CCP Unifex On The Inferno Expansion, Part 1 (EVE Online Interview)
Harvesting, manufacturing, and war. These three make up the holy trinity of EVE Online's Senior Producer, Jon Lander. They are especially important in the Inferno Expansion, which will update and manipulate each part of that trinity and how it relates to the players in EVE Online. Despite the immanence of the Inferno Expansion, Lander was kind enough to take some time to answer some of our questions.
War In The Inferno Expansion
War has been an integral part of EVE Online for nearly a decade. It is probably the most common way for new players to be first exposed to PvP, as well. The Inferno expansion touches on and expands some of the biggest systems for wars in high-security space as well as those in the faction war between the major NPC nations.
According to Lander, "War is really the heart of what EVE is about. We call it the perpetual motion machine or the infernal machine. At it's very core, EVE revolves around harvesting, then manufacturing, and then destruction. One of the key things that we want to do is have all of them have an impact on each other. But only one of them really drives activity. One of the things that we really wanted to do in 2012 was take some of the ideas that we had and push on the parts of that machine that generate as much content across as many different play-styles as possible. War is an activity which really exercises that machine.
If we can promote reasons for people to fight each other, they'll have a lot of fun. If you are blowing up ships, then you need somebody to make those. If you are making ships, then you need somebody to get the raw materials. We are throwing a rock into the pond and upsetting things so that people actually have a few reasons to fight. It helps everybody in all the different play-styles of EVE to get involved."
Faction War In The Inferno Expansion
Inferno will certainly shake things up, and not just with regards to wars in high-security space. Says Lander, "Factional warfare is another really key part of the game for us. It's the entryway for newer players to get interested in fighting for a cause and learning about group PvP. It also lets you participate in part of the backstory. We're gone back and made quite a few changes that will make that more interesting."
The game mechanics involved with the NPC-backed faction war (much of which transpires in low-security space) are going to become much more enticing to players. New benefits include partial ownership of faction-controlled solar systems, cheaper loyalty point rewards. Most importantly, there will also be much larger personal gain offered in exchange for participation in faction-based PvP, whether in the form of direct action against enemy players or by helping the faction militia to take control of more space.
Mineral Prices In Inferno
The harvesting portion of Jon Lander's EVE trinity is well and truly tampered with, already. The so-called Drone Regions have ceased producing minerals, in favor of ISK rewards (like other NPCs in EVE). According to Lander, the havoc was quite intentional: "We have done a number of things to destabilize mineral prices. There has been combat around the drone regions. That combat has upset some of the harvesting part of the EVE machine. So now we have people that want to build ships and get ready for the fight, but the minerals are going up in price. This then encourages people who previously thought mining was unprofitable. Since everything in EVE Online is player-created and related, this is causing a ripple effect throughout the game's economy."
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When asked whether CCP had any regrets or doubts about the changes to mineral faucets, Lander was emphatic, "We're watching it very, very carefully. Our economist is keeping a very close eye on what is going on with mineral prices. The minute the Drone Regions went live, we saw players stop mining. I mean real, human players. We made these changes, and it has been a perfect storm. Tech I modules aren't being dropped as loot from NPCs, anymore, which is another big mineral faucet. That, along with Burn Jita and Hulkageddon made the risk vs. reward of mining more interesting. We need to make sure that nothing too crazy happens with it, but for the moment it seems one of those changes where the market balances out."
Freshening Up EVE PvP
EVE PvP is in sort of a final stage of growth, where the most effective tactics for the current game environment are well known. Some variation is possible, but little innovation. Contrast this with the EVE Online of five years ago, when ship doctrines were few and far between, minerals were more expensive, and player expertise was generally deplorable. New ship fittings were tried all the time, and the best organizations also had the best fittings.
While we may never have that slow-as-molasses spread of useful information again, we can have something else, per Jon Lander: "We have a ton of new modules to introduce. Right now, everybody knows exactly what fitting you should have on any particular ship. It's come down to one or two possible vanilla setups, where we can predict what people are probably using. With Inferno, we've started throwing in new modules. This is the first round of putting quite a few new modules in. What this does is give people options, and starts them thinking about how to adapt to the new modules. Whole fittings will start changing around some of the things that we've done. Already, just looking on our public test server, we've started seeing some crazy fits. People in a ship that I would normally be able to spot from a mile off and predict the exact counter to have been able to give me a bit of a bloody nose."
Want to read the second part of this interview? Check back with us tomorrow, and don't forget to train a long skill.
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