Shortly before the launch of EVE Online's latest expansion Rubicon, I had the chance to sit down with CCP's Fozzie to field a myriad of community questions hand-picked from a dozen sites. The result? A somewhat schizophrenic volley of questions only nominally connected to one another. Happily, Fozzie did not comment on the off-the-wall structure of his interrogation. Ahem.
A question from your Malaysian audience: what was it that made you fall in love with EVE Online?
Oh, that's a very good question. For me, it was actually seeing the kind of epic collective events people can get involved in. I started playing in 2006 and for me, the moment where I really decided that this is the game that I was going to keep playing was when I watched the second Alliance tournament. It's our yearly e-sports event in EVE and it included some huge events including the destruction of one priceless ship -- the only one of its kind in the whole universe. And, seeing that event, talking to people about it on forums and in game chat, and just kind of sharing that together? It's, like, the same way a major sporting event is like. Just here in Iceland? The football team is very close to getting into the World Cup so everyone is coming together for that. It's the same kind of feeling in EVE. Those kinds of events are what really hooked me.
I want to know what the plans are for the fixing of POS permissions. The lack of secure living space in POS's is one of the things that prevents many from trying out wormhole living.
Yep. Um... POS, or player-owned star bases, are something that we're continuously trying to improve. It's a pretty old area of our code base so in some ways we're trying to improve the existing system and in other ways, we're trying to rebuild a new system that will eventually replace it. We made some pretty big changes to permissions for them in our last expansion, Odyssey -- including adding a new structure called the Personal Hangar Array that allows people to store items that only they can access and no one else which helps a bit with these permissions. We have some more tweaks that we'd like to make with them after seeing them out in the wild and getting some player feedback. We also made a big change to the way manufacturing works. Both in normal stations and in player-owned stations.... that allows you to build more securely without having to let other players turn off your production. And those are kind of just continued steps that we're going to keep making. One of the things that we're doing in Rubicon is that we're introducing a new series of mobile structures that are owned by individual players and not by their whole corporation. And that means that only you have control for that structure, which gives you a little bit more privacy in option there.
Still capable of being blown up?
Yes, it is.
For years now you have catered to multi-player fans. Don't you think you have accumulated so much technical resources that you can easily release a single player campaign EVE game that would let all those people who aren't into hardcore PvP enjoy the EVE universe for themselves? Do you think we can see an Eve campaign port?
So, EVE does have a rich story but we don't have any plans on making a single player game out of it. It is, at its core, a multiplayer game. It's about this shared experience together. Sometimes, players will play on their own entirely. Sometimes, they'll play sometimes with other people. But even when you're playing alone, you're still in a world that's shared with all these other people. And everything you do, every time you shoot an NPC and make some money, every time you buy some ammo, all that is affecting everyone else and that adds a lot of depth to it. It just wouldn't be the same game if it was a single player game.
In other words: nope?
Not to a "pure" single player game by itself, no.
What is your thoughts on the state of industry and the mexallon shortage? PvP'ers get a lot of pomp and circumstance, but the enablers get stomped on
So, we made some big improvements to the mining in 0.0 space just in our last expansion Odyssey, and one of the things people have been asking about is that Mexallon shortage. There's a bit less Mexallon in those sites in 0.0 than there is in the normal build payload that you'd use. That is something that we are pretty happy with. We don't want any individual area of space to be entirely self-sufficient. 0.0 is much more self sufficient than it was before Odyssey, but we don't want any one area of space to stop relying entirely on the others. So, the trade of Mexallon from others areas of space to 0.0 is intended and it's actually quite a bit easier than the old trade of dracanian that used to happen. It's much lower volume.
Are the skill requirements going to change for Marauder Class?
So, uh, we don't have any plans on changing the skill requirements for the Marauder itself -- though it's possible. Depending on what the person who wrote this question meant, they might have been referring to the skill requirements for the Bastion module which is the new module that's being added to the Marauder in Rubicon. And that was something there was some discussions around changing and we did end up changing those requirements. So, we took out the high energy physics skill and replaced it with a skill called Advanced Weapon Upgrades and that's a skill that you already needed to train to get into the Marauder so that means that you don't have to train any extra skills to use that module which is something a lot of players were asking for.
Will the invention requirements for the Nighthawk ship change now that it's hull is modeled off the Drake rather than the Ferox? Will it be invented from Drake BPC's instead?
Yes, it will be using the Drake BPCs.
Will there ever be a way to avoid showing up in local?
Potentially. It's not something that is going to be an easy solution, but I can say that we don't like the fact that local chat is so powerful as an intelligence tool as well as a chat but replacing it is something that's going to be a pretty large project because it is such a valuable way of gaining intelligence right now. We don't want to take it away without providing some other way to find out with some other act of gameplay who is in the system with you -- or at least some of the people that are in the system with you. So, we don't think it'd be a good thing to just tear it out and not put anything back in to replace it but we also aren't fully happy with the way it is right now. It is something that we would definitely like to change.
How often will the holders of this code see items? will we need the code again and again or just the once?
They're definitely going to want to hold onto that code, 'cause they will get to use it repeatedly. It's something we plan on using multiple times as we introduce new products from CCP and as we introduce new features to those products, we'll throw in things for the mystery code part of that. I know a couple of the things that we have planned and while I'm not allowed to say anything about them yet, I'll say that I'm pretty excited about them and I'm very happy about having mine. There's gonna be some cool stuff coming out.
Being the game is very player driven I would like to ask if there is some kind of story line in the works that involves player movements. Or how the fiction is going to grow?
Uh, yep, the fiction is going to continue to grow. It's being evolved even just through the Rubicon expansion. Our latest trailer showed off a lot of the fiction of how these new ghost sites are entering the world. We had some live events connected to that as well. When it comes down to it, though, the most important fiction in our game and the most important stories in our game are the stories written by the players, of their actions and their events through all areas of space, and that's something that's always being written to. We even have a new series of comic books and a television series -- eventually -- in the works that's going to be based on the stories of our players.
Scan sites: I have yet to find a site that is limited to the specialists, scanning anything down with the right modules is easy enough. But it seems that the level 5 training isn't worth the time. Will we see rare sites that only specialists (level 5) with equipment can find?
As of right now, you can find all of the Player vs Environment sites without having the max skills as long as you have the correct modules and ships but where the max skills do come in very handy is if you're trying to find other players so that's where their strong use is -- if you're trying to probe down other players. We do, however, have plans to eventually add more higher-end Player vs Environment sites that you'll need extremely high skills to find. In the meantime, those skills at the top end are mostly used for finding other players.
When will the full effects of Directx 11 take place so that we can see some new visuals and better textures ingame?
Um, so, we're introducing Directx 11 in Rubicon, right? The client is being moved over to that and that is going to be the new default but there aren't going to be any visual changes that rely on that quite yet. I know the art team is already working on some stuff that will, like, lay the groundwork for what we're gonna do with Directx 11 in the future. I can't say exactly when that's going to be but we're always updating our visuals and there will be continued updates in every patch going forward, whether they require Directx 11 or not.
Explosion effects look great, but what about textures and lighting?
Uh, yep. We updated the textures of the Marauder ships in this expansion in Rubicon, for example and we'll be continuing to update the textures of more ships and more structures as well. We also updated the textures of a couple of star base structures. Basically, every expansion we continue to update the textures and lighting on different objects and continuously refine them.
And what about new mining ships and mining gear?
Yeap. So, I think there definitely will be. We just recently updated and rebalanced the mining barges and exhumers, the main mining ships in the game. We're very happy with how that worked out. There's probably another rebalance pass on those -- just to make small tweaks that we have coming up soon. And there may be some more mining ships in the works, but I don't have anything specific to announce quite yet. But yeah, I definitely think that we will have more mining ships. Sooner rather than later.
When will the Phoenix get a rebalance so it can apply its alpha and dps?
We, uh, made some big changes to the Phoenix just in the Odyssey 1.1 patch at the end of the summer this year. It's a lot better off for that than it was. We're trying to make the changes for it one small, little bit at a time and watch what the result is because the Phoenix is a ship that, thanks to the way it applies its damage, could very easily become too powerful. We're being very cautious about it, but yes, we are continuously tweaking that ship to try to get it into a better place.
Why are big blocks being given control of hi-sec poco's? hi-sec corporations will not have the isk to war Dec a null alliance.
We're allowing players to take control of them in high security space in Rubicon. We're not giving them directly to high-sec locks or big blocks or anything like that. What we are doing is allowing players to take control of them and to fight over them and that's something that we believe that everybody's going to have a shot at doing. The very big null-sec alliances always have other people war Dec them because they're such good targets. They tend to have a lot of people running around that can be easily killed, and so we expect that people will get involved using those war Dec alliances to get their POCOs.
What are the plans to improve PVE content?
PvE content we're always working on improving. We introduced a new series of PvE sites called ghost sites in Rubicon and we have a team dedicated to improving the PvE in the game. Right now, they're mostly focused on improving the tools that allow us to the kind of build toward bigger PvE content in the future. But, in the meantime, they're making other small additions like these ghost sites here and there.
What are the plans on WiS?
Walking in stations right now is not the priority for us. We're focused on the space game play in EVE: the core game play. It's definitely something we could return to later, but at this time we're very focused on making EVE the best space game it can be.
What's the counter to post-Rubicon interceptors?
A bunch of things. If you're talking about once they arrive and try to start fighting you, all the things that countered them before will still counter them. Destroyers, assault frigates, cruisers with tracking bonuses, anything that's good at hitting small ships or that has stasis webifiers or scrabblers. If you're asking about how to stop them when they're just trying to move from place to place, that's a bit trickier. One of the ways that I expect people are going to work to counter them is with smart-bombing, cleverly placed smart-bombing, battleships. It's a tactic that has gone away for a bit but I expect it's going to make a bit of a comeback with this expansion.
Will you ever allow us to build stargates? It would be pretty interesting to have systems that will require you to build an exit yourself.
Yes, yes, we definitely will. That's something that has been announced by our senior producer as early as our last Fanfest and we reiterated that that our vision for the future of the game includes allowing players to build major projects together. One of those projects will be player controlled and player built stargates. I'll say that the result of that may not be what people expect. They may not take the form that people expect, but yes, we are definitely working on in the future allowing people to build stargates.
The last changes in corp industry roles were very nice but there is one more step to go: Corp Hangar! How about a private tab where a member can share access to BPOs without letting everyone take them? Such a tab could be limited by role assignment. Better yet: A section of your private hangar that allows "view" access to other corp members.
Yep, so a better way of allowing people to use your BPOs without having control to take them is something we've been thinking about for a while, and is definitely something that we would like to do. Um, I can't say for sure exactly how that implementation is going to work, but it is something we definitely want to do, yes.
It is known that EVE operators in China implemented new account services like "rename" and "attribute remap".Will similar services be coming to the rest of EVE?
I'll say that the operators of EVE China are a separate company from us so they make some of those choices themselves. We licensed the server and the code and all that stuff to them. Those are things that I won't rule out doing something more for character service in the future, but we're definitely not gong to try to copy everything that they do, no.
What is the timeline for Crest development?
That's something that I don't work on directly, so I don't know all the exact details. We are still in the process of working out our developer license for it and getting that ready to go with the third party developers, so we're using Crest for a lot of our internal systems right now, and using that to stress test it, but we don't yet have it available fully for third parties and that's the next step that we're working on.
What is their plan, both short and long, for high sec? Is it their intent to make EVE just one big null sec area?
Mm hmm. High security space is obviously a huge and key part of EVE. We've talked a lot in our discussions about the future vision of EVE and what we're doing with Rubicon and beyond. We're not going to start taking away consequences from everyone's actions. High security space will continue to be very different than other areas of space. No space in EVE is entirely safe, but we want to make sure that high security space feels very different from null sec.
I'd ask them about their stance on 3rd party fansites and monetization. Especially the licensing concept they had previously thought of for 3rd party developers, that was poorly communicated along with the recent issues with player websites and blogs supporting and promoting CCP at the same time trying to either profit or at least defray their own server costs.
Again, that's something that's above my pay grade. We've been trying to work with third party sites to help them develop their communities but we obviously can't allow sites to use roundabout methods to convert in game money to real life money, so that was what the most recent decision was all about. And we'll see where that goes from here, but we're definitely going to try to find legal ways to support our fan sites.
Also if CCP is trying to let their most recent issue with Somer just backburner or if they will be making any statement on it.
There are some statements about them stickied at the top of our general discussion forums that people can look at -- including a statement from our chief marketing officer and one written with Ned Coker. And there's also been discussions we've had with the third party sites themselves that we've decided were between us and them to shut down certain aspects of what they're doing and they've all complied with that. So, I don't necessarily think there's anything more that needs to be said but it depends on exactly what they're asking.