Sneak peaks part II - COSMOS
Many of you are seeing this weird name for the first time, which is not surprising since it has only been dropped a couple of times outside CCP. COSMOS is a long-term project inside CCP, which follows the following statement:
COSMOS redefines the landscape of EVE by populating space, a Constellation will be the focal point of each Region, where we create a backstory, utilizing agents, complexes, npc's, environments and mini-professions.
This probably doesn't tell you much, but that is what this blog is about. Also note that "populating" for us means as much getting people into 0.0 (since it's unpopulated) as much as it means us putting the stuff mentioned into the universe in general. In the next patch, you will see the first steps of the COSMOS project enter Tranquility, where we start with simple aspects of the concept such as agent encounters and mini-professions.
The aim here is to create a constellation which is worth something in each region, which is different and has it's unique angle. As such this can be as much solo as it is group content, which way it leans really depends on the location of the COSMOS constellation. Therefore, a 0.0 constellation will be less focused on agents (in many cases not at all) and more on mini-professions, Complexes and environments, while in higher security you can expect a bigger focus on agents and mini-professions.
Agent Encounters & NPC's
The agent encounter is a location where you can find an agent in space. We call them pigs in space for some weird reason. This agent differs from regular station agents by being in a space ship and what missions he gives you. Most common are do-once sequential missions, but they occasionally offer a predefined set of missions or simply offer a service. You do not work for these agents as you would work for your regular agent in a station but the best part is, you can try to shoot these! I said try.
NPC's! You will see different flavors of NPC's in and around these COSMOS constellations, they are not that different though. They have some tweaks and mostly carry specific loot for that constellation and aren't really the focus of the COSMOS project. However I would expect to see some big bosses within them. An example would be a COSMOS constellation within the Curse region would most likely have an Angel Dreadnought or five to greet anyone that wants to say hello to their little friends.
Mini-professions are really simple gameplay elements, at first much of it will be quite familiar functionality applied in a different way, but further down the line, when we see how these pan out, we will develop more specific functionality for new professions. As the name clearly states, these are not full professions and our goal is to provide different angles in general within the EVE universe but more specifically within COSMOS constellations.
As an example of a mini-profession, we can take Archeology where you go to specific locations and search for various remains, try to combine them via scraps of schematics you find resulting in various stuff coming out of it - everything from skills to ships really. Such a profession usually consists of some skills to learn it with modules and special ships to utilize it.
You will see a couple utilized within the first COSMOS Constellations. They are however not limited to those, in the future they will span a number of constellations, can be found within different levels of Complexes, new environments or even simple asteroid belts.
You should also realize that even though a mini-profession is learned by a single person, the high end aspects of them promote grouping and interaction and in most cases, simply not possible without good player connections. "Stuff" comes from so many different places and activities, like I'm the dude who supplies smurgle blaster cogs and you're the guy with smurgle blaster sprockets so we work a deal where we trade them or the cogs could come from some sort of "mining" activity and the sprockets from a more "fighting" activity so it's better to specialize.
New environments & Complexes
New environments aren't really a COSMOS feature and the first COSMOS constellations will not feature new environments. However they will be heavily utilized within them in the future, many times featuring an environment specific to that constellation. As such you can think of environments in 3 ways; The COSMOS specific ones, mostly located within and around a COSMOS Constellation, the regionally based ones, native to a sector of the space and the generic ones which are pretty much all over the universe. This creates a healthy mixture of environments to create quite interesting PVP and financial opportunities.
The future of real new environments is that they have a tactical, strategic and financial aspect to it. Tactical in the sense that it can directly damage you, neutralize any aspects of your ships or stats or beef up other stats. An environment might therefore be better for one race or type of ship loadout while another would be at a disadvantage if doing combat there.
Strategic in the way that you can have specialized support ships or structures which utilize (and require) the characteristics of these environments either directly around them, apply it to their gang, use on a remote gang, as an area of effect (remote or local) or as a system wide effect (or constellation for that matter).
Financial benefits can be the contents of the environment or benefits of having some kind of structure or base within them which harvests or utilizes the environment for any specific purpose. As such it could be a Dark Nebula, which you need to be able to place a Khanid Shipyard (Since they are the Dark Amarr), manufacturing a special type of ship or you could place a structure there which converts the hydrogen into fuel for your starbases. It could also have other nifty localized or system wide effects. The financial benefits all rely on System Sovereignty, so you have to own the system to utilize this part.
These aspects are the cores of the 0.0 COSMOS constellations, which focus heavily on environments. They will bring new angles to PVP, creating beneficial environments for certain races or ship loadouts, creating a second line in combat with strategic supports and giving system sovereignty a considerable boost.
Complexes are of course a part of COSMOS. They will not necessarily be situated within deadspace so they might be gateless or simply within new environments. We continue to create complexes all over the universe, but there will be specific Complexes to almost all of the COSMOS constellations.
Summing it up
Other additions on the drawing board are roaming agents which only have a specific chance of appearing in certain areas. We're also looking at "escalating paths" which is where you do a mission, finish a complex or simply kill some NPC in a belt and he drops a bookmark for you. This leads you to a new location, which is tougher, where you have a less chance of getting the bookmark for the next location, which is tougher and has less ... well, you get the point. With this we set a seed while playing solo which then escalates to group play very fast, like a SIKRIT Sansha Research Complex, which is certainly a group effort. These would likely be based out of or around a COSMOS constellation.
COSMOS will pan out over years to come. We will get better and faster at creating them at the same time getting more and functionality to put in them. COSMOS is a vital part of creating a landscape on those 5000 systems that are in there, creating interesting locations to explore - and control in the case of 0.0 space. Some may have gotten the notion that we are stopping solo content, which couldn't be further from the truth. There will always be solo content available in EVE, everybody needs something to do when few corp members are online. But the fact remains, our main focus is as ever, to create a massively multiplayer online game, not a massively singleplayer online game. This project may at first seem very solo oriented, but if you read carefully, you will see that this is not the case nor the goal of the project.
Well, that pretty much sums up one of the things in the upcoming content patch. I went a bit into details of what will be part of COSMOS in the near future and some ideas just to fully deliver the COSMOS project concept, which I thought was important since we will drop that name more often in the future.