This year kicked off with a bang for EVE Online
as rumblings emerged of impending war on a scale that the gaming world had never seen before
. It looked as if two massive military coalitions were about to come to blows in the most spectacular way when a small border skirmish between The Imperium and Pandemic Horde escalated out of control. Both sides armed heavily for a battle over a space station and moved hundreds of expensive Titans and Supercarriers into position to prepare for the battle. Players estimated that a fully escalated battle could have seen the equivalent of a million dollars in ships go up in smoke, and the story of EVE
‘s first “million dollar battle” rapidly captured the media.
While that battle earned a Guinness World Record for having 6,142 players simultaneously in the same battle, it was far less destructive than anticipated. The Imperium decided not to commit its full forces and ultimately less than 1% of the expected value in ships went up in smoke. Fast-forward to this week and the old rivalry came to a head again as The Imperium teamed up Legacy coalition to launch an all-out assault on a Northern Coalition and Pandemic Legion staging Keepstar in the X47L-Q system — except that this time both sides committed their full forces. The result was one of the most destructive battles in EVE Online‘s decade-and-a-half long history, and this war may be just getting started.
In this edition of EVE Evolved, I dig into some of the history that led to the current conflict and details of the battle in X47L-Q.
A few months ago, I created a new character and ran through the new player experience for an article on how to get new players to stick
with EVE Online
. One of the first things I did was change some of the default settings, followed by re-arranging the chat windows, modifying the overview settings, and fixing the camera field of view. I’d usually dismiss this as me just being used to having the screen set up just the way I like it, but the truth is that the default settings new players are exposed to could really stand some improvement.
At the same time, there are a few gameplay changes that would undoubtedly help improve EVE Online‘s long-term retention of new players if CCP Games would commit to investigating them. War declarations need a serious overhaul to allow groups of friends to safely form social corporations, for example, and lone players should ideally be directed more forcefully toward corporate recruitment.
In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at four relatively low-impact changes which I believe could have a positive impact on new players and long-term retention.
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.
‘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.
‘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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.