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EVE Online Previews: Fanfest: Revelations I & White Wolf

By Dana Massey on November 15, 2006

In the first part of our fanfest reports we look at Revelations I and more

Seven-hundred people from roughly twenty countries descended on Reykjavik, Iceland to celebrate the third annual EVE Online Fanfest. Despite its size, CCP Games successfully created an intimate affair with developers mingling throughout the fans from the moment the doors opened to the wee hours of the morning. Icelanders know how to throw a party.

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We were not just there for the expensive alcohol though. CCP brought in fans and press alike with the lure of information on their epic three part expansion formerly known as Kali. Now called Revelations, the first third of it hits the live servers on November 28th and promises to change and grow the game quite significantly.

The Vikings and the Wolf
As most know by now, CCP didn't rest all their tricks in the Revelations hat. On the final day of the event, CCP Games CEO Hilmar Petursson took to the stage clad in one of CCP's inexplicably signature kilts, to announce that they had merged with famed RPG and game (in the traditional sense) developer White Wolf Publishing, best known for the Vampire series.

Recently, CCP Games had released a CCG version of EVE, and they promoted the merger as an exercise in focus and synergy. Now, White Wolf/CCP America will handle all non-video game related enterprises relating to the EVE universe. The card game is just the beginning. White Wolf knows the North American hobby shop market and soon every street corner is going to have a copy of the CCG, an upcoming pen-and-paper RPG and a wealth of other products that tie back into EVE Online. For CCP, it's a chance to show their world to new people and perhaps bring them back to the core product without having to split their focus. For White Wolf, they gain the expertise of a top notch video game developer who will eventually help them develop their flagship intellectual property - World of Darkness - into an MMOG.

Both Petursson and White Wolf President Mike Tinney said all the things they're supposed to say during the announcement. It was easy to believe that such a broadening of company attention actually did equal focus. Time will tell how it works out, but EVE Online marketing guru Magnus Bergsson explained that the two companies were like two kindred halves of a long last spirit. White Wolf is good at the things CCP is not: storytelling, product distribution and alternative avenues to expand IPs. While, CCP excels where White Wolf does not: namely in the creation of technically excellent online universes. Together, they hope to achieve great things and expand both their major IPs where they could not otherwise have gone.

The move is a strange one for the MMO-space. Traditionally, MMO developers - especially independent ones like CCP - have been their own little island in the gaming universe. CCP has cast off tradition and sailed out into uncharted territory with this move. Initially, it looks like it will be slow going as both companies largely work at becoming one, but it does have interesting implications down the road.

Kali undergoes a Revelation (Revelations I)
Originally, CCP presented Kali to the world as an epic expansion that would fundamentally alter the universe. It was huge. New models, textures, Windows Vista support, a completely new factional warfare system and much more. The revolution was underway, but soon they realized that it just was not possible - or sane - to pull off that much content in one giant bundle. So, they split it into three and Revelations I was born. On November 28th, the first of three parts hits the live servers.

Currently available on their public test server, Revelations I not only continues the theme of Biblically named expansion packs, but also further fills out a game world that has been relentlessly growing since the title's initial launch in May of 2003. Unlike many expansions we see, Revelations does not just throw a couple new classes and races (or should I say skills and ships) into the equation, but systems that fundamentally alter the experience (although there are four new battlecruisers and four new battleships to go along with those systems).

Warfare and Tactics
The overarching concern of Revelations (all three of them) is to improve warfare in general, according to Senior Producer Nathan Richardsson. This is an incremental process for CCP. In Revelations I, they're doubling the time combat takes. Where before a small battle may have taken 1 to 5 minutes, now expect 5 to 10. This is easily the most controversial change of the next expansion, but CCP believes that once people understand their logic, it will be among the most popular.

It's all about tactics. Richardsson notes that it just isn't fun to be dead before you can even contemplate your next move. Thus, once time enters the equation, there is more that developers can put into combat for the players to enjoy. The initial version will simply elongate combat - which is done by simply increasing the hit points on all ships - but in the future, CCP will build in resource management and other considerations to take advantage of this change.

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