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GDC: Kali Preview

Dana Massey Posted:
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Noah Ward lets us in on the secrets of the next expansion, codenamed "Kali"

Noah Ward of CCP Games is building an expanded PvP experience for the game’s next expansion, codenamed "Kali”.

The designer, who joined CCP Games in August of 2004, has helped put together the factional warfare system that is the headline of Kali.

It comes at a time of record popularity for the online space-MMORPG. Noah recalled subscriber numbers in the forty-thousands when he first hit Iceland. Since then, this beta-tester turned designer has seen their customer base triple, currently at over 120,000 paying players.

The crux of their goal was to make player vs. player combat more accessible to the average gamer. EVE is complicated, they make no apologies for it and while they’ve gone to great lengths to make learning easier, they found that the actual experience – especially in PvP – required a lot of foreknowledge.

The factional system mirrors the current corporation warfare system. The difference is that NPCs run the interested factions and anyone can join whoemver they like.

Once enlisted, there is no safe zone. It’s an opt in system with full out PvP for all who chose to participate. The overal goal is to capture space for your side and defend what you have against enemy incursions.

“They will reward you with loyalty points,” explained Ward. These points can be redeemed for new loot, although Ward went to great pains to explain that the loot offered will not be the absolute top of the line.

“[Kali’s goal is to] not make you go mine to further your PvP,” he added. You can gain new and good items through PvP combat. He wants to see players gather what they need through something fun.

The expansion also plans to offer new space areas on the borders of the different factions that are almost exclusively built for PvP combat.

Ward boils the expansion down to a simple idea: training for Corporation War. This is an easy way for players to learn the systems early in their career. Then, once they make a name for themselves, they can enter the private sector.

What about the death penalty?

“Harsh death penalties are what makes the adrenaline flow in PvP,” he told us. “[There will be] no special newbie net.”

The faction system will also have missions for those involved, although the mechanisms of this are not fully ready for public consumption. “We don’t want to send them all to one place,” Ward noted.

For Ward though, it is not the idea of factional PvP that has him truly excited. It’s full system scanning. He explained this as a type of Google Earth in EVE. Once complete, players can seamlessly zoom out to see their ship, an entire system or even the full map. It opens many gameplay doors, including new ways to distribute missions.

So what else does CCP have in store? Why not a full visual overhaul to their award winning graphics?

They’re planning to have everything redone for DirectX10 and Windows Vista. Their graphics, while award winning, are three years old. Rather than rest on their laurels, they’re redoing all the textures in high resolution, adding normal maps, pixel shaders and much more. But don’t worry if you don’t think you’re computer is ready. The old graphics will still be there.

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Dana Massey