During PAX Prime this year, I had the chance to sit down with Ned Coker (CCP Manifest), Scott Holden (CCP Molok), and Nick Blood (CCP Dropbear) to talk about the upcoming expansion due this winter and the overall future of EVE Online. The lads were keen to talk on just about everything so grab a seat and dive in if you’re curious about 0.0 and many changes coming to FiS (Flying in Space) within EVE Online.
The expansion, which will land before the end of the calendar year, is all about continuing the work started with Dominion. There will be a multitude of 0.0 changes, sovereignty cap changes, supercap changes, and resource distribution to help make the lay of the land and the society at war aspects of EVE Online much more compelling… basically it’s CCP’s way of shaking up the game’s balance because they feel like it’s become a little too predictable of late.
One of the main goals of the expansion is to enhance the smaller skirmishes in EVE, and make them a larger part of the game as opposed to the epic and massive wars the game has become known for. The team wants to incentivize skirmishes and give a role to the other lesser-used ships and give smaller groups of players more ways to feel important in the game. The first step will be to look at the game’s current caps, and they’re definitely going to be buffing Dreads, while nerfing the Super Carriers a bit. They’re going to also take long hard looks at frigates, cruisers, and other smaller ships to give them a more effective role in the overall scheme of things.
I asked the guys whether the expansion is another step towards making the game more “noob” friendly, as EVE has always had a problem drawing new folks in without serious help from veteran customers. They said that this is part of it, but really they’ve noticed that most players spend all of their time in battleships and capitol ships, while leaving behind these cooler, lighter smaller ships. This is their way to bring folks back into them, by making them have their own roles to play.
When I asked how they were then going to incentivize this behavior, the team didn’t have real specifics just yet. But the hint was this: they’re going to rebalance each ship, and then make sure they have their own little “box” of space to play in. The defining goal of the expansion is to give smaller Alliances a place in the broader scope of EVE. They think that if they can achieve this, things will get much more interesting for everyone in the game.
We then chatted a bit about how else the Incarna system is going to change over the coming months, and the guys were happy to tell me that Establishments are almost ready for showtime, and so are the other three racial captain’s quarters. Basically for those who don’t know, Establishments will be places that players can rent and open their own bar or gambling hall and things of that nature. You have to keep it up in terms of rent, and you will be able to decorate it (superficially at first, and then much more detailed in future updates). They’ve even though far enough ahead to let players deal “boosters” in their establishments (the EVE equivalent of performance enhancing substances). Though the game won’t have all of its doodads and bobbles ready for use right as the first Establishments make their way into the game, eventually they’ll become more and more fully-featured to give players’ avatars that much more of a role in the game. I asked if this meant we’re going to see ground missions and shooting and the like make its way to EVE and I was happy to hear that CCP is never going that route with EVE. That part of the whole avatars in EVE will remain in DUST when it launches. EVE will always and forever be mainly about space and flight. The Incarna process is really just a side-game.
Finally, there were a few more things to chat about: there’s a brand new EVE Online website launching in the near future with more and more tools for players to use. It’s basically an overhaul of the existing site, and should allow people to remain connected to the game while they can’t really be connected.
There’s also a new “time dilation” mode they’re toying around with to make the big, fast fights become a bit more strategic. Basically this will be a sort of “bullet-time” for EVE Online dogfights so that the game won’t miss commands and fights will have more strategy. The art team is overhauling all the ships to Version 3.0, which will really set the ships up for the eventual ship customization patch. Lastly, Molok made sure to mention that there are oodles of new turret effects coming, as well as new space scenery in general to make the universe more visually appealing and memorable. Oh and jump drive effects are getting an overhaul too, and will be far more appealing in the near future.
Phew… that’s a lot of stuff, and EVE players have every reason to be excited about the expansion as it feels like CCP is getting back to the space part of their game with a lot of fervor.