CZ-EVE-Dust-Citadel

Through The Crystal Ball

 

We stand at the precipice of a new Eve: Citadels stand to change how we live and fight in New Eden, Valkyrie is posed to expose millions of new people to the EVE universe, and recently we have received confirmation that the next generation of first-person shooter set in the EVE universe will be on the PC. However, it seems that people still neglect some of what CCP has shown us and how what they are doing now plays into the larger picture. Let us take this opportunity to glance into the crystal ball, to see a potential future of EVE Online and discuss how it could be possible.

The Scenario:

The Citadel is ready to come out of reinforcement. The Citadel is important because it is a major staging base for an alliance. Arrayed around the Citadel are the various other structures that form the backbone of this forward operating base. The defending fleet stands by as the timer ticks down. The attackers land on grid in the fight goes underway. From 400 kilometers away the beacon is lit and a small contingent of carriers and support come through. The carriers are fitted with a CRU, and proceed to launch special fighters containing ground forces. The fighters screech their way towards the Citadel and dock by blasting a hole in the side. Meanwhile, the people inside of the Citadel are lying in wait for the breach. The invaders attempt to secure key places within the structure and if they can do so they lower the resistances, increase the damage cap, or lower the defences of the Citadel. Meanwhile, the carriers in space must continue to use their support squadrons to resupply the soldiers inside, and if the carriers are shot down, any clones they hold in reserve in their CRU are lost.

This scenario sounds quite amazing, however, it is also relatively reasonable. CCP has worked hard in the correct ways to make this future a reality, and do so far sooner than many people expect.

Citadels: A Home for the Future

“Citadels represent the beginning of our occupation of space under this new paradigm.”

Citadels play a big role in the future vision of EVE Online. It is not by chance that they were the first major structure to be put in. All one must do to understand the purpose behind Citadels towards the new Eve is look at one of the screenshots from the XL Citadel test (or check out our video review! -Ed). The fight was enormous, consisting of many super capitals, but the Citadel itself towered over them all. The Citadel along with other structures will provide visual context to anyone who is viewing screenshots or videos of Eve. This will go a long way in helping people understand what makes EVE impressive. However, many seem to not realize that Citadels are not in fact POSes or outposts. They cannot do assembly or research. In fact, there are nine other roles for structures that are not market hubs and administration offices, which is all Citadels were meant to be. Citadels represent the beginning of our occupation of space under this new paradigm. It is also worth noting that absolutely no development effort was put into trying to integrate captain’s quarters, however, Citadel interiors have been confirmed.

CZ attacking mercenaries

A New Age For Footsoldiers

Ground troops in New Eden have been in the news quite a bit recently. Not only have we officially gotten word that the next FPS iteration is coming to the PC, but foot soldiers just keep popping up in the universe.We know very little about this new project. However, what we do know is this:

 

 

  • The new project is not a port of Dust, or a continuation of Project Legion (which was never a game to begin with)

 

 

  • The new project is being built with the Unreal 4 Engine

 

 

  • The new project is mostly early in it’s development.

 

 

  • The new project will not keep progression from Dust

 

 

To address the last point first, we know from the post that they plan on giving tier-based rewards to the players of the original Dust. This is a clear demonstration that progression isn’t being transferred directly. Chances are loyalty will be rewarded with packs of equipment, or potentially some starting SP in some form. This is a departure from what they said back when we were talking about Legion. Given the passion that was shown during that time for things like transferred progression, the only reason why they would do this is if progression as we understood it in Dust was obsolete.

Things are Getting Unreal

They have also specified that the new “not-Dust” will be in done in Unreal 4, which is profoundly wise, and makes a lot of sense if you understand the last year of CCP as a company.

For those of you who don’t know Unreal Tournament is a highly popular FPS from back in the day. However, the game almost functions as an advertisement for the main product: the engine itself. The Unreal Engine is a famously powerful and versatile 3D rendering engine used from everything like Mechwarrior Online and Bioshock Infinite, to Dungeon Defenders and Gears of War. Dust 514 itself was built in Unreal Engine 3.

The newest incarnation of Unreal Engine is still bleeding edge, but it really shouldn’t be any surprise why CCP would be going with a choice like this. Valkyrie has done a lot to the game company, and it has opened up doors in a big way. In the last year, CCP developers have been working hand in hand with the folks over at Facebook, Oculus, and likely other game building groups. The kinds of people who work on these new tools are highly collaborative, and CCP can learn a lot from these other teams. Furthermore, there is likely also some cross-pollination, bringing needed talent and ideas to the vikings. In many cases in fact, CCP is being used to show off not only Occulus tech, but thanks to Unreal 4’s strong tie-in with native 3D rendering, also demonstrating some of that technology.

It is also worth noting that the models used in that last video are EVE pilots, not Valkyrie pilots, or mercs.

Out With the Old

The Captain’s Quarters was originally meant to be a jewel in CCPs crown. The herald of a new age of EVE Online. In fact, the idea was that the technology used to create the CQ, CARBON, was to be so powerful, that CCP was planning on licensing it much like Unreal Engine. However, in a post Summer of Rage world, CQ mostly stands as a testament to possibly the greatest mistake CCP ever made as a company. We know that for EVE to grow past a certain point, CCP will need to challenge their fear of this feature, and make it what it needs to be.

Enter Unreal 4

Thankfully, production on CQ halted very early, which means the number of functions that would need to be replaced is far reduced. If one simply needed to replace the current functionality of CQ, Unreal could likely do so whole cloth without too much effort, the true power lies in where you go from there. Without the complications of trying to make a new engine actually work to do the things you need, you already have one ready to go.

The scenario above actually requires less sophisticated communication than the orbital bombardment system in Dust. You would only need the following messages:

“Soldiers breaching the structure, total clones: x”

“Lower/Raise Defenses”

“Lower/Raise resistances”

“Raise/Lower damage cap”

“Carrier destroyed/leaves, remove x clones”

“Carrier joins, add x clones”

“Structure is reinforced/destroyed, end match”

With these few commands you could fully integrate a breach force and the space fight. Additionally, with structures having set timers, having fixed pivotal battles inside is quite possible, a promise Dust never quite delivered on.

Future so Bright, I Have to Wear Shades (and Body Armor)

So, while it is possible that the above won’t come to pass, we are closer to it than ever before. For years EVE has been defined by its own restrictions. However, the last few years have gone a long way to removing those restrictions, and reinvigorating the dev team to tackle even harder ones. Additionally, the suits of armor discussed back in November are back, and as of this writing are part of the Project Discovery rewards.

The signs are all there, my crystal ball can see them. Then again, I get great reception with all this tinfoil.

Tags: Ashterothi, citadel, dust, Project Legion, Unreal Engine

About the author

Ashterothi

Ashterothi has spent the last five years learning and teaching EVE Online. He is a host on the highly successful High Drag and Hydrostatic Podcast.

  • Dermeisen

    As ever it’s a joy to read your thoughts, I’m sorry you didn’t run for CSM anyway fascinating article. This new game is so tantalisingly, “The suspense is terrible. I hope it will last.”

  • JEFFRAIDER

    Really good article, man. I’m glad people with your foresight are around to decipher CCP’s shit.

  • Bill Bones

    I think you’re making some serious mistake. UE4 is a game engine, which means that all the game must be written for it. EVE haves its own propietary engine. And a game can’t run on two engines with a single instance much as you can’t have an application run on Windows and Linux simultaneously.

    So anything developed with UE4 will be for games using exclusively UE4. And anything developed for EVE will be developed using EVE’s propietary engine.

    The only way to have UE4 content in EVE would be to run EVE on UE4, which woould mean rewriting the whole code for UE4 and essentially developing EVE 2.0.

    Theoretically a software company with superior coding skills could attempt running two clients and switching between them live in a seamless, invisible transition. So you would have the EVE client with CCP’s propietary engine and a “avatars client” with UE4 as engine. They would be running simultaneously and keping synchronized so you could “alt+tab” between them via ingame commands, and if everything was done perfectly both on clients and server side, it would only crash once in 50 hours. Yet with CCP in charge… well.

    • Ashterothi

      It isn’t really that complicated. The CQ avatar engine is not the in space engine, and thus any time you dock or undock you switch between engines (well, you would if anyone had CQ enabled, that is).

      Unreal is _designed_ to be flexible, and this would be something they could have been testing for years.

      Furthermore, cross pollination with other teams such as Rift, Facebook, and others will catapult CCP forward, and they have shown a powerful presence in the VR development scene.

      • Bill Bones

        There is no “avatar engine” and “space engine”. They both run on the CARBON framework, which was engineered to be backwards compatible with what couldn’t be changed and also required to rewrite enormous parts of the code for Incursion, Incarna and the following expansions.

        UE4 may be flexible, but it’s a game engine. And the first assumption of every game engine is that they will be alone in thei resources when interacting to the OS and the system.

        You can run as many engines as you want, as long as each one is alone in its resource allocation. Two engines = two executables. Making them interact is not easy, not to mention that each one would require their own version of server code. At this point, you’re talking of two separate games running together, one for “space” and another for “interiors”. And that’s not something that CCP has promised, not even for the new FPS.

        TL;DR: using UE4 to add interiors to EVE would requre either a separate game running simutlanosuly along with EVE or a total rewrite of EVE for UE4. Keep using CARBON for the game interiors is a far easier path, but we should bear in mind that:
        a) Citadel interiors are a last minute thought;
        b) CCP Ytterbium is departing the company so the future development of structures will be handled by someone who didn’t promised Citadel interiors;
        c) CCP laid off almost all their “interior building with CARBON” talent when they ceased production of WoD.

  • JZ909

    Well, I hope that “not DUST” is what you say it is, cause that would epic.

  • callduron

    I’m deeply sceptical. Incarna. Failure. World of Darkness. Failure. Dust514. Failure.

    Valkyrie depends on people deciding in massive numbers deciding to early adopt an expensive and unproven piece of tech. This other game we don’t know anything about except that it’s shifted in direction already.

    I’d love to be pleasantly surprised by these peripheral games but I’m not confident.

    • Fearlesslittletoaster

      And yet, organizations that never fail are far and few between. Even mighty Blizzard has had to can entire games far into development. Google fails all the time. Other games Valve made have evolved so much that they could be considered failures given that they had to be developed twice or more. It’s the small size of CCP, and a bunch of failures all at once, that lead people to see a crisis. However, the ratio of disasters to home runs can actually be very unfavorable and still result in a successful company.

  • Kamar Raimo

    Where did you get the info for the new Not-Dust/Not Legion project? Do you have a link?

    I would also love things to turn out as you describe, but I am afraid I share callduron’s scepticism. CCP seem to constantly reach for things that exceed their grasp when it comes to anything but EVE. Valkyrie could be the first exception, but we shall see how it performs only by the end of this year when the hype has died down.

  • Great article. Something is afoot certainly and there are signs that it isn’t just in the technical space where things are happening. Whether that is WIS2.0 or something else I am not sure. Maybe we need to exchange tinfoil supplier details?

  • Dorian Reu

    Great Article, and Great Tin Foil. I hope that Fan Fest reveals something to feed our imagination. Thanks for the Post.

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  • Sayod

    If you make infantry players to be only a “modificator” for station warfare then that won’t make it very exciting for dust players and won’t result in too much engagement and cooperation if you think about it.

    Sure they should be able to sabotage modules of the structure from within – but that should be far more diverse than just beeing a modificator.

    Like what if they can disrupt the modules that are fitted to the citadel individually? And ultimately I think that the infantry should be able to capture the citadel while eve players would only be able to destroy the citadel.

    It would enable the infantry to give something to eve players, eve players can’t do themselves which makes them a way more viable asset.

    I mean a modificator, really? That didn’t work for faction warfare (dust players changed how hard it is to capture a system) did anyone do orbital strikes because of that?

    They actually need to offer something that you can not do without them and not just make it harder or easier.

    And since the infantry can offer something to the eve players, the eve players would support the infantry with orbital strikes or targeting specific areas of the citadel. So maybe you could take out modules by marking them with the infantry and then hitting them with eve ships – it would destroy the module, if the infantry hacks the module you save some isk instead.

    And I wouldn’t make it dependent on how many carriers there are how many clonse the infantry has available but actually make that a mechanic. The carrier sends dropships with integrated clone bays and a cargo full of biomass – when that biomass is depleted that dropship has to be recalled and refilled until then it won’t work as respawn point.
    Make the first landing point of the dropships random and then let the infantry mark areas they should fly to and then you can assign your dropships to fly there as a carrier.

    That is just a few ideas how you could make the relation between eve and infantry-eve actually engaging – just beeing a modificator is just boring and won’t be used.

  • Cabon Scout

    Great article. Do you have a tinfoil hat that fits me? …

  • Bzzzttt ! wrong ! Mechwarrior Online uses Cryengine.