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EVE Online Previews: Fanfest: Avatars, Linux & Announcements!

By Dana Massey on November 16, 2006

EVE Fanfest: A Wealth of Announcements (Page 2 of 3)

Speed also made clear that while some of the bells and whistles require more recent computers to run, they're not upping the graphical ante at the expense of performance. He argued that the new ships and client will actually be more efficient thanks to optimizations they've done.

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In his presentation, he also mentioned that along with the upgrades players will have the ability to put corporation logos on their ships (which he showed off to rounds of jeers or cheers based on which logo the ship carries) and hopefully, down the road, chose their exterior colors.

Optimization was a key theme of his presentation. Their first goal in all situations is to make things faster. That doesn't mean though that they're not dreaming of new and wonderful things.

In reference to the Vista upgrades, Speed mentioned that they are not so naive to think that the moment Windows Vista ships that the entire world will upgrade. A changeover on that scale can take years and that is why such effort has been put into the DX9 upgrades. DX10 will allow even more possibilities - he especially seemed keen on what it would let them do with planets and other background - but for now there is content in the works for all levels of hardware.

Over the course of the week, we heard several possibilities as to when the DX9 and DX10 upgrades would come down. Likely, they'll be part of one of the Revelations expansions. Speed would only say "when it's done."

EVE Everywhere
If you thought CCP was busy with all these announcements, CCP Games Chief Technical Officer Halldor Fannar took to the stage to truly show how busy a company can be.

At E3, the company had showed off a prototype version of an EVE Mobile service. This client for Windows Mobile compliant mobile devices would allow players to set skill training, do EVE email, trade with other players, etc. Essentially, it encompasses everything but the 3D client itself. The reaction was good, according to Fannar, but at the moment they've put the idea on hold while they try and plug all the security holes such a program could create.

Fannar also revealed that the company is actively developing Linux support for EVE Online. He also strongly hinted - to the point where he basically confirmed - that an Apple client was also in the works.

Their youthful CTO had also just returned from California, where he'd demonstrated EVE as an example for Nvidia's GeForce 8800 video card. This brand new card is a beast they'd been working with for some time. Fannar told the audience that the prototype they'd been using took a 1000 watt power supply and had single-handedly been heating his office since they received it. The commercial version is not quite so intensive, but still a beast in its own right.

Why the story? Well, the fact that he was in California represents a shift in direction for CCP as a company. When they first began they were relatively technologically agnostic. Now, they intend to work much more closely with the different hardware and software providers, specifically Nvidia (for video cards) and Microsoft (for Vista) to make sure EVE works as well as it can. He did note though that such relationships do not mean that ATI card users - for example - will be ignored.

EVE's growth as a game has matched their growth as a company. Currently, the company employs 27 full time programmers on EVE. He traced us through how they've reorganized the company to accommodate that. Now they work in a cell based atmosphere where groups of three to five developers in related projects work as a unit.

They've also spent time refining the tools that build their games. As a small start-up, they would often just hit the stage where it worked and let the content guys figure out the rest. Their original tool set had been called "Jennifer" (as in Lopez). She's been retired in favor of a younger model "Jessica" (as in Alba). And I'm not kidding. He put their photos up on the overhead as he presented this section.

Fannar also took the crowd through some additional visual wrinkles they're planning. They're planning to redo the guns on all ships. Currently, they're one-size fits all and look rather silly on larger ships. They're also performance hogs. Soon they'll have guns appropriate to the ships, be optimized and - he admitted - actually work as intended. He also revealed that they plan to add scarring and damage to ships during combat.

Physics support also came up. His stance on this was interesting. He does not believe physics as anything more than eye-candy is necessarily a good thing. It can be annoying. At this time, they have no active development on physics support, but down the line it is something he would like to do at least in terms of art.

Talking in EVE
Monty Sharma of Boston-based Vivox took the stage after lunch to present integrated voice chat in EVE. The system, which launches with Revelations I, seemed easy to use. Not unlike current chat channels, players simply need to create a channel and talk. Moderators in channels have the ability to kick, mute, etc. The game's UI also highlights who is speaking, to make sorting out unfamiliar voices much easier. It's everything players have come to expect from a chat interface, except in voice.

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