Making a Buck Off EVE

Everyone likes money, right? CCP thinks you do, so they’re giving you some ability to make a bit more by developing third-party applications and services for EVE.

At this year’s Fanfest CCP hosted the first Dev Track in what we hope will be a regular event. To kick off the event I gave an exciting announcement about monetization, which has up to this point been a sore point for EVE Online 3rd party software development, since it has been against the ToS to charge for applications or services which use the EVE Online Intellectual Property.

Starting this summer you will be able to charge people for usage of your applications, websites and services for EVE Online.

CCP will license 3rd party developers to create commercial applications and services created using the EVE API, In-Game Browser, Static Data Export, Image Export and Eve Image server.

You as a developer will basically be signing up, and paying for, a license that will allow you to be all commercial-like while powering your product with EVE goo. Non-commercial folks will need to grab a non-commercial license, that will cost them nothing. Well almost, because since this is a license both options will, at minimum, cost you YOUR SOUL.

There is currently a rant/comments thread happening on the forums about this, and the original dev blog is being updated with some responses to the concerns of folks.

To be honest, I’m a bit concerned myself. While WDA is not a commercial venture at all, licenses like this have the possibility of being more like gags. Now note, there isn’t the full text of the licenses yet available for the masses to look at, but as a site which primarily deals with opinions on the game I will have to say that the concept of a forced-upon-me agreement is hilarious.

This apparently came from CCP’s business development group. Great for them, maybe they forgot about that part of EVE called community development, which is solely responsible for EVE being a functioning game since 2003. Is this step indicative that one of those things is more important than the other?

It will be interesting to see when more information becomes available.



EVE’s marketing has, in the past, outpaced the game by huge strides when it comes to overall presentation. That’s not a bad thing really; it is precisely what marketing is supposed to do in order to sell the game to a new audience. Occasionally there are aspects which current players look at and salivate over to see in the game.

Remember that really cool part in the Tyrannis trailer where the ships had fitting windows and other user interfaces hovering around the ships in space? If not, click here. Lots of people were wondering if this was possible with EVE, and the latest dev blog from CCP Snorlax seems to indicate that the groundwork for this kind of stuff is coming in the next Incursion patch.

CarbonUI is an evolution of the existing UI framework, with a completely new rendering layer.  We’ve strived to change as little as we can in the high-level interface, so the UI programmer, working in Python doesn’t see much change – and more importantly, those ~200K lines of UI related code continue to work.

The full feature list of available UI options is in the blog itself for you to read, but includes such fun things like sticking 2D UI on a 3D object. If you’ve played any recent games like Crysis 2 or Dead Space you’ll know how these kinds of UI options can really add an immersion factor to a game.

When EVE was launched some 8 years ago, the UI looked pretty much on par with other games. Times have changed, but our UI hasn’t really. Even though projects such as CarbonUI are difficult to pull through, they are absolutely essential if we ever want to move beyond what the current technology allows for. Even though players won’t see much visual difference once we launch CarbonUI on to TQ, we can promise you that our UI designers are already hearing a lot more of “sure, no problem” when they deliver their regular batch of crazy ideas to their fellow programmers, ultimately resulting in UI that’s fittingly awesome for our lovely little space game.

Sounds awesome.

Ok, so your Abaddon won’t be firing a giant blue ball of fleet melting death plasma anytime soon, but at least you’ll soon be able to browse your in-game underwear drawer in true Minority Report style.



Enter the Captain’s Quarters

CCP Zulu throws another “Incarna is coming” promise onto the pile, with a new dev blog about the upcoming captains quarters feature.

On June 21st we will open up the interiors of space stations for players to start exploring EVE Online in a completely new way. Pioneering our first steps into Incarna will be your new Captain’s Quarters –a station-bound seat of power that provides a refuge from the dangers of space and a powerful command platform placing precious information at your fingertips.

Wait… was that a date? CCP actually committing to a date for an Incarna-related feature? They can’t be serious, I mean– no wait they are, they even included a damn video of the feature in action:

Ok, in all seriousness, the feature’s already available for folks to test on the Duality server. Some instructions for how to try this thing out yourself are available in the dev blog itself.

When you dock your ship, your Captain’s Quarters will replace the current hangar view with a multifunctional room from which you can perform all the actions you previously could in the hangar view as well as manage your planetary infrastructures, explore new opportunities with a redesigned agent finder, use the corporation recruitment interface to find new allegiances, and watch streaming data, fed live from the vibrant universe of EVE.

Of course it’s worth noting that none of this is going to make your guns track faster, or your torpedoes blow up titans in a single volley. This is pure immersion in EVE universe, something which I always welcome more of.

So now we have something else to celebrate June 21st for other than being the day the WNBA debuted.


Agents Evolving

CCP Molock has posted a new dev blog about upcoming changes to EVE with regards to agents. There’s some fairly significant stuff here, but lets hit the bullet points.

So now, we’ve taken these divisions and amalgamated them into four simple divisions, each of which now gives out only one type of mission, meaning you won’t have to decline that occasional mining or courier mission when all you want to do is blow up some Angels.

Personally I didn’t mind the occasional courier mission here and there, but this at least makes it so if we want to do them we can explicitly do so. Presumably, the reverse of the above is true for those who like to only grind courier tasks, they won’t suddenly get a combat mission.

So now we have three new skills in place of the former seven, these ones aptly named “Distribution Connections,” “Mining Connections,” and “Security Connections”; each grants a 10% bonus to LP gain per level for its namesake division. These new skills are all rank 2, as opposed to the old rank 1 skills (meaning these new ones take twice as long to train), since there are roughly half as many to train now.

Thankfully they’ll be refunding SPs as needed. To be honest, I always felt these skills and their implementation in the game were needlessly complicated for what they did for you.

Now, all agents in the game will have an effective quality of both -20 and +20: That is, in terms of calculating access to an agent based on your standings with his or her corporation, the system will assume that all agents are quality -20, making them (in some cases, considerably) easier to access; and at the same time, every agent will pay out rewards as if he or she had a quality of +20, meaning all agents of the same level within the same system security level (e.g., 0.6) will pay out the same amount for similar missions – and in most cases, they will pay out somewhat more than they used to.

I don’t know about this one. Sure, grinding for a high quality agent wasn’t always fun, but getting that quality and maintaining it was always somewhat of an accomplishment to do. Then again, if my agents suddenly pay out more than they used to, then this change is just fantastic. :D

There’s more about this in the link below, but suffice to say this is a pretty huge change that could affect a lot of other aspects of the game. Chances are good that agents and their missions are responsible for a lot of the ISK sloshing around in your wallet, thus this change could have amusing repercussions on the greater EVE economy.

Since this change is sitting on Singularity right now, it’s probably best to get in there and try things out a bit, and provide the devs with as much constructive feedback as we can.

Also, holy crap, it’s a been a while since anything WDA has hit the web, I know.  I’m sorry for that.  In brief, expect more from WDA in the coming days, including some special secret stuff. :)


You Must Unlearn What You Have Learned

I sure hope you didn’t have any serious attachments to your Learning skillbooks, because very very very shortly they will be disappearing from EVE…. foreverrrrrr…

CCP Greyscale (see what I did there, with the picture? whee..) brings us the news in his latest epic dev blog. Here are some highlights:

  • As of downtime today, all NPC sell orders for the eleven skills in the Learning group (hereafter referred to as “learning skills”) have been CANCELLED. They’re really not much use in the long run, we don’t want to complicate later steps with unusual inflows of skillbooks, and it might go some way towards limiting the amount of scams that we know you’re going to be running. Please, think of the children newbies.
FURTHERMORE, as of a patch which should arrive on (or about) the 14th of December:
  • ALL LEARNING SKILLS WILL DISAPPEAR. We’re not kidding. In your head, in your hangar or in your anything else, they’re gone. Vamoosh. Deleted. Sent to the big recycle bin in the sky. Etc etc.
  • All skillpoints invested in learning skills will be reimbursed, including all the fiddly corner cases. If you have 2,012,692 SP in learning, you will find yourself down those skills, but with 2,012,692 skillpoints to redistribute.
  • All skillbooks not currently injected into people’s heads will be reimbursed at the old NPC sell price. The money will go to whichever character or corporation owns the container that the skillbooks are in. For example, things in cans you’ve anchored for yourself will be reimbursed to you, things in corporate hangar arrays or the “deliveries” bin will be reimbursed to the owning corporation.
  • This will also involve cancelling any and all market orders containing these skills. Contracts containing learning skills will have those skillbooks substituted for copies of the Pax Amarria.
  • All new and existing characters will have an extra 12 base points (ie, non-remappable) in each attribute.
  • The 100% training speed bonus up to 1.6m SP will no longer be available. People partway through this bonus will lose the remaining bonus amount. They will of course gain a huge attribute bonus to make up for it.

Obviously it’s not all doom and gloom, the 12 extra base points will help a lot and you’ll have all that extra skillpoint stuff to remap as you see fit. Assuming the big brains at CCP have done their math correctly, all of this will even out skill training for people, and those of us who’ve been around forever won’t really need to care.

The change seems a bit rushed, and even the blog admits that in more than one place, but we’ll just have to wait and see how this all pans out.


Remaking Planetary Interaction

CCP Omen brings us a dev blog on PI, somehow managing both overstatement and understatement in a single sentence.

Planetary Interaction is good, but it isn’t excellent.

Oh yeah, we know. PI is one of those features which CCP have used to drive the point home about iterative development. The real question is: what’s the next iteration of PI going to do to improve things? Well, Omen tells us.

Here’s some stuff you can expect in Incursion.

  • Upgradable Command Centers will allow players to increase and decrease the CPU/Power capabilities of their colony without having to tear it all down (existing undeployed command centers will be migrated to the new system).
  • Only the first Command Center must be bought and hauled in space, after that there is no longer a need to haul command centers in order to upgrade
  • Surveying has been radically revamped and will allow players to create extraction programs that span anything from an hour to 14 days!
  • Extractors can now be moved when in program creation mode

If you’ve fiddled at all with Planetary Interaction you’ll understand how each and every one of these points is a drastic and much-needed improvement over what is currently in place.

What’s more, these changes have been inspired by input from our very own CSM representatives who proposed several excellent improvements to CCP. This only serves to prove once more that CSM is not only an endless source of entertainment, but also a functioning communications pipeline for improvements to EVE.


The Coming of Things

CCP Zulu shows those other devs how it’s done, combo-breaking the recent string of boring, uninformative dev blogs with something players might appreciate: a list of stuff CCP is actually working on.

You can click the link below for the full details, but for now lets look at the breakdown:

  • Incarna: 9 teams, approximately 70 developers
  • Dust 514/EVE link: 1 team, approximately 7 developers
  • In-space features: 3 teams, approximately 22 developers
  • EVE Gate: 1 team, approximately 10 developers
  • Others: 4 teams, approximately 15 developers

Nine teams for Incarna, huh.  Admittedly it’s going to be a very tech-heavy expansion, involving folks from multiple disciplines to pull off, but for a lot of folks we’re talking about something that is utterly forgettable if all you want to do is undock and blow ships to pieces.

All is not lost, if you’re thinking this means all CCP is doing is tacking on frivolous features to EVE…

That does not mean that we won‘t make any improvements until then!  We haven‘t started planning the Spring 2011 or Winter 2011 expansions yet (not to that level of granularity) but we do realize the urgency of revisiting certain key game features. Rest assured, the CSM will play a large role in identifying those.

Please, also keep in mind that our developers are constantly fixing bugs – small ones, big ones, important ones and obvious ones. But also bugs you‘ve never experienced, never seen and never heard of. The EVE code base is as big as the universe itself and we‘re constantly engaged in cleanup and backend work that the players will never notice unless something goes horribly wrong.

I’m sure at least some of those people are also hard at work with new COSMOS constellation content, and bringing Faction Warfare across the finish line.



Christmas in June

Apparently, giving us a month-long tournament of spaceships exploding isn’t enough for the folks at CCP.

As players we’ve been treated to a brand spanking new server cluster. Thanks to the immense downtime associated with that, we’re also getting some free skillpoints.

In gratitude for your patience and after consulting the Council of Stellar Management, we will give an extra pool of skillpoints to all accounts (paying and trial) that were active at the beginning of this downtime, on one character per account. This skillpoint pool will be appropriately sized for the downtime time frame, universal across all accounts regardless of character attributes/implants and may be applied as each player wants.

It’s not like you’re suddenly going to be able to insta-train to Titan 5 with this but it’s definitely better than nothing. Congratulations are in order to CCP for getting the cluster business sorted too, that’s definitely more than a cut-and-paste job.

But wait… there’s more! Apparently feeling bad about the loss of so many ships in the tournament, a magic wand is being waved in order to give us all a brand new ship, the Primae. Quoth CCP Zinfandel:

The Primae is a repurposed ORE design intended to ease the task of extracting resources from planetbound environments. Initially devised as a deep space salvage vessel for large-scale ore retrieval from destroyed ORE fleets in pirate-occupied areas, its previous incarnation was made all but obsolete by the arrival of capsuleers on the interstellar scene. Realizing that the ship could, with a few minor modifications, be made into an efficient resource harvesting aid, ORE wasted no time in revamping the design.


You’re probably wondering how and when you can get your hands on this wondrous machine of planetary … something.

Beginning June 29, 2010, you will find the ability to redeem it on your account login screen. You can then assign it to a particular character and a friendly ORE agent will deliver it to your hangar bay. You will be able to redeem the Primae once per active (not trial) account and will no longer be available after downtime on Tuesday, July 13th 2010, so make sure you log in to receive yours.

It may not be as pretty as the Hyperion but hey, it’s a free shippy ship!


Tyrannis Release Delayed

The upcoming Tyrannis expansion was nearly upon us, when CCP announced their decision to delay its release.

We regret to inform you that deployment of our upcoming expansion Tyrannis has been pushed back by one week to May 26th, and that market seeding of Planetary Command Centers is pushed back to June 8th.

In our regression testing, we have identified scalability issues with the Planetary Interaction feature, which led to code refactoring that then needed further testing before being launched to Tranquility. Planetary Interaction is a unique feature in the sense that it is available to almost all players in the game providing opportunity for manufacturing for the masses, so ensuring that it runs smoothly on our cluster is of great importance to all.

Long story short, something’s broken. And, in a move that is so totally unlike developers of games the world over, CCP has chosen to fix it first before releasing it upon the unsuspecting masses.

The coolest aspect of this is that they’re doing a partial deploy, in a way. Giving people a chance to get their brain wrapped around the concepts here is a good thing, because it’s not a feature that I would personally recommend people just run headlong into, lest they end up wasting quantities of ISK needlessly. Consider playing around on the test server first.

One of the worst aspects so far of what I’ve seen is the whole concept of knowing what the hell to do with the stuff afterwards. Previously, I’ve made note that all I could find as an end product is nanite paste, but in fact the high end outputs of the processes here will end up as inputs to manufacturing sovereignty gear. The pain in the ass here is that in order to find that out, you have to dig into the blueprints section of the market.

Ok ok, so that’s not too bad, but think of this from a different perspective. You’re a person just starting out with your planetary endeavors, and you can see all the things you’ll be producing and how they tie into other planetary productions. Beyond that, you get no direct information. Why not show a subgrouping of products the stuff can be used in that is outside of  planet production, like oh I don’t know, sovereignty gear?

At any rate, fear not, for you will have some additional stuff to play with on the 26th.

EVE Gate will also be released on May 26th, with its web access to EVE Mail, Calendar and revamped contacts, both in-game and on the web.

The EVE Gate service is pretty cool actually, and I’ll be doing a writeup on about it soon. I can’t wait to see how that service grows in the future, but having access to evemail outside of EVE has been one of my wish list items for a while now.


Landmarks? Oh, Those Things…

Landmark Dot Thingies
Landmark Dot Thingies

One upon a time you used to be able to go around through EVE and find these interesting places talked about in the backstory of the game. Apparently giving us these funky new planets has robbed us of this content. Thanks to CCP Bettik, this content will be coming back to the game in a new and improved fashion.

The aforementioned objects would have to be moved over to the dungeon system. The alternative would be to deprive EVE of content, thus making the vastness of space therein somewhat more vacuous than it currently is. We broke the project down into how many dungeons needed to be created and turned into static dungeons. After much figuring and calculating, we decided to turn those 2,238 objects into basic dungeons – remember, they were not part of our dungeon system before – that we could then populate out into the game ad infinitum.

Now this is actually kind of cool, especially for those who like the back story to EVE. Mind you, I can’t think of anyone off the top of my head that noticed these things were missing, but I think most of that is due to the fact the content itself used to be basically static stuff with little interaction.

One other interesting tidbit comes with the addendum to the blog by CCP Tallest.

In some regions, we had to make new landmarks entirely. Most of these sites were tied to the empire factions in some way, so they wouldn’t make sense for, say, the Rogue Drone regions. Since all of the other regions were getting new content, though, we didn’t want to leave the rogue drones out. So we simply created a few new ones for those regions.

So areas that never had them now have them, and the end result is that the content can be expanded along with the story. Right, and I imagine a lot of people are still shrugging about the whole endeavor. I don’t blame you, this probably won’t add massive game-changing differences to the game, but integrating the story to the game in an interactive and expanding way sounds like it’s full of potential.

I just hope it doesn’t end up going the same way the COSMOS constellation effort went.