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A Look at the History of Expansions - Part Five

A Look at the History of Expansions - The Series

Previous Entry: The Launch of Exodus

It is November, 17th 2004 and Exodus, the third expansion, has been launched. It is billed as an expansion of pure content. A year and a half after Eve Online's launch, CCP is ready to deliver major defining points to Eve(1).

Through the rough spots in 2004 Eve has begun to receive better reviews. Addictive, absorbing, and beautiful are often words used to describe it by both professional review sites and individuals who have played the game. Eve is not the game that we know of it today but much of the foundation is starting to set in.

But Eve then and Eve now are not quite the same.

I was fascinated by this screen shot from a 2004 review on MMORPG.com. Exodus brought in UI changes including an overview change that was not taken kindly to. The changes to the UI were to improve client side processes.


There are many familiar elements. The NEOCOM is to the left side. The MUD is central to the bottom. The targeting icon is is what we have gone back to only recently. Two things stand out to me the most. One is the black area to the top and bottom of the screen. In these current times, Eve takes up the entire visual plane. But after that, is the little compass thingy that turns and tilts with the ship. It is a stark reminder of what we understand now that Eve has a very defined concept of up and down. I think that I would love an Eve where there was no up and down as there currently is. I think but I am not sure. It may sound better than it would be to live.

With the launch of Exodus CCP creates a PDF Guide for its New Players. That PDF is no longer avilable but it is an echo of the current PDF CCP has produced in 2014 as a guide for new players following the spike of B-R5RB. Exodus is a huge expansion. The player base helps out and hosts downloads to assist CCP with the online distribution. Eve's infrastructure is still struggling to support Eve. The first hot fixes to Expodus are done to fix bugs and smooth the increased CPU usage on Tranquility.

But, what does Exodus bring to the table? It is an expansion about Content and that tends to mean stuff to do and stuff to have. Unlike previous patches, Exodus brings only three builds to the game but what builds they are! There is a large, meaty chunk of Eve Online developed in this expansion.

Welcome to Exodus Sov rules. This is commonly known as pre-Dominion sov and Sov was controlled by the number of POS an alliance owned in a system. It entered the game in November of 2004. Along with POS. POS almost as we currently know them but this is also the time before fuel blocks.

Did you know that POS could only be anchored up to .3 space originally and that the towers were sold on the market but no blueprints? Ore, as a NPC entity that controlled many lucrative industrialist keys to the game existed back then as well and per the patch notes they were not interested in releasing the blueprints to the towers at large. With POS came moon mining for T2 materials that would be reacted to create T2 components. And T2 blueprints? Well they were available on the market along with reaction blueprints and XL ammo blueprints. Mining crystals are also introduced for strip miners. At the same time battlecruisers, destroyers, and mining barges were added. Both destroyers and mining barges were available on the market from NPCs. Battlecruisers were left to be fully player built. Eve's economy and market is still a shadow of what we know of it today.

DED complexes, the nectar of explorers entered the game. I believe that these are static complexes however as the patch notes state that they are from pirate factions attempting to deepen their hold. Drone complexes were also added in as well as new nebula and asteroids. Level 4 missions have also started to use pirate NPCs in them and there are plans for them to happen inside of complexes. This later led to patch notes about the amount of times agents sent mission runners to complexes and improvements in the drop rates of faction items.

There are wide UI changes across the game. Corporations get hangars and more varied roles. Alliances enter the game with the same structure as corporations. The market is tweaked. The in game browser is updated to HTML 3.2 with CCS support.

Exodus brought with it the microwarp drive nerf. As in, only one could be used at a time. I still hear veteran players who miss the early days of a full rack of microwarpdrives on their ships. However, it turns out that the original microwarp drive had a shield HP nerf that was removed due to how hard shield tanking was hit as a result. The drone interface window is added and allows you to control all of your drones at the same time. Things like CSPA fees were adjusted. The constellation and regional channels (who uses them?) were added and at the very end there is a note about comet mining to come in the future Exodus releases.

Exodus brought a lot of core game play with it. There is a Dev blog, released at the end of November that discusses how refining at a POS is not optimal and why. I think, with the recent industrial focused expansion that will be hte 20th official expansion (and 21st actual) this Dev blog looks back onto key points of the development of Sov Null and T2 Industry.
 "One thing we were always considering when we were doing this was that many people have complained for a long time that while 0.0 is intended in some way to be a player owned playground with risks attached, but also have some infrastructure and industry which provided lucrative opportunities for trade. It's certainly the powerhouse for the mining of high end minerals, but outside of that it's always been a bit barren. I'm hoping that the way we've done this, we encourage a growing industrial infrastructure with associated competitive opportunities."
and
"Notice that I'm implying that you're unlikely to manage to do everything by yourself unless you're a mega-corp that really wants to, which is by design. I haven't expected an instant explosion of tech level 2 component manufacturers, because it's going to take some time for everyone to sort through this whole construction pyramid being dropped on your head all at once. This also means that people who want to take their place inside that pyramid need some time to organize and sort out stable pricing, especially for ice and intermediate products which have no demand until someone can start producing final stuff with them. We've been consistently surprised by the ingenuity, tenaciousness and dedication of players, so I see this complexity as a little bit of a challenge we're giving you."
But, everything was not about Eve Online. I've pointed out post after post since I started this series that CCP has been very interactive with the community and very focused on the people that play their game. More than I have seen in other games although it is a pattern being looked at more by some companies. Currently, in 2014, there has been a lot of talk about how bad the Eve Community is. Often, when this argument is countered people bring up donation drives to various organizations. I'd like to point out here that this is not new. In December of 2004 CCP reached out to the community to help players donate to the South East Asia Earthquake and Tsunamis of December 26th, 2004.

2005 has an interesting note as having the fewest Dev blogs of any year. With only 58 it begs to question what happened in that year.

It is January of 2005, six weeks after the release of Exodus. The patches for Exodus are tweaks and fixes. Two huge blocks of tweaks and fixes. Outside of that, CCP is still moving forward towards its next expansion. The forums are aflame with new ships and we learn that four new ships types are tease for next expansion.
  • Freighters
  • Dreadnoughts
  • Carriers
  • Titans
I can hear the shudder of shocked breath. I know what Titans will become. Shhh this is an innocent time. Let's not jump ahead. That possibility is seven months away.

An interesting post pops up that addresses a question that will sound familiar, "What is CCP doing?" There are forty staff members at CCP and not all of them code. Working backwards from the dev blog the question must have been asked about why CCP devs are wasting their time doing things that are not fixing or expanding Eve Online. And why did it crop up? A look at the second Exodus Patch is a good place to start. It appears to be fixes. Warp problems, market problems, mission problems, connection problems, loading problems, damage problems, targeting problems, chat problems, UI problems, it goes on and on for quite a bit.

Along with the part where Eve needs to run smoothly, CCP is moving forward with the concepts of Eve. Warfare is being expanded beyond guns and damage. Ewar and  Propulsion warfare are coming in for balancing. EWar is going to get falloff and optimal restrictions instead of working from anywhere. The goal is to make people decide on the targets they are going to fight.

Eve's map was created with a random generator.
The random seed chosen to procedurally create the whole universe including all the regions, constellations, stars, planets, moons and mineral distribution of the online massively multi-player computer game EVE Online was chosen as 42 by its lead game designer in 2002. -Wikipedia
Because of this, over the years, the map has had to be edited now and then. One of these first edits was accomplished with community input. While there have been few map changes in recent years the fact that chokepoints and poorly structured areas being reeveluated is an interesting one. A lot of this had to do with server load. Empire highways caused a major tax on the hardware and this was a time before TiDi.

February and March are quiet months. Exodus fixes and future development seem to consume the bulk of CCP's attention. Although, a delegation going to a gameing convention in the US does throw out an invite for players to come and do a meet and greet. They are also producing an Art Book to share the artwork that is, simply amazing and one of Eve's calling cards.

I write this post on Easter day of 2014. On Easter day of 2005 things are not nearly as smooth. Eve goes down and it stays down. Hardware failure keeps players out of their favored game on what is a huge holiday in many countries. Instead of pretending nothing happens CCP releases a detailed Dev blog as to what happened.

In April the pace picks up. The Gallente Elections which started last fall are back. There have been delays to this event but they are not stopping it. Sneak peeks for the newest additions are being offered as well as a notice that the next patch is coming in. A side note in this. I noticed that the links go to eve-online.com at this point. The changing website names catch my interest with so many broken links. It is another small part of the story changed past.

There is a big patch that CCP is very excited about and they want players checking things out. Small and medium control towers are about to come into play. There is a belief that a medium tower will be the size an average corporation needs. T2 components are being removed from agents and moved onto the market. There may be some surprise as to how quickly the players has dove into T2 production. There are five thousand towers up and running and CCP is trying to move the economy into the players hands.

As the last Exodus patch hits CCP seems to already be distracted about their next expansion which is due in July. But, before they run off into the future the third Exodus patch was very large and brought more things into the game.

Have you ever stolen someones drones? The third Exodus patch is when became a viable pastime. If you are like me and think afterburners are painfully slow know that they were once slower by a magnitude of three. In this patch afterburners were given a speed boost and like microwarp drives limited to one per ship. Agents gave out T2 mining lasers which I find fascinating. And now you could warp without a full capacator. I'm sure many an escapee was happy with this change and many a hunter irritated.

There were many, many UI tweaks. The corporate interface gained more roles. Joy. It and the POS code are piece by piece being brought to their current state in Exodus. If I only had a time machine to stop what is to come. The UI changes are interesting. Did Eve once have a radial menu before the current?
  • The Fast Action circular menu now has an option to select "click and drag" movement with the left or middle mouse button. The option can be set via the ESC menu.
And there are some memories. Contraband items and the customs NPCs were introduced with Exodus. Here is something that is very familiar to almost everyone playing.
  • Undocking now checks if you have contraband in your ship which is illegal in the solarsystem you are entering and pops up a warning if present. It can be suppressed at your own risk.
Contraband items were also disallowed in the contract system at this time.

I also learned something new. The billboard's have a function called read news. I have never clicked on one to see. Shocked, I undocked and went to look. Sure as hell, billboards have a Red News option on their menu that opens up the browser to the website's current news page. Wow. I had no idea. Screenshots were changed to PNG format.

My favorite part, simply because it is the start to what is now an end:
  • R.A.M. damage occurs as intended during manufacturing.
I compare that particular patch note to a quote from a 2014 Dev Blog.

  • To cut the story short, damage per job gameplay is not worth the hassle and that is why we are removing it from industry jobs. 
Exodus is a strong addition to Eve Online. It brought forward many of the current core features in Eve. It also had a hard birth and struggled to pull Eve forward. I'll close with a review from PC gamer stored on Battleclinic's site.
"The Sci-fi world of EVE Online has vastly improved in the nearly two years since it first launched. From a technical standpoint, it's almost free of lag, and even gamers with 56K modems are just as liekly to have a good time as those with high-speed connections. Most impressive of all is that this single-shard universe regularly attracts over 10,000 simultaneous players. As online realities go, EVE's is by quite some margin the most dynamic.
But then, EVE has had time to evolve, and only now, with this add-on (freely downloadable for EVE subscribers), it can finally put aside the criticisms that have plauged it since publication. 
With close to 300 skills to master through off-line training (no leveling treadmill here), plus the release of new vessels like Mining Barges and Battlecruisers, specialist players can finally find their niche in the exotic details of trade, mining, crafting, diplomacy, exploration, piracy or hybrids thereof. On a grander scale, EVE's feudal amalgam of player-run corporations have floruished into empire-spanning alliances that regularly lay claim to entire constellations, now able to erect mining and manufacturing outposts to feeed their vast war machines."
 By May of 2005 Eve's Development focus has shifted away from Exodus. There will be new spaceships coming soon. Enormous spaceships that will change the face of Eve Online and rethink combat in new ways. Next, we shall look at the rise into and launch of Eve Online: Cold War.

-------------------------------
(1) And considering that they added both the calculator and the notepad there is little more a player might hope for. Okay, that was snarky. But, they are one of the lines on the Exodus' expansion page. I find the in game calculator to be small but ten years ago the average monitor size and resolution was such that the calculator was probably nice size.


Resourses:
2004 Eve Online Dev Blogs
2005 Eve Online Dev Blogs
Official Eve Online Exodus Patch Notes
MMORPG 2004 Review
2004 South East Asian Earthquake and Tsunami Wikipedia Entry
Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy on the Net - Wikipedia Entry
Battleclinic

Comments

  1. \o/ Another expansion history post!

    ReplyDelete
  2. This whole series is fascinating. Thank you for doing it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I get caught up. Then on coms I am blurting out facts all of the time.

      Delete
  3. making the calculator larger is probably one of those "small changes" no one thinks of doing... but yeah, make it bigger! Fix it Kyle ;)

    Jokes aside, this series is worth reading, thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Maybe I missed it ... have been looking for the point at which the first tier of BCs entered the market. Somewhere in this era my primary ship was a shiny new Sacri and my secondary ship was a shiny new Prophecy.

    Do you plan to do an evolution of ship types wrap-up post? I started one but didn't want to spoil your fun.

    // Abavus

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is in this post near the top! Ilk come edit and add a ship type note in. I can probably do a wrap up post. We will see how it flows.

      Delete
  5. Really really enjoying these. Trying to match up my own memories of these troubled times to your posts has been fun as well :D. Keep it up!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I had no idea billboards actually do something. Wow.

    ReplyDelete

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