andie nordgren

EVE Evolved: Low-security space has lost its identity, but it can be fixed!

When I first discovered EVE Online back in 2004, it had been out in the wild for just under a year and was a much simpler and friendlier beast. There were fewer than 50,000 players in total and most of them were flying around in tech 1 frigates and cruisers, either mining, grinding their way up top level 3 mission agents, or PvPing. Most corporations lived in the relative safety of high-security space and warred with each other for all sorts of reasons, and some power-hungry corps tamed the lawless nullsec regions to hunt battleship NPCs and mine ores containing valuable Zydrine and Megacyte.

Low-security space offered a tempting middle-ground for players back then, a place you could go to reap better rewards than highsec but at the cost of a proportional increase in risk. Pirates faced much lower consequences for attacking another ship unprovoked there than in highsec, and the areas around stargates and stations were kept safer by automated sentry turrets. The delicate balance between risk and reward in low-security space began to fall apart as the sizes of player groups in EVE increased and ships got better at tanking the damage from sentries. Nearly a decade later and with very little done to revamp the area, today’s lowsec still suffers from this legacy and has lost much of its identity. But how can this problem be solved? Hints may come from recent rumblings at EVE Fanfest 2017 on the future direction of PvE.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at the reasons I believe low-security space has lost its identity and a few of the ways CCP could inject some much-needed personality and speciality into this neglected area of the game.

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EVE Evolved: Video highlights from EVE Fanfest 2017

For a few days each year, hundreds of EVE Online players from across the world flock to a frozen volcanic rock at the top of the world for the annual EVE Fanfest. I was on the ground at EVE Fanfest 2017 last week in sunny Reykjavik to get the latest on what’s ahead for EVE and CCP’s other titles, and it was a thoroughly enlightening experience. We learned all about CCP’s amazing plans to roll out adaptive AI-driven PvE across the game world, talked to players and developers, and heard about the next stage of Project Discovery that will let players search for real exoplanets in space.

We also got hands-on with CCP’s immersive VR sport game Sparc, looked at Valkyrie‘s new Groundrush game mode that has players fighting inside huge structures on a planet’s surface, and confirmed that DUST 514 successor Project Nova is still in development. There were talks at Fanfest that we just didn’t get a chance to go to, and others that really have to be seen first-hand. Thankfully, CCP has recorded most of the event and has begun uploading talks to the EVE Online YouTube channel.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I’ll be running down some of the highlights of the official videos from EVE Fanfest 2017 for those who missed the event.

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EVE Fanfest 2017: EVE Online plans amazing new PvE gameplay

Today’s EVE Online is a far cry from the empty but hopeful sandbox released back in 2003, having constantly re-invented itself for over 14 years and put together some incredibly ambitious visions for the future. Executive Producer Andie “CCP Seagull” Nordgren shared one of these visions in her Fanfest keynote speech four years ago, laying out the long-term goal of having players build their own stargates, explore deep space and colonise previously undiscovered star systems. This trajectory has brought us Citadels, Engineering Complexes, and soon Upwell Refineries, but it isn’t the only plan for evolving EVE and it may not even be the most impressive one.

Last year we heard from CCP Burger and CCP Affinity on some amazing advances that had been made in NPC AI for the powerful roaming Drifter ships, and broad plans to integrate parts of that more widely into the game, possibly even creating something CCP Burger called “PvPvE.” We got our first taste of the end result after EVE Vegas 2016 when NPC mining operations began appearing in certain star systems and mimicking the activity of real player mining ops — They had mining barges hoovering up rocks in the belts, haulers picking up the ore, and even combat ships using PvP setups and strategies modelled on real players that would chase attackers around the star system. This first iteration of the feature was impressive, but at EVE Fanfest 2017 we discovered that an even more incredible future awaits EVE players.

Read on for a breakdown of the next stage in EVE‘s PvE gameplay and an interview with CCP Seagull on how this feature will be rolled out over high-security space and beyond.

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EVE Evolved: EVE Online’s moon mining overhaul and the future of conflict

Just under four years ago at EVE Fanfest 2013EVE Online‘s Executive Producer Andie Nordgren took the stage and delivered an epic long-term vision for the game’s future in which players will one day explore deep space and colonise previously undiscovered star systems. Developers have been tackling this enormous vision one step at a time ever since, and today we have a versatile set of player-built Citadels and Engineering Complexes for corporations and alliances of all sizes. As we approach the four year mark, we’re now about to hit another major milestone in Nordgren’s plan with the release of Upwell Refinery structures and a total overhaul of EVE‘s resource-gathering gameplay.

CCP released a devblog last week revealing details of the new Upwell Refinery structures and a whole new gameplay system for moon mining that sounds pretty damn impressive. Rather than simply deploying a static structure that provides a permanent stream of moon minerals, new moon mining structures will physically rip a huge chunk of the moon’s surface away and drag it through space to a refinery for players to mine. The new mechanic will transform moon mining from a relatively secure source of passive income into entirely active gameplay, with far-reaching consequences for alliance warfare. This forms one part of the promised resource-gathering revolution, which we’re sure to hear more about at EVE Fanfest 2017 this week.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I drill down into the details of the new Upwell Refineries and moon mining mechanics, and ask what effect this will have on the rest of the game.

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EVE Online’s new ‘citizen science’ project will ‘refine the search for exoplanets’

Those of you who’ve known me a while probably know that my husband is an astrophysicist, which means that astronomy is a passion in my house, and I’m thrilled when his field overlaps with mine as it does today: CCP Games has announced a new “citizen science” project, whereby it will work with multiple universities and the Massively Multiplayer Online Science group to put players to “work” hunting for exoplanets — not in New Eden, but in our real universe.

“Within EVE’s virtual universe, players will interact with real-world astronomical data provided by the University of Geneva through a fully integrated part of the EVE Online game experience called Project Discovery. Once enough players reach comparative consensus on classification of the data, it will be sent back to the University of Geneva for use in refining the search for exoplanets.”

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EVE Evolved: What do we want from Drilling Platforms?

If you followed our EVE Fanfest coverage last year, you might remember CCP announcing plans to add a whole series of new deployable structures to EVE in the form of Engineering Complexes and Drilling Platforms. The Citadel expansion added new deployable space stations that players can put anywhere in space, with medium-sized Astrahus citadels for small corporations all the way up to the colossal Keepstars designed for massive military alliances. This was expanded on in the second half of 2016 with the release of Engineering Complexes as specialised citadels with bonuses to industry and research, but what ever happened to the Drilling Platforms?

Drilling Platforms were touted as an upcoming revolution in the way we collect resources in EVE Online, but the feature was still firmly in the early design stage when we discussed it with CCP at last year’s Fanfest. There were general ideas floating around about automated mining structures that require different levels of player interaction and disrupting enemy resources by attacking their drills, but nothing concrete at the time. We’ve now been promised a solid development roadmap update at this year’s Fanfest on April 6th and more information on Drilling Platforms in devblogs before then, and it’s got me wondering what EVE‘s upcoming resource-gathering revolution might look like.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I speculate about what Drilling Platforms might be like, discuss the kinds of gameplay I’d like to see from them, and lay out a few of my dream features.

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EVE Online preps for tomorrow’s F2P transition, requests patience and feedback

“We are ready to bring you clone states and Ascension tomorrow,” CCP’s Andie Nordgren tells EVE Online players in a dev update today on the — wait for it — eve of what is surely the biggest change to ever come to the sci-fi sandbox, that being its free-to-play transition.

“We’re also pretty sure that launch day will have some excitements that we didn’t expect,” she says. “Clone states is a huge change that impacts almost everything about EVE and all the services and processes that we run behind the scenes to make EVE work.” Consequently, the team has asked for patience if there are catastrophes and help pinpointing issues and reporting bugs. That goes for feedback on the EVE Portal app as well, which launched last week.

She does note that players who’ve written guides or other useful bits for new players should send them along to the dev team for inclusion in an upcoming blog post.

“It’s almost showtime,” she grins. “Let’s show some new people what it’s all about.”

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Here’s how EVE Online’s new player experience is going to flow

Andie “CCP Seagull” Nordgren has a new development video out for EVE Online players this afternoon. She explains that as part of the free-to-play conversion for the game, CCP has a “big team” working on the new player experience.

“When you enter the game, you will wake up in the aftermath of a battle gone wrong, ” she explains, “and your empire will need you to get up to speed and perform important tasks so that you can eventually help with the Drifter threat in a pinnacle moment where a large fleet from your empire engages the Drifter forces.” Players will be guided along by their ship’s AI and factional leaders with the goal of getting both a purposeful and epic experience.

Nordgren says more information on the new player experience, the engineering complexes, command bursts, and fitting simulation system will be released next month and during EVE Vegas (which Massively OP’s Brendan Drain will be attending).

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EVE Fanfest 2016: Andie Nordgren on EVE Online’s Citadel expansion launch and beyond

EVE Online‘s highly anticipated Citadel expansion has now launched, adding a whole new class of player-built structures to the game for corporations to build and smash to bits. The new citadels can be built anywhere in space, allowing players to plant their virtual flag and base of operations near stargates, NPC stations, asteroid belts, and other points of interest. Industrialists are currently scrambling to manufacture those first few citadels to sell on the open market for a massive profit, but when the dust settles the prices are expected to low enough that even small corporations will be able to afford their own citadels.

To put EVE’s largest alliances to the test, CCP has also added the Palatine Keepstar, a beefy x-large citadel with the interesting twist that only one can be built in EVE at a time. The Palatine Keepstar costs around 200 trillion ISK (15% of EVE’s total economic wealth) to build, which is around $3,000,000 to $4,000,000 worth of PLEX. We still have no idea whether the Palatine Keepstar will ever be built or what players will ultimately end up doing with standard citadels. This expansion is the first huge step toward Executive Producer Andie Nordgren’s future vision of deep space colonisation accessible to all players. The next step comes in the fall when players will get access to industrial structures and in winter when we get automated drilling platforms.

Read on for our interview from EVE Fanfest 2016 with EVE‘s Executive Producer Andie Nordgren on what comes next after the Citadel expansion.

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EVE Fanfest 2016: Industrial citadels and drilling platforms in EVE Online

EVE Online‘s Citadel expansion goes live in just a few days on April 27th, opening the floodgates on a new era of space colonisation for players. The new citadel structures will give players the ability to build their own fully dockable space stations anywhere in the EVE universe to be used as everything from storage depots and mining outposts to huge market hubs and colossal military staging outposts. It’s an exciting time for both players and CCP as it’s the first big expansion in over a year and no-one really knows what players will ultimately do with citadels.

This expansion is very much in keeping with EVE‘s core design philosophy of giving players versatile sandbox tools and then seeing what happens, and there is plenty more to follow after the initial release. At this year’s EVE Fanfest 2016, CCP has discussed plans to follow up on the first installment of Citadel with some epic additions stretching out for the rest of the year, adding huge industrial and factory citadels, resource-gathering drilling platforms, mining super-drones reverse engineered from rogue drone parts, and more. The NPC pirate factions of New Eden will begin building their own terrifying capital ships, and fleet warfare will see a change with a fleet boost rework.

Read on for a breakdown of what’s coming to EVE throughout 2016.

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EVE Online compensates players with 200k skill points for server move downtime

EVE Online Executive Producer Andie “CCP Seagull” Nordgren has addressed EVE players in a new video posted to the official site. Nordgren apologizes for the recent game outages that were the indirect result of a massive hardware upgrade and data center move for the game. All characters with an active skill queue will be granted 200,000 skill points as compensation for the unexpected downtime.

The team is turning its attention to Citadel now, Seagull says, but the date has still not been finalized. What’s beyond Citadel? That’ll come at EVE Fanfest next month.

CCP is also touting Project Discovery, its in-game minigame that actually puts players to work on real-world protein mapping. “Citizen science starts with you,” Nordgren jokes.

In other EVE news, voting for the 11th Council of Stellar Management has opened; there are 53 candidates all ostensibly vying to make EVE great again, and you can cast your vote until March 25th.

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EVE Online’s plans for the Citadel expansion and skill trading

The big excitement in the EVE Online world right now is the upcoming Citadel expansion, which is slated to arrive sometime this spring. CCP Seagull took to the airwaves yesterday to deliver an updated roadmap on the expansion as well as other 2016 projects. Citadel will revolve around the titular massive space structures that players can contribute materials to building and mod out when constructed.

One of the big things coming to the game is the addition of skill trading. This new feature will allow players to extract skill points, sell them, and inject them into their heads (because that all sounds totally normal and healthy). Skill trading is slated to arrive with the game’s February update.

You can watch the updated EVE Online roadmap after the break!

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EVE Vegas 2015: What to expect from EVE Vegas 2015

While the main event of the EVE Online community calendar is undoubtedly the annual EVE Fanfest in Iceland, smaller fan-run events have popped up around the world over the years to accommodate players who don’t fancy traveling to the arctic circle. Probably the biggest of these events is EVE Vegas, which is happening right now in the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. The event has become so big that this year CCP has officially taken over and tuned it into a mini-Fanfest filled with new information, reveals, and talks from both developers and members of the EVE community. As MassivelyOP’s resident EVE expert, I’m on the ground at EVE Vegas this weekend to find out what the future holds for EVE Online.

Today’s schedule includes both an EVE Online keynote with Executive Producer Andie Nordgren and a Valkyrie keynote with Associate Producer John Nejady. The real meat and bones of the event kicks off tomorrow with presentations on CCP’s plans for capital ships and deployable structures in the upcoming Spring 2016 expansion. The event is also peppered with feedback-gathering roundtable events, talks from players from all walks of life, and more info on something called Project Discovery that aims to “bring real science research into the game experience.” CCP has told us that this event will present the company’s vision for the future of EVE and solid plans that will be delivered by Fanfest 2016, with a few potentially big reveals.

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