Monday, October 29, 2018

EVE Vegas Day 1 - The EVE Online Keynote

The second presentation of day 1 of EVE Vegas was the EVE Keynote, presented by CCP community manager CCP Falcon, creative director CCP Burger, and game developer CCP Rise. After the last few events, I didn't really expect to hear anything surprising. I was wrong.

CCP Falcon started off the presentation with a review of the past year and a preview of the next. Of the items I noted was that the development of Upwell structures is almost at a point where they are feature compatible to the old player-owned structures (POS). Once the navigation structures are in place, CCP can retire POS.  In other structure related news, in the first 9 months of 2018, players had destroyed 6032 citadels, 5216 refineries, and 3155 engineering complexes valued at 26.7 trillion ISK. I'll be on the lookout for some journalist out on the web reporting that players destroyed over $300,000 in structures. Don't ask me what the actual figure is, I have no idea.

The next big issue addressed was game performance. CCP is looking to move more services off of the main server cluster and onto different servers. I was too busy taking notes to look around and see the audience reaction. The initial effort to move the in-game chat channels hasn't worked that well. CCP has also experimented with shutting off parts of the bounty system during a large fight to view the effect on performance. No details were given, but I think a large percentage of players would not mind if CCP removed the feature entirely. CCP Falcon also announced that work on a 64-bit client for EVE is almost complete and players should have it in early 2019. Finally, on the hardware side, CCP has purchased 6 new blades, which means Tranquility will have 40 additional nodes to use for load balancing purposes.

CCP Falcon also gave an update on the situation in China. Serenity is still off-line as the hand-off from TianCity to NetEase is very ambitious. By ambitious, CCP is rolling the Ascension, Lifeblood, and Into The Abyss expansions, plus all the updates, into the relaunch of the Chinese shard. The goal moving forward is to keep Serenity only one release behind Tranquility.

CCP Burger presented next. The first topic concerned Fast Logistical Expansion, or FLEX, structures. The new structures are small, quick to anchor structures that provide a single service and deployable within the weapons range of other structures. The first 3 FLEX structures coming in the November release are cyno jammers, cyno beacons, and jump gates. Perhaps more importantly, the Upwell structures will have achieved feature parity with the old POS system.

I'll skip the parts on The Agency and the new activity tracker to get to the elephant in the room: war declarations. Yes, CCP Burger went there, telling the audience that the war declaration system is broken and "needs lots of love." Even though CCP Burger was basically preaching to the choir, brought out some statistics to back up the claim.

The first was that 5 corporations declared 50% of all war decs. CCP Burger also backed up the claims of "elite PvP" by disclosing those 5 corporations recorded 105 kills per loss. And a statistic that backs up what I've said for years is that only 4% of wardecs result in the defender registering a kill. But, the wars become bloodier if the defender owns a structure, with the number of kills in a war increasing from .034 kills per war to 1.655 kpw.

Those wishing to see war declarations ripped out of EVE entirely will be disappointed, however. Ripping out the system just transfers all the problems to other game systems, so some form of war dec system will remain. CCP plans to alter the war declaration system in two phases. In the first phase in December, a requirement for the presence of Upwell structures will come into play. The final implementation is scheduled for sometime in the first half of 2019.

Skipping past the upcoming event in December featuring atmospheric flight, up next was CCP Rise to talk about Abyssal deadspace and the Triglavians. The feature worked well, but had a high barrier to entry as most players running the Abyssal sites have played for over 5 years. While the deadspace sites have a reputation for difficulty, 97% of players going into the sites come out the other end. Still, that's a much higher death rate than missions, in which fewer than 1% of players die.

As part of making the content more accessible to lower skilled characters, CCP is introducing multi-player sites. The new content will allow three players flying frigates to run the sites, with the drops scaling up to make running the sites worthwhile.

Finally, CCP is introducing PvP to Abyssal deadspace. The possibility will exist to enter a special dungeon that leads to an octagonal arena where players can fight over special loot. Two players will enter, but only one leave.

In terms of ships, CCP Rise announced that the Triglavian's will receive four new ships, including the first tech 2 pirate ship. The new destroyer sounds like a kiting ship. Looking at my notes, I just wrote down that the new battlecruiser should be nasty. Rounding out the Triglavian ship line are tech 1 and tech 2 logistics cruisers utilizing the same ramp up mechanics for repairing that the Triglavians use for dealing damage.

Those are the highlights from the EVE Keynote address at EVE Vegas this year.  The presentations on the last two days were spent fleshing out the information provided on the first day. The post is a bit late due to my playing EVE too much since getting home from the gathering. So that's a good sign of how I feel about the game now, right?

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