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Expansion Summary : Trinity

Trinity Website Splash

Main Features

The Trinity expansion was notable for being the first of the graphical updates for the game, bring with it a complete redesign of the graphics engine and 3D models in the game, as well as the effects for the ships modules and weapons; they were all remade by the art team at CCP, to bring the overall style and quality of the games graphics up-to-date. The sole trailer for this expansion showcases this well, though it leaves out the updates to the effects of the ships equipment and weapons.

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Introduction

Blog Introduction

This is the first post in my research project, which will be centered around EVE Online and a few of it’s expansions. Each post will;

  • Summarise the changes and updates in the expansion.
  • Briefly explain what this means for the game and its community.
  • Describe the reaction that the expansion was given by the community, both in the game and in the games industry.
  • Detail my own experiences with the game at the time.

Later on, the development team (Crowd Control Productions, or CCP) started posting blogs and videos about the expansions, so if possible these will be included too. This includes Trailers, Developer Blogs and Developer & Insider Vlogs. This project will also briefly explain the games setting, which could include references to the Chronicles, the Scientific Articles, the Factions History, the 3 Novels about the game, and the way the players themselves influenced the course of events in New Eden (The Galaxy/Star cluster that the game is usually set in).

If possible, I’ll also be contacting people I know who play the game to interview, to gain more information on the player-based politics in the game. I can also use blogs and forums for this, and some players have even set up small news networks to keep track of the latest updates and changes that aren’t reported on by larger news outlets, so those will be very valuable.

EVE Universe Introduction

Something I feel I need to clarify about EVE; Gameplay and Progression favors the patient. The way skills train, by taking an amount of Real Time to progress to the next level (there is no Training or Grinding or Objective to complete or do that will speed this up), and the way that the game is known as more of an Economic, Political and Warfare simulator (albeit, within a fictional world) than a traditional game, gives this game every right to be called A Patient Person’s Game.

The complexity of the Lore and the gameworld itself is so much that it would take a very, very large project to even summarise completely, so this project will focus on the few chosen expansions more than anything else, and will use the developers own videos to help.

As a Player in the game’s universe, you’re first introduced to the area the game takes place in. This happens as soon as you try to create a character to play as on the character select screen; you’re greeted with a video introducing the Lore of the game, not with much detail but with enough to bring you into the environment without being completely clueless.

Before 2005, the game had an introduction video about the Backstory. This was then changed to tell the players about their role in the gameworld more than anything.

Video Summary – Backstory Introduction

  • Humans colonised the galaxy at some point in the future.
  • Factions and Corporations were formed, and eventually turned against each other.
  • Truce was found when a natural wormhole formed, the first discovered. They called it The EVE Gate.
  • Colonists braved the journey and found themselves in an entirely new Galaxy, New Eden.
  • The Wormhole collapsed, severing supply lines to several colonies that needed it. A few survived.
  • The survivors reinvented society as a whole, and became 4 main races and empires, among other factions.

This next video is what players see when they try and create a character in the game, before they get to the actual character creator screen.

Video Summary – Player Role Introduction

  • As a Player, you experience the gameworld through a human who has just become a Capsuleer or “Pod Pilot”.
  • Essentially, Capsuleers plug into their ships similarly to how humans plugged into ‘The Matrix’ in the movies.
  • As such, you are often revered and feared as the Demigod your ability paints you as; flying a ship with extreme efficiency.
  • The gameworld revolves around you and other Capsuleers; it’s intensely competitive, and what defines the gameworld.
  • Death does not matter too much; You can always be Cloned into a new body, your consciousness uploaded upon death, and downloaded upon ‘rebirth’.

The 4 Main Races and Empires make up a large portion of the gameworld, and are a key feature to it’s lore and history. After the 2005 update, the developers (CCP Games) decided to add in summaries of the Races and their history on the character select screen, when you pick a race for your character to start as. They each have unique styles, but can be made fairly generic if you want; the character creator is very high-detail, and morphing or changing your character to suit your taste is easy after the Incarna expansion.

Introduction Summary: Minmatar Republic

  • Concept Based on African and Tribal culture.
  • They have founded the Minmatar Republic, which is based on a few of the main Tribes (there are quite a few).
  • Typically having dark skin, though this is entirely optional.
  • Were once enslaved to the Amarr, and are still fighting to liberate slaves within the Amarr Empire.

Introduction Summary: Amarr Empire

  • Concept Based on the history of The British Empire.
  • They have a Slave Trade, and are infamous for their methods.
  • Have a very fervent belief in “The Reclaiming”, which is a slight variant on the concept of The Crusades.
  • The first to reinvent space flight, they have conquered and expanded to claim the largest empire.
  • Their Capsuleers are frequently elderly; becoming a Capsuleer in the vast Amarr Empire takes a lifetime.
  • Their empire is split into Regions by the Holders and their families; they rule over their domain and form the Empire as a whole, while their heirs may become Emperor Empress.

Introduction Summary: Gallente Federation

  • Concept Based around European, but mostly French culture.
  • Prideful of their Democracy and Freedom, they are natural allies for the Minmatar, and are at odds with the Amarr.
  • Fought a war with the Caldari; their cultures are intensely different, despite having the same origin solar system.
  • Generally they favour Economical and Industrial might.
  • Made up of States, one of which now ceases to be one after rebelling (the Caldari State).

Introduction Summary: Caldari State

  • Concept Based around North American and Japanese culture; Hyper-Capitalist and very Corporate-based.
  • Not much of an empire, more like a collection of MegaCorporations that own several entire solar-systems. This includes the people within; entire families and planets have become entrenched in the Meritocracy that is the state.
  • The Megacorporations themselves often have in-border cold wars, but do fight together when threats from outside occur.
  • Citizens are often given Military Training, and can handle weaponry and military exercises well.
  • They often clash with the Minmatar and the Gallente, especially with culture.
  • Their homeworld (Caldari Prime) is within the same solar system as the Gallente homeworld (Gallente Prime or Luminaire).

Market Research

Market Research

 

Definition and Examples

Inception Poster

In this case, Market Research is the phrase I will use to refer to the practise of researching an audience and their likeliness to purchase a product, and what they respond to. Inception1 has a very good way of engaging their audience (as many people as possible), and is a good example of market research; the movie was designed so that many people could relate to it, and if someone can relate to a movie, then it’s a lot easier to engage and hold their attention. An example of video game market research could be a game called Spec Ops: The Line; it was designed to appeal to the promisingly profitable  market of Military Shooter gamers, which has been proven to exist by games like Battlefield and Call of Duty and their success.

Sources of Information

Captain Walker

Above: Captain Walker, the player character in Spec Ops :The Line, towards the end of the game, began to show signs of stress disorders associated with soldiers in war.

Market Research can be Primary and Secondary Research; Spec Ops went for a secondary research method to begin with, and looked at the success of other titles with a similar theme before starting development on something that was aiming to grab its fair slice of the console shooter pie. Further on however, the publisher decided to develop an Online Multiplayer feature, purely because their publishers market research told them that the game would sell much better if it had this.2

Asking people or finding out what people look for in a genre or niche of media is often the easiest part; well-qualified reviews and feedback of the media already occupying the genre can be a clue as to what people would like to see from future works. A common example in gaming could be ‘military shooters with regenerating health’ sell well, so that could be an audience to aim for if you were up for the competition posed by the media already occupying the audience’s attention.

Monetising Market Research

FreshMinds

Some companies know that media producers and funders will want their market research ASAP – it’s crucial to know who you’re going to sell to, and whether they’ll buy it, and having predictable success is a virtue for your product. So, some companies even sell already-taken survey results and market research to other companies – FreshMinds is an example of a London-based company that offers this service.

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1 http://thefuturebuzz.com/2010/10/27/inception-marketing/

2http://www.pcgamer.com/2012/08/29/spec-ops-the-line-dev-lashes-out-at-cancerous-multiplayer-mode-pushed-by-2k/

Quantitative and Qualitative Research

Quantative Research

Quantative Research is based largely around numbers and graphs, presentable data, percentages and true/false answers and objective values.

  • ‘Quant-‘ is often associated with numbers and amounts in the English language. Quantity means “the amount of something” , usually.
  • Generally, this type of research is easy to present, being able to make graphs and charts about this type of data is often easy to do for a powerpoint or visual or poster type presentation, or a summary in a new article.
  • A common example could be rating things out of 5, like hotels and the 5star system, which uses quantity to simplify the many aspects of Hotels.

Qualitative Research

Qualitative Research focuses on opinions, language, and the meaning of things to people. It can often be summed up best in a paragraph or narrative, and isn’t easily turned into a graph or chart.

  • Quotation Marks are often used to cite evidence or research that is Qualitative. E.g “Some people described the movie as “Confusing””
  • Citing phrases from Reviews and professional opinions is more qualitative than Quantative.
  • This type of research also gives more of a clue to the context of a media production, and the tone or setting, and how it affected its viewers/consumers.

Primary and Secondary Research

Primary Research

Primary Research can be thought of as ‘being the first to know’.

An example of historic primary research could be early explorers, discovering new lands and species to document.

Whether you keep the information to yourself or not is entirely up to you, or who you work for, and each choice can provide (dis)advantages. Some people even charge for valuable information or study results.

Generally, the most common form of primary research is market research. Millions of surveys, questionnaires and phone calls are sent out every day, by companies who hope to find out what products will sell or not without making too much of a loss.

  • The main issue with this is that you should expect a questionably reliable response. Most people don’t like answering surveys, and some people even enjoy giving false answers, such as a religious census in England where more than 10,000 people answered “Jedi” as their religion.

Science experiments and research are often a good source of primary research. Experiments allow people to observe research and get answers first-hand, and this can extend beyond chemistry labs too, such as engineering prototypes and product testing for video games, cosmetics etc.

Being aware about what is a Theory and what is proven will be of use. Generally, a 95% demonstrable success rate will prove a theory.

In contrast to the example of interviewing the rock climber I use in the Secondary Research section, getting out there and doing it yourself can be a very reliable source of primary research. What better way to learn about something than to experience something?

  • You will need to be keenly aware of resulting bias, though, when researching something objective.

Secondary Research

Secondary Research is simply viewing other people’s research.

A very common and easy example could be the internet; viewing the results or blog of an experiment or experience online, so you don’t have to conduct the experiment/research yourself.

  • This can be unreliable. If the work is biased,  inaccurate or even out-dated, you suffer the consequences too.
  • This can be avoided by contacting and checking with the the original researcher, looking at the dates of publication etc.

The most common forms of secondary research are household activities, something similar to small internet searches that last <5 minutes, newspaper reading, or documentaries on TV.

  • The worst disadvantage about this is that most people don’t know where to find reliable sources of information, and may be left with inaccurate or unreliable information. There’s always a risk of trust too; some studies are faked or biased to produce results for propaganda, and this has happened throughout history.
  • A rather reliable source of secondary research could be talking to people who study or practice what you need to know, for example, interviewing a rock climber on how it feels to be on the side of a sheer cliff, rather than experiencing it yourself.
  •  Alternatively, a documentary could provide this information, if you don’t want to or cant seek a rock climber to interview.

EVE Online Expansion Summary – Castor

T2_Kestrel_from_castor

Above: A screenshot of a Tech 2 Kestrel ship in the Castor expansion.

Castor was released on the 13th of December, 2003, and it’s main focus was adding Tech 2 ‘elite’ Ships and refining current features. Factions were given police forces that shoot at people who dont have a good enough security standing, so outlaws or enemies of the factions can now fight back.

In no-security areas, neutral space stations were added, and players could capture Them. they’re invincible, and people can tax others for using their services, so having a corporation own a station was a big deal for player politics.

A change that has lasted a decade was the introduction of Agents that give people Missions (essentially their version of quests, given out by the Agents in space stations) and blueprints (that people can use to manufacture items, especially Tech 2 items). The agents at this point were only difficult enough to be classed as level 3 at most, which would change in later expansions.

This expansion took almost a year to be released, but it went by largely unnoticed by the community; tech2 ships were basically direct upgrades to their tech1 variants, and most people didnt see them until months later due to how expensive they were; there were less than 50,000 players subscribed, so there wasn’t much money floating around the ingame economy.

Torpedoes still caused splash damage in this expansion, as well as pushing peoples ships enough to stop them from being able to escape using their warp drive, though I only ever played after this was changed. The UI was also very difficult to use, and it had been changed by the time I ever joined.

EVE Online Expansion Summary – Second Genesis

Above: The Second Genesis title and log-in screen.

The first expansion to EVE Online was named castor, and was released in December 2003, about 7 months after the release of the game in May (which was entitled Second Genesis).

My own experience with the expansion:

When I first signed up for the game during a later expansion (Revelations II), an introduction was played that had been there from the beginning;

Other than the introduction, the graphic style of the game was still in its infancy (a later expansion called Trinity would overhaul the graphics engine), and the UI wasn’t far off from what it is today. In Castor, however, the UI featured a “Threats” elements, a window that listed objects and enemies in nearby space; this would later become “The Overview”.

An old relic from the very first UI in EvE shows a 3D Radar tool that functioned similar to the current Overview window, as seen here:

A screenshot of an early, pre-release EVE Online build, featuring the Radar part of the GUI.

Main features:

  • The start of a steady pace of updates and expansions to the game for already-subscribing players.
  • Player-Run Economy, though at this stage it was still based heavily off of NPCs selling a lot of the available goods.
  • CCP estimated the largest conflicts in the game to have “a few hundred players at most” at this point.
  • All Tech level 1 ships were added to the game. There were no Capital or Tech2 and 3 ships in the game at this point, and many players remember being happy to have a cruiser.
  • Battleships were rare, and an infamous “Lord Zap” was known for flying a Tempest battleship extremely well in player-versus-player combat.
  • There were 5,000 solar systems in this version of the game; it would later grow far larger with a later expansion (Apocrypha).
  • There were approximately 5,000 active players at that time; in recent times, the game often has at least 30-40,000 players at once.