cellpadding="5" cellspacing="5" width="250">
Torfi Frans, looking
slightly tougher than usual (but only slightly).

At EVE FanFest 2009 last weekend, CCP trained its marketing turrets on the
newly revealed console-based MMOFPS href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/75130">DUST
, the total out-of-game experience with href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/75252">New Eden,
the new alliance vs. alliance friendly href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/75312">Dominion
expansion coming this December. But one aspect of EVE
Online's future
was intentionally downplayed: Incarna (formerly
"Walking in Stations", formerly

However, Torfi Frans Ólafsson, Senior Producer,
one trailer that seemed to hint at a more achievement-oriented side of
the Incarna project that will peel pod pilots out
of their ships and put them into stations for the first time.
Intrigued, we
caught up with Torfi for a few questions about Incarna, planet-sized
revamps, the massive Titan nerf, and how exactly Treaties will work at
FanFest 2009

Ten Ton Hammer
: First this project was named “Ambulation,”
then “Walking in Stations,” now “Incarna.” Aside from a parade of ever
better names, has the project been reinvented along with the name, or
is the project closer to completion than it was when we saw it href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/47960">demoed
at last year’s FanFest?

Torfi Frans Ólafsson, Senior Producer: Oh yea, it’s
closer. The core technology group at CCP is hard at work developing the
technology that allows us to do incredibly realistically lit rooms and
interiors, and they’re also working on our custom rendering and
animation technology. This is the technology foundation that’s being
used for Incarna. We did a reveal at last FanFest to prove that the
technology works and
that it works within EVE, but it was of course only presented in demo
state - very pre-alpha and focused solely on graphics and feel over
functionality. So we’re working on technology and functionality right

The game designers have also been sweating out the design for Incarna,
and there will be more to do than we’ve previously talked about.

Ten Ton Hammer: So from what we saw in the href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/75119">Incarna trailer,
there will be an achievement angle to Incarna?

Ólafsson: Absolutely. To the people that I said that
you won’t have to
play Incarna to be successful in EVE... not entirely true. (laughter)
You can still, you know, not do it, just like you can not do industry
or agent missions or not do mining, but it’s going to be an important
element of gameplay. As you saw in the teaser, the reason you go into
stations is to go “offline” - to go off the grid. You go there to
interact with people that may not even exist on the grid. For all
intents and purposes, Concord thinks they’re dead.

Ten Ton Hammer: So it sounds like a whole new avenue
for the game that’s outside of CONCORD’s control.

Ólafsson: Exactly.

Ten Ton Hammer: We’ve seen a lot of good stuff here
from the DUST
team at CCP Asia. We know that DUST 514 is using
Unreal Engine 3, which is a far cry from the Python-based setup that
EVE uses, but are you sharing assets or knowledge back and forth
between the Incarna and DUST 514 teams?

Ólafsson: Absolutely. We’ve shared assets a little
bit, we’ve certainly shared technology and people and, most
importantly, we are on big company. The team working on DUST 514 might
be a different team, but like I mentioned yesterday, they worked with
us on Apocrypha, they’re collaborating on the planets right now, DUST
514 and EVE will be talking together in terms of game mechanics, so a
lot of us have spent a lot of time in China working with the team and
vice versa.

Ten Ton Hammer:
Do the war barge and social spaces we’ve seen
in DUST 514 tie into Incarna at all? Could EVE and DUST players
eventually meet each other?

Those are separate spaces. The strategic planning
room - that’s within the war barge - while Incarna will focus solely on
stations. The people of DUST 514 are of a different creed than pod
pilots. In the backstory, their paths would hardly ever cross except
when there’s profit to be made - when one needs the power of the other.

cellpadding="5" cellspacing="5" width="250">
href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/75111"> src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/75111/preview"
One of the planets
post-Dominion revamp. This one happens to look pretty familiar.

Ten Ton Hammer: Sort of like the navy and the army?

Ólafsson: Yea, or maybe like the CIA and the navy.

Ten Ton Hammer: Shifting gears a bit to talk about
December's Dominion expansion: The work you’re doing with the planets
is gorgeous
- right
down to seeing the cloud layer and man-made lights on the dark side of
colonized planets. Can
you tell us a little bit about the process and the work that went into
these procedurally generated planets? I’m guessing you used satellite
photography extensively?

Ólafsson: Of course we were all inspired by NASA’s
imagery and Hubble
pictures and Galileo pictures. In recent years we’ve had really cool
pictures coming from Saturn via Magellan. We were inspired by them, but
sometimes we’ve realized that realism is a bit boring and we take it
further. We’ve only seen a very limited number of planets and moons [in
the real universe], and making cool planets and moons is what I call
“geology porn.” It’s basically geology, just making it more
aesthetically beautiful so that you enjoy it.

Ten Ton Hammer: What kind of inputs go into the
procedurally generated planets? Do you calculate the distance from the
star, water vapor in the atmosphere, that sort of thing?

Absolutely, we use all the basic inputs: the
distance from the star, the density of the planet, adjoining moons,
type of star, and so on. All of these inputs go into figuring out what
the planet will look like.

Ten Ton Hammer:
Dominion will also bring some pretty
big changes to the Titan, EVE’s most powerful ship by far. It’s rare
for developers and players to agree that a ship is ridiculously
overpowered, but that a Titan breaks the game seems to have been the
consensus for a while now. Why did it take so long to roll back the
Titan to a more targeted attack, do you think?

Everything is just done in order, I guess. Some
things just take less time than others. Why did it take so long? Change
can be scary - it can take you a while to man up to taking the leap. We
realized with the Titan changes and with the Sovereignty changes that
although a large portion of the community feels that the system could
be improved or that it’s imbalanced, there’s tons of people using it
right now. And we don’t want to be continuously changing these large
systems, so we just wanted to do it right.

Ten Ton Hammer:
How do these sorts of changes mess with the
lore of the game, given Tony Gonzales’s novel and how the Doomsday
weapon fits in there?

Ólafsson: It doesn’t make Tony happy, we’re going to
have to buy all
his books back and black out a few lines. (laughter) But I’m sure he’ll
learn to live with it.

Ten Ton Hammer: Tell us a bit about how another
great feature of
Dominion, Fleet Finder, works. Is it essentially a looking for group

Ólafsson: Exactly. To begin with, you can only
publicly advertize
fleets within your own corporation, so the griefers are going to have
to wait for the next iteration to fool people into their fleets and
kill them at random places. Essentially we are taking a mechanic, just
trying to take what people are already doing, and make it more
accessible and more fun - so it’s easy for you at the moment you log in
to see which fleets are going on in your corporation or alliance and
join different task forces - somebody’s mining, somebody’s ratting,
somebody’s off on a cap fleet - to join them.

Ten Ton Hammer: Will it be possible for players to
selectively load
their fleets or password-protect fleets just for an elite few?

Ólafsson: Closed fleets, definitely. But we are just
iterating on the
design of the system. We mostly see ourselves are providers of setting
and mechanisms.  That’s our job; we create a cool setting, and
we have mechanisms for you to use in your gameplay. This is just one of
these mechanisms that we want to do well and we’re probably going to
improve on it as we move further along. But mechanisms for bringing
people together should be the goal of any MMO.

cellpadding="5" cellspacing="5" width="250">
href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/75103"> src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/75103/preview"
With Dominion,
the Doomsday weapon has had its day.

Ten Ton Hammer: Is there anything more you can tell
us about Dominion
that maybe hasn’t gotten a lot of coverage?

Ólafsson: We talked about the new capture system and
upgrade system.
The upgrade system actually requires you to live in your space and use
it. It will probably - and note the word probably - result in zero-sec
being less blobbed out by alliances that claim space and don’t do
anything with it, allowing smaller alliances to have a stake in this
sort of gameplay.

Ten Ton Hammer: Are you considering any changes that
will make it a
little less daunting for new players to move into null sec space?

Ólafsson: Moving forward, href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/75312">after Dominion,
planning to do a treaty
system that will allow a corporation or alliance to create treaties
with other corporations or players, giving them rights of passage,
mining rights, ratting rights within their own systems, even if they’re
not members of the corporation or alliance. You could have a player
that plays favorably with two rival corporations or alliances, playing
Switzerland and making ISK not war.

Ten Ton Hammer: How will that work? Will players be
limited in their
ability to shoot players from other treaty corps for fear of sparking a

Ólafsson: You can always shoot, but there will be
repercussions. That
would be part of the contract. We’d never put in a system where you
can’t shoot. You can shoot people in Jita; there’s just repercussions.

Ten Ton Hammer: How are these treaties enforced?

Ólafsson: To be defined. We just want you to, for
example as a
sovereign system in zero-sec, to be able to profit from bringing people
into your system- people that may never have gone into zero-sec -
having them do work and you taxing them, like a feudal lord.

Ten Ton Hammer:
So it’ll be a little safer for someone that
have a corporation or alliance to venture into zero-sec.

Ólafsson: Exactly, that’s the idea. The alliances
profit in keeping you
safe, and would be at a loss for griefing you.

Ten Ton Hammer thanks Torfi Frans Olafsson for taking some time to tell
us about Dominion, Post-Dominion, and Incarna at FanFest 2009!

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our EVE Online Game Page.

Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016

About The Author

Jeff joined the Ten Ton Hammer team in 2004 covering EverQuest II, and he's had his hands on just about every PC online and multiplayer game he could since.