Improved performance isn’t the only thing on
Nathan’s plate, however. “We’re also
taking some of the combat mechanics and taking them further in the next
upgrade,” Nathan said. “There are some new modules,
about twenty new ships, and around 400 new agent missions. Our focus
right now is on Heat, which we introduced in Revelations 2.
We’re doing another iteration of that and adding more
strategic options to that component.” Heat is an issue that
has been discussed thoroughly by EVE Online developers, but
they’re hoping to bring even more players to use the
strategic system by improving its functionality even more.

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Improving performance
in EVE is always one of the top priorities.

“Hacking is also being improved to be more interactive,
rather than the static nature it’s in right now,”
he continued. “We’re also looking at overhauling
the new player experience again, and that’s something
we’re constantly working on. There are usually about 10
people working on that all year long. On top of that, we want to bring
the EVE experience out of game as well and provide tools for the
corporations to give them a larger public face and allowing them better
communication with their members.”

When Nathan brought up the outside game experience of EVE, what
instantly jumped to my mind was a social “Web 2.0”
type experience for the players; a kind of pseudo-social networking. I
voiced my thoughts to Nathan, and he responded in kind.
“That’s kind of the way we’re approaching
things,” he said. “Our social
‘network’ is already there, it’s just
providing more tools out-of-game. They’re already sharing all
of their information with their confidants; we just want to provide
them with a platform on which they can reach more people. Right now its
only the big corps that have forums and that sort of thing, and we just
want to help provide that to the smaller organizations.”

Of course, in expanding the role of communications and providing more
support in the out-of-game experience, it’s a simple
conclusion to determine that CCP|WW is going this direction because of
the eventual expansion of alliances into the status of
“empire”. According to Nathan, a lot of the
improvements to communications have been made to further expand the
level that people can communicate and begin to
“know” each other. Hilmar Petursson, the CEO of
CCP, also stepped in at this point to explain the company’s
thoughts on the matter. “After 2,000 – 5,000 people
have been incorporated into an alliance, it’s time to move to
a larger institution of organization with different
toolsets,” he said. “It has been a process of
adding in the layers as the game has grown. I think we’re now
almost to that point.”

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Eventually the
developers hope to expand player organizations into the 10s of

“An Empire is really an organization of multiple
alliances,” Nathan continued. “The optimal size for
an alliance seems to be around 1500 people. Corporations are at 150
people. Now we’re adding in another level to raise the number
of people above 10,000. There’s a lot of space out there for
people to claim.” While the thought of controlling an Empire
is almost to heady to even imagine, I wondered if the developers were
waiting for a certain number of players to join the game before Empires
would be introduced into the game. “No, so far the alliances
seem to be covering our need,” Nathan said. “If
there ever was a time that an Empire could emerge, that’d be
a pivotal moment in our game. Right now we have four NPC empires
– if we could get a fifth player run Empire it’d
certainly change the game.”

Along similar lines as the Empire is the burgeoning idea of factional
warfare and how the EVE developers are going to introduce it to the
players. Although Nathan couldn’t talk about everything, he
could point out the difficulties in introducing factional warfare and
what their goals are for the system. “We’re trying
to build the framework, structure, and goals for people that
don’t want to be a part of the larger alliance
gameplay,” Nathan said. “It’s hard to
find the right sort of balance between exerting control and using
free-form, because you don’t want to hurt any of the player
groups by having their members go join this factional warfare combat.
We want this system to sort of introduce players to this larger PvP
experience and give players that spark to go off and do their own thing
with their friends. We’re moving it back simply because
it’s a big risk and players want increased client performance
and stability before we introduce even more hurdles for the overall

This concludes the end of Part One of Ten Ton Hammer’s
interview with Nathan Richardsson! To continue on to Part Two, simply click here!

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Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016