Giant Eve Expansion For Summer ’09

By Jim Rossignol on November 8th, 2008 at 4:17 pm.


Eurogamer were at the fanfest in Iceland (I couldn’t make it due to Left 4 Dead), and they have the lowdown:

Senior producer Torfi Frans Olafsson said the update would be “the biggest expansion in EVE as of today”, with a larger team working on it than the game has seen in its lifespan.

The focus of the expansion will be “true exploration”, with players using new skills and modules to travel through wormholes into all-new, unconnected space. There they will find unique stellar phenomena and the resources and artefacts that will lead to the third level of technology in the game universe, Tech 3 – the first such update since Tech 2 was introduced back in 2004.

Tech 3 will apparently usher in a new age of new “modular” ships, allowing players greater freedom in how they fit out their craft. “Build your own ships like Lego”, seems to be the promise. There’s also rumour of a second graphics overhaul around the same time. And next week’s expansion includes a far-reaching speed nerf. All change for the space war.

There’s bunch more stuff coming out of the Fanfest too, like the Walking In Stations project, which is set to introduce human avatars and player-owned businesses. TenTonHammer has the video. It’s an interest angle (and still undated) but one that seems like a sideshow to me. The real business will remain in space.

The news of the wormhole exploration stuff strikes me as another major step in the direction of solo or co-op play within the Eve universe, which I suspect is commercially driven. All those people who want to get involved in the PvP side of the game are already involved, and this seems to appeal to people who just want some private space adventure. That’s a shame in some ways, because I’d like for Eve to keep its “single universe” ethos. The deadspace mission sites we have at the moment seem like instances enough for Eve’s way of playing – something beyond even that does seem to break down the original philosophy of the game. Or perhaps I am simply showing my bias as someone who plays the game as if it were a shoot ‘em up these days.

Anyway, the Tech 3 concepts sounds like a balancing nightmare. I’m sceptical of it, not least because Eve always finds a way to be rather broken. The more options players have, the more exploitative they tend to be. That speed nerf we’re expecting has come about after nearly two years of a game in which inertia and velocity have been the most important factor in most engagements, and I find somewhat surprising that the fix has taken so long, and that it has been so harsh. A few lower-level tweaks might have reined in the worst of the excesses, rather than pushing us into another manner of playing entirely. The critics are right in arguing that CCP need to pay close attention to how their game is played: having left the speed systems unchecked for so long, they have allowed players to refine their methods to an astonishing degree. The nerf seems like too much, too late, especially when the PvP hordes have adapted to that particular way of playing, and got good at it. We developed our own counters for speeding enemies, and now that will all have to change.

In fact I’d rather the expansion for Eve were burning more detail into the universe (stuff on the surface of planets, more things we can do with player-made structures), rather than giving us even more options for spacecraft fiddling. It sounds like this new expansion will do some of that, but I wonder whether it’ll prove to be the right approach. This is a game that I love for its complexity, but I feel like it has proven to us that more options does not necessarily mean more depth – especially when a single factor, or a couple of techniques, always come to dominate the way we fly.

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31 Comments »

  1. fulis says:

    I hope the gulf between T3 and T2 is smaller than T1 and T2

  2. Noc says:

    “Ooh,” accurately describes my thoughts on this matter.

    Also, “I couldn’t make it because of zombies” is a damn good excuse.

  3. Morte says:

    T3 is a worry for a newish player looking to move out of their cradle corp. You already see most corps in 0.0 saying something like “you need to be able to fly a T2 ship with a T2 tank, and be self-funding, to join us”. Throw in support skills, moneymaking skills etc and it can easily be six months before a new player gets into the definitive sandbox side of the game. If T3 ups the ante for skill points or Isk in the corp recruitment meat market, ouch….

  4. Kelduum Revaan says:

    Remember, you don’t have to go straight from NPC corps to 0.0 alliances, and in most cases, the T2 requirements are there to ensure that people have the experience to fly the ships well.

    I would expect the hop to T3 to be about the same as T1 to T2, and probably more.

    The idea seems to be the ability for the players to make very specialised ships for whatever they want, but requiring what sounds like something like finding long-lost terran artefacts, which CCP should be able to tweak the availability of.

    Want a ship with an extra high slot for another gun? Fine, but then it will have less armour/shield/speed, something.

    Its certainly going to be a massive balancing problem though.

  5. kedaha says:

    Imho, they should be enriching the universe rather than expanding it. Make systems more individual, seem bigger and more unique. I still remember retail and how amazed I was everytime I entered a new system and say a new stellar phenomenon, how I would explore each system thoroughly.

    Hell, how a system would feel like home in the game.

    Meh.

    Tech 3 will be a disaster. Like Tech 2. Does anyone even like Tech 2, aside from being an “OMG look how powerful and uber I am” tool early on?
    I know why they did T2(easy way for both new content and new skills), but do they really need a T3 now?

  6. TooNu says:

    t3 is going to be the Burning crusade of EvE. When t2 came out it set a gear check, the option to still use meta 4 modules was always there regardless of skill level. IE once you trained up high enough (lvl3-4) you could use the best t1 module. If you wanted better, you could train up to use T2.
    with T3 that removes the thought of having to use meta 4 modules because even using T2 you are going to be so far behind it will be crazy. I guess though, just like when T2 came out, it was a few months before everything kinda balanced out and by then…I won’t be playing so I won’t give 2 sh*ts

  7. Tom says:

    EVE’s always walked a fine line.
    I think it’s getting to a point where CCP could potentially mess it all up really badly.

  8. zer says:

    EVE is just a massive time waster. Probably the biggest grindfest ever made from what i’ve read. The major reason i never touched it, even though exploring space would interest me tons (i dont feel like working to do it). It would be like being forced to do 1,000 jumping jacks, then 50 pages of long division before you can watch an episode of star trek or stargate or star wars etc…

  9. Pags says:

    @zer: I’d recommend actually playing the game before declaring the game to be a massive time waster. Granted I didn’t like it either, but at least I played it before making up my mind. And with a free 14 day trial available, you’d be mad not to give it a go once.

  10. Jim Rossignol says:

    Probably the biggest grindfest ever made from what i’ve read

    I’d not like to come into the game from scratch again, but joining a decent player corporation pretty much does away with the worst “grind” aspect of the game. I’ve not had to do anything vaguely grindy in years, I just PvP.

  11. kedaha says:

    Zer, while I think eve is grindy – I think that from having played off and on since beta. Calling it grindy without having played it helps no-one.

  12. Larington says:

    “Build your own ships like Lego”, seems to be the promise.
    —–
    Awww, there goes one of the ideas I was thinking of working on if/when(hopefully when) I graduate from the degree and worm my way into the industry enough to try talking someone to giving me some form of design role…

    Yeah, I know, pipe dreams.

  13. Theory says:

    This seems an appropriate time to ask whether anyone knows what StacklessIO actually is?

  14. Larington says:

    Laymans guess, a common method of queuing up data in software programs involves the usage of stacks http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stack_(data_structure) and the IO bit refers to input/output (Say, typing on a keyboard is input and monitor display is output… Usually)…

    In this context, my guess would be that input you key on your client (The software you use to play EVE) gets stacked/queued at the other end (the server) and processed in whatever order is appropriate… What they are trying to do is do away with the inefficiencies of operating a stack across an internet connection.

    Again, I feel I should re-iterate that this is a guess.

    In other news, I’m quickly getting tired of fireworks being set off at random that are clearly too loud to be purchased by someone not operating a professional event.

  15. Alexander says:

    Larington, your last sentence made no sensetense except for me thinking you might reside in the Netherlands where there are always many o plenty of underage autodidact explosives engineers running around way before the new year starts. Either that, or it happens everywhere.. or I am way off.

  16. SlappyBag says:

    I agree, I love the idea of walk in stations if there is enough to effect the space world – but i dont think there will be, all this adding puts me off Eve instead of making me want to play.

    When I play each system just seems the same and I’d love it if they added more to the systems to make them more homely as people said.

  17. Larington says:

    Netherlands? No this was in Cardiff/Wales/UK, basically theres different grades of fireworks, the smaller ones for gardens (Of houses) large or small… And the ones which are supposed to be only bought by the kind of people who run professional pay for entry displays.

    http://www.fireworksafety.co.uk/

    Unfortunately, preventing the professional only fireworks from getting into non-professional hands is about is difficult as stopping little jonny from playing an 18 rated game (Where he goes to a friends house to play it or downloads it or whatever). So being in any large city around fireworks night is bound to feature lots of banging (Not that kind, sadly) for days before and after the official fireworks night.

  18. Morte says:

    @Jim Rossignol: “I’d not like to come into the game from scratch again, but joining a decent player corporation pretty much does away with the worst “grind” aspect of the game. I’ve not had to do anything vaguely grindy in years, I just PvP.”

    I’m with you on the “come in from scratch”. A couple of points to think about:

    1) Joining a decent player run corporation is what EVE is all about, and it’s clearly the route to happiness in game, but not many of them will let you in until you’ve done 3-12 months of skill and Isk building.

    2) I may be confusing you with another RPS writer, but didn’t you say you bought your Isk via game timecode cards? EVE is a game where you don’t grind skills but you do grind Isk, but you may have avoided the latter by spending real money.

    I can imagine a time when you have that T2 ship and level 5 skills, chain ratting battleships in your cruiser in 0.0, making lots of money in very little time. Or you could have an established trader/production/mining/whatever setup. But you don’t see any of this until you’ve been in the game for quite a while; before that it’s a slog.

    Most MMOs seem to divide into a levelling phase and then endgame content. EVE is all about it’s brilliant endgame content (the player driven stuff), and it’s levelling phase is quite poor and IMHO not worth anybody’s subscription, yet the levelling phase is very drawn out. I think it would be a better game without levelling, with success depending on your decisions in game rather than your age in game.

    A skill-swapping system like Guild Wars might be a good idea for EVE. EVE depends on getting synergistic groups of specialists online at the same time, which is a pain in the arse with real humans players. “OK, we’ve been forming this fleet for 20 minutes and we still need a scout. Anybody in a damage dealer feel like swapping skills and jumping in a cloaker?” Heck, skill swapping could actually make sense (unlike GW) if you built a sci-fi game with skills as implants.

  19. arqueturus says:

    You’re simply showing your bias Jim :)

    I always have this mental image of Eve’s evolution being random and chaotic, expanding in all directions at once, sometimes hitting dead ends, othertimes just withering and stopping in that particular direction whilst completely new expansion begins in a different direction.

    What I’m trying to say is that I wish CCP would bloody finsh what they start before moving on to the next thing.

    That said, exploration has needed a serious boost for the longest time and I mean exploration literally not the process as it is at the minute. At the moment you explore for ISK but it would be nice to explore to just see what’s there.

  20. phuzz says:

    I tried, Eve, and the main thing that put me off (the near vertical learning curve is just a challenge) was that to get very far you need to team up with other people in a corp. Now I hate people so this isn’t for me, but the idea of a place for single pilots makes me happy.
    Eve is a wonderful place to be, even when it’s not…

  21. np says:

    Woot new shiny things to play with.

    I do think it will be a long time before players like me get their mucky hands on them, due to rarity, hyperinflation (over pricing) and skill requirements.

    Change is always good in my opinion.

  22. windlab says:

    @Alexander
    If you live in a British city, you’ll be recovering from a devastating artillery strike as November the fifth is Guy Fawkes night, when we celebrate the burning of a catholic arsonist with bonfires and fireworks.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guy_Fawke%27s_Night

    Trust me, it’s difficult to play an online FPS with blasts going off outside your window.

  23. mandrill says:

    To all the naysayers who belittle what tech 3 means I say this:
    You did not hear the crowd when Torfi started showing off the modularity of T3 ships. First there were gasps, then a huge eruption of applause and cheering. I don’t think they saw it as a bad thing.

  24. Cryect says:

    The news of the wormhole exploration stuff strikes me as another major step in the direction of solo or co-op play within the Eve universe, which I suspect is commercially driven.

    Wormholes aren’t instanced so it should be end up being for more than solo/coop.

    No, Wormholes and the systems they lead to are not instances.
    http://myeve.eve-online.com/ingameboard.asp?a=topic&threadID=919090&page=1#21

  25. gorgonzola blue says:

    So many misconceptions here about EVE, I have to say something about that.

    - there is no “endgame” in EVE. You can join a number of 0.0 alliances right away through their executor corps. Even a low-skilled newb is a good addition flying a tackling frigate for them.

    - you don’t need to grind money through mindless ‘missions’. Many many corps are stinking rich, in the realm of trillions of ISK with daily incomes of billions. They give you free battleships with rigs installed, for exchange against your loyalty. Hell I even know a corp that will take noobs right after the trial and they get access to any kind of ship for free.

    - I’m myself one of the many EVE billionaires who make ISK through small time trading. There’s a lot of ISK in the game and it’s easy to divert some into your pocket. Thats right, it’s a bit more involved than AFK mining asteroids but manipulating the market is a great game in itself and has always been part of the space opera games. I don’t think anyone has done this part better than EVE.

  26. Cabbs says:

    Many people seem to be assuming that T3 will be just-like-T2-but-better. T2 has a few mechanics that t1 stuff does not have (ie t2 ammo), so T3 will be suitably different.

    I have no links, but im pretty sure that numerous discussions on a theoretical new tech level put it as having some heavily specialised features. Not just the next set of gear.

    Repeat all of the above for the ship customisation bit.

  27. kedaha says:

    Uh mandrill, the people who go to fanfest will be the hardest of the hardcore. Obviously they’ll cheer at T3 with their 100mil SP characters and wallets with 20billion isl.

  28. Theo says:

    its the least grindy game ever tbh, unless you fark over your sec status and have to fix it ;)

    or need a jumpclone at a npc station ;)

    dam that sec grind , having access to delve to do it in helps like… (or any good 0,0 reagon).

  29. ry says:

    Jim’s lack of grinding has more to do with his refusal to do any mining than anything else!

    Keeping the players entertained with new toys is necessary from a commercial point of view, but has the unfortunate side effect of making the game less accessible.

    Although the introduction of t3 sounds good, unless they are very careful about the capabilities of all the new kit, it just represents artificially extending the game as surely as raising the level cap from 60 to 7,000,000 or whatever the heck blizzard have implemented now.

    certainly a t1 ship can be very effective, but all thing sbeing equal a t2 ship will stomp it every time. what hope does a t1 cruiser pilot have against a tech three ship?

    telling people to blob up to beat the t3 jockeys doesn’t work because the large power blocs are the ones rich enough to outfit their entire fleet with the latest spacebling, and your 100 man fleet is still going to suffer at the hands of a battle-hardened fleet with superior equipment half your size.

  30. Lexx says:

    From what I’ve heard/read, T3 isn’t going to be better than T2 in terms of stats, but it will be specialized (eg more resistant to overheating). It won’t automatically obsolete T2 in the way that T2 did with T1.
    Personally, I can’t wait for it! :)

  31. Shipmonkey says:

    I think that ideally, while T3 ships will be able to be focused to some great degree, I believe CCP is finally throwing a bone to us Generalists who like to push a ship to do many things you might need it to do out in the wilds. I do exploration work, and having the option to tweak a deepspace extended deployment explo ship into being is tantilizing indeed.