October 31, 2009

EVE goes Exoplanetary

EVE Online, one of my favorite Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG) has just made an important update. They added more details to the exoplanets in their universe.

The last time I've played EVE was almost 4 years ago during the months when I was unemployed. It was one of the virtual worlds I explored, attempting to earn income and hoping it would support my expenses in the real world. Of course, you can't make real money with EVE but it was an awesome experience just simply playing the coolest game ever. I miss my garage setup which I considered as my cockpit. I explored interstellar space through several monitors which I imagined as windows to another universe, a metaverse so to speak.

In EVE there are jump-gates that your ship needs to go through in order to reach a target destination via a series of warp jumps. These gates are somewhat bigger than those in Stargate Universe. Often, these jump-gates are near Extrasolar Systems, and the view is splendid. But then, I was virtually confined to my cockpit. The best I could do was to admire the view of planets and suns from afar because I cannot land on any planet and walk on it's surface. To that effect, I was simultaneously running several instances of Second Life and Entropia Universe on several other CPU/monitors--to give me the feel of being on the surface of another planet.

Today, Eve players still cannot land on any extrasolar planet "in-world". And with the recent upgrade concerning the details of the planets, I can only wonder how much Science they put into the Dominion update. Did they incorporate parameters for gas giants, super-earths, waterworlds or earth-like planets? Did they include exomoons? How did they incorporate the planetary details in the gameplay? Can the players mine the planets? How do the planets fit in the new storyline? These questions only draws me closer to sign up and set up my rig once again to find out.

As I reflect on my virtual-immersion days I realize that my past experience with virtual worlds was a valuable part of my journey to fully appreciate our natural world--our real universe. And though in the back of my mind the Ontological question remains whether any universe--virtual or otherwise--is real or not, the adventure to learn more about the wonders of our Cosmos remains steadfast.

Because exoplanets remain unseen, they provide ample ground for the mind to play between the real and the imaginary, or the wonderful and the mysterious. Exoplanets are a natural bridge between Science and the Arts.

Eve online's potential as a great teaching tool for Science is enormous. It's also a good source of inspiration for space travel, specially for this generation trapped in an age where human space exploration is not yet a reality.

But in my mind's eye, I can see that day when the first Exoplaneteer will brave the Cosmos, the first Exonaut who will visit Worlds I've never seen or imagined.

EVE's planetary graphics kicked up yet another notch for Dominion expansion
Eve's New Look at it's Planets
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