Art by Redline XIII
The Eve Vegas Keynote is historically one of the main venues for CCP announcing the future direction of the game each year, and this year was no different. With discussion of some of the setbacks faced this year and the progress already made and anticipated this Winter, CCP Falcon, Burger, and Rise gave us an accurate summary of a year of play, and a litany of promising prospects for the near and far future. If you weren’t able to see it for yourself, the following is a minute-by-minute recap of the Keynote.
There is a too long; didn’t read summary at the end!
The Eve Vegas 2018 Keynote on October 19th was opened by CCP Falcon recapping some of the events and promises from the last year, including a little conflict in null sec and the introduction of Abyssal space. He then immediately began discussing the much anticipated Upwell navigation structures. New structures will replace the remaining functionality of player owned starbases (POS), and shortly after these structures are released CCP plans to phase out POS entirely. More information on the new structures will be covered on October 20 in a special presentation.
Falcon praised the community for its engagement with Abyssal Deadspace. In typical style, EVE players have been discovering new ways to min/max, use, and abuse the new material.
CCP Falcon reassured the community that they are aware of community concerns about structure proliferation. They are continuing to pay close attention to how players are using Upwell structures, not only as (semi-) permanent homes but also as forward staging platforms. From the beginning of 2018 until the end of September, over 14,000 structures were destroyed, valued at over 26.7 trillion ISK. A special nod was given to the Northern War, which Falcon assured us was the largest mobilization in the history of New Eden.
Addressing Concerns and Game Performance
Pivoting from praise into a recognition of community concerns, CCP Falcon acknowledged the many issues EVE’s players have had to persevere: a troubled deployment of new chat servers, node failures during a number of large fights, and problems with the login servers. Not every game company is willing to be honest with itself or its consumers about performance issues, but CCP exemplified refreshing openness here. “If we’re being brutally honest, we know that we missed the mark by a long-shot this year in terms of the community’s expectations for server performance in a lot of these big fights,” Falcon said. He also issued reassurances that they will continue to work to solve these problems. Admitting that CCP was caught off guard by the activity over the Summer, CCP remains dedicated to finding solutions to large battles. In particular, CCP is looking for options on calculations that can be offloaded from nodes in order to better distribute management.
The 64-bit client was discussed as another step towards improving performance. The new client is nearly complete, and “the 64-bit client will be in [our] hands in early 2019.” Additionally, Tranquility is receiving substantial upgrades which will allow for better node distribution. A new blog beginning later this year will detail the technical handling of Tranquility.
Tranquility isn’t the only service receiving upgrades, however. Serenity will be receiving Ascension, Lifeblood, and Into the Abyss as a single major update as the new Serenity launch comes out. With an aim to maintain parity, Serenity and Tranquility should stay within one update of one another. Acknowledging differences in the markets, Falcon also expressed a dedication to bringing Serenity SKINs to Tranquility.
New Tools and Structures
The new creative director, CCP Burger, spoke next and announced the introduction of a new in-game client filming system called 3D Mouse. This will allow videographers to create even more beautiful shots of the EVE galaxy. Burger discussed “FLX Structures,” new Upwell deployable structures that deploy quickly but lack tethering, weapons, docking, and so on. These can be placed within weapon range of other structures. They include the “Tenebrux” cyno jammer and “Pharolux” cyno beacon – the latter of which will include access lists. Finally, the “Ansiblex” jumpgate will also be available, replacing old jump bridges. They will not be limited to jump network, but instead can be linked to other alliance bridges. More information will be available in the Structures presentation.
The Agency, War Declarations, and Live Events
Burger went over some preliminary concepts for updating and improving the Agency menu. CCP is very interested in improving the New Player Experience, and so has added this into the Agency. “The Agency should be a one stop shop for all content going forward.” There is some concerning discussion about changing how players will fleet up in the context of the Agency, but generally new tools for tracking activities and looking for things to play will be made available as well. The tracker will also allow for competition and the unlocking of achievements. From a game design side, CCP intends to use this information to tailor the content they create based on what players are interested in doing, demonstrated through metrics rather than polls or guesswork.
Small changes like universal search and a compact planetary interaction menu were also discussed.
War declarations were discussed, with some interesting statistics showing that they are, “pretty broken, and that they need love, and that they need lots of love.” Five corporations were responsible for 50% of war declarations in the game. These five corporations had a kill:loss ratio of 105:1. The defender in war declarations actually scored a kill in only four percent (4%!) of wars. However, owning structures were seen to improve defender chances. New design will maintain the benefits of warfare while removing the problems. Beginning in December, CCP hopes to implement a change where only corporations that own structures can be wardec’d. More on this will also come at the Structures presentation.
Live Events will also receive an overhaul, with a desire for events for PvP as well as PvE, and the introduction of Abyssal Deadspace environmental features to events in known space.
CCP Rise discussed the relatively new Abyssal Deadspace material. Mostly the current challenge is that nobody is really using it. Most of the players using it have been playing for more than five years, meaning it is not expanding on the New Player Experience as was originally planned and announced at EVE FanFest. Some changes are planned to reduce the barriers to entry. Deadspace has met other goals CCP had, however, including improvements on writing events and NPC behaviors.
Details were discussed regarding how players are behaving in Deadspace. Rise explained that Deadspace provides a tremendous amount of data on player behavior in a vacuum. This data can be analyzed in a variety of ways to determine what is necessary to accomplish certain tasks in real numbers, rather than based on player opinions or theorycrafting. One of the most telling statistics revealing the barrier to entry on Abyssal Deadspace is cost, where the average ship in a successful run of even the lowest tier Deadspace instances cost North of 250 Million ISK. New players simply cannot afford these kinds of ships.
Coming this Winter, fleet Abyssal deadspace runs will be possible. These runs will allow three frigates to enter and engage in normal Triglavian content for triple the rewards. PvP will also be possible in Deadspace, with opportunities for competing over special reward caches. New Precursor ships will also be introduced in the Winter, fleshing out more of these ships’ roles. A battlecruiser with a tank bonus will be added, as well as Triglavian T1 and T2 logistics cruisers with repairs that ramp over time. Material costs will also be adjusted in order to help these ships actually reach distribution.
More on these ships will be discussed at the Ships and Modules presentation on October 20.
New Player Experience and Mission Content
CCP Burger returned to discuss the NPE, announcing that CCP is adopting the “-2+30” approach. This approach looks at the NPE from a player’s introduction through the first 30 days of play. “I believe that to get people to stay, we need to focus on the core experiences of EVE,” said Burger. To this end, the team will be looking at improving the visceral experience of combat. Additionally, acknowledging that missions are generally not a great experience, CCP will be focusing on building actual proper mission content.
Too Long; Didn’t Read
- Commitment to continue working on server performance issues.
- 64-bit client in early 2019.
- Upwell navigation structures include cyno jammer, cyno beacon, and jumpgate with access control lists.
- POS will be phased out in 2019.
- Wardecs getting overhauled – corp must have structures to be dec’d beginning in December.
- Agency stuff still being fussed with, goal to integrate all PVE content.
- New Triglavian ships including Precursor logi.
- More live events and so on.
- Paramemetic can’t even keep a tl;dr list short
Every keynote for a huge event like EVE Vegas is bound to be full of hype and promises, but CCP remains distinct in being willing to stay down to earth and realistic. It’s always refreshing to see CCP acknowledging its shortcomings, and with 15 years of history, we can be confident that they are committed to addressing them. CCP doesn’t always make the right calls, but listening to feedback from the CSM on gameplay, and using actual metrics rather than relying purely on player opinion for balance is a tremendous step forward. Though the community has had a lot of uncertainty following the announcement of CCP’s acquisition by Pearl Abyss, the Vegas keynote showed no hint of uncertainty from CCP itself.
This keynote covered a lot of ground in a lot of detail, and INN will bring you separate, independent analysis on specific topics in the coming days as specialized presentations covering structures, ships and modules, and the new player experience in more detail. For my part, I can’t help but be impressed by CCP’s ongoing commitment to improving Eve. CCP Burger concluded with a number of “what if” questions – what if we could engage in huge fights without TiDi? What if we could hide smaller ships behind bigger ones? I doubt many of these are realistic scenarios at all, but I have no doubt that CCP is committed to trying.