Delivering EVE Online into its Second Decade
Dear EVE Players,
What a year 2012 has been for EVE Online. With Crucible 1.1 coming out at the end of January, through an amazing Fanfest in March, the Inferno release in June and then the great success of Retribution in December, we have had a year where we have gone back to the core of EVE Online and done the right thing. We have iterated on a vast number of player facing and underlying technical systems as well as our own internal development processes and technology. As I repeated often at Fanfest and since, 2012 was about spending time dealing with the things which build up in a game that has been running for nearly 10 years. We have learned a lot of lessons in 2012 and we are using these as well as the things we have achieved as a foundation for 2013 and the entry of EVE Online into its second decade.
During December we had an incredibly productive summit with the CSM. Thankfully, we have not had too many dramas during 2012 and so our time has been spent on constructive evolution of the CCP / CSM relationship rather than damage control. I feel that we are really getting to grips with what the CSM as a stakeholder really means and that through the lessons of 2012 the CSM really is adding a huge amount of value to what we are doing at CCP.
One of the really good sessions I had with the CSM in December was to really clarify what it was we were trying to do with EVE Online as we move forwards and to get both CSM and player input into that. The releases we have done just before and during 2012 (Crucible, Inferno and Retribution) have been focused on iteration and improvement of various systems. These features were not tied together in Crucible whilst Inferno had a loose theme of War. Retribution had a stronger theme in bounty hunting and also had a lot of other features not related to gaining retribution on your enemies. The feedback we have been getting from you, our players, the CSM and internally is that this has been good but “Can’t we reach a little further from now on?”
Whilst I never want to move completely away from caring for the game we already have and continue to update it as it grows more mature, I think it is time to be a little more ambitious. Nothing crazy or away from the core spaceship game that is EVE, but something more inspiring for everyone. Over the last 10 years we have done many different types of releases. From single systems dominating (Dominion - Sovereignty, Empyrean Age – Factional Warfare) to technology releases (Quantum Rise – Stackless IO and 64 bit, Trinity – DirectX 9 graphics update) to world building (Cold War – Outposts, Tyrannis – Planetary Interaction) and epic, co-ordinated themes as in Apocrypha so we have plenty of experience in what works well.
The interesting thing about Apocrypha was that it had a bit of everything. PVE content with the Sleepers, industry with Tech 3 ship construction, world building with wormholes, new ships and new PVP opportunities all bound together with a large dose of exploration and the unknown. In fact, it hit on all of the areas that are the foundations of EVE Online; harvesting, building, destroying and exploration. My only regret with Apocrypha (other than I wasn’t working at CCP at the time) was that we didn’t take that theme and run with it for another couple of releases.
So as we look to 2013 and beyond, I want us to start looking not at individual systems but rather at compelling themes which capture the imagination and give all of us something to strive for, be it as a player or a developer. Within these themes we can then tackle the various systems that are within EVE Online a piece at a time and weave them together to make expansions people will be drooling over to play. Something rather more ambitious without forgetting that we need to care for this game as we want it to live for many decades to come. The picture below gives you an idea of what I am talking about, themed releases which encompass a number of different systems which all combine together into something everyone will want to play;
Click to enlarge
N.B. The feature areas listed above are examples, exact details of what will be in the various releases will come at a later date.
One thing which I need to make clear at this point is that all things are on the table as we continue to build and refine our product plans. Some people have been looking forward to Modular POSes, Ring Mining and a host of other things we have talked about during 2012 and before. These are things that we certainly want to tackle but the intention is that we won’t deliver these things in one almighty release and we're looking at everything from a fresh perspective.
As you will see when you read the CSM Winter Summit minutes, as I described this future to the CSM they were supportive, cautious and full of great feedback and input. “That’s not going to be easy” seemed to be the common feeling. They are right, it isn’t going to be easy but it can produce something wonderful and that’s what we really want to do for EVE Online. Being at the forefront of making virtual worlds isn’t supposed to be easy.
To help us deliver on this in 2013 I have made a couple of tweaks to enhance even further the EVE Online Development group. I have split the former role of Senior Producer into 2 roles enabling each to be done with full focus on delivering greater things. The first is that of ‘Development Director’ whose role is fundamentally to make sure that as a development organisation we execute on our plans as well as is humanly possible. CCP Ripley, who should be familiar to you, is taking on this position and given her track record in delivering Retribution I’m confident of great things.
The second position is ‘Senior Producer’ which in its new definition is about solidifying the product vision and short, medium and long term roadmap with the help of people from across CCP, our players and of course the CSM and making sure that it becomes a reality. I am really pleased that CCP Seagull has agreed to take on this position and is posting a follow-up blog after this one to give you more details about our approach.
Both the Development Director and Senior Producer will work with me, the Executive Producer, and everyone else involved in EVE Online in order to bring to you a truly amazing experience as we evolve our beautiful world into its second decade and keep its place as the number one science fiction virtual world.
And so as we look forwards to the second decade of EVE Online it only remains for me to thank every single one of you who makes this world of New Eden come alive. We could not do this without you. You are foremost in our minds and we want to continue to bring you the most amazing world to live in.
Executive Producer – EVE Online