So, after the death of Empress Jamyl Sarum, the Amarr finally have a new empress, Catiz Tash-Murkon. Glory be, God’s will be done, etc. etc. Roleplayers are going all googly-eyed over the change in the guard, and all that. Good for you guys!
I’m sure that’s probably your reaction. After all, the Empress of Amarr has little to no consequence on your gameplay. That Tash-Murkon and not Kor-Azor won doesn’t change the price of PLEX in Jita. So anyone can be forgiven for caring little about the avatar who keeps the throne warm. One NPC is like any other.
But let’s consider, for a moment, how truly special it is about how we got there.
This was not a scripted result – unlike the fall of the titan over Caldari Prime – and CCP truly left the results in the players’ hands. The Succession Trials were decided by teams of four players fighting it out in an Amarr-only tournament, and the result wasn’t known until Kelon Darklight, gentleman and now Holder of the Amarr Empire, emerged victorious a few hours ago.
Sure, I suspect CCP spent the past few months – between the narrowing of the six heirs down to just two – crafting two distinct possible lore storylines for the foreseeable future, and I’m certain they have an idea where the pre-scripted story will go from here. I even best the macro results are likely to all even out in the wash regardless of whichever heir won. It’s not like the Amarr are suddenly going to declare peace with the Minmatar, what with faction warfare mechanics being as they are.
But let’s not discount the fact that, in the end, the result was entirely decided by players. CCP entrusted the future of the lore of its single profitable game to players.
Let that sink in for a moment.
Now, I ask you… would another game with so much riding on the success of its game do that? I’m not so sure.
The cynical among us might remark that CCP created a game that posits the belief that player actions matter and can affect the gameworld. Could they do anything but allow players to decide the succession? Wouldn’t any other alternative be contrary to the nature of the game?
Perhaps. But at the same time, it’d have been quite easy to script this succession and move the story in a set direction. After all, the past couple months have seen the colossal collapse of the CFC as the result of an in-game gambling service operator funding a war to bring together pretty much everyone who can mount a contributing force to oust an empire deemed unassailable only six months before. I think players have been doing plenty to bear witness to the “your actions matter” narrative.
Maybe the timing didn’t work out – World War Bee started after the preliminaries – but I still deem it worth noting that CCP practiced what it preached, giving players the opportunity to influence not only null-sec politics, but also the lore itself.