Last weekend witnessed the most recent iteration of EVE Vegas; the next best thing America has had after an actual Fanfest. So join CCP Seagull on the discussions of the EVE Online: Phoebe release and beyond.
CCP Seagull, Executive Producer for EVE, leads the discussion of on the current and future state of New Eden with some reveals for the Phoebe and Rhea releases and beyond.
Redditor frequency_glitch took the time to transcript the whole keynote, which I am reproducing below. If you have a reddit account, I strongly suggest you to go to this thread and give him as much karma or reddit gold as you can.
CCP Seagull: In the Phoebe release, we’re making some of the biggest changes we’ve made to EVE in years… and those changes are just the start — in November, December, and the whole of 2015 we’re going to bring some pretty drastic changes to EVE Online, all of them with the ambition to strengthen everything that is unique and amazing about EVE, and to make your experience with EVE better.
Two of the changes are especially symbolic. First, our changes to force projection are a first significant step towards our plan to really evolve the sandbox gameplay in EVE Online. This involves spending a lot of time next year directly addressing game systems and gameplay in nullsec, but the EVE sandbox encompasses the whole game, and the changes we’re planning, they’re are aimed at creating new opportunities and new gameplay across every part of EVE Online. We’re not focusing on single pieces of the game, we’re treating all of EVE as one great sandbox that we are going to make even better. And part of that is making changes where we have more unpredictable outcomes.
Now, we’ve made a lot of changes to EVE Online in the last year, some of them big, some of them small. But I would say that for most of them, the outcomes have been fairly predictable — maybe not on the small scale, but on the big scale. And we believe that if we’re going to take sandbox gameplay in EVE Online to the next level, we need to make more changes where we can’t predict what’s going to happen, because if we can predict it, so can you — and probably better.
A voice from the audience: We outnumber you!
CCP Seagull: Yeah, you do! So… I will say though, I mean, we’re not just going to make, you know, changes to see what happens, because even if we make very big changes, if you can easily predict what’s going to happen, then there’s no point, right? And so we are going to challenge a lot of old truths and a lot of old ideas about how things have to be in EVE, and we will do that with the community, but we have a kind of a new test on changes.
We shouldn’t know what’s going to happen, and you shouldn’t know exactly what’s going to happen, because EVE should really be a game about playing and outplaying people… so we have to make systems that have room for players to take initiative and do unexpected things. And this — to also be clear again — is something that you can do solo and in a group. If you’re playing the market, you’re thinking about how to outplay other people, so this is not a singular focus on a particular part of the game. This, again, is looking at the entirety of EVE as a sandbox, where you should be able to do this: if you’re smart about figuring out how EVE works and how the systems in EVE work, you should be able to outplay other people who are trying to do the same. Because this kind of open-ended gameplay is really what EVE is about, and that we will go full force with for EVE in the future.
The other symbolic change is the unlimited skill queue.
And this is one change in a line of other similar changes that we have done recently, such as shareable overviews, PLEX game time donations, EFT format fitting import, bookmarks in space, configurable notifications — they are all part of the same direction. We take quality of life in EVE seriously. And while many of these changes are made by individual developers who are responding to player requests, this is a fully supported direction for all of EVE development, so you can expect more of these kind of changes in the coming year, because we are questioning a lot of old truths and assumptions. And for the skill queue… overall, it was hostile to an endless list of player scenarios, and it was blocking things we want to be able to do, such as long-term skill planning through the ship identification system, or importing skill plans from other tools, and so on. So we got rid of it, and I hope you like that.
The audience: Yeah!
CCP Seagull: So we will be taking a similar look at a lot of stuff in EVE in the coming year, and we will do that with these same goals in mind — to strengthen what is unique and amazing about EVE, and to make your experience with EVE better.
Now, before we talk more about Phoebe and what’s actually coming, I want to take a quick look back at two things that I talked about at Fanfest this year: our new release model and the overall roadmap for EVE.
At Fanfest and in a devblog soon after, I was presenting our new release model where we went from two expansions per year to ten releases. And we of course made this change because we believed it would have a lot of benefits, but we of course didn’t really know if it was going to work out, you know? We had to get used to this too and see if we could turn our development organization around to actually get the benefits we thought we would get — to be able to ship smaller changes to you faster, but also to be able to take on bigger projects.
And since we’ve made the change, we’ve shipped four releases — Cronos, Crius, Hyperion, and Oceanus — and we are really getting our heads around how to roll with this new world. Now, Hyperion and Oceanus delivered a lot of significant changes, but most of them were kind of the size of one or maybe one and a half development cycles for us.
And in Phoebe, you are seeing a number of features — and I’ve just marked them here a little bit — things that have actually been in development for a couple of months and had time to mature before we’re releasing them to you. These could be called kind of medium-sized features — not like the super huge things — but Phoebe is really about those kind of changes now actually hitting as well. So you’ll see things like the invention changes following on from the big industry revamp in Crius, and you’ll see things like notifications that we shipped as an opt-in feature last release to be able to just iron things out and let you test it on TQ before we ship it to everyone — that’s now going out in a full release. And we also then in Phoebe have changes like the jump fatigue introduction that we can make now because we are completely confident that we are going to follow this change up with the next phase of changes very, very soon. And so this really is an experience of what you can expect in 2015 for EVE — more of this, and the next phases of the things that we are starting with the force projection changes. And that is something that we will do with you, with the community, we will work with the CSM to bring about that change.
And we will continue with this release model in 2015; if anyone was doubting that, here are the planned release dates, we’ll publish those and so on, we’re just going to keep rolling with this, and the names we’ll reveal one at a time as we get closer to the releases this time, we’re kind of closing out this Titan cycle, and we’re going to bring in a new thing, but, ah, you’ll hear about that when it gets closer. And really about this release model, I just want to say that in all of my time with EVE, I’ve never been more excited and confident about both the roadmap we have and our ability to actually deliver on it.
So, if we then go and talk about that roadmap: this is what I showed at Fanfest. I showed a high-level plan where we want to take on and make significant changes to a number of systems in the game that are absolutely core to the sandbox gameplay in EVE, and build up towards being able to do interesting things with that sandbox gameplay — eventually take you guys to a place where you can build your way out of the known universe and see some really new content and gameplay in EVE Online. And this overall approach still holds, but as we now are really getting our heads around the new release model, we are also changing this up a little bit.
So the approach is the same, but you could say an updated version looks more something like this, where we are going now — based on how the game is doing and what we think is good changes to pull — we’re just going to pick pieces of all of these big areas of the game and put together sense-making packages of changes to EVE that we’ll bring to you in these new releases that we’re making. So if there was a kind of idea of a sequential order to this in the past, now we’re just going to adapt and see what makes sense to do next. And we are done with the big industry overhaul, but industry and logistics and so on is going to continue to be an area where we make changes to make the sandbox gameplay better.
And with the force projection changes, we’re starting of course earlier that we had maybe planned before to touch sovereignty and so on, and we will just keep rolling with this, in the phases that we’re outlined in the devblog about the long-distance travel changes, and I’ll just recap them here.
The first phase is the changes we are shipping now in Phoebe, and the phase coming after that, which is really starting in 2015 right away, is real changes to nullsec space holding and infrastructure, and as soon as we get to more interesting pieces — we have plans for revamping corporations, alliances, structures, and so on — we also start building towards more ambitious changes to the sandbox gameplay — more things to do, more player-driven infrastructure, just more interesting pieces to play with, with the overall goal to create more things to do for everything from the solo person to small groups, bigger diversity of small groups, as well as the megagroups that you guys organize. So, phase three is really about combining all the new stuff we want to do into a next level of sandbox gameplay in EVE Online… and on this kind of updated version of the roadmap, at the end of this year, I would place us somewhere about here…
So. That’s a roadmap update, and now we really want to turn to some of the stuff that is shipping in Phoebe, and so I’d like to hand it over to CCP Fozzie who is going to talk some more about Phoebe, maybe a few new things that are making it into Phoebe, and perhaps even some stuff that’s going to ship in December, so… give a warm hand to CCP Fozzie!
CCP Fozzie: Hello Vegas! All right, that’s me; I’m CCP Fozzie, one of the game designers on EVE, if you don’t know me, and I’m going to talk to you guys a little bit about some of the specifics on what we’re working on, a couple of things that we haven’t let you know about that are coming in Phoebe, and then a lot of really cool stuff that we are going to be announcing for our December release, and I think there’s going to be some stuff in there that you guys will be very excited to see. So, first I’m going to talk a little bit about two areas of changes in Phoebe that we haven’t announced yet, but they will be coming in our November patch.
One is that we’re writing some new exploration content. This is something that the guys on our team — Banana Stand — have been working on for quite a while. They’ve been really trying to make sure that we have content that actually rewards players who are good at probing and have their skills trained up and use all the tools; at the moment, it’s pretty easy to find most exploration content, and so these ones are going to be more difficult to probe and quite lucrative, spread out across a lot of different areas of space — and for them, we’re actually creating a new set of modules as well that we think are going to be… providing a very interesting option — they’re not going to be something that everyone’s going to use all the time, but essentially they’re going to be glass cannon weapons. These are going to be weapons that are specialized, advanced Tech 2, they use Tech 2 ammo and Tech 2 skills, they do more damage than the other guns available, and they lower your resistances to zero, so…
CCP Fozzie: …these are one of these changes that, honestly, we — like Seagull said — we don’t have a complete kind of plan of exactly how players are going to use them in every way, but we know that, given a new tool like this, you guys, you’re going to come up with some really, really cool things to do with them. They’re going to be probably about as expensive as faction modules, so I would expect they’re not going to be too cost effective for suicide ganking, but there will be a lot of other really cool stuff to use them for.
We’re also going to be putting in the very first, early results of the corp and alliance work that we talked about at Fanfest, that Seagull had up on the roadmap. We’ve been doing a lot of work behind the scenes over a last couple of months on the corp and alliance system, a lot of what we’ve been doing so far is mapping out the existing system and the code behind it, and so we’re getting ready now to release some first changes that we’ll be getting in Phoebe and in December as well, in Rhea… and the first changes we’re making are intended to encourage recruiting. We want to make sure that people can get into corps and alliances, that corps and alliances can feel that they have good ways of mitigating the dangers of recruiting new players, that a smart corp or alliance can actually safely recruit, because we know that this is a game that is best when played together. We want to make sure that everyone has opportunities to join great corps and alliances. And so the first change that we’re going to be putting in in Phoebe is a queue for kicking people from your corp, so… (laughter, applause) If any of you guys managing recruiting for a corp have ever experienced somebody out there shooting your members, messing things up, and sitting in space so that you can’t kick him out, and then he logs on after downtime before you do, so you actually can’t get him out until the next day, or the next day… what this will do is allow you to essentially say, you can’t kick this person right now, but put him in a queue, and then immediately after downtime he will be kicked, you don’t have to log in right away after downtime, the server will handle that for you. It’s a small step, but it’s… this is the direction we want to be moving in.
CCP Fozzie: So now I’m going to talk to you guys a little bit about what we’ve got coming in December. The Rhea patch coming up in December is another one where there’s a lot of really, really great changes coming. Most of it is going to remain top secret for now, I’m going to give you guys a little bit of it; a lot of it is going to be… kind of given to you over time, you can keep an eye on things like in-game news, keep an eye on a lot of the hints that will be dropped throughout the universe… This is going to be a patch where if you keep your eyes open, you’re going to see stuff coming a little bit ahead of time. I’m going to talk to you a bit about some of the art changes and new ship models we have coming. I’m going to talk to you about some new ships. You guys like new ships, right?
The audience: Yeah!
CCP Fozzie: And I’m going to talk to you a bit about this research race that we ran last week, and that I’m sure a lot of you guys are very curious of where that’s going. First, I’m going to show you this.
This is a close-up view of the new Blackbird model that our team is currently working on. Right in front. This is a ship that I know everyone loves to hate, it’s a great… a kind of part of EVE’s nature that we have a ship that is so polarizing… and the Blackbird, the Falcon, and the Rook are all going to be getting a whole new model, and this is a close-up view from the concept art of the front of it. We’re going to be revealing the entirety of model a little bit later once it’s done and all textured, but you guys can look forward to that. I’ve seen the high-polygon [model] and it looks really amazing, it’s got antennas everywhere, it looks like some kind of intense electronic jamming insect, it’s amazing. And also, this is a new ship that I’m ready to introduce, that the community has asked for for quite a long time, and we — after especially talking with the CSM — we got it pushed up on the priority. We’re writing (?) a new ship that is designed specifically for moving around other ships… so it’s going to be a freighter-sized ship…
(a long round of applause)
CCP Fozzie: …so this thing is going to be the size of a freighter, it’s going to have a very large Ship Maintenance Array. The idea is that this is a ship you can use to move around multiple fitted battleships — it’s going to be especially useful for those of you that run incursions or otherwise are moving your home base, especially in high sec, where you can’t use carriers. And it’s going to be, I think, a very common sight on the space lanes of high sec pretty soon after our December patch. I’m going to show you some of the early renders of this ship — keep in mind this is all work in progress, but… Let’s look at it… Very industrial.
(excited voices in the audience)
This is something that our team is currently working on right now, I just was talking to them via e-mail yesterday about how they’re going to push the envelope on the number of polys they can put on a ship. This is going to be a very, very detailed ship, I’m really looking forward to getting it fully textured and getting it into the game, it’s going to look great, and it will be very, very useful as well.
Now I’m going to actually talk a little bit about this research race; for anyone that isn’t familiar with it, we started a storyline a little over a week ago, where the Sisters of EVE announced that they had discovered some new activity from Sleepers, some unusual behavior; they didn’t really let anyone know where they discovered that, they’re keeping it close to their chest for now, but you’ll be finding a bit more about that later. And then all four empires immediately put in a request for the Sleeper components to be donated, and we let people know that there will be honorary commissions for the biggest donators, and that there’s important new technology coming from this. We also let everyone know that the order, that the relative order of the empires, of how much is donated to them will determine which empire gets it in what order, and this is going to be a bit of tech that is going to be spread over multiple releases and multiple patches, and the empire that came first will be getting first access to it this December.
Let’s talk a little bit about who won. The final results — I want to give a very big honorary mention to the independent drive that Guillome Renard — I think I’m pronouncing that right — ran. This was a completely player-organized drive; he saw that we made this event and decided to create his own, separate from the empires’ donation drive, and they collected a huge number of points, did a really great job, worked very hard at it, and I believe he’s actually retured all the ISK that was donated to him and all the items at this point, because they didn’t come first. Unfortunately, we — you’ll see why in a bit — but it would have been very difficult to fit an independent group winning into this, but… now, again, you’ll see that in a moment. So, they definitely get big props for running a very good independent drive. And now, in fourth place, the Gallente… (audience booing) …with 435,000 points. Third place, Caldari. I think a lot of people are going to be a bit surprised by that, [as] Caldari were leading in the last update that we gave before the end, but there was a huge number of donations right at the end. Second place is Minmatar… and first place is Amarr, so Amarr is going to be getting the first access to this new tech.
Yeah, I’m going to also show who was the biggest donator for each faction. The way this works is we’re creating four new items — they are honorary commissions that are going to have the name of the character in the description, and then we’re going to give it to that character, so they can keep it, or sell it, or whatever they want, but that item will bear the name of the character forever, and it will be a piece of the lore history of EVE. For the Gallente, Lotrec Emetin is the Honorary Federal Harbormaster. For Caldari, TorDog is the Honorary Brigadier of Engineers. For the Minmatar, Shipstorm is the Honorary Fleet Architect. And for Amarr, Ascentior is the Honorary Fabricator-General, which is one of my favorite terms that we’ve ever come up with for EVE. I loved the concept that there’s a Fabricator-General.
So now let’s talk a little bit about what it’s actually for. The actual cause of this Sleeper activity for now remains unrevealed, but more will be revealed down the line…
A voice from the audience: Do you guys even know why?
CCP Fozzie: Yep, we know! The collected data is leading to new advances in Sleeper drive technology; basically, the changes in Sleeper behavior unlocked some new information that can be got out of their cores, and that is what’s leading to this new tech. And, starting in December, capsuleers will be able to use this tech to construct… Tech 3 tactical destroyers.
(cheering, a long round of applause)
CCP Fozzie: So these ships are the first Tech 3 ships we have introduced since Apocrypha, and we are really excited to be getting these out to you guys. They are going to work actually quite differently than the strategic cruisers. These tactical destroyers are taking the whole concept of unpredictability and versatility in a different direction — they’re not going to use subsystems, they’re not going to have skill loss; what they are going to have instead… is three distinct modes that they can switch between on the fly in space with a short cooldown. They’re going to have a defensive mode, a speed mode, and a sniper mode, and they’re going to eventually have animations as well that let you see which mode that the ship is in, the idea being that this is a ship that you can choose which bonuses you get based on the actual situation of what you’re experiencing in space, and we think this is going to open some very exciting options for players. And like other Tech 3 ships, like the strategic cruisers, these are going to be invented from Sleeper hull sections using the what will be a merged invention process — if you’ve seen CCP Ytterbium’s devblog on invention and reverse engineering, they’re going to be the same thing — and built from Tech 3 components in the same kind of way that strategic cruisers are.
This is some early concepts of what the Amarr Tech 3 destroyer may look like, so this is just a couple of days into it, our art team has come up with a bunch of different concepts, and this is some of the stuff that they’re okay with us showing. Keep in mind [they’re] not colored in, so this is not the actual final colors or anything like that, but just a look at some of the things they’re looking at right now. And, like I said, since the Amarr won, the Amarr version will be the first one released, it’s going to be the one that comes in December. So this is a look at the Amarr one…
We’ve also got some early concept art for what the Caldari one may look like — they actually started that before the count has ended, because a lot of people assumed, including us, that the Caldari will probably win… and got a bit of work done on that, so here’s some of the concept art for what the Caldari Tech 3 destroyer might look like, but of course all this is very early work in progress, and we’ll be showing you more as we get closer to the actual release.
And now I’m going to call back up CCP Seagull to talk to you guys a little bit more, and… yeah, I’ll be able to talk about these new ships and new stuff all throughout the next two days, so come, pull me aside, ask questions, let me know what you think. Thank you!
CCP Seagull: All right! I’m pretty excited about all that stuff, I hope you are too. So, in December you’ll see the first signs of another… kind of symbolic change, which is that we will start adding things to the universe again, in a bigger way than we have done in quite some time — things that you’ll encounter in EVE that make playing in the sandbox more interesting, some new areas and world inhabitants that should make for a more diverse landscape to fight over and grapple with, as you’re trying to play and outplay other players. And as CCP Fozzie was hinting at, some of the features in the December release, they’re not just going to just show up in a nice overview devblog from me — you’re going to have to pay attention to in-game news, to what’s happening in the game itself once Phoebe is out, and really keep an eye on what’s going on in the universe to see what’s next. If you thought [that] Phoebe was the winter expansion, there’s another one in December that’s going to be a pretty serious release as well. We are super excited about all of this, it’s a fantastic privilege to make what I think is the world’s greatest sandbox together with all of you, and with those two goals in mind — strengthening everything that’s amazing and unique about EVE Online, and making your experience with EVE better — I think we’re in for a super exciting 2015 with EVE Online, and I hope to see you all there. Thank you very much.