Nothing endures but change
That's what Heraclitus said, and I tend to agree. If anything can be said about EVE, it's that it has changed considerably over the last 3 years since launch. I began playing EVE in the first closed Alpha, started a corp with my friends at launch and ended up in the ass-end of space gnawing bistot in Punishers.
I believe the changes have been for the better, although there are a lot of things that I miss from the old days. But the more I think of it, the more I reach the conclusion that it's the people that I miss from that time, not necessarily a feature which was changed or content which doesn't exist anymore.
The biggest change for me is probably when I joined CCP, suddenly being in the position of controlling the destiny of EVE instead of just my own. Don't worry, it scared more people than just you. Well, controlling is far from being the right word, nobody controls EVE. Chief Housekeeper of the Universe is more like it.
A sign of the times is also evident in this blog, it's the 350th blog since we started. I'm already thinking about what I'll say when I read this blog after 3 years. Posterity for the win, as people say.
Change and the Theory of Bricks
It's a bag of mixed emotions though. I have a huge stack of problems that needs my attention, a huge stack of fixes and improvements and another bigger stack of new stuff to do. All of them include change to some extent, even bugs occasionally require you to change gameplay.
The term "balancing act" doesn't do it justice in my opinion, since any decision we do here affects this living breathing universe of EVE. It's more like crossing the grand canyon on a thread.
Still, things are moving forward, we are changing things, for the better, we think. That's the problem, we can never be certain before something hits Tranquility and anyone that claims they can foresee all changes and their effects is plain ignorant. How can one assume what 130.000 people will do with something? I don't know the answer, but I'm frequently asked that question.
For us, it's simple. Well, not really, but bear with me. Let's assume we're adding a brick to the game. One person will take that brick and hit you on the head. The other guy will wait till you pass him by, then hit you on the head, to decrease the chance of retaliation.
Then there is a third guy, having watched the behavior of some brick users, waits patiently at a distance for the first guy to hit the other guy over the head with the brick. Then throws the brick at the last guy's head and takes the loot from them all.
Yet another guy will take it and try to trade it for profit. That means some guy is buying the bricks. Why? The guy buying got tired of hitting people with bricks and asked himself, maybe it would be better to build a house with all these bricks so nobody can hit me? Then yet another guy decides this house thing is a good idea, teams up with some friends and builds a castle.
You can insert anything you like instead of that brick, it applies to everything that changes the game, people will do different things with the tools they are given.
But enough about me, I take solace in the fact that I'm able to take a couple of weeks of vacation next Wednesday. The same applies to the rest of the office, we run away for some rest to return rejuvinated and finish our releases for later this year. Oh, but don't forget the Alliance Tournament on EVE TV this summer, I'm constantly surprised at the ambition and scale of the production by the team and EVE Radio. Stay tuned.
So what's up next?
One of the first thing we're considering to do is release our Dragon code branch to Tranquility. Currently you are in the Red Moon Rising/Blood code branch. Dragon is the branch which has the localization and translation framework, tons of improvements, optimizations and a couple of minor features. This is the code branch currently running on Serenity in China and is approaching a release state.
The reasons to release it are numerous. We want to seperate it from the first Kali release to minimize risk. The Dragon branch contains a lot of refactoring and rewriting of code and we don't want to be troubleshooting that at the same time as the new big features in Kali 1. The second is that it contains previously mentioned optimizations. These are general improvements rather than any specific thing. It also allows us to concentrate our testing efforts on current core functionality. Not to mentione that it's been in open beta test on Serenity for weeks now with the peak concurrent users reaching 38.000.
Hmm. We can probably sum up that paragraph into "Smaller, more frequent and manageable patches" which creating the Path to Kali is all about. But then again, I'm not in marketing :P
It'll still be a bumpy ride like with all patches. Our 100s of thousands of lines of codes, the combination of actions you can do, the number of features - and that brick thing - means something will get through. But that's what we're here fore, to react to that. Dragon should be hitting Singularity any day (actually, it's already there) and be there for about a month till we decide on a release window.
Oh yes. The first version of Contracts was just checked in to the Kali code branch. It was a jawdropping experience to be able to mess around with it. Most notable in Contracts, which will take over the current Escrow and Courier systems also, is the addition of Auctions. It's just ... so beautiful.
Add to that the "Item exchange" type of Contract, where I put in 10 Apocs and just request whatever I want instead. I did a hybrid BYOM deal, asking for a couple of other minerals that I needed and some ISK. How lovely. More advanced Contracts will eventually be added but we're focusing on this functionality for the first release, trying to make sure it's effectively replacing Escrow and Courier, while adding complete enough Auctioning and Item exchanges.
The Brutal Life of an EVE Pilot
And on the point of enduring and time. If there is anything which I've seen through all this time come up, again and again it's the brutal life of an EVE pilot. There have been a couple of large threads popping up on the issue, probably the 14.598th which I have seen, touching on some aspect or other of loosing ones ship - and where it's done.
To point out the obvious, this is how EVE has been for 3 years and is the reason EVE still exists. This is a brutal universe where your decisions and actions can severly affect yourself - as well as others. Did you perhaps put all your eggs in the same basket?
This is the brutal beauty of EVE, this is the reason manufacturers have buyers for their ships, this is the reason mission and complex runners can sell their loot, this is the reason minerals are actually worth something, this is the reason the ISK that you earn can get you something.
It's only fitting to close this with another quote from Heraclitus, something which describes EVE in so few words that it's scary.
"If it were not for injustice, men would not know justice".
Think about the pirate that ransomed you and did let you go. Think about the people that fly past you and did not shoot you. Think about the people that did fight you fairly. Think about the people that were honorable and helped you out in times of need.
Those are the real heroes of EVE.