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“Incursion Imminent” or “Sansha, Online”

November 25, 2010 2 comments

Eve’s latest expansion introduces the largest invasion ever faced off by the separate clans of humanity, as the universe comes under fire by the Sansha Nation.

However, the expansion also brings several added features, some less known than others.

Here are the top three reasons for trying out Eve Online: Incursion.

Better Character Portraits

Your in-game avatars get an overhaul, finally, after nine long years. Gone are the cartoony, still portraits. The new system allows you to create a near photo-realistic avatar that is highly customizable and animated. This isn’t the much anticipated “Incarna” expansion that allows you to walk around in space-stations, but it is a welcome step in the right direction. It does seem from the solitary shot provided however, that the editor no longer supports hair! But don’t worry, there’s probably a new skill available to train that ability too!

EDIT: Some additional screenshots below that I found over at Screapheap-Challenge.

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Who Let the Sansha out?

The Sansha Nation is out for blood. They are back in superior numbers with better, more advanced ships and weaponry, and they are gunning for CONCORD space. That’s not all! The intruding sansha have been equipped with better, smarter AI and their advantage in battle increases exponentially with numbers as they use clever mechanics and tactics to outsmart all resistance.

Supercarriers and Fighter-bombers join the Sansha fleet as they march through the constellations. In addition they are supported by a massive new ship flagship known as the Revenant.

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I, Noctis

There are a ton of other features, such as 40 new story missions, overhaul to the server hardware to support more and more players in the single-shard universe, ordinance overhaul and so on. But perhaps one of the biggest changes is the inclusion of the Noctis, a dedicated salvage ship from ORE.

Featuring 5% bonus to Salvage and Tractor Beam cycle times, a roomy 8/2/3 module capacity and a time saving 60% increase in Tractor Beam range this is one workhorse every salvager is going to be looking to get their hands on. Blueprints and ships will both be available on the market at select stations.

8/2/3 is a hell of a load-out! Rock on CCP!

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Finally, the trailer is below. Enjoy!

Categories: Eve Online

“How Perpetumm is an EVE:Online Ripoff” or “Perpetumm’s Parallel Production”

November 11, 2010 Leave a comment

I have actually known about Perpetumm‘s existence for a while. But it was through Tobold’s post yesterday, and by extension, Chris’ post on Perpetumm that I found out the upcoming MMO is merely two weeks from launch. More importantly perhaps, Chris highlights how much of a clone Perpetumm is of Eve Online.

I went through Perpetumm’s website, Perpetumm-Online, which is confusing because the game itself is just “Perpetumm”. Going over a lot of the content on the website I was able to draw the following parallels (or contradictions):

EVE ONLINE
PERPETUMM
$14.99 a month $9.99 a month
In the future mankind exhausts all energy resources; wormhole leads to new galaxy ripe with resources In the future mankind exhausts all energy resources; ‘strange anomaly’ leads to new world ripe with resources
There are five primary factions that fight within, between themselves and with several other splinter groups There are three main factions that fight for control, but there is the common enemy: the synthetic life-forms populating planet Nia
Completely open, persistent, sandbox game world on a single-server Completely open, persistent, sandbox game world on a single-server
Large-scale battles involving thousands of players Large-scale battles involving hundreds of players
Complex crafting system; heavy focus on mining; heavy focus on player crafting and commodity creation; reverse engineering; planetary mining Complex crafting system; mining raw materials; mass producing items; reverse engineering; build special prototypes
Player driven market with server enforced price fluctuation of key items Player driven market; constant supply and demand between the players of different specializations
Players gain skill points even when logged out as long as they have an active subscription; you can specialize in a field, but older players will mostly have the upper hand; only one character per account can train skills at a time, you cannot transfer skill points between characters Time based character progression, even when the player isn’t logged in the game; extension points gained this way can be used to immediately purchase skills on any character on the account
Asteroids belts get mined out and re-spawn after set periods of time; planet surfaces and orbital platforms can be created/transformed by players A living world; plantlife continuously grows; battles leave vegetation into arid wastelands; minerals in the ground require regular scans to find
Players can build their own space stations and structures exclusive to their corporations/allies Players can deform the earth to forge their own settlements
Real-time, asynchronous combat Real-time, asynchronous combat
More than 200 types of player ships; thousands of different modules for a wide variety of roles More than 30 various robots, hundreds of equipment items
Players can engage in a wide variety of missions from corporations through in-game agents Several missions can be undertaken on the numerous Syndicate departments
Example Stats on a ship: 

  • CPU: 875 tf
  • High Slots: 4
  • Medium Slots: 7
  • Low Slots: 5
  • Launchers: 3
  • Rig Slots: 3
  • Shield HP: 187,500
  • Armour HP: 156,250
  • Max Velocity: 60 m/s
  • Maximum targeting range: 115 km
  • Maximum locked targets: 7
Example stats on a robot: 

  • CPU performance: 100 TF
  • Maximum targets: 2 pcs
  • Locking range: 120 m
  • Locking time :12.5 sec
  • Sensor strength: 85
  • Armor: 625 HP
  • Accumulator capacity: 225 AP
  • Reactor performance: 125 RP
  • Surface hit radius: 3 m
  • Passable slope: 56 °
  • Top speed: 61.2 km/h

Notice I am not saying this is a good thing or a bad thing, but just that there are a lot of similarities. I immensely enjoyed Eve Online in all the years I played it, and it is the MMO to which I have returned seven times (only to be frustrated by how far ahead everyone else was and quitting yet again – but that is a matter for another discussion). Eve Online is an incredible experience, a niche within a niche. Perpetumm is shaping up to be quite similar in execution and style.

We talk about WoW clones all the time. Perhaps Eve Online, with nearly seven years of live server experience, hundreds of thousands of pilots, and an ever-expanding subscription base, has finally reached the level where titles can now be labeled “Eve-clones”.

More power to CCP I guess!

Categories: Eve Online, Perpetumm, Preview

Quote of the Day: “Sarcasm Masked” or “A Very ‘Clever’ Use of Quotations”

November 1, 2010 1 comment

The company making 500m in profit a year can’t figure out how to get a couple hundred people fighting in one area (it’s technically impossible, yo), while a ‘niche’ game just had a little issue with 3100 players in one area. Actually 3100 is just about the max concurrent users said 500m profit company can support on one server, across hundreds of instances and all that. That ‘niche’ game sets the record for total number of players on one server just about every month.

Only one is really ‘accessible’ though. Rainbows for that.

Syncaine, Technology from the future

“Tyrannis Bring Planetary Interaction” or “Bridging The Gap Between Eve Online and Dust 514”

May 9, 2010 1 comment

Head on over to Explicit|Gamer where I just put up a short-but-sweet preview for EVE Online‘s upcoming expansion Tyrannis. Tyrannisfinally allows players to interact with planets, setting up industrial structures directly on the surfaces of the game’s 60,000 unique planets, thereby setting the stage for DUST 514, their upcoming MMOFPS that is centered around ground combat on said planets.

The trailer is below. The post on X|G is right here. Enjoy!

Categories: Eve Online

“Post-apocalyptic Parallels” or “Developmental Discretion”

October 20, 2009 1 comment

Fallen Earth and Earthrise are both set in a post-apocalyptic, dystopic future. Both games are being developed by indie studios (Icarus Studios and Masthead Studios respectively) with limited prior experience. Both titles have terra firma in their name and something to do with rise or fall. I think I have made my point regarding the obvious similarities.

If Fallen Earth was a person, Syp over at Bio Break would have been served a restraining order for obsessive interest. Fortunately Syp has the ability to maintain a balanced perspective, and despite his unhealthy indulgence in the game, he can objectively point out its flaws. I am myself a sucker for post-apocalyptic settings, and drool over the concept like a 3-year old does over candy. However, the steep learning curve in Fallen Earth and its unforgiving ambiance estranged me more than I would have liked. The apprehension with the game’s requirement for hitting the ground running has grown to the point that even Syp’s endless barrage of praise and in-game experiences can’t get me to try it again.

222222That being said, the post-apocalyptic setting is still very much my Achilles’ Heel. I have a feeling Earthrise will be to me what Fallen Earth is to Syp. The game looks vibrant, colorful and full of flavor. It also seems a little less… oh what’s the word… dreary than Fallen Earth. What excites me most about Earthrise is that it is shaping up to be a true player-driven sandbox experience. This could include territorial control, player espionage, and corporate warfare. For anyone who is familiar with the GHAC fiasco in EvE Online, this implies a completely open-world philosophy where player actions will have far-reaching and powerful repercussions instead of pre-determined outcomes. That’s pretty damn cool!

Masthead Studios is already well underway in its quest to incorporate player impact on the game world as early as the development stages. Their has been a lot of focus recently on incorporating player feedback and preferences into literally every facet of the game.

In the beginning of this month, the developers sought opinions and feedback on player-killing and how this activity should be rewarded. Most recently, they have asked players to chip in on the creation of alts, as this MMO-feature could have a fairly significant impact on player espionage and player specialization outside of the ‘main’ character’.

It all sounds very interesting, and incorporating player feedback goes a long way to show the developers are well in-tune with what the players want. This may shape up to be the penultimate, accessible player-driven experience that only EvE Online has been able to realize yet.

Champions Online Realism – Part II: “Misleading Variety” or “Various Misgivings”

October 15, 2009 5 comments

Note: Part I can be found here. The first part of this post was not necessarily a scathing critique of the ‘Help a Citizen’ mission structure, but it was certainly not the most polite. In the interests of being fair, I have to comment on how my view on these types of missions has evolved. You also need to understand that this isn’t a critique of the whole game, or even of the mission structure in general. It is my thoughts on the “Help a Citizen!” sub-category of the missions paradigm.

The great thing about MMOs is that they continue to evolve, (arguably) get better and introduce increasingly complex worlds. Though in all honesty, sometimes this level of complexity is just enough for you wrap your head around. Other times, you have a hernia from all the complications and intricacies involved in the game, and then your hernia has an aneurysm. Not trying to point any fingers. Eve Online.

In Champions Online, The first several missions I received from random citizens in Millennium City were decidedly similar. They had the same time limit, they were instanced, and you had to kill some boss deep inside that instance. It’s the game’s equivalent of repeatedly slamming my junk in a drawer. It’s painful, it’s monotonous, and despite being a novel idea initially, the repetitions have made me detest it.

“The Good” or “Misleading Variety”

But there have been some good improvements overall. For one thing, the latest “Help a Citizen!” missions I got to play have more variety to offer. One had me rescuing a few scientists from the bad guys. Another had me retrieve some critical information in the form of six briefcases. This is certainly a step in the right direction. While the overarching theme remained unchanged, the difference in objectives made it somewhat bearable. Its sort of like adding a padded cushion inside the drawer where I am repeatedly slamming my junk. It doesn’t hurt any more, but its still monotonous and its still boring.

Second, the Crime Computer now lists all of the “Help A Citizen!” quests. This is good for two reasons. First, you can read the mission text in advance, and know what it entails. If it sounds boring, you can decline and move on. Second, the system now guarantees that you will not miss a mission from the citizens, since all of them are listed in the Crime Computer. Being a character that uses a flight power, I can see how someone could have bare minimum contact with citizens on the ground, and as such miss a few of these missions.

The instances, at least the ones I have seen, are markedly different. The textures, the layout and the flow is not necessarily cookie-cutter. That being said, the instances are essentially a finite series of rectangular rooms connected by winding hallways. I have yet to see one instance that does not follow this pattern. Contrast this against, say, the instance structure in World of Warcraft, or even something more open-world like EvE Online.

Finally, as I mentioned in Part I, the quest text now clearly labels the amount of time you have to complete the mission. Previously, you would find out the mission had a time-limit after accepting it, which was annoying. And that leads into my next point…

“The Bad” or “Various Misgivings”

"By 'cross the street' I really meant 'eat shit and die'!" or "I got up this morning thinking about how I could ruin your day!"

…every “Help a Citizen!” mission is still 30 minutes. I don’t understand this. The missions I mentioned earlier, the one in which I had to rescue some scientists, took me 4 minutes to complete. The timer was 30 minutes. On average it takes me seven to eight minutes on a mission. I think the missions can be made a lot more challenging and interesting by imposing stricter and more realistic time limits. If I am going to go retrieve some information in the form of briefcases, how about saying that the briefcases are booby-trapped to destroy the contents in 10 minutes. A simple alteration like that gives the mission a sense of urgency, while simultaneously serving as a tool for driving the mission forward.

Champions Online introduces the public missions format. There are several missions in the game which are out in the open world, and anyone and everyone is free to lend a hand in defeating whatever menace plagues the area. One might argue that such open world events are not a new concept, such as the Ahn’Qiraj gate event in World of Warcraft. But Champions actually tracks all the players completing objectives in the area and assigns them scores based on their level of contribution. You can participate solo, or bring a party of 5 or more, it’s really quite open-ended. The top ten contributors are displayed in public in the area for the length of time it takes for the event to reset. For instance, in the last ‘A Bullet Bound for Biselle’ mission, I had the longest e-peen.

Now for a game that introduces such an open-world idea of missions, it baffles me that the “Help a Citizen!” quests are all instanced. There isn’t a single case where the mission takes place out in the open. It is almost as if all the “Help a Citizen!” missions were designed by an introverted, agoraphobic programmer with a penchant for claustrophobic spaces.

Given the level of programming that must have gone into the public missions, scripting for a solo quest outside the instances should have been elementary. Yet we see an endless stream of instances that, aside from architectural and textural differences, feel the same. You have built an entire city with a plethora of unique locations. Use that to your advantage! I listed some of the ways you can make these missions more realistic and open-world in Part I. Here they are again. A citizen walks up to you and pleads for you to:

  • rid their neighborhood of gangsters
  • help them get home in a tough neighborhood; point A-to-B escort
  • stop a theft at a store nearby; mobs spawn at the front and/or back door and attempt to escape
  • rescue their kidnapped, loved one from an open-world location; the mob spawn is triggered by your location in the ransom exchange area

Can we get some love in this department?

As mentioned in the prior post, the game is still very much in its infantile stage. The changes are arguably for the better, but it remains to be seen if the developers take the time to craft a world that feels authentic and wonderous, or hide behind lame design devices for the sake of bloated content and ease of implementation.