Monday, October 5, 2015

Looking At A More Detailed Roadmap


On Friday, CCP did a huge data dump outlining in greater detail their plans for the next six months. As a blogger who writes about EVE Online, I have to admit I liked what I read. Combined with the game improvements implemented since moving to the five-week release cycle, CCP will present to the world a much improved game than the one we celebrated at the 10-year celebration back in 2013.

I don't want to start throwing around statements complementing CCP before the work is delivered. Also, just because wondrous changes come to a game doesn't mean that all players will feel like winners. I have the feeling I will find myself among the small minority who will need to HTFU and adapt to the new environment. So what I will do is go over the information currently available on EVE Updates and give a quick summary of what I think the effects of each change will have not only on the game, but the way I play as well.

October 5th (Today): 

New Launcher

A new launcher is here for BETA testing, built from the ground up with your feedback and feature wishlists in mind. This BETA test will only be available in English and will not be available for MAC or Windows XP.
  • An improved patching system, with more diagnostics to help identify connection issues.
  • Regular update checks to allow automatic patching as soon as the launcher sees a new update available.
  • Server selection support eliminates the need for client juggling or separate installs to play on the public test servers.
  • Launch multiple accounts with a single button click, each account with its own settings profile.
Effect on EVE: A positive change that should also help CCP cut some costs. If the launcher works, then CCP can put in mandatory two-factor authentication in place, thus cutting down on fraud. Such a move will upset many null sec players who like to share accounts. Hopefully that anger subsides once supercapitals can dock in the new Citadel structures coming in Spring. 

Effect on me: None, as I never had a problem with the present launcher. However, anything that makes black marketeers have to work harder to get their supplies of ISK and PLEX makes me smile.


November 3rd (Parallax):

  • Passive Structure Regeneration: Partially contested structures will regenerate toward full owner control if no active links are currently running. This change reduces the maintenance required to stave off uncommitted attackers during asymetric engagements.
  • Self-Destruct Button: In the event that an alliance wishes to or needs to relinquish control of a territory, a Director of the owning corporation can set a 20-minute self-destruct timer on the controlling structures.
  • Infrastructure Hub (I-Hub) Toggle: Manage your I-Hubs more efficiently and pay only for the upgrades you are using. A toggle has been added, giving you the power to change the online/offline status of an upgrade without having to uninstall it.
  • Scoop to Fleet Hangar: Another popular request from the playerbase has made its way into this release. Players can now scoop in-space objects to their fleet hangar.

Effect on EVE: Positive changes that address many of the player criticisms of the Aegis sovereignty system. We will have to see how the changes play out on Tranquility, though.

Effect on me: None, as I do not play in null sec, and have no intentions on doing so in the foreseeable future.



The limitations on repeat teleportation have been adjusted, lowering the maximum possible jump fatigue to 5 days.

Effect on EVE: A change that a lot of pilots wanted. While I don't know the rammifications of the move, I'll list the change as positive for now.

Effect on me: None, as I don't engage in jumps. The change could turn into a slight negative if I go back to attempting to sell out of a backwater low sec station again, as I'll have to compete with merchants running supplies in jump freighters. Then again, that really didn't hurt me before, as I sourced all my materials locally in low sec.

Fall 2015 (aka Spring for those living in Australia)

The Crimson Harvest

Bloody Omir ran away, Hiding from the light of day.

He made a base out in the night, Far away from the Empire's might.

Holders think they all are safe, Protected by the Empire's grace.

Silly people, you should know... You shall reap just what you sow.

Bloody Omir is coming back, With monsters from the endless black.

Wading through a crimson flood, Omir has come to drink your blood.

Effect on EVE: I'm not sure who Bloody Omir is, but he sounds like a PvE boss. Whether a new burner mission or some sort of group content, EVE could use some more PvE content. Even with the scant information available, I rate this change as good for the game.

Effect on me: None, as I really don't fight NPCs anymore outside of asteroid belts. I might do so if I scan down a combat signature once I get my Stratios set up, but I don't think Omir will hang out in places like that.



Throne Worlds comes under fire, as the Empress' Navy Fleet fights back the Drifter invasion. Amarrian concerns now justified, Empire and capsuleer forces have united against their new common enemy.

Effect on EVE: Group content more challenging than Sansha incursions? I declare this a good thing, especially since I want to see the storyline advance. I think unlike the Sansha incursions, we will see the Drifter threat morph into something else over time. Also, did I mention improved AI for both sides? While not explicitly stated, that development is also a positive change for EVE.

Effect on me: A slight negative, as I highly doubt I'll partake in Drifter incursions. The only effect I see is that they may make me move to someplace safer, which happened on a few occasions with the Sansha incursions. That said, go Apollo!


Probe Scanning Map

Exploring the universe and discovering the unknown is a huge part of the EVE experience for many intrepid pilots. The scanning window now includes its own instance of the star map, supporting Probe scanning to make scanning for new adventures easier. Of course you're on your own when you get there!

Effect on EVE: If working, an improved map is a good thing.

Effect on me: From what I saw trying to use the map while probing down Thera exits, I'd rather leave the feature off. But listening to the wormhole guests on the latest The JEFFRAIDER Show gives me hope that the interface CCP won't suck horribly.


Toggle: Camera Movement when Idle

By default, all camera drones display an atmospheric bobbing and swaying animation. The Settings Menu now offers capsuleers the option to disable this subtle motion, a feature of particular interest to players capturing high precision screenshots and time-lapse videos of gameplay.

Effect on EVE: I saw a tweet from Chance Ravinne and he seems excited about this change. If the change helps improve EVE Online videos and streams, then the change is positive. After all, the best advertisement for EVE comes from the community. Anything that aids in bringing new players to EVE is a good thing.

Effect on me: None, as I never really noticed this before.


"Brain in a Box" Performance Update

Brain in a Box (BiaB) is optimization focused around pre-calculation and scalability through the caching of complex calculations and the reorganization of data. What that means for you is better performance and faster jumping (mostly in fleets), an increased Jita population cap, and more under the hood.

Effect on EVE: A huge boost to the game. While many games struggle with having 100 players on the screen at the same time, EVE players expect the servers to handle 1000 with no issues. The BiaB effort will help CCP meet that expectation.

Effect on me: A positive development, because while I don't participate in large fleet fights, the way the load is distributed on the servers means I sometimes encounter TiDi as well.


More Ship SKINs

The visionary architects and artists of New Eden’s shipyards have designed even more Super Kerr-Induced Nanocoatings for capsuleers wishing to fly in style.

Effect on EVE: A slight positive, as players like to customize their ships. Also, CCP developing another revenue source outside subscriptions/PLEX is good for business.

Effect on me: None, as I don't buy anything out of the cash shop. In fact, I still have 11,000 Aurum on two accounts that I received from CCP back in 2011. However, I don't feel guilty as I'm a bit of a whale, with three accounts I pay for plus attending Fanfest the last four years.


Winter 2015 (aka Summer for those living in Australia)

Community-Driven Ship Updates

We have been looking at all of the great ideas and feedback that you, the players have put together, and will be introducing many of these suggestions through changes to ships and modules.

Effect on EVE: Sorry, but letting players play developer is almost always a bad idea. I guess CCP needed a clunker of an idea among all the good ones they presented on Friday.

Effect on me: None, or nearly none. I don't think the ships I fly are due for a rebalance pass and my PvP activity essentially involves running away.


Introducing New Destroyers

Four new Tech II Destroyers that favor defense and speed and can fit the powerful and versatile area-of-affect Micro Jump Field Generators, which microjump you and any ships nearby far from your current location.

Effect on EVE: While too early to tell, the ship class' special ability should bring some fresh gameplay and theorycrafting to the game. For that alone, I'll tentatively call these new ships a good idea.

Effect on me: Little to none. When I started playing EVE, destroyers were a class of ships I avoided, except to use as a salvaging ship. I still hold that same prejudice against destroyers today.



Ninja-mine lucrative ice fields, slip into frigate-only shattered wormholes, and sneak between your favorite mining spots with the nimble new Tech II Ice Mining Frigate.

Effect on EVE: All that ice located in shattered wormholes will finally find its way into use. Just for allowing players to exploit additional resources, I call the new Discovery expedition frigate a positive change.

Effect on me: Since I plan on picking one up, I'll call this a positive change. How can I resist a ship that I believe I will have Mastery V in on the day it is introduced?


Explosions!

Our most combustible feature yet brings new, pod-shaking explosion effects for ships and structures which reflect beautifully off nearby objects in space.

Effect on EVE: EVE is a beautiful game, and adding additional graphics should help retain new players, assuming the game play itself is good. Also, people who play EVE generally love explosions.

Effect on me: I'll sit and watch the first few times, then just ignore the graphics in favor of looking at the nebulae, stars, and planets. So for me, no effect.


Mysterious Happenings in Drifter Sites

An additional area has been uncovered in the mysterious Drifter sites. Intrepid capsuleers hoping to access this dangerous space will have to figure out how to unlock its secrets.

Effect on EVE: Sounds like CCP is adding even more PvE content. Once again, adding good PvE content is a positive development that I welcome.

Effect on me: None. Just because I welcome the addition of content doesn't mean I plan on participating. I tend to stay away from that type of stuff. I do enjoy reading others' adventures, though.



New advances in electronic warfare technology allow pilots to disrupt the missile guidance systems of their enemies.

Effect on EVE: Quite frankly, too early to tell.

Effect on me: I doubt I'd use the module, but once again, too early to tell.


Falloff for Neuts and Remote Assistance Modules

Neutralizers, remote repair modules, and energy transfers now have falloff which reduces their effectiveness at range. *Note, ranges in picture are not representative of falloff values for these modules.

Effect on EVE: I keep hearing from PvP types that remote reps are overpowered and discourages fights. I think adding falloff is an elegant way to address the issue as we already have the mechanic in many other places. While I anticipate a lot of complaining from PvP types, at the worst we may see no effect, which would not make the game worse.

Effect on me: Negligible. Running away doesn't require remote assistance.


EWAR Module Tiericide

“Tiericide” comes to Neutralizers and Nosferatus, with some new variations as well. Changes to Warp Disruption Field Generators and ECCM also follow.

Effect on EVE: Some long time players may complain about a continuing "dumbing down" of EVE, but making the modules make more sense is eliminating needless complexity more than anything else. I also think the change helps not only new players but those veterans who want to turn from carebearing to PvP.

Effect on me: When I ran security missions, I would dual-box with a character flying a Hurricane fit with a gang link. A nosferatu really helps with capacitor use, so I am a bit familiar with them. I think if I return to PvE to do things like doing the level 4 epic arc to get faction probes, that the change will help me.


PvP Kill Marks

You’ve been flying your favorite ship for a good while now, and dozens have fallen before you. But how do you stand out from those simply telling tall tales? Kill marks from your PVP victories are here, ship-based and bearing witness to your combat legacy. The counting begins with the feature's release.

Effect on EVE: I'm ambivalent about the effect the feature will have on the game. I like the idea that CCP basically is adding a permadeath-like feature to EVE. However, will players become even more risk-averse because they want to keep the marks on their ships? I like the idea that ships are like ammo; something consumed in the course of doing business. Since the feature chips away at that design, I will state that PvP kill marks are harmful to the game.

Effect on me: None. I don't kill other players, I run away. When this enters the game, I'm sure some in Signal Cartel will demand that pilots not fly ships with any kill marks.


New Propulsion Systems

While your engines are giving you all they’ve got, you’ll be busy staring at these powerful new effects for each and every ship.

Effect on EVE: The new propulsion graphics are another small move to make the game more visually attractive and immersive. While not amazing by itself, the improvement is part of a larger effort designed to bring the game's graphics up to date.

Effect on me: Normally, I would say the new animations would have no effect on me. But I get a kick out of the audio sound of afterburners and microwarpdrives spooling up when I start them, so I won't dismiss the visual effect out of hand.


Module Effects Galore

A huge number of effects have been redone, from Cynos to ECM to smartbombs and more.

Effect on EVE: See my comments on the new propulsion systems.

Effect on me: See my comments on the new propulsion systems.


Battle-Ravaged Hulls

All new shield, armor and structure hit effects bring an epic new feel to any engagement in true sci-fi fashion. The more your ship sees active duty, the more dust and debris collects on its hull. Ships also collect rust in station hangars. Layers of history prove survival in a universe where everything is fleeting and only the best of the best grow old. Have no fear, worn ships can be cleaned through a service available in the Fitting window.

Effect on EVE: While the feature has the possibility of contributing to the risk-aversion problem I warn about with PvP kill markings, I think the feature is a net positive in EVE. A virtual world like New Eden never stops and a visual reminder of the passage of time helps with the immersion into the game world.

Effect on me: As a Minmatar pilot, I consider the feature a positive. The art department over the years has worked to remove the rusty look of my favorite ships, so anything that makes the phrase "In rust we trust" relevant again gets my approval.


More Camera Options

Adding more options for camera controls with the aim for increased cinematic and tactical depth.

Effect on EVE: As I stated before, YouTube videos and game streams are excellent advertising for EVE, so anything that CCP can do to aid players in creating such content is good for the health of the overall game.

Effect on me: Probably none, but I don't know any details at this point, so I can't make a definitive judgement.


Gamma Adjustment

A new slider has been added to the Settings Menu to brighten or darken the display to fit your room’s lighting conditions and tailor the visual experience to your personal tastes.

Effect on EVE: A nice quality of life adjustment that some player will appreciate.

Effect on me: None, as I never experienced a problem involving the gamma settings.


A More Vibrant Universe

Always enhancing the spatial 3D feel of the EVE universe, the art and graphics teams have added more vibrancy to the star fields and given a new level of depth to nebulae. Admire the celestial bodies that surround you and nevermind that red blip on the overview… just keep looking at the stars…

Effect on EVE: Another graphical change designed to enhance a player's immersion in the game world.

Effect on me: Unless I forget about the red blips, I will really enjoy this graphical update.


Physically Based Rendering on Strategic Cruisers

EVE’s most versatile and complicated hulls now glisten with the beauty of the space that surrounds them (when they are uncloaked that is).

Effect on EVE: Even more on the graphical front. As stated before, improved graphics is good.

Effect on me: None. I have no desire to fly a tech 3 cruiser.


Temporal Anti-Aliasing

Anti-aliasing smooths out edges, removing “jaggies” and other imperfections that can happen during 3D rendering. Temporal Anti-Aliasing (TXAA) is a technique designed specifically for games, correcting flickering and other issues common to rendering moving objects.

Effect on EVE: The final announced graphical improvement. Jagged edges work for Minecraft, but a 12-year-old game looking to remain relevant in 2016 against new competition really needs to look good. I think the overall package of graphical changes announced in the roadmap will do just that.

Effect on me: While I am not excited about all of the graphics changes coming to EVE, I am looking forward to seeing the state of the game when Fanfest rolls around next year, especially now that I have a computer with a real graphics card.


Tribute System

In a move to pay tribute to the growing power of Capsuleers and their efforts throughout the universe, CONCORD has authorized a fund to fuel extra rewards for pod pilots on a regular basis.

Effect on EVE: I have the feeling the Tribute System will serve as an additional way to make null sec systems more profitable. I will reserve judgement, however, until more details emerge, as I am weary of the introduction of monetary inflation in the game's economy.

Effect on me: At this point, I cannot tell.


New Tranquility Server Hardware

The powerful behemoth that is the Tranquility cluster is getting all new parts in CCP’s commitment to EVE Forever. Dev blog to come before end of year.

Effect on EVE: New server hardware, combined with Brain in a Box and the Aegis sovereignty mechanics should result in a lot less TiDi. That should allow EVE to remain the game with the largest PvP fights for a long time to come. Needless to say, that's a good thing.

Effect on me: Even though I don't participate in big fleet battles, less TiDi is always good.


Project Discovery

The EVE Team is working with the Swiss startup Massively Multiplayer Online Science (MMOS) and Reykjavik University to bring real world science research into the EVE game experience.




Effect on EVE: Honestly, I don't know what the effect Project Discovery will have on New Eden. The prospect of introducing citizen science into EVE is intriguing. Many game companies have struggled to come up with new PvE content faster than players can burn through it. Leave it to CCP, with its focus on "EVE is real" and tying real world science to the game world over the past few Fanfests to come up with this idea. Personally, I think the concept could definitely draw new players into the game.

Effect on me: I think once the feature is introduced I will have to try it out. Whether I like the game play is something I want to find out.


D-Scan in the New Map

Your favorite hunting and defensive intel tool has come to the new star map.

Effect on EVE: Learning to use the directional scanner is really important, especially for survival outside of high sec. Anything to make the d-scanner easier to use is welcome.

Effect on me: Even though I use the directional scanner every time I play, I don't really use it well. Hopefully I can improve.


Mac Client Improvement

Client stability and performance improvements for the Mac client.

Effect on EVE: Anything that contributes to more players having a better experience playing EVE is a good thing. Hopefully Linux users don't get too jealous.

Effect on me: None. I run Windows.


More EVE Music

The inspiring, haunting and glorious space soundtrack library of EVE grows even bigger with new music tracks throughout the coming months.

Effect on EVE: Music is always good.

Effect on me: None, unless we get the music to automatically play at some point.


Spring 2015 (aka Autumn for those living in Australia)

Capital Ships and Citadels

Truly massive, player-built structures with all-new sandbox gameplay. A capital ship overhaul that’s fit for the mightiest ships in New Eden. New surprises and so much more will come in the next major EVE Online expansion. More information to come at EVE Vegas.

Effect on EVE: So far, the news seems positive. Destroyable stations and a replacement for the horrible POS will definitely improve the quality of life as well as add to the ability of players to modify the landscape of the game world. A new role for capitals and supercapitals is needed in the wake of the changes introduced in Aegis sovereignty. Oh, and making supercapitals no longer act as coffins for older players is also a plus.

Effect on me: I don't see any obvious benefits. I don't even deploy mobile tractor units, although I am thinking about buying a mobile depot. On the other hand, if the stations in low sec all become player-built and destructible, I can see myself forced to return to high sec. A sub-optimal result that would overwhelm all the other positive effects for me personally that I've noted elsewhere in the roadmap.


So in the end, the success of the roadmap comes down to the introduction of citadels to replace POS and stations. For the game as a whole, citadels show a lot of promise and the future looks bright. But for me, I need to keep an eye on the development to make sure I can remain in low sec. If not, I need to make contingency plans for a retreat to high sec. After all, if things don't go your way, you have to HTFU and adapt to the changes. A situation not unique to EVE. We just make the statement more bluntly than other games.

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