The Future of EVE Online: CSM Summit Overview Part 2 – The Devil is in the Details…

At the CSM summit in December, Executive Producer Jon 'CCP Unifex' Lander and Senior Producer Andie 'CCP Seagull' Nordgren explained CCP's roadmap for EVE Online to the player council.

Having followed their roadmap for survival with the most recent expansions, CCP now needed to lay out a journey plan for the future. Executive Producer Jon ‘CCP Unifex’ Lander and newly appointed Senior Producer (Product Development) Andie ‘CCP Seagull’ Nordgren addressed the Council of Stellar Management at the December summit to discuss the route ahead.

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The Devil is in the Details…

Lander admitted that the past year had seen CCP “get our shit together, focus on the core game, and recover from an ‘interesting’ 2011”, but identified that the time had now come to be able to outline the plan for the next 3, 5 and 10 years.

“If we don’t have a goal, if we don’t have something that is aspirational, there are competitors out there that are going to challenge us. There are players who will say, ‘you know what? You’re no longer shooting for the stars’. One of the things that has become clear to me throughout Crucible, Inferno, and Retribution, is that it’s not the way we have done our best expansions. They are good, but they are collections of features that are loosely themed. We want to create something more inspirational, that players aspire to play, while still concentrating on spaceships.”

It is clear that CCP’s senior management have realised that game mechanics alone do not make a great and memorable gaming experience. Nordgren appreciates they have cultivated an MMO with diverse features which need pruning and refining to deliver “challenging, interesting, well designed, game play elements for whatever players they serve.”

…But Jesus is in the Features

But equally, she sees the value in the unique intellectual property of their epic dystopian sci-fi setting and the fact that it is influenced by and and changes because of the player population in ways that the more static theme-park MMOs cannot hope to replicate.

“EVE Online is a unique piece of science fiction that is ‘participatory’. Whatever you want to call it, the fact that your actions have an impact on this science fiction universe, instead of Star Wars or Star Trek where you are simply consuming the science fiction. There are derivative games, and so on, but this is an original work of science fiction where you can act. And I believe, that, for a lot of people, is a big, big, part of the draw.”

A key part of the strategy moving forward is to further embrace emergent gameplay fundamentals that have always been at EVE’s core. Taking this to the next stage means empowering players to be the content providers by giving them the tools to do so. Nordgren identified particular subsets of players who tend toward this behaviour, stating the intent to “design exciting things for them, and make their lives less like hell doing the things they want to do anyway, that will create all kinds of interesting dynamics in EVE Online as a world.”

She underlined this ethos by defining a 10-year road map which will see that “expansion features can be created such that they provide meaningful roles for all game play styles and serve a proper cross-section of the player base.”

“This is not about the features. It’s about how to make the world’s craziest science fiction universe that is exciting to do things in.”

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Next: Part 3 – Are Players Content?

Index:

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Author
Mat Westhorpe
Broken paramedic and coffee-drinking Englishman whose favourite dumb animal is an oxymoron. After over a decade of humping and dumping the fat and the dead, my lower spine did things normally reserved for Rubik's cubes, bringing my career as a medical clinician to an unexpectedly early end. Fortunately, my real passion is in writing and given that I'm now highly qualified in the art of sitting down, I have the time to pursue it. Having blogged about video games (well, mostly EVE Online) for years, I hope to channel my enjoyment of wordcraft and my hobby of gaming into one handy new career that doesn't involve other people's vomit.