MMORPG: This is a free expansion for players, tell us about how it impacts the game?
KRISOFFER TOUBORG: It should keep that wonderful and healthy war machine going. EVE’s ecosystem relies on ships being built regularly and then getting blown up, so giving players the tools to do this is essential. In faction warfare, we’re now actively rewarding players for killing other players. Apart from the usual rewards of modules and salvage, players will now receive loyalty points which they can use in their factions loyalty point store. Mostly we’ve put a reward on contributing to your faction in a multitude of ways, to make sure war is indeed great business. We’ve also started balancing the frigates in EVE and will be shipping the first batch. New players get better tools to participate and join the action, so if you’re worried about not being able to contribute off the bat, jump in the new frigates and go shoot someone. We’re going to balance all of them and Inferno is the first round.
MMORPG: What are the key parts to Inferno for EVE’s developers?
KRISOFFER TOUBORG: I’d say the big things are faction warfare and the new war declaration system. Faction warfare is a great pvp/pve hybrid system with a relatively low barrier of entry, where players can easily find some action by aligning with one of the four major factions in game, while at the same time being rewarded for blowing up other players, taking territory or running missions for the factions themselves. It’s a great place to learn to pvp and with the new rewards we’ve put in place, it’s also very profitable. The war declaration system enables corporation and alliances to fight each other, anywhere in the universe and we’ve revisited that ruleset so it’s a better tool for players who want to blow each other up. Apart from that, our inventory management system should make this a lot easier especially for new people who found the older systems very confusing (and rightfully so).
MMORPG: What is the Mercenary Marketplace? How can players get involved?
KRISOFFER TOUBORG: It’s super straightforward. You go to the “wars” part of the UI, look at what corporations are looking for a mercenary and then simply send an offer to assist. Now there may be some financial back and forth regarding the fine print on the contract, but that’s basically the process. While players have been doing this without much support from us in the past, I’m really hoping we’ll see a much more prominent mercenary scene after this, so the next time we talk about this feature there will be some famous corporations to talk about. Hopefully we’ll have a load of people that go out and make their own Blackwater firms (or the A-Team, whichever you prefer). Death is the most-sold commodity in EVE, and features like this will hopefully help people blow each other up.
MMORPG: What type of feedback have you gotten about the Merc System from players?
KRISOFFER TOUBORG: Mostly people are talking about cost. Unsurprisingly, people who like pvp think it’s too high and people who don’t like pvp think it’s too low. That’s the difficult thing about the entire feature of course, keeping that balance in place. We’re never going to have complete security anywhere in EVE, but some places have to be safe enough for people to exist without having to worry about their ship every second of their playtime. I hope we’ve got it right, but we’re definitely watching the developments of this system very closely to tweak it. Deaths in the safe areas are fairly healthy, unless it gets to the point where it ruins your play experience too often.
MMORPG: What upgrades are there to War Declarations?
KRISOFFER TOUBORG: It’s mostly the ability to hire allies on the defending side while at the same time closing loopholes. The old war system had a lot of loopholes that made it fairly broken. We’ve addressed a lot of those issues and added some cool new UI. Players can now track their wars through a “war report”, where they can see how many ships they’ve killed, how much damage they’ve caused in ISK etc. It should give an even greater historical context to player actions, which is kinda cool—an automatic war chronicle of sorts. Of course, then there is the entire mercenary system as well, which ties into this very heavily.
MMORPG: Have you seen the learning curve come down for EVE’s newer players? It seems like some of these systems are in place to help them.
KRISOFFER TOUBORG: I think our biggest issue in terms of learning curve right now relates much more to the state of our tutorials, but also the way they’re presented. If we’re talking very concrete stuff, I think our tutorials have too many small errors and parts that don’t entirely make sense. On a larger scale, I think we need to consider if having a linear tutorial in a sandbox is really healthy. I don’t think so and I hope we have a chance to re-do it down the road. Ideally you’d have a tutorial that puts you much more in touch with how EVE works, rather than essentially teaching you to play a linear game and then dumping you into an open world where no one holds your hand. I’d much rather have a system where the player makes choices about what they want to learn and kind of tailor their tutorial through their interests. We basically need to teach people to set goals, much more than show them how to walk a certain path—since in EVE you are the determiner of your own gameplay fate.
MMORPG: What are the new missile systems like? How can players get access to them?
KRISOFFER TOUBORG: The missile changes are a graphical update to the missile system as it is right now. Get in your ship, put some totalhelldeath-rockets in your launcher and go hogwild J Check out this player vid for some test-server missiles: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDFnkLQa_UM
MMORPG: What else is in store for EVE in 2012?…cough DUST…cough cough…
JONATHAN LANDER: We are finalizing the content of our Winter release right now and whilst still at a relatively early stage, we have some really interesting things that the teams are coming up with. No more detail than that right now though.
Of course, we will also have a major moment for EVE when DUST 514 fully launches and both games exist in the same universe. Being able to interact with people playing another game on another platform, either working together or against one another, will bring a real sense of expansion in what is happening in EVE. We have seen EVE ships firing down onto planets in support of the foot soldiers in DUST 514, and that, along with a tie-in to our factional warfare system and other features we are building, will make 2012 an amazing year for both EVE and DUST.