Rubicon: Expectations

This entry has been written from an ‘out of character’ perspective to discuss the expected impact of the imminent Rubicon expansion for EVE-Online.

A few months ago now when the Rubicon expansion was first announced, my expectations for it were not exactly high.  I felt that we were looking at a solid but unremarkable expansion that would deliver good things but nothing much to get overly excited about.  I’m starting to get the feeling that I may have been a bit quick to dismiss.

Luckily, I was far from alone.  Within days of the initial announcement I was at the Veto EVE meet in London where someone (a blogger or fan news site reporter) had sent their wife around the pub with a notepad and pen asking everyone a couple of simple questions about the announcement.  The one that I remember stood out was “how do you think that Rubicon will affect you?”.  The answer was almost depressingly identical every time “it probably won’t”.

It wasn’t so much that people didn’t like what was in that initial announcement, they just didn’t think that what few things were announced back then was going to have any real impact on how they play the game.  It was regarded as a list of ‘nice to have’ but not very exciting things.  I was left thinking that Rubicon would be a similar story to Odyssey, which generally delivered a nice set of improvements to the game but little to really shake things up 0r push the game decisively forwards.  Its flagship feature was an exploration revamp which is something I still like to tinker with occasionally but for most players goes largely ignored.

On this, the night before deployment, Rubicon doesn’t feel like it has a flagship feature as such.  The cinematic trailer is all about Ghost sites and the shiny new SoE hulls, but I don’t think either will be game changing features.  I may well find myself flying an SoE ships and chancing Ghost sites from time to time, but once the novelty wears off I think most people will go back to other things and largely ignore them.

The other poster boy feature is the four new deployable structures.  They both look pretty and bring new functionality to the game that I think we will really have to wait and see just what impact they will actually have.  It occurred to me while playing yesterday that I might actually have a use for a mobile depot to stash exploration loot in as the hold of my cov ops frig does start to fill up quickly once I get going.  On the other hand it might be more hassle than its worth.  I dunno, will need to experiment!

But there is what will likely prove to be a game changer in this expansion, and that is the warp speed changes.  This is a far reaching change that will impact everyone and likely will influence their choice of ships and fleet doctrines.  I think it may be the biggest change to EVE since Crimewatch 2.0 and hopefully it will prove as successful.  In this respect, I’m starting to think that Rubicon could be another Retribution.

When Retribution launched, the Bounty Hunting feature was placed front and centre and drummed up the initial excitement along with new destroyer hulls, much like Ghost Sites/SoE ships are doing now.  But it turned out that the big win was in Crimewatch 2.0 and the way it freed up low sec PVP from many of the hassles of the old system.  Warp speed changes could have a similarly reinvigorating effect in making combat much more fluid and regular as tackle frigates will be able to close in on their prey much faster reducing the chance of targets slipping away.  If it works out as hoped, we might find that players are increasingly forced to turn and fight when they might have allowed over-cautious instinct to let them avoid the fight before.

Another thing that Rubicon has going for it is that it is a winter expansion.  Of the last four releases, the winter expansions (Retribution, Crucible) have each had a greater player response than the summer releases (Odyssey, Inferno).  I can’t help but note that the winter releases also had new ship hulls, while none of the summer releases did.  That is probably a significant factor for internet spaceship fans. 😉

Another positive factor emerging lately is that CCP clearly have plans set and work started on Rubicon 1.1 even before the release of 1.0.  A couple of times now CCP have referred to work already under way on a second set of deployable structures for the 1.1 release.  This kind of forward planning is a great sign that Rubicon will be able to sustain interest over the coming months with a tangible amount of additional content still to come.  It also implies that CCP have come a long way in developing a steady work rate and have managed their development resources well enough to get Rubicon 1.0 finished off with enough time to get going on 1.1 before shipping the first instalment.  I like this thought a lot!

I also like that we really are seeing CCP show a pattern of commitment to iteration over a long period of time now.  As the Factional warfare revamp saw development spread across three expansion cycles, we are now seeing the new ISIS (Interbus Ship Identification System) feature cap off a similar three part delivery.  ISIS looks to be a very useful tool for a great many players to help visualise what ships and skills there are in the game and how they fit together.  But it comes on the back of the previously reworked skill tree (ship skills in particular) and now the revamped certificates announced in September.  CCP do seem to be getting better at breaking problems down into steps that can be tackled in order to build better systems out of.

As time passes I am becoming more confident that CCP have a sound roadmap and that they are learning how to tackle it one piece at a time while bringing those elements together to make EVE a better and more cohesive experience.  I’m curious indeed to get my hands on Rubicon, much more than I thought I would be a couple of months ago.  It really is nice to say that.

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4 Responses to Rubicon: Expectations

  1. Sir Prime / Bjoern says:

    Strangely, I approached the update from a different perspective. The instant things were added to sisi we hit there and started testing. Some of the results were openly twittered or discussed, others weren’t! The warp changes ended getting toned down at the extremes and for good reasons. The dictors ended up getting changed in line with some of our suggestions too so you can blame those on us. 😉

    Certain parts of our doctrines have been heavily rewritten and others are awaiting full scale “live testing”. But then an ever changing skill requirement is an occupational hazard in Pandemic Legion!

    Unless the the Ghost sites are a whole tier more dangerous than anything we have nowadays (let’s be honest we just control aggro and have a single very high resist ship tank the current massive damage site) then they have the potential to be as insane an isk generator as Incursion sites were. Thats based not on the bpc’s that drop but on the new implants. To get a HG set will be incredibly expensive as you have to cover sites in so many locations.

    Ultimately the big winners will be worm hole space which already generates massive isk for a lot of entities – new big isk generators, the ability to use T3’s properly and some of the uses of the new structures. The other big winners are interceptor and dictor pilots – expect them to harvest many tears.

    Which brings us to the big losers. Strangely, CCP have been very quiet on that side. One of my Sisi tests involved running a freighter across high sec. I carefully ran an interceptor through first to make sure all systems were online and ran the exact same route on tranquility for comparison.

    I’ll just say the comparison was so bad that I immediately submitted it to CCP. Sure others did too so I won’t claim credit but they slightly improved things in response. That said I can’t get past the belief that they’ve deliberately created a captive market which is very bad. Every freighter pilot will have to make a clear choice over trashing their current implants and adding the warp speed ones (a very expensive proposition) or taking a lot longer to move things. Apparently freightering time sinks need increasing not decreasing! That cost raises the barriers to entry for industrialists – cybernetics 5 and a 5 bn (?) Pod. Which not so amusingly for them raises the odd point that the new changes also make suicide ganking even easier if you’re aware of current tactics. Now farming the pods becomes attractive as an easy way to bump kill board stats and hurt industrialists.

    Victim two on the loss side is fairly obvious. We went on a rampage in 0.0 on sisi in interceptors and dictors and gleefully harvested 0.0 tears. I expect similar things on tranquility and the death rate in that area among residents will soar. The combination of bubble immunity, changed warp speed, improved dictors and the current site visibility means anyone living in that area will be incredibly easy to farm. Ironically the new modules also least benefit 0.0 residents as they use poses or stations anyway for those functions and are most likely to be dropped by blops.

    Either way I’m farming miners post patch before they all run back to 0.0 as the reality of the update overcomes them!

    • Sir Prime / Bjoern says:

      Forgot to say that the essential requirement to use a SOE ship to run the new sites is one demonstrator of what an inbuilt isk generator CCP have made. Its almost closed loop in its capability. Not like we didn’t already have massive inflation and market manipulation.

      • Ugleb says:

        Although LP stores do act as an ISK sink, so the higher the demand is then the more ISK is removed from circulation. Not that I’ve checked the prices so I could be wrong.

    • Ugleb says:

      I think that increased risk and booms are a design goal driving all this. CCP may want EVE to be more accessible (ISIS), but they don’t want to make it safe and cosy (inty/dictor changes). They want you to risk (bling implants for freighters) to get the competitive edge (sane travel times).

      I do kinda wonder if CCP dislike Jita as much as I do and want to encourage more local trade hubs over one market to rule them all. In which case slow assed freighters are less of an issue and more of an intent. 😉

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