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EVE Online

EVE Online turns manual control of ships over to players

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Patches, Previews, Dev Diaries, Sandbox

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For the first time ever in its history, EVE Online is experimenting with giving players manual control of their starships. The change was prompted by observing new players who were frustrated that the game didn't include standard WASD controls. These "simple" controls will be introduced as an optional beta feature in next month's Rhea update.

CCP also posted a list of other features that we'll be seeing with the upcoming content patch. Players will enjoy an improved star map, try out new ships such as the Confessor tactical destroyer, experience more atmospheric asteroid belts, and no longer lose skill points or clone grades when podded.

Wormholes opening up 101 new EVE Online systems

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Patches, Previews, Dev Diaries, Subscription

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Think you've explored most of the known galaxy in EVE Online? First of all, that's a lie as the game is stupid big, and second, you won't as of next month anyway. CCP announced that one of the big features coming with the December 9th Rhea update will be 101 new wormhole systems opening their doors for business.

The wormholes will be separated into three categories, starting with 75 "standard shattered" systems filled with broken planets and minable ice fields. Then 25 of the new systems will only allow smaller vessels to jump through. And finally, the 101st will be Thera, a story-heavy location that will be the largest system in the game. Like small ship shattered systems, Thera won't admit capital ships, but will host four stations for those who venture into its domain.

EVE Evolved: Clone upgrades and skill loss are gone!

Sci-Fi, Video, EVE Online, Economy, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Patches, Previews, PvP, Endgame, News Items, Opinion, EVE Evolved, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Subscription

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While the player activity stats might suggest otherwise, the past few years have been a real rennaisance for EVE Online. Developers have gone back and iterated on dozens of old game features that were starting to show their age, and some of them have been pretty huge. The war declaration and criminality overhauls in 2012 were fundamental changes to core gameplay that had been stagnant for almost a decade, and the recent industry and warp acceleration changes were equally fundamental shifts. These were all features we had previously been told were essentially off-limits for iteration because they relied on undocumented legacy code from 2003, and none of the programmers wanted to poke that sleeping beast.

Now it seems that no idea is off-limits, and developers aren't afraid to challenge fundamental parts of EVE's original design that may not make sense today. This week's Phoebe update revisited capital ship force projection for the first time since the ships were added in 2004, for example, and it removed the 24-hour skill queue limit that CCP insisted on adding in Apocrypha. In Thursday's episode of The EVE Online Show, developers announced the next big legacy feature to be put on the chopping block in the game of progress: As part of December's Rhea release, clone upgrades and skill point loss on death will be completely removed from the game.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at the problems caused by the cloning system, why it needs to be removed, and what could possibly replace it.

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EVE Online solicits feedback for UI revamp

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Patches, Previews, Dev Diaries, Sandbox

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That there above is the new user interface for EVE Online, so what do you think? Well, you can tell us, but CCP really wants you to tell it, as the studio is asking for feedback on the upcoming UI overhaul.

"For the look itself, we want EVE's UI to look and feel more like something fitting a science fiction universe, and a bit less like an operating system," CCP posted today. The team posted its goals for the overhaul, including making it feel more intuitive, allowing for semi-transparent windows, using colors "in a sensible way," and tweaking the icons to fit thematically within a group.

Currently, the UI changes are on the test server for any and all to try out.

Phoebe update lands in EVE Online

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Patches, Sandbox, Subscription

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Outer space has gotten a little more interesting as of today with EVE Online's Phoebe content update.

The update contains a smorgasbord of changes and quality-of-live improvements, including better search functionality, jump fatigue to slow down long-distance travel, looser restrictions for trial accounts, the ability to place multiple market sell orders, and a streamlining pass for exploration.

Phoebe was EVE's fifth content release for 2014. Attention now turns to the game's next update, Rhea, which is scheduled for December 9th.

EVE's Phoebe adding better search functionality and more

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvP, News Items, Dev Diaries, Sandbox

Another day, another Phoebe-focused dev blog from the folks at CCP. EVE Online is getting a bit of a search overhaul in its November patch, as items inside station containers will be included in search results.

CCP is also calling attention to the "pretty powerful advanced search functionality" in EVE via a new question mark icon in the game's Asset Search tab that leads to a keyword tooltip. There are several other UI changes scheduled to debut with Phoebe, but you'll need to click through the links below to view them in the full dev blog.

If you're a third-party EVE app developer, don't forget to visit CCP's newly published blog.

EVE Online uses jump fatigue to discourage long-distance travel

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Patches, Previews, Dev Diaries, Sandbox

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Hold your horses, space buckaroo. Where do you think you're going so fast?

EVE Online is preparing to deliberately slow down pilots with the introduction of jump fatigue in the upcoming Phoebe patch. Jump fatigue adds a timer following a jump that must be endured until the next jump is allowed. According to a dev blog (that includes an appendix!) on the subject, "This allows us to discourage people travelling longer distances using jump travel, while keeping penalties relatively light for tactical/occasional movement."

Another dev blog tackles the changes to invention and manufacturing that are planned with the patch. One big change is the merge of invention with reverse engineering, which comes with an algabraic forumla because spaceships and laser battles are not exciting enough on their own.

CCP explains EVE's upcoming mission guidance system, CSM changes

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, PvE, Dev Diaries, Sandbox

CCP released another Phoebe-focused dev diary earlier today, this one detailing the new mission objective system coming to EVE Online next month. The firm is walking a fine line between general guidance and "brain-dead instructions to follow," and as such it is asking for feedback relative to how the new feature is presented in today's diary. It's a lengthy read, but you can also see the new system in action if you log onto EVE's Singularity test shard.

CCP has also delivered minutes from the Council of Stellar Management's summer summit earlier than expected. CCP Leeloo explains that the studio will make further changes to the CMS next year, starting with lengthening the winter summit and shortening the current CMS's term to better align with next year's Fanfest. Applications for CSM10 open on January 30th.

EVE video dev diary talks Phoebe features

Sci-Fi, Video, EVE Online, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvP, News Items, Sandbox, Crafting

CCP has published a new dev diary video focused on EVE Online's upcoming Phoebe release. The clip runs for nearly seven minutes and features a who's who of current EVE devs talking about various bits and pieces scheduled to hit Tranquility on November 14th.

Phoebe features nullsec travel tweaks, an unlimited skill queue, a revamped invention system, mission objective guidance, and more. Click past the cut to watch the dev diary!

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EVE Evolved: Could permadeath work in EVE?

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

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Permadeath has been one of the most contentuous features in online gaming since as far back as I can remember. The feeling of permanently losing a character you've spent months training up and playing with because of a single mistake or lag spike would be horrifying to most people, yet the idea continues to intrigue both players and developers. Diablo II's Hardcore mode is probably the most successful permadeath mechanic in an online game to date, separating the hardcore players onto a different server so that they develop their own game economy and leaderboard. Several MMOs have experimented with permadeath servers or mechanics over the years, but they're almost always reverted as failures.

In a recent presentation at EVE Vegas 2014, EVE Online developer CCP Rise discussed the idea of permadeath characters as something he's wanted to add to the game for the past few years. This is particularly problematic for EVE as the game uses passive time-based skill training and the whole game takes place on one massive shard. The hardcore players would need to have enough incentive to risk their characters' lives on a daily basis, their abilities would have to be balanced with non-hardcore players, and abuse of the system to suicide gank players would need to be handled. But if those problems are tackled, is it possible that there's a place for permadeath in EVE?

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at how permadeath could be added to EVE Online without disrupting the rest of the game.

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EVE Online loosens restrictions on trial accounts

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Patches, Previews, Dev Diaries, Sandbox

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In an effort to draw in more prospective pilots, EVE Online is removing and reducing some of the current restrictions for its trial accounts once the Phoebe update hits on November 4th.

Come the update, trial accounts will be able to send and receive ISK without limits, can post in trade chat channels, participate in incursions, and can apply to up to five corporations at a time. While many restrictions on skills will be lifted, those remaining will be easier to identify thanks to a clearer interface.

"The goal of these changes is to open up the game to new players so they can explore a greater variety of the content available in EVE," the team reasoned. "We believe getting new players invested in the game early on will keep them playing longer than if we throw all the good stuff behind a subscriber wall."

EVE's Phoebe introducing simultaneous multiple market sell orders

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, PvP, News Items, Sandbox, Crafting

EVE Online's Phoebe release draws near, and as we approach the November 4th launch date, CCP is publishing all manner of dev blogs designed to apprise players of the patch's additions. The latest blurb concerns item-selling, and more specifically the long-awaited ability to create multiple market sell orders simultaneously.

If you're an EVE trader you'll probably want to skim the details, and you can find them via the links below.

EVE Vegas 2014 roundup: Tech 3 destroyers, permadeath and more

Sci-Fi, Video, EVE Online, Culture, Events (Real-World), Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, Previews, News Items, Events (Massively's Coverage), Livestream, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Subscription, MMORPG

An event that started out several years ago as an impromptu EVE Online player gathering, EVE Vegas has grown so large that this year it was was officially taken over by developer CCP Games. This year's event was organised like a mini-Fanfest, with Executive Producer Andie Nordgren's keynote address and some interesting talks from both players and developers. Players got a chance to compare notes with developers on the game's recent progress, CCP let out a few exciting reveals, and the whole event was streamed live to viewers at home for free.

This year's big reveal was a new tech 3 Tactical Destroyer ship class that can transform into one of several tactical configurations mid-fight to boost power to the engines, shields, or weapons as required. We also heard rumblings of new "glass cannon" weapons that deal increased damage but lower your ship's damage resistances, and CCP tested the public response to the controversial idea of adding permadeath characters to EVE. Player talks were equally informative, giving insights into the world of nullsec Fleet Command and the custom Region Commander software that the game's biggest coalitions use to maintain their grip on power.

If you missed out on the event, read on for links to Massively's coverage of the stream or to watch the stream recordings for yourself.

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EVE Vegas 2014: Getting players involved in EVE's development

Sci-Fi, Video, EVE Online, Business Models, Culture, Events (Real-World), Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, News Items, Events (Massively's Coverage), Livestream, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Player-Generated Content, Subscription, MMORPG

Back in 2011, EVE Online developer CCP Games was rocked by controversy when players outraged over the Incarna expansion's microtransactions and CCP's indifference to player feedback spoke with their wallets and quit the game. In what became known as the monoclegate scandal, an estimated 8% of players quit, and CCP eventually laid off 20% of its staff worldwide. Some tough lessons were learned about keeping players looped into the development process, and CCP began involving players more closely in the development process.

At EVE Vegas 2014 today, developer CCP Fozzie looked at the ways that CCP gathers ideas and feedback from the community. As a sandbox MMO with a very dedicated community, EVE is in the interesting position that many of the players know more about the game than the developers themselves and can identify problems with ideas very early in the development process. Plans are now announced earlier in development to gather feedback, some new features are now made optional on release to gauge usage, and failed ideas will even be rolled back if necessary.

During the talk, Fozzie confirmed that each SCRUM team within CCP focuses on one particular area of gameplay and that player ideas are often brought into internal meetings for discussion. A new rig named the Higgs Anchor is even being introduced based on player suggestions; it will decrease movement speed by 75% but increase agility to make it easier to align to warp out if hostiles approach the player's location. If this level of player participation keeps up, hopefully disasters like monoclegate will never happen again.

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EVE Vegas 2014: CCP on the new player experience and permadeath

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Culture, Events (Real-World), Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, PvP, News Items, PvE, Events (Massively's Coverage), Livestream, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Subscription, MMORPG

Every time some huge scandal or record-breaking battle erupts in EVE Online, thousands of new players flood into the game ready to create epic stories of their own. Confronted with a confusing interface and a practically mandatory tutorial that takes most of the day to complete, most of those players, unsurprisingly, don't stick around. The past few updates have improved things by adding tooltips to the main UI elements and introducing a new notification system, but there's more to come.

At EVE Vegas 2014 this weekend, CCP Rise discussed his plans for a new Opportunities system that will replace the tutorial. To help design the system, developers got together groups of gamers who had never played before and dropped them into EVE with little to no instructions. The playtests highlighted a lack of action compared to expectations and showed how confusing things like the map, station UI, and hangar inventory system can be for newcomers. Many of these problems are very easily fixed and may even be solved in one of the two remaining patches this year.

In an interesting move, Rise went on to talk about his idea to add a form of permadeath to EVE Online. Although you lose your ship when you die in EVE, it's actually only a financial loss as your character is reborn in a fresh clone. What Rise wants is for people to make new mortal characters with no clones and a fixed number of skillpoints to allocate to skills. It's possible that this could close the gap between old and new players by allowing newbies to purchase single lives with the focused combat skills of a veteran. This isn't something that will be introduced any time soon or even that's definitely coming, but the fact that CCP is talking about the idea publicly now is intriguing.

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