I am really happy and excited about CCP’s announcement of the winter expansion. There are three points why I think they are on a very good way:
- A new announcement strategy.
- Balance between new and experienced players and different play styles.
- Start of the space colonization project
Let me explain.
CCP made a relatively somber and down to earth announcement video. Instead of cryptic bits and pieces and an expansion theme that sparked all kinds of crazy expectations – as they did for the previous Odyssey expansion – this time they simply presented what is currently being worked on. While CCP Seagull made an interesting introduction, picking up the threads she had lined out on fanfest, she also made it very clear that the space colonization vision is something for the future. Something that will start in Rubicon but will take time. This leaves enough room for speculation to keep those that thrive on the big picture (such as yours truly) interested without creating an overwhelming expectation pressure on Rubicon. The fact that many commentators on the forum and on twitter were slightly underwhelmed with what they saw is much better than the community going in over-hype mode. CCP Fozzie and CCP Rise did a good job explaining the planned changes. They presented facts about the status of development. No “something about exploration” rhetoric. Looks like a quite improved expectation management.
The second thing I find interesting is how they try to balance different play styles. Ther is a clear tendency to make the game richer in player interaction. Solo players will always have a niche but they also have to recognize that CCP is developing EVE in its core as a social game. Highsec POCOs is one way to enrich this aspect. While PvP clearly is woven through much of the new features presented so far, there are also clear PvE-oriented things, such as the deployable looting structure, or space hoover. More important than play style balance I find balance between noobs and vets. I am convinced that getting new people into a 10 year old game is a considerable challenge and the most frequent answer I get when I ask people why they don’t play EVE is that they don’t believe they can catch up. The ship rebalance has always been partly to give low-sp characters a stronger role. And the interceptor revamp is one very good example in this trend. Basically Fozzie’s message is: “Here is a ship that you can fly after a month of skillpoints, which will make you super useful for your alliance. You’ll be able to really rain on some experienced guys parade.” While I feel that the proposed changes run the risk of making interceptors a bit overpowered, I think the basic idea is very good and could even be exploited a bit stronger for marketing.
Finally, the space colonization project. I will admit that I am a big fan of Andie Nordgren’s vision. After the initial excitement around fanfest, I was a bit worried that these plans would remain a pipe dream. Now CCP makes clear that they have a plan to pull this off. And they do it in a way that many players have actually hoped they would take. CCP does not go for the Jesus-feature-one-expansion-opens-a-new-universe style and they also do not remain in “we will just iterate over basic stuff” and “quality of life improvements” mode. Instead they attack a large, ambitious project and develop it over several expansions. This will not only give the developers the time to code properly, but also empower the community to give feedback and input at many points during the journey.
And boy what journey this appears to be. There cannot be much doubt that the new deployable, player owned structures are the ground work for the long-awaited “modular POS system”. I am especially happy with the depot (or space yurt, as it is already being called). A cheap little space cubicle, accessible for young characters and anchorable more or less anywhere, including static plexes (!). This is exactly what I was hoping for. Actually I wrote about something like that back in January during the “small portion of the community” protests. Again, I find it remarkable that the new structures will be available early on in a characters career. Don’t underestimate the appeal of your own little pocket of space. The Fozzie himself pictured people going out and planting their space yurt in a complex, going: “This is my place!”.
I am really looking forward to how CCP will pull this new system off. A system that – if everything goes according to plan – is supposed to play an immense role in a future that envisions alliances setting up huge construction sites in space to build stargates. Also great, that they do not simply develop a new POS system and phase out the old one. Instead they make the two systems interact as with the Siphon module. Brilliant move there!
You see, I am excited about where the journey on the other side of Rubicon will go. Players taking control over highsec, cities in space and colonization of unknown space are all things I have fantasized about on this blog. I am quite happy with the direction the game is being taken.
Fly smart, Chira.