universes. Terminator is getting in on the action, it’s just a matter of time till they launch one or more new Trek TV series, but one dark horse contender is a show based on the multiplayer sci-fi game EVE Online, which is setting its aim high, looking for Game of Thrones-style success.
Word first broke that an EVE Online TV series was in the works last April, with Icelandic director Baltasar Kormákur (2 Guns) at the helm. Game of Thrones was name-checked at the time as being exemplary of the scope and ambition they had in mind, as well as HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. Those are both pretty ballsy comparisons for a show based on a property that doesn’t have much mainstream name recognition. CCP Games CEO Hilmar Veigar Petursson is sticking to those (ray) guns in a recent feature in Variety. The company is meeting with TV networks about the project, but Petursson says, “We would rather do it well than in a hurry.” A sound policy, I should think.
While EVE Online might not ring any bells if you’re a not a gamer, it’s a well-established brand with a die-hard base, totally nearly a million players between the core EVE game and Dust 514, a linked first-person shooter. Contrary to many MMOs, EVE’s narrative arises primarily from the interactions and choices of the players, rather than predetermined storylines. Characters operate customisable starships throughout a massive and ever-growing universe, but most of the drama comes from the gameplay itself: alliances are formed, partnerships are betrayed, and massive space battles do thousands of dollars’ worth of in-game damage and change the shape of the universe in one long afternoon. It’s addictive, compelling stuff for a particular breed of devoted gamer, and the EVE TV series plans to use that as a strength, culling from actual in-game events to help shape the stories of the show.
At the DICE Summit a few weeks back, Petursson said they were “in the process of capturing the stories.” He continued:
This is a property that has been created by hundreds of thousands of people around the world. People understand the power of that. It is the biggest story ever written in a way. If we create a story out of that, we’ve created something very powerful. In the future, [EVE players] will be able to think, ‘If I do an awesome job it will be in the TV series.’
The whole notion of mining the game events for TV storylines is already undergoing a sort of beta test in comic book form. Dark Horse’s EVE: True Stories adapts events from within the game, as submitted by players who participated in them. The first volume, entitled Thieves Among Us, was released only last week. You can purchase it via Dark Horse’s online store.
So while the show’s stories would have to be culled from in-game events or created by the writing staff, EVE has already done the heavy lifting when it comes to giving the show a massively detailed universe as a launching point. “Often with computer games, we have been so preoccupied on the technology and the game design,” Petursson said. “The narrative and world-building wasn’t a big focus. But that was a big focus for us.”