exploration

EVE Evolved: Calling time on EVE Online’s five-year vision

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, Inferno, 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 reins 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.

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Exploration MMO Wander quietly died and almost no one noticed

Cast your mind back to 2015 and see if you can recall an odd MMO launching on PC and PlayStation 4 called Wander. It was notable for being a non-combat game that focused on exploration and had you roaming about as a giant tree (at least part of the time). It was also notable for being called the “worst PlayStation 4 game ever.”

It was pretty obvious that Wander wasn’t going to be even a mild success by that fall, and the studio stopped issuing patches and updates for the game in September 2015.  The last Twitter message from the company was in late 2015, saying that there was another update in the works.

The deathknell for the game came in last month, when it was delisted from Steam, as Endgame Variable noticed: “Sorry to say we are now removing Wander from sale. We would have liked to switch it to be free, but alas our agreement with CryTek for use of the CryEngine will not allow that. Thanks to all Wanders and sorry.”

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Worlds Adrift previews the new mechanics coming to island creation

When September rolls around, island makers in Worlds Adrift will have more options for building a truly unique experience for players. The first island creator update has been previewed on the official site, and it includes things like turrets with various functions and surfaces which can’t be climbed, making navigation that much more difficult. You can even check out a gauntlet made with these new tools in the video just below.

Fortunately for those looking to explore your creations, you will also have more opportunities to test out the islands you make with a tester pistol that can be used to gun down turrets and the like. The game has also opened its doors to players around the world, with the caveat that its servers are still located in the EU and the USA and the game isn’t being localized for worldwide versions at this time. Still, if you speak the language and want to get in on the island-building action, you’ll have the option.

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No Man’s Sky patches in a fix to allow faster movement on every planet

Last week, No Man’s Sky patched in the option to build rovers for quickly traversing the landscape. That’s just a good thing, right? After all, it means that you could hop from place to place without having to use up fuel on your ship. Except that for some reason, the geobays required for these rovers could only be built on your home planet, meaning that you couldn’t use them at all on any new world you discovered. In other words, a great new tool for exploring strange new worlds could not be used to explore strange new worlds.

Whether this was an accident or an oversight is unclear, but either way, it’s been changed now. Players can now build geobays on new worlds, meaning you can hop in and start exploring with faster movement wherever you wind up. Or you can just put on an appropriate soundtrack and start crushing the local wildlife underneath your exploratory vehicle’s wheels. It’s all up to you, it’s your playground.

Source: Steam via Polygon

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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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WoW Factor: Where do we go after WoW Legion?

So at the risk of being dinged for spoiling the current World of Warcraft expansion, let me say this: Azeroth is not going to be destroyed or completely overtaken by the Burning Legion. That’s a given. The threat certainly feels real, and I hope more than anything that when our victory comes it feels like a natural outgrowth of the story rather than an arbitrary “well, the story says you win right now so the Burning Legion just got dumb,” but it’s pretty much a given that we’re going to win out in the end. The basic premise of the game doesn’t work otherwise.

The question, of course, is where we go next.

A lot of people have been speculating whether Legion is meant to be the final expansion for the game for precisely that reason, and while I think that’s obviously wrong on the face of it (it’d be silly to turn down that money, after all), the point stands that from a narrative perspective, this is it. This is the big confrontation that has been built up since Warcraft III, and if you have no doubt that there will be a next expansion, it still raises the question of “where does it go?”

Let’s explore the possibilities.

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NASA worker praises Elite: Dangerous for its attention to detail

No human being has ever flown to Saturn. The logistics of a manned mission out that far into space are just not realistic at this point; the closest we’ve gotten is the Cassini mission that arrived in 2004. But one NASA worker is gratified to have gotten a little closer to the experience with the help of Elite: Dangerous and its modeling of planetary rings around Saturn-like planets.

A post on Reddit details the observations made by the NASA player with an appreciative tone toward Frontier’s careful modeling of the ice within the ring and the satellites around the planets. If anyone knows what these things ought to look like, it’s someone whose job involved handling the probe exploring the reaches of our own solar system. So if you’ve ever been out in deep space and wondered how close it would be to the real thing, the answer is pretty darn close. Except for the part where you’re sealed in a tin can surrounded by hard vacuum, anyhow.

Source: Reddit

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Elite’s test server adds in super-charged jump plumes by mistake

To quote Douglas Adams, space is big. Really big. How in the world are you going to explore all of it, even in a game like Elite: Dangerous? It turns out that a math error helps in that particular goal, as the game’s next update contains a number of plumes rising from white dwarf stars and neutron stars which boost player jump distance. The intent was a 25% increase in jump distance, but a slight error in math has resulted in… more. Closer to a 300% increase in jump distance.

The result has been players hitting the “ceiling” of the game world and enjoying the ability to travel far beyond the boundaries intended to be in place, resulting in some astonishing journeys to points more than a thousand light years removed from the Milky Way. While players are aware it’s an error, there have been many calls to keep the error in place for its sheer fun value, and it has remained unchanged on the test server for the time being. So… who wants to go for a trip?

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EVE Evolved: No Man’s Sky vs EVE Online

Like many EVE Online fans, I’ve spent the past week fully immersed in the procedurally generated universe of No Man’s Sky and wondering what its mechanics and critical reception could mean for EVE Online. The two games are practically polar opposites in terms of gameplay and scope, and yet I can’t help but compare and contrast their different approaches to space simulation. Both games feature universes generated by algorithms, with EVE‘s thousands of stars being generated once and stored in a database while No Man’s Sky‘s universe is generated as needed on the player’s computer.

The biggest difference is that No Man’s Sky is an almost isolating singleplayer experience while EVE thrives on grand social gameplay. EVE‘s core design philosophy is to put thousands of players in a small box with limited resources and see what happens, but No Man’s Sky has a box of practically infinite size and no real resource scarcity or multiplayer interaction. Despite these huge differences, there are definite lessons that each game can learn from the other: No Man’s Sky could learn from EVE‘s hardcore difficulty and security rating system, and No Man’s Sky can teach EVE about the potential of untethered deep space exploration.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I compare the procedural generation used in EVE Online and No Man’s Sky and look at some of the game design lessons each game can learn from its counterpart.

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Legends of Azulgar enters Early Access tomorrow

Do you want to head off into the depths of the galaxy and forge your own path in a spaceship? That’s kind of the gold standard for space games, really. Add Legends of Azulgar into that grouping when it hits Early Access tomorrow after being voted into the Stream Greenlight service; the game is boasting a procedurally generated universe, your own ship and crew, lots of different build options, and so forth.

Currently, the game appears to have more single-player features than multiplayer, but a persistent universe for multiple players is apparently on its roadmap. When those features will actually arrive is another story, but it’s still nice to have another flavor of space explore-and-dominate game on the market, right?

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Black Desert Online’s Korean version adds in a new region and underwater combat

Now that Black Desert Online has landed in North America and is humming along nicely, it’s sometimes easy to forget that the game has several more updates waiting in the wings. The Korean version of the game just recently had a major patch which brings in a new continent to explore, along with changes to underwater combat, sea monsters, guild battleship combat, and all sorts of similarly fun stuff.

Steparu took a prowl through some of the new content, exploring the new region and diving under the waves to engage in battle with whatever could be found down there. Players will need to wait for a little while longer before the same content is available in North America, as the naval combat is expected to be released some time in Q4. Still, sea monsters are worth the wait, right?

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EVE Evolved: When was EVE Online’s golden age?

In the latest Massively Overthinking article, our Patreon patron Duane got us thinking about whether the golden age of the MMO industry has passed or MMOs are actually in a better position today than they’ve ever been. Today’s MMO market is certainly a lot more crowded than the relatively quiet one that EVE Online first released into back in 2003, lending gamers considerably more options for the types of game they want to play. Some of the older MMOs have collapsed or faded into obscurity in the face that growing competition, while EVE and others like it have constantly reinvented themselves in order to stay relevant.

EVE has lived through around 20 major expansion cycles and 19 smaller expansion-type releases, and many of them have significantly reinvented the game. While major changes definitely inject new life into the game and keep it unpredictable and entertaining, they also often signal the end of an era. Since I started playing EVE in early 2004, there have been plenty of watershed moments when the game has changed forever and the times we enjoyed before them will never quite come again. When we look back at empires that have fallen, PvP styles that are no longer effective, arms races that are long since obsolete, and major features that were best enjoyed immediately after release, EVE has lived through plenty of distinct ages that will never come again. So which one is EVE‘s golden age?

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I unabashedly don my rose-tinted glasses and look back at two golden ages in EVE Online‘s past that I’m incredibly glad to have been part of.

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No Man’s Sky developers thank players for their understanding of its delay

Those eagerly awaiting No Man’s Sky must continue to eagerly await a bit longer, as the game’s current delayed release is August 9th in the US and August 10th in Europe. Managing director Sean Murray penned an update to the fans apologizing for the delay recently, noting that the title is the hardest job he’s yet had while also stating that failing to deliver the game in its best state is not an option:

This is the hardest working, most talented team I’ve ever worked with, and I’m so proud of what we’re doing. For all our sakes though, we get one shot to make this game and we can’t mess it up.

Murray goes on to thank players for their understanding the reasons behind the delay even as he apologizes for such a delay being necessary. The development is apparently still on-track and producing a better game, so while you’ll have to wait a bit longer to get the finished product in your hands, hopefully the end result will be better for the wait.

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