Arnar "Zulupark" Gylfason, EVE Online's Content Director
EVE Online is closing in on its sixth anniversary in May, but before that we'll see the game's tenth expansion but first retail expansion - and its first time in stores since the Simon & Shuster Interactive days - with Apocrypha on March 10th. Arnar “Zulupark” Gylfason, Content Director for EVE Online, joined us for a few questions on how Apocrypha is progressing and a few in-depth details on two of Apocrypha's two most anticipated features: tech 3 and epic mission arcs!
Ten Ton Hammer: With March 10th and EVE's first ever retail expansion a little less than a month away, players have expressed concern that no elements of the Apocrypha expansion have yet made it to the test server. Do you feel you're on track with the expansion, and would you give us a brief update on the expansion's progress?
Apocrypha is one of the most amazing feats that CCP has ever undertaken. While Trinity was massive in scale, Apocrypha is truly a gargantuan effort. It’s a testament to the strength of our coffee, the wisdom of our producers and the calloused fingers of our development staff that we’re on schedule. I’m sure we’ll divulge some numbers on man-hours and gallons of sweat produced after launch, but right now we are in the thick of it. Our production schedule is already very demanding, even for an MMO company, but we’re delivering a box in stores and the largest EVE Online expansion to date. All of it in a development cycle that’s a few months shorter than usual. Every portion of CCP is laser-focused on EVE Online and improving it. Our dev team has been in state of near constant flux between days of triumphant yelling and moments of sheer pressure-driven terror. It’s an exciting place to work.
Ten Ton Hammer: With what many feel is a destabilizing number of titans in the game, are purpose-built tech 3 "modular" ships (in conjunction with the many recent performance improvements) a bid to make significant fleet battles more "scattered about", more about attrition rather than might, and accessible to the common player? What would you say to a player that feels tech 3 sounds like more gathering and crafting work for less firepower?
The idea behind Tech 3 ships is to allow players a wider degree of flexibility for their chosen vessel—allowing a full range of customizability to fit different roles more or less on the fly. Even fitting will be variable based on how you put your ship together. They will be quite powerful and therefore desirable. There won’t really be any more “gathering and crafting” for the players flying them. The Tech 3 producers will be the ones heavily benefitting from the gold rush of intrepid explorers flying through wormholes and coming back with ancient materials for reverse-engineering and production. However, ships are usually made for one purpose—blowing up other ships. The ancient races in New Eden held that to be true, so the technology that goes into making Tech 3 is quite deadly.
Tech 3 ships will offer greater flexibility but are also "quite deadly."
Ten Ton Hammer: What makes a wormhole significantly different than, say, a deadspace instance? Why should players take a break from PvPing to explore these anomalies?
Players need not take a break from PvPing to head into wormhole space. In fact, it might be the best place to ambush juicy targets. For the non-PvPers there will be a whole host of new complexes inside wormhole space with really profitable materials awaiting procurement. Why would you take a break from Empire space? Why leave the safety of your Alliance home? A sense of real adventure. Great riches proportionate to the risk. A chance to be a pioneer all over again in some of the most dynamic, deadly and beautiful space you can imagine.
Ten Ton Hammer: One of the most anticipated features of Apocrypha - especially for newer players - is the idea of epic mission arcs. Will the early stages of these mission arcs be accessible for new players fresh out of the trial? Will the rewards for completing stages of each arc be substantial?
The first iteration of the epic mission arcs will in fact be integral to the new player experience. It will lead you into higher level missions, give you a sense of how big New Eden is and reward you for the time and valor you invest. Rewards? Of course, that’s the only way agents can get pilots to fly for them!
Ten Ton Hammer: At EVE FanFest, CCP announced that it was committing the full force of its 300+ developers to Apocrypha. With all of the challenges inherent in working out of three major studios under a very short deadline, have you discovered anything about the character and quality of the people at CCP that you didn't know before?
In planning Apocrypha, we saw very early on that we’d have to modify our production cycle to better fit the amount of people and locations they work from. What we essentially did was to adapt, almost overnight, SCRUM methodology for our entire development process. We broke all the people working on EVE out into teams and gave them a defined area of the game or a specific feature to work on. This was a radical change from how we previously developed. Seeing what has been accomplished so far, we have re-learned that when the people are as dedicated and passionate as EVE developers are, anything is possible and every objective surmountable. It’s truly an honor to work alongside each and every one of them.
Thanks to Arnar Gylfason, Ned Coker, and CCP for making time for this interview. We hope to ask CCP a few more questions before Apocrypha comes out next month, so if you have any questions about E10, please post them below!
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