When Andie “CCP Seagull” Nordgren
walked onto the stage at EVE Fanfest 2013 and delivered her long-term vision for the future of EVE Online
, the excitement in the room was palpable. EVE
was riding its highest peak concurrent player numbers in the game’s history following the overhauls of the Crucible
, and Retribution
expansions, and players were ready for a new blockbuster feature to fire their imaginations. CCP delivered its ambitious five year vision to hand the reigns of EVE
‘s living universe over to its players, with player-built stargates and deep space exploration in completely uncharted star systems.
We’re now about four months away from the five-year mark on that vision, and many parts of it have now been completed, but no battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy. We’ve seen some big feature drops such as the release of citadels, the industry overhaul, and the recent moon mining overhaul, but that deep space colonisation gameplay still seems far off. Some players feel as if EVE is currently in a holding pattern, with everyone waiting for the next big feature or overhauls to their favourite part of the game before deciding what to do next. So what does come next?
In this edition of EVE Evolved, I break down the progress toward Nordgren’s 5 year vision so far and talk about the possible next steps I think CCP could take to make it a reality.
As we do every year, today we’re going to peer back into the depths of last year’s staff predictions for the genre and the games within it to determine just how we fared. After all, what would be the fun of making predictions if we couldn’t have a laugh at how wrong we were a year later? So let’s dig in and find out whether we nailed it or failed it!
Think of all the wacky things devs have said in public in front of gamers and journalists this year.
Now imagine what gets said behind closed doors!
For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I’ve asked our staff to select the best (and worst) developer quotes from the year and reflect on what we’ve learned from them. Let’s dig in – we’ve got some whoppers.
Who would have ever thought that something so mundane and everyday as city urban planning would be of immense inspiration to a game like EVE Online
Develop has a fascinating interview with CCP about how the studio uses strategies from urban planning when developing its space MMO. Citing “unproductive” development around 2004 following the game’s rise in popularity, CCP drew its community into talks about what it wanted to see for EVE Online, which in turn led to the formation of the Council of Interstellar Management. Through all of this, CCP started seeing the game’s growth through the lens of city planning.
“EVE is more like a city than it is a game,” said CEO Hilmar Pétursson. “If you are doing urban planning in a city, getting feedback from the inhabitants is important. You might have to bulldoze away some houses to make a highway, or you might have a garbage collection problem, and it’s impossible to know all this. We have no way of knowing all the things in EVE Online that the hundreds and thousands of people who live there every day do. They have way more information about it. So factoring in all the information about the game, their input on where the game needs improvement, putting those two things together is what the EVE team does every year.”
As Counting Crows told us, it’s been a long December, although the fact that it has also only just started being December speaks to something unpleasant in the makeup of this particular month. But it also means that this is a good time to check in on the overall health of various MMORPGs and see which ones look to be in the healthiest state at the end of the year.
This is, I hasten to point out, not a scientific process; last year I pointed to Marvel Heroes as a not-quite-MMORPG title that was still in a very healthy and robust place, and it later turned out that this was entirely not true and had been built upon a foundation of lies. But we’ll cross that bridge if and when we come to it in 2018. What are the healthiest games running right now?
Before you get too excited, let’s note that today’s update for EVE Online
is not simply handing out ships like space travel-shaped candy. Free players are still going to need to train their various new ship options. It’s just that there are more ships available for free players to fly once the requisite training is done
. Heck, there’s even a whole video overview on it just below, if you’re curious.
This update also brings in a new event celebrating these new piloting options, new visual improvements, new daily skill injectors for free players, resource war adjustments, and lots of other fun things all around. You can jump in right now, if you so choose (or at least you can once you’ve done the requisite patching and so forth). Unfortunately, this update does not include the free ship fairy visiting everyone, but perhaps that’s something to ask for when the winter holiday comes around.
Last weekend, Brendan wrote a great column on how to stay safe from gankers in EVE Online, noting that the newbies are commonly given what he considers bad advice to just stay in high-sec; indeed, he smartly quoted Shedd: “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”
The article prompted a discussion in our work chat about risk-taking in MMORPGs. “After every one of Brendan’s (excellent!) tips, I keep mentally adding, ‘or alternatively, don’t play EVE,'” Eliot joked. And they’re both right. If you’re dead-set on being a “ship” in the risky gameworld of New Eden, staying in “harbor” defeats the purpose of playing EVE. But this is a real world where you don’t have to be a ship – you don’t have to play EVE. You don’t have to risk it all just for some pixel gratification.
For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I’ve asked the writing staff to dish on risk-taking, in EVE or elsewhere. Are they into it? What kinds of risks are they willing to take, PvE or PvP? What do they think about risk-vs.-reward in MMOs?
Last week, Massively OP’s Eliot Lefebvre wrote a (fantastic) Soapbox editorial arguing that Star Wars Battlefront II (and its concomitant monetization dust-up) is merely a symptom of the “long tail” trend of the games business. As he put it, it’s not a bad thing that game companies seek to make money; they need money to make games, and games make us happy. We’re happy to pay fair prices for good games! But EA, he argues, is merely undertaking a “blatant cash grab” over and above the rising costs of making games, and the worst part is that the game developers themselves aren’t reaping the benefits of the publishers’ increased revenue.
“The programmers and art staff don’t wind up seeing much, if anything, from these increased profit margins, still being subjected to an awful volume of crunch time and demanding workloads with ever-growing headcounts,” Eliot asserted. “And the people making these games aren’t seeing any benefit from all of these increases; salaries aren’t going up except for the people at the top end.”
But that might be true for only a segment of corporate developers. In conversation with Massively OP, Camelot Unchained boss-man Mark Jacobs suggests that over the last five years, developer salaries – specifically programmers – have increased significantly.
The end of September marked a major milestone for Dauntless, the upcoming monster-slaying action-MMORPG from indie developer Phoenix Labs, as it officially concluded its Founder’s Alpha event and made the jump into closed beta. Since then, legions of would-be Slayers have stormed the Shattered Isles, taking up arms to defend the last bastions of human civilization from destruction at the hands (and talons, fangs, or similarly sinister appendages) of the marauding monstrous beasts known as Behemoths.
And as it so happens, I was one of them. As a long-time fan of Capcom’s venerable Monster Hunter series, which pioneered the “kill-carve-and-craft” action-RPG subgenre upon which Dauntless aims to build, I’ve been eager to check it out for some time now. So when closed beta rolled around, I shelled out for a Founder’s Pack and joined my fellow prospects in the frontier settlement of Ramsgate, where I hoped to prove worthy of the Slayer mantle, or failing that, then at least to avoid dying horribly.
The next patch for EVE Online arrives on December 5th
, and it’s going to give Alpha players (or “free-to-play players” for those not down on the game terminology) more options for skill training. Battlecruisers and battleships, tech II small weapons… all of them will be added, locking everyone into a renewed arms race. This makes sense when you consider that the release also includes a new Arms Race event specifically tailored to this newfound power and seeing what players can do with it over time.
The patch will also include visual improvements to warp bubbles and various textures, a better selection interface for your faction, and the new skill injectors offering Alpha players improved learning for a day. There will also be new balance passes for resource wars, jump drive, and improvements to pirate forward bases. So there’s stuff to delight even players who already have a subscription to the game, even if the big focus is on free players now flying around in far more dangerous ships.
Although you may still want Brendan’s tips for how to avoid being ganked even in these more powerful ships, because sometimes “sandbox” rhymes with “getting sand kicked in your face for no reason other than the fact that you’re there.”
is renowned for its cold, harsh universe and relatively few rules, and we’ve all heard the horror stories over the years of players losing everything they own to one ill-fated encounter with pirates or suicide gankers. There are whole corporations dedicated to ganking miners minding their own business, and the trade hub station in Jita is a hotbed for suicide attacks. If you’re planning to give EVE
a try when the new free-to-play upgrades arrive on December 5th
, or if you’ve already signed up to get a head-start on the competition, you might be worried about this happening to you.
The fact is that most players will never experience a suicide gank, and it’s relatively easy to avoid becoming the target of one. Bookmarks can be used creatively to give even the most persistent gankers the slip, for example, and the Weapon Safety system can prevent you from accidentally committing a crime and opening yourself up to attack from ordinary players. Remember, though, that managing risk is a core part of EVE, and with that in mind there are some common sense rules that can help you to minimise the risk of attack or the degree of loss should an attack occur.
In this edition of EVE Evolved, I give three top tips for staying safe in EVE Online that should help even if you’re completely new to the game.
You know what’s one MMO that seems to be capturing the interest of a lot of gamers these days? Warframe
. It seems to be sucking players in and surprising newcomers even four years after its debut.
“Warframe lends itself to replay in quite a number of different ways,” noted Why I Game in an extensive review. I Has PC is gushing over the various Warframe discoveries: “There is something for everyone here, all wrapped up in a tight, beautiful gameplay package. I have read people on Reddit learning new things about the game after putting in over 1000 hours already.”
Warframe not for you? This week’s edition of Global Chat points you toward MMO essays on the joys of climbing, grabbing free stuff in games, and the pain of healing a group of idiots. Check it out below!
While studio layoffs have an immediate effect on the people that are let go, the ramifications of such decisions can end up impacting players as well.
Case in point, EVE Online. CCP’s decision last month to shutter two of its studios included the layoff of most all of the studio’s social media team. One of these employees, CCP Logibro, helped players with organizing tournaments on a separate test server. Without this help, many of these tournaments are in doubt, including this year’s Anger Games. The event was to be the third in the game’s history, but CCP could not scramble to find someone to assist in this, and the tournament had to be canceled.
Players were upset over the last-minute cancellation, but CCP said it couldn’t be helped: “Sorry we weren’t able to support this as planned. At the minute, we’re currently working on prioritizing quite a few community projects and getting our heads together to resume regular service, but unfortunately the Anger Games happened to be too close to recent events for us to be able to assist.”
Here is hoping that next year, CCP will be in a more stable position and can assist players in getting this (and other) tournaments up and running. But for now, CCP is gambling with employees’ lives and hurting the game culture overall.