This has got to be my most important blog since I started doing them, I spent all yesterday pondering how I should deliver the Shiva timeline as this is to say the least, volatile. Well, I figured a Jedi mindtrick would be the solution:
I am not the dev you are looking for
Still here? Damnit. Well, as you all know, the last 6 months have been very eventful in the world of EVE. It cost us a lot of resources to reinforce the cluster, focus on bugfixing and increase stability. This was necessary to get Castor into a comfortable state so we would have a good environment to develop Shiva in. When we set the Q3 window, we were confident that we would hit it, since we included lots of extra months in there to compensate for any events that could delay us.
Even with this built-in slack, it still took longer than expected to complete all the Hardware upgrades, that were then shadowed by the client performance. Castor also needed some stability improvements and T2 content pipeline de-clogging to be in a state allowing us to focus all of CCP on a final Shiva push. These delays ate up the slack and part of the time scheduled for Shiva development, thus we are a bit behind. We can say this with certainty because we are now that far into the development process of Shiva that we can set a release date. Yes, a real date. How much delayed? Lets take a look at the current timeline.
Tuesday, August 31st: Final Castor Patch.
Tuesday, September 21st: Limited ISD Shiva Testing.
Tuesday, September 28th: Serverside content update.
Tuesday, October 5th: Singularity, the massive 3000 user Shiva Test Cluster opened with Shiva RC on limited content set.
Tuesday, October 22nd: Fedo Fest in Reykjavik!
Wednesday, November 3rd: Shiva released.
There it is. Now, lets look at each milestone seperately. I have already blogged about the last Castor patch, I recommend you look at it. The next milestone is the limited ISD testing on the united Chaos/Sputnik test server. Currently the Bughunters are the only ones that have access, but on the 21st all ISD members will get access for larger scale testing of specific parts of Shiva (POS etc.
On the following Tuesday, we will do a serverside content update scheduled to have a TL2 version of a cruiser (something combattie), named-modules of newer modules (Cruise launcher, 350mm etc.) along with the Officers, which we delayed to see the effect and impact of the Commanders.
Tuesday, October 5th is a very big day for us. The Shiva BFC (hidden profanity there for Quake players), named Singularity will be up and running (Murphy and DHL usually dent stuff like that, but we're pessimistically optimistic). The BFC plays a very big role in the Shiva deployment. It should hold about 3000 simultaneous players.
Unlike other expansions, Shiva is something that every single player gets for free and there is no way to go back to the old EVE (Castor) for anyone. In traditional models you usually buy the expansion and can only play in a given area, if you have that expansion. This gives more time to test and fine tune in an live environment since only a small portion of the playerbase are actually playing the expansion. This also allows those that don't want the expansion to stay in the old version.
In EVE's single world concept, this is not feasible, everybody plays it from day one. It's all or nothing. This means more testing and more play-testing is needed and on a much larger scale. The BFC will deliver that with the help of you, the players.
The 5th is when the open player testing starts, on an Release Candidate that contains most of the features slated for Shiva. We're working prioritized so a number of features will still be in the polishing process. It will have a limited content set, meaning a number of dungeons, missions and such will not be available in large scale, some of it will still be in the authoring process and we'd also like to keep something fresh for the launch itself.
October 22nd, The Fedo Fest! (I will always call it that!). Looks like the "Shiva under the hood" will be a semi-launch afterall. This was of course not intentional (hence this title) so I guess this part will be changed to "Shiva Pre-Launch". Unfortunately this means more drinking in celebration. Wait, thats not unfortunate.
Wednesday, November 3rd. Shiva launched on Tranquility.
All of it. I just updated some sections in the Shiva Feature pages. Those are the features that will be in Shiva, we cut Bloodlines, an immense task and some of the environments. Instead, you see System Scanning and Mining Improvements. I also updated Ships, Environments, Fleet Command (screens) and Market (screens). More coming up.
We want to make sure you know that November the 3rd is a very holy thing for us. Under normal circumstances we would never give out a fixed date like this for a software project, but we at CCP are in Crunch mode, working less-than-sane hours for the next 2 months to make sure this date is met. A number of heads are on the block for this (seriously, I'm not kidding) and just to give you an example, 3841 hours have gone into Shiva since the 16th. I've logged 144 myself. We're serious about this. Seriously.
Senior Producer - EVE Online : The Serious and Free Expansion With No Name Yet