It takes seventeen expansions to build a game as successful as EVE Online

This post is a reply to Blog Banter 36: The Expansion of EVE

Welcome to the thirty-sixth edition of the EVE Blog Banter, the community discussion that brings the collective minds of the EVE blogosphere together to chew the cud, exchange opinions or troll the world.

“With the Inferno expansion upon us, new seeds have been planted in the ongoing evolution of EVE Online. With every expansion comes new trials and challenges, game-changing mechanics and fresh ideas. After nine years and seventeen expansions, EVE has grown far more than most other MMOGs can hope for. Which expansions have brought the highs and lows, which have been the best and the worst for EVE Online?”

As the blogosphere warm themselves by the blazing Inferno, they stare wistfully into the flames and conjure memories of expansions past…

It takes a lot of bricks to build a house, and it takes 17 expansions to build a game as successful as EVE Online.

Internet Spaceships Game has received more expansions than World of Warcraft and Star Trek Online combined. When I started playing EVE, expansions were not something happening every 6 months. The amount of new content was varying from expansion to expansion as well, with one expansion that was, well… a very tiny one. Quantum Rise happened mostly on the server side (Stackless IO & EVE 64), just one new ship was introduced (the Orca) and stargate models have been iterated upon. The amount of new content, however, is not a true measure of success. Everything depends on player perception of that content.

The most epic failure, which almost everyone heard about, was the long awaited Incarna. CCP was mentioning “walking in stations” for a long time and during many events. To be honest, I’ve been waiting for this since I’ve started playing in 2005. I don’t say that EVE desperately needs avatar gameplay, because it’s a game about spaceships. I do think, however, that chatting with corp mates and other in-game friends would be done so much better in a bar scenery rather than in a hangar, while watching your ship spin. Not that ship spinning is bad, you know; I like spinning my ships, but what I really love is to fly them. Unfortunately the way Incarna delivered walking in stations, was miserable at best. Not to mention failed attempt to introduce microstransactions (wait, is 70 USD micro?) to the game. Most of us know how bad the freemium/premium model would be for established games such as EVE. I do not want to delve deep into why Incarna has received so much negative feedback from the playerbase, because 1) I have written an extensive post about Incarna backlash last summer and 2) CCP understood their mistakes and delivered two mind-blowing expansions after Incarna.

I think the best expansion of EVE Online so far was the Crucible, with Revelations, Apocrypha and Incursion as runner-ups. Crucible was successful because of many things. First off, CCP wanted to repair their public image after Incarna’s failure, so a lot of human resources have been redirected from WoD and Dust project to work on EVE instead. Second thing was a ton of small fixes, that made the game a lot better and more enjoyable to play (Loot All!!). The third reason is ships: four new ships. Crucible has delivered four new battlecruisers, very different from the ones already existing in the game. Fast and agile, but paper thin “glass cannons” with damage output comparable with the biggest Battleships.  The fourth reason is the new backgrounds and V3 shaders, that made EVE look like a real-time rendered sci-fi movie. Crucible has also delivered more walking-in-stations than Incarna did.

Apocrypha’s success was not just the Tech III modular ships; it came from added space, which is governed by a bit different rules, compared to the existing New Eden galaxy. Before Apocrypha, many players complained about Local channel being the main source of intel. Many tactics were used to circumvent Local, logon traps being the most obvious one. W-space, or Anoikis (as roleplayers call it) has a different local; one that does not give away presence (until someone speaks up). Before Apocrypha, CCP had also mentioned an idea of environmental phenomena, that would bend the rules of the game. Wormhole space was a perfect place to introduce these effects. With the Sleepers, PvE pilots have received a new AI to fight against, one that behaves more like other players rather than dumb drones.

Incursion brought even more “smart” and hard to beat NPCs, which require people to band together. The Sansha themed expansion has also removed quality of Agents, making missions more accessible and mission hubs less crowded. The main success of this expansion was the amount of rewards people could gain by running Incursions. Even though many players complained (and even tried to fight against it), majority was happy with this new steady source of ISK. Even though EVE economy suffered a bit from an additional ISK faucet, the overall community perception was positive.

When talking about new space and new ships, one can’t forget the Revelations. Surely many players like their Abaddons and Rokhs. Almost everyone loves their Drakes and Hurricanes. This is the expansion, which brought them into existence. CCP did not only deliver eight new ships; they have also opened access to eight new regions of space (now known as the Drone regions). Did you know, that prior to this expansion there were no Rigs and no ship wrecks? Both NPC and player ships would leave a Cargo Container when destroyed, which contained all the loot.

I have almost forgotten about the last one, Trinity. Trinity has delivered most of the ship models you fly these days. V3 is mostly a texture change, but it was the Trinity that brought all the new models. EVE was a completely different looking game before 2007. Fifty man-years of work have been put into re-modelling all the ships, bringing them back onto the cutting edge of graphics awesomeness. If not for this expansion, your ships would look like this:


Not that EVE was not pretty before Trinity 😉 It just got a whole lot prettier.

If CCP still has the graphical assets from the pre-Trinity EVE (which I’m sure they do) it would make a great EVE-themed tablet game. Both iPad 2 & 3 and Tegra based tablets would handle this kind of GFX easily (check out Galaxy on Fire II – it’s possible). Just an idea for the CCP 😉

As you can see, EVE Online in itself is a success. It’s an achievement that has been built with many blocks – individual expansions. It is hard to tell which one of them was the best one, because they are only parts of the whole. The game itself is a big success and I think this is all that should matter to the players. CCP’s willingness to improve and iterate and most of all – willingness to listen what community has to say is the foundation upon all these blocks are built. Take that foundation away, community will collapse, and the game will die just like many others did. Sooo… keep up the good work, CCP!

PS. Over the years I have collected EVE splash screens from each and every one EVE Online expansion – make sure to have a look 🙂

Crucible 1.5 on its way – to be deployed on March 13th

  • Rookie Ships remodeled – new models along with V3 shaders to give the new players even more carrot eyecandy.
  • 50 new Blood Raider, Sansha and Serpentis DED exploration complexes with an array of new high end deadspace modules.
  • Hovering mouse over enemy Shield, Armor and Hull bars now displays remaining percentage tooltip.
  • A search filter has been added to the Science and Industry Panel.
  • Watchlist updates:
    • Clear Watch List Button
    • Watch List Drag and Drop
    • Appearance changes provide better visibility and usability
  • Character Creator
    • Portrait snapshots now retain background, pose, and lighting settings
    • You can use F1-F4 to switch between them
    • UI for tucking shirts, pants and shoes has been made more visible
  • EVE Market
    • Color coding of market orders allows you to see if the item is located along your current route
    • Modify order window now has a button to show market details
    • You can now drag-and-drop modules from your inventory to Market Quickbar
    • You can now Shift drag-and-drop blueprints to Market Quickbar to create shopping lists for industry jobs

It seems that at least a few features I have noticed on SiSi will be coming even before Inferno – especially the rookie ships. Crucible brought lots of UI improvements already, and these few added to the list in Crucible 1.5 are not the last we’ve seen from CCP.

Crucible 1.2 – more client optimizations

With Time Dilation introduced on Tranquility, Crucible has brought a substantial number of improvements to EVE Online. TiDi was quite successful at reducing module lag in fleet battles, with response times reduced from as much as 40 seconds to just 1 s. This time devs have focused their efforts on the client performance as well.

In a recent dev-blog, CCP Veritas has described a new set of client optimizations, which will result in increased window drawing  performance. To achieve that goal devs have focused their efforts on what is rendered most often: fonts. Additional improvements have been done to the Overview, which is by far the most commonly used tool in EVE.

Overview is much more responsive now, and because of the performance gains, devs have decided to make it refresh every 1 second instead of the current once every 2,5 seconds. Because in-space brackets share the same code, their performance has been increased as well.

Let’s hope these improvements further reduce lag in these huge 1500+ fleet battles, so favored by many New Eden pod-pilots.

EDIT: Crucible 1.1 status update

EDIT: Crucible 1.5 1.1 Feature Page is now live! CCP has decided to roll back the number from 1.5 back to 1.1 😉

That also means:

@webspaceships: @CCP_Manifest @rox_lukas 1.1 just means that there’s a 1.5 coming later with MOAR GOODIES 😀

@CCP_Manifest: @webspaceships @rox_lukas Yes, yes it does mean that.

Crucible has been out for some time and it was rather quiet on SiSi, mainly because of the holiday season. But fear not, CCP crew has rested for a while and now got back to serious work upon our favorite MMO.

Small things first

First off, CCP Punkturis has posted this list on the forum (and later this dev-blog)

  • New agents list, it tells you if you’ve been offered or if you’ve accepted a mission from an agent
  • Watch list can now have 15 people !!!
  • Watch list can now be ordered by dragging and dropping pilots !!!
  • Chat member list can be made more compact, right click on chat tab and “Show Compact Member List”
  • New icons for online/offline, blocked and voice in member lists
  • The online/offline notification which pops up when your buddy/enemy logs in is now has standings icon !!!
  • Said notificaction can be dragged to chat to info link that pilot and right clicked on
  • You can now shift click modules to overload them !!!
  • Overload button shows feedback from when it’s been clicked until it’s activated/deactivated
    Overload part 1Overload part 2
  • You can now filter the skills you see in your character sheet and skill queue to find the skill you want
  • Nomenclature Obfuscation Reduction: CCP will be re-naming modules (namely missiles and ABs/MWDs) in a schema that tells the user what they do.
  • Autocomplete and search hints have been added to the asset search function

Neo NEOCOM is back

But that’s not all. Remember the famous Windows-like “Start Menu” for EVE by CCP Optimal? Well, the new NEOCOM is back. But it is not horizontal as before – it is vertical like the classic one. The main difference is however, the new menu is fully customizable.

When you click the EVE menu it will scroll down with all the possible options. Of course it is possible to drag and pin each menu option to the main “taskbar”, so you can access any feature by a single click. The taskbar itself is fully customizable as well –it is possible to drag and move pinned icons around. By the way, if you minimize any window (be it chat, showinfo or anything else), it goes straight to the taskbar as well. Think of it like a vertical Windows 7 menu.

Assault Frigates got some love – and a 50% reduction of the MWD signature radius penalty:

Make sure to read this forum post by CCP Tallest with all proposed Assault Ships changes. With the additional 200 armor HP and 10% bonus to guns (per level) Enyo will become real killing machine 😉 Wolf looks quite interesting as well. The 10% drone durability (per level) bonus on Ishkur will allow its smaller companions much more time to chew on enemies.

When Crucible was being developed, the devs promised us new Deadspace modules. It is then no surprise, that the current Singularity client contains new deadspace shield hardeners:

Fuel Block switchover

According to CCP Soundwave, Fuel Block handover is planned on January 24th. As you remember, CCP has introduced the Fuel Blocks as part of Crucible 1.0, but POSes still burn multiple types of fuel. On the 24th however, they will start using blocks instead. Make sure to have enough fuel of both kinds in your Control Tower for up to 2-3 more days (27th is a good target) just in case the switchover causes any unforseen issues.

Expansion numeration

This blog about the return of Neo NEOCOM by CCP Optimal mentions Crucible 1.1 (the one I have originally mentioned in this post title). However the news item about mass test on Singularity mentions Crucible 1.5.

Try it out yourself!

If you have never ever tried to access Singularity public test server before (or SiSi for short), feel free to try! TG has posted this great Singularity tutorial I really recommend reading it.

The test server allows testing the coming patch, but also allows harmless testing and training, because EVERYTHING costs exactly 100 ISK there. Every now and then the devs make a mirror copy of all active characters from the live EVE server (the Tranquility), so you might be missing a few skills, but most should be there.

@CCP Small things: would be nice to implement a “smart” production/lab autoselect based on location. Choosing the assembly line manually is really tedious when running multiple invention/production jobs.

Do-it-Yourself: Your own EVE wallpaper

A very simple wallpaper tutorial.

eveonline.comChrome: Inspect Element looks more less unchanged since the 2005: the same menu, the same dull grey colour, animated header in the middle of the table. Over the last couple of years CCP has gradually redesigned the Account Management and Feature pages, so they look much more “modern” (as they should have in the first place!). The new websites feature amazing backgrounds, which look cool and in most cases better than the official wallpapers, which can be found here.

Ever wondered how to use such background as your desktop wallpaper? It is really simple.

You will need a web browser (this tutorial uses Chrome), a graphics manipulation program (you don’t need Photoshop for this; free GIMP 2 will do just fine – you can download it here) and some spare time.

Image resize in GIMP

      1. Download the background image of your choice. In Chrome right click the website and choose Inspect Element,
      2. Choose the “Resources” tab and look for bg, background or anything that looks like the backdrop that you might want to save.
      3. Drag and drop the file from the list of Resources to your desktop or a folder,
      4. Open it in GIMP,
      5. Go to Image -> Canvas Size,
      6. Click the chain icon next to image size (You have to unlock the aspect ratio),
      7. Enter the size of your desktop (obviously it’s only good to crop an image which is too big),
      8. You can center the image if you want,
      9. Save the new wallpaper,
      10. Set it as the desktop wallpaper.

Here I have linked a couple of backgrounds on the EVE Online website, which will do great wallpapers:

Crucible Features page Incursion Features page Tyrannis Features page EVE Gate Crucible background Downtime information background Zephyr background

You can always use the expansion logo and add it as a new layer to your wallpaper, so you get something like this. To achieve best results, set the logo layer to “Additive” blending. This makes the white color of the logo show, while the black background remains transparent. CCP often uses transparent PNGs for their logos, so it is now easier than ever.

EVE Incursion wallpaper (1280x800) EVE Online logo is a property of (c) CCP hf.
EVE Incursion wallpaper (1280x800)

Making this kind of wallpaper takes up to 5 minutes, and the one above is in top search results for “Incursion wallpaper” on Google.

Feel free to experiment with the multitude of filters available in the GIMP – they allow you to affect colors and the image itself. On the right part of the screen GIMP opens the Layers Channels and Paths window, which allows the manipulation of different layers of the image. You can duplicate the main layer, add some filters to each of the copies and then change their opacity to less than 100% so they all intermix with each other.

Crucible: Internet Spaceships. Revisited. EVE Online logo is a property of (c) CCP hf.
Crucible: Internet Spaceships. Revisited.

Above you can see the result of such tinkering. Notice I have added a layer mask to one of the layers – layer mask makes parts of the layer visible, and parts hidden. To make a smooth transition I have used a black-to-white gradient as the mask (black hides the layer, while white shows the layer). This way the left part of the screen is gray and desaturated, while the left part is vivid. Download the GIMP image here. clicking on the “eye” icon will hide a layer. This way you can see how the image was created – layer by layer.

Fan Site Kit

CCP is usually helpful towards creative minds and released this Fan Site Kit, which contains even more backgrounds, logos and icons, which you can use for your custom wallpapers. Thanks for hint @Irumani!

Remember! If you publish your wallpapers on the internet, always put credits where credits are due, and copyright information where it is necessary!

Tornado reports are coming in from New Eden

Even before Crucible was released, players had been speculating, how the new expansion is going to affect suicide ganking. This is a form of PVP, which many players flying around high sec forget about. New players quickly learn, that CONCORD does not guarantee protection – it merely discourages PVP in high sec, but does not eliminate it. New players can read more about ganking and PVP here.

Let’s have a look at two Crucible features, which affect this form of high-sec PVP:

  • SCC will not pay out insurance if ship was destroyed by CONCORD
  • Tier 3 battlecruisers, which feature unprecedented firepower at an affordable price

Insurance changes

The first feature on our list looks like a good thing for hi-sec dwellers, which is supposed to increase ganking cost. Does it really discourage gankers? Not at all. It only increases the break-even point, at which cost of the ship lost to CONCORD can be equalized by the loot from the ganked ship. So if you fly a deadspace/officer fitted Marauder class ship, you are still prone to being ganked. Same with goods-filled freighters and Orcas: as long as the value of your cargo is higher than half the total cost of ships required to destroy yours, pirates will consider you a valid target.

Of course piracy is not the only reason pilots gank each other, because some will do it for fun or any other reason that comes to their mind (boredom being also one of the possible reasons). “Never fly what you can’t afford to lose” applies not only to null and low sec, but hi sec as well.

New battlecruisers

The new Tier-3 battlecruisers seem to be a perfect tool for gankers: they are cheap, huge damage ships, that easily take out ships many times their size. Due to extremely powerful alpha (above 9100 volley damage with Republic Fleet EMP rounds), Artillery fitted Tornadoes are the best ships for this job. They are basically oversized Thrashers, capable of delivering a devastating blow to any ship in range. Three arty Tornadoes can wipe out an officer-fitted Golem.

According to @CCP Diagoras705 tier-3 battlecruisers have been lost to CONCORD and sentries so far, of which 621 were Tornados.

Ganking is easier after Crucible

With the two changes in place I can’t say high sec is a safer place, than it was pre-Crucible. It is the same, or even less safe now than it used to be. This of course is good for both the economy and to the game, so…

Fly safe!

First night in the heat of the Crucible

The waiting is over, Crucible has been deployed, one emergency reboot already took place and it seems everyone is happy. It was a very exciting time for all of us to wait for the 15th expansion, and the amount of work whoch CCP has put into it is enormous. Before the Crucible was deployed I tried to stick to the facts, rather than make opinions, but I think now is the right time for the latter.

On a side note, my blog kept on beating its daily visits count record, which now stands at 574 unique visits on November 29th. Thank you all!

New nebulae & warp tunnels

Are simply amazing. I like this feature of phenomena being closer or further away depending on where you are, since I saw it for the first time on SiSi. This adds a sense of global direction in EVE, which could never be experienced before; it is possible to tell where in New Eden you are just by looking at the sky (Gallente space – this way, Caldari space – that way). Stargates pointing at nearby stars add even more immersion in this area. The warp tunnel effect is simply awesome and can even make you dizzy if you keep staring at it for too long! It looks good even with shaders set to low. Passing through planets never looked so good. The EVE lore claims that ships in warp are outside of normal space, so they can pass through other solid objects. And now it looks that way (it always felt unfinished to me). Graphically this is EVE 3.0.

New shaders and ship models

Raven Navy Issue shader in CrucibleI already mentioned the new Raven and the other Caldari ships in my blog posts. Unfortunately, Minmatar and Amarr… didn’t make it for Crucible. Very good job @ art departament for the Caldari and Gallente though, new skins are beautiful. All ships are more detailed and the light interacts with them in a more natural way. Also the Navy variants look more realistic (hey, who would paint starships in camo? Wouldn’t plain black be better than that?). And the Raven model looks even more bad-ass now. Perhaps CCP should delay the deployment until mid-December, but with more V3 ship skins? Almost forgotten: the new engine trails look neat, I was missing them a lot.

Jump on contact

Jump on contactOne of the most useful features when travelling around high sec and low sec. I like it very much, and many others already love it, too.

Tier 3 BCs

I didn’t have much time to play with new EVE yesterday, but I managed to buy the Talos BPO (715 mill ISK?! You’re kidding me. That’s more than a Dominix BPO!) and already made 3 of them by the morning (currently they sell for about 150 mill isk apiece). So just 4 more and my initial investment will be covered.

Of course, the mineral prices have jumped, mainly due to speculation, so it was a good idea to prepare supplies before Crucible deployment.

And I’ve noticed some people already flying the new glass cannons. So far the most popular one I saw is the Oracle.

Of course the Tier-3 battlecruisers BPOs are sold by the empire Navies.

Destroyers vs Interdictors

Difference between Interdictors and Destroyers in CrucibleDestroyers got a serious buff, and they will be new nemesis for Assault Frigates in Factional Warfare complexes, which have a frigate size limit.

Wait, what about the Interdictors?

No love. They only got nerfed: previously, when you have deployed the Warp Disruption Probe, you only got agression, when your web actually caught some flies. Now, you get agression timer just for deploying the probe, and cannot dock or jump for 60 seconds. Moreover, Interdictors signature radius is still 80-90m and they have less HP and Capacitor than their tech I coutnerpart. Did you deliberately overlooked this, CCP? Make love, not nerfs!

More Incarna than in Incarna

In Incarna we have received one CQ (Minmatar), in Crucible we got 3 more. And more than just that: high sec CQs look clean, low sec ones are a little bit dirty, and null-sec quarters haven’t seen a janitor for ages. But I don’t really think people are going to spend much time in them, and not because players hate them. The usability of CQ has been improved, but still the hangar view loads faster, is more useful, and players got used to it. Spinning counter is one more reason not to enter the CQ at all (spinning counter starts to be visible after 10 full spins).

War for PI

I haven’t seen any player built Customs Offices so far, but thats because Interbus ones need to be destroyed first. According to the dev-blog, it is possible to entirely shut off access to anyone but your corp and your blues. This is a potential source of conflicts in low sec and maybe in null sec as well. If Customs Offices would change ownership along with sovereignty, this mechanic would be even better.

Is this EVE 3.0?

I know there is more changes than the ones above (this post contains all of them). But this is my first impression, it’s what shows the most after launching the new game client. The Crucible brings back the freshness, new opportunities and new combat styles to EVE, not to mention the graphical overhaul. Even though there were some silent nerfs to Interdictors and EVE API (which were not mentioned until final patchnotes), from my point of view Crucible makes up for both the Monoclegate and Incarna. Good job CCP!

EDIT: Fuel blocks BPOs have been seeded today and are sold for 11 mill ISK by Thukker Mix corp in Minmatar space.

Comments about what you like or dislike about the Winter Expansion are welcome!

Crucible: New Raven and Navy Raven screens

Many of you have asked me for some Raven Navy Issue screenshots from the new EVE Online: Crucible expansion, and so say the google search terms in my blog’s stats. To please your wanting eyes, I present you the new incarnation of the most popular PvE battleship of EVE, re-designed for the Crucible expansion. I hope you like it – I do for sure (not that I fly Raven too often, but it really got kick-ass looks). There are also screens of Tech I Raven and its Tech II counterpart, the Golem.

Most ships look better in Crucible

but not the Gallente Shuttle.

Of course the above is just my own opinion. Since the beginning of EVE, Gallente Shuttle used to have a lively orange hull (space taxi?), which has now become grey and dull instead. We have already noticed, that all the ships in EVE are being brought in-line with each other in terms of shaders (Tech I, Tech II, faction – see my post about Ishukone skin for Caldari Tech II ships). So it seems that the Gallente line of Tech I ships does not fit the shuttle very well. See yourself:

Trinity-style Gallente Shuttle (orange) Crucible-style Gallente Shuttle (grey/green)

EDIT: I grant it looks more military now, but aren’t shuttles supposed to be civilian vessels? They don’t even have weapons.

EVE Online: Crucible will be out on November 29th

After teasing the community for the past few weeks, CCP has finally announced the new expansion. “Crucible” will be out on November 29th, so fasten your seat belts, re-forged EVE will be here in just under two weeks.

The amount of new and most importantly, *FIXED* features is quite amazing. If CCP could do this in just a few months, why didn’t they do it during the past two years? 😉 Anyway it’s good to have the old spirit of EVE Online back!

The official Crucible feature page is public since yesterday, but it does not contain all the new features and fixes. My post however does, so be sure to check it out.

CCP will also give away a set of implants for free for each paying account. The first unique implant to be redeemed from the ‘Core Augmentation‘ set  will be Genolution CA-1:

  • Boosts perception by 3
  • Provides +1.5% powergrid bonus
  • Provides +1.5% capacitor amount bonus
  • Implant set bonus: 50%

The first implant from this set will be seeded on the November 29th .

PS. The new Raven has already been included in the current Singularity build.

EVE Crucible Login Screen