Banter 36: Expanding Waistline

“With the Inferno expansion upon us, new seeds have been planted in the ongoing evolution of EVE Online. With every expansion comes new trials and challenges, game-changing mechanics and fresh ideas. After nine years and seventeen expansions, EVE has grown far more than most other MMOGs can hope for. Which expansions have brought the highs and lows, which have been the best and the worst for EVE Online?”

Interesting topic this round. Not that they are mostly uninteresting or anything, but I’ve been around for every single expansion, and while I’ve forgotten the reasons I liked and disliked some of them due to senility, I still have opinions on a few.

The Good

I think a lot of the time we focus on bad things and not good things. Its something intrinsic in human nature. It makes for more exciting news and it’s certainly what keeps soap operas running year after year. Being based in the UK I also understand and appreciate the need to complain about big things and little things as I see fit. And I usually do. But before we get on to what I feel to be the ‘bad’ expansions, let us first consider a couple of the more awesome ones we’ve had over the years.

Empyrean Age. The content for Factional Warfare (FW) under-delivered compared to the ideas for it that we players had built up in our heads over the years – something only exacerbated by the second issue of EON, which made the emergent gameplay of FW seem a lot more epic than has ever come to fruition. But there should be no argument that it was a decent expansion for anyone interested in EVE’s story or lore. We’d had years of rising tensions between the empires, and everyone knew at some point or other that the brown stuff was going to hit the spinney thing. It was nice to see that happen – even if it was a little weird how everything happened all at once.

My favourite bit about Empyrean Age though, was the constantly updated newsfeed of what was going on during the ‘comms blackout’. It was incredibly exciting to read while waiting for the expansion to deploy, even if we were all secretly lamenting not being able to take part in the events ourselves.

Apocrypha. I don’t think I’ve met anyone that disliked Apocrypha, though doubtless there’s some. With this expansion we got some crazy number of new systems (4000?) to explore in lawless, uncharted space with a completely new kind of NPC enemy to go along with it. This kept both the carebears happy (with a new mechanic for exploration and new shiny things to find with it), and hardcore PVPers happy (with quick access to lawless space that couldn’t be claimed and new sneaky ways to ambush the aforementioned carebears). Finally, the introduction of our own version of Lego ships – T3 strategic cruisers – there was a place in these new systems for industrial types as well.

There was something for (almost) everyone, and I think this is what made Apocrypha so popular among the player base.

The Bad

Castor. The first expansion to EVE. So small that I don’t think it ever got a proper name, so it just stuck with its in-development name. This is the expansion that I mentioned in passing at the start of this post. I have only vague recollections of why I hated it so much. I know it totally messed with my mining – and I was big into mining back in those days – by making mining lasers drain a lot of cap, which in turn made battleship mining less workable, though still more than possible. These were the days before we had specialist mining barges, let alone exhumers. Beyond that, I can’t really say what irked me, but I’ll still rant about it if given half a chance in-game.

Red Moon Rising. What many remember as the most failish of deployments. A horrendously over-long deployment downtime and (if rolled in with the Bloodlines update) some conveniently Asian-inspired new characters just in time for EVE China to launch. Some of these new bloodlines had slightly more appealing attributes than others, further widening the gap in population between the Caldari and everybody else. The best way to sum up Red Moon Rising would be through a fancy and comical animation. If only someone would be so kind as to create such a thing. Oh wait, they did!

The Ugly

Exodus. The expansion that brought us official alliances. It also brought us POS and level 4 missions.

I think everyone still loathes having to manage a POS to this day; though to a lesser extent now we have fuel blocks for the lazy POS-owner. As time goes by more and more people end up resorting to them just to get things done in a timely manner.

Level 4 missions introduced a massive ISK generator. I still feel that this was the first big mistake in the overall devaluation of in-game items. It went unchecked for such a long time, that by the time the bounties were scaled, the difficulty tweaked and level 5 missions added for proper group activities, there was entirely too much ISK flying about (quite literally) everywhere. I remember when Exodus/Shiva first hit and we were surprised to see that the expected Alliance fee had shot up from 100m to 1b ISK, and we had to do a round-robin with the member corporations to raise the final figure. These days, an individual is considered poor if they have less than a billion just sitting in their wallet gathering dust.

Incarna. Oh my. Such a long time coming, and such shortcomings. We all know that Incarna was started and restarted more times than an Amarrian monk leers at choirboys in his lifetime, but we were given a room. One room. Could we leave the room? No. Could we interact with other pilots? No. Was there any more (but entirely non-necessary) functionality? No.

What we did get was a new currency and a virtual store to pimp out our characters in the latest designer fashions that nobody would ever get to see because we couldn’t have them leave their rooms. And then we got hit by a nuclear meltdown of PR with the leaked internal document that just made everyone rage. Although this wasn’t directly a part of the expansion, it was still a major part of its failings; I can’t help but feel that there might be more content for ‘walking in stations’ if the PR-bomb hadn’t happened. Whether this would be better or worse for the state of the game though, I won’t speculate.

Comments for this Post

One thought on “Banter 36: Expanding Waistline”

  1. Luci
    01st Jun '12 at 9:39 am

    “It was incredibly exciting to read while waiting for the expansion to deploy, even if we were all secretly lamenting not being able to take part in the events ourselves.”

    I think that last bit did piss off a lot of RPers though, who maybe less than secretly lamented not being able to take part, and felt it all happening when they couldn’t join in or influence things at all was a bit cheap. 

    “Level 4 missions introduced a massive ISK generator. I still feel that this was the first big mistake in the overall devaluation of in-game items.”

    Lvl 4 missions was a mistake. Introducing things to the game through the agent system was a mistake.  Precipitated by things like implants when the mission system actually became useful/financially viable. (I bought a spare battleship with implant money ¬.¬)  And yeah, there was an overall devaluation of in-game items but I think the social repercussions were more detrimental to the game.

    Lvl 4 missions were supposed to be missions that you’d need to do with your friends as they were too difficult to solo.  Except…they weren’t.  So you had this new way of making money…that you could do solo.  Before that, missions were something you did while waiting for your friends to come online.  After that, your friends were too busy grinding their missions -.-

    Grinding missions didn’t really feel like playing EVE tbh.  Sure people had a choice *not* to.  But if you’re going to offer people a good way of making money, they’re going to take it before the other shoe drops…

    • 02nd Jun '12 at 6:34 am

      You may be right about the RPers, but I hope that most of the reasonable-minded peeps in that camp would realise that you make all those actions interactive would take as much – if not more – development time than the contents of the expansion itself.

      These are exactly the reasons I disliked the introduction of the level 4 missions. I tried to avoid going on a long rant about them, but you have saved me the trouble anyway.

      I don’t know if its still the case, but I think it should have been scaled in the same way as level 5 missions were initially, where you can’t do the majority of them without a group, and the rewards per pilot are less than that of a level 4 mission. Subsequently lots of people don’t bother. Imagine that was the case for level 4 missions as well: people would fall back to level 3 missions with lower payouts, but it would be something they could solo, or they could do the level 4 missions with 3 people and pull in about the same amount of ISK.

      Thanks for the comment. I enjoy the reminiscing ranty ones. 😉

  2. Mordenkainan
    04th Jun '12 at 4:14 pm

    Super vid by the Killer8 bought back so many memories – he was the second person to kill me in EvE – a very very long time ago before I moved to Minnmatart territory.


    • 05th Jun '12 at 5:30 am

       Hah, that’s cool. 🙂

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