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GDC Update Interview

Jon Wood Posted:
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At this year's Game Developers Conference, we had the opportunity to check in once again with the folks at CCP to talk about what's next when it comes to their sci-fi simulator MMORPG, EVE Online.

Shortly before GDC, the company announced its next major expansion, Tyrannis. For those who may not be familiar with the game, CCP generally rolls out a new, major content expansion every six months or so. These expansions are free to the gaming population and generally focus on one particular aspect of the game, whether it's updating an old system, or adding something completely now. The last few expansions, we were told, focused rather heavily on the ship and combat based aspects of the game while Tyrannis will cater to the industrialists in the game.

Tyrannis, we were told, will actually focus most heavily on bringing two new features into the game: Planetary interactions and EVEGate.

EVEGate may sound like something new, even to long time fans of the game, but it's really an older idea with a new name. EVEGate was previously known by two other names: COSMOS and New Eden. Whatever the name, this new system will roll out with Tyrannis. Sometimes lovingly nicknamed EVEBook because of its similarities conceptually to a popular social networking site, the new feature will bring in things like shareable calendars, "walls" that players can write on, a revamped email system and more. Basically it's a case of the developers wanting to give players an easier, more centralized place to do the things that they're already finding other ways to do.

Planetary interactions are something that EVE players have been waiting a long time to see implemented. With the recent planetary graphical upgrade and announcement of DUST 514, which takes place on those planets, putting it all into practice wasn't going to be too far behind.

Planetary interaction will add a whole new level to the resource gathering and management aspect of the game, not only introducing a new mechanic for industrialists, but by introducing new resources and moving some previously NPC-related resources over to the player side of the economy.

Planetary interaction is designed in such a way as to be somewhat familiar to resource management RTS players. Players will be tasked with putting up the proper buildings in order to harvest various resources. These buildings will have upkeep costs associated with them, and will slowly deplete the resource over time.

For more specific information on planetary interaction, check out this recent developer blog.

By adding planetary interaction, a relatively "low risk" activity with a very low barrier to entry, the developers hope to draw more players' attention to the industrial side of the game.

While Tyrannis is certainly the "big news" out of CCP these days, there's still a lot going on. For example, they're ramping up toward their 8th Alliance Tournament coming in June. Alliance tournaments pitt players against each other in highly publicized tournaments complete with coverage and player expert commentators.

Also, the fourth meeting of this Council of Stellar Management has come and gone. We were told that the meeting was a success with CSMers being brought into the development process at an even earlier stage than was done previously so that their feedback and the feedback of the rest of the community could be more easily integrated.

Finally, the results are in from CCP's recent charity drive for the people of Haiti. For those who might not have followed the story, CCP gave players the opportunity to donate PLEX (essentially game time that can be bought and sold in-game), with proceeds going to Haiti. The final tally, we were told, was somewhere between 3-4000 PLEX. Who says gamers don't have a social conscience?


Jon Wood