Non-stick Naming

This entry is written from an ‘out of character’ perspective.

Today’s entry is a musing on names or labels that CCP came up with for features that just didn’t stick.  From time to time CCP have introduced a new feature and invented a name for it that fits into the game world.  But sometimes those names just don’t gain traction and never quite make it into common usage.

‘Empyreans’ and the ‘Empyrean War’

Back when Factional Warfare was launched many moons ago, it came accompanied by a novel, the Empyrean Age, and a flurry of news articles telling the story of the outbreak of war between the empires.  In the book, the word ‘Empyrean’ suddenly sprang up to describe Capsuleers.

em·py·re·an

[em-puh-ree-uhn, -pahy-, em-pir-ee-uhn, -pahy-ree-]

noun

1. the highest heaven, supposed by the ancients to contain the pure element of fire.

2. the visible heavens; the firmament.

Funnily enough, it didn’t get picked up on by just about anybody.  Including the roleplayers who frequent the Intergalactic Summit section on the forums.  Its a very grand word with an unintuitive meaning, particularly when everyone had been happily getting by without it for years.

So why did CCP decide to suddenly start using it?  It took me awhile to realise the probable answer to that, but I think it was an attempt to avoid such clunkiness as this;

Over the following days, we will present a brief overview of the current state of affairs. It must be noted that the brevity of this reportage is due partly to how new these advances are – The Scope always strives to be first  – and partly because of the cloud of secrecy that overhangs them. There has been an intensification of high-level interest in the great factional wars, and it is believed, though not yet proven, that these scientific advances are due at least in part to the efforts of those political forces.

‘The great factional wars’ does not roll off the tongue and I doubt that anyone coming from a society at war would describe the conflict like that.  The ‘Empyrean War’ on the other hand kinda works.  If only the players had latched on to that bit, there would have been many more elegantly worded announcements made over the years since.

Starbase

If you talk about Starbases, in my experience alot of people will get confused and think that you are talking about Outposts or just plain null sec stations.  They may or may not draw a distinction here between player-built stations and NPC or conquerable stations.

Say ‘POS’, on the hand, and people know what you’re on about.  Starbase is the correct and originally intended name for that feature which was EVE’s first stab at player housing, null sec industry, then a sov system and then whatever else they bolted on to and around Control Towers later on before realising that they were digging their own grave.  I look forward to the complete overhaul BTW. 😉

‘POS’ as you probably know stands for ‘Player Owned Structure’, or if you want something about more lore-bound, ‘Pilot Owned Structure’.  The acronym first appeared (as far as I’m aware) in the dev blog that CCP published announcing the original feature back in the days of space dinosaurs.  And it stuck.  When they did start using the term ‘Starbase’ it was too late as the community had fixated on calling them POS.  Possibly because it can also be used as ‘Piece of S……’ Roll on the overhaul.  😉

Assault Ship

AF’s to most, not Assault Ship.  Its a frigate and that’s what we call it!  Likewise, HAC’s or AHACS.  They’re cruisers to us, not Heavy Ships.  The formal names don’t fit the roles so the players changed them.

Anoikis

I wonder how many people have even heard this word before?  What could it be you ask?  Well, you know how since the Apocrypha expansion you get wormholes opening randomly between systems?  And you know how sometimes those wormholes lead into systems that have no gates?

Yes, I’m talking about W-Space.  Wormhole Space.  Or as the EVE fiction occasionally names it; Anoikis.  That one really didn’t stick.

A theory on why these terms failed

In short; presentation and timing.  In all three cases CCP presented these features to the players using out of character names and descriptions for the game mechanic.  They didn’t start using thematic titles until late in development or even after release, by which time the players had been discussing the new features for weeks or more.  Starbases are a good example of this, by introducing the feature as ‘POS’ the name stuck and they reinforced the spreadsheets in space tag that EVE gets lumbered with, instead of something more immersive and inviting.

An example of good feature-branding? Incursions.  An evocative name that works both with EVE’s setting and in discussions of game mechanics.   More of that in future please.

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