Posted Thu, Sep 23, 2010 by Space Junkie
Noah Ward is Lead Designer at CCP games, the makers of EVE Online. He took some time out of his schedule at PAX 2010 to tell Ten Ton Hammer about the upcoming Incursion expansion, planetary economics, and .
Ten Ton Hammer: Can we talk about the upcoming Incursion feature? Correct me if I'm wrong, but the idea is that rampaging hoards of NPCs take over high-security space?
Noah: They will be everywhere, actually. It will involve Sansha's Nation, and it plays off the live events that we have been doing.
The Sansha are attempting to take over. The way the design is, currently, it will be a specific constellation and there will be a headquarters system. That system is too well fortified to take it out in one go. So you have to take out all sorts of complexes and encounters in surrounding systems.
TTH: So are things going to be happening in deadspace?
In the Incursion expansion for EVE Online, Sansha pirates will be invading entire regions of space at once.
TTH: Is the design intent to make things a little more interesting in high-security space?
Noah: The major design intent is to create more group based cooperative content. We have a lot of stuff that pits people against each other but not so much where people are cooperating. Also, there are adverse effects that happen in your systems that are being invaded. So you are sort of incentivized to get these Sanshas out of your system.
TTH: Are they going to be going after anything specifically, like asteroid belts? Is it going to become more dangerous for miners?
Noah: It's hard to say how it is going to be when stuff is finally done, but we want to put stuff around gates and stations, as well as asteroid belts.
TTH: This question kind of comes from the EVE Online player community, and it is about lag. Is there anything you guys are considering from a design standpoint that would try and break up concentrations of players?
Noah: We have a whole team working on fixing the lag from a programming standpoint. They have a lot of leads, and we are going to be putting stuff out there to see what the results of that are, before we try to break up big groups of players.
Part of the value proposition of EVE is having thousands of players. And there is some stuff that is definitely broken in there, like the way missiles are calculated. So we are going to see how fixing that goes, and then we will start thinking about breaking people up.
The thing is that with the Dominion expansion, our goal was to get players together and fighting each other more. We changed the sovereignty system [by which players control space]. It used to be that you would have fleets shooting at inanimate objects, and you never really had big fights. We changed the mechanics to get people fighting together, and that is where we saw all this lag. Achieving one goal hurt the other.
TTH: In the past you guys have referred to a "landscape effect" where different regions of space are different from each other, with each having a different feel and type of player that is attracted to it. In terms of the upgrade expansions in the Dominion expansion, all space can potentially be upgraded to the same level. The question is, how are you differentiating regions of space?
Noah: In terms of the infrastructure upgrade stuff, we want people to be able to invest in their space and upgrade it. But you are always going to have certain things that give places flavor, like certain types of asteroids spawning there, NPCs of a particular type, and NPCs with their specific types of loot.
We always want to keep a landscape in mind with the flavor. We do not want to have the whole universe homogenized. That is always one of our design goals.
TTH: Supercarrier ships are sort of the flavor of the day. A lot of people in the community feel that they are overpowered. Do you agree?
Noah: I know a lot of people are switching their titan fleets over to supercarrier fleets. Probably because they are a little bit more economical and they kick ass just as much. I don't know if I would say that they are necessarily overpowered, but we are always looking at balance, including whether the fighter bombers are overpowered or not. I am not going to say, right now, that I think they are.
Also, as part of our lag-fighting efforts, we noticed that having the fighter-bombers shoot missiles seemed to generate lag. As more and more people are using these ships, it compounds the problem. So we are probably going to look at ways to make them, not less effective, but rather change the missiles from being an actual physical objects in space to just being an effect, and then we might look at balancing them some, too. When we do that, it should clear up a lot of lag.