EVE Online and DUST 514: Looking Into the Future
While they may not have had a main floor presence at E3 this year, CCP certainly made waves nonetheless when word of their virtual reality project started to spread (see what I thought of my hands on time here). Even though EVE-VR may have garnered the most attention, the team was mainly here to talk about the future of their current titles, EVE Online and DUST 514. Fortunately, Ten Ton Hammer was there to get the scoop on whats coming.
Their newest title, DUST 514 has been met with some excitement, but also some trepidation at the steep learning curve the game imposes on players. After talking with the team, its clear theyre not only achingly aware of this issue, but are keen on rectifying it as soon as possible. There are a number of plans in the works and players will start to see the fruition of those plans roll out over the next six months. Upcoming plans include a much more robust tutorial system, a single repository of information (rather than having everything scattered about your Merc HQ as it is now), and a number of clear indicators about how to interact with various objects on the battlefield. A clear example of this is that there are currently no descriptions of turrets, how to use them, or what you should be doing with them in order to win your particular maps condition. All this and more are on their way as quickly as the team can get them out.
EVE Online is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. Unlike every other company that runs an MMO, they have a history of being open with the number of monthly subscribers they have and after getting a look at the 10 year history, why shouldnt they? To the best of my knowledge, they are the only MMO that has never seen a year to year dip in subscriber numbers. For ten consecutive years, they have seen nothing but steady growth, recently celebrating the 500,000 subscriber mark. Not too shabby for a game company that started funding its MMO dreams with a board game never released in the United States (more on that in just a bit).
If EVE Online is known for anything in particular, its the brutal learning curve. (The last video game I can think of that dished out an equal measure of mental abuse was Battlecruiser 3000.) The development team has been aware of this since the beginning though, and has continually released updates to improve the experience of new players and ease them a bit more gently into the violent universe that is EVE Online.
Knowing that new players sometimes need more than just a bit of hand holding, CCP has started taking pre-orders for an upcoming Collectors Edition celebrating 10 years of EVE Online. This Collectors Edition may be expensive (though no more so than some of the more extravagant PC releases of other games in recent history), but holy crap, is it packed with more than a few items that have me drooling. Im not even an EVE Online player, yet I still desperately want to get my hands on some of the things theyre including.
One of those items is the previously mentioned never-released-in-the-US board game, Danger Game. This was originally created and released in Europe to help fund the early development of EVE Online. The developers giving our presentation were excited that the game was finally being translated for English consumption. Its a game of life and obstacles. Not only will you have the opportunity to try and avoid such things as getting hooked on drugs and going to rehab, there is a PvP element to the game in which you can give your fellow players drugs to get them hooked and stuck in rehab. Great fun for the whole family!
Along with other awesome physical objects, such as the soundtrack of the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra, the EVE Online Collectors Edition will include a number of in-game items for both EVE Online and DUST 514 -- ships, collectibles, drop suits, and more. Despite their coolness, the item I want most is the Minmatar Rifter combat frigate 4-port USB hub. Im a sucker for any piece of awesome science fiction statue-type items of geeky goodness. This ship is no exception.
Rather than just releasing a Collectors Edition of EVE Online, the team has a lot more plans to bring the EVE Online universe to the forefront of gamers and science fiction fans alike. Even those gamers who havent actually played the game have heard the tales of massive space battles that can last months, the internal strife of guild politics, and some of the most shocking tales of extraordinary betrayal to occur within any game ever. Currently in development are a number of projects, including bringing these tales to life.
First up is a comic book that will start to highlight some of the most famous tales of epic events within the game. Even more impressive is the fact that an EVE Online pilot will be coming sometime in the future, again telling the true tales of intrigue and betrayal weve all heard about for years. While theres currently no production date yet, the contract to make the show has been signed, so work will begin soon. Tagged with the line, Based on a true story, 20,000 years in the future, the show could prove to be incredibly successful if done properly. Theres such a lack of quality science fiction television available right now that fans are desperate for something awesome to blow them away.
Just as the team is breaking new ground with new ways to introduce the game to the masses theyre doing the same in the game itself. Their latest free expansion, Odyssey, introduces new areas, new graphic updates, a complete redistribution of resources such as ores, a new radial interface, and more. This brings the total number of free expansions to nearly 20! Its obvious the developers at CCP have no intention of sitting on their laurels. EVE Online is already the most fleshed out, intricate, polished, and expansive online science fiction game of all time, but they show no signs of slowing down.
While EVE Online is famous for the story content created by the players themselves, the team is going to start adding a little more structure for those players that want some direction. Over the next six months, players will have the option to engage in CCP-created upheaval and wars. Combined with the continual conflict created by numerous corporations (guilds) within the game already, this could prove interesting to say the least. Personally, I cant wait to see what they bring to the table next.