Posted Thu, Dec 30, 2010 by Space Junkie
Each new year brings a wave of changes to EVE Online. The game gets two new expansions, the players get better at killing and defrauding each other, and the game mechanics are tweaked for the better or for the worse. Let's take a look at what the past year has brought to EVE, and what the next year might look like.
Changes To The Game
The Tyrannis Expansion
The first expansion of 2010 was Tyrannis. I would characterize it as a mixed bag as far as expansions go. With it, players could use planets to manufacture various essential commodities. While the process is a bit annoying, there is no question that it has shifted a lot of wealth downwards toward newer players, and thrown many parts of EVE Online's economy into chaos.
The Tyrannis expansion also included EVE Gate, a not so revolutionary social networking tool that has been pejoratively called "spacebook". Not many people find it to be all that useful, and in hindsight CCP would probably have been better off making some kind of application that would integrate with the real facebook. Though I am sure that would have been prohibitively expensive, it would probably be a better use of resource than having a whole team build an effort-intensive web site that nobody would ever really use.
The Incursion Expansion seems to be popular thus far, and the main portion has yet to arrive.
Despite the economic chaos of this expansion, it was not well received because of the lack of polish of some of the features, lingering dissatisfaction with gameplay issues introduced in the Dominion expansion, and the revelation that CCP was not planning on expending much in the way of company resources to fix various glaring game issues. Following this becoming public, there were some major shake ups at CCP involving re-prioritizing the polishing up of various aspects of EVE.
The Incursion Expansion
The Incursion expansion reflected this newfound dedication to finished products: rather than release a rough patch and theoretically smooth it out over time, CCP opted to offer Incursion as a staged release. The first part introduced the Noctis ship, a dedicated salvager, with blueprints for them found only in the hilariously dangerous Outer Ring stations (dangerous for a week after the patch, anyway).
The next part of Incursion included the removal of learning skills, an early poor design decision that has haunted EVE Online since its creation. With their removal, every player, even the newest, will find themselves training as though that character had all the old learning skills trained. This is excellent, and puts new players on more even footing with older players than at any other time in EVE's history.
Lastly, the titular Sansha incursions have been delayed to January, pending more polish. This is fantastic, because it means that CCP is willing to eat some marketing crow for the sake of game design excellence. On the other hand, it also means that I can't fully evaluate whether the Incursion patch is a success or not. Still, even if all this expansion did was remove learning skills, it is still the best expansion in at least a year.
The State Of The Game
Overall, the game has been more interesting economically than usual, but less so politically and militarily. Small-scale PvP has in many ways become harder because of the prevalence of hard-to-catch/hard-to-probe tech three cruisers, the popularity of cosmic anomalies, and the ubiquity of "hot drops" where a ship is merely bait for an entire fleet that will literally appear out of nowhere to back it up. Large-scale PvP suffered due to huge amounts of lag introduced in large part by supercarriers, a ship class that became the dominant factor of null-sec politics. As things stand, and as they stood throughout 2010, the only practical counter to supercarriers is an equal or larger amount of them.