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A Future Vision - Commentary

Jon Wood Posted:
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The big finale to this year’s EVE FanFest came in the form of a video titled, EVE: A Future Vision. It was a kind of culmination of the event’s message, that being the up and coming features and ideas that CCP hopes to bring to not only the game, but the overarching universe as a whole.

If you haven’t seen it yet, take a look:

In the setting of FanFest, it was an adrenaline-pumping, crowd pleasing video that received an immediate encore at the fans’ request. In the light of day, after the dust (no pun intended) has cleared, it left me wanting to say at least a few words about the things that bothered me about it:

Click the image below to watch "A Future Vision".

First, and the most important thing that you have to realize when watching this video is the fact that this is an interpretation of CCP’s plans for the future, and do not reflect the game, or what’s coming out in the next little while.

With Incarna starting to roll out, I wonder if some folks aren’t going to see this video and look for the moon, when the short term reality is actually significantly less. Sure, walking through stations and getting involved in all kinds of political intrigue sounds completely awesome, and it’s something I’m looking forward to in the game, but that’s nowhere near where the developers are going to be when Incarna starts to roll out this summer.

To put this into context for people who might not be following EVE, the “Walking in Stations” expansion, now called Incarna, is going to be rolled out in small chunks, beginning with the Captain’s Quarters player housing portion. It won’t be multiplayer from the get-go. The reason for this is pretty straightforward and simple: Incarna will be adding so much to the existing world that there would be no way the developers could roll it out all at once without some serious problems. So, this is where they’re starting. It’s a great system, and the developers have done a near masterful job of managing that expectation for their players... until now.

My concern is that this trailer isn’t going to read the way that it was at FanFest, as a look at what “might and will be” in EVE Online, and will instead be read as a promise that the summer expansion that adds Captain’s Quarters to the game simply won’t be able to live up to. To me, it almost undoes, or comes close to doing, the hard work their team has done in the management of expectations.

Next, is the animatic quality of it. Again, if you read this video as it was intended by the developers, there shouldn’t be a problem. There really are plans in place to make the game (and DUST 514) look that good.  The problem is, and the developers said as much during their presentation prior to the video’s release, we are technologically a little ways off from being able to pull that kind of look off just yet. My main concern here is that up until now, animatic videos haven’t been EVE’s style. We’ve always been treated to jaw dropping videos that are in game and practical. Like, for example, the videos surrounding the team’s new character creator, or the promotional material surrounding the game’s major graphical upgrade, or the ones detailing planetary interaction. In that context, this video comes a little bit out of left field and my concern is that it won’t be read properly. At best, that level of visuals is a few years off.

Finally, I wanted to share what might be my biggest concern with this video as someone who is greatly looking forward to DUST, and that’s the fact that the impression is given in this video that DUST players are only and only will be puppets for EVE pilots, and that at any time an EVE player can simply push the screw you, I win button at will.

I realize that it’s something that’s been talked about, giving EVE pilots the ability to order planetary bombardment and affect DUST players. I also realize that CCP isn’t going to make the gadgets standard issue on every ship and that getting that ability will be hard won. With all of that in mind though, as a potential DUST player, it makes me feel, out of the gate, like a second class player in the greater universe.

Nothing would make me quit playing a game faster than knowing that some douche in space could wipe my entire map out with the push of a button. And anyone who thinks this system wouldn’t be used to by douches everywhere, just for kicks... Well, they’re wrong.

Even as I write this, I’m sure it wasn’t CCPs intention to give this impression and I’m sure that there are a number of EVE pilots reading this and thinking “damn right I should be able to attack guys on planets”.

The fact of the matter is that as a DUST fan, watching this video, I had a lot of awesome stuff to look forward to: Vehicles, explosions, cover, automated defences, squad command, communication with space-based players and more. My juices were flowing and I was chomping at the bit to get into the action... right up until the guy on the station killed everyone, quickly and easily.

I don’t care that he got his comeuppance from the shapely assed chick with the gun that appeared as if from nowhere. All I saw in that video was my gaming session being ruined by some guy in a ship I couldn’t possibly see or fight against. That might be fun for EVE Online players, it might add an awesome dimension to their gameplay, but I honestly hope that CCP understands that DUST players aren’t going to want to be pawns in EVE any more than EVE players would want to be pawns for DUST. In order for this full integration of the universe to really work, the developers are going to have to find a way to allow the two sides to interact without giving an implicit and all encompassing advantage to one side, or else they might find their FPS a very empty part of the game’s universe.

Like I said at the top, I thought the video was awesome, and I saw firsthand how pumped up it made the EVE online players in attendance. I just hope that their message, which is that this is a vision of the future, actually translates to audiences for both EVE and DUST. I also hope that they start to give DUST fans something new to chew on sometime soon, other than their potential weakness at the hands of EVE players.


Jon Wood