Vacuum? Packed: Incoming EVE Updates

Alternative headline: 'Free Shipping'

Since Eve Online launched in 2003, developer CCP’s relentless updating and expanding of their most hardcore of MMORPGs has grown the thing to an arguably incomparable size. Last week saw almost one thousand dedicated Eve Online players – and myself – gathering in Reykjavik for the Eve Fanfest ’11, and of course CCP had a few words to say about what was coming next. Because I am a lovely, I have summarised it all for your pleasure below. Alec’s already linked the fantastical “Future Vision” of Eve video– this is stuff that’s coming down the pipe in the near future.

  • The first part of the “Incarna” update, aka the update which will give Eve characters bodies and let them walk around in stations and hang out in bars (first shown by CCP way back in 2006), is landing this summer. It’ll be restricted to a Captain’s Quarters from which you can look out of a balcony at your ship, browse news and notifications, change your clothes and hear offers from corporations looking to hire folks. The infinitely more exciting part, where corporations will be able to buy bars, decorate them, hire NPCs for them and even gamble is coming later in the year. No word on human-to-human combat just yet, but it definitely looks like something CCP are excited about.
  • The ship turrets in the game are getting a visual upgrade. CCP say that first they’ll roll this out, then worry about giving a similar treatment to muzzle flashes in the near future. You would probably not believe the screaming the following video got from the crowd. It was like a polar bear had been released into the audience.
  • On a more sedate note, the game’s nebulae are being updated, and once again CCP had a video to show them off. One cute thing is that the high security (i.e., more PVP-free) areas of the world will have warmer, fluffier nebulae, and they’ll gradually get darker and more Mordor-like as you proceed into lower and lower security areas.
  • The game’s user interface will, at some point, be receiving a massive overhaul. In what was undoubtedly the best line of the Fanfest, game designer designer Kristoffer Touborg referred to the current UI with “It’s like, hey, welcome to Eve Online, here’s a Rubik’s Cube, go fuck yourself.” A small visual target for the new interface was shown, and looked to replace the game’s existing rack of buttons and lists with curved tooltips that put any information at your fingertips.
  • Agent quality will be removed, to stop people clustering around the Agents that give the best missions. Instead, Agents will soon be divided strictly by the type of missions they give. If you want courier work, you’ll always get courier work. If you want to blow pirates up, you’ll be doing that. Every time.
  • You will be able to swap out sub-systems in wormholes.
  • The contraband system is receiving some TLC. First of all, desirable yet illegal items and ship modules are being introduced. Secondly, of all the power of law enforcement is being handed over to players. Anybody will be able to scan ships and, if they discover illegal goods, mark that ship so that it becomes a fair kill for any other player in the universe. Thirdly, plenty of illegal items will have to be traded face-to-face, in stations.
  • Negative effects from boosters will be removed. Like contraband, certain boosters will only be available in bars.
  • A new font! One that lets you tell the difference between Os and 0s, and ls and 1s. Luxury.
  • CCP are working closely with IBM to implement a new server this summer, one built using components so cutting edge that the companies involved haven’t officially announced them yet. On the subject of the Eve server that caught fire back in December, the IBM representative happily chimed “It’s a race. We keep trying to build new servers while CCP try to burn them.”

That’s your lot. Nothing about Dust 514 just yet, but I suspect that’ll be a “done when it’s done” kind of thing and you lot should stop thinking about it.

Anything else? Well, one thing stands out. On the subject of Incarna and players receiving avatars, Creative Director Torfi Frans Olafsson mentioned his personal vision of what it might bring to Eve in the future. He walked the audience through the possibility of not just going through a Wormhole and doing battle with the NPCs on the other side, but then flying to their base and going inside it with an attack team to see what they could see. He said he might find some camping bastard players in there, and kill them when they tried to ambush him- only for their friends to come along and blow up his ship, leaving him with no way home.

“Except,” he said, pointing two fingers up under his jaw, “through the barrel of my gun. THAT IS EVE!”

Throughout the week I’ll be posting my extended report of the Fanfest, and why it was such a fearsomely strange place to spend three days. First though, I must go poking through some 6 hours of interviews, half of them drunk. Hmm.

51 Comments

  1. frenz0rz says:

    “It’s like, hey, welcome to Eve Online, here’s a Rubik’s Cube, go fuck yourself.”

    Oh boy. As someone looking to start playing EVE within the next month or two, I’ve got to ask – is it really that bad?

    • Quintin Smith says:

      It’s actually not the interface that’s so bad so much as the scale of information you’ll want to learn.

      But hey! One of the people I interviewed while I was out there was the CEO of non-profit corporation Eve University, who are dedicated to simply teaching people to play the game and getting them off and having fun as soon as possible. Check it out:

      link to eveuniversity.org

    • Tyshalle says:

      It’s not. The learning curve for all the nuances involved with playing the game is rather high, but you can grasp the basics pretty quickly, and learn the nuances as you go along.

    • Lacero says:

      If you’re already familiar with excel it’s really easy to pick up ;)

    • darthmajor says:

      Indeed, as Tyshalle says the tutorials are very informative on the basics, but it takes some perseverance to go through them. The wonderful thing is the depth of it, the many levels of mechanics and tactics that you keep learning while you play…I’m 2 years into eve and just now starting to learn about the capital level of things.

      Worth to point out that EVE doesn’t force you to grind for anything, so it actually requires less time dedicated than normal MMOs, Your character keeps training and progressing when you are busy and can’t log on for a few days/weeks. I can only play 1-2 days every two weeks while at uni, but i cherish that time, and skills are going pretty well like this :)

    • monkehhh says:

      Find some folks who don’t mind you asking questions and you’ll be set, get in a decent corp and have fun. Don’t start mining!

      (Cross-post from t’other thread – In-game channels for keen folks – ‘RPS Community’, ‘eurogamer.net’ and ‘PCG Community’.)

    • MCM says:

      Well, part of the problem is that the interface is sort of modeled on your typical MMO interface: your’re in the middle, you can move your camera around, the camera typically follows you (you can have it follow other stuff, though.)
      The problem is that 98% of the visuals are totally irrelevant to anything. You don’t directly control your ship like you would control a character in a normal MMO or RPG; you typically only control it relative to other stuff (other ships, space stations, waypoints, et cetera.)
      In fact, a large factor of skill in the game comes from how well you fight the UI and control system: making bookmarks that you can warp to easily, making safespots that out of the way of normal transit, making good observation spots off of gates and stations, stuff like that. Stuff that is completely foreign to any normal game where you can control your character/ship whatever.
      EVE has improved a lot but it’s still, and seems as though it always will be, hamstrung by a few fundamental design choices that drive away a huge percentage of the people who try it. You can call this “the UI” for shorthand, and I guess that’s not entirely inaccurate. Look at this way: In WoW, how do you move forwards? Press W. In EVE, how do you fly forwards? Increase thrust. Ok, how do I turn? Well… that’s kind of complicated.
      Afterwards, even more people get driven away by the mind-numbingly boring gameplay. It’s gotten a bit better with wormholes and new missions, but it’s all still variations on the same thing: activate modules until task is done. Move to next task. Repeat. And you get to do it all without the shiny visuals of fireballs and sword whirlwinds.
      That said, the game has a lot of other things going for it. Every year or so I get a hankering to play it again, and I install it for a couple hours and then quit in disgust again.

    • noproblem says:

      link to farm4.static.flickr.com

      This isn’t a image of notoriety to do with the plot of the learning curve in EVE for nothing.

      Also regarding the nebulae, they only look like that at very specific light ranges, none of which the human eye is able to perceive. Just throwing that out there.

    • Dave says:

      Thanks Quintin, its not like there’s an RPS corp or anything, send em off to Eve uni to fail for months.

      RPS Holdings specialize in getting you to the sharp end of the game as quickly and easily as possible.

      Come for a chat in the “rps community” channel in game.

      Eben

    • ArcaneSaint says:

      @noproblem: That curve kinda reminds me of Dwarf Fortress, only without the magma, Elephants and ‼socks‼

    • Kelduum Revaan says:

      @MCM Double click in space and you will fly in that direction. Can’t warp though. They did recently add WASD style shortcuts for the common things (warp, dock, orbit, etc)

      @noproblem I prefer this one. :P

      @Dave/Eben New players don’t even have to join us (yes, I’m the E-UNI CEO, hello again Quinns!) as we have a ton of recorded classes on our site and a wiki full of info. However, if you think we’re doing something wrong, please let me know and we may be able to fix it – hell, feel free to come run a guest lecture! :)

      The main difference is that we are focussed on teaching, and make a point of staying unaligned so people can choose where they want to go after graduating.

      Oh, and our public channel is “E-UNI” everyone is free to drop in and ask questions.

    • dsi1 says:

      @ArcaneSaint: link to df.magmawiki.com
      May or may not be interchangeable with Eve Online.

    • MCM says:

      @Revaan:

      Oh, that’s good then. Should go a ways towards helping people when they’re learning. I can’t see it being super useful later in the game, though. And kind of sad they took 10 years to add those.

      I never understood why they didn’t just let you input a course manually, or input heading changes, in addition to the computer-controlled orbit/keep distance stuff.

    • Tasloi says:

      “Afterwards, even more people get driven away by the mind-numbingly boring gameplay.”

      Indeed, I suppose that’s why CCP started referring to EVE more as a sci-fi simulator rather than a game because first & foremost games are supposed to be fun. I’ve played on & off with various accounts since beta so EVE definately does have its appeal. The difficulty in EVE is more artificial, a needless complexity if you will created by design decisions that have largely been unchanged throughout the years. A radical overhaul of the UI, etc is certainly good news.

      No word on whether those new turret effects also come with improved sounds or any other sound related news from Fanfest? Yes I know, EVE has sound? But still, this has always bugged me alot.

    • Quintin Smith says:

      @Dave

      Sorry, dude! No offense meant. Blame near-permanent drinking at fanfest. Also, I haven’t played Eve since joining RPS.

      RPS Eve noobs! Read all about the RPS corp here: link to rockpapershotgun.com

    • JB says:

      @noproblem – “Also regarding the nebulae, they only look like that at very specific light ranges, none of which the human eye is able to perceive. Just throwing that out there.”

      I’m pretty sure we’re not really viewing our spaceboats from a third-person perspective either, I doubt the human eye would like that too much either ;)

    • Stephen Roberts says:

      MCM echoed exactly how I feel about this game, having twice come to it and left well before the paid month elapsed in despair at the utterly intolerable UI.

      If it all changes like they say it will, I’ll check in again to see how it’s doing.

  2. konrad_ha says:

    As much as I would like to get into EVE I also have areal live to live. Maybe when I retire, it’ll be quite impressive by then.

  3. KauhuK says:

    I played EVE for a month. Got it cheap from steam sale. I have had this urge to go back for some time and I almost did but then I could not log in to my account on eve website because I dont remember my character name. Maybe I will soon enough. Gotta get into that eve university to learn the game better.

  4. McDan says:

    New fonts excite me…

  5. WMain00 says:

    You know, if Jim had made this post he wouldn’t have made a Caldari destroyer the image choice.

  6. P4p3Rc1iP says:

    Ah man, Eve… What a game. Possibly the best game ever. If only there were 36 hours in a day.

  7. kyrieee says:

    Why are they redoing turrets when they could be fixing lag?

  8. Zyrusticae says:

    Argh! Far too much to be excited about, can’t pick any one thing…

    Oh, wait, this is EVE. OPTIMISM DETECTED, SEARCH AND DESTROY-

  9. mpk says:

    These changes to EVE don’t excite me half as much as hearing they’d brought back the old cyno effect would. God I’m so bitter.

    I don’t have a clue what a new player will think of EVE when they load it up for the first time – the game that I first played in 2004 is long gone – but to paraphrase the dude from 2001, “My god… it’s full of absolute bastards”

    • Hanban says:

      I thought it was pretty excellent. Till I got my caracal blown up in low-sec by a Harby. Then I was sad for a day.

  10. FalseMyrmidon says:

    That turret video was surprisingly awesome.

  11. dsi1 says:

    “Except,” he said, pointing two fingers up under his jaw, “through the barrel of my gun. THAT IS EVE!”

    link to blastwave-comic.com

    Also, where is their rescue squadron, and then the ensuing fleet battle when both factions collide?!?

  12. MCM says:

    Has there been any word on the WoD MMO at this CCP festival business? Or anywhere in the nation of Iceland?

    • dsi1 says:

      In response to a panel question they said something along the lines of “WoD news will be at the WoD fanfest in New Orleans”

      I forget when though, might be in the fall…

    • MCM says:

      Oh, at The Grand Masquerade. Looks like September 15-18.

  13. Scatterbrainpaul says:

    I’ll be back for good as soon as the walking around the stations is launched.

    Cannot wait

  14. Skusey says:

    Oh man, Hobos should fellate people for titles like that, not crack. They’d be far better off for it.

  15. Rush Ton says:

    But of course the really important question is, who won the chess boxing?

  16. Vayl says:

    Always wanted to get into EVE, but that Interface and Font are so awfull I just can’t play, hoping that those changes are soon!

  17. Arachnyd says:

    All of this shit really makes me want to go back to EVE again, but the time investment is just too significant, even to extricate myself from the place I logged off last. I’m sitting (corp-less now) docked in NOL-MI in a station I won’t be able to re-dock in, in a ship I can’t undock with (because the rig change bugged my fitting), and I don’t have fitting rights anymore.

  18. utharda says:

    eve, its crack for extreme nerds. where is rps holdings fighting these days?

  19. thebigJ_A says:

    Hey, I had the ship at 0:44 when I played Eve! Oh, nostalgia. I only played a few months. It was fun, but then the tiny corps I was in fell apart, and I remembered that I don’t play mmos.

    I still look back with fondness, though. Seeing the videos they put out always makes part of me want to go back, but I never do.

  20. Jharakn says:

    I still think their missing a trick by not pushing there UI into something like LUA and giving the community the API, the reason games like warcraft have such an intuitive UI is because they’ve been skimming the cream of the crop from the 3rd party designs for years now.

  21. Richie Shoemaker says:

    Seriously, you got 6hrs of interviews? I couldn’t even get 5 minutes and I edit their official magazine!

  22. Notelpats says:

    Anybody who thinks Eve is boring clearly hasn’t done any pvp.

    I wish I could still play, sadly I’m a poor student and I have no money left.

  23. Eproxus says:

    If he wanted a better GUI, why did game designer designer Kristoffer Touborg design such bad game designers then?