EVE Evolved: Where can EVE Online go from here?

    
15

Ask a hundred EVE Online players when the game was at its best and you’ll get a hundred different answers. For some older players that might be the first era of nullsec colonisation between 2005 and 2007, for others it could be the 2009-2011 years of unbounded wormhole exploration, and for some it could even be at its best right now thanks to the recent addition of the compelling singleplayer PvE in Abyssal Deadspace. EVE is a constantly evolving beast, and it’s been a lot of different things to different people in its storied 15-year history.

EVE thrived on the unknown in its early years, presenting a powerful sense of untapped potential and a blank canvas for players to paint with each other’s blood. A lot of that potential has been explored over the years in one expansion or another, some not quite matching up with player expectations and some absolutely blowing them out of the water. At this juncture on EVE‘s 15th year, I find myself thinking about the huge ideas that are still left to explore and the major features players would still get excited over today.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I take stock of some of the major the development avenues CCP has taken over the years and ask where the game can and perhaps should go from here.

Delivering on big visions

When it comes to the big visions that could get thousands of people truly excited for EVE again, there are two CCP has discussed in recent years that I think still have the capacity to absolutely knock it out of the park: Deep space exploration, and AI-driven NPC empires. Both of these were part of ex-Executive Producer Andie Nordgren‘s grand vision for the future of the game before she left CCP Games back in April, and there’s no guarantee that development will continue along those lines.

Exploration of completely uncharted star systems has been teased since 2013 and an expansion that does this feature justice has the potential to ignite the same passion as Apocrypha, the extremely highly rated expansion that added 2,500 hidden star systems accessible through a network of randomly shifting wormholes. Now that we have the first small player-built stargates, it’s easier to imagine players coming together to build and fight over something like the massive mega-stargate from EVE‘s 2014 Prophecy trailer. If CCP has to pick one major feature to deliver, deep space exploration gets my vote.

The roads less travelled

Throughout EVE‘s 15-year reign, CCP has explored several avenues for expanding EVE that didn’t exactly go to plan or didn’t meet expectations. Some of those could definitely be revisited for future developments, such as the atmospheric flight demo that was teased back in 2005 or 2006 but never made its way into the game. It would be interesting to have some new kind of PvE similar to Abyssal Deadspace but set in the atmosphere of a planet and limited to interceptors, for example.

Planetary Interaction also always felt like it could have been so much more, and I’d hate to think that’s all we’ll see of the planets of EVE. The teaser leading up to the Tyrannis expansion hinted at domination over the populations on planets and asked “Will you rule with benevolence or ruthless tyranny once all these worlds are yours?” but it ended up just being an industrial minigame with no population management or conflict. While this feature has improved since then with player owned customs offices and recent overhauls, I’d still welcome some new planet-based gameplay.

The most prominent case of abandoned plans in EVE‘s history (and possibly the game’s biggest development U-turn) has to be Incarna‘s Walking in Stations feature, which I still believe has a lot of promise and would be highly compelling to new players. It’s unlikely that CCP will want to re-tread this particular path, however, especially after it officially culled the Captain’s Quarters. Hilmar also confirmed at EVE Vegas 2018 that there are no plans for new avatar-based gameplay at this time, and yet part of me still thinks this is one of the killer features EVE eventually needs if it’s to survive beyond the second decade.

Sweating the small stuff

Putting the massive headline-grabbing features to one side for a moment, there are still plenty of smaller features and areas of the game that could stand improvement. CCP has done significant systems overhauls in the past with the industry revamp and the new fitting screen, both of which greatly improved the quality of players’ everyday game experiences.

Other features that could get similar overhauls significantly changing the game as part of an expansion might include the directional scanner, the overview, or agent missions — any parts of the game or UI that are starting to show their age. CCP already seems to be using this strategy, with tools such as The Agency and the new universal search bar helping to tie a lot of disparate parts of the game together.

A Corporation and Alliance overhaul is still badly needed too, and it formed one of the original prongs in former Executive Producer Andie “CCP Seagull” Nordgren’s future development timeline for EVE. In addition to a much more straight-forward and visual system for corp access and roles, I’d love to see new specialised corp types and new ways to share corp assets (to automate a ship replacement programme, for example). While it may not breathe new life into the game or attract new players the way a flashy feature might, it would help the dedicated power players of EVE to provide a home for others and that would make new players more likely to stick in the long term.

EVE Online has grown over the years from a hostile PvP bloodfest in an embryonic universe into a mature sandbox with many of its biggest potential avenues for expansion now explored. The past 15 years have seen the addition of everything from tiny interceptors to massive capital ships, and from the incredible addition of unstable wormholes and uncharted space to EVE‘s less-than-stellar usage of planet surfaces and station interiors.

Each new layer of gameplay has built on the last, so many of these expansion avenues may never be fundamentally revised and the scope for big blockbuster features has narrowed. Blockbuster features is exactly what I think we’ll need over the next set of years to hang future expansion efforts on, though, especially if EVE is to continue lighting a fire under players the way some of its best expansions have. So where can EVE Online go from here in the long term, and where should it? Should it descend onto surface of planets, explore the inside of stations and ships of New Eden, or maybe even launch into deep space?

EVE Online expert Brendan ‘Nyphur’ Drain has been playing EVE for over a decade and writing the regular EVE Evolved column since 2008. The column covers everything from in-depth EVE guides and news breakdowns to game design discussions and opinion pieces. If there’s a topic you’d love to see covered, drop him a comment or send mail to brendan@massivelyop.com!

15
LEAVE A COMMENT

Please Login to comment
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most liked
Subscribe to:
Reader
Bango on Laurelin

Make faction warfare central to everything in high-sec – every player, every corp, every alliance has to declare loyalty to a faction in order to use their space. So if I want to operate in Amarr space, I am fair game to other players who are allied to Min/Gal etc – whether in hi, low or null. Of course that would render it impossible for a corp to war dev on another if they are both declared to the same faction – but of course it opens up far more opportunities for pvp across all sectors of space.

MaliceEVE
Reader
MaliceEVE

Currently is virtually impossible to make a big battle between large alliances / coalitions without server crashing or without an extreme time dilatation that makes everything almost unplayable.
And there is an almost constant abuse of ridiculous mechanics such as wormhole ragerolling, gate bumping, wardecs, cloak camping and so on.
Certainly not a game for casual players or newbies, and if you really want to try it, prepare to open your wallet for skill injectors, plex, multiple accounts, etc.

Reader
starbuck1771

The key would be to do away with forced PvP. A trader or miner can’t go into nulsec without being a target neither can an Alpha player. This has been an issue that has costed EVE a ton of players and potential subscribers over the years. The only way to solve this is make PvP 100% consensual.

Reader
Stovakor21

That is not what eve is.. and I disagree eve wouldn’t of lasted if it was a carebear game. my Girlfriend has been playing 3+ years and she hates pvp and she mines in nulsec just fine . You just got to put some effort in, be social & make friends. join a corporation .

Reader
Wilhelm Arcturus

I think once CCP can dump POSes, and we are a step closer to that as of today with the removal of navigation functions from them, we can expect to see the long needed corp and alliance rework. Those have always been tied to the complicated POS code, so once the faithful old POS is gone that will be open for improvement.

The problem is, as always, that a game as old as EVE Online just isn’t going to be able to attract enough new players to justify any huge feature work. MMORPGs that age are all about maintaining the installed base. They want to keep current players invested and get old hands to come back now and again for some nice little update. In that scenario you don’t make radical changes that will drive people away because they simply are not going to be replaced. There is no blue sky dream feature out there.

So we’ll get quality of life updates. Maybe they’ll fix faction warfare and war decs. I think a good NPE is probably an impossible dream. There is too much to teach a new player and a tutorial that draws out too long is as likely to get people to log off as anything. It is the social bonds that keeps the game going.

In the end the game is old, has a horrible name, a bad reputation (such that even here it gets tagged with the pejorative “gankbox”), is too complicated to pick up quickly, has an objectively horrible UI, laughably bad mechanics, more arcane jargon that most professions, and won’t let you opt out of PvP. Given all that I am surprised it is still up and running and able to hold the critical mass of players necessary to keep the economy going. It remains game that spits in your eye and dares you to like it.

And yet there it is, still chugging along.

Reader
Arktouros

It can go straight to hell for not giving Alphas mining barges.

Reader
Koshelkin

Actually, that was a smart choice on ccp’s part.

Reader
Arktouros

It really wasn’t. We’ve hashed it multiple times over, there’s basically zero reason to not allow it.

Reader
Stovakor21

you would have 10x the bots in high sec and people with 50 accounts boxing them.

Reader
styopa

1) Entirely new engine. Seriously – it’s models floating in empty space. It’s not like they have a lot of terrain to convert – most of their “terrain” is skyboxes.
2) coupled with #2, add some degree of actual physics – I can thrust in X direction, stop thrusting and roll my ship to face nose-on Y direction. Get rid of “drag” entirely.
3) allow UI modding
4) enable fully scripted shiphandling; if I want to write a script that auto changes my crystals when target is N, warp to nearest stellar body” that should be fine. Yes, this means that elaborate scripts will quickly dominate ‘standard’ combats, but that’s more or less what would really happen…and will also really reward players who come up with innovative attack methods.
5) true space: the whole “rooms” thing is pretty 1990s.
6) add an actual living universe as a setting. The population of New Eden is something like 75 TRILLION people…99.99999999% we have nothing to do with, can’t interact with, don’t even see in the background. It’s an astonishingly dead, empty place. There are no commercial shipping lines, for example? Really? A normal person can’t transit from A to B by buying a place on a spaceliner? I can’t ship a package via Space Fedex without having to hire one of the godly 1% of the 1% of the 1% of the 1% capsuleers?
7) want a real pvp hardcore experience like some EVE pvp’ers claim they have (but don’t)? Then stop ACTUALLY providing safe havens, ever. You park your ship and log off? Then your ship is sitting there in game, defenseless (or run by AI defenses) until you log back on. Right now all the l33t pvp’ers talk smack about how they’re hardcore, but in fact when they don’t want to play any more, they scamper back to their safe place and log off, snug in their beds. In this re-imagining, if you’re a good person and not a murderous dick*, you can park in highsec, and aggressive, skilled, heavily armed forces will actively protect you (or maybe players doing this can get rewards). If you are a murderous l33t dick* sorry, the cops will impound your ship and certainly won’t protect it.
Basically, don’t let people have artificial safe havens for their ships OR CASH…if you’re an outlaw, you wouldn’t be able to use the ample New Eden credit system, so you’d have to actually carry your trillion$ in your ship… :)
Oh, and make this ‘account’ aware, at least, to end the ‘suicide gank’ – jump to friendly (unflagged) toon to loot junk and flee.

*to be clear, the “brutal” pvp-ness of Eve is imo exaggerated; I played for quite some time and found that by & large the community was helpful and friendly; even on the (less often than reported) occasion where someone did whack you, if you put up a decent fight they were cool. Then again, I never got to the point where I was flying anything of actual value.

Reader
Danny Smith

Considering i and everyone i know got a “its the new player experience bad?/is skill training boring?” survey probably a desperate bid to expand the shrinking userbase from the hyper aggressive assholes its currently infamous for.

Not joking or being snarky.

Reader
Castagere Shaikura

I enjoyed Eve in its first few years. This was before the community turned to crap.

Reader
Baemir

Has it, though? The community has some toxic elements for sure, but that is any group of humans. For the most part I’d say the EVE community is actually quite welcoming and nice. I had a far better experience with them than with supposedly great communities like GW2’s.

Reader
Oleg Chebeneev

Creating other games that are directly connected to EVE and have impact on it was really cool idea. Too bad Dust 512 was a mediocrity at best. Maybe when they now have Pearl Abyss behind them, they should expand on this idea. Create something that Dust wanted to be but never was. And other separate game with Space Stations gameplay, also directly connected to EVE.

3 games. 1 universe. 1 community.

Reader
Koshelkin

I would take a dogfighting game with all the ship options and ship loadout options eve has to offer. I can farm ships/mods/whatever in Eve and can use it in a separate game with juicy 3D action space combat. I’d install Eve in a heartbeat.