To say the EVE Online fan base is rabid is an understatement. When the lights dimmed on the keynote at EVE Fanfest in Iceland, a man behind me rapturously shouted, “FINALLY!” In CCP’s own words, they are a hardcore game made by hardcore devs for hardcore players, and their game is unapologetically difficult.
“Player-driven action is the key to EVE Online,” said Senior Producer Andie Nordgren. “You should be able to experience this together, alone, in small or big groups, but always in one big universe. Our goal is to let players colonize and control more and more parts of this universe.” After taking us through a history lesson of the past year in EVE – major events like the Fountain War, the Battle of 6VDT, the players raising nearly $200,000 for typhoon relief in the Philippines, Pandemic Legion’s epic PVP tournament victory, and, of course, the infamous battle of B-R5RB that left about $300,000 of damage in its wake – Nordgren told us about the franchise’s future.
“If the first decade of EVE was about two expansions coming every year, the second decade is about frequent releases spread out over time,” said Nordgren. Instead of bundling all of their work into two massive expansions, they’ll ship ten content releases per year, roughly one new release every six weeks. Given the gravity of this procedural shift, CCP wanted to give the first batch of content updates appropriately weighty names, which is why they’re named after the Greek Titans.
Leading the charge for CCP’s new release model is Kronos, an expansion pack shipping on June 3 that is focused on one of the core gameplay mechanics: industry and resource-gathering. While EVE Online tends to make headlines for it’s mammoth space battles and their heavy real-world pricetags, one of the most robust parts of the game is the sprawling industrial operations. Let’s face it, you can’t have a military-industrial complex with just the “military-“, and Kronos aims to add some balance to, what Nordgren terms, “EVE’s vicious cycle of harvesting, creation, and destruction.”
As such, Kronos will offer up many cost-scale tweaks, interface adjustments, and balancing measures to streamline the industrial process for existing players and make it easier for new players to become industrial magnates in their own right. In addition, Kronos will offer a variety of upgrades and adjustments to existing pirate factions, while adding in a brand new faction, Mordu’s Legion, a group of fast, versatile skirmishers that specialize in missiles, warp disruption, and kiting like Benjamin Franklin in a thunderstorm. Add in changes to transport ships, freighters, additional sound customization options, upgraded graphical effects, and the introduction of a stealth mining frigate, the Prospect, and you have quite the cavalcade of content on your hands.
While the biggest news of the day for EVE Online is its newly revamped content release schedule, it was the words of recently appointed lead game designer Pétur Örn Þórarinsson, better known as CCP Scarpia, that spoke the loudest about the long-running MMO and its community: “It’s our job to provide you with a universe that is meaningful to learn about and a world that reacts consistently to your actions. I want the world to be inhabited by NPCs that behave in a rational manner and provide you with opportunities to control your own narrative. And I want you to be able to build and operate any structure in the game in a location of your choosing without having to negotiate some artificial barriers. And conversely, I want every structure in space and every asset in the game to be destructible. It’s our job to provide you with the infrastructure and tools to harness the limitless potential of this world.”
Given the nearly 90-minute presentation and the thunderous applause following announcements as small as improved warp effects, I’d say that the team at CCP has exactly the right tools for the job.
What do you think of EVE Online‘s new content release schedule? Would you like to see it replace the traditional twice-yearly expansion model? Let us know in the comments below or tell me on Twitter.