Plans for the Future
Over the last few weeks, we have touched on a number of elements of EVE Online's development, from its history to its current implementations, but what about the future? There are big things on the horizon for both EVE Online and the company that develops it.
First up is to talk about the game's next major free expansion, Dominion. Due to launch on December 1st. This new expansion is the culmination of the work of somewhere around 120 developers who have been working steadily since the launch of the Apocrypha expansion back in March.
The Dominion expansion will bring a new sovereignty system to the game, and will make changes not only to the ways in which an alliance can capture territory, but also to what can be done with that territory once it's captured. Captured areas will now offer options for upgrades allowing players the opportunity to decide when and how their space is developed.
The new expansion will also add in new epic story arcs, including missions that rely on speed rather than DPS, a much-needed mail system overhaul, new Fighter bomber ships, new planetary graphics and more.
As was discussed at much greater length in a previous article, the developers are releasing an EVE based social network system that they used to call COSMOS, but are now calling New Eden. This new addition to EVE's infrastructure will allow player to communicate in more meaningful ways than ever before.
This particular advancement for the future of EVE Online shows the developers' commitment to not only providing in-game upgrades by way of expansions and updates, but also to continue to expand the game outside of the client.
Aside from announced features for the Q1 2010 release of the product, the developers also intent to make a number of other upgrades under the New Eden banner including: new game forums, out of game phone texting and voice chat support, corporation management, file hosting, and access to more in-game info from outside of the client.
First, the project was called Ambulation, then it was called Walking in Stations, now, they've changed the name once again to Incarna. Let's hope this one sticks. While other articles and years of talking about this upcoming feature have left some wondering if it is ever going to happen, a number of points were revealed at this year's Fan Fest.
The first interesting piece of news is that the team plans to have Incarna up and functioning before the launch of DUST 514. While that launch is still a ways off, at least we have an idea of the rollout priority list. The second is that it was hinted at (though not explicitly stated) that EVE and DUST players might both have access to Incarna.
For years, it has taken a fair amount of posing and organization to capture ships flying in formation. In the future, the developers plan to make this easier via game mechanics, even offering bonuses for flying in formation. This, the developers hope, will make large fleet battles "feel more awesome."
Part of a sandbox game is that players will do their own thing and make up their own ways of doing it. EVE players have been making treaties for quite some time, but CCP is planning on taking it to the next level by offering actual design support to the concept. This should allow alliances and corporations to make binding contracts to players, offer rights of passage through specific areas of their space, and more.
New Mining Options
Lots of players in EVE prefer the hum of a mining lazer to the blast of weapons firing, and CCP will be introducing two new ways to do that: Comet mining and Planetary Ring mining.
It's no mistake that Dominion will be introducing new planetary graphics, and a system that will create over 50,000 unique worlds as they plan to add in a new and detailed planetary interaction system that will not only allow players to control their own sections of planets, but they will be able to interact with other player who control neighboring areas.
The developer are quick to point out that while they aren't trying to clone games like Civilization or SimCity, that they are trying to do something that captures a similar feel. The idea is to offer a low barrier to entry on this new style of gameplay, but to allow it to become complex and interesting enough to hold a player's interest over the long term. It will have a darker feel to it, and, as is the case everywhere else in EVE, there will be no concrete right or wrong, just human nature. The interactions will allow you to build things like industry, academia and other infrastructure, but will also take into account environmental effects and the like.
This will also tie in to the company's plans for DUST. While many of the zones on a planet will be used for planetary interaction as described above, others on the same planet will be used as maps for DUST.
In the immediate future, the developers are moving into a "refining" phase of development, looking at what they can do to make what is already in the game work better and be stronger.
As you can see, there is much for EVE players and followers to look forward to as we move into the future. Expansion not only of the game, but of the game's universe both in terms of out of client activities and in, is the anme of the game as CCP continues to develop and grow their virtual universe.