When we released our information on Walking on Stations earlier in the week, we promised you that there would be a number of new and exciting announcements coming out of this year’s FanFest. Today, in a two hour presentation, the folks from CCP have dropped a number of intriguing announcements in our collective laps.
While I am still at the convention center and the event and announcements are continuing to roll out, I wanted to take a few minutes to update you on what we now know about the future of the sci-fi sandbox MMO.
We already know that the company’s winter expansion, Quantum Rise will launch this Tuesday, and so I’ll save more specifics on that for a time when I have a chance to write. Instead, I’m just going to give you a few bullet points to keep you up to speed:
The Expansion After Quantum Rise
The next expansion after Quantum Rise will add a new tech level to the EVE Universe known as Tech 3.
Tech 3 will introduce not only the new ships that are expected to be introduced along with any new tech level, but those ships will be customizable. Each ship is constructed by putting together five modules and with a number of different options for each module, players will be able to create upwards of 3,000 different ship variations. While not much more specific information is available, we were told that these modules won’t simply be aesthetic, but will actually serve an in-game purpose.
The upcoming expansion will also introduce wormholes that will allow players to travel to un-discovered space and begin to take it over. This serves to further expand the reachable EVE Universe.
Finally, and arguably the biggest piece of information that has come out of the day is the fact that this new expansion will mark EVE Online’s return to store shelves. For a long time now, EVE has been available only as a download. When this expansion launches, the complete game will be heading to store shelves. This is being done in partnership with Atari. The box art that we were shown had the games for windows marking on the top.
This expansion will also introduce a new player experience… Not a “new game experience” that has become so infamous in MMO history, but an actual new experience for new players. The goal is to make the game more accessible, more quickly. The developers assured us that they wouldn’t be dumbing the game down, but rather attempting to remove some of the barrier to entry of the game.
This unnamed expansion will also introduce Epic Quest strings to the game that will take players from quest to quest. The catch here is that success or failure in any given quest will actually effect the experience that you have.
This expansion, which we had expected to come in the summer of 2009 will actually hit in March 10th, 2009, only four months from today.
The Future Beyond What We Know Now
We know that CCP has been a growing company and that they now have between 300 and 400 employees working across three different offices and on numerous project. What we have learned today is that the company is at least temporarily narrowing its focus to point almost primarily at EVE Online, with 300 of their total number of employees now dedicated to the company’s flagship game. What this means for the as-yet-unannounced World of Darkness MMO is unclear for the moment.
During the presentation, the company’s CEO told us that the Walking in Stations feature should hit within 2009.
The company also hinted today at some ideas that they have been tossing around for the further future of the game. One of the possibilities that we were shown was an idea that would see close navigation within an asteroid that would require joystick control.
Another part of the presentation focused on the company’s plans to grow to allow for planetary interaction, including the possibility of a future ground game.
We will certainly have more information available for you as the FanFest rounds up, including full videos from a number of the different presentations that we have seen. As usual, MMORPG.com will continue to follow this story as it develops, now, back to work.