Crossing the Rubicon

This entry has been written from an ‘out of character’ perspective to discuss the announcement of EVE-Online’s 20th expansion.

Rubicon announcement

To mark the anniversary of EVE-Online’s 20th expansion, CCP have done things a little differently.  We got an hour long live streamed show!  I find this interesting as it is something that CCP have never done before, but I suspect marks the beginning of a new trend.  This has probably come about thanks to the hiring in of senior management from outside of CCP.  Launch events like this have not been a CCP thing before but are pretty common for larger companies such as Blizzard who seem to put on shows for every product launch to garner media attention.

Luckily I have no issue with this and enjoy watching just about any video that CCP puts out.  I can say that I have enjoyed the show and would watch again!  I think I have a pretty good handle on what to expect going forwards.  Let’s start with the title; Rubicon.

I recognised the name immediately from the phrase ‘Crossing The Rubicon’ which is associated with ancient Rome and often means ‘the point of no return’, another phrase that was used directly by CCP Seagull during the broadcast.  Rubicon is the first step in CCP’s new three-year road map which is centred on the theme of Colonisation and of the Capsuleers breaking further away from the old controls of New Eden’s Empires.  So up yours CONCORD! 😉  It was reiterated in the show that CCP want to begin challenging some of the core ways of doing things in EVE that have always been taken for granted.  CCP are talking about bringing an ambitious future to EVE, not merely iteration.

Rubicon being ‘the point of no return’ is a bold statement to be making.  CCP are telling us that they intend to bring big changes over the next three years and that the players will have to adapt to it.  I think that whatever they have in the works down the road is stuff that CCP know will rock the boat at some point and be greeted anxiously by the players.  The good news is that its a three year road map so its not going to happen all at once.

Which is the point where I have a mixed first impression of the the feature list outlined so far.  I like the look of everything on it, so I expect this will be another solid expansion.  But I’m not so sure its going to blow everyone away by bringing in lots of new things to do.  This probably isn’t the complete list of stuff that will be in, but it likely is the lion’s share of the core features.

I listed eight headline items that were talked about, they are all good things but see what you think of it.

1.  Player owned Customs offices in high-sec.

2. A new class of player owned structure.  There will be four of them including a Siphon to steal moon goo/reactions from a POS, a Depot that acts as a personal hangar/storage, an ‘Auto-looter’ which tractors on wrecks and loots them for you and a portable cyno-jammer that emits a 100km-ish bubble preventing cyno activations.

3.  Warp speed overhaul to make small ships more mobile and larger hulls less mobile.

4. Ship rebalancing of Interceptors, Marauders, Electronic Attack frigates and Interdictors, plus a new Rapid Heavy Missile Launcher module to fit on battleships.

5. Revamped certificate system and a system to display ship progression through the game (called the Interbus ship ID system).

6. A revamped character selection screen.

7. Twitch.tv integrated into the client.

8. All-new Sisters of EVE faction ships.

So again, I like everything on the list and the direction they seem to be going at this point.  I’m just not sure how much of it is going to really impact on my game play.  Off the cuff, I’m inclined to look at Rubicon as an expansion to set the stage for what comes next.  I know from reading CSM member blogs that there is at least one of the Dev teams busy doing ‘prep work’ and what they are delivering this winter lays the foundations for what comes later. 

Right now I’m looking at those new player structures.  These were explained by CCP Fozzie as something separate to the existing POS system.  They are aimed at being owned by individuals rather than corporations.  They will be cheap, but eminently destructible.  They are flexible and disposable.  They are something new, not something tacked onto the POS system, and CCP fully intend to introduce more of them in the near future.  Ladies and gentlemen, we may very well be looking at the beginning of the end for the Dead Horse code legacy that is the current POS system.  I imagine that CCP are planning on growing this over time into the next generation of Starbase.

My issue is that I’m not sure how much I’ll be using them in low sec.  I dunno, maybe their potential hasn’t fully sunk in yet.  I am mentally applying that same thinking to high sec POCO’s.  I think it will be good for the game once the initial disruption dies down, but again I do my PI in low sec so its not going to bother me much other than the initial market disruption.

Then we have the ship rebalancing and warp speed changes.  This is probably the most ‘iterative’ part of the feature list yet the bit that will affect me most.  EAF’s have long been top of my wish-list for buffing and at last they will be.  Inties and Dictors are also two of the classes I’ve spent the most of my EVE career flying so that makes me take note too.  The warp speed change will also be far reaching, moving heavy fleets around is about to get much slower, while frigates will be crossing light years faster than ever.  It will be interesting to see how that impacts player behaviour.  The new SOE hulls sound nice, but honestly I rarely fly faction ships as it is so it probably won’t be using them any time soon.

And the rest of the list sums up as nice quality of life/usability tweaks that I like to see and improve the game in the background but don’t change up the game play itself.  I approve, but its not going to revolutionise much.

I’ll try to talk in some more detail about some of this stuff soon and after I’ve read CCP Seagull’s road map blog which should be published any time now.  Hopefully I’m not being too ambivalent about Rubicon here, I had a similar early reaction to Retribution and that turned out to deliver much more than I expected.  I’m intrigued to see CCP’s vision for the second decade emerging and I think we are going to be getting a solid workhorse expansion in November which is the beginning of a push into new territory. 

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