Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Look at the History of Expansions - Part Nineteen



While released in March, Apocrypha's development and release really continued into the summer of 2009.  The last few changes included rig sizes and the level IV epic arcs for the empire. It was a very different release. CCP had created an entire new part of space known as wormholes. They had introduced new races and expanded upon Eve's lore. Instead of focusing on the warfare and fight of the empires they had moved into exploration and created a vast unknown. At the same time there was more fine tuning of Eve both in software and hardware. By July of 2009 CCP was ready to head towards their winter release.

The second Eve novel Eve Online: The Burning Life has been written and will soon be released. When it comes to Eve's expansion outside of the game CCP is also working on a social website called COSMOS. They do like to reuse words for things. Unlike the COSMOS missions this is planned to be a player portal of sorts.

The social side of Eve is heavily on CCP's mind. One of the most conceptually true and influential trailers, The Butterfly Effect, was released.




The Butterfly Effect did not focus on the graphics of Eve and the features CCP brought to the table. Instead, it explored what choice and decsision can mean in a virtual world. This pairs well with an article written on MMORPG.com that nods its head to the fact that Eve passed its highest concurrent user count ever with 50,000 players logged into the game.

A glowing review from Gaming Nexus says:
"Other tiny but appreciable tweaks have been made throughout the game. Ships and stations can now be viewed remotely in a window. Meaning that even when browsing the market, for example, you can scope out a fully-rendered 3D model of your dream ship; whereas before you had to rely on viewing woefully inadequate thumbnail images of the item in the marketplace, catching a glimpse of one somewhere out in the space lanes, or trawling the internet for images."
While digging for reviews, I found the blog written by the above MMORPG author. Andrew Wallace  has other articles he has written about Eve which are a look into its past. It is also a loot into what has not changed.
My review of Apocrypha has gone up over at MMORPG.com. Go check it out and get involved with the usual “EVE is boring” vs “No it isn’t” knife fight in the comments thread.
But, Eve is changing. It is growing. It is aging. It has new clothing and an exercise regime but its diet is still what it always was. Eve catches or releases a player. There is rarely an inbetween and now.

CCP has developed a sprint team. They try to tackle problems in a two week cycle. One problem they are looking at is corporations. CCP wants players to get into corporations as soon as possible but they realize that the application and recruptment access needs to be better. There are many confusing things about corporations. Per the development blog:
Can we do it within a sprint? Errrr...uh...no, not realistically. Yet we realized that if we tried to tackle the whole feature regardless, we could get bogged down after six months of developement and might end up with a jumbled mess of half-completed functionality, the very thing that the two-week sprint developement process is designed to avoid! This called for changing our plans into bite-sized pieces of functionality that we could tackle in stages.
PLEX has been on the market for half a year and it is doing well. The player base has adjusted to the idea of it. CCP points out that PLEX makes Eve free to play. It is a good mood considering that hte purchase rate has skyrocketed by an order of ten thousand units in the last two months. It is a very interesting graph and becomes more interesting when one realizes that CCP has unleashed its Unholy Rage initiative against real money traders.
"...CCP was finally prepared for a major offensive against the Real Money Trading (RMT) element in EVE Online.  Codenamed "Unholy Rage," the operation was launched on June 22nd and is still ongoing.  Previously, we had done some test runs to tune our systems, notably with the launch of Apocrypha in early March when we banned around 3,000 RMT type accounts."

CCP has put their foot and ban hammer down. Unholy Rage was not a sudden event but one planned and one that they plan to continue into the future as they work to kick the RMT market out of Eve Online. It is then ended with a the second quarter economic review.

The in game browser, one of Eve's small but useful features is getting an update. At five years old it is showing its age. CCP has built internal tools to support the browser and expand upon its features and abilities.

"Eve has sound?" is a long standing joke amidst the playerbase who spends more time communicating with each other than listening to the sounds from the game. But, Eve does indeed have sound and that sound and the noises that create the game environment are being updated just as the graphics have been. They are using the sounds to improve the game expierence. One feature that the sound team will soon be finishing up is warning sounds that you can set on your shield, armor, and hull hit points.

Previous to 2009, everything in a ship went into its cargo hold. With jump capable ships needing to use fuel the cargo bay concept has become unbalanced. CCP is going to introduce specialty bays into ships, starting with one that just holds fuel for jump capable hulls. One interesting point about the early design implementation is that the jump drive would default to the cargo bay if the fuel bay was empty.

Late to the party, the Epic Arcs for the four empires were introduced after Apocrypha was released. Unlike the statically familiar missions of Eve, the Epic arcs required moving, thinking, and paying attention. This caused panic and the development blog sought to ease fears and explain the goals of this new content.

The summer passes and as fall approaches, drama is unleashed as a member of CSM 3 resigns due to using his inside information to get a jump on speculation. He was allowed to resign. Another person was allowed to step up. But cheating is cheating is cheating and it is disappointing to see although good and correct that it was exposed to the player base at large.

It is now September of 2009 and CCP has finally finished shaking itself free of Apocrypha and announces the focus of the winter expansion as Sovereign Null Security Space.


In the first of a promised series of Development blogs CCP outlines that they are changing how sovergnity is changed. An overview touches on the fact that when released, there was no claimable space. That came later and ownership existed around starbases. This is going to end.

Welcome to Dominion Sov.
"No matter what happens, there will always be important things to shoot.  The key is finding a balance between allowing smaller gangs of raiders to disrupt the day to day operations of your space against requiring massive battleship and capital fleets to actually remove you from the same space.  Conquest of space in Dominion will differ greatly from what exists currently, as will the ability of roaming gangs to cause an ‘AFK Empire' no end of frustration."
CCP's goal is to create personalization and customization in space. The territorial claim unit plants the flag. The player effort improves the space. The next development blog expands upon this:
"Nullsec is largely the domain of large, 2-3000 member PvP alliances, grouped up into inevitable coalitions and engaged in not-quite-impossibly large wars. Costs are mosty covered at the alliance level by a combination of old money and high-value moon minerals. The latter continue to rise in price due to ever-increasing demand from invention, and the after-effects of last year's exploit-related burp invalidating the calculations used to construct the Alchemy pressure-release valve. Most of the space that's up for grabs is owned by a clone army of ideologically-distinct but functionally-similar alliances, making the entire political landscape depressingly homogeneous.
We're not convinced that this is the best, most interesting, most dynamic and most emergence-friendly state of being for nullsec, so we're going to make some changes."
In this development blog, CCP explains that they are not trying to create a rigid structure for null sec. They are working to support emergence. The trailer, the Butterfly Effect shows a perfect example of what can happen when a player is making decisions and those decisions have consequences based off of their desires. None of that exists within a fully structured game experience and they are instead giving that to the player. Working hand in hand with this change will be the new COSMOS website that will help bring the interaction of the players outside of the game with CCP supported tools.

There has been a nasty bug running around that causes desyncronization. There was another one involved with bumping that was also cleared up. The system requirements for Eve are also changing and CCP is kind enough to make sure that people are updated.

Originally there were no NPC corporations and then CCP introduced them. Now they are taxing them because:
"NPC corporations are meant to be temporary spaces where people can go about their daily activities while searching for a player corporation. Currently the level of comfort they provide, both in terms of war declaration immunity and 0% tax, give them an inherent advantage over player corporations which was never intended. Hopefully, this will let player corporations compete on equal footing with NPC corporations."
No more free ride in NPC corporations. The 4th CSM election is also about to start. But CCP is focused mostly on null sec. At the start of October they detail how income streams will work in the redesigned null sec. 

A broad rebalancing of navy faction and pirate faction hulls is going to take place. CCP also notes why they do not have secondary pirate faction ships avilable. For everyone who has ever wanted to fly a droneship hull, know that it will not happen. It would be like wearing someone elses body and you'd get infested and eaten. That is yucky.

Although Dominion is about sov, sov, sov, and sov, there are other things going on. The will be a new fleet finder. The current broadcast window is being merged into the fleet window. Additionally, the fleet finder is being added to that. Now there will be one compact bundle of fleet UI which can be accessed from the Neocom. Standing fleets that a member can join will become a new method for groups to quickly deploy and respond at need.

Now let's get back to Sov. With only a month left to release, CCP is putting out the dev blogs hot and heavy. The new upgrade and upkeep mechanics are released. The new fees will move the ISK to upkeep Sov from the POS fuel bills to a bimonthly bill from Concord. There has been some improvement to the automated bill pay system. There is another that discusses the way systems will change hands with the new Territorial Claim Unit (TCU). Sov will not be gained until the attacker puts down their own TCU. They also took away Sov levels and gave them back while changing their name and how they work. They are working to tie cookies into conquering your neighbors. Instead of an automatic reset improvements will decrease over time giving a new group a chance to snatch them up.

A large part of the quarterly news letter is dedicated to the effects of Unholy Rage on the market, ISK, population, ship usage, and everything else as CCP kicks the Real Money Traders and bots from the game. It is a very interesting read. There is also a very interesting note about the increase of veldspar asteroids in high security space due to a problem with empty belts and how it has caused an influx of minerals that the market is unsure what it wants to do with.

But it isn't all about Sov and bots. Two Pirate Epic arcs have been created and will be released for the Guristas and Angel Cartel. These Epic Arcs will exist in null security space. Unlike the epic arcs in high security space, CCP is making these doable in interceptor type advanced hulls. They can be completed in a destroyer as well. They are faster, more mobile arcs meant to reward those who brave space for them. The mail client is also being redone to be more modern. There is a sneak peek of ccp karkur in there for those paying attention.

It is the end of November and the expansion is only two weeks away. There has been a lot of discussion and push for a rebalance of motherships (super carriers). However, that has been pushed back. There is some rebalance work going on for dreadnoughts. Citadel Cruise Launchers are being introduced as a companion to Citadel Torpedo Launchers.

Titans are being nerfed. Their super weapon, a massive area of effect fleet wiping death ray is changing to a more focused ray of death for an individual ship.
"The Titans primary value should be as a fleet's logistical backbone.  Although this vision has not been fully realized, it continues to be the goal. They shouldn't become the ultimate choice when it comes to direct damage, a seat already occupied by Dreadnoughts. Many might argue that due to their price and availability they never will be. There is some truth in that, but history has taught us that balancing by price is never a good idea."
There is a 62 page threadnought about these changes. It is full of five year old rage for anyone who wishes to take a sip. Needless to say that there is a lot of anger over the motherships not being changed. One player suggests that CCP delay the expasnion until they decide what to do with them and another states that the entire expansion is ruined.

But, CCP continues on. On December 1st, 2009 Eve Online: Dominion launches.



Authors Note:
For perhaps the first time since starting this series I struggled not to write snarky comments about the past. I know that the CCP of 2009 could not see the Eve Online of 2014. Yet, writing this from 2014's perspective and as a member of CSM9 sitting through the push to move null sec, this was a surprisingly hard section to write.

Resources

Eve Online: Dominion Expansion Page
2009 Eve Online Dev Blogs
MMORPG.com - Eve Online: Apocrypha Review
Gaming Nexus - Eve Online Apocrypha
Somewhere in England - Blog

3 comments:

  1. “I struggled not to write snarky comments”

    Shame as I’d love to read a little Sugar Snark (you so rarely partake). Perhaps an after Winter Summit (where I understand serious Sov discussion to be on the agenda) ‘Lessons Learned’ blog post will be in order. At that point you’ll be in a better position than most to discern if CCP has learned anything from Dominion. I mean this in two senses. 1) Will whatever game mechanics proposed be an improvement from Dominion? 2) Has CCP put serious thought into the ‘structural cause’ behind Dominion? That is to say, what led them to implementing the often excoriated set of mechanics and why didn’t (couldn’t?) CCP get it right in 2009?

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  2. Apocrypha/Dominion are among my two favorite expansions just as the butterfly effect is one of my favorite trailers. This is the EVE I started playing.

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  3. http://www.lowseclifestyle.com/p/a-look-at-history-of-expansions.html < your overview needs updating ;)

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