If Your Friends Crossed the Rubicon, Would You Cross it Too?

-Why do certificates have what is essentially their own tool?
-Why do I have to open the tool in order to “claim” certificates?
-Why do I have to claim certificates at all?
-Why is the display of certificates chopped up into both type (defenses, gunnery, harvesting, etc.) AND rating (none, basic, standard, improved, and elite)?

Me, in a comment to a post about a silly certificate

My post a couple weeks back looking at the lack of expansion excitement appears to be getting a little more out of date.  Companies have been stirring.  Details have been leaking.  Announcements have been made.  Promises have been broken.

Yesterday’s big thing… for me and my fellow internet spaceship pilots at least… was the announcement of Rubicon, the next EVE Online expansion.

We all have that same splash screen image

We all have that same splash screen image

As is the case with EVE Online expansions, Rubicon doesn’t look like typical MMO expansion.  You can’t just add a new region of space, a new race or class or some such, thread it together with a story line and call it a day in EVE.

Sure, looking at the Rubicon site or watching the replay of the announcement (which is on that page), or looking at the summaries at The Mittani or EVE News 24 if you want more details and clarity (I think EN24 wins on the clarity front), it sounds like we are going to get some new stuff.

There are going to be some new ships and some new deployable structures and a new battleship missile module.

But a lot of what was announced sounds suspiciously like, “Yeah, we’re going to fix a bunch of stuff, some of which you have been complaining about for years.”  Welcome to New Eden.

This is why EVE Online “expansions” are free.

And while fixing stuff sounds like a “well duh!” level of effort, it can also a perilous journey.

EVE is, like no other MMO I have played, an ecosystem where unintended consequences can seem more the rule than the exception.  Who could foresee, for example, that the Orca would become the high sec suicide ganker supply ship?

And CCP has learned to tread carefully… for the most part… when making changes.  CCP can influence behavior.  They made tech moons valuable null sec property, which lead to a null sec cartel being set up, where enemies agreed to not fight over these moons.  Then CCP changed moons and redistributed them with Odyssey, and the war in Fountain was on, leading to the largest battle in the history of the game and the shattering of one of the biggest null sec alliances, which subsequently retreated to low sec.

So CCP has to show some care.

And some of the changes and updates for Rubicon seem pretty safe.  Revamping the current certificate system seems pretty non-controversial.  It fit a pattern I referred to as:

…a random, half-baked, over-complicated feature tossed into the game and left to stew for  a few years… that sounds like the standard CCP process.

The new Interbus Ship ID system, which will help players figure out where they are on the ship training tree and where they can go next, seems like a good idea as well.  EVE has a reputation with being miserly at doling out useful information to new players.  There is the steep learning curve, which maybe they can sort of explain away, but then there is the sheer bloody minded refusal to display simple data, like how many rounds of ammunition a given weapon can hold in its magazine and how fast it will shoot that ammo.  Moving away from that, even a little bit, is good in my mind.

And I suppose an integration with Twitch for streaming isn’t necessarily bad.  We’ll see how many more people end up disclosing vital intel by streaming their fleet ops I suppose.

But the rest of Rubicon… well, things will happen.

Ship rebalancing always changes up what ships people use and how they used them.  And throwing in a couple of new ships is always a crap shoot.  Will they be over-powered and suddenly dominate every gate camp operation?  Or will they fill no solid role and end up as something for ship collectors, role players, and the occasional eccentric?  And will it make that TIE fighter sound when you fly it?

Sisters of EVE Frigate

Sisters of EVE (SOE) Frigate

But it is some of the other items that I think will really spice things up, and not necessarily in the way CCP envisions.

Being able to control customs offices in high sec space… actually making them player owned customs offices… is clearly going to lead to conflicts over control of them.  But how far and wide will that go?  Will the struggle be limited to high sec entities looking for a bit of passive income?  Or will The Mittani be announcing “POCO-geddon” when things get quiet in null sec, leading to an all-out invasion for control of that aspect of the game?  You may say that the ISK wouldn’t be worth it, but that leaves out the value assigned to tears in some quarters.

And then there are the new personal deployable structures.  They sound interesting on paper.  I bet the siphon unit, which will steal resources from mining stations, will get deployed all over in hopes of picking up some resources from unwatched operations.

On the other hand, I suspect that we will see a such personal deployable structures become priority targets.  During the live presentation it was stated that for these structures, CONCORD won’t be getting involved.  You will be able to shoot them up in high sec without your ship being automatically destroyed by the NPC cops.

And, in EVE, when you say, “You may shoot another player’s things in high sec space,” you have to expect the response is going to be “SHOOT ALL THE THINGS!”

Rendered in internet standard language

Rendered in internet standard language

I expect scanning for these structures will become a new sport and hilarity to ensue.

So while I do not see anything in Rubicon that will mean much to me at this point, I do see lots of possibilities for changes to how people play the game.  That is excitement enough for me.

Unintended consequences; coming to you on November 19, 2013.

4 thoughts on “If Your Friends Crossed the Rubicon, Would You Cross it Too?

  1. bhagpuss

    I don’t like the way the term “Expansion” is used these days. For me nothing qualifies as an “Expansion” unless you

    a) pay money for it and

    b) it arrives in a discrete and definable form separate from the game itself, preferably in the form of an actual box you buy in a store or that comes in the mail, but at the very least in a Digital Download with an access code you have to enter.

    Anything that updates your game directly when you log in, giving you no choice whether or not to add it to your game or decline it, and indeed without accepting which you will no longer be able to play the game at all, is not an expansion. That’s an “Update” or just a “Patch”.

    I realize words change their nuance and even their base meaning over time, but it seems to me that if we are going to start calling obligatory changes to game software provided at no charge at log in “Expansions” then we are going to need a new word for the boxes and digital downloads that used to go by that name.

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  2. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Bhagpuss – Somewhere I have a spreadsheet I started working on where I listed out all the MMO expansions I could come up with and then had a series of columns that listed the various aspects that these expansions offered… more content, new classes, new races, more levels, alternate advancement, and so on… to see if I could come up with a pattern that defined expansions.

    I could not unless I limited the games very specifically to what I would call EverQuest model fantasy MMORPGs. I should dig that spreadsheet out again. I never ended up doing a post based on it, though I had one planned along the lines of “What Is an Expansion Anyway?” As close as I got was one on expansion timing.

    But I get what you are saying. For many, an expansion is something very much in the EverQuest mold, where you buy a box that grants you access to more content and maybe a few more levels and so on. Works very well and is quite clear and distinct in the EverQuest-esque view of the world.

    However, what happens when your game really doesn’t fit in that mold at all?

    If you look at those sovereignty maps of EVE I post once in a while, there is a hole in null sec where the Jove systems are. They were supposed to be part of an expansion at some point. People have, at times, fought for space adjacent to that area in hopes of gaining advantage should those systems be introduced to the game.

    But, as I mentioned above, with a game as organically integrated as EVE, I am not sure they could sell an expansion that added that region to just a subset of players. Not being level or PvE content driven in an EverQuest sort of way, I don’t think it would work. CCP feels that they have to roll things out to everybody.

    Does that mean CCP can never have something that counts as an expansion? I don’t know. And certainly, at times, they have expansions where it has felt like the biggest impact has been the change to the splash screen. They had a whole expansion devoted to quality of life fixes. At other times they add significant, game changing mechanisms… though, as I alluded in the post, it is usually a matter of adding the big thing in one expansion, waiting a while, then finally fixing it with another.

    Are these expansions, or just packaged changes being delivered at common intervals under a common label like the Game Updates in EQ2? And should I care?

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  3. Knug

    @Bhagpuss – Apocrypha was definitely an expansion. It added T3 ships, a whole classification of materials and fabrication processes, and added wormholes between existing spaces, and new WH only spaces.

    This was the most successful expansion did completely expand the users possible gameplay, and affected all aspects of life within the game.

    And it was free

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  4. Gazimoff

    I haven’t been playing EVE long, but I’m looking forward to the expansion. Partly because of the new SoE cruiser concept, and partly because of what the changes might mean.

    My only concern is that it doesn’t cause a ‘big get bigger’ cascade, particularly with the customs office changes and new deployable structures.

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