Noah also described something they're working on called situational character awareness. The idea is that your character will look at whatever happens to be interesting as he or she walks around, and if you're having a conversation with someone, your head will be turned towards them. I asked for specifics on how that would work. After all, in a room with fifty people talking, your head would be bouncing all over the place. Apparently, they have some ideas for linking conversations together. Their system will be able to tell who you're having a conversation with in the room and make sure that you're facing them when they speak. Chat bubbles are likely not going to be making an appearance, and conversations will appear in a private window.
Players will have complete control over their personal venues. Much like a chat room moderator, they'll be able to kick and ban people from their businesses. In fact, players can even choose to exclude certain customers from their venues. If you want to cater only to bald male captains and bar everyone else from your store, you can do that. If you want to make a VIP casino that only people who own the most expensive type of ship can have access to, you can do that too. CCP is going to let the market sort things like that out. Don't like the discrimination? Don't shop there, or start your own venue. Furthermore, Noah hopes to implement a feature where when a player is kicked from a venue, a burly bouncer physically picks them up and removes them from the establishmenttalk about being publicly humiliated! Maybe that will make people think twice before getting too obnoxious in a club.
Noah and Valerie discuss the possibility of implementing dueling at some point in the future.
Finally, Noah wanted me to stress that this is very much a social tool. As much as players might want it, there are no plans for avatar combat of any kind at release. There may be ceremonial weapons that can be worn as accessories, but for the present all PvP will have to occur in the space surrounding the stationsnot in them. This might not be permanent, however. They plan to continue expanding the ambulation feature in future releases, and Valerie and Noah weren't shy when telling me that the work on ambulation is also an experiment with technology for CCP's other MMOG, currently in development. While no official information has been released on it, they were very likely referring to the upcoming World of Darkness MMOG that was hinted at when CCP merged with White Wolf. Since there will almost certainly be combat in that game, Noah suspects that it wouldn't be terribly unlikely that they would use the same technology cross-title to implement some form of dueling or brawling between EVE avatars.
So there you have it. Ambulation is coming to EVE Online, and it sounds amazing. This is still in the early stages of development and a lot of the features are up in the air (nothing said here is set in stone or a promisedon't take it as such), with the specifics being discussed by the development team, but given that these are the same people who've brought us one of the most complex and successful MMOGs on the market, it's safe to say that they know what they're doing. Whatever ambulation looks like in its final form, you won't be disappointed. In the meantime, hoard your goods and try not to get your warp drives scrambled. My guess is that tobacco is about to get a lot more lucrative.
View the Ambulation video from GDC 2007.
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