I can resist anything but temptation

"I can resist anything but temptation."

-Oscar Wilde

Unfortunately for you, the rumors of my death have been highly exaggerated. I‘ve seen the occasional post inquiring about my demise. While flattering, I think most people have forgotten all about the old nerfs and more vividly remember some random jokes while I was flaming some poor soul on the forums.

I‘m now many years older and a bit wiser. I think more before I talk and therefore I seldom talk. Meaning never. As Executive Producer, it is part of the job description that nobody can figure out what you do. I prefer it to stay that way--with "great success". For instance, I just saw Zulupark look at me and notice how very serious I was writing this blog and then didn‘t talk to me because it must have been something important that I was very serious about. Facebook is very serious business.

As we‘ve grown, our responsibilities changed. Managing CCP and all its projects requires more people at all the steering wheels. You know what I‘m talking about. We‘ve seen that the 400 people at CCP don‘t all share a hive mind--even though we‘ve put into effect a lot of restrictions lately, much against the will of our staff, that they can‘t be stating their opinions as freely as before. Words from a developer are taken very seriously and publicly stating private opinion often ends up as "forum law" 10 minutes later. That wasn‘t so great when posting drunk or tired after a 30-hour expansion deployment.

If anything, the birth of an idea usually takes months. That‘s after the mud wrestling, rotten shark eating contests and a host of other of battles take place, usually under the influences of alcohol (now you know my strength and why I‘m here). It‘s then only appropriate that the persons responsible for the individual features, their champion, don the scapegoat costume.

On the brighter side it means though that most of us old "Fora Whora" try to keep our mouths shut. The size of our projects and ambitions mean that even though we can‘t talk much about game specifics, there is still great stuff to share now and then for everyone. Recently, Hellmar got the spotlight to shed some light on the status of CCP in the economic meltdown.  Now, we can look briefly at the big picture. If you‘re looking for details, I‘d suggest you read Zulupark‘s thread from the weekend, it‘s pretty cool.

Internode strategeries, we have them.

The EVElopedia will see the light of day before the end of the year. It will start out with a simple integration, while over time it will become more and more intertwined within the EVE client. You will be able find EVElopedia articles relevant to a certain window or activity by clicking on the contextually placed  "?" marks located in-game, which will help you  with delve further into the depths of the combined knowledge of all EVE players and developers.

The Item Database will be integrated into EVElopedia and players will see more frequent updates of its contents, which now can have commentary, tips and tricks associated with entries. EVE player history will be centrally located and further down the line we will leave room for players to contribute to the backstory of solar systems and other locations.

Our strategy is to allow EVE developers to start publishing information through EVElopedia when we write Dev Blogs and are deep in the development process, in order to provide a location for an organic, growing central information nexus and FAQ for all linked information on any specific topic. This will provide more visibility, longevity and structure to the history of everything EVE-a rich past, present and future that demands a persistent, permanent record.

Those of you that have attended Fanfest or read the occasional blog know that we‘ve had a number of initiatives where we intend to break down the barriers present in the EVE client and enable interaction through other media. Our social networking and communication tools, which have been in development for 2 years, will be showing up next year. They will provide you with everything you need, from your blog on harvesting Veldspar (I‘m looking at you Chribba), corporate front pages, alliance tools and our secret weapon, a screenshot of you (because they never seem to work on the forums, do they?) 

The beauty of all of this is that we've been building this strategy of multiple interaction points with EVE through our API service. It started out as listing your skills, but has been growing steadily since then. We want to continue this, so that when we build our own applications, we do it on top of the EVE API. You might also have noticed that there are already great iPhone applications out there for EVE. We expect to see more applications for other devices created by our genius community as well as by CCP.

That means, when the API information becomes available to us, it also becomes available to everyone else. Note, the big "want". We can already tell you that there will be quite a few functions which we can‘t open up due to performance, security and business reasons, but our intent is to open up as much as we can to you. We think it‘s pretty cool. It enables mashups. After all, you‘ve been doing much more awesome applications and websites using the API than we have.

Cowboy Mode - I wish I knew how to quit you

"Cowboy Mode" is what we've named the way we‘re deploying performance improvements. Think of it as some parts of SCRUM mixed with moderate recklessness. We‘ve erred on the side of caution with changes to many of our core systems, as some of them being almost 7 years old. Something had to be done. Patton said;

"A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week."

Sounded like a badass idea at the time. There is no denying that our saloon-brawling style did cause spillover, which, by applying some months of theoretical work, internal "faked" load testing, 3 tons of industrial lubricant and tender midnight lovin‘ might have caught. But in hindsight, it was worth it. Our six-shooters blasted us forward more than a year's worth of development in a matter of weeks and we realized it only by having all our changes running live on Tranquility. Only in with 40,000 real players hammering away would we find the real bugs and the real opportunities for further improvement.

Last week was a good example of this. We deployed some fixes to Tranquility and last weekend showed that they were wildly successful. Players participated in "totally playable"- and more recently "EPIC ****ING WIN"-fleet battles. We did however see some very weird behaviour with guns, drones and missiles which suddenly decided they had their own opinion on when to fire. Having identified this phenomenon enables us to apply generous amounts of cowboy love to it.

We‘ve won yet another battle, but the war is far from over. StacklessIO, EVE 64, Weapon Grouping, hardware upgrades, EVE Performance group, the upcoming optimizations to the inventory system and addressing NPC CPU usage are only the beginning; deploying all these performance increases and improvements allows the signal-to-noise ratio help us to identify other areas to attack. We‘re working ourselves up the mountain and we're looking forward to enjoying the view at the top with you all.

Just don‘t forget the reach-around.

ETC secure transfers made easier, more accessible and ingame

We‘ve had the secure transfer mechanism for almost 2 years now. Players have been able to exchange their EVE Gametime Codes (ETC) to other players for ISK through the account management pages and now more than 30 thousand players utilizing it on a regular basis.

We felt it was time to move forward with it--do another iteration to make it much easier and accessible exchange ISK for game time. The current situation has a series of flaws with it which we hope to address, while at the same time opening up totally new ground for current and potential EVE players.

With this new approach, you can take your run of the mill ETC code and enter it in-game through the escape menu, converting it into two in-game items called "30 Day Pilot's License Extension (PLEX)". You can then put them directly on to the market or into a contract! This means:

Benefit to you as a player

  • Lower barrier of entry for exchanging ETCs. Everybody can do it easily in-game
  • ETCs now use a transparent and efficient market, our very own EVE market
  • Fights price fixing--one of the single most complained about issues with the current secure exchange
  • Opens up for a larger supply, lowering the ISK exchange rate in the long run as anyone can exchange their ETCs more easily
  • Enables you to create corporate Contracts for your members in exchange for Pilot Licenses
  • Empowers you to recruit new players on trial into your corporations with Pilot Licenses
  • Allows you to give someone a "free beer" (I like this part)
  • Cramps down on RMTs (Real Money Traders) style with a kill and a smile
  • It‘s pure awesome

Benefits to EVE and CCP

  • Cramps down on RMTs style with a kill and a smile
  • More and better options for you means more of you and your friends are able to play EVE.  That means more subscriptions for EVE, meaning more yardwarre and larger EVE expansions
  • Provides a 30-day option while addressing our internal issues with the old 30-day ETCs
  • Has the potential to increase monetary velocity (//en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Money_Velocity)

But we are aware of the drawbacks here, such as:

  • A larger supply and demand could also increase prices
  • Potential immersion breaker, we're sure you can look past it
  • For safety reasons, the Pilot License can‘t leave a station, so you have to create it at the location you want to exchange it at
  • The Pilot License can‘t enter any form of container
  • It‘s pure evil

30 Day Pilot's License Extension (PLEX)

The 30-day renewable license pioneered by CONCORD is an alternative to its pod pilot contract license. Pilots on this new renewal scheme can purchase license extensions for ISK and thereby forgo the need for a contract altogether.

This item extends your gametime by 30 days when activated. It cannot leave stations but can be traded on the market and through contracts, except via courier.

You might also wonder why it‘s a 30-day license, given our recent move to 60-day ETCs. That‘s quite simple. We needed a single unit which easily mapped to most of our ETCs. While this leaves out the 50 and 100 day ETCs, the rest divide quite nicely with the time-length of the pilot's license.

We are going to try this out in the next couple of months and see what the results are. You should see this in Quantum Rise or shortly following it. I personally think that it will enable a lot of people to continue to play EVE despite the current world economy and enable others, that could never pay 15 USD in foreign currency but have time to play, to start playing EVE. Like this one time, in Iceland camp, it‘s almost impossible to get foreign currency. 15 USD would buy me a case of beer whereas previously it would get my voracious liver only one.

Giving players a more robust system to exchange game-time for ISK is something we also deem necessary as a result of abuse, exploitation, fraud and hard core companies trying to sell you ISK directly. In the end, this only hurts you the customer and therefore the universe of EVE.

We must continue to battle this and it‘s time for a new strategy. We see what the secure trade of ETCs between players did and we want to investigate ways of making that easier by enable all players to trade amongst themselves directly. If the key to battling RMT is to allow players to casually and securely exchange gametime for ISK, thereby neutralizing RMT companies as a necessary supply, then that is an acceptable, necessary evil.

We ask you, "don‘t hate, participate" in this endeavour.

Quantum Rise, this month

Discrete rise? Cool rise? What‘s rising? Does it describe my sex life? I can tell you that its flagship is performance. While not really a single feature, it signifies all the aggregated benefits that each of the many improvements deliver. Our initial focus on industry and commerce got diverted as we moved more people on to the performance gain team, which we strongly believe was necessary (sorry EON).

When deploying a lot of small fixes, few might actually notice in terms of daily performance - but having deployed 10 small ones, we might actually see a 2% decrease in total cluster CPU usage. That‘s a lot of CPU cycles freed up when you have more than 200 dual-core processors running Tranquility.

You should see the feature pages when we send out another press release this week to detail what is coming this month.

MUCH MOAR EVE - Revealed at Fanfest

Following our two expansions per year strategy, next year's schedule is starting to shape up as well as the future releases beyond that. For those that haven‘t been with us for long, our release plan revolves around two expansions, launched around summer and winter respectively.

Between these expansions we sometimes roll out smaller patches which typically contain improvements, fixes and more content. In addition, we'll deploy hotfixes to our servers which address a wealth of under-the-hood things such as those most recently implemented by our teams in Cowboy Mode. Hotfixes happen on a weekly basis, sometimes even more frequently,

The same applies for next year and the years beyond that. Having the largest team ever working on EVE, next year has some real surprises, where we see the fruits of our labor in the last 5 years. There will be some totally new aspects to the game and possibly some old friends revived that you have long missed.

We‘ll be revealing our future vision at Fanfest in person, and of course here online afterwards. However, the point we‘re trying to make is that EVE is still here for the years to come. We'll have our 2 expansions per year, to infinity and beyond.  Frankly, having such huge things like Walking in Stations, player housing, new races, planetary interaction, new environments, professions, new tech levels, and improving all the current functionality with an infinite universe in which to design, we‘re having difficulties putting them all in.

As a result, the next "open" spot for the greatest thing since Fedo sushi is in our winter 2012 expansion. Anything special you‘d like to see happening there? We‘re doing more mud wrestling next week and you are welcome to throw in your ideas. OK, I think Zulupark has a crush on me, he‘s still looking. I'm still giving him a very serious look.

We realize that this summary isn‘t new for a lot of our players who have been with us since 2003, but the contents deserve a repost. The future is bright for EVE. We have a huge backlog of revolutions for gameplay, art, story and design, --some will be unveiled shortly and we truly hope you like what we‘ve been planning. In the last year, you have seen a lot of new faces appearing in game design, engineering, quality assurance, marketing and recently long-standing employee Torfi Frans into the role of Senior Producer for EVE, who has been with us since the dawn of the game and who will be presenting what‘s in store next year. I believe you will be pleasantly surprised by what we‘ll be revealing.

Fly safe - and hopefully I see you at Fanfest. The beer is quite cheap now.