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.