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
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.
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.
At the end of February, CCP Games announced a new game that has nothing to do with EVE Online or even the EVE IP. Named Sparc, the new VR game is being pitched as a virtual sport environment with competitive online gameplay and an online social space. It has the aesthetic of the Tron-style cyberspace world that movies promised us throughout the 80s, and uses motion controls to deliver full-body VR gameplay. Even the social space will have a bit of an 80s arcade vibe, with players able to gather around and watch others compete and challenge the reigning champion to a match.
Anyone who’s been to EVE Fanfest in recent years will recognise Sparc immediately. The game made its public debut as Disc Arena in Fanfest 2015’s VR Labs demo section alongside three other VR experiments, and made a re-appearance the following year with motion controls as Project Arena. Just as Project Nemesis became the release title Gunjack, this game has now graduated into a full production title with its own development team and budget. Sparc is due for release at some point in 2017 on Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR, and we managed to get some hands-on time with an early version at this year’s Fanfest.
Developer CCP Games made its first foray into the console FPS market back in 2013 with the incredibly ambitious DUST 514, and things didn’t exactly go to plan. The core FPS gameplay wasn’t exactly up to scratch, and the tenuous realtime link with the EVE Online universe didn’t hook enough people in the long-term. DUST shut its doors last year, but hope for a successor came in EVE Fanfest 2016 when devs hosted a live playtest of an early work-in-progress EVE FPS codenamed Project Nova that’s being built from the ground up.
The game was a huge hit with attendees last year and CCP’s Snorri Árnason confirmed that long-term plans for the game did potentially involve territorial warfare and some kind of economic link to EVE. No new information had been released on Nova since that test, but this week at EVE Fanfest 2017 it was confirmed that CCP is still working on the game. Development of Project Nova has now been moved to Reykjavik to be closer to the EVE Online dev team, which is a good sign that it may graduate from prototype status to a full-fledged production game. Check out our coverage of last year’s Nova playtest for more info on how the game plays.
The scientific community has been buzzing lately with the incredible news that a star system less than 40 lightyears away named TRAPPIST-1
was found to contain seven rocky planets of similar size to Earth. Three of the planets are in the star’s habitable zone, the narrow orbital band in which water should be found in a liquid state and so life may be possible. TRAPPIST-1 has fired the imaginations of the general public, who have been getting involved directly in the search for new exoplanets via crowdsourcing initiatives such as the Exoplanet Explorers project on Zooniverse
At EVE Fanfest 2017, it was announced that that players of MMO EVE Online will soon be joining the great exoplanet hunt too through an interesting new mini-game that challenges players to find elusive planetary transits in data from telescopes around the world. Developed in collaboration with citizen science company MMOS, the University of Reykjavik, and the University of Geneva, the task will come to EVE as a Project Discovery mini-game with a variety of in-game rewards. It’s pretty exciting to think that players waging war over planets around other stars in a virtual universe will soon be finding them in the real world.
Read on to find out how exactly we find planets around other stars, and how this is going to be integrated with EVE Online.
Virtual reality dogfighter EVE: Valkyrie has taken centre stage in the emerging VR landscape, growing from a tech demo developed by some devs at CCP Games in their spare time to become a bundled launch title on the Oculus Rift and launch on several other VR platforms. The game has received several major updates since its launch just over a year ago, adding a new Carrier Assault game mode, weekend Wormhole events, a competitive league system, and more.
Today at EVE Fanfest 2017 and as just announced by the official PlayStation blog, CCP Games revealed the next step for Valkyrie — and it’s a pretty big one! The Groundrush update will add a radically different way of playing the game with the first ever ground-based map, “Solitude,” which will see you dogfighting within the atmosphere of a planet and dodging through pirate structures. The update also expands co-op play to the Control and Carrier Assault game modes, adds some new Wormhole events, and adds official support for the Steam Controller. The Groundrush update officially launches on April 11th, and you can check out the trailer below.
In a macabre move, EVE Fanfest 2017
(this coming weekend!) is merging game activity and convention to bring its players in contact with a deadly plague
. Oh, it’s a fictional
plague (we assume), but still it will be very interesting to see how CCP
involves players first-hand in a game-shaping event.
What’s going on is this: Right now in EVE Online there’s this horrible, completely fatal Kyonoke Plague spreading across several systems. When players arrive at Fanfest, they’ll find themselves part of the plague quarantine while trying to collectively figure out how to combat the disease. The end result of this event will then affect the MMORPG going forward.
Got your tix for EVE Online’s
EVE Fanfest 2017? Ready to set aside your in-game enmity and play nice with your fellow gamers for a few days — or not, depending on what sort of corp you’re in? Decided cowering in your house watching streams is the wiser choice?
Good news for you then no matter which way you roll: CCP has released a detailed blog post today laying out the structure of this year’s event. Expect the usual round of keynotes, panels, debates, and player presentations, plus beer, a check-in with the Project Discovery scientists, a 2v2 single elimination tourney, more beer, tours for people who got dragged along and want to see Iceland’s beauty, and beer. But the best bit looks to be a genuinely cool live-action game called The YC119 Kyonoke Inquest:
The EVE Online community was a little surprised this week by what appeared to be the accidental early reveal of the feature list for this summer’s update. Someone noticed that the official EVE Updates page had a new “summer” section filled with details of upcoming features but with placeholder images attached. The page disappeared shortly thereafter, but not before someone snapped a screenshot of it and published it to Reddit. CCP Falcon tweeted that this wasn’t a leak but that “a few cards were published early without images” and they’ll be re-published properly on Monday. This hasn’t stopped the EVE community and bloggers from speculating heavily on the content of the early reveal, and I must admit that I can’t resist doing the same.
The summer update comes ahead of the Drilling Platforms discussed in my previous article, but it looks like part of the impending resource-gathering revolution is coming early in the form of a complete re-design of the mechanics behind asteroid belts. Strategic cruisers will also be getting a significant balance pass across the board, and the recently announced Exoplanet search minigame will be coming to Project Discovery. The update also includes graphical overhauls for several space station types, redesigns of the Vexor and Ishtar drone ships, new explosion graphics, and improvements to the new player experience. Outside the game, we’ll be getting all-new forums boasting new features for sharing and engagement, and a chat system that keeps going even when the server is offline.
In this edition of EVE Evolved, I dig into a few of these early reveals and speculate on what they might mean for EVE. Is a total mining overhaul coming earlier than expected, and could we get EVE chat on our phones?
If you followed our EVE Fanfest coverage last year
, you might remember CCP announcing plans to add a whole series of new deployable structures
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.