Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Look at the History of Expansions - Part Fifteen


Previous post: Eve Online: Trinity

It is May of 2008 and CCP has started to structure Development Blogs that bring the full scope of the expansion in a neater package to hand over to the players. The summer expansion, Eve Online: Empyrean Age is bringing with it long made promises.

The original iteration of Faction Warfare will not allow alliances.
There are a number of reasons for this, technical and otherwise, the most important of which is that we just don't want the major power blocs to descend en masse and take over everything. It's obviously not a hard limit on the players involved, but it's designed to encourage the idea that if you're a major player on the nullsec political scene you're already doing something incredibly worthwhile and shouldn't let yourself be distracted by the petty machinations of the Empires.
This is not the Faction Warfare that we have now, but it is still its original shape. What CCP planned and what it will become is, as always, a different thing. Here it is clear that there is a desire for a clear separation of null sec and player driven content and the NPC/Player hybrid aspects. Littler do they know that years later, null sec groups would come to lick their wounds and refill their coffers thanks to the petty machinations of the Empires.

The other thing that is different about then and now is that CCP still has a focus of null sec being where everyone wants to go and low sec being not its own defined space, but a middle ground where people will prepare for their true player created life in null sec space.
 There are a lot of things that Factional Warfare could be. What it is, right now, is in its most basic form a gameplay bridge from high sec to null sec – from the safety of Empire to the wild lands of Alliance space. High sec and null sec have very differing communities of players with very divergent play styles, and while moving from one to the other is obviously possible, it's harder than it should be.
Factional Warfare provides a halfway house for players from Empire to get into the sandbox at the shallow end. It serves other functions too, for other types of player, but this is its primary function.
The game and the focus has changed but the foundations created during this time still populate the conscious mind of the game. In a way, this part of our past explains the growing pains and various problems of self identify in our future. What Eve is now and what Eve will be are two different games.

The other very interesting thing is that the 49 system region Black Rise was created for Faction Warfare. In particular for Caldari Faction Warfare because they lacked a good low sec area. It is the first region of space added to Eve since its creation in 2003. CCP PrismX did the bulk of the work.

But it is the end of May in 2008 and the results of the first CSM election is in. There are a few familiar names there.

In the days leading up to Empyrean Age the Dev blogs are coming hot and heavy to promote the newest content. The rank and combat systems for Faction Warfare are explained. They originally had amazing names for the ranks that they should have gone with. The combat system shows that faction warfare complexes were once anomalies that were scanned down and then spawned a beacon. There is also a goal to have embedded reporters and a constant information stream about the conflict in the warzone for people to read. This went away at some point and that is a shame.


 

Empyrean Age is released June 10th, 2008 and its focus is Faction Warfare. It is also linked to the first Eve Online Novel Eve Online: Empyrean Age written by Tony Gonzales which was released in January of 2008. I find it interesting that CCP chose Empyrean Age for the name of this expansion which is about warfare and destruction when the meaning of Empyrean is:
The Empyrean was thus used as a name for the firmament, and in Christian literature, notably the Divine Comedy, for the dwelling-place of God, the blessed, celestial beings so divine they are made of pure light, and the source of light and creation. 
With Empyrean age came a general PvE overhaul. Empyrean Age added one hundred and fourty faction warfare missions to Eve. In the midterm releases CCP announces that there are 220 PvE missions coming to the game over the next few months.

One of the very first patch notes reveals an interesting quirk of the war declaration system and the fix that was made for it.
Joining a Fleet with a player who is currently involved in a war will no longer make you a valid target in that war. CONCORD will now respond if a player who is not involved in a war is aggressed within a gang in High Security space.
The Omen Navy Issue, Osprey Navy Issue, Exequror Navy Issue, and the Scythe Fleet Issue are introduced to the game. The four faction warfare NPC corporations are also created for this expansion. The Magnate is also released, evening the Amarr ship line up's offering to the other factions.

A new POS role of Caretaker is added to allow people to empty silos. The Faction Warfare NPC corporations are given loyalty point stores that mirror the corresponding Navy or Fleet loyalty point store. There appears to be a plan for future individuality but this is the introduction of what will be a war of devalued loyalty points between Mission Runners and Faction Warfare players into the future.

CCP gives us the ability to align to a celestial allowing us to align to things not on grid. There are lots of tweaks to ships and modules. Corrections, rebalances, cargo added here and there. There is also an interesting note about tutorial missions:
Character Creation & New Player Experience
The Aura Tutorial will no longer prevent new or rookie players from engaging in combat in 0.0 space
The API is tweaked to allow for Faction Warfare information to be pulled.

CCP is making an effort to do something with Eve Story line. With a book written and an expansion focused on a complex play style full of politic sand intrigue the time is ripe for them to move Eve's story forward. Their goals are huge and if they accomplished them they'd create an amazing living story where player action and world events both grew and a shared history was created.

The Evelopedia is created. Before mid to end of 2008 there was only the various Wiki's created by players and whatever information was scattered around CCP's website. The Q&A team also took some time to write about their various tools and how they use them to test Eve. Yes, test.

CCP is still slowing Eve down. The age of nano has come and gone and you can no longer fit half a dozen microwarpdrives in your midslots. However, they need Eve to be even slower. Warp Scramblers are going to be changed in the near future so that they shut down microwarp drives. All webs used to do 90% reduction. That will be reduced and 90% webs will become a specialty to the Serpentis pirate hulls of the future. Nanos, overdrives, and polycarbon rigs are all nerfed as well.

CCP also develops a more consistent way to give data exports to the players.

As summers are, this one is very quiet. However, CCP sweeps back into action in August by buffing Concord and decreasing response times. The reason is because people are dying before Concord can get to them. CCP also introduces a harsher standing loss. Per the Dev Blog:
 It is too easy to gain back lost standing, taking only a few days to erase all the damage done by ganking. This is about to change. 
Before now security standings were static through the game and the security status of a system did not mean anything. This was reworked so that standing loss and security levels reflected each other. This is also the introduction of chain ratting for weeks to recovery standings losses for PvP. But, what is also clear to me is that low security space is not its own individual area. It is simply, lower security empire as reflected in the blog as well:
This means that 1.0 will now be the safest of places, where aggressions and kills will be severely penalized and can quickly outlaw the aggressor from higher security levels. Conversely, 0.1, 0.2, and 0.3 will see a decrease in penalty, but not a big step down. This should move most ganking to the lower security areas where it belongs. 
I have a lot of personal interest in this bit of information simply because it supports the fact that low sec became its own area of space outside of any plan or design. If anything the development of Faction Warfare and the security changes in this dev blog laid foundations for clear separation of low sec as its own, unique area of space with its own rules and actions beyond being lower security empire.

The preconfiguration for the autopilot to avoid Jita is introduced. At the same time CCP has looked at the world map and added a few new jump gates here and there to allow people to be able to move through space while never having to go through Jita to get anywhere else in Eve. Jita is also scrubbed clean of Agents and they have also given up hope on sending capsuleers to Jita for missions. To top it off, Jita is getting its own personal server attention to improve the quality of life while people shop and scam.

Empyrean 1.1 is here. CCP has taken action from the player wishlist they have created and added small quality of life improvements to the API such as:
  • Clone info to the CharacterSheet.
  • Roles and Titles on CharacterSheet.
  • Title lists for corporations 
  • Roles and Titles of corporation members 
  • Container log for corporations
  • Standing lists 
  • EVE API corporation shareholder list 
Seventy missions have been added for rookies and 100 new missions have been added to the rest of the normal mission pool. The warning message for jumping into low sec now only exists when jumping from high sec into low sec, not on every gate or in and out of null. Also POS killmails are now generated properly. But 1.1 is mostly a long list of fixes and corrections for typos, modules, skills, ships, missions, items, changes, and more.

The first CSM term is about to end. It's been almost six months and that is how long the terms were and why we are at CSM9 in 2014 when the CSM only started in 2008.

We're halfway to the next release. I'd love to keep writing but it is time for this collector of history to go to sleep and end the fifteenth installment of this series. Next time, we will finish the walk down the path that leads to Eve Online: Quantum Rise.

Resources

Official Eve Online: Empyrean Age Expansion Page
Eve Online: Empyrean Age trailer (YouTube)
2008 Eve Online Dev Blogs
Eve Online Patch Notes
Eve Online Evelopedia
Eve Online: Empyrean Age (Amazon)

3 comments:

  1. Well, it looks like the new expansion, Oceanus, continues the trend of 'nothing for the new players experience'. The key period for new players is the first few hours though the end of the first month or so. When is the last time a significant improvement was made for these people? By my quick survey of the history, it was the release of the Venture in Dec 2012. Almost two years! And before that? idk.

    Is tweaking ship balance and wormholes _REALLY_ more important than helping new players stay?

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    Replies
    1. Yes, because the vets are leaving out of Boredom at a much faster rate. At the rate it's going, we may run out of bitter vets before the year is out and then what would Eve become?

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  2. "Little do they know that years later, null sec groups would come to lick their wounds and refill their coffers thanks to the petty machinations of the Empires."

    Hehe. FW LP sure is delicious. :D

    First part I've read on this series of yours, Sugar, and I kinda like it. Didn't know EVElopedia was so recent, and certainly didn't know warp scramblers came without being initially able to shut off microwarpdrives.

    And all webs used to be 90%? Awesome. Looking forward to going back through the previous posts.

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