eve evolved

EVE Evolved is an EVE Online column by Brendan Drain. [Follow this column’s RSS feed]

EVE Evolved: Improving EVE Online’s organisational tools

Throughout most of EVE Online‘s lifetime, players have developed their own third-party applications (and yes, spreadsheets) to help organise and enhance their gameplay. We’ve got skill training calculators, websites for keeping track of structure fuel, databases full of information on items, and advanced industry and market tools that look like they belong to real world stock brokers. Most large alliances also now use Slack or Discord to organise out of game, have their own dedicated voice comms servers, and use tools like Jabber to notify members of important events.

CCP Games itself has added some brilliant in-game tools over the years that help players organise too. We now have a great in-game Calendar and event system, a customisable notification popup tool, corporation bookmarks, and an official smartphone app. We even have the ability to simulate and share ship fittings, and a new Agency panel that helps new players find content near them. These are all extremely useful productivity tools, but with a few improvements I think they could be even better!

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I discuss a few improvements I’d love to see for EVE Online‘s calendar, Agency interface, and official mobile app that would help players organise and work together more easily.

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EVE Evolved: Will EVE Online’s Abyssal Deadspace ever be expanded?

EVE Online‘s recent Into the Abyss expansion has managed to grip me in a way that few expansions have, providing a challenging new solo PvE feature that’s as addictive as it is lucrative. Now that players are starting to figure out ship fittings and strategies for taking on abyssal deadspace and it’s being farmed at an increasing rate, the question on many players’ minds is “what comes next?” The Triglavian storyline is far from resolved, and these new size-restricted instances could be expanded on in dozens of different ways to spark a virtual renaissance for small-scale PvE and maybe even PvP.

CCP Games has a long history of making impressive “first steps” like these in new areas of gameplay, but sometimes those ideas don’t go much further and the first steps are the last. Abyssal deadspace could easily become another one shot feature that joins EVE‘s permanent gameplay, just like the Sansha incursions that are still in the game years after they probably should have ended. I seriously hope that CCP doesn’t abandon the feature this time though, as further work on abyssal deadspace has the potential to open up whole new types of gameplay that aren’t available anywhere in EVE right now.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I theorise about some of the different ways abyssal deadspace could be expanded and how the story of the Triglavian Collective still has a long way to go.

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EVE Evolved: The expert Gila’s guide to Abyssal Deadspace in EVE Online

EVE Online‘s new Into The Abyss expansion launched less than two weeks ago and I’m bloody obsessed with it! Players have had great success running the first three tiers of the new Abyssal Deadspace sites in tech 2 fitted Heavy Assault Cruisers and there are some spectacular fits out there for dealing the tier four and five sites already. My ship of choice for the Abyss is the Gila, a pirate faction cruiser with a great passive shield tank and a huge 500% bonus to drone hitpoints and damage, and which I’ve used successfully to reliably tackle tier four and five sites.

Abyssal deadspace fits are complicated by the fact that four of the filament types have resistance penalties that apply to both your ship and the NPCs inside the site, which has implications for both your tank and the damage types you should use. But how do the resistance penalties actually work, and under what circumstances is it beneficial to switch damage types? I performed a variety of tests on the test server and built a spreadsheet (yeah, you can make the joke now) to answer this exact question and figure out how to tackle top-tier Abyssal Deadspace sites.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I explain exactly how the resistance penalty in Abyssal deadspace works, share my tried and tested Gila fit for high-tier sites, and detail strategies for tackling all of the enemies you’ll encounter.

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EVE Evolved: Last-minute advice on Abyssal Deadspace in EVE Online

There are just two days to go before EVE Online‘s Into the Abyss expansion lands on May 29th, introducing its new Abyssal Deadspace solo PvE feature. Players will use abyssal filaments to travel into Abyssal Deadspace pockets that exist underneath space throughout the EVE universe, risking their ships in challenging procedurally generated encounters. It’s in these instanced solo encounters that players will come face to face with The Triglavian Collective, a bizarre and twisted subspecies of human with powerful new ships and a new type of subatomic particle weapon called the Entropic Disintegrator.

This new solo content is intended for players of all skill levels, with the lowest tier sites being easy enough to complete in a well-designed tech 1 cruiser and higher tiers requiring considerably more expensive gear. Each site contains 3 randomly generated pockets of deadspace to defeat within 20 minutes, after which time the pocket will implode and destroy your ship. The prizes for risking it all in these dungeons include blueprints to build player-controlled Triglavian ships, plans for Entropic Disintegrators, and Mutaplasmids that can randomly mutate the stats on existing items.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I follow up on last month’s article on preparing for the Into the Abyss expansion with some last-minute guidelines on preparing your ships, how to use drones effectively in Abyssal Deadspace, and useful tips and strategies for tackling the sites.

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EVE Evolved: Getting new players to stick with EVE Online

EVE Online has the odd distinction of being one of the most impenetrable MMOs on the market today and yet also one of the stickiest. Few new players make it past their first week or month in EVE, but more of those who do scale that infamous learning cliff tend to stay for several years and become part of the community. Many of the most active veteran players have even admitted that EVE didn’t really click for them the first time, and for some it took them several attempts before they finally got hooked.

This anecdotal evidence seems to mesh quite well with CCP’s own brutal retention statistics, as we heard back in 2016 that over 1.5 million people had signed up new accounts that year but just over 50% of them quit within the first two hours. Even after the free-to-play option was added to eliminate the biggest barrier of entry for new and returning players, retaining more of those players in the long term is still proving difficult. So what is it that prevents new players from really clicking with EVE even if they want to, and what can be done about it?

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at some of the factors that make EVE difficult to penetrate, the importance of joining a corporation, and a few things CCP could do to help with player retention.

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EVE Evolved: Getting ready for EVE Online’s Abyssal revolution

If you’ve seen the news recently coming out of EVE Fanfest 2018, you’ve probably heard of EVE Online‘s upcoming expansion: Into the Abyss. Pockets of a bizarre and twisted underspace called Abyssal Deadspace have been discovered all throughout new Eden, and players will be able to venture into them and encounter an all-new enemy: The Triglavian Collective. This new form of solo PvE is limited to cruiser sized ships and is the first form of technically instanced combat gameplay EVE has ever had, sending players into short 20-minute dungeons with incredibly stunning new visuals and deadly NPCs.

The rewards from this new gameplay include powerful player-controllable Triglavian ships, a new type of weapon called the Entropic Disintegrator, and organic Mutaplasmids that can be used to modify existing modules with random stat variations. The sites are currently playable on the test server but aren’t in their final form, so a lot could change from now until the feature is released on May 29th, but there’s enough information available to begin analysing the the effect the expansion will have and the strategies that might work in Abyssal Deadspace.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I dig down into the debate about the game balance of randomised stats in EVE Online, give some early advice on fitting a ship for Abyssal Deadspace sites, and strategies that should work in this upcoming form of PvE.

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EVE Evolved: Get ready for EVE Fanfest 2018!

There’s just a week and a half to go before EVE Fanfest 2018, the biggest event in the EVE Online social calendar. The event kicks off on April 12th and will celebrate EVE‘s upcoming 15th anniversary, a major milestone for any online game. This year we’re anticipating juicy details on the next step in EVE Online‘s ambitious long-term development roadmap, an update on the impending EVE mobile game, and possibly a major announcement about CCP’s upcoming MMOFPS codenamed Project Nova.

MassivelyOP will be on the ground once again this year to get the latest insight into the future of the sandbox. Stay tuned to our coverage of the event using the EVE Fanfest 2018 tag, where I’ll be posting major announcement news, detailed discussions on new gameplay revealed, interviews from the event, and in-depth opinion pieces. Fanfest will also be a great opportunity to assess the mood and impact of last year’s pull-out from VR game development, and to take the pulse of the community of a variety of topics. If you have any specific questions you’d like me to pose to developers or players while I’m there, please let me know in the comments.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I break down our expectations for EVE Fanfest 2018 and give some tips on getting the most out of the event for players attending or just watching from home.

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EVE Evolved: What pushes EVE Online players to breaking point?

How many times have you read the comments on an EVE Online article and found someone talking about an experience they had that turned them off the game? They were suicide ganked and lost a month’s worth of progress in 30 seconds, scammed out of all their ISK, or their corporation fell apart after a war declaration. Even former players who look back fondly on their time in EVE Online will relate some event or trend that ultimately pushed them away from the game, whether it’s a gameplay change that ruined the way they liked to play, their alliance suddenly losing all of its territory, a valued friend quitting the game, or a social structure they relied on breaking down.

These natural breaking points happen to all players eventually, and some will invariably take the opportunity to quit the game when they occur. EVE is more of a long-term hobby than a game, so it’s only natural that some players will leave the game if something catastrophically upsets the way they’ve learned to enjoy that hobby. Lately I’ve been thinking about these moments in which a player can lose something they’ve invested heavily into, and wondering whether there’s something more that could be done to minimise these failure states. Should CCP provide safety nets for players against catastrophic failure, or is this just part of the player-directed nature of the sandbox?

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I consider some of the things that can push a player to breaking point, and whether additional safety nets would make a difference.

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EVE Evolved: EVE Online’s March balance update has players excited

The EVE Online community came down pretty hard on CCP Games at the start of the year, with podcasts, blogs, and the Council of Stellar Management all highlighting a recent lack of balance changes and iterations. CCP responded with a renewed wave of updates, and it’s safe to say that the studio is absolutely knocking it out of the park. The upcoming March patch will include surprise buffs for the Muninn and Eagle, damage increases for the Cyclone and Drake Navy Issue, and an unexpected change to Attack Battlecruisers that could turn the fleet PvP meta completely on its head. The Orthrus is also finally getting its long-awaited nerf, and some careful tweaks will end the dominance of Ferox and Machariel fleets.

As if that wasn’t enough good news for one month, developers also plan to release a completely new class of ship designed exclusively for fleet commanders, are finally adding blueprint-locking to citadels and engineering complexes, and have some big territorial warfare improvements in the pipeline. The horrible but often necessary Jump Fatigue mechanic is finally being re-evaluated, and players will no longer be able to use citadel tethering mechanics to easily move capital ships in absolute safety. The territorial capture gameplay and the Entosis Link module used in nullsec sovereignty warfare are also being improved based on player feedback. The community hasn’t been this positive about upcoming changes for quite some time!

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I lay out the details of the upcoming ship balance overhaul, the new Monitor fleet command ship, and other changes coming in the March update.

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EVE Evolved: Solving EVE Online’s botting problem

Practically every MMO on the market today has had to contend with botting and the range of issues that come with it, and EVE Online has always been a favoured target for bots. EVE‘s slow pace of gameplay and predictable PvE activities make it ideal for automation, and the nature of a persistent sandbox is that more time spent farming resources and currency will always be better. The issue seems to have escalated in recent months since the free-to-play upgrades expanded the range of ships and modules available to free users, and the community has been pushing CCP heavily for progress.

A team of bot-hunting players made the news last month when they took down eight ridiculously expensive supercarriers being controlled by bots, exposing just how big the scale of the problem is. The EVE security team responded with a ban wave hitting over 1,800 bot accounts in January and promises that they are “coming for the bots,” but one expert admitted in a recent interview that the war on bots may never be won. So just how difficult is it to tackle botting in EVE Online, and what could CCP do to improve things?

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at the difficulties in detecting and shutting down botters, how extensive botting may be in nullsec, and some things developers might have to do in order to solve the problem.

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EVE Evolved: A matter of balance in EVE Online

Throughout its almost 15-year lifetime, EVE Online has walked a fine line between developing new features and iterating on existing gameplay. Development has to push forward on new features to keep the game fresh and attract new players, but balance issues can emerge in existing gameplay that equally make the game stale or less enjoyable. CCP Games hasn’t always responded to these issues in a timely manner, at times leaving known balance issues in the game for months or even years because development resources weren’t available to tackle those specific issues.

This strategy has been challenged recently by Council of Stellar Management member Jin’taan in his article “Balance is not optional,” in which he argues that CCP shouldn’t even be making balance changes compete for development time with other features. Player Capri Sun KraftFoods followed up with a look at EVE‘s modular item attribute system, arguing that almost any balance change can be implemented quickly and easily just by tweaking the right attributes. Could it be that easy to iterate on EVE‘s frequent balance issues, or does the nature of the game necessitate caution?

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I break down the case for quicker iterative updates on balance issues, look at some of the challenges with balancing a game like EVE, and look at CCP’s new balance team.

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EVE Evolved: The Citadel conundrum

The hot topic on everyone’s lips in EVE Online right now is Citadel proliferation: The galaxy is rapidly filling up with an uncountable number of citadels and other Upwell structures that are cheap to build, difficult to destroy, and powerful force multipliers in combat. There have been some amazing battles over the structures in nullsec since they were first introduced, but some star systems are now littered with them and a number of serious gameplay issues have bubbled to the surface.

CCP announced plans for a total structure warfare overhaul to an excited crowd back at EVE Vegas 2017, and this week we got the final details of what’s coming in February 13th’s extensive Upwell 2.0 update. The patch will introduce moon mining in highsec and wormhole space, rebalances structure combat, and aims to resolve many of the most pressing structure problems with a set of sweeping changes to the vulnerability and reinforcement mechanics. It all sounds great in theory, but some players have expressed serious concerns with several parts of CCP’s plan.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I delve into some of the problems with structure warfare in EVE today, how Upwell 2.0 plans to pull things back from the brink, and some of the changes that players are speaking out against.

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EVE Evolved: EVE Online’s case for asymmetric and asynchronous gameplay

If there’s one thing that EVE Online does better than any other MMO on the market today, it’s persistent gameplay on massive scales. The now-famous Bloodbath of B-R5RB in 2014 involved 7,548 players over the course of almost 24 hours, and the Siege of M-OEE8 at the end of 2016 peaked at 5,300 separate players all piled into the same star system at the same time. Hundreds of thousands of players live and fight in the same single-shard universe, and EVE‘s largest corporations have more members than the total population on some other MMOs’ shards.

But what about the smaller end of the scale? MMOs aren’t just populated by monolithic organisations bent on galactic domination, and a growing proportion of today’s gamers play online games solo or in smaller groups. Features such as Upwell structures and the new PvE gameplay have clearly been designed with a wide range of gameplay scales in mind, but EVE has never really got past the problem that bigger groups are almost always better. Could the solution to this problem be found in small-scale asymmetric and asynchronous warfare opportunities?

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at why EVE‘s massive scale makes it so compelling, the problem that massive scale introduces, and the case for more asymmetric and asynchronous warfare.

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