The EVE Online developers have released the first solid bit of info regarding the game's Winter expansion, which will include a social network called COSMOS. Unfortunately, the as-yet-unnamed Winter expansion won't bring Walking in Stations (3D avatars), to the best of our knowledge. Any announcement of the next expansion's features is still a long way off, but a dev blog from EVE developer CCP Caedmon focuses on COSMOS and what it will bring to the game.
COSMOS will debut with a limited feature set, with more added to the platform over time. However, if CCP Games can deliver on what Caedmon mentions, it should go down well with the playerbase since these features will be tied in with the game.
CCP Caedmon lays out a few highlights of what the first COSMOS iteration will bring:
- Character, corporation, and alliance profiles
- A new mail system
- A contacts system (two-way agreed friendships)
- Mail and contacts will have parallel functionality in-game and through COSMOS
Caedmon also clarifies a few other points, saying, "Yes, we will be tackling new forums for you; yes you will be able to 'do' EVE game stuff but not on the first nor second COSMOS releases; and yes it will look very sexy."
Of course, other questions still remain. Will COSMOS be tied in with the game's EVElopedia? Will it be possible to use EVE Voice (Vivox) in a COSMOS browser window outside of the game client? Will it function as a true blogging platform? CCP Games says they'll keep providing updates on COSMOS leading up to the Winter expansion. In the meantime, you can fire away with your questions for the EVE developers in the forum thread for this COSMOS dev blog.
[Update: CCP Caedmon addressed a number of questions from the playerbase after my post was written. As such, I'm updating this post with the full text of what Caedmon clarified about COSMOS.]
Will we have mail-list functionality in an early release?
The mail system we are designing will be more in line with the mail clients we all use out of game. We want to reproduce as much of their functions and flexibility as is useful in-game. The old in-game mail has served us well, but the world has moved on and it's time for an update. There will be more details on the new mail system in an upcoming devblog.
Why call it COSMOS?
Thanks for all the feedback on the name. We agree that this might be confusing and for now COSMOS is a working title only. We may change it if we can think of anything better (suggestions, anyone?) or we may choose to keep it. CCPOveur really loves the name. He also feels that any confusion will quickly disappear post-release as this is such a different part of the game and if all goes to plan it will have a much higher profile than the feature that is currently known as COSMOS.
COSMOS and the API?
We are already thinking how best to get COSMOS features into the API. We want to give you guys the tools to continue to do all the cool stuff you do with EVE data. As always it is a question of priorities, but it makes sense to get as much as possible into the API as soon as possible. Otherwise, as CCPExplorer says, "life will find a way" and you guys will get the data you want by other means.
Skill Management in COSMOS?
This is planned for a later release of COSMOS, i.e. after Winter 2009.
Two-way Friends list
CCPGangleri already covered this but to reiterate - the two-way friends system builds on the system we already have in place. You will still be able to see whether people are online without their knowledge or agreement. Two-way friendship will allow you to control access to your information and content on COSMOS. Also the Game Designers are already foaming at the mouth at the thought of the future gameplay possibilities.
Out of game text and voice chat are both on the roadmap for later releases of COSMOS, i.e. after Winter 2009.
There are currently no firm plans to release a CCP-made iPhone App. This is in no way connected to iPhone envy induced by Apple's decision not to launch the Jesus-phone here in Iceland. There are some player-made apps out there though.
COSMOS will be an integrated part of the game, so we feel that when you change your market orders, contracts, skills or corp/alliance membership in COSMOS you are playing EVE just as much as if you were logged into the client.
The first release of COSMOS will be Winter 2009. We won't see anything on TQ before then. We are planning to get changes onto Singularity as soon as they are ready for public testing.
New forums are high on our priority list. They may come in Winter 2009, if not, expect to see them soon after. As this will be solely web-based, we should not need to wait for a scheduled TQ expansion.
Profile and Content Privacy
We want to give you ultimate control over who sees your profile data and other content. We are implementing a privacy system across all COSMOS features to let you do that. Viewing nearly all content will require log-in. Public forums will be a likely exception to this.
We do have plans to upgrade the in-game browser for the Winter 2009 release. Indeed, a lot of what we want to do with COSMOS depends on it. One of the other Scrum teams is working on it and there should be a devblog coming soon with more details.