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CZ Minutes: Ascension

 

If you look up the word ascension in a dictionary, you’ll be reminded of what it means in the Christian faith, i.e. the Ascension – Jesus elevation to heaven on the 40th day of his resurrection. In the EVE sense, the word resurrection is an interesting association given that the now named Ascension expansion, due November 8th, is set to breathe new life into EVE, quite literally.

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If you have not read the CSM Minutes from the recent summit, I suggest you do so now. This document, along with announcements from CCP, have opened up the discussion in the community quite broadly. On the forums (not that I go there, please), reddit, articles and podcasts, we as players are adjusting to the idea of the expansion and all that it entails. It is set to be a paradigm shift in the ecosystem of EVE and its community – at least that’s how we think it will turn out, there are no guarantees. This is uncharted territory for EVE, the players, and CCP.

New information is being added to what we know about the expansion. For instance, we now know that multiple logins won’t be made available for Alpha clones. We know there is a new NPE coming, funneling players into Factional Warfare. We’re seeing organised groups already adjusting to the idea of Command Bursts. The foundation of all the things that we blow up – mining and industry – are changing with the advent mining foreman and the Rorqual revisions, along with the next iterations to citadels after the Citadel expansion: Engineering Complexes. Even New Eden itself is coming more alive with the introduction of NPC mining operations.

Recently, CCP Larrikin also let us know that the jump ranges of capitals will be adjusted, something that many veteran players have been asking for ever since the Phoebe jump changes were introduced.

This may not seem that important to those that don’t deal with capitals on a daily basis, but as those of us that do will tell you, it’s massive. This means, as Larrakin points out, that new avenues of conflict will open up, bottlenecks that have shaped the geopolitical landscape of New Eden as we know it today will be circumvented or moved to new locations. Everyone just got a little closer to each other, and that means more explosions and an increase in power and ability to provide content to members for those with capital means.

We knew that November would be a big month in EVE history, but it’s turning out to be huge. In all of this, what things in particular are you looking forward to or weary about? How do you feel about the single login restriction for Alphas? Are you yourself aware of any old friends or new players coming to EVE as a result of Ascension and Alpha clones? Are you invested in the mining and industry changes and how do you think they will change the EVE economy and level of interaction for miners and those that shoot them? While the jump ranges are being adjusted for capitals, Fatigue remains the same, do you feel that CCP are making the right changes in this area?

 

Cosmo:

This update is so massive i don’t know what to touch on first. There’s just so many things happening that pointing to one thing and starting to analyze it feels like we’re missing the bigger picture. Devblogs are continuing to roll out and a few sections of the CSM minutes are still under lock and key, but enough people are babbling about percentages or small gameplay features in the new release.

We often do that as a community, making mountains of molehills, but in this case it’s hard to even pick one thing without feeling crowded by people yapping about some of the other features. So I’m going to talk from a more distant point of view about this update.

CCP is under the biggest pressure they’ve been under for the last few years

This expansion, since it is a fully fledged expansion, has been meticulously planned and I bet CCP is under the biggest pressure they’ve been under for the last few years. I also feel this is the culmination of what I hope to be the first milestone of CCP Seagull’s reign over the course of this massive ship that is Eve Online.

This expansion has been in the works for the better part of a year and a half, maybe two, but it has been on a roadmap internally for a lot longer than that. Suddenly, all the direction done via skill extractors and pushing out Citadels how they have makes sense while looking through the perspective of Eve going, for all intents and purposes, free-to-play. Looking back a lot of these things /had/ to happen and fit snugly into place.

We’re also literally getting plastered with these ‘big’ changes/iterations right as we’re reaching the last month before the big update. New procedural NPCs which apparently came out of nowhere, but I bet have been tied to the random Purity of the Throne distribution system as well as by the data collected on individual player power exposed to such events.

I worry more about completely new systems which I can’t trace to have been trialed on TQ yet, like the tutorial system which would replace the NPE. Under the current framework, I find it fantastically hard to imagine how it’d work, with all it’s custom tailored and voice acted glory. And having a new framework done within the last year with nothing to show for it… would be cause for concern in my opinion. CCP is not known for Blizzard-like release quality, and the /worst/ thing that can happen is having it flop and fail out the gate for all the new people.

CCP Ghost does have two dev teams under his command, with one ‘on loan’ to accomplish this, plus whatever normal assets CCP has, but we are talking a year and a half. Just short of a full two years ago we were getting excited by Opportunities, which then, oddly enough, were almost completely scrapped and forgotten about, no doubt about the changing of the course of our good ship. But one and a half years is not a lot in DevCCP Time.

Amongst all these big ticket changes, we’re also churning forward with a ridiculous host of gameplay changes which will keep theorycrafters and metawatchers busy until next summer at least.

This is a huge point in Eve’s life

The final point I’m concerned about is marketing. This is a huge point in Eve’s life. And it’s happening in under 30 days. Where’s the hype spool up? Where are the trailers? The teasers? Are they waiting for Eve Vegas? That’s… too late. CCP has a history of blipping fast and hard in the media but fading just as fast. For this, I’d expected constant pressure and a ramp up of social media and advertisements. I’m not looking for commercials on busses, but I wish CCP would be as outwardly excited about this as we are, and as exited new players should be.

In any case, while i did promise i won’t go into specifics on the expansion, there are some quips from the CSM minutes I’d like to get out there:

  • “CCP Seagull elaborated on how CCP places emphasis on the number of players in the game as an indicator of the health of the game”

While it makes sense, I am dismayed at the concept that pure numbers will lead to some magical equation of health and prosperity in the game. There are still rock hard issues with the game both tiny and large which will continue to be troublesome, new players or not. While we have persevered so far, I don’t know if we’ll handle another Monoclegate with the same battlecry yelled through gritted teeth as we did before. Eve has to be good, as a game, in order to keep and diversify the player base.

  • “Here was then some discussion on the merits around having community sourced
    PvE content in the game, and possible ways and means it could work.

As a huge fan of player-created goal-orientated content, I highly support this effort. New players need goals. We have things to show them. Let’s make it happen.

  • “Astro Sparkle is working on the NPE with Genesis as the moment, so they haven’t yet decided where they’re going.”

The two teams, Genesis, lead by CCP Ghost, and Astro Sparkle (lore) which are now working on the NPE.

  • “The IGB removal and covering all of its functionality.”

This has happened today. I can no longer see who’s scouting and who’s flying what in CREST Tripwire. Crest should have superseded the IGB as citadels and the new structures will do to POSes. Slowly, gradually, and taking over all the attributions. This is not how the IGB was violently removed.

  • “When the topic of standings with FW was brought up, CCP Burger brought up that
    they’re looking a bit into this and all sorts of expanded possibilities to actually
    make standings matter.”

Ashterothi will be happy to hear that, but it sounds fantastically vague. Don’t get your hopes up.

  • “How CCP will be working with DPI to handle the entire store.”

If DPI is Development Plus Inc, i kind of fear CCP is /still/ not going down the ‘mug and tshirt’ route. We actually, really, seriously, just want $15 stuff. We’ll prolly buy a dozen $15 stuff, but not one $150 thing. Also, allow us to pay with PLEX and rake in free cash. FFS just hire me CCP. tx.

  • “Xenuria elaborating explaining the psychological aspects of ego, vanity and individuality.”

I have no words. RIP CSM, no wonder Jin’taan wants to drink himself into a stupor now.

  • “CCP Cognac outlined that they would use a different method to detect multiple clients than they use now.”

Given that we’ve learned from recent devblogs that alpha clones will NOT be able to be run at the same time as omegas or other alphas altogether, the direction for developing this /now/ is interesting. Are we facing a cap on multiple client log ins if player numbers continue to sore? I would like the future of alt-less Eve to be a thing. Or at the very least no more 20 Isktars multibox farming.

  • “The CSM asked if it would be possible to make the spawn’s bounty increase if they kill players. CCP replied that they could make them loot the player wrecks.”

@ the new procedural NPCs… that’d be a cool thing to find ‘easter eggs’ in them as well as a way to balance payout without resorting to inflating the market with spawned loot. I know it’d be too much to ask for the Nemesis system from Shadow of Mordor but i can only dream.

  • “The CSM also asked about T3 Cruisers, to which CCP replied that it would come later for them as they need to line up time to make the changes at the same time as art.”

Given the ball up required for them, both mechanically and from a creative point of view, i think we’ll be seeing these later rather than sooner. Given how much ‘bandwidth’ CCP has shown to exhibit… This year is already set for bugfixing anything in November, so at the soonest we’ll see something show up at next Fanfest.

  • “The GMs then shared some previous funny cases (like placing solar systems in a ship).”

Ah Brain-in-a-box, the killer of Men In Black things like these.

  • “CCP Orca then showed off a proof of concept video for the My EVE project discussed earlier. There was some laughter regarding the prototype video.”

This is interesting. We haven’t heard anything of “My EVE” anywhere else in the minutes and just figure this was a whitelisting mishap. This was during the marketing/brand section, which leads me to believe it’d be two things. Either a unified point to share Eve videos/moments, which Eve sorely needs to be honest or, more hopefully, some kind of GTA-style advanced capturing/video recording tools. I think it’ll just be a web service.

Anywho, I /totally/ stole the show on this one so excuse me. I’ll leave the floor now to my CZpatriots.

 

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things shifted from merely brash all the way to Mongolian Cluster Fuck

DireNecessity:

If I may quote hippie poet Ed Sanders, November 8th’s Ascension is looking to be a “Mongolian Cluster Fuck.”  The expansion’s new clone states, revised NPE and Engineering Complexes looked brash to begin with.  Add in the list of other things about to drop including not only Rorqual redesign but Orca changes and Porpoise introduction, game wide command burst rethinking, dynamic asteroid belt NPCs, T3D balancing, jump range alterations plus the numerous items I’ve failed to mention and that’s a whole lot of lightly tested stuff.  Somewhere in that long list things shifted from merely brash all the way to Mongolian Cluster Fuck.

What’s more, I think CCP is aware of this.  Quoting CSM minutes Seagull [with personal asides], “CCP Seagull opened by explaining that the roadmap for the rest of the year is mostly set [no shit!], and that most of the remaining time was set aside for triage and defect fixing around Clone States [good thing!].”

And how do I feel about all this?  I’m excited.  While CCP’s being terribly audacious, they’re also building in disaster triage.  It’s like they know they’ve taken a whopping big bite and they intend to chew on it for a while.  Seriously Seagull, bold and realistic?  What have you done with the CCP I remember who rarely undertook both at the same time?

It’s seems CCP intends to toss both Alphas and Omegas into similar, “Hey wait, this is entirely new!” sizzle but being CCP, that sizzle originates on one massive, single shard griddle.  If we’re going to have a cluster fuck, it just as well be Mongolian BBQ.

Post Script Edit: https://community.eveonline.com/news/dev-blogs/end-user-license-agreement-changes-coming-with-eve-online-ascension/

Didn’t expect I’d have to add that to Ascension’s long list of lightly tested stuff.  Emotions growing conflicted.  EVE without scheming gambling kingpins won’t feel quite so dark and sinister.

 

SANDERS SCHMITTLAUB:

I don’t really know how I’m supposed to compete with Cosmo’s manifesto above, but Niden doesn’t pay for (or edit) CZ Minutes ranting so I don’t have to.

I look forward to finding more Rorquals and Orcas in belts

I’m sharing a lot of the community /hype/ about the November expansion. I had a hunch that the Rorqual and Orca would be getting massive boosts, so I picked up a rigged Rorqual about two weeks prior to the changes for 2.2bn (prices are now floating above the 3bn mark). Naturally, I then joined a corporation who owns sov literally as far away from where it is parked as could be managed. I look forward to finding more Rorquals and Orcas in belts going forwards because of how spectacular the changes are, they are out of this world. My only concern is the possible power of Slowcat Rorquals, but I’ll need to wait for EFT or PYFA to update to see if it is viable.

Alpha clone-wise, I’m extremely excited about the influx of new players. Its a bold move by CCP and I think its a step in the right direction for the game. The reaction of the greater community has been amazing, and I think that the new players will find New Eden a friendly (if absurdly hostile) place. I am optimistic that most of us veterans will take great joy in fragging the crap out of all the newbeans, and then take greater joy in helping them understand how it happened and (maybe) pay for their loss so that they stick around.

As for the jump range changes, I have approximately 45 minutes of carrier ratting and one Jump Freighter trip (one way) under my belt without dying, so I’m super happy that the jump ranges are increasing because moving my Chimera, Wanda, to her ratting system was a pain in the ass.

On the topic of the EVE Store, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD GIVE ME STUFF TO BUY. Seriously, just put me down for three sheets of T2/Faction/Deadspace triangle stickers, two coffee mugs (large), two T-Shirts, a polo, a fistful of assorted faction patches, and a case of Quafe. If all that was around a hundred bucks (+/-50%) before shipping, a huge portion of the community would be shouting for you to shut up and take our money.

CCP may not make huge sums of cash from it, but the amount of advertising they would get out of having people walk around work or school with a Guristas Coffee Mug, an “All Wormholes Lead to K162” T-Shirt, and a CONCORD patch on their laptop case (and a T2 triangle sticker on the back corner of the screen) would be beyond worth it. People would ask about them, conversations get started, people pulling up ‘This is EVE’, and trials started.

summer_-_rorqual_rebalanceb412

 

Neville Smit:

Welcome back to the world of massive twice-a-year expansion releases, only with slightly less hype. CCP has re-oriented away from multiple small updates every 6-8 weeks to two big expansions announced around Fanfest and EVE Vegas. And in general, I think this is a good thing. EVE suffered from a lack of visibility of each incremental improvement under the previous methodology – there is value in holding a lot of good stuff back and throwing it out in big batches. By doing so, people recognize that there is a lot happening, and this generates publicity which generates more players.

In fact, I don’t think EVE is pushing Ascension anywhere near enough. I’m only now seeing a few ads promoting Alpha free-to-play leaking out. If the intention of bi-annual massive updates is to bang the marketing drum more loudly, it doesn’t seem to be happening yet. Perhaps by EVE Vegas in a couple weeks, the volume will be building to more of a crescendo.

the opportunity to try space-barding in support of friends sounds really appealing to me

As for the contents of Ascension itself, I’m pretty excited. There is a lot to consider: Alpha clones, jump range changes, mining revamps, on-grid boosting, Engineering Complexes, interface updates, new interactive PvE, new NPE, and more. I’m still crunching numbers to make sense of the dev blogs, and making plans for trying out the new mechanics. If a goal of an expansion is to invigorate interest in EVE Online, then from my perspective: mission accomplished already.

I’m mostly interested in trying command ships with the new boosting mechanics. I’m not a natural PvP’er, but the opportunity to try space-barding in support of friends sounds really appealing to me. I can’t wait to try it.

The mining boosting and related ship changes are more substantial than I expected. An Orca and a bunch of Skiffs represent a formidable target now, and they actually have a good chance of fending off a ganking gang – this is long overdue, if you ask me. I’m eager to get a mining fleet together in November and see how it actually plays out, and more interestingly, how players will react and adapt.

As a result of the changes, I suspect we’ll see a rush of players doing more mining in November. I expect mineral prices to crash from oversupply, at least for a while.

Engineering Complexes represent the biggest disappointment for me personally. As a mostly solo industrialist in high-sec, ECs are going to be more challenging for small-scale or individual use, compared to current POS mechanics. It looks like my days of Tech II invention and manufacturing in high-sec are drawing to a close. It’s clear that ECs are designed first and foremost to provide points of conflict, and in that regard, I think they will succeed.

I’m excited about the introduction of more dynamic PvE mechanics being introduced, and I’m eager to try it out. Of all the things that CCP can do to encourage new players to remain, providing more interactive and realistic PvE has to rank right at the top. This is a welcome – and also very overdue – step in the right direction.

On the question of Alpha clones, I think they will draw new players into the game, and bring back some inactive veterans – but I don’t think it will be in vast numbers as I’ve heard others forecast. Even so, it won’t matter if the revamped new player experience doesn’t set an emotional hook and encourage new players to stay in the game. I’m very keen to see what CCP Ghost and team have put together, and to try it out myself with a new character. Hopefully, we’ll see more details of this at EVE Vegas.

Altogether, I think the various improvements and new features in Ascension will make it a moderate success. I expect to see the number of logged-in players increase. But I am not sure if that will be a blip, or a sustained increase – my estimate is at least a 10-15% higher plateau achieved and maintained, but that is based on blind faith in CCP Ghost and the new NPE to retain and convert new Alphas. I only hope my hope isn’t misplaced.

industrial array

points in history that are so monumental that time itself is measured based on it

Ashterothi:

Occasionally there are points in history that are so monumental that time itself is measured based on it. EVE Online has several of these points (Dominion, Retribution, Pheobe) and Ascension looks to be one such moment.

It is worth always keeping in mind that the population that is to come will no nothing about our lives before. Although we can tell them stories of when the Imperium was the most dominant force in the universe, nearly oppressive towards other empires, or that gambling once was a major pastime for those with massive piles of ISK, but in reality the future is their time. This provides a huge “starting over” opportunity for CCP as the custodian of our game, and one they could really use.

However, with that comes huge responsibilities. EVE isn’t anywhere near it’s full potential yet, and there are still some gaping holes that should really be plugged prior to this transition. For example, corporation management tools are still largely awful, and this is going to hurt anyone who tries to enable the influx of new recruits. Additionally, the failure of CCP to produce good merchandise deals (both in game, and diverse, affordable, and interesting SKINs for ALL races) will ensure that CCP will not see the monetary gain that they rightly should, and need. Neither of these are beyond being fixed, and the months ahead will be important as we build towards a new, post-Ascension Universe. We must all be ready.

 

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Tags: Ascension, Clone States, cz minutes

About the author

Niden

Perpetrator of thuggery in low security space, artist, and known as “The Stalin of Crossing Zebras” - Niden is the Editor-in-Chief of CZ.

  • bob@wormholes.com

    What’s more, I think CCP is aware of this. Quoting CSM minutes Seagull
    [with personal asides], “CCP Seagull opened by explaining that the
    roadmap for the rest of the year is mostly set [no shit!], and that most
    of the remaining time was set aside for triage and defect fixing around
    Clone States [good thing!].”
    Ugg , this has me worried for wh space. Thanks to the pve changes it is more empty then before we realy need a change there.
    And EC’s are terrible for the small industrialist, and i bet the make 75%-95% of all things in eve…. .

  • Bill Bones

    Ascension is one huge expansion, by all measures. But all in all, it doesn’t changes the game much. EVE will remain largely the same game as it’s been since Apochrypha. It still will be a terrible place for solo players (and actually worse for industrialists); it still will have a subpar, unrewarding PvE side; it still will be old, wicked and dominated by the needs and opinions of people who’ve been playing it for over a decade.

    I don’t think that Ascension will change things in the long term; it will have a cyclical impact and will increase server population for a few months, but the structural reasons behind EVE’s decline will remain the same and so numbers will go down again next year. Neville Smit says a 10-15% higher plateau, this would mean having in 2017 the same server population as in 2014. And then it’s going to be downhill again, and there will be no F2P last bolt to stop it.

    • Hans

      Oh, I dunno. I think you’re being pessimistic.

      Personally, I mostly play solo even when I happen to be in an alliance on one of my alts. I fight, explore, dabble in industry and dive into wormholes. I have my fingers in a few pies, keep a few interesting channels open, glance sometimes at a couple of Discord channels… I don’t think life is so bad for a solo player who knows how to keep connected to power but prefers to (often) play alone. Why all the bile? My EVE is just fine thank you.

      What EVE needs most is meaningful solo industry experience (‘crafting’) and a coherent *narrative* that will pull in new players. I’d vote for opening up FW to Serpentis, Angels, Mordus and others… Let the story develop. And let new players pick their side in the conflict. The mechanics are just fine. Hire a few story-tellers.

  • luobote kong

    Ascension is a credible expansion. But so was Citadel and that led to 15-25% reduction in player activity. You have to hope F2P Alpha clones would ensure Ascension won’t be equally disastrous in those terms. But the fallout from Citadels remains and the new structures in Ascension show that many casual players suspicions were right. Why on earth would you build them? If the F2P alpha clones stick then CCP’s 2 year gamble will have paid off. If they don’t , then the game is in a very bad place. Place your bets…

    • DireNecessity

      “Place your bets . . .” Come back Kong, we need your wicked wit!

  • Doc Kinne

    Niden:

    >”[…]shaped the geopolitical landscape of New Eden[…]”

    New Eden has very little geopolitical landscapes that players deal with, especially now that Dust514 is gone.

    What it does have, in spades, is ASTROpolitical landscapes! 🙂