Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Look at the History of Expansions - Part Four


Previous Entry - Shiva

Almost a year and a half old and Eve is stuttering. The game is being plagued by hardware problems and outages. The third expansion, Shiva, has not arrived. Patch after patch is applied from Castor and content is coming in but the game itself is starting to outgrow its own hardware.

It is August and Eve Online is not as physically healthy as CCP would like for it to be. There is lag and server outages. The strain of having thousands of players in the same world is starting to show.

The last Castor patch is released in August. Nine month's after Castor's launch. 
Meta Modules (AKA Named Pirate Drop Modules) have been added for new types that have entered the game, for example: Ballistic Control Systems, Cruise Launchers, Rocket Launchers, 350mm Railgun, Armor Hardeners etc.
It is not a large patch. It is a patch full of fixes. The dev blog is also not a long dev blog but rather short.
Most notable are the changes to the smartbomb, making it almost worthy of its name (well, we now call it "Above-Average-Intelligent-Bomb"), a number of lag causing bugs (criminal flagging, modem users, multiple-warp), cruiser bonus fixes, security standing gain for NPC hunting, some of the log-out fixes are in too (pod disappearing, quitting client just before gate jump). Oh! And we added the Remote Armor Repairer, tuned some support modules and added a little elite cruiser shippie to work with those modules!
The dev blogs were being published at almost a startling rate up until the summer start to slower down. This may be a sign of CCP's focus on its internal software and hardware problems. Shiva has not launched and the physical server problems have in no small way consumed resources..
Well, as you all know, the last 6 months have been very eventful in the world of EVE. It cost us a lot of resources to reinforce the cluster, focus on bugfixing and increase stability. This was necessary to get Castor into a comfortable state so we would have a good environment to develop Shiva in. When we set the Q3 window, we were confident that we would hit it, since we included lots of extra months in there to compensate for any events that could delay us.
I am reading into the Dev blog because there is little information left for the lost Shiva expansion. The sections of the old forums devoted to it are closed off. There is a reminder that Shiva is a free expansion. I feel that I can hear the complaints that people will have to pay for a patch so long delayed while CCP attempts to reassure them that the expansion is free. Shiva is promised for November the 3rd and CCP is committed to making that happen. Public testing will open shortly. This is something that is very familiar. From these early days, CCP has asked the players to help with their expansion tests.
Eve continues on. The first week of September Eve tops ten thousand seven hundred forty-four users (10,744). This has been a goal and one CCP struggled to reach due to the hardware problems. Shiva is due in two months.

Now, per the Wikipedia article about Eve Online's Expansion, Shiva was the code name of Exodus. I find this statement to be a bit ambiguous. With as many push backs as Shiva had, Shiva should have been a third expansion. What Shiva contained was eventually released in the future Exodus expansion. Yet, nothing speaks to Shiva being a code name. Maybe I will rethink on this opinion. Shiva has all of the earmarks of a standalone expansion.
Nine thousand two hundred and four hours is where Shiva sits in September of 2004. A A Dev blog makes interesting notes. There is a reference to Concordoken for instance. Yet, I had not seen other buffs to CONCORD. What they are now and what they may become are not quite in sync yet.

Battlecruisers and destroyers are due to enter the game this expansion. Mining, moon-mining, resource distributions, and the official Officer spawns are listed as Ultra Violent.

CCP is making an effort to add meta levels to every module. Loot drops will be better. It looks as the Shiva expansion is also the birthplace of some of the most reviled code that we still suffer under today. The corporation, war, and alliance interfaces are coming in. They are testing them to make sure that logs and multiple wallets all work nicely.  And this is all super interesting but, hello POS code. You entered our life in 2004 and have had a choke hold on us since then.
We have the core functionality of Player Owned Structures (Tentative real name is "Starbases") hammered down into code, clearing out bugs and starting work on defensive structures.
What sweetly innocent words are there? What pleasure must they have had as they announced these things? And the excitement must have been intense. Hillmar asks if we are interested in a Linux and Mac client for Eve?

Eve's website was once located at www.eve.is and during that time CCP shared information with the playerbase that we would AWOX for today.
The updated excel sheet includes for one, the stations so you can increase the detailed data for the solar systems and also the agents at those stations, including their quality and level. 
 While the summer slowed down (as it still often does) September is very, very busy. Time cards are made more flexible so that the physical card from the store is not the only way to use them. This, we know, still continues to this day on the official forums.

 There are connectivity issues again. This time they are packet loss and routing issues instead of CCPs backbone. I point to it because it reminds me of the current socket closure problems that have plagued the game. Also, it is again CCP reaching out to the players for help. It is obvious that CCP does not have the resources that they do now. This developer player interaction will create a core of loyalty that continues to this day.

Shiva is officially on the test server. One of the biggest things it brings is Alliances.

It is October and Sov is going to enter the game. Alliance are announced. Players can already send their alliance drafts to CCP games for initial approval upon creation with Shiva. Players will be able to control sections of space not controlled by NPCs. Eventually, these areas will be able to be seen on the starmap. One day. I wonder what it might look like?
Maybe?

CCP has a vision for alliances, one that mirrors their own sense of self.
Player owned factions on this scale, their future possibilities of affecting the storyline and political landscape has never been done before in such a large gaming population that I'm aware of. The probability of this going wrong is very high, but hey, that hasn't stopped us before. I mean, imagine 8 years ago, 2 guys pitching a game thats in space, where you have 50 thousand people interacting in the same universe over the internet - in Iceland ...
And what an interesting prediction here. While the servers are in London, at the time, and the 50 thousand people interacting were their 50 thousand accounts, not the 50 thousand concurrent players we have seen in these days or the current record from May of 2013 of 63,303. But that is Eve's future and this is Eve's now. A time and a place where a game company will turn over control of vast regions of its game terrain to the players.

But, that vision won't happen when they want. Shiva is moved back another two weeks, to the middle of November. Things are interestingly quiet and CCP starts a several month long live event about the Gallente Elections.

And CCP is back to that tight, player support.

And then on the 11th of November, 2004, the trailer for Exodus is released.



Oh, were you not expecting that? Nor was I. There is a simple shift over in name between the two Dev blogs. Information about Shiva on the net is scarce.

Shiva is dead. Long live Exodus.

The Exodus trailer was interesting. According to it,  we had arrived! And now we were leaving in mass Exodus! I guess. I scratched my head but agreed. It was a dramatic trailer with good music and a female narrator. It was not quite the battle filled actions of current trailers or the non-Eve play-Eve-like-this-but-not-really fictional stories that the Odyssey trailer was. I noticed an add for Online Game of the Year 2003 flash buy. I blinked and said, "What?" and decided to see if I could find that particular award. I coudl not. Eve has a lot of 2003 reviews which makes sense for a launch. It has a lot of 2005 reviews, but 2004 is very scarce. I'll give it to CCP and maybe, later, I will be able to find this information.

We have a week until Exodus launches. But, in that week, CCP is not quiet. And this particular look from the past mirrors Dev blogs of the present.

The war on bots is as old as Eve itself.
MACRO USE - JUST SAY NO!
10.11.2004 10:48 By CCP Arkanon
Hello there, fellow travellers. 
Banning players for macro use has become a worryingly normal part of my morning routine in the last month or so. Wake up, get some extra strenght Quafe caffeine special (no sugar), climb into my pod and away I go, next stop Ban City, population climbing.
Now, I really do not enjoy banning players, nor do I enjoy explaining to them why they are banned. So I want to share with you a couple of ways you can avoid such a fate.
1. Don't use Macros or other third party programs. You will get reported and we will ban you. 
2. If a GM requests your attention, don't ignore him/her. Even if you do not speak English, please respond. If we are investigating macro use, we may request that a certain player speaks up on local or in a private conversation. This is usually the last thing I do before banning a player, so I strongly recommend that you do not ignore GMs and their requests.
In a way, Exodus also marks the start of legacy aspects Eve. The scanning interface is changing with Exodus and with that change the way we save spots in space are changing. The old methods of creating deep safes are going to vanish. Solar system edges will be more defined. People have been making safe spots for a year and a half and there are people today, who still have these safe spots.


It is November 17th, almost 12 months since the release of Castor when Exodus launches. It has been a long path. Shiva vanished into the body of Exodus. The population of the game is growing and the growing pains have been rough. Yet, Eve is healthy and gaining more and more notice. Exodus is launched with the theme of content.

In the next post we will discover if Exodus delivers the content that it promised. The next expansion, Eve Online: Cold War will be released at the end of June in 2005. It is going to be a busy eight months. Already, this history has taken an unbalanced, wandering path but now we are all back on track.

Next entry: Exodus

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Resourses:
Offical Eve Online Exodus Expansion
2004 Eve Online Dev Blogs
Eve Online Patch Notes
Eve Online: Exodus Trailer (YouTube)
Eve Online's Expansions, Wikipedia
Eve Offline - Tranquility 
MMORPG
Metacritic
OGRank

2 comments:

  1. As a 2011 Player this has been very insightful. What I find most interesting about Eve compared to other games is the simple fact that it grows, it progresses, it advances in all ways, every 6 months or so. Sometimes its not pretty but other times its totally amazing, there are still many things that need to be done but so many things have already been tackled and with those steps forward even a few steps back have happened. Considering the shelf life of most games the fact that we are all here now, in 2014, and we keep moving forward says a lot about the vision and the dedication of the players and CCP.

    I too am a big fan of history and this has been a great read.

    PS: I'm still sad I didn't get a chance to kill your Jaguar a few days ago, I'm sure DNS will be back in the neighborhood again soon and I hope you'll great us just as warmly next time :)

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    Replies
    1. I've been having a lot of fun with it. It is a project in itself and hopefully as it continues I'll be able to add in more and more resources since current day stuff is better documented. I am trying to cover one expansion per post but I won't honor that if a post needs to be broken up to cover everything.

      RE PS: Shoot me everyday. I'm trying to get back out in space as normal :)

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