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Eve Online is a massively multiplayer online RPG, in which player controlled corporations and businesses fight and trade for dominance in a universe and economy driven entirely by players. The latest expansion, the 14th, Eve Online: Incursion includes an attack on EVE space by a rogue nation called the Sansha, in which players can join extra-corporate fleets to fight these NPC forces. Incursion changes include hardware and software upgrades and updates intended to improve performance, new implementations of the proprietary Carbon graphics engine, new ships and changed mechanics for older ships (Sansha Mothership, Fighter-bomber performance changes, Noctis Salvager), new loot, events, visuals and more streamlining for Planetary Interaction (The interface corporations can use to administrate captured planets). The in-game web interface, EVE Gate, has also been improved through the implementation of forums and other social media tools. All of these changes were suggested though the Council of Stellar Management, an elected body of players that focuses on improvements and representation to their counterparts in Crowd Control Productions (CCP: the developer).
Eve Online boasts over 300,000 subscribers in a single, unbroken universe consisting of thousands of star systems where players take control of a personal spaceship and are given free rein on their choice of profession. To generate ISK, the money of the game, players mine ore from asteroids, play the market as a trader, lead assaults on pirates and other players, and make money in a game where there are no rules determining behavior other than the threat of retribution from other players. PvP piracy is common, and so new players seeking to join are strongly encouraged to only explore dangerous and unregulated space with the support of a corporation.
From the first editions of the game, new players were often unprepared for the sheer amount of tools and options available to them as the game did not really provide a decent training phase or buffer for them to achieve success quickly (such as in World of Warcraft). Rarely could a mission be completed without the help of others, necessitating scheduling, planning and commitment that many could not provide to accomplish even the smallest of objectives. However, CCP has released many new expansion packs that have vastly improved the size of the NPC presence in the game, instituting public armies, decent tutorials, and instructions for the many basic and advanced functions that the player can engage in.
Incursion seeks to continue the expansion of PvE game player while maintaining the quality of PvP interaction: “Incursion marks a point where our PVE experience moves towards the co-operative roots of EVE and the largest introduction of our Carbon Technology platform to date. Never before have so many players and developers contributed to EVE’s living universe”, says Sr. Producer Arnar Gylfason. Other expansions have added space stations that are owned, operated, built and conquered by players, humongous capital ships of the Freighter and Dreadnought classes, fast-transport wormholes, more advanced and specialized ships, a sovereignty system that allows players to capture planets (and mine them) as well as continual graphical and UI improvements.
As soon as November CCP will be providing a mini-update to prepare for the new Incursion content expansion. Some changes will include: balancing the poor effectiveness of Tech II ammo, increased rocket effectiveness, permissions to allow faction ships in open trade and some changes to the way the fighter-bomber attacks in order to reduce the load on the server of individual drone actions.
There are future changes in the works, with CCP leaking details of a feature that will allow players to leave the tombs of their personal spaceship and be able to explore the internal common areas of space stations, meeting other players and their avatars in a more personal setting. Corporations will be able to use up to 16 slots available in each space station to act as a vendor or whatever they like. Other ideas include gambling tables in faction bars and other games. However, the ‘Ambulation/Incarna’ system has been in development for several years, this feature has not been officially dated for a release and is under continual tweaking.
Eve Online has been active since May 6th, 2003, and has developed into a popular, deep, and varied game that takes social interaction and pushes it to the next level that creates an opportunity for both innovation as well as complexity. With the coming release of Incursion, we will see an already vibrant PvP MMO develop further to take advantage of more PvE elements as well as streamlining to improve performance. The expansion will be free, as have all the previous expansions, to both trial users and subscribers. The expansion is set for release in late 2010.