EVE Online's keynote: A recap in their own words

Eve Online Fanfest audience

Fanfest is less of a convention and more like a giant, booze-fueled family reunion. Devs and players hang out together all week long to laugh about the stupid things that happened in their EVE family this past year, argue about the way things should be done, and play a ton of games.

And at this family reunion, nothing's more anticipated than the big EVE keynote, where the developers reveal their plans for the entire year . But like most family reunions, it's ten times too long for anyone outside the family. So, for you outsiders or on-and-off EVErs, here's a quick rundown of the big changes you should care about.

Incarna was a failure

"We released a beautiful room--a beautiful room with beautiful people in it, and expensive monocles--and we had the audacity to call it Incarna." There was a lot of audience interaction during the show, and Hilmar Pétursson took the time to respond to people calling out questions after he summarize the Incarna launch like that. And then he showed pictures of his son and daughter to everyone's applause. I'm not joking! And i bet you thought I was stretching with my "family reunion" metaphor.

Crucible was a success, but future expansions won't directly mimic it

Pétursson told the crowd that Crucible was created by the EVE team on its own "while CCP sorted its own things out," referring to the fallout and soul-searching after the company was forced to lay off 20% of its employees.

Lead Game Designer Kristoffer Touborg agreed with the audience's sentiment that Crucible worked, but didn't want all expansions to be exactly like it. "[Crucible] was little things for a time when we needed little things," he explained, referring to the expansion's focus on bug-fixing and feature-improving rather than introducing a huge new gameplay element. He emphasized the need for future expansions to focus on bigger elements, however, by reminding the audience that "some of the small things that were broken also have bigger parts that are broken."

EVE Online is about spaceships

This has been iterated so many times at Fanfest this year, it might as well be appended on as a subtitle. Senior Producer Jon Lander said it best at the keynote: "If we ever do anything in addition to [spaceship combat] in EVE, it will be in addition to, not instead of]."

Players like Caldari missiles

There were many outburts of applause, boos, and general taunts during the keynote, but the only instance of a full-room standing ovation was when Creative Director Torfi Frans played a video showing off the upcoming Caldari missiles in action. I'm pretty sure that the guy at the end of my row was crying (out of happiness).

EVE will be everywhere

CCP wants more than your PC. Technical Producer Andie Nordgren and Web Architect Anne Walsh outlined all the efforts the company has put into expanding their back-end to support loads of new ways to interact with EVE Online. In short: their API now supports read/write, instead of just displaying static information, and they plan to use it to let you play at least parts of EVE in your browser, on your mobile phones--everywhere.

CCP loves you and doesn't want you to stab them

Technically, Touborg only said that they plan to expand EVE/DUST interactions "in an awesome way that you guys won't stab us for." But I think its safe to assume they don't want you to stab them for any reason.

Time Dilation has solved the lag problem

For those that haven't played since Crucible released last year, Time Dilation is a new feature added that intentionally slows the game down when thousands of players clash in a fight, to allow the server to keep up with all the input at a pace that's fair for everyone. Senior Programmer Brian Bossé confirmed that it has eliminated the problem of having "actions queued that cannot be processed." He also revealed that before the feature was implemented, they could have a max of 600 players fighting before performance dipped to unacceptable levels. Now that number is 2000. Their next goal is to improve server technology further (they already reduced CPU load per player by 50%) to make time dilation required less often.

They've got a lot of features coming in 2012

Here's the shortened list, highlighting the changes that you'll likely care about:

  • Redoing the War Declaration system to eliminate need for loopholes and support mercenary contracts, about which Touborg warns, "You can't trust mercs in EVE, but you can at least send someone money and hope they'll help you."
  • Improvements to Faction Warfare to add meaning to territory warfare, increased rewards for fighting, and collective rewards to purchase for Alliances.
  • Ship balancing, and new module types.
  • They want every player to own a starbase, and have it scale in size and scope based on how hardcore they are. Casual players who only play once a week will have tiny captain's quarters; the most elite will have a giant Death Star covered in guns that can terrorize systems.
  • Touborg has a vision for groups of players falling down on a ring of asteroids around a planet, searching and stripping it of moon minerals.
  • Avatars will have more serious gameplay, and more mechanics that actually interact with and impact the space game, according to Frans.
  • Characters of mixed heritage, causing one player to shout "Blasphemy!" from the audience.
  • New shaders for Amarr ships. Once all the ships have V3 shaders, they'll be able to update ship lighting on the fly, to relfect explosions, missiles launching and bounce light from planets.