Thursday, March 7, 2019

Finding The Nuggets Within The Announcement Hype Of EVE: Aether Wars

A technology demonstration or demonstrator model, informally known as a tech demo, is a prototype, rough example or an otherwise incomplete version of a conceivable product or future system, put together as proof of concept with the primary purpose of showcasing the possible applications, feasibility, performance and method of an idea for a new technology. They can be used as demonstrations to the investors, partners, journalists or even to potential customers in order to convince them of the viability of the chosen approach, or to test them on ordinary users.

On Wednesday, CCP's CEO, Hilmar Pétursson announced in a dev blog a partnership with Hadean on a tech demo designed to showcase the UK tech startup's cloud-based operating system. The demo, named EVE: Aether Wars, is scheduled to debut at GDC 2019 in San Francisco in two weeks. In order to showcase the Aether engine, CCP is recruiting 10,000 EVE players to take part in the demonstration at GDC.

Before anyone gets too excited, remember, we are talking about a tech demo. Even Hilmar sought to make that clear in his dev blog.
"Be warned though, what you will be experiencing is not a game, it´s not even a prototype of a game. This is the raw Aether engine with EVE spaceship assets and some interaction dynamics, which are nothing like EVE Online or EVE: Valkyrie. CCP is providing our visual assets for use in the Aether Engine, enabling Hadean to focus on addressing the challenges we face with large-scale online multiplayer environments. This will almost certainly blow up if you guys show up in force, so please do because R&D is about breaking things!"
If the demo succeeds at its stated goal of 10,000 players, or even 9,000, I expect to see the EVE-O forums and the EVE sub-Reddit asking how soon until CCP implements the engine on Tranquility. And after every large fleet fight, the call will be, "Why hasn't CCP implemented the engine? They have the tech!" Seriously, I don't expect CCP to implement this tech into EVE until 2025 at the earliest, if they ever do.

But what about the nuggets of goodness I promised in the title of this post? Hilmar buried short-term news in the middle of his dev blog.
"After a super-productive summit with the CSM, we’re also developing plans to address key community concerns including capital balance (and balance in general), wealth distribution, war declarations and the abundance of ISK faucets in New Eden. We will of course also be continuing the never-ending war on botting and RMT and are currently in the process of setting up a sizable internal taskforce to look at botting in more depth."
Notice a theme? Wealth distribution and ISK faucets indicate a concern for the non-RMT economy. I believe CCP has stated in the past that the current rates of ISK generation into the game is unsustainable over the long run. The mention of botting and RMT also aligns with the concern over too much ISK flowing into the economy. As I wrote four years ago:
The virtual economies found in MMORPGs are usually based on a faucet and sink model. Game currency is introduced through faucets like killing NPCs and completing quests while currency is removed through sinks like user fees for selling items in the auction house, skill learning, and item repair. Those engaged in RMT will engage in currency faucet activities far longer than the regular player. Ideally, at least in the eyes of the RMT operations, characters will run 24 hours a day, whether through shift work in a Chinese gold farm or through the use of bots. If the number of gold farmers becomes too great, then the economic calculations of the game developers fail and inflation is the result. If the inflation rate becomes too high, the average player may wind up discouraged, and either quit or, worse, contribute to the problem by purchasing game currency from an RMT operation.
The other two major areas to look at in the upcoming months is capital ship rebalance and the changes to the war declaration system. CCP put out a dev blog on the war changes last week, but what is happening with capital ships. Hints from the lore community indicate some sort of activity involving the Triglavians.


Is it possible that in the middle of a capital ship rebalance that CCP will expand the Triglavian ship line with a new faction dreadnaught?

So, in the middle of the hype, Hilmar may have confirmed the parameters of an upcoming expansion I believe will launch in May. Tech demos, especially ones that may never pan out, come and go. I'm more excited to hear what I may get to play in the next 2-3 months.


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