EVE Online: The Wild Wild West of Space

One of the elements that has always fascinated me about EVE Online is the stability and resilience of the in-game economy. What you may not know is that CCP has a team of economists that work with the development team to provide players with a stable economy unlike some of the other MMOs out there. We had a chance to sit down with the Lead Economist for CCP, Dr. Eyjólfur Guðundsson, to talk about the EVE economy and what makes it so special.

ZAM: First of all, what is Unholy Rage? I mean, there was a discussion earlier on it, but what are the underlying principles of it?

Dr. Eyjólfur Guðundsson: Unholy Rage is simply the name of a task force that we put together within CCP to fight off activities that are very well known within MMOs in general - they're usually called gold farming. In general, it's behaviour where players - but I don't want to say players, because they're not really playing the game - it's the behaviour where individuals use the game as a business for themselves, rather than using the game as an environment to play. This is very prevalent within all MMOs, but the problem is that these entities are usually using tools and additional tools that are not allowed to use to give themselves additional advantages, so they can gain more than a regular player. So that's really what we're going after.

ZAM: And this task force lead to the banning of several thousand people, as I understand it?

Official DUST 514 Trailer Released

By now you've heard several of us talking about how cool DUST 514 is. It's time for you to see for yourself. CCP has just released the official trailer debuted at GDC Europe. Check it out and make sure to read our First Look Preview and Interview with CCP CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson and Creative Director at CCP Asia, Atli Már Sveinsson.

DUST 514: Our First Look

During a special press conference at the 2009 EVE Fanfest we were able to see a live gameplay demonstration of DUST 514, which is an FPS and strategy game set within the EVE universe. The game is set in the same universe as EVE Online but the two are fundamentally different in that DUST 514 takes place on individual planets. Players can expect a persistent universe where every battle is significant and every player will make meaningful decisions that helps to determine the outcome of the individual battles and the state of both games overall.

CCP expects that the two online experiences will compliment each other and that players will have plenty of reason to work together between games. EVE and DUST 514 will be linked using phased implementation strategies at specific stages during the development lifecycle of the two products. To clarify, EVE Online will in no way be dependant on the success of DUST 514 at launch, but as the games evolve, CCP will continue to build the two products so that players will work together even more.

Fanfest EVE Online: Dominion Interview

We learned an abundance of new information during the CCP Presents keynote on Saturday. After the presentation we sat down with EVE Online's Lead Game Designer, Noah Ward to get clarification on some of the newly announced features including Planetary Interactions, Mining Enhancements and the rise of the Jovians.

Noah Ward: Hi, my name is Noah Ward, I also go by Hammerhead, and I am the lead game designer.

ZAM: First of all, can you just go into a little bit more detail about the sovereignty capture system that's going in?

Noah: It's really simple, and that was the whole goal of it. You just plunk down your clay marker and that's really all it takes. There's a bit of a timer. In order to take it back, you have to have 51% of the gates in the system controlled with these, we'll call them "disruption beacons," I don't know if that will be the final name. Basically you have to have, what we consider air superiority of the space in order to make the clay marker vulnerable.

ZAM: OK, so there will be new planets and stars. Does that have anything to with DUST? Are those in preparation somewhat?

The Persistent Linking of DUST 514 and EVE Online

Even though DUST 514 was officially announced at GDC Europe / GamesCom in August, CCP was reluctant to share anymore information until they could do so before the fans at the 2009 EVE Fanfest in Iceland. After the special presentation, we sat down with CCP CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson and Creative Director at CCP Asia, Atli Már Sveinsson to talk about DUST 514, EVE Online and how they'll compliment each other. Check it out!

ZAM: Dust 514 is a persistent universe where the characters and the world will be persistent and every battle will be significant and all of the outcomes will affect both worlds. Can you go into some detail as to how persistent some of those features are going to be, and how they will affect both EVE Online and Dust 514?

Atli Már Sveinsson: Obviously the character progression is quite persistent. Your wealth is persistent, or not. But in terms of conquests or control of planets, this is, I think, the main thing that is certainly persistent.

Hilmar Veigar Pétursson: The fundamental communication between the games is that players can contract Dust mining rings to fight over territories on the planet. Where we go beyond that initial standpoint is something where we sort of go with the flow, as we've always done with our game design ideas, where we see where people take the ideas, and we follow the track. So we're very much thinking about the link and Dust alone as a model and DUST together with EVE. So it's really starting there and leading from there.

Important Guild Wars 2 Questions Answered

Earlier this month at PAX, we had the chance to speak with a few of the developers from ArenaNet about the upcoming MMO, Guild Wars 2. A sequel to the successful Guild Wars (published by NCSoft), Guild Wars 2 is currently in full production, with a predicted release date sometime in 2010 to 2011. We learned quite a bit about the project, including its new and revamped engine, what to expect from PvP, and the story and lore behind it all. Before the interview, we had a brief chat with the team about the history of the franchise, and why they decided to make a sequel, rather than continue supporting the original Guild Wars.

ZAM: The trailer looks amazing. The architecture and the buildings look really cool.

Mike O'Brien: You don't even get a sense of how enormous that is, as you're flying through in the video. This is the kind of thing we could never pull off in Guild Wars I. This process of building our engine—we can imagine something like that, and then actually put it in-game.

ZAM: That was a very seamless transition between concept art and in-game. It looks like you can do a lot more with this engine; even with the mountains—they're obviously stylized—but they look a lot more real than mountains I see in other games.

League of Legends: Release and Beyond

Before our big Riot Games vs. Team ZAM match at PAX this year (which we regrettably lost), we ambushed Marc Merrill, President of Riot to get some insight about what the team has planned up until launch and beyond. If you haven't been able to try League of Legends yet, stay tuned -- we're going to be giving away over 20,000 beta keys sometime this week.

ZAM: League of Legends is doing great here; you have a lot of people playing the game and all of them are having fun. What kind of feedback have you guys had so far?

Marc Merrill: We've had some great feedback. Not only from guys who have been in the beta, that have been playing for a long time, coming by, wanting to meet the developers. Other players that have played DotA, but not necessarily have heard of League of Legends have had a great reaction as well. And then a lot of people that have never experienced the MOBA genre have shown up and had a great time as well. There are a couple guys playing right now, in fact, who are having a really great time. It's really exciting for us; it's been in positivity all around.

ZAM: I've been in the beta for a while, so a lot of the stuff that you guys have in right now, we already know about. We want to know about the new stuff, I want to know about the stuff that's going to go in that hasn't necessarily happened. Most notably, new maps, new champions or other juicy nuggets of information you can tell us about.

We Talk Power and Prestige with Flying Labs

During our meeting at PAX with Flying Labs, we spoke with Associate Producer, Janice Vonitter and Game Designer, Greg Hanefeld about their rum drinking ... and Pirates of the Burning Sea. The first expansion is tentatively called "Power and Prestige" and although it currently has no set release date, we've been told that it will definitely be released in 2010. Check out all the details in to Power and Prestige which was been nominated for one of our PAX awards.

ZAM: We understand that there's a new expansion that you guys are talking about at PAX. Can you tell us the name and some basic information?

Janice Vonitter: Yep, it's called "Power and Prestige." It's centered on influence and control over the Caribbean, and parts in it. The main feature in it is the player governed ports. So you can run to be a governor of the port, and if you get a bunch of people to support you, and they put you up for Governor, you can be elected. Once you are governor, you can do a lot of things that actually affect how the port performs, economically and defensively against other players when they try to take it over.

ZAM: What are some of the lesser features of this expansion?

The Secret World is Secret No Longer

Last week at PAX we had our first look at the latest project being developed by Funcom, "The Secret World". Words cannot express how we already feel about this game. Funcom has created one of the coolest premises for an MMO that we've seen to date and combined it with years of experience and an enhanced Age of Conan game engine. Enjoy our interview and stay tuned for an upcoming article with even more information!

Ragnar Tormquisc: My name is Ragnar Tormquisc and I'm the Producer Director on The Secret World.

Martin Bruusgaard: I'm Martin Bruusgaard, and I'm the Lead Designer.

ZAM: First one I'm going to ask; can you tell us a little bit about the individual persistent elements that will exist in the game?

The important thing to mention is that we don't have classes and we don't have levels. We have a very... linear progression, very result-based. It's all about gathering items and equipment, and also different powers. It's all about playing how you want to play and gathering the powers that matter to you, that let you play how you want to play. If you want to be a healer, then you gather the healer powers, and if you want to be a tank, you can gather the tank powers. You can also create hybrids. It's also important to say that you can design different powers to work with different powers, so you and your buddy can create specs that work well with each other, that feed each other. So, in that way, you can become very good at something very quickly, but to be able to master all of the powers and have a 'spec' for every situation - that will take a long time. So it's quick to get into the game and excel at something, but to be able to have all the tools, that will take a long time. So it's a very open progression in that way.

EVE Online: Dominion @ PAX

Last week CCP announced the 11th expansion for Eve Online, Dominion will be making its way into players hands this winter. Of course, inquiring minds wanted to know more so we caught up with Lead Content Designer, Scott Holden at PAX to do just that.

ZAM: What is Dominion all about and where is it taking EVE Online?

Scott Holden: Well, we have changes to sovereignty coming in; the first stage of a series of introduced steps on sovereignty should probably happen over the course of the next year and half—it's a long-term project. We [also] have some new balancing for capital ships, more epic mission content coming and the cosmos, which is essentially a new communications platform inside the game. It's basically taking the email system the way it is now—chat channels will still exist, as far as I know at this point—but basically making it much easier for people inside the game to communicate with other people. You can kind of think of it like Facebook inside EVE.

ZAM: What about some of the pirate epic mission arcs, can you tell us about those?