Friday, April 25, 2014

A Look at the History of Expansions - Part Six

A Look at the History of Expansions - The Series

Previous entry: Exodus

I defined the end of the Exodus era well before the launch of Eve Online: Cold War. Part of this is the simple fact the arc of development and release of the expansion happens both before and after the true launch date. While Exodus laid out the foundations of a lot of Eve Online it was not a stopping point for CCP. In fact, a clear division of front line development and back-line hardware emerges along with a robust team that does things that are not related directly to code. Eve is steamrolling forward for CCP and they are starting to make enough noise that the greater community is watching them.


A review from about.com on Eve Online: Exodus says:
A Different Kind of Fun
Eve offers an unusually open play style. If you want to play a lone wolf pirate or trader rather than get involved in Corporate politics, there's really nothing stopping you. Anyone with the entreprenuerial spirit will appreciate the complexity of Eve's player-driven economy, which is remarkable in itself.
This game is not a quick fix; beginners have a considerable learning curve to overcome. The appeal is in longer term goals like contributing to the prosperity of your Corporation, aligning yourself with a political cause, or being part of an empire with a lethal fleet of ships.
Bottom Line
Eve isn't a game for everyone. Those who want an action game, or a steady stream of creatures to bash until they reach the level cap, probably won't take to it. Many will find the pace intolerably slow, especially in the beginning, but the longer you play, the more likely you are to enjoy it. If you have some patience and a willingness to get involved in the game's economic and political structure, there is depth to Eve Online that few MMORPGs can match.
The UI has changed in the last year. Eve has always been a game of stunning visuals. It is a game where people will take pictures of what, in the simplest terms is technically a door and ooh and awe about it. CCP did several changes to the UI when they released Exodus and the current, more streamlined version is much closer to what we work with today.


While CCP did not throw Exodus away they were running towards Cold War and so we shall run with them.

The teasers for new items entering for Cold War started in January of 2005 only six weeks after Exodus launched. The first teasers are for capital ships. Until this point only sub-capitals exist in the game. This also means that we are looking at the original launch of capital ships back when they were still built and allowed in high security space. The entrance of capital ships also plays into CCP's New World Order. This is an expansion where they mean to flesh out some of the size and dramatic scope of the game. Sov Null is only in its infancy and space is controlled by POS and nothing else. There are no outposts. There are no freighters to move materials. There is just lots of huge, empty swaths of dark space with tiny flags stuck in an asteroid field.

The other thing coming in Cold War are COSMOS missions.
COSMOS redefines the landscape of EVE by populating space, a Constellation will be the focal point of each Region, where we create a backstory, utilizing agents, complexes, npc's, environments and mini-professions. 
A side note is that the concept of min-professions starts to appear around this time. Mini-professions are specialized activities that players may decide to invest their time in. At this junction in the game, exploration is a mini-profession. This shows that Eve is still shrugging off the age old system of classes. CCP wants to explain that options are available but they do not lock you into one style of play. This is a very new concept on the market and one that they struggle to define. That the player is not the profession but the actions and articles the player uses will define the activity and the activity itself is a profession.
  • As an example of a mini-profession, we can take Archeology where you go to specific locations and search for various remains, try to combine them via scraps of schematics you find resulting in various stuff coming out of it - everything from skills to ships really. Such a profession usually consists of some skills to learn it with modules and special ships to utilize it. 
Eve has always had problems that the players consider game breaking. During this time, in may of 2005, bookmarks were such an issue that they produced Dev blogs about them. This is the time before warp to zero. A time when you landed 15k off of a gate and slow boated your way to jump range. Players created bookmarks to solve this problem and people felt that they were breaking the game because they could avoid that 15k death zone around each gate. Something we now consider a part of daily life was being thought of as an unwanted invulnerability. There is one familiar legacy of the bookmark problem.
  • 100's of instas on the majority of characters are causing unnecessary server load in many scenarios (logon, switching systems, on use etc.) 
It is June of 2005 and we have our first look at Outposts. I'm not going to go into depth about them because they are still very much what they were. However, this means that the early Sov residents who lived in Sov were living out of POS similar to what wormholes currently deal with. Before, Sov Owners are relying on mails that new POS have been anchored in their space and marshaling to go and defend without any reasonable capable supply. In a land where thousands of players are involved in a Sov battle this is horrifying. I am sure it is just as bad in this pre-capital ship Eve Online but in different but still soul destroying ways.
"To sum it up, we think this will bring direct benefits to Alliances, change the focus of unclaimed 0.0 space, lead to the creation of more Alliances, create more direct and focused strategic goals both to defend and attack between Alliances, create new goals within Alliances and last but by far not the least create goals for new corporations to aspire too.
Remember, when we enable players to build infrastructure which they make money on from other players, this won't only benefit the Alliances, this benefits the whole universe. Ultimately, you will be able to work for the new empires or work against them. Heck, you can build your own! It should be up to you, not us." 
But wait! Everything is not about productivity and growing Eve. It is June, 2005 and Eve has its first scandal where a member of the ISD attempts to embezzle(?) their event character and a lot of ISK. This is stupidly done and leaves a paper trail that might as well have posted on the forums as to the goals. Considering the scams and misconduct of the future, this is a bit embarrassing. Yet, CCP comes clean about what happened and what they are doing. Thankfully, Fanfest 2005 distracts everyone. This year is done with a bit more polish from the last.

But, those spaceships. The concept of the jump drive is introduced. It is the end of June and we are getting Dreadnoughts and Freighters. The new construction process of component blueprints is introduced. Also, Outposts will be made with components purchased from NPC corporations in a multi-step process.


Eve Online: Cold War is not announced under its name until launch and it is often refereed to as a patch instead of what we now call an expansion. Terms do change during the years. Some of the back and forth about the term is CCP's own fault. They tout Cold War as a content expansion. Bigger than a patch, smaller than an expansion. Okay. Sure marketing, whatever works. By the way... there is no trailer. Also, Cold War is easy enough to understand without a definition. The cold war it speaks of is one between the empires and the players. It appears that it is a mix between the capsuleers taking Sov and the empires not being happy that happened.

Did you know we were going to have a mini-career called espionage? Yeah? I didn't ether but it seems that was an idea at the start of the COSMOS aspect of the launch. I wondered if it was the foundation for our current 'hacking' module (Once called a Code Breaker now the Data Analyzer).

Research agents which have been nerfed into the ground in current days were once quite useful. Need T2 missile launchers, some mining drones, or maybe shield or armor hardeners? Head over to your friendly Research Agent. Then, buy a skill book and learn to your hearts content. Many of Eve's items are currently still on the market.

But the code war expansion-patch brings us lots of additions to Sov, new outposts, our first capitals, and the ability to write in your native language character in the client. This is before Google translate was super good as well so it must have been even more confusing than it can be now when two countries clash.

I've written before about the fact that I wish there was more NPC traffic in space. There are NPC convoys that go from place to place. They used to be something that a player went out and hunted. In Cold War they were buffed. Yet, this is not something I can remember anyone speaking about doing since I have played Eve. Perhaps I will discover what happens to them later. Cold War has an interesting balance of PvP and PvE content. Significant improvements and opportunities for Sov are balanced with COSMOS missions and new and exciting activities for players to train into and do.

Let it be known that CCP did not lie about the size. Cold War has two builds listed under its patch notes.

The first is hefty in itself. Weapons have been rebalanced, missiles improved and Interceptors made useful and faster. There is a transport ship skill that is added. I am going to assume this is used to fly the new freighters. There is a entire slew of PvE changes. Players will no longer have to ask GM to give them insignia and tags for missions. A lot of items are available through agents and missions such as Nexus chips. This was the time when there were market missions and they stopped sending people into areas where their security or faction standings would get them killed by NPCs. We also got mailing lists. The EULA was updated about character transfers (I bet related to said scandel). This is the expansion where you could name your cargo containers and said names stay (I suspect past downtime)!

Cold War was an expansion that frankly, we complain about today. New stuff is added, current stuff is fixed, lots of bug fixes are done. They add 30 jump gates to Sov and kill the highways of Eve.

There are two very interesting things about Cold War and I discovered them both in an article on Softpedia. The first was that Eve was at 60,000 subscribed accounts and now handling 13,000 simultaneous users. The second is this quote:
EVE Online: Cold War Edition will put the fragile peace sustaining the Empire territories at risk, as sovereignties secretly vie for advantage over their foes. Empires will unite to form pacts, old superhighways will be changed... a new world order is forming. Dozens of new passageways into the deep space regions will create unprecedented opportunities for both veteran and new pilots alike.
That quote follows along the path of the Dev Blogs. But, it also is very similar to the language used by Rubicon, the 19th Expansion where the empires are losing control and capsuleers are taking over. I am bad at speculation but the start contract between the two expansions and the general direction of the Eve Universe is very, very interesting to me.

I believe that 2005 is also the general time frame that Yulai was decentralized. The patch notes and dev blogs remark about removing the highways of Eve. But, the closest thing I have found to a good date was a forum post in 2005 that comments about Yulai being decentralized.

It also makes Cold War was the birth of exploration sites. They were called mini-professions at the time and the original idea was to create the foundation for something more complex. I think that many of us consider exploration to be a primary career these days.

E-ON is released in 2005. It will run until the end of 2012. For those unfamiliar, E-ON was a real paper magazine about Eve Online.

It is August of 2008. CCP has changed its code over to one named KALI after giving most of the office off for the end of the summer. During this quiet period (most of the Dev Blogs are about E-ON) people are raging over the things that have not been fixed or brought into the game. CCP address it and explains that they are working on many things for the current and next expansion. The second part of Cold War is going to be released soon and it is also a large installment.

The second half of Cold War contains many interesting features. Research Agents, those useful creatures, will give you a stealth bomber. Drones will not beat down your corpmates anymore. Hybrid turrets are less cap hungry (boggles the mind) and there is a general re-balance of several ships to clear up their role usage.

By the way, the factory and research slot numbers in empire have been increased.

Sov stations gain cloning, laboratory, repair, and insurance services. Corporate offices gain the ability to have sales from any hangar. They were originally broken up into refining, cloning, and factory stations. Null also has its Isotopes improved a bit. It should be worth it to mine there now. There was also a lot of PvE additions. To the tune of 40 new missions. I also, kind of think, we may not see many missions added after this point. I may be wrong.
  • Rogue drone hive- complexes on the other hand have flourished and the rogue drone overseers now often carry valuable equipment. Their strongest hive in particular – the newly discovered Outgrowth Rogue Drone Hive – has flourished.
If only it was true now.
  • Difficulty level 5 to 8 complexes have spread somewhat further out into the lower security level areas. In addition to the new complexes being spread outwards more, the old ones will now appear much further out also.
I admit that I am working through Dev blogs more than the forums. The forums were just as active as they are now. These complexes, which we now know as X of 10 are another seed of exploration. Exploration, however, was not touted as an expansion until Odyssey in 2013. What caught my eye was the definition of the space as 'lower security' space. The current break down of the sectors from high to low to null npc/sov existed but they were more intermixed. Now, hard lines define each from the other and those lines developed slowly.

Cold War is not the most glamorous of expansions. CCP is very busy and a bit quiet during this time. Eve is still a very different world. T2 items come from NPCs. Outpost items come from NPCs. The player base is expanding but it is still not large. Null has empty systems that no one owns. But, CCP seems to be caught up in very grand plans about the focus their game world is headed towards. The next expansion, Eve Online: Red Moon Rising, will be in in only four more months.

Resources:

Eve Online 2005 Dev Blogs
Eve Online: Cold War Official Site
Eve Online Offical Patch notes
Eve Online: Evelopedia
About.com Eve Online: Exodus
Softpedia: Cold War

3 comments:

  1. Transport Ships is the current name for the skill that gets used for blockade runners. It's kinda useless aside from that, because Deep Space Transports combine the worst attributes of freighters (slow align) and T1 haulers (not much EHP) with an active rep bonus.

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  2. DSTS also have a +2 bonus to warp strength, meaning that at least 3 points of warp disruption are needed in order to point them. They also have a large number of low slots... and the point bonus plus a few additional stabs have saved my Mastodon, and our POS spike & mods, more than a few times during moves through Sugar's much beloved lowsec... =]

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  3. [quote=Droidster]
    The key systems in EVE form a loop with spokes. They are:
    Manarq -- Ourapheh -- Yulai -- Lustrevik -- Pator [MinMatar Prime]
    Manarq -- Kemerk -- Niyabainen -- Jita -- Nonni [Caldari Prime]
    Manarq -- Kehour -- Ashab -- Amarr [Amarr Prime]
    Manarq -- Tar -- Pakhshi -- Renyn -- Algogille -- Luminaire [Gallente Prime]
    Yulai-Renyn is the main loop with the spokes as shown. Of course there are many other key routes, especially if you are considering 0.0 space, but the above is main core empire loop.
    If you are selling things you want to open up the blue map (F10), and set your display setting to "Number of pilots currently docked and active". Where you see the blobs are the places to sell.
    [/quote]
    source= http://oldforums.eveonline.com/?a=topic&threadID=109568

    ReplyDelete