eve online

Play EVE Online for free
Official Site: EVE Online
Studio: CCP Games
Launch Date: May 6, 2003
Genre: Sci-Fi Sandbox
Business Model: Hybrid Free-to-Play (Optional Subscription, Cash Shop)
Platform: PC

CCP's live-action EVE Online ARG looks like the best thing at this year's EVE Fanfest

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:

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EVE Online's huge stations will soon mine entire moons

That's no moon, it's a space station... that's mining the innards out of that moon.

It is, of course, one of EVE Online's "upwell structures," massive player-built facilities that float about in space and perform useful tasks. As last year's citadels and engineering structures have proved a hit, CCP is now working on a new type of upwell structure, refineries, for its next patch.

"Refineries will be the premiere structure for resource collection and processing, with bonuses to reprocessing and the exclusive ability to fit moon mining and reaction service modules," the studio wrote. "These structures will usher in completely new gameplay for moon mining and reactions, as well as linking into future resource collection gameplay."

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EVE Online addresses PLEX overhaul Aurum conversion but not insider trading

Last week, we covered CCP's new plan to change EVE Online's 30-day sub currency, PLEX, by effectively breaking it into smaller chunks and turning it into more of a cash shop currency that's more easily fungible and tradeable.

It was an announcement not without its detractors, as Massively OP's EVE columnist Brendan Drain explained over the weekend: Some players were miffed that PLEX will be transportable without the risk of ship-to-ship movement, while others grumbled about the short-term effect on the market and poor conversion rates for the secondary currency, Aurum, and the lack of conversion for players with fewer than 1000 Aurum. And as is common with such in-game economies, still others are up in arms over apparent market corruption, as it appears that players with insider information began trading ahead of the announcement to manipulate the economy -- as Brendan suggests, likely a CSM (player council) member privy to information ahead of the embargo lift.

Today, CCP posted an update meant to assuage some of the concerns about the new program.

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EVE Evolved: What's the deal with EVE's PLEX changes?

This week CCP Games announced that some big changes are on the way for PLEX in EVE Online. The PLEX or "30-day Pilot's License EXtension" is a virtual item that represents 30 days of subscription time and can be bought for cash and then sold to other players for in-game ISK. This simple mechanic has proven to be one of the most important innovations in the subscription MMO business model over the years, allowing players with lots of in-game wealth to effectively play for free while permitting cash-rich players to buy in-game currency without funding dodgy farming operations that can disrupt the game world. Dozens of games now support some kind of player-mediated currency roughly like PLEX.

The proposed changes are intended to simplify EVE's business model by merging PLEX with the microtransaction currency Aurum. Players will also be able to put their PLEX into invulnerable account-wide PLEX Vaults that are accessible at all times rather than having to move the valuable items manually by ship. There's been significant backlash from the EVE community over the newfound invulnerability of PLEX, plans to delete some microtransaction currency from the game without compensation, and the possibility that someone leaked the announcement to friends early in order to make a profit. So what's the deal with these PLEX changes, and why are some EVE players going nuts over them?

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at the upcoming changes to the safety of PLEX, the opportunities that more granular PLEX could have for EVE, and why players are up in arms over plans to delete Aurum from thousands of accounts.

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EVE Online overhauls PLEX currency system, ending tales of PLEX-stuffed ship destruction

CCP announced this morning that it's overhauling PLEX in EVE Online. As the currency works now, players buy the 30-day sub token known as PLEX with cash and then either use it or sell it to other players in exchange for in-game currency, isk.

"We really like PLEX because it lets you players in the in-game market decide what trade-offs you want to make between time, isk, and real money," CCP Seagull explains in a new video today. "It also gives us at CCP a type of income that doesn't mess with the integrity of the game design." The overhaul won't impact that philosophy, but here's what is changing:

PLEX will be broken down into smaller chunks; one current PLEX, worth around $15 or 30 days of sub time, will now work out to 500 new PLEX, which is intended to allow players more flexibility in trade and allow CCP to effectively sell smaller sub lengths (although it has not announced its intention to do this) as well as smaller items in the cash shop using PLEX as currency.

Possibly of more interest to non-EVE players is the fact that the new PLEX Vault in the player inventory will allow players to move PLEX without actually putting it in their ships. No more wacky stories about people losing thousands of dollars' worth of PLEX while dragging them in ships across the galaxy!

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Albion Online AMA on pay-to-win, free trials, and global servers

Sandbox Interactive ran an AMA for its in-development indie MMO Albion Online on Reddit last night, covering everything from the game's business model to how players in far-flung locations fare on its global server. Here are the highlights!

  • There are no plans for a freebie weekend or trial as a result of fairness to founders and botting issues -- as well as performance issues. "The game is extremely well populated as it is, and we'd be worried that free trial could slow down the servers."
  • Likewise, SI will be sticking to its original plan to reward founders with early access, though players have expressed concern over the potential for an ArcheAge-like land-grab.
  • In response to players bringing up pay-to-win and the game's $30 buy-in, SI explained the game's business model is based on EVE Online's and that while players can essentially gain an advantage by buying and then exchanging real-money currency for in-game currency, it won't afford players a guaranteed win. As for the currency exchange, it should be possible to play the market.

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EVE Online players lead $14,000 massacre in a busy trade hub

It's said that you're never truly safe in EVE Online unless you're docked or logged off, and sometimes not even then. If someone wants you dead badly enough, he can get to you even in the heart of high-security space surrounded by legions of CONCORD police ships. The police in EVE will get revenge on anyone who attacks another player in high-security space, but they aren't very big on crime prevention and take a few seconds to kick in. If you can get enough players together in high-damage ships, you have enough time to take out some pretty big prey before CONCORD comes to promptly turn your attack fleet into floating scrap.

That's the premise behind suicide ganking, and it wouldn't be EVE if someone didn't turn this most heinous of crimes into a huge player-run event or even an annual tradition. Starting in 2012, the Burn Jita event sees hundreds of players in the Goonswarm Federation alliance flock to EVE's main trade hub system of Jita for a weekend to suicide gank as many industrial ships, freighters, and random passers-by as possible. Burn Jita 4 took place recently, and killboard records estimate the final damage total to be over 750 billion ISK (worth roughly $10,000 to $14,000 via PLEX conversion at current rates). According to the latest economic report, this impressive figure is actually only around 2% of the total ship value destroyed game-wide throughout February.

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EVE Online starts CSM voting, posts whole bunches o' numbers and graphs

The space air is electric with excitement as EVE Online has opened up the vote for the next members of the Council of Stellar Management. There are many candidates from all around the world vying for a spot on the influential player council.

According to CCP, the CSM is "a player advocacy group, consisting of 10 members democratically elected by the players to advise and assist CCP in the continuous development of EVE. The CSM brings focused, structured feedback from the community to CCP and represents its views and interests."

And if you really want to nail home that old cliché of EVE being "spreadsheets in space," check out the many, many graphs of the game's February economic report. Read it to your kids at night to get them to sleep!

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Crowfall video addresses group balance, disciplines, and skill training

Crowfall Design Lead Thomas Blair and Senior Game Designer Mark Halash are back today with a new Q&A video answering player queries. Here are the highlights!

  • Regarding armor mitigation: You'd best wear armor on every part of your bod, else you're giving your opponents obvious holes to attack.
  • Alpha testers are noobing it up with low-quality resources and handmade armor right now, but eventually ArtCraft expects players to use high-quality resources for mass-produced, top-quality armor.
  • Basic crafting as a skill is a parent stat for other crafts that you will definitely want as a specialized crafter.
  • Weapon efficiency hasn't been fully tuned for testing yet, so don't be misled into thinking only damage matters.
  • Blair thinks testers are having a hard time seeing group balance at the moment since disciplines and their powers and counters aren't fully in the game.

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Dean Hall's space sandbox MMO Ion is dead

Way back in 2015, Dean Hall announced Ion, a ridiculously ambitious sci-fi space sandbox MMO built using Improbable's SpatialOS. And now it's dead.

Eurogamer went digging and got statements from Improbable and Hall that imply it's game over for the game; Improbably says it's not working on Ion but wouldn't really comment further, and Hall said that he and his New Zealand studio aren't working on it either -- in fact, it hasn't been active since fall of last year and couldn't be done without Improbable. There's clearly plenty left being unsaid.

And just so we understand exactly what we're losing here: Hall was adamant at E3 2015 that the game was an MMO. "We had a lot of marketing people saying, don't call it an MMO. Everyone will think it's orcs and wizards running around," he said at the time. "It's stale [the MMO genre]. My point is, that's exactly why we have to own it as an MMO. It is. It's inspired by EVE Online and Space Station 13. I'm hoping that we can show there are so many areas you can innovate in terms of MMOs."

Dammit.

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EVE Evolved: Hints of EVE Online's summer update

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?

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EVE Online saw big bump in players and profits in 2016

Don't count EVE Online as over and out just yet. The long-running space sandbox reported a remarkably good year for 2016, posting an increase in players and profits from the year previous.

CCP announced this week that its revenues rose from $65.7M in 2015 to $86.1M in 2016, representing a healthy 30% increase. Even better, the game's daily active user count doubled over the year. These could well be thanks to EVE's shift to a free-to-play model, which propelled the game up to over 50,000 concurrent users by last November. The company also reported that its VR titles broke even in 2016.

Over on the player side of things, a massive swarm of organized gankers held its annual "Burn Jita" event over the past weekend. Over $13,000 of victim ships were torched when hundreds of suicide pilots flocked to a trade hub in cheaply outfitted ships to take down freighters and other defenseless ships.

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Sparc is CCP's new non-EVE VR sports simulator, due out 2017

A couple of weeks ago, I was puzzling over the fact that besides a few golfing and racing games, we don't have many sports games inside the MMORPG genre -- we leap right from sandbox sport fishing to full-scale murder with little in-between.

I dunno whether CCP's new VR venture will count, since it's multiplayer but not MMO exacty, but it's definitely in the ballpark, pun intended: It's called Sparc, and the MMO studio is calling it a "unique virtual sport" where "players connect online to compete with each other in fast and fun full-body VR gameplay." Unlike CCP's other games, this one won't be set in the EVE Online universe in any way.

"Sparc's skill-based, full-body gameplay makes for a fast-paced and fun physical sport. Players use their motion controllers to throw projectiles at their opponents from a distance, and in turn defend themselves by dodging, blocking, or deflecting the incoming attacks. Players can join one-on-one matches with friends online or find opponents via matchmaking. Sparc enables players to connect and compete in an online community. [...] Sparc includes multiple two-player game modes as well as single-player challenges and training modes, plus a range of customization and personalization options for competitors."

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