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EVE Evolved

EVE Evolved: Unleash your inner space janitor

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Economy, Game Mechanics, PvP, Endgame, Opinion, Hands-On, EVE Evolved, Guides, Sandbox, Player-Generated Content

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Did you know that people leave perfectly good stuff just lying around in space? Between abandoned starbases, safespotted containers, floating wrecks, and lost drones, there's a real mess out there in space that somebody aught to clean the hell up. So why doesn't someone get out there with a dustpan and brush and vacuum up everything valuable that isn't bolted down? That's what I've been up to for the past week, and I've found it surprisingly enjoyable and profitable. Building on my recent article on staying safe in lowsec, I put together a strategic cruiser setup designed for rapidly searching through lowsec and nullsec for the goodies others leave behind or don't notice.

What surprised me the most about my journey across the wilderness of nullsec is how many starbase owners allowed their towers to run out of fuel and shut down. Using just the directional scanner, I was able to locate and destroy dozens of unprotected starbase structures, including research labs, ship hangars, corp hangar arrays, and factories. The main target of my exploration escapades was actually the new Ghost Sites introduced in Rubicon, which spawn randomly throughout space and usually end up migrating to systems that aren't frequently used. The ISK per hour may not be very good in hunting these sites, but the payoff of finding the rare Ascendancy Omega blueprint would make it all worthwhile.

In this week's EVE Evolved, I delve into the wonderful world of interstellar trash reclamation and asset liberation. I explain how to find abandoned starbases to loot, and I share some tips on locating and tackling the elusive Ghost Sites.

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EVE Evolved: Three exploitable game features

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Bugs, Game Mechanics, PvP, PvE, Opinion, EVE Evolved, Sandbox

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If there's one thing EVE Online players are good at, it's finding ways to get an advantage over each other. The hyper-competitive PvP sandbox breeds players with an investigative streak who will constantly figure out ways to bend and abuse new features to make ISK or get an edge over other players in combat. The most obvious cases include abusing bugs, as happened in 2009's starbase exploit that corporations used to generate valuable tech 2 materials out of thin air and 2010's MonkeySphere exploit that let players hide themselves from the local chat channel and sneak up on unsuspecting victims.

Most cases of abusing features for profit or advantage aren't as clear-cut as these obvious exploits, as some have negative consequences but still use completely legitimate game mechanics. When players figured out how to abuse Faction Warfare's kill LP rewards to farm five trillion ISK, for example, they did so using in-game mechanics that just hadn't really been thought through. Many more subtle cases of broken game mechanics that undermine EVE's core design ethos still exist, some of which have been recently introduced and others that have managed to remain unchallenged for years because there isn't really a good alternative.

In this week's EVE Evolved, I look at three features in EVE Online that I think fundamentally break the design ethos of the game but don't have very clear solutions.

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EVE Evolved: Lowsec isn't impenetrable

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Expansions, Game Mechanics, PvP, Endgame, PvE, Opinion, EVE Evolved, Guides, Sandbox, Dungeons, Subscription

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When EVE Online was created, one of its core design philosophies was the idea of risk vs. reward -- that higher-value activities should expose the player to greater risk of loss. This rule naturally follows from how the world of business and competition works in real life, and I think it will always arise organically from sandbox MMOs with limited resources. If something's risk-free and easy to do, you can bet there are countless other people already doing it and squeezing the profit margins. This idea was also built into EVE at a fundamental level, with the galaxy split into police-protected high-security systems, the pirate-infested low-security borders between nations, and the chaotic uncolonised wilderness of nullsec.

The steep step up in risk when transitioning from high- to low-security space has always been a major point of contention with gamers, as those who don't know any better often charge straight into deep space to their deaths. The story of the newbie working his way up to get his first cruiser or battlecruiser and then losing it to pirates is repeated so often on forums and in the comments sections of articles that it's almost become a cliche. While the idea that pirates wait around every corner lingers on, this impenetrable barrier hiding all the best content from new players no longer really exists. Through the addition of wormholes and the changes made in Rubicon, no star system is now off limits to a pilot with just a few months of skill training under his belt.

In this week's EVE Evolved, I look at what you can do to safely travel and operate in EVE's dangerous areas, why the barrier into low-security space needs to remain low for new players, and how CCP has expanded the EVE universe through the introduction of riskier areas of space.

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EVE Evolved: Donate your old spaceships to charity

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Business Models, Culture, Economy, Events (Real-World), Events (In-Game), MMO Industry, News Items, Opinion, EVE Evolved, Promotions, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Player-Generated Content, Subscription

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The Philippines recently suffered its worst natural disaster in living memory when typhoon Haiyan made landfall on November 8th, leaving over half a million people displaced and millions without food and basic supplies. Countries and organisations around the world have been sending relief aid into the region, and gamers have once again proven to be a generous bunch. Several livestreamers have been running donation drives; the developers behind Luvinia Online even promised to donate 100% of the income from three new in-game items to the Philippine Red Cross. EVE Online has now also joined in the fundraising by reactivating its popular PLEX for Good scheme.

CCP started the PLEX for Good scheme back in January of 2010 as a way for players to donate in-game assets and ISK to help people in the real world. EVE Online players have collectively donated over $150,000 US in aid following 2010's Haitian earthquake, tsunami devastation in Japan, flooding in Pakistan, and tornadoes in the US two years ago. Players hope to smash all fundraising records this time around with dedicated fundraising auctions, events, and liquidation firesales happening across the game. There are even ways for ex-players without active subscriptions to donate their idle in-game assets to charity.

In this week's EVE Evolved, I look at the PLEX for Good scheme, the fundraising efforts players are using to help out a country in need, and how you can donate your ISK to charity even if you've long since quit EVE.

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EVE Evolved: First impressions of Rubicon

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Economy, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Patches, Previews, PvP, Endgame, Opinion, Hands-On, First Impressions, EVE Evolved, Sandbox, Player-Generated Content, Subscription

EVE Evolved: First impressions of Rubicon
For years I've been writing that EVE Online needs more deployable sandbox structures that any player can use, so I was naturally pretty excited to hear that this was to be one of the key features of the Rubicon expansion. The Mobile Depot sounded like a great freeform sandbox tool when it was announced, but I didn't understand quite how awesome it was until I started setting up my own. While the depot is ostensibly a fancy item container with a ship fitting service, anchoring one feels almost like planting your flag in space, and spotting another depot on the directional scanner means war.

I've spent this week exploring low-security space in the new Stratios Sisters of EVE faction cruiser, stealing rare moon minerals with a Siphon Unit, and desperately searching for the elusive but valuable ghost sites. As expected, players have already found some creative uses for the new personal deployable structures: Mobile Depots are being used as advertising billboards in Jita and to bait aggressive players into becoming flagged as criminal suspects, Mobile Tractor Units have seen some unorthodox usage outside of missions, and the Siphon Unit will literally print money if you find an unsecured moon-mining operation tucked away in space.

In this week's EVE Evolved, I test-drive the Rubicon expansion's new structures to find out if they live up to expectations.

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EVE Evolved: Getting ready for Rubicon

Sci-Fi, Trailers, Video, EVE Online, Economy, Events (In-Game), Expansions, Game Mechanics, PvP, Endgame, PvE, Opinion, EVE Evolved, Guides, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Subscription

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EVE Online's Rubicon expansion goes live in just two days on Tuesday, November 19th, introducing four brand-new personal deployable structures and revamping PvP across the board with a seemingly innocuous warp acceleration fix. The expansion represents the first step in new Senior Producer Andie Nordgren's plan to bring true player-run deep-space colonisation to EVE Online. The new Mobile Depot that can be placed anywhere in space is possibly the most sandboxy feature since the introduction of player-owned starbases back in 2004. Players have been coming up with plans for the device since its first announcement, but I think we'll see its true potential revealed in the coming weeks and months.

If you've been saving up your Sisters of EVE loyalty points to get your hands on the faction's new exploration ships, be prepared to buy and build the blueprints as soon as the server comes up. These will be the first pirate faction ship blueprints that are available in high-security space, and a recent devblog confirmed that players have been collecting Sisters of EVE loyalty points like crazy lately in anticipation of the expansion, but those who get the built ships to market first will make an absolute killing. For the rest of us, getting ready for the expansion means planning where to set up a Mobile Depot for some quick profit-making enterprise or building a few small PvP ships to put the new warp speed mechanics to the test.

In this week's EVE Evolved, I look at some of the best places to set up a Mobile Depot, re-consider the lure of low-security space, and propose adapting your PvP fleets to take advantage of the warp acceleration changes.

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EVE Evolved: Ghost Sites and PvE goals

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

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PvE in most MMOs revolves around killing hordes of NPCs for currency, XP, tokens, or loot, and EVE Online is no exception. Players can hunt for rare pirate ships in nullsec asteroid belts, farm Sansha incursions for ISK and loyalty points, or team up against Sleeper ships in dangerous wormhole space, but most prefer the safe and steady income of mission-running. Missions are essentially repeatable quests that can be spawned on request, providing an endless stream of bad guys to blow up in the comfort of high-security space.

Completing a mission will earn you some ISK and a few hundred or thousand loyalty points, but most of the ISK in mission-running comes from the bounties on the NPCs spawned in the mission sites. Similar deadspace sites with better loot are also distributed randomly throughout the galaxy and can be tracked down using scanner probes. But what would happen if the NPCs in these sites were a dangerous and unexpected interference that could get you killed, rather than space piñatas ready to explode in a shower of ISK? This is a question CCP plans to test with the Rubicon expansion's upcoming Ghost Sites feature, which promises to introduce a whole new form of high-risk, high-reward PvE.

In this week's EVE Evolved, I look at EVE's upcoming ghost sites and explain why I think its goal-oriented approach to PvE should be adopted in other areas of the game.

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EVE Evolved: What DUST 514 should have been

Sci-Fi, Video, EVE Online, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvP, Endgame, Opinion, Free-to-Play, MMOFPS, EVE Evolved, DUST 514, Dev Diaries, PlanetSide 2, Sandbox, Subscription

EVE Evolved: What DUST 514 should have been
‚ÄčIt's now been almost six months since DUST 514's official release, and I think it's safe to say it hasn't quite lived up to expectations. The game was lauded for its revolutionary realtime link with the EVE Online universe, but so far there's very little back-and-forth between the two titles. Originally intended as an MMO in its own right but also as an integral part of EVE's territorial endgame, DUST now exists largely as a lobby-based first-person shooter with the twist that equipment is lost on death.

Even the planetary conquest portion of DUST that could be considered its most MMO-esque element has been abstracted into a series of instanced and scheduled 24v24 battles. DUST's main rival during development was the PC-based PlanetSide 2, and had the two games released on the same platform, I'm sure that rivalry would still be in the media spotlight. I've been playing PlanetSide 2 for just a few days, and I can already see elements that would make it a far better fit for the EVE universe than the current version of DUST. So what could DUST learn from its non-console-only counterpart?

In this week's EVE Evolved, I look at how PlanetSide 2 handles issues of persistence, planetary conquest, and vehicle spawning, and why I think DUST 514 should be borrowing a few tricks from its game design.

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EVE Evolved: Merging Valkyrie with EVE Online

Sci-Fi, Video, EVE Online, Business Models, Culture, MMO Industry, New Titles, PvP, News Items, Opinion, Consoles, EVE Evolved, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, MOBA

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Ever since its release in 2003, EVE Online has been bombarded with requests for direct flight controls and dogfighter-style gameplay. Most ships in EVE are huge lumbering hulks compared to real-world aircraft, more akin to large sea-faring ships than nimble jetfighters. Even tiny agile Interceptors can't be controlled directly, instead having the player issue commands to fly in a particular direction or move toward or orbit an object. As a result, combat in EVE has become much more heavily about the strategy of directing fleets of dozens or hundreds of ships than any kind of piloting skill or twitch control.

This year's EVE Fanfest gave players a glimpse into the world of immersive twitch combat with the announcement of a new dogfighting game set in the EVE Online universe. Originally starting out as an virtual reality experiment by a few developers in their spare time, EVE Valkyrie has now become a full game in its own right and an example of what's possible with the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. It was always assumed that Valkyrie was an EVE game in name and theme only, but recently developers have revealed that they'd like it to tie into the actual EVE Online universe itself.

In this week's EVE Evolved, I look at recently revealed information on EVE Valkyrie and speculate on how it could be integrated into the EVE universe.

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EVE Evolved: The Siphon Unit in Rubicon

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

EVE Evolved The Siphon Unit in Rubicon
EVE Online will soon let players steal valuable resources from each other, and not everyone is happy with it. The upcoming Rubicon expansion will add a new Siphon Unit structure that can literally siphon off materials from a starbase's moon harvesters and simple reactors. Preliminary details on the structure were released in a new devblog this week, sparking debate over whether the new item will be a useful tool for disrupting entrenched nullsec alliances.

Many expected the siphon to be a minor annoyance to starbase owners, with the presence of a siphon being easily discovered and a limit of one siphon per starbase established. In reality, one siphon unit can rob a starbase of 60% of the output from a moon harvester or 12.5% from a simple reactor, and there's no limit to how many can be stacked on an individual starbase. It'll take only two of these to completely shut down a single moon-mining operation, and the owner will get no warning whatsoever that it's happening.

In this week's EVE Evolved, I look at how the Siphon Unit will work, its stats, various ways to protect your starbase from it, and what the long-term implications may be for EVE.

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EVE Evolved: Should CCP interfere in the sandbox?

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Culture, Events (In-Game), MMO Industry, Opinion, EVE Evolved, Giveaways, Promotions, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Player-Generated Content, Subscription

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When it comes to player outrage, EVE Online seems to make the headlines more than any other MMO. The game has endured several high-profile scandals in its 10-year history, from the T20 developer corruption incident in 2007 to 2011's famous Monoclegate scandal. As EVE is a true sandbox game with a focus on PvP and player competition, developers have historically limited their direct influence on the universe. The importance of limiting interference became abundantly clear during the T20 incident when it was discovered that a developer had given tech 2 blueprints and preferential treatment to the Band of Brothers alliance.

This interference in the sandbox had a profound and lasting impact on EVE's political endgame and undermined the legitimate accomplishments of other alliances. Some of the same issues that were raised in the wake of that scandal have now resurfaced amidst controversy over CCP's community team and its involvement with third-party fansites. Gambling website SOMER Blink was selected to host a huge giveaway event with rare prizes provided by CCP, and the contest organisers were then given rare battleships worth billions of ISK to keep as thank-you presents.

In this week's EVE Evolved, I run down the details of the latest EVE Online controversy and ask whether CCP should directly interfere in the sandbox at all.

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EVE Evolved: Deployables in Rubicon

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Patches, PvP, PvE, Opinion, EVE Evolved, Sandbox, Subscription

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Last week I looked at EVE Online's upcoming Rubicon expansion, which aims to kick off CCP's long-term vision of deep space exploration with a series of new deployable structures. Until now, most structures have come in the form of modules that can only be added to starbases anchored at moons. Starbases are owned by corporations rather than individuals and require a significant financial and logistical investment to set up and maintain, putting them quite far out of reach for new players. Rubicon will fix this with a relatively inexpensive new personal Depot deployable that can be anchored anywhere in space.

The mobile Depot is a small feature that was no-doubt trivial to implement, but it could have a massive impact on the shape of the EVE sandbox. The module offers a way to store your items and refit ships in the middle of hostile territory, and this is the first of a new breed of structure that will ultimately unlock deep space for exploration. This expansion will also give us a new auto-looting tractor beam structure and a Siphon Unit that actually steals resources from nearby starbases. Not much is known about these three deployables beyond the basic information already released, and there's a ton of potential for new complementary structures that could be released in the future.

In this week's EVE Evolved, I examine the impact that Rubicon's two biggest deployable structures could have on the EVE sandbox and think about new structures that could be released in the future.

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EVE Evolved: Everything we know about Rubicon

Sci-Fi, Video, EVE Online, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Patches, Previews, PvP, Endgame, News Items, PvE, Opinion, EVE Evolved, Livestream, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Housing, Player-Generated Content, Subscription

EVE Evolved: Everything we know about Rubicon
Back in April, EVE Online Senior Producer Andie Nordgren delivered an incredible long-term vision for the game's future that included deep space colonisation, player-built stargates, and players controlling practically everything that's currently run by NPC empires. This vision sets the tone and direction for development over the next ten expansions, each of which will introduce a small component of the overall goal. In a live interview session earlier this week, CCP revealed the first steps it will take toward space colonisation in its upcoming winter expansion.

Named Rubicon, the expansion will be in players' hands on November 19th and promises to give individuals and small groups unprecedented control over the sandbox. It will let players fight over planetary customs offices in high security space, significantly buff the ability of small ships to participate in hit-and-run style warfare, and even introduce a new set of personal deployable structures that can be hidden anywhere in space. All this comes alongside two new Sisters of EVE ships, twitch livestream integration, and significant balance changes to Marauders, Interceptors, Interdictors, and Electronic Attack Frigates.

In this week's EVE Evolved, I run down all of the new features and changes announced so far for EVE Online's Rubicon expansion.

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EVE Evolved: Will Star Citizen or Elite harm EVE?

Sci-Fi, Trailers, Video, EVE Online, Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, PvP, Opinion, EVE Evolved, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Subscription, Star Citizen, Elite: Dangerous

EVE Evolved Will Star Citizen or Elite harm EVE
Publishers haven't been willing to put a lot of money behind a sci-fi sandbox for some time, but upcoming games Star Citizen and Elite: Dangerous seem set to revive the genre thanks to the power of crowdfunding. Star Citizen in particular has collected a world record $19.6 million in pledges so far from almost 258,000 individuals, eliminating the need for publishers and heavy investment entirely. Though both games are designed to be a primarily singleplayer or small-scale multiplayer adventures, their respective developers have already promised shared online universes and sandbox gameplay that could give EVE Online a run for its money.

The past decade has shown EVE to be one of the most resilient MMOs on the planet. It's survived several major scandals, barely noticed the release of giant World of Warcraft, and has somehow maintained its subscription-based business model in a market rapidly being overtaken by free-to-play titles. Even at its lowest point, the game managed to survive the 2011 monoclegate scandal and the subsequent fallout that saw CCP Games lose 20% of its staff worldwide. EVE's subscriptions and concurrent user numbers have historically been unaffected by the release of new MMOs or sci-fi titles, so why should Star Citizen be any different?

In this week's EVE Evolved, I look at how EVE Online has lived with very little direct competition until now and ask whether Star Citizen and Elite could be among the first games to directly draw players from EVE.

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EVE Evolved: Fitting Heavy Assault Cruisers in Odyssey 1.1, part 2

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Classes, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Patches, PvP, Opinion, Hands-On, EVE Evolved, Guides, Sandbox, Subscription

EVE Evolved Fitting Heavy Assault Cruisers in Odyssey 11, part 2
EVE Online recently revamped all of the Heavy Assault Cruisers in its Odyssey 1.1 update, in addition to buffing active shield boosters and armour repairers and rebalancing medium beam lasers and railguns. Last week I put together a new brawler setup for the recently revamped Deimos, a sentry drone sniper fitting for the Ishtar, an extremely effective anti-frigate Cerberus setup, and a sadly underwhelming railgun Eagle. This week I've turned my attention toward the Amarr and Minmatar HACs, with some surprising results. The Zealot and Sacrilege are still as powerful as ever, and the Muninn may see some use as a tactical frigate sniper, but this patch could see many players retiring their Vagabonds.

The nano-fit Vagabond was once the unrivaled number one ship for lone pirates, able to speed-tank anything larger than a frigate and still deal over 500 DPS. It engaged safely from outside web range, moved too fast for turrets to track, and absorbed any attacks that did hit with its sizable buffer tank. When CCP made warp scramblers knock out microwarpdrives, Vagabond pilots adapted with dual propulsion module fits that use a microwarpdrive to approach the target and an afterburner to orbit. Unfortunately, the Vagabond didn't fare well in the Odyssey 1.1 patch and players aren't sure if they can adapt this time.

In this week's EVE Evolved, I put together PvP setups for the at the Zealot, Sacrilege, Muninn, and Vagabond Heavy Assault Cruisers.

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