Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Look at the History of Expansions - Part Two

A Look at the History of Expansions - The Series

Previous entry: Second Genesis

Second Genesis is an interesting title for a first launch considering there was no Eve Online: Genesis. But, it spoke to Eve's backstory. Eve spend centuries in a type of dark ages where they had to rediscover interstellar flight. When Eve Online Launched it did not launch with the discovery of New Eden but millennium after the Eve Gate closed.

The second expansion, Castor launched on December 18th, 2003, seven months after Second Genesis. It brought with it T2 items, outposts and deep space regions controlled by player alliances. That means for seven months Sov as we know it did not yet exist. Before I look at what came with Castor let us see what happened during the seven months after launch.

It is June, a month after the offical launch of Eve Online. Dev blogs are avilable from this time but they are far from the long, time intensive projects that are crafted for our greedy eyes now.
03.06.2003 16:40 By LeKjart
Discussed with Davíð about making the local chat channel truely solarsystem wide, i.e. including people within stations as well so that communication doesn't get cut when docking and undocking. The local channel doesn't seem to be used a lot anyway, and private channels can easily bridge whatever use players are making of it right now.
Eve is already a cruel place. People are already podding players in high security systems. The interesting part is not that people in Eve will pod kill. The interesting part is the name of that dev blog was, "PKs in secure areas". How often do we say that high sec is not safe. It isn't. Obviously, it was not at that point yet. But, that single name to the dev blog is very telling about what the high sec was seen as and the actions show what it was.

They had to add in a 36 hour delay on character creation and a five character creation limited per week. I know that the thought of deleting any of my characters horrifies me. I wonder, are these limits still in place? I think that this may have also been an early plague of bots? I'd have to go seek the Nosy Gamer's reflection upon botting in 2003.

And there where bugs. Dev blog after Dev blog comments on corrections and errors and fixes for all of these things. The test server was also made live. It was not yet SiSi but Chaos instead. A good name for a test server. Although I giggle at the line about level 3 agents. Level 3 agents where still the highest agents in the game. This was also a time where NPCs reseeding many items onto the market. Eve's advancement into fully player made items did not start from the nakedness of the void. And back then, well let us say that CCP frowned a bit on players who where breaking immersion by playing the seeded market. How would they fix those player market, manipulations?  I can feel the smile on my own lips.

CCP knew what they had given their players but they were not sure how to deal with what was going on. The dev blogs at this time are short and sweet, directed to certain things. Concord is getting regular buffs already and words such as 'unbalanced module choices' follow the players immedate desire to 'tank' Concord. Despite creating it, they are surprised by it. And market scammers, again!
Many of the market scams we have seen rely on the fact that someone that is making a bid doesn't need to have the funds to back it up. We used to have a large penalty for anyone caught doing that, but players complained about this. Now what I would like to see is to have the money actually put in a special frozen account while the bid is active. This would be symmetrical to the asks, where the stuff offered is also taken away from the seller's custody while the order is active. I realize that this limits the possibilities for risk taking that some traders might do (basically trading on margin), but overall I think most people do have the funds necessary when putting out orders.
Is this 2003 or 2013? But they worked hard on bug fixes. There were viruses, disapearing blue prints, loading problems, and plenty of petitions. And... by the way... anyone want to write a player blog about Eve online?

Reviews started to come in that were not bad. Eve was getting mixed reviews at this time and players ether loved or hated it. And it seems that Google purchased Iceland. In general, CCP was getting itself together. They were working on policies for reimburseents. With the number of bugs and lost items customer services was swamped.

And somewhere along the way they thought about hardcore accounts. Double time training but permanent death? Anyone interested? After all, who gets podded by Santo? He wasn't born yet. No worries. But anchoring structures started during this time period as well. I find that interesting and from the patch notes Second Genesis had 14 patches attached to it and they slowly fed in content before they moved to the next expansion which was named Castor and launched December 18th, 2003.

My first question was, "What the hell does Castor mean?" I was reading it as Caster so imagine my embarrassment when I searched it and realized that they were referencing a castor star. I felt dumb. The word, by itself didn't click for me.

Interesting, I did not find a trailer for Castor. Although billed as an expansion it appeared to be more of a patch and continuation. It brought in T2 manufacturing and player owned stations. Also, T2 hulls hit the game and they were called Elites. This naming system can still be seen in NPC 'elite' frigates. The ships were rebalanced for the first time, skills where added to make you more awesome and gatecloaking entered the game. This means that for the first seven months when you jumped everyone immediately saw you to shoot you in the face while Concord got into a slap fight with them.

The patch notes are fascinating. NPC police were kicked out of .04 space. This makes me wonder if some of the restrictions of .04 space are hold overs from launch when .04 was high sec.

There where tutorials! Everyone says Eve said kick you out and go for years but the expansion notes for Castor clearly state that there where at least eight tutorials at the time. They may have been terrible but they were there. Interestingly enough, the patch note says that at the end the players were sent to level one missions. That is different than today when players end a fifty mission Tutorial strong to go, "What next?"

This is also where I notice changes that will be reflected in the future. "You can no longer fit modules to your ship that need more power than the total power your ship can give," say the patch notes. Yet, I know now, I can fit modules onto my ship. They just offline. This makes me believe that on-lining and offlineing of modules did not yet exist.

NPSI? (1) Not in this game of Eve. "Ship bracket coloring has been changed. In order of priority: Gang member (blue), Same Corporation (green) or corporation warfare (orange), Corporation set standing (yellow/blue), Player set standing (yellow/blue), Outlaw (red)."

And with conquerable stations came anchorable warp bubbles. Bubbles, that special evil, have been around for a long, long time. But there is one, burning question that everyone has that is answered here:
The mission, Damsel in Distress, has its most difficult encounter removed. It was deemed too hard for a level 3 mission.
Indeed, the Damsel has been in distress from the beginning of time itself.

Castor was truely a content addition to the game. It added a lot of what we think of as Sov and set the foundation for Tech 2 items. It was also the launch of a more complex agent system. That agent system will be refined and changed with time but it is something that we can still recognize now.

But, why can I not find any information about Castor as an expansion? I hit upon another blog during my searching. Sophia's Eve Online Research Blog covers some expansions and comments that Castor went mostly unnoticed by the small community.

With the lack of a trailer and the way that patch notes hit rapid fire between Second Genesis and Castor, I can believe that. Eve was buggy and unfinished and they where half working on content and half putting out fires by the day. The world was smaller and the tone less formal. The developers of then are not the developers of now. Eve is still a MMO with training wheels. Nether it, its players, or its developers are where they will get.

And if anyone is worried, people still felt like they where wasting skill points every time an expansion changed something.

Eve is now eight months old. Next, we will look at the time between Castor's launch and the third expansion, Exodus almost a year later.

Ships we know existed: From research the T1 hulls where all in the game for frigates, cruisers, and battleships. I do not think that battle-cruisers have been added yet or destroyers.

(1)  NPSI - Not purple shoot it. Fleet members, currently, show as a purple bracket. Often, hostile forces will join the same fleet and create a temporary peace defined by the current state of 'purple' or in fleet.

Official Eve Online: Castor Expansion
Wikipedia "Castor Stars"
Eve Online 2003 Dev Blogs
Castor Patch Notes
Eve Search
Sophia's Eve Online Research Blog


  1. A couple of tidbits:

    - Castor was of course the launch of T2, which meant that it was the start of the much maligned T2 BPO lottery. Folks went from "what are agents?" to "omg, I need to farm RP points so I can win the lottery" in a matter of days.

    -- More Beta Stuff ---

    - The tutorial at launch was much the same as beta7 and vastly different than today. It wasn't bad, but I recall it being buggy. Sufficient for the game at the time, though, given the more limited content.

    - I remember reading that POS / outposts were deployed briefly in beta, as a trial. I recall them being called something like "construction platform." I never saw them, I was too busy being overwhelmed in highsec flying frigates. Maybe someone else can confirm.

    - I also recall that Titans were discussed with the devs on the beta forums, but obviously not ingame.

    - The last day of beta, everyone logged in to max skills and uber isk. I had to work, and missed it, but my corpmates took screenshots to taunt me with. :)

    // Abavus

  2. I like this series. A lot. :-)

    1. Thank you! The next one will hit Monday. It's rather long.

  3. This is fascinating... I joined in Nov '10, I have seen 6 expansions of the 19 since '03. This kind of synopsis of the history of EVE is a really great idea... kind of an 'actual' Lore of EVE as compared to the ingame Lore... something I am also very into. I even bought the EVE Source and highly recommend it to any fan of the Lore of our virtual lives...

    Great job Sugar!

  4. Agreed that this is fascinating.

    Little copy-editing nitpick: You use "where" in places where you mean "were" all over the place in this article. It bothers me. :)

    1. I'll go through and correct it and try to keep that on my mind with my future postings and clear it up better. Thank you.

  5. As someone who didn't get to play back in the early days, it is interesting reading about how things have developed over the years.

    Some of my RL friends often talk about what it would be like if CCP started a new server from scratch. As someone who came to the party a little on the late side, it has a certain appeal. I know that it's not very feasible, but it is interesting to theorycraft about!

  6. One memorable moment I had back then with Castor was that they introduced NPC battleships in asteroid belts. Until this point we had really terrible NPC's (even in null) that could easily be destroyed or even farmed with T1 (non-meta) fit cruisers and minimal skills. So, enter the NPC Battleships and in one single day, so many player battleships were lost in belts that Megacyte spiked to something like 10k isk each and tritanium climbed as well to something like 2 or even 3 (I know, crazy cheap right but we were all space poor). Battleships went from being something like 70-80misk to something like 120-180misk.