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EVE Evolved

EVE Evolved: Does EVE Online have the world's largest MMO map?

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, EVE Evolved, Sandbox, Subscription

EVE Evolved Does EVE Online have the world's largest MMO map
MMO game worlds seem to be getting larger every year, and the debate over which is biggest frequently appears on forums and blogs. It usually starts with people breaking out infographics comparing the size of the various islands and continents in their favourite fantasy MMOs, and it escalates from there. World of Warcraft's Azeroth turns out to be surprisingly small at an estimated 80 square miles, while World War II Online claims to have the largest MMO game map in the world with over 300,000 square kilometers (115,831 square miles) of playable space modeled as a half scale map of Western Europe.

Someone in the discussion will inevitably mention EVE Online, and that's when things get complicated. The New Eden star cluster is lightyears across, and its 7,699 accessible solar systems have earned it a place in the Guinness Book of World Records, but can EVE's map even be compared to accessible landmass in a fantasy MMO? All of the space between stars is currently empty and inaccessible, and players warp between points of interest within a solar system without interacting with any of the space in between. With that and the relative difference in scale between EVE and land-based games, it isn't immediately clear whether EVE Online still has the world's largest playable MMO map.

In this week's EVE Evolved, I look at how empty space works under the hood in EVE Online and crunch some numbers to find out whether it really does have the biggest playable game world.

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EVE Evolved: Alliance Tournament XI Grudge Match

Sci-Fi, Video, EVE Online, Culture, Events (In-Game), Lore, PvP, News Items, EVE Evolved, Sandbox, Player-Generated Content

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The largest alliance war in EVE Online's history is currently underway, with the latest battle to hit the news reaching over 4,000 players and shattering the world record for players involved in a single PvP battle. While massive battles like are becoming a regular occurrence in EVE and have dominated the news lately, the strategy of just throwing thousands of ships at the enemy and seeing if it works doesn't work in every corner of New Eden. Wormholes, for example, limit the mass of ships entering a hidden Sleeper star system at once, promoting smaller-scale conflicts that are more about deep strategy and execution than scale.

So it is for EVE Online's annual alliance tournament, a fairly matched drawing that attempts to simulate what would happen if small squads of ships from opposing alliances met on equal terms. Teams are drawn randomly against each other and put together squads of ships within the bounds of an imposed point limit. This year's tournament involved only 64 teams and had no elimination stage but still managed to pump out 128 action-packed matches with full commentary and studio coverage. The grand final even played host to the biggest grudge match in Alliance Tournament history as Pandemic Legion faced off against Hydra Reloaded.

In this week's EVE Evolved, I round up all the matches in this year's massive Alliance Tournament and discuss the explosive final that saw old tournament rivals face off for glory and huge in-game prizes.

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EVE Evolved: Strategic resources for everyone!

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Culture, Economy, Expansions, Game Mechanics, PvP, Endgame, PvE, Opinion, EVE Evolved, Sandbox, Dungeons, Player-Generated Content

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The past four EVE Online expansions have mostly focused on adding small features and overhauling old game mechanics and content that were beginning to show their age. Crucible delivered dozens of small but highly-requested features and gameplay improvements, and Inferno and Retribution continued with overhauls of several aging PvP systems. Even Odyssey contained mostly small features and revamps, its biggest gameplay features being a new hacking minigame and a streamlined scanning interface. It's been several years since EVE has received a truly massive and game-changing feature like wormholes or a sovereignty revamp, but that may all be about to change!

CCP recently announced its intention to start reaching for big ideas again, but this time set over a more realistic timeframe. If everything goes according to plan, the next five years could see the introduction of player-built stargates and true deep space colonisation. I wrote about the potential of this concept last week and looked at some of the big features we'd need to make it a reality, but I didn't really delve into my personal favourite idea for a potential future expansion: New strategic resources and player-created deadspace complexes.

In this week's EVE Evolved, I look at how strategic resources could be used to get even individual players invested in something worth fighting for, and how player-created deadspace dungeons could be a great way to introduce them.

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EVE Evolved: Colonising deep space

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Culture, Expansions, Game Mechanics, PvP, PvE, Opinion, EVE Evolved, Sandbox, Dungeons, Player-Generated Content, Subscription

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If you were watching the news coming out of this year's EVE Online Fanfest, you no doubt heard Senior Producer Andie Nordgren's incredibly ambitious five year vision. The past few expansions have been mostly filled with bug fixes and improvements to existing gameplay, but the goal is now to begin delivering an epic vision of deep space exploration, colonisation, and PvP raids on enemy infrastructure. The five year roadmap toward this goal includes the addition of player-built stargates and completely uncharted solar systems to locate, explore and build an empire in. If the very idea of that doesn't make shivers go down your spine, something may be wrong with your central nervous system.

CCP has opened new space before with the addition of the drone regions in nullsec and some new lowsec systems for faction warfare, but it wasn't until 2009's Apocrypha expansion that we saw a true exploration and long-term colonisation effort get underway. I think the intoxicating draw of wormhole exploration was primarily due to the fact that the new systems were hidden and the information on them wasn't public. Just adding new solar systems to the existing stargate network wouldn't have had the same effect. Nordgren's vision may take up to 10 expansions to fully realise, but what kinds of features will we need in those expansions to recreate true exploration and deep space colonisation?

In this week's EVE Evolved, I look at some of the challenges CCP will have to overcome to make deep space colonisation a reality and what small steps could be taken in each expansion to get us there.

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EVE Evolved: Is DUST 514 a pay-to-win game?

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Business Models, Economy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvP, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, First Impressions, EVE Evolved, DUST 514, Sandbox

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I've been following DUST 514's development with a cautious optimism for the past few years and have been trying to convince my console gamer friends to give it a try since it launched back in May. Last week I finally sat down to play the game myself and was thoroughly disappointed with both its 2005-era graphics and fundamentally broken gameplay. DUST 514 will likely stay in development for the forseeable future and may end up becoming a polished and integral part of the EVE Online universe, but right now it's a buggy and mediocre FPS that has very little impact on New Eden.

DUST 514 launched to mixed impressions from the gaming media, catching a lot of flack from reviewers for its microtransactions options. Some have argued that selling skill point boosters and destructible Aurum tanks and equipment directly for cash makes it a pay-to-win game, while others maintain that it doesn't give you an advantage that free players can't buy for ISK. The definition of pay-to-win isn't always clear, and the console FPS audience may not be as tolerant of microtransactions PC users have long since accepted.

In this week's EVE Evolved, I look at the arguments for and against it being a pay-to-win game and ask what went wrong with the game's launch.

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EVE Evolved: First impressions of DUST 514

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Culture, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, Patches, Previews, PvP, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Consoles, First Impressions, EVE Evolved, DUST 514, Sandbox

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Every time I'm in a conversation about DUST 514, I find myself excusing its gameplay problems on the basis that it's treading new ground and has years of development ahead of it. But even though CCP has revealed an aggressive new schedule of big monthly updates, console gamers aren't willing to give it a free pass today based on future potential. I finally convinced my console gamer friends to pick the game up this week and gave it a fair go myself.

I absolutely love the idea of DUST 514 and want to see the game succeed, but console gamers just don't seem impressed. When the game officially launched on May 14th, it was largely regarded as just another mediocre and buggy first-person shooter with a perishable gear system. The MMO components such as territorial control aren't very visible or accessible to new players, the gameplay balance and graphics need serious work, and the link with EVE Online feels practically non-existent. It pains me to say it, but DUST is neither a great FPS nor a great MMO.

In this week's EVE Evolved, I delve into DUST 514 and give my first impressions of it as an EVE player.

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EVE Evolved: The battle of Z9PP-H caught on camera

Sci-Fi, Video, EVE Online, Business Models, Culture, Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, Guilds, Lore, PvP, Endgame, News Items, Opinion, EVE Evolved, Sandbox, Player-Generated Content

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If you're the kind of person who loves reading about the political shenanigans that go on inside EVE Online, you should be aware that a colossal war has erupted in the wake of the Odyssey expansion. The expansion redistributed the value of nullsec moons and gave the two largest alliances in the game, the Reddit-based TEST Alliance and Something Awful-spawned GoonSwarm Federation, a good excuse to go to full-scale war. Allies have piled in on either side, and nullsec has erupted into full-scale region takedowns, spy-jacking, and more of the lovely political tomfoolery we love to hear about.

EVE News 24 has been doing a good job of keeping players up to date on what's happening in nullsec, and its reporters are not the only ones keeping tabs on the war. Streamer Mad Ani has been setting up cameras in strategically important locations throughout the contested regions and providing live coverage of huge battles whenever they happen. A few days ago, the war came to a head in what could have been the deciding battle of the entire Fountain invasion. Over 4,000 people watched the stream as TEST's entire capital fleet of over 100 carriers was taking a pounding in Z9PP-H, when suddenly the server crashed and disconnected everyone in the fight.

In this week's EVE Evolved, I look at what happened in the battle of Z9PP-H, how CCP crashed its biggest piece of PR in months, and how player livestreams are changing the face of EVE Online for the better.

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EVE Evolved: A guide to roles in fleet PvP

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

EVE Evolved Roles in fleet warfare
It seems as if every time the topic of PvP comes up in an EVE Online news post or article, a few people will chime in with stories of their horrible experiences with it. This seems almost baffling to me, as I would say EVE offers the best PvP experience in the entire MMO genre. It soon becomes apparent that we aren't playing the same game and that their experience is one of helpless newbies being ganked by evil blobs of bad guys. If that describes your first few days in the depths of space, you may well have missed out on some incredible fights.

For me, PvP in EVE means fleet warfare; it's all about co-ordinated groups of players hunting around the map for other fleets they can probably defeat while avoiding all the larger fish that will swallow them whole. The players on PvP ops are always itching for action, but a good fleet commander will carefully weigh enemy fleets and be sure to engage only when he thinks he has the upper hand. Figuring out ways to fight above your weight or look weaker than you are play an important role in the PvP metagame, turning EVE into a kind of intergalactic game of poker played by fleet commanders using their pilots as betting chips.

In this week's EVE Evolved, I look at all the different roles that make a successful fleet and what you'll need to fill that role.

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EVE Evolved: Fitting battleships for PvP in Odyssey, part 2

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

EVE Evolved Fitting battleships for PvP in Odyssey, part 2
Battleships used to be the backbone of every major PvP fleet in EVE Online, but recent years have seen them increasingly overtaken by more mobile Battlecruisers, Heavy Assault Cruisers, and tech 3 Strategic Cruisers. Armour buffered battleships are still used in carrier-supported fleets and for a while nullsec played host to huge missile-spamming Maelstrom blobs of unholy death, but many of the battleships just haven't been worth using. Developers saught to rectify that in the recent Odyssey expansion with a complete balance overhaul of the standard tech 1 battleships, and it's starting to pay off.

In last week's EVE Evolved, I looked at how Odyssey buffed the tier one Dominix, Scorpion, Typhoon, and Armageddon beyond all recognition and experimented with new PvP setups for each of them. This week I've turned my attention toward the tier 2 battleships, which turned out to be equally versatile and deadly. Now officially falling under the umbrella of "Combat Battleships," the Megathron, Raven, Apocalypse, and Tempest have become powerful damage-dealing platforms for fleet warfare. Each of them can now fulfill sniper or close-range damage roles and carry a spare flight of Warrior II drones to bat off tacklers, but what's impressed me the most is the sheer level of damage and tank they can achieve.

In this week's EVE Evolved, I experiment with setups for the recently revamped Megathron, Raven, Apocalypse, and Tempest tier 2 battleships. These setups may require Advanced Weapon Upgrades 4 and a cheap 1-3% powergrid or CPU implant.

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EVE Evolved: Fitting battleships for PvP in Odyssey

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

EVE Evolved Fitting battleships for PvP in Odyssey
Tech 1 ships in EVE Online used to be arranged in tiers that determined the cost and power of the ship and what level of the appropriate skill was required to fly it. This gave a sense of progression back in 2004 when all we had was frigates, cruisers, and battleships, but developers have since filled in the gaps between ship classes with destroyers, battlecruisers, strategic cruisers, and tech 2 ships of all shapes and sizes. In a recent game design initiative, CCP has been removing the tiers from within each tech 1 ship class by buffing the lower-tier ships up to the same rough power level as the largest ship in its class.

The recent Odyssey expansion saw the humble battleship buffed beyond all recognition. The Megathron, Raven, Tempest, and Apocalypse all became extreme damage-dealing powerhouses, but the Dominix, Scorpion, Typhoon, and Armageddon were buffed the most. Each of them can now fit several monster setups, dealing upward of 1,000 damage per second or completely disabling enemy ships with energy neutralisers and electronic warfare. The build costs of these tier one battleships were more than doubled in the expansion, but prices are only slowly rising due to the existing stock on the market. That makes the tier one battleships incredibly cost-effective PvP powerhouses at the moment, and players are beginning to take advantage of it.

In this week's EVE Evolved, I experiment with PvP setups for the newly revamped Typhoon, Armageddon, Scorpion, and Dominix battleships.

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EVE Evolved: First impressions of Odyssey

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Bugs, Economy, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Patches, Previews, PvP, PvE, Opinion, Hands-On, First Impressions, EVE Evolved, Guides, Sandbox

EVE Evolved First impressions of Odyssey
The Odyssey expansion has been live for a couple of days now, but it's already starting to have a massive impact on EVE Online. Traffic through low-security space has increased significantly for the first time in years thanks to explorers hunting data and relic sites, and some players are even hunting asteroid belt NPCs in lowsec for the new security tags. New wars have erupted in nullsec following the redistribution of moon wealth, mining has become a more valuable profession, and the rebalanced battleships feel powerful again.

Unfortunately, Odyssey has seen its fair share of problems too. The new jump effect looks spectacular the first few times you see it, but long-term play is reportedly causing motion sickness in some players. Some players have also been objecting to the ice mining changes, and the revamped radial UI menu hasn't done much to fix the game's usability problems. Explorers in low-security space and nullsec are reporting incomes in the billions of ISK per day range thanks to the scan probe changes and new hacking minigame, but not everyone is happy with the new loot-scattering mechanic.

In this week's EVE Evolved, I look at the early impact of Odyssey on the EVE Online universe and discover the secrets behind collecting all the valuable loot when hacking.

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EVE Evolved: Get ready for Odyssey

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Economy, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Patches, PvP, PvE, EVE Evolved, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Crafting

EVE Evolved Get ready for Odyssey
With just two days to go until EVE Online's exploration-focused Odyssey expansion goes live, players have been scouring the test server for information that can give them an edge. Some have been practicing moon surveying techniques for the upcoming redistribution of tech 2 minerals, and others are hoping to get rich quick by speculating on battleship price changes. Explorers are kitting out new exploration ships, theorycrafters are working on new setups for rebalanced ships, and pirates are setting up base in lowsec areas that are about to become fertile hunting grounds.

Odyssey isn't quite the Apocrypha-level expansion I've been hoping for, but it certainly seems set to shake things up. Changes to moon minerals will throw nullsec into chaos and hopefully ignite some big territorial wars, and battleship buffs may change EVE's popular fleet compositions. The Discovery Scanner Overlay will make exploration much easier for new players to get into, but will also give pirates another tool with which to hunt down explorers. A new co-operative hacking minigame will also make exploration more of a team sport. But how can you make the most of the expansion from day one, and what can you do today to prepare for it?

In this week's EVE Evolved, I look at the new exploration system and other changes you can expect when you log in on Tuesday, and what you can do now to make the most of them.

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EVE Evolved: Archaeology and Hacking in Odyssey

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Expansions, Game Mechanics, PvP, PvE, Opinion, EVE Evolved, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Dungeons

EVE Evolved Hacking and Archaeology in Odyssey
EVE Online's Odyssey expansion is set to land in just over a week's time, kicking off the game's second decade with a focus on exploration, immersion, and resource rebalancing. Developers plan to shake up nullsec by redistributing the value of various moon minerals and buffing player-owned outposts, and lowsec will become a more tempting place to visit with the addition of valuable new tags to asteroid belt NPCs. But what's in it for highsec players?

In addition to new navy issue battlecruisers and immersive new jump and death sequences, players from all corners of EVE will find new exploration content in their back yards. A big part of the new exploration system is a complete redesign of the Hacking and Archaeology mini-professions, which have been in EVE for as long as I can remember and have remained relatively unchanged. Odyssey will add new sites for both professions and replace the boring old chance-based system with a new minigame that emphasises co-operation with other players.

In this week's EVE Evolved, I look at the history of Hacking and Archaeology in EVE and what the new system brings to the table.

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EVE Evolved: Fanfest 2013 video roundup

Sci-Fi, Galleries, Trailers, Video, EVE Online, Culture, Events (Real-World), Expansions, Game Mechanics, Lore, MMO Industry, PvP, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, MMOFPS, Events (Massively's Coverage), EVE Evolved, DUST 514, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Anniversaries

EVE Evolved Fanfest 2013 video roundup
Last month saw the huge tenth anniversary EVE Online Fanfest, a three-day convention packed full of exclusive reveals, behind-the-scenes talks, and community events. This year's Fanfest was the biggest one yet, celebrating EVE's tenth anniversary with special guest speakers from the scientific community, the reveal of a new virtual reality dogfighter, DUST 514's launch, and details of the upcoming Odyssey expansion. Massively was there to bring you coverage of the big news as it happened, and CCP streamed some of the key talks and events live to viewers at home.

This year's Fanfest sold out so quickly that many people who wanted to go didn't get a chance to, and only a select few talks were shown on the public livestream. With such a packed event schedule, even players in attendance couldn't be there for every interesting talk. Thankfully, CCP recorded over 30 of the most anticipated events and has now uploaded the videos to YouTube. Highlights include the Make EVE Real videos, the EVE keynote, the CCP Presents Keynote, and the talks on how DUST 514 integrates with the EVE economy.

In this week's EVE Evolved, I round up all of the EVE Fanfest videos in a handy list.

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EVE Evolved: Could EVE use twitch controls?

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvP, Opinion, EVE Evolved, Sandbox, Subscription

EVE Evolved Could EVE use twitch controls
A few weeks ago, the EVE Online community went nuts for EVR, CCP's exciting new virtual reality dogfighter developed for the upcoming Oculus Rift gaming headset. The game demo was produced by a team of just a handful of developers in just seven weeks using nothing but their spare time, but attendees and press at EVE Fanfest 2013 were nevertheless blown away during test sessions. Though EVR isn't going to be integrated with the EVE universe, Senior Producer Andie Nordgren stated in her Keynote address that CCP will be looking into more immersive flight and combat mechanics for some the game's ships. This comment has sparked a lot of discussion over the possibility of finally getting some direct flight controls in EVE.

The lack of direct twitch-based controls in EVE is often cited by gamers as a big part of the reason they can't get into the game. There's no active dodging of missiles, manual ship targeting, or really complex tactical maneuvers in EVE, but that's kind of the point. Most ships in EVE are colossal lumbering hulks more akin to today's seafaring battleships than fighter planes, and combat with them is more a game of strategy and teamwork than a battle of reaction speeds. But that isn't exactly true of all ships; interceptors and fast microwarpdrive frigates move at several kilometres per second and are so agile that pilots can already pull off some interesting tactical maneuvers. So isn't it about time we made the combat for those ships a bit more visceral and immersive?

In this week's EVE Evolved, I look at the fast-paced world of interceptors and explore how twitch controls and weapon aiming could possibly be implemented without killing the server.

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