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EVE Evolved

EVE Evolved: Has the industry revamp worked?

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Economy, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Patches, PvE, Opinion, Hands-On, First Impressions, EVE Evolved, Sandbox, Crafting, Player-Generated Content, Subscription, MMORPG

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When I was first introduced to EVE Online back in 2004, a big part of the attraction for me was the promise of a huge player-run economy in which the only real laws were those of supply and demand. With only a handful of tech 1 ships and modules available to build and everything made out of the same basic minerals, science and industry were pretty easy for new players to figure out. Over the years, more complexity has slowly been added to industry via features like Starbases, Salvaging, Capital Ships, Tech 2 Invention, Planetary Interaction and Tech 3 Reverse Engineering. Today's industrialists have to contend with hundreds of different items that are often arranged in sprawling component manufacturing chains, which can make it hard to figure out exactly how to make a profit.

The recent industry revamp attempted to solve this problem with a full user interface overhaul and a revamp of material costs and manufacturing prices. All of the relevant information for using a blueprint was packed into a slick new combined Industry UI, allowing new players to find the info they're looking for in-game rather than through websites or opening dozens of item info windows. It's now been almost two months since the industry revamp went live, and while the market for many items is still going to take several months to fully stabilise, the dust has finally begun to settle. So what's the verdict? Has the industry revamp worked?

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I consider whether the industry revamp has been successful, how easy it is to make a profit in the new system, and whether it's worth setting up your own industrial starbase.

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EVE Evolved: Wormholes should be more dangerous

Sci-Fi, Video, EVE Online, Economy, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Patches, PvP, Endgame, PvE, Opinion, EVE Evolved, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Player-Generated Content, Subscription, MMORPG

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When unstable wormholes began forming all over the EVE Online universe in 2009's Apocrypha expansion, players approached them with extreme caution. The promise of riches in the form of new loot and Tech 3 cruiser components was balanced by the incalculable risk of facing a powerful new enemy in untested circumstances. Between the Sleeper AI that had been reported to melt players' ships in seconds and the player pirates taking advantage of the hidden local chat channel to sneak up on unsuspecting victims, we had no idea whether any ship we sent into a wormhole would ever make it back out again.

The risk of venturing into something truly unknown made wormhole exploration the single most exciting thing I've ever been a part of in an MMO, but the past five years have completely eroded that danger. Farmers now know exactly what to expect in every wormhole site and can efficiently farm Sleepers with the minimum of effort or risk, and PvP alliances can rapidly cycle through systems to find weak targets to attack. We've mapped and tamed all of the wormhole frontier, systematically reducing the risk to the lowest possible levels under the current game mechanics. Tuesday's Hyperion update aimed to shake things up with a few disruptive changes designed to keep wormholes dangerous, and I think it's a definite step in the right direction.

In this week's EVE Evolved, I look at some of the changes in Hyperion designed to keep wormholes dangerous and ask what more could be done to keep things interesting.

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EVE Evolved: How to fix nullsec territorial warfare

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Guilds, Patches, PvP, Endgame, PvE, Opinion, EVE Evolved, Sandbox, Player-Generated Content, Subscription, MMORPG

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If you've been playing EVE Online lately or just following the major events in the game, it can't have escaped your notice that nullsec has become a bit stagnant. The lawless nullsec regions are supposed to be politically unstable territories claimed by hundreds of warring player-run alliances, but today they're dominated primarily by just two or three mega-coalitions. Individual alliances can no longer hold out against the combined forces of the coalitions and must either pick a side or be annihilated. The coalitions have even signed agreements not to take space from each other by force, and players are being bored to death as a result.

Two weeks ago, I examined the history of force projection in EVE Online and made the argument that capital ships and jump drives ultimately created today's nullsec problems. Increases in mobility have led to alliances teaming up over vast distances, making mega-coalitions an inevitable outcome. It's obviously too late to remove capital ships or jump logistics, but there are plenty of other ways to potentially fix the nullsec problem. We had some great discussions in the comments of the previous article about how this complex problem could be solved without making warfare the painful slog it was back in 2004, and I believe it's possible.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I lay out some ideas for new game mechanics that could solve the current nullsec crisis and may meet CCP's goals for the eventual sovereignty revamp that's on the way.

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EVE Evolved: Capital ships ruined nullsec

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Culture, Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, Guilds, Lore, PvP, Endgame, Opinion, EVE Evolved, Sandbox, Player-Generated Content, Subscription

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All throughout EVE Online's lifetime, compelling stories of incredible events, daring heists, and colossal battles with thousands of players have periodically surfaced and spread across the gaming media like wildfire. Most of the recent stories have been about record-breaking battles between huge alliances of players in the lawless depths of null-security space, and each one has been met with an influx of new players who want to participate. The surprising truth behind nullsec warfare, however, is that many of those on the front lines are simply fed up with the political state of the game.

In EVE's early years, the map was split between hundreds of small alliances, each of which slowly expanded its influence by conquering the star systems bordering its space. Skirmishes and pirate incursions were brief and commonplace, while border wars over territory were long and protracted affairs. Today's nullsec is a different animal entirely, with nearly the entire map carved up between two colossal mega-coalitions of alliances (N3/PL and CFC), each one internally held in a state of perpetually monotonous peace. No alliance in a coalition can break away and stand on its own for fear of being demolished by the others, and so all of nullsec is at peace with its neighbours and bored to tears by it.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I examine how nullsec got to the state it's in now and why it's badly in need of an overhaul.

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EVE Evolved: Stepping through the EVE Gate

Sci-Fi, Trailers, Video, EVE Online, Culture, Expansions, Lore, Endgame, PvE, Opinion, EVE Evolved, Sandbox, Player-Generated Content, Subscription, MMORPG

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Though EVE Online is often lauded for its rich decade-long player history full of wars and complex political dealings, the NPC storyline and New Eden's ancient backstory have always held my fascination. I started playing in early 2004 after reading dozens of fiction chronicles and mock scientific articles on the EVE website that painted the picture of a real living universe where incredible things could happen. Sure enough, my first years of play were punctuated with compelling live events and storyline arcs like the Crielere research project that led to the development of cloaking devices, the theft of a Federation Navy titan by Serpentis pirates, and the Blood Raiders taking over Delve.

CCP has frequently stated that its goal with EVE is to create the ultimate sci-fi simulator, and the core of a compelling sci-fi setting is a living universe that grows and changes. The best sci-fi TV shows are those with a constant cycle of revealing compelling mysteries and then solving them and of encountering escalating challenges to be overcome. EVE has done this extremely well a few times in its life, such as with the release of wormholes or when the Sansha incursions events were kicking off, and each time the concurrent player numbers have spiked. Guild Wars 2 has shown the power of an evolving living storyline to get people into the game and keep them actively playing in the long term, something that should be the norm for MMOs and that EVE Online could take much greater advantage of.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at some of the big NPC mysteries revealed in EVE Online's decade-long history and ask why they were abandoned and where they could go now.

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EVE Evolved: Making ISK from the Crius release

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Culture, Economy, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Patches, Previews, PvP, PvE, EVE Evolved, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Crafting, Player-Generated Content, Subscription

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‚ÄčEVE Online's economy has been studied over the years for its resemblance to the real world, and it is often cited as an example of a hyper-capitalist society with no laws or regulation. But underneath the emergent interplay of supply and demand that has fueled everything from freighter businesses to virtual investment banks, EVE is ultimately a game. The biggest influence on the markets by far has always been CCP Games and the changes it deploys in expansions, which shake the universe up and force players to adapt to new circumstances.

There's always money to be made from major gameplay changes, and accurately predicting how an expansion will impact on the market can put you on the head of a short-lived but very lucrative gold rush. Though EVE's updates now come in the form of ten smaller releases per year, the upcoming Crius release scheduled for July 22nd has practically a whole expansion's worth of changes to industry and research. That gives you just over two weeks to prepare for the change, train any skills you might need, and figure out how to cash in on EVE's industrial revolution.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I run down some tips for how to prepare for the upcoming industry revamp in Crius and make some ISK.

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EVE Evolved: Four top tips for living in wormholes

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Patches, PvP, PvE, Opinion, EVE Evolved, Guides, Sandbox, Housing, Player-Generated Content, Subscription, MMORPG

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One of the biggest goals you can reach for in many sandbox MMOs is building your own empire and controlling a small corner of the game world. For much of EVE Online's lifetime, that privilege was reserved for the powerful few leaders of the game's large territorial alliances, which carve up vast swathes of space between them. A handful of alliances still control the lawless nullsec regions today, but there are still opportunities for smaller corporations and even individuals to stake a claim in the chaotic world of wormhole space.

Exploring and farming in wormholes is very profitable activity, but permanently moving in and setting up a starbase can be an intimidating prospect. One wrong decision might lead to pilots getting stranded in the void without bookmarks, your starbase coming under attack, or the whole expedition being robbed blind by a corporate infiltrator. The early days of wormhole exploration were rife with stories of hardship, heists, and devastating wars fought through shifting networks of wormholes. A lot has changed since the wormholes first opened in 2009, and today many of those problems have solutions.

In this EVE Evolved opinion piece, I look at some of the ways wormhole life has improved since Apocrypha and give four of my favourite tips for anyone planning to colonise wormhole space.

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EVE Evolved: Growing the EVE Universe

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Business Models, Culture, Lore, MMO Industry, New Titles, Opinion, MMOFPS, EVE Evolved, DUST 514, Sandbox, Subscription, MMORPG

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For much of EVE Online's early history, the playerbase saw consistent organic growth with no end in sight and developer CCP Games was able to stay laser-focused on its single game. The EVE universe has even had to grow several times to accomodate the increase in players, most notably with the opening of the drone nullsec regions and Apocrypha's addition of 2,499 hidden wormhole systems. EVE has survived the launch of countless high-profile MMOs in its lifetime and even weathered the monumental industry shift toward free-to-play business models, but it hasn't been plain sailing. While subscriptions have reportedly grown year-on-year, EVE's average concurrent player numbers haven't really increased since 2009.

The active EVE playerbase isn't really growing, so it should come as no surprise that CCP has been trying to expand the EVE universe on other fronts. Though the first attempt with console FPS DUST 514 was an unmitigated disaster, EVE players still seem quietly optimistic about its PC reboot as EVE: Legion. Dogfighter EVE: Valkyrie has also piqued the interest of the emerging virtual reality community and has the potential to introduce EVE to thousands of fresh faces. EVE's Creative Director Torfi Frans Olafsson even hinted during Fanfest 2014 that EVE Online, Valkyrie and Legion might all share a single login and that characters may eventually be able to switch between games at will.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at why I think a shared login could be a stroke a genius, and interview EVE's Creative Director and Valkyrie's Executive Producer to find out what the future holds for the EVE universe.

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EVE Evolved: Expansion names are important!

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Culture, Expansions, Lore, Patches, Opinion, EVE Evolved, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Subscription, MMORPG

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Since its launch in 2003, EVE Online has adhered to a rough schedule of releasing two free expansions per year, one at the game's peak play time in the summer and one to tide players over during the long winter lull in activity. Each expansion has had a particular theme and a descriptive name, launching with several major features and then being followed up with a series of smaller sub-releases. At EVE Fanfest 2014 we discovered that CCP plans to change that strategy and instead produce around ten smaller releases each year, aiming to release one every six weeks.

Putting aside the mathematical impossibility of meeting that target with only 52 weeks in the year, the plan for smaller but more regular releases has been generally well-received. Players were very happy to hear that unfinished features will no longer be pushed out the door before they're ready just to meet an arbitrary expansion deadline, and it's great news that completed features and fixes will now wait a maximum of six weeks before deployment. There's no doubt that it's a great development strategy, but the more I think about it, the less sense it makes as a media strategy.

In this EVE Evolved opinion piece, I look at why expansion names are important, the problems with CCP's new development schedule, and what can be done to fix them.

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EVE Evolved: Eleven years of EVE Online

Sci-Fi, Trailers, Video, EVE Online, Business Models, Culture, Events (In-Game), Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvP, News Items, Opinion, MMOFPS, World of Darkness, EVE Evolved, DUST 514, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Anniversaries, Player-Generated Content, Subscription, MMORPG

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‚ÄčIt seems that every year another few MMOs have closed their doors or convert to free-to-play business models to stay afloat. EVE Online has always enjoyed a level of insulation from these market trends elsewhere in the genre, and just last week on May 6th it celebrated its 11th year of year-on-year subscription growth. Following on from my previous column celebrating the EVE Evolved column's sixth year of operation, this week I'll be summarising all the major EVE news stories throughout the year.

It's been a big year for EVE fans, one that many of us can be proud to have been a part of. The EVE community turned its financial wizardry toward the real world and raised over $190,000 US in relief aid following a typhoon hitting the Philippines, and CCP even built a monument dedicated to the community. Several massive player battles once again put EVE on the global media's radars, and the Odyssey and Rubicon expansions revitalised the game for explorers and PvPers alike. But not everyone can hold his heads up high this year, with details of more cyberbullying within EVE coming to light and several players being banned for defacing the EVE monument in Reykjavik.

In this anniversary retrospective, I summarise all the major EVE news from the year in one place and take a look at what the future may hold for the EVE universe.

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EVE Evolved: Six years of EVE Evolved

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Culture, Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvP, PvE, Opinion, Massively Meta, Hands-On, First Impressions, EVE Evolved, DUST 514, Guides, Sandbox, Anniversaries, Subscription, MMORPG

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Six years ago to this exact day, I joined the Massively crew and published the first edition of this column dedicated to the ins and outs of EVE Online. The column has been home to over 300 featured articles since its creation, offering everything from guides and expansion reveals to opinion pieces, fiction, and tales of real in-game events. It's been my pleasure in the past six years to offer the Massively readers a digestible glimpse into the ordinarily somewhat impenetrable world of EVE Online and to introduce new players to the only game (other than Master of Orion II) that's managed to keep me hooked for over a decade.

It's been a fantastic year to be a fan of EVE Online, with CCP announcing its long-term vision for deep space colonisation and the game being revitalised through the Odyssey and Rubicon expansions. I've had the opportunity to explore both expansions in this column and to share some hands-on experience with DUST 514 and CCP's upcoming dogfighter EVE Valkyrie. There's been no shortage of opinion pieces this year either, with articles on everything from PvP consequences and twitch controls to whether Star Citizen and Elite are a threat to the sandbox giant.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I round up the best articles from the column's sixth year of operation in one place.

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EVE Evolved: Anatomy of a mining op

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Culture, Economy, Game Mechanics, PvE, EVE Evolved, Guides, Sandbox, Subscription, MMORPG

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When EVE Online was first released in 2003, it was designed as a massive universe of competition and conflict between space-faring megacorporations in the distant future. Players bought into the premise completely and soon set about building their own empires and waging wars with neighbours. Corporations ran regular mining operations for resources to build frigates and cruisers for their members, and some of the larger corps co-operatively mined to build the first ever battleships in the game. The mining op has been a staple activity in the game ever since, providing a way for groups to work together on large manufacturing projects or just make some ISK during their down-time.

Mining gets a lot of flak for being one of the most boring and least profitable professions in the game, but that's not exactly true. Solo mining can be a great way to spend your downtime while doing other activities, and it ensures that you're online when something exciting happens like a live event, your wormhole system being invaded, or a titan being tackled by your alliance. Co-operative mining ops also offer the social value of bonding with your corpmates when there's nothing else going on. Some players even run dozens of accounts at the same time to turn this ordinarily placid activity into an intensive profit-making activity focused on efficiency and organisation skills.

With mining due to make a resurgence in the summer expansion, this edition of EVE Evolved is dedicated to the humble mining operation. I'll take a look at the various options for mining ships, the different haulers available, and the four different areas you can mine in.

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EVE Evolved: Mining is broken, but it can be fixed

Sci-Fi, Culture, Economy, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Patches, PvE, Opinion, EVE Evolved, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Subscription, MMORPG

EVE Evolved: Mining is broken, but it can be fixed
Mining has a reputation for being the most boring activity in EVE Online, but it's always filled a niche role as a low-effort way to make ISK and play with friends casually. When there's no PvP going on and you can't give your full attention to smashing NPCs in missions or anomalies, mining fills that downtime with something more lucrative and social than spinning your ship in a station. The problem is that mining has slowly become obsolete over the years; alternative mineral sources now supply much of the market's needs, and the risk of flying a defenseless barge just isn't worth the mediocre payout.

It's currently more efficient for an individual to buy minerals with ISK made via some other form of PvE, such as level 4 missions or incursions. And on the macroscopic level, such huge quantities of minerals hit the market from alternative sources such as reprocessing loot that the economy could potentially function with no miners at all. CCP has tried to make mining more appealing over the years with buffs and new ships, and the devs recently announced plans to nerf mineral compression as part of a campaign to make mining worthwhile, but I think it'll take a lot more than ISK to get people mining again.

In this week's EVE Evolved, I look at how mining and reprocessing are at odds and suggest some ideas for new mining features that could revitalise this long forgotten profession.

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EVE Evolved: Rubicon 1.3 and repainting ships

Sci-Fi, Video, EVE Online, Business Models, Economy, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Hands-On, EVE Evolved, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Subscription, MMORPG

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EVE Online's recently released Rubicon expansion was an important first step toward a truly player-run universe for everyone, allowing corporations to wage empire wars over planetary customs offices and introducing a series of new personal deployable structures. The initial release was a little light on content, but developers have since expanded on it significantly with three major point releases. Rubicon 1.3 went live this week, and the changes seem pretty good all around. This release overhauled the directional scanner, buffed the SoE Nestor battleship's capacitor recharge rate and remote repair range, and nerfed remote sensor dampeners into the ground.

Large corporations like EVE University were pleased to hear that the limit on the size of corporations has been increased to 12,600 thanks to changes to the corporation management skills. And in response to an emerging trend in fleet warfare involving hordes of drone ships assigning their drones to an interceptor, developers have also limited the number of drones that can be assigned to another ship to 50. The 1.29 GB patch also included several overhauled ship models and new ship shaders, but the new feature I see the most potential in is the ability to finally repaint our ships. This could eventually help corporations establish their own visual identities and might even link into gameplay or EVE's spying metagame.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at some of the Rubicon 1.3 changes and how repainting your ship could become more than simply a cosmetic upgrade.

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EVE Evolved: What to expect from EVE Fanfest 2014

Video, EVE Online, Business Models, Culture, Events (Real-World), Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, PvP, Opinion, Hands-On, Events (Massively's Coverage), World of Darkness, EVE Evolved, DUST 514, Dev Diaries, Player-Generated Content

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Almost 10 years ago, EVE Online developer CCP Games started a new tradition with the first ever annual EVE Fanfest. The event started out as a largely informal gathering in a tiny venue that allowed players and developers to mingle on a more personal level, but it's now grown into something massive. Over a thousand players now make the annual pilgrimage to EVE Online's birthplace in Reykjavik, Iceland, to hear what the future holds for their favourite MMO. For many, the event is also a social gathering, a chance to swap stories with other players, and a rare opportunity to meet the corpmates they fly with every day in the virtual galaxy of New Eden.

The Fanfest weekend is typically a packed schedule of panels, talks, roundtable discussions with developers, and keynote speeches revealing the future of the game. While the event is understandably focused on EVE Online, it's recently expanded to cover aspects of DUST 514, the latest goings-on with World of Darkness, and even CCP's new virtual reality dogfighter EVE Valkyrie. CCP has announced that this year's event will see a monument to the EVE playerbase unveiled in Reykjavik Harbor as well as the first reveal of EVE's summer expansion, but what else can we hope to glean from this year's event at the start of May?

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I delve into the EVE Fanfest announcement and speculate on what we might expect to hear from this year's event. Will this be the year that World of Darkness gets some serious news? And what's new for DUST 514?

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