Is there something in the water?

This entry has been written from an ‘out of character’ perspective to discuss the upcoming Oceanus release…and beyond…

At the risk of sounding like a stuck record, I haven’t been logging in much lately.  My run of logged in EVE-activity dropped off sharply after Ushra’Khan were knocked out of the Alliance Tournament as we stopped running the training sessions that I had been focusing on.  I did make an effort to watch the rest of the tournament as time allowed and enjoyed it considerably.  Unfortunately, I just haven’t been feeling very motivated to get stuck into EVE and have been easily distracted by other things.  I’ll probably do a couple of blog posts about those things as I have found them interesting.

I have however been keeping track of EVE developments.  Quite a bit has gone down in the past month, from the final Somer Blink scandal to AT12, to people suiciding carriers for charity to the reveal of the Oceanus update.  And it is Oceanus that I want to touch on because its feature list is causing some disquiet in the community.

Back when CCP announced that they would be moving from two expansions a year over to ten releases a year, I felt it was only a matter of time until we got a point release that many players would look at and find lacking in substance.  On paper, and from the reactions I’m seeing, Oceanus appears to be it.  Kronos was ‘artificially inflated’ by virtue of delivering features originally intended to be the bulk of a traditional expansion.  Crius followed by delivering the rest of that expansion in the shape of the industry revamp.  Hyperion then surprised me by bringing what could be described as a first-pass Wormhole revamp and burner missions.

A first look at Oceanus on the other hand reads as a bunch of graphical tweaks plus a few more UI tweaks and another set of Burner missions.  This is not a feature set that leaves players trembling with anticipation, and it is prompting a fair bit of speculation and questions about whether or not the new release cadence is delivering.  I’m finding this irritatingly predictable.

The faster paced release schedule was never meant to be a guarantee of something awesome every six weeks.  It was simply about deploying finished features more quickly while allowing larger projects be undertaken without the need to fit into a six month expansion cycle.  It was always inevitable that some updates would be ‘less significant’ than others.  You can’t deliver something the size of Kronos or Crius every six weeks, players will need to learn that they can’t expect every sixth week release to deliver on the scale of a sixth month expansion or for there to be a tent-pole gamer changer every time.

Oceanus is a house keeping release adding some nice new visuals, a little bit of content with the new burner missions and some balance tweaks with changes to the first batch of named meta mods (module tiericide) and Interceptor/Interdictor tweaks.  Then some minor UI stuff and one big UI thing in the form of the optional prototype feature for notifications.  I’m quite looking forwards to that one as it could be a nice quality of life improvement.  And I really like that it is being soft-launched, a very smart move this is.

Finally we have a pair of under the hood updates including an update to the mac client (which I imagine will make some people very happy) and an update to pave the way for future ship customization.  It is difficult to get very excited about changes that you don’t even notice if they are done right, but these seem like pretty important stuff to me and entirely worthy things to be putting into a release.  Even if they aren’t sexy.

I suspect that the final two releases for the year may get players more excited.  We know that the Invention overhaul is well on the way and could well be in either release.  We also know that corporations & alliances are currently in CCP’s cross hairs for a revamp and have been for a few months now.  I could be grossly underestimating the complexity of whatever CCP are actually planning to do on this front, but it seems like something we could see rolling out by the end of the year along with the nullsec working group’s modest first efforts.

The CSM are presently in Iceland for the belated Summer Summit and I imagine all of the above is being discussed in considerable detail.  CCP certainly seem to be spinning a lot plates and developing a range of things simultaneously.  It feels quite different to the old days of tackling a specific feature set in a known timeframe to meet an arbitrary date.  I kinda like it.  I think that the system is working as intended and starting to produce the results expected.

Its just we the players who need to better wrap our heads around what to expect from release to release.

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