I’m sure news of the planned skill queue have spread like wildfire by now. Probably the best news I’ve heard all day. As a community we have been clamoring for this for awhile now. It was quite a kick in the pants when they took ghost training away and didn’t add the queue. Some questions remain however as to how this will affect character growth and character farming.
The dev blog states “The skill training system we came up with allows you to queue skills that will start training in the next 24 hours. You can enter in up to 50 skills in a queue, as long as they all start training within 24 hours. This leaves room to start a skill that will take 6 hours, followed with one that takes 12 to complete. With only 18 hours of training prepared, the queue still has room to start another skill.” What I’m taking this to mean is that you could essentially train a bunch of shorter skills up until 24 hours after the first skill started in the queue then have a long skill start right before that 24 hour period is up. This helps with low multiplier skills that may only take 10-15 hours to get to lvl 3 or 4 but the last skill is a day or two. So long as level V starts within the 24 hour period then it will start training. What this doesn’t help is a Capital ship pilot throw months worth of skills together in the queue, log off, log back in a few months from then and be able to fly a carrier around. This in theory prevents character farming.
Now this certainly doesn’t help people like myself who will be going on vaction for a week in the spring and need to train a set of skills. Chances are I’ll just have to set a long one or find a skill set that trains a bunch of short skills then starts a long one that takes a week before the 24 hours is up. I think the 24 hour time table is a tad short. Something closer to 48 would have been a bit more reasonable. Either way, this is a good step in the right direction and was a big fat elephant in the room that they weren’t addressing.
I remember my first two weeks in Eve like they were yesterday. I remember my trusty Velator appearing on screen and immediately being overwhelmed by the overview and sidebar. There was so much to take in and it felt like I would never learn what ever module in the market did. Even such, I was still excited. The aspect of the game that really pulled me in was community. From player run corporations to Alliances. It was amazing that you could be rating in empire with a guy sitting thousands of miles away in front of his computer (or her!).
It wasn’t just the in-game things that pulled me in, but the out of game happenings. There were blogs, alliance tournaments, podcasts and even a TV show dedicated to this great game. This brings me to EveTV. They were out of money and CCP was unwilling to help them in any form that would keep it going at the time. I watched previous episodes and it immediately struck me as plain stupid that CCP wouldn’t keep something like this going. Something that really gave this game something that no other MMO offered. It’s cutting things like this that speak volumes about how much the company cares about the community outside of the game. Apparently the alliance tournament used to be hosted every 6 months but is now once a year. With PCU up and the possibility of plenty of new subscriptions in ’09, it makes me wonder if this will bite CCP in the ass. I can’t begin to ponder why they wouldn’t spend the relatively low amount of cash to fund specific events and programs outside of the game that really pull in new players and keep the veteran pilots interested. Per player investment for these types of programs must be relatively low.
Let’s face it, CCP NEEDS to make Eve standout from the pack. None of us are quitting our subscriptions because EveTV is gone or the tournament is only every year now, thats clear. But what will speak to CCP is stiffled growth. They have a massive investment in servers and programming. What pays off for them is when subscriptions go up and more people are paying for the experience they have created. Essentially more bang for their buck off their initial investment. Thats the great multiplier of programming.
Hopefully CCP realizes in the future that the CAN cater to new and old players. They need to keep in mind the entire experience they are creating, and not just the game itself. FanFest is a great start but I think they can do a bit better. Bringing back EveTv in some form for a bi-weekly show would also be a good start. Hopefully they agree.
A recent series of dev blogs has highlighted a massive change to the Eve Online client system. Classic will be gone and in its place will be what CCP is calling “Premium Lite.” The new Lite client is essentially the Premium client but with more options to turn down effects like most games on the market.
This is a big change for both players and CCP. I know personally I’ve been using the Classic client since day one. Its been fairly stable and allows running multiple clients without much fear of a framerate slow down. I still run Classic to this day, even though I’m running it on a hot rod of a system. I’ve toyed with switching to Premium, but why change what already works?
The big question that remains is how well the Premium Lite client will run. Can we expect Classic like performance with all the settings turned low? Most desktop users shouldn’t have a problem and CCP says any GeForce 5 or ATI R300 or higher series card should be able to handle the lite client (as always, take CCP specs with a massive grain of salt). The biggest problem comes to mind when you start talking about notebooks. Their graphics cards aren’t upgradeable in most cases. Netbooks that can run the Classic client have been popular recently. Eve is a game you can stay logged into for hours, mining or just chatting with buddies and corpmates. Having an affordable notebook to take with you and stay logged in makes a lot of sense.
All of this is great for CCP. This means they don’t have to create two seperate model groups for each graphics engine. This saves time and allows them to devote teams of designers and debuggers to other projects. Hopefully this means a much more stable client overall. They need to seriously work on how the game handles packet loss. The number of disconnects before matches during the past week of alliance tournaments was embarrassing.
I caution CCP about moving to quickly to drop support for older graphics cards. The fact of the matter is that some people, especially those on older notebooks, will not have the proper card to run the new Premium Lite. If this is their only way of logging in, then chances are they won’t be continuing their subscription. Cutting Shadermodel 2 will undoubtedly lose a few more subscriptions along the way. Things DO need to move forward but they need to stop at each stage and take a serious look at their client and the realistic performance it has on the cards they say are supported for it. My older computer had a 2ghz AMD processor with 2gb of ram and an Nvidia 6800 card and it had plenty of hiccups with the classic client. Saying that the Premium Lite client will support 5 series cards and up sounds like thats the minimum to be able to actually open and run the client. What is required to actually run the game with enjoyable performance is yet to be seen. Time will tell and if they can introduce a lite client with the performance to suit both newer and older systems then it could be a great win for both sides. We will all be waiting.
Its been obvious news, the PCU (Peak Concurrent Users) count has been rising steadily for the past few Sundays with last Sunday reaching over 48k. This is great news for the game but it presents a trend that could create serious issues if it continues.
Average daily server POP seems to be higher than it was this summer. The general feeling is that server POP does increase during the winter months when more players are indoors and log on. The question is this, does the higher PCU mean more people signing up or just more existing players logging on during the winter months? It’s yet to be seen if the subscription rate is actually increasing. If so, there are issues CCP could run into.
I’m fairly confident that as a whole, the server can handle quite a few people at any given time. What is a concern is single system crowding. Systems like Jita are rapidly growing and one has to wonder how many concurrent players in system the server could handle. There is also the matter of region crowding.
With the March expansion and the release of a retail boxed version of the game, you can certainly expect subscriptions to rise. Time will tell how this affects the game.