Peeking Into the Crystal Ball
Since its launch on May 6th 2003, EVE Online has carved a niche for itself in the MMO world with a unique mix of intricacy, difficulty, and a metagame full of political inrigue. Now, on the cusp of its 10th anniversary, it seems as if parent company CCP is just beginning to scratch the surface of what they wish to accomplish with their flagship series. This year’s CCP Fan Fest, an annual celebration of all things EVE that the company holds in their hometown of Reykjavik, Iceland took a moment to reflect upon the accomplishments of the first 10 years of EVE Online’s existence, but didn’t pause there too long. This was really about the next decade and what we can expect from the ambitious series. There’s a lot to go over here, but I’ve broken down into three categories that I think best encompass the concepts, ideas and actual changes to the game itself that were represented during Fan Fest.
The In-Game World:
The next big upgrade to EVE Online, Odyssey will bring with it a plethora of new features, most focused on exploration that had fans cheering during their reveals over 3 days of keynotes. Players will now be able to launch 7 probes -the optimum number for full efficiency- all at once and you’ll be able to make custom default formations for them, meaning less busy work. The new discovery scanner will send out a ping when entering a new sector and shows players where anomalies can be found. Along those same lines ice formations are being moved to anomalies, ore minerals are being rebalanced and new forms of asteroid belts will be appearing.
20 ships will be getting rebalances of their own and all ships will be getting a new inflight control system. A new Navy battlecruiser will also be making the scene and veteran players will be getting a special rare battlecruiser of their own for their loyalty over the years.
A new minigame involving injecting a nanovirus into a computer system will be replacing the old archaeology and hacking skills. Loot from successful hacks of ancient ruins will now be jettisoned into space in all directions, encouraging players to bring friends along if they want to collect everything. Moon mining is getting modernized and Tech 2 production is being cleaned up to help with progression issues.
A slew of animations including new pod and death transitions are being added. But the most cheered for animation sequence seemed to be the new transition for stargate jumps, which will now take players through a blue wormhole as they enter new sectors. Apocalypse ships will be getting a cosmetic touch up and so will station interiors along with a handful of new songs for certain instances and some sound effects updates for things like ship turrets firing.
Players will get their hands on the expansion June 4th and later on this year in September the EVE Second Decade Collector’s Edition will hit the market. The CE will retail for $149.99 and includes a ton of in-game exclusive content like a golden pod, a new Amarr Magnate frigate skin, exclusive male and female clothing and accessories, some weapons and “Templar” dropsuits for Dust 514 players, along with a special “mystery code” that will unlock bonus items for players over the next ten years. Some cool physical items are being added to the package as well such as a Rifter USB hub, EVE symphony CD, a 100-page coffee table booklet on the world of EVE, and a copy of The Danger Game (the board game that started CCP and features the Mayor of Reykjavik in drag on its box art) will all be part of what looks like a pretty impressive lot of goodies.
Outside the Game:
One thing that’s always made EVE Online such an interesting subject is all the insane things that go on in the game outside of the game. There’s a large social aspect of espionage and politics that takes place in the real world and many players have quite a few interesting stories to tell of harrowing adventures or acts of betrayal to share. So CCP asked players to send them their stories to them via a website so they could document the history of the universe they created as experienced by the players who inhabit it. As an added incentive four of the best tales from New Eden will be chosen to be re-written and drawn by 4 wrtier/artist teams and published by Dark Horse Comics as a 64-page graphic novel and free digital comic entitled EVE: True Stories.
The creative inspiration doesn’t stop there as CCP revealed that they were now working with the Director of The Deep and the upcoming film 2Guns, Baltasar Kormákur to work on a TV show pilot based on the events that have taken place in the world of EVE. It seems as if they’re shooting for a more mature audience and may try and do the Sci-Fi equivalent of Game of Thrones for a network like HBO, but at this point everything is speculative and there’s not much more than a concept.
But the most impressive concept shown at Fan Fest had to be EVR. It was really nothing more than a demo for the Oculus Rift that a small team of CCP devs had been working on for the last 7 weeks leading up to the event, but it managed to impress everyone that got a chance to play it. As you strapped on the VR helmet, you found yourself immersed in the cockpit of a starfighter which you could freely look around just by moving your head. Imagine Wing Commander or X-Wing taken to the next level, that’s what EVR gave the sensation of. You look down and there’s you, strapped into the front of a ship flying through a warzone in space Was it a simple demo with basic controls of acel/decel and shoot/lock missiles? Yes. Was it unpolished? Yes. But damn if everyone wasn’t ready to throw money at the Rift and EVR. For now, sadly, it’s nothing more than a demo or proof of concept, but after its reception I would be gravely disappointed if this never made it to market.
The Future of the EVE Universe:
To say that CCP has some ambitious undertakings for their main franchise would be an understatement. Between the multimedia blitzkrieg of comics and a potential TV show and the cross-platform, cross-genre melding of EVE and Dust 514 it is apparent that they are taking some bold steps forward. But after hitting a few road bumps, some that almost devastated the company they know they can’t just charge blindly forward.
They’re committing to a system of a “5 year road map, a 3 year vision and a 12 month plan” starting with this year. They want to do thing like make space combat more visceral and give players a chance to build their own stargates and travel to areas of the galaxy as yet unexplored, but they know it’s going to be a long time before they’re true vision is reached. In order to make sure they get there the right way they’ll continue turning their loyal community for opinions, and assistance in taking EVE Online into its next decade. Still, as much as they’ve got the passion and drive to make everything they want happen, they will hopefully go forward with optimistic caution and not over-promise more than they can actually deliver. After all, no one wants to pull a Peter Molyneux and lay claim to features that they never deliver on.
But what if they pull it off? What if in 10 years players are starting off on a planet surface in a Dust 514 skirmish, then take a space elevator up to an orbiting station and set bombs to blow its reactor the jump into a starfighter via EVR to join in on the space battle raging in EVE? We may have to wait another decade or two to see if they ever actually pull anything like that off, but if it is indeed achievable, it should be well worth the wait.