Licensed comics are hardly a new concept — especially when it comes to series based on video games. But while many of the most popular games have received the comic book treatment, but it’s rare that the comic is based on the actual actions of players. That’s the concept behind Dark Horse Comics’ “EVE: True Stories” graphic novel by Daniel Way and artist Tomm Cokker: a nigh-historical retelling of the many true stories driven by players in the popular MMO “EVE Online.” The full graphic novel hits stores June 11, but the first digital chapter is currently available for free via Dark Horse Digital.
“EVE Online” is unique in that it’s nigh-completely player-driven. Players pilot customizable starships through over 7,500 star systems, form their own alliances, go to intergalactic war with one another over territory and resources. (To give an idea of scope, the in-game currency actually has a real-world conversion rate. One of the largest battles in the game’s history saw the loss of between $200,000 and $300,000 worth of resources — and that’s in real dollars!) The “EVE: True Stories” OGN deals specifically with one of the biggest espionage stories in the game’s history: the disbanding of one of the largest alliances in the game’s history, Band of Brothers, after a defecting director stripped them of nearly all assets, including ships, money and territory.
To get a better handle on what went into researching and adapting such a unique story, CBR News spoke with Way about the intricacies of the MMO, the draw of playing historian to the very real events in a fictional universe and what else he has coming down the pipeline.
Daniel, “EVE: True Stories” is based on just that — one of the many true stories of escapades players take on in the long-running “EVE Online” online game. How familiar were you with the events and actions players undergo in the game before nabbing this assignment?
Daniel Way: I have a lot of friends in the video game business and I’d heard of “EVE Online” through them, but it wasn’t until Dark Horse approached me with the gig that I really dug into it. Right away, I realized that this is a game played at a much higher level than most — it’s not [“Call of Duty”], where you just jump in and blast away. Well, you can — but you’ll very quickly end up floating in space with your pockets turned out, watching someone else fly off with all your shit.
This seems like a wholly unique writing opportunity — an adaptation of an MMO player-driven event hasn’t really ever been done before. How exactly did you approach the project from a creative standpoint? Why did it appeal to you?
The appeal was instant — it’s an epic heist, plotted and executed to perfection and it actually happened. Keep in mind that, when these events occurred, there was no precedent in the “EVE” universe for something of this scale — it’d never been done before, but only because no one had ever had the balls to try. So, creatively, my approach was to focus on not how but why someone could both rob a galaxy and get away with it.
The graphic novel specifically covers the disbanding of the Band of Brothers alliance, which was dissolved after a particularly well-planned bit of player espionage. What appealed to you about chronicling the story in a graphic novel format?
If you’re familiar with “EVE,” you’ll know that, when playing, you have a fairly limited field of view — basically, you can see what’s visible outside of your ship. Now, I’m not saying that you won’t see some incredible stuff out there (and I sure as hell didn’t skimp on the space battle scenes with this adaptation) but what you’ll see in this series is the entirety of the story; what happened in the bars, the board rooms, the hangars — everything that led to the dismantling of an empire in the blink of an eye.
“EVE: True Stories” is certainly a different kind of licensed comic. Even with efforts like “World of Warcraft” or “Halo,” it’s rare that adaptations are based solely on player actions. What about “EVE Online” do you think makes it unique for this type of adaptation?
“EVE Online,” itself, is an adaptation of player actions (and interactions). That being said, it’s kind of a natural fit, right?
In terms of research for the book, how did you go about figuring out where to start? Were you able to speak with any of the users involved? In many ways, it seems like this is more akin to a historical dramatic retelling than a work of fiction.
Your description is accurate. I haven’t spoken to the players involved (though portions of the adaptation were run by them by the folks at CCP) because, simply put, I didn’t want to be too influenced by one camp or another. Keep in mind that very, very few people actually “saw” what happened — and no one but the conspirators knew what was happening until after the fact. There’s never been an “official account” of the events, and the passing of time hasn’t done much to bring it all into focus. Even now, years after it happened, there are plenty of players out there with hard feelings over what happened.
You’ve had some experience writing video games, specifically the “Deadpool” game that released last year. What was it like for you to experience another side of that industry while writing “EVE: True Stories?”
Well, this was nothing like writing a game and it was a lot different than I thought it would be. Licensed books are hard!
At their core, modern games are designed to be storytelling devices. Do you think the ability for games to tell stories becomes more powerful when put completely into the hands of its users?
I think that it opens up the possibility, but it really comes down to what the players do with that power. In this case (and in many others — we had a hard time deciding upon which campaign to use), they did something incredible.
You mentioned in your final CBR column that you have some creator-owned books in the works — is there anything you can tease about them?
I can say that this won’t be the only Dark Horse book that you’ll be seeing with my name on it but, unfortunately, that’s about it. I have several projects in the works; some have found homes with various publishers, some are destined for other media — ugh, that sounds so lame. Fuck it, here’s a teaser image:
“EVE: True Stories” hits stores June 11. The first chapter is available for free from Dark Horse Digital.