When Evolution Leaps Forward

"Basic research is what I am doing when I don't know what I am doing."

Wernher von Braun (1912 - 1977), because quotes are cool

Whenever I am not aimlessly hanging around in CCP offices, mumbling like a desecrated zombie, I am actually busy attempting all kinds of most interesting experiments to improve mankind's living conditions. Would a man work faster in a computer science company with a third arm grafted onto his chest? Are human ears compatible with RJ-45 wires to build a local network? Could brains be replaced by SATA hard-drives for better storage capabilities?

However, my cloth-staining work seemed to be quite misunderstood, and I was sentenced to serve as Team Epic member, put within the (evil) grasp of CCP Zulupark. Of course, it contains many genetically-mutated Dev specimen, like CCP Oneiromancer and CCP Gangleri from Quality Assurance, CCP GingerDude and CCP Incognito from Software Engineering and myself, CCP Ytterbium from Game Design.

So, for quite some time now, Team Epic has been studying one game facet that most players confront on a daily basis. It is that part shortly after accepting a task from an agent, at that moment you arrive and survey the asteroid belt or exploration site that you were dispatched to. You know what we are referring to, when floating red crosses appear in your overview, often not for long before they are consumed by explosion, flashes and fumes: Non Player Characters, NPCs.

All your belts are belong to us

Team Epic's first goal was to restore balance throughout the known regions of New Eden by spreading NPCs where they were direly needed. As such, with the expansion arrival, expect various pirate battleships to arrive into low-security areas to ambush the unprepared pilots. Of course, the nature and type of these new spawns will be put into scale towards null and high-security space as we plan to even out rewards, not destabilize them further. To be clear, no pirate battleship spawn will make it into high-security space.

The Sleeper has Awakened

We have been observing the current strength scale between players and NPCs with watchful eyes for quite some time now. More often than not, PvE interactions in EVE are quite limited, merely consisting of watching the NPC explode after a few volleys. We are not satisfied with that. We want to offer our players true PvE challenge, requiring real team effort and proper gang coordination. We want to give players satisfaction when finally overcoming these PvE situations and reaping the rewards. And of course we want to achieve all of this while giving you the most enjoyment out of it.

That is why for Apocrypha, we are unleashing an ancient race into the universe: the infamous Sleepers, lurking throughout the vast unknowns stretching at the other side of the Wormhole maws. Do not underestimate them, as they will remain radically different from the regular pirate factions you are used to. More often than not, they will give you some substiantial bang for your buck and will require player gang coordination and effort to be dispatched. More details are left for another Dev Blog, but at the moment, know they have comparable player attributes and thus require variations of PvP fits to engage.

Why shoot them? Because they will guard and yield the very components needed for Tech3 ship production. There will be more details on this in future blogs.

Rise of the Machines

Last but not least, we are further improving NPCs by assigning advanced AI capabilities to them. Of course we are not going to assign such improvements all of a sudden to all NPCs, but rather proceed on a careful step-by-step approach which starts with the Apocrypha release. At first, only Sleepers and existing Officer spawns will receive such improved behavior and no other changes will be made to existing PvE interactions. However, with time, we might want to progressively revamp the whole face the EVE Online PVE experience by giving most NPCs clean and fresh roots to rest on.

How will they react with such a behavior? Let us just say at the moment they are going to make logical target choices depending on the most threatening targets available; but again such details are left to be explained in another Dev Blog.

Hungry for More?

We do not wish to spoil all the fun by giving you the details right now so expect more Dev Blogs from our team to arrive in the upcoming weeks about planned NPC changes. However, we do hope this brief introduction will give you an exciting glimpse of the upcoming blinding light at the end of the tunnel, because it is made of a delicious WinSauce® flavor you do want to taste.