Eve Online has shards

The single most vaunted feature of Eve Online, along with the focus on sandbox gameplay, has to be its single shard universe. All players are able to interact with each other in the context of the game. The single shard leverages the full potential of the community.

This is a marketing lie. Another shard of Eve Online has existed for years in China. My understanding is that this quasi-clone of the original version was created to comply with Chinese rules. Some of these rules are about the nature of content, e.g., the possibility to destroy a capsule ("podding") has been removed. Other rules are about capital ownership. CCP just announced a new partnership with TianCity to publish Eve Online in China. I thought this press release would be a good occasion to reflect about the Chinese shard.

Right now, the Chinese players explore a world that is but a copy of the one explored by the global players. They cannot interact with other players. In my opinion, being exclusive in such a way betrays the ethos of Eve Online. This is obviously a business compromise, but the role of content creators is to accommodate business and technical impediments.

What would have made sense, if the law compels CCP to prevent Chinese customers to interact with non-Chinese, would have been having the Chinese customers play in a different part of the game universe. Trouble is, this will not happen. The background is intricately burrowed into the game system as in, a massive quantity of game objects are not background-neutral. Ships are obviously the result of the industry of specific civilizations. The same for Captain's Quarters, faces, plenty of skills, etc. A whole new series of stars and planets would have to be generated and named. The expansions have been built around a peculiar narrative, etc.

But still, it bugs me. I need to rationalize this other shard because, in the back of my mind, I still hope that at some point a grand unification of the Eve universe will happen.

Then again, maybe an entirely different set of human empires is located on the other side of the Jovian empire. The Joves are not talking, but have been feeding these empires with technology originating from Dodixie and Amarr. Or it could be a case of the parallel universes.

In the future, I hope this situation gets solved. Perhaps TianCity will go beyond publishing a clone. To keep with the spirit of Eve Online, they ought to make sure that their customers can explore a world that is truly theirs and not a carbon copy of the first one, minus some stuff that the Chinese government dislikes. This way, the fantasy that there is only one instance of the Eve cluster will be maintained.

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