Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Graphical Upgrades In EVE: Viridian

We don't know for sure exactly the form Project Awakening will take, but a game very closely resembling EVE Online would certainly help launch the game in the next 2-3 years. Also, having seen the latest financial filings with Iceland's taxing authority, CCP really needs to launch the game quickly. After all, $40 million won't last forever. 

When I woke up this morning, I saw a new video and new item from the art team about the graphical updates coming in the Viridian expansion. Next month players will get their hands on updates to 68 empire frigates (Rifters were done earlier this year) and the 4 marauders plus new missile explosions and improved volumetric clouds. If CCP wants to keep up with the giants of the sci-fi MMORPG gaming space, Cloud Imperium Games and Star Citizen, they need to up their game.

If one thing is constant at CCP, it is the art department. Aside from the aversion to the color pink, the artists working on EVE Online usually knock the quality of their work out of the park. If the powers that be decide to start with the new-player ship class of choice frigates, I can't blame them. 

Some of the empire frigate hulls will get a total VFX revamp, as the Rifter did in January this year, while others will receive more subtle updates. For example, the appearance of some hulls will change completely when they go into warp, with some changing color significantly. Many of the effects are tied to the speed of the ship, with effects getting stronger as the ship travels faster, providing the player with more feedback.

As for things that you might notice immediately, the most impactful updates are probably the ship headlights. These will be more visually pleasing and tied to the state of the ship, having been added in on hulls which may not ever have had headlights previously. In addition, empire frigates will emit smoke from lit up vents when they drop out of warp.

There are also more subtle effects added, such as the dimming and flickering of lights when an empire frigate is hit in battle and taking structure damage. In addition, a further lighting pass will ensure that areas around the ships that look like they should affect their surroundings now do so, lifting the overall visual quality of the craft. Be sure to zoom in on your favorites to find a previously unnoticed gem of an effect!

I also think those who fly marauders will also enjoy the new changes (assuming they aren't scrolled all the way out).

As mentioned above, the aim when updating ship effects and appearances in EVE is to bring them more to life and make them more visually interesting to use, encounter, and experience. The updates coming for the mighty marauders are no different, especially as a plethora of new graphical systems and components have been introduced since the last visual update to these particular ships, some of which have been employed when redesigning the Rifter or creating the new Tech II dreadnoughts.

Marauders are powerful, a statement on the battlefield, and that is primarily due to the contribution of the bastion module that this ship type can exclusively fit. This has previously been portrayed visually by the ship changing state with an animation revealing the energy reactor to space. With this update, the visuals of the engaged bastion module have been punched up to make the ship look even more aggressive and powerful. The new visuals show off the energy that is pulsing through those exposed reactors, and this has been achieved with particle effects, holographic paneling, and extra hull lighting. As a result, it will be much clearer to others in space when a marauder has activated its bastion module.

The art team's work on missile explosions are meant to help give more information during combat of exactly what types of missiles are in use during a battle. Combined with the marauder bastion changes, players won't need to have AT commentator levels of knowledge to understand what is happening around them.

In order to create the visual distinction between types of missile impact, missiles that deal thermal damage now exhibit explosions mostly based around heat, whereas missiles dealing electromagnetic damage create some crackling electricity that lights up the surrounding area, with artistic license that maintains the caustic EVE visual effects aesthetic. Furthermore, depending on the angle of attack at missile impact, the explosions are now visually directional instead of being randomly rotated omnidirectional impacts. This adds to the realism of the impacts as explosions now also spread outwards across the shield of a ship.

Finally we come to the volumetric clouds. The new sites in Viridian require new atmospheric effects.

There will be many variations of the clouds used in over 20 Homefront Operations sites when the Viridian expansion launches. Currently, clouds in EVE are very nebulous, but with these volumetric clouds, it will really feel as though you're physically flying through them, around them, inhabiting them, and passing filaments of cloud as you go.

The new clouds have been created in collaboration with the engine team, tweaking and iterating to open up the greatest number of possibilities for authoring new clouds in EVE for Viridian, and into the future. The new clouds are being generated by a gamechanger of a program called Embergen, with real-time rendering of changes and lightning-fast iteration speed compared to the past for cloud authoring, meaning that something beautiful and substantial can be achieved almost instantaneously.

Like I mentioned in the introduction, Project Awakening is probably going to launch in the next 2-3 years. A new game requires brand new, shiny graphics. If the graphics between EVE and the new web3 game are interchangeable, I am perfectly happy to let the crypto bros fund the graphical updating of the original game.

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