‘s massive and largely player-run economy has been a frequent topic of discussion on MMO blogs and gaming news sites over the years. The unregulated nature of EVE
‘s sandbox and the fact that all players interact together in a single server has made it the target of high-level studies in free-market economics, and CCP Games
even had a full-time economist on staff from 2007 to 2014 to analyse it. Dr Eyjólfur Gudmundsson and his team delivered the in-depth Quarterly Economic Newsletter (QEN) on the state of the game until the reports were cancelled in 2011
due to being time-consuming and costly to produce.
While the majority of EVE players are content to run missions or smash spaceships together for fun and profit, for some it’s the complex markets and industrial gameplay that hold their interest. They fill the Market Discussion forum with speculation and pack the room during the economy talks at events like EVE Fanfest, and they’ve been asking CCP for more economic data since the QENs were cancelled. This week they got their wish as CCP Quant released the first of a new series of monthly economic updates packed full of graphs and statistics from all corners of the EVE universe.
In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at the new monthly economic reports and glean some useful information from February’s stats. Where is the safest place to mine? What effect did Skill Trading have? And which nullsec alliances are moving their assets?
expansion is due to launch this spring, transforming the way many of us play the game through the introduction of player-owned citadels. Building and running your own space stations seems like a no-brainer for a space sandbox MMO, but until now it’s been a very complicated and costly affair that usually appealed to only the most hardcore of players and corporations. Citadels promise to open that gameplay to everyone
and make it a hell of a lot more compelling, with easy-to-use stations that can be built almost anywhere in space for as little as a few hundred million ISK.
This expansion will be the biggest step yet toward CCP’s grand sandbox vision for accessible space colonisation revealed at Fanfest 2013, with future steps including things like industrial structures and player-built stargates. Developers have now released the preliminary stats for the new structures and all of the modules and rigs that can be fitted to them, in addition to the proposed component lists and fuel costs. This information has sparked fresh speculation on how each of the three sizes of citadel will be used when the expansion goes live in just a few months, and many are already buying up materials and making plans.
In this edition of EVE Evolved, I summarise all of the recently released information on player-owned citadels and draw some conclusions on how each of the three citadels will be used.
This week we heard the news that CCP Games will be officially shutting down PS3 online shooter DUST 514
in May to start work on a PC reboot. While this is obviously disappointing for the small but dedicated community that has stuck with the game over the years, it’s a predictable end that we always knew was coming and the prospect of a PC reboot is interesting. DUST 514
was an incredibly ambitious game that aimed to merge EVE Online
‘s spaceship warfare with planetary conquest on the ground in realtime, but it never managed to harness that potential. We got very limited forms of cross-game communication and a barely useful orbital bombardment mechanic, and the core FPS gameplay wasn’t compelling enough on its own.
The new reboot is in the very early development stages and is being built from the ground up on Unreal Engine 4, so we probably won’t be getting our hands on it any time soon. By the time it does arrive, there’ll be several more first person shooters on the market and it may be competing with games like Destiny and Star Citizen on first-person gameplay. CCP will have to do something unique and compelling with the new FPS to make an impact, and that means playing on EVE‘s main strengths as a single-shard sandbox MMO with intense wars and community politics. For the new FPS to be a success, it will have to be much more tightly integrated with EVE.
In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at why DUST failed in its execution on PS3 and what kind of gameplay and features I think the reboot needs to be a success.
In all the time that I’ve been writing about EVE Online
, one of the most common recurring comments is that the game badly needs some compelling avatar-based gameplay. Many people have been compelled to try EVE
over the years after hearing some crazy story of a record-breaking heist or massive ship battle only to be put off that you spend all of your time trapped inside a spaceship (or an escape pod if you run into trouble). CCP has even been teasing us with the idea
of getting out of our ships and walking around inside stations since as far back as Fanfest 2006, but the feature never fully materialised.
Originally called Ambulation and later renamed to Walking in Stations, EVE‘s avatar gameplay represented a massive technical challenge of a scale that the studio had never tackled before. The feature was reportedly partially developed and then scrapped several times over the years, with grand plans periodically emerging for things like player-owned social bars, gambling minigames, and holographic war rooms. When the feature finally landed in 2011’s Incarna expansion, it didn’t live up to expectations, and the backlash from its ludicrous microtransaction prices and the perception of wasted developer time had serious repercussions for CCP’s bottom line. Development on avatar-based gameplay ceased at that point, but nearly five years on I’m beginning to think that now would be the perfect time to revisit it.
In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at the reasons that avatar gameplay failed in EVE the first time and why I think now may be a good time to pick it back up again.
In the previous edition of EVE Evolved
, I looked back at some of the big highlights EVE Online
throughout 2015. It was a year that revolutionised practically every aspect of EVE
‘s day-to-day gameplay with a flood of updates, that broke the stranglehold the game’s largest alliances had on territory, and that seriously advanced the in-game storyline in an awesome direction. It was also a year of new beginnings for developer CCP Games
, with the studio releasing the rights to World of Darkness
, securing a $30 million investment
in its VR labs, and making a deal to bundle its upcoming VR dogfighter EVE: Valkyrie
with the retail model of the Oculus Rift.
As we close the book on 2015 and begin writing the first chapter of a new year, it’s an appropriate time to the look forward at what’s to come for EVE Online in 2016 and speculate on what awesome stuff might be just over the horizon. The Citadel expansion is just months away and will let corporations of any size carve out their own little corners of the galaxy. The Drifter invasion of known space and the recent Upwell Consortium storylines will continue to play out in live in-game events that you won’t want to miss. New server hardware will be a welcome improvement as the game may finally be growing again, corp changes will help newbies get into the game, and new PvE features will encourage activity again.
In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at three big things happening in EVE Online in 2016 that you definitely don’t want to miss out on.
It’s been a busy year for sci-fi MMO EVE Online
and developer CCP Games
received more updates throughout 2015 than in any previous year, though it came in many small releases rather than a few big expansions. We got a whole new sovereignty system and new territorial warfare mechanics that have started to break apart many large alliances. We got new ships with the tech 3 tactical destroyers, tech 2 command destroyers, tech 2 logistics frigates, and more. Practically every module was also rebalanced, the graphics have seen a number of serious upgrades, and the NPC storyline began to seriously heat up with the appearance of a new Drifter faction emerging from wormhole space with insanely advanced technology.
We got a good look at the future for EVE‘s gameplay at EVE Fanfest 2015 and again at EVE Vegas 2015, with plans to return to big blockbuster expansions with the Citadels expansion in spring 2016. EVE‘s player activity also showed a slow decline in tandem with global MMO subscriptions in 2015 but appears to have finally stabilised toward the end of the year. As a company, CCP continued to position itself as a leading player in the upcoming VR games market with its immersive dogfighter EVE: Valkyrie and the recently released mobile VR game EVE: Gunjack. We also heard very little from PS3 shooter DUST 514, and the rights to the World of Darkness franchise were sold off to another developer.
In this year-in-review edition of EVE Evolved, I look back at the past year of gameplay updates, lore and news coverage for EVE and CCP.
Practically every MMO does some kind of event for the holidays, but how do you bring the holiday cheer to a dystopian sci-fi universe set in the far-future of a warring galaxy? EVE Online
usually just gives us gifts and snowball launchers, but this year CCP Games
has gone all-out with its new Operation Frostline holiday event
that ties in with the game’s core storyline and offers a whole series of prizes to be found. Players have reported finding lots of avatar clothing, Quafe Ultra speed-boosters, ship skins, and synth boosters as loot. If you’re lucky, you can also find limited run copies of the new Endurance tech 2 ice mining frigate, valuable impants, and even PLEX or multiple character training certificates. The patch also adds a heap of new stuff to the game
, including new battle damage and thruster graphics and new logistics frigates.
The Operation Frostline sites themselves can be easily completed by a new player in a cruiser and spawn throughout the game, even in highsec and wormhole space. The storyline surrounding the site’s appearance all over EVE revolves around the ongoing arms race between the various pirate factions in EVE Online. Over the past year we’ve seen covert research labs belonging to several major pirate factions being uncovered, each one introducing some new piece of tech into the game and kicking off a mini gold rush. This time it’s the Serpentis pirate faction that has been caught with its pants down, as Mordu’s Legion has begun revealing the locations of their secret research facilities across the universe.
In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at the lore behind the Operation Frostline sites, give some tips on completing them, and highlight some other major changes that landed with this week’s patch.
With over 12 years of development under its belt, EVE Online
has now revamped, rebalanced or replaced practically every part of its gameplay at least once. Almost every ship and module has now undergone extensive rebalancing in the past few years, for example, and the entire research and industrial side of the game was completely re-imagined last year. Just recently territorial warfare got a massive revamp, and player-owned structures are about to get an overhaul with the Citadels
expansion next year. So many parts of the game have been iterated on and improved since their introduction, but there are still a few things that are badly in need of an update.
The most cited example of dated gameplay in EVE is its probably agent mission system, which sends the player on an endless stream of odd-jobs to ferry items from A to B or blow up a pack of bad guys. We’ve seen some good movement on this front with things like the burner missions and CCP’s long-term vision for PvE is pretty epic, but agents aren’t the only feature badly in need of a redesign. Low-security space has been badly neglectled over the years, off-grid warfare link boosting alts continue to plague small-scale PvP, and the temporary Sansha incursions that kicked off in 2010 have been running for five years.
In this edition of EVE Evolved, I tackle three EVE features that are desperately in need of an overhaul and describe potential solutions for each of them.
Huge PvP battles have always been a core part of EVE Online
‘s territorial warfare gameplay, with fleets of hundreds or even sometimes thousands of players slamming into each other in the depths of space. Battles usually erupt at points of interest such as stargates, space stations, sovereignty command nodes or individual player-owned structures. There might even be multiple fights going on simultaneously at different points of interest all across the same star system, each of them happening within its own little bubble of space just a few hundred kilometers across. Now it looks like CCP may be planning to increase the size and complexity of those battlefields by a huge factor in preparation for the Citadel expansion in spring
We’ll be able to build citadels close enough together that they’re only a few seconds warp from each other, but due to a quirk of how EVE divides its space up into small bubbles, structures and players more than 500km or so apart usually can’t even see each other. That’s the problem CCP is experimenting with right now, with grid sizes on the test server currently increased from around 500km in diameter to 8,000km or more. This would allow players to build communities of citadels in order to work together or to use them as huge battlefields where warring corporations can have staging citadels within visual range of each other. The change could have wide consequences for everything from territorial warfare to piracy and even industry, and it could be the first big step toward finally fixing corporation wars in high security space.
In this edition of EVE Evolved, I examine what increasing grid sizes would mean for EVE and propose some much-needed changes for the war declaration system that could soon be possible thanks to the Citadel expansion.
has always been a very long-term game, with players setting goals that often take months to achieve and forming friendships over the course of years. This poses a real problem for new players, most of whom find the game slow and don’t stick with it long enough to become part of the community
. People often hear about some awesome battle or read an interesting article on EVE
and finally decide to give it a shot, only to discover that it plays very differently to other MMOs and doesn’t give them any direction. Even players who have been around for years will often admit that it took them two or three trial attempts to finally get into in the game and finding their place in the community. Faced with this problem, CCP has tried to revamp the new player experience several times over the years with limited success.
After the recent announcement that CCP will be letting players buy and sell skillpoints on the open market, I got into a debate with some friends on whether skillpoints represent a real barrier to new players and what CCP could potentially do about it. Practically everything you want to do in the game is locked behind a skillpoint barrier, and that’s assuming you can figure out what you want to do. There are career agents to introduce players to the various parts of the game if you know where to find them, but the majority of the new player experience occurs through an Opportunities system that guides the player through a series of achievement-like popups. I’ve begun to wonder whether these systems could be modified to produce something better: A Life Goals achievement system that rewards players with skillpoints for hitting major milestones.
In this edition of EVE Evolved, I pitch an idea for a change to the new player experience that would help players invest in their characters and encourage them to settle in the community long-term.
‘s realtime skill training system has been a major point of contention throughout the game’s lifetime, being a boon for those with little time to invest but often stunting players who prefer to work toward goals. While you could grind your way to your first billion ISK and can play the market freely, skill training will slow your progression. The system made a lot of sense back in EVE
‘s early life when subscriptions were the only game in town, as you’re guaranteed to make progress even if you don’t have time to play. EVE
quickly got a reputation as an MMO that rewards careful planning more than hours sunk into grinding content, and it settled in that niche for quite some time. For new players, however, skills represent roadblocks lasting anywhere from a few weeks to a few months depending on what ship you want to fly or what role you want to play.
The inability to grind for skillpoints has been a common complaint among today’s prospective players, who believe they’ll never be able to catch up to veterans no matter how good they become at the game. Those complaints may soon be silenced, however, as CCP has announced plans to let players extract skillpoints in unwanted skills and sell them on the open market as Transneural Skill Packets. You’ll be able to respec your character by extracting skills you don’t use and re-assigning their points to other fields, and players who grind their way to riches will be able to buy skillpoints to boost their characters. The player reaction to the announcement has been oddly mixed, with over 150 pages filled with doomsday predictions on the forum but more cautiously optimistic responses from the EVE blogging community and subreddit. So what’s the big deal with selling skillpoints, and does it make EVE pay-to-win?
In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at EVE‘s skill system, what will change with the introduction of the Transneural Skill Packet system, and whether this makes EVE pay-to-win.
When EVE Online‘s development switched from two major expansions per year to ten smaller releases, the benefits were pretty difficult to argue with. EVE had garnered a reputation for pushing out new features before they were ready just to make the expansion deadline and then moving swiftly on to the next big idea. Moving to smaller but more frequent releases means a missed deadline is only a delay of a few weeks and completed features don’t sit in limbo for up to six months until the next expansion window. The results in terms of gameplay are pretty hard to argue with too, as EVE has seen more updates and content in the past year than in any previous year.
Dropping expansions hasn’t been a wholly positive change, however, and in the long term I think it may have actually harmed EVE‘s player numbers. The smaller updates don’t make much of a splash in the media and don’t seem to make people excited to play or resubscribe in the way that a big blockbuster expansion does. Some big expansion-worthy features have been deployed in the dozen small patches released over the past year, only to slip silently under the radar of past and prospective players. Executive Producer Andie Nordgren recently announced that EVE is switching back to a standard expansion model next year, but with the twist that expansions will be released when ready rather than forced out the door for an arbitrary six month deadline.
In this edition of EVE Evolved, I discuss some of the problems caused by smaller updates and why I think big themed expansions are an integral part of EVE.
In the past two editions of EVE Evolved, I looked at the Aegis sovereignty warfare overhaul and how it played out in a recent war in the Providence region. The new system has been a pretty big success in terms of improving the day-to-day play of those living in the depths of null-security space, but there have been a few casualities. As I mentioned in last week’s article, capital ships have lost their primary roles in the new war dynamic and are fast becoming unnecessary on the battlefield. The new gameplay encourages the use of highly mobile gangs of medium sized ships such as battlecruisers and cruisers, leaving not much use for battleships and capitals. Dreadnoughts have been made completely obsolete as we don’t shoot at structures any more, triage carriers have little use in a war that doesn’t need battleships, and you don’t need supercapitals to counter enemy capitals if they aren’t fielding any.
CCP has promised that a full capital ship rebalance is in the works to give EVE Online‘s capital ships new roles in nullsec warfare, and a recent devblog has shed some light on the first step of that plan. Dreadnought pilots will be happy to know that shooting at structures is coming back in a limited fashion; the new Citadel structures that are planned to eventually replace player-owned starbases and space stations will use a new damage mitigation mechanic instead of the entosis mechanic. There’s still no word on what roles carriers, supercarriers or titans will be squeezed into, but there are plenty of ways they could be adapted to serve important strategic roles in the new sovereignty gameplay. Could supercarriers become actual carriers for moving fleets behind enemy lines? And maybe titans could be the mobile space stations we’ve read about in the EVE lore.
In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at a few problems with the new damage mitigation mechanic and suggest possible strategic roles for the other capital ships.