And in my opinion, that was the finest EVE keynote in a number of years! Lots and lots of interesting reveals for the next EVE Online expansion, including:
- freighter customization through rigs;
- Mordu's Legion ships focusing on missiles, speed, and warp disruption range;
- the announcement of the upcoming rebalance of blockade runners and deep space transports;
- the new T2 mining frigate, the Prospect;
- the graphical updates to the Moa, Condor, and Typhoon models;
- the new warp-in and warp-out graphical effects;
- the massive updates to sound customization including the ability to turn off the jump gate animation sound(!);
- addition of faction stations and more new ship skins; and,
- more and more and more stuff!
All of it was handled very well, with almsot every presenter doing a fine job of giving their material and making it clear how excited CCP is about this new direction for their game. CCP Scarpia had a bit of trouble delivering enthusiasm -- someone remind me to tease him about this at the Party tomorrow night -- but that's certainly not a fatal flaw. CCP Fozzie and CCP Rise in particular did great jobs with what they had to present.
Of course, the big news of the keynote was CCP's switch from a two expansions per year schedule to a much more drawn out schedule of somewhat smaller expansions. In a lot of ways, this should probably not surprise EVE players too much. After all, the last few expansions have been driven by a more or less similar model of larger and larger point releases associated with the summer and winter expansions. This new direction simply formalizes the de facto process that's been running for the last year or so. It also further reinforces Jon Lander's development direction: it gives the EVE devs a lot more freedom to try for more ambitious changes to the game without having to meet the arbitrary deadline of early June and early December.
Instead, new features can be delivered when they're ready to be delivered. Yes, this makes marketing's job a little bit tougher. But it should also help break CCP out of the feast-or-famine cycle that a lot of EVE players put them through. Every year, we see big dips in the logged-in player count associated with the two or three months leading up to an expansion. I'm sure there are similar dips associated with subscribed players (though CCP has never made this data public and hasn't even shared it with the CSM).
Under the new structure... sure, players might unsubscribe, but they won't have as prosaic an excuse as "I'll be back for the next expansion" to throw around. Either EVE players buy into the game long term or they don't and it will be as simple as that. Sure, we might see smaller dips associated with the smaller expansions in the cycle but these won't be the yo-yo like swings that I've come to expect looking at the PCU data.
The interesting question will be can CCP keep up such an ambitious schedule? That, I have my doubts about. Point releases ten times per year, or about every three sprints, might be a little bit over-ambitious. Even if that turns out to be the case, though, point releases six or eight times per year should be totally adequate, particularly if there are occasional ship or module balancing passes here and there in between.
Finally, two cute bits. At one point toward the end of the keynote, the twitch.tv stream dropped out for a few minutes. That didn't stop Seagull from using the opportunity to troll EVE players a bit... And I got a kick out of Kirith Kodachi's reaction to the new Moa. Dude's been bitching about the look of that ship for years (so have I, truth be told). The last time he complained, the CSM had been shown preliminary sketches of the plan a few days before but of course I couldn't say anything. Still, if I recall correctly, his post at the time complained that the CSM hadn't done anything about that particular pet peeve of his...
So, all in all, good stuff! I'll have more to say about the day in general tomorrow. For now, it's pretty freakin' late and I'm gonna go get some sleep...