EVE: The Second Genesis - an online revolution?

You all know games like Elite or Privateer - those cool space simulators where you could do everything you`d imagine. Fly through the deep space, visit planets, space stations, fight battles, trade and much more. Now, all these thing are going online! EVE: The Second Genesis will offer such great possibilities you could only dream about a few years ago. Read our interview with its creators and learn more.
You all know games like Elite or Privateer - those cool space simulators where you could do everything you`d imagine. Fly through the deep space, visit planets, space stations, fight battles, trade and much more. Now, all these thing are going online! EVE: The Second Genesis will offer such great possibilities you could only dream about a few years ago. Read our interview with its creators and learn more.

We`ve been talking with Hrafnkell Oskarsson, Game Designer at CPP, authors of EVE: The Second Genesis.

Doupě: First of all, could you please introduce your company to our readers?

Hrafnkell Oskarsson: CCP (Crowd Control Productions) is a privately held company founded in 1997. It was created around a strong vision of creating online games which focus on maximizing player interaction, and on utilizing the new, unexplored possibilities arising from having thousands of players interacting in the same game world. CCP has 30 employees that are all working on it´s first title EVE : The Second Genesis. (http://www.eve-online.com/)

Eve the Second Genesis Eve the Second Genesis

Doupě: What`s the mystery of the impressive graphics in EVE? Is it really possible to have such beatiful images as are the screenshots on your website moving on today`s computers?

H.O.: The EVE 3D engine uses Microsoft Direct3D 8. It utilizes the per-pixel shading capabilities of Direct3D 7 and 8 class 3D accelerators. Models can have arbitrary number of rendering passes and arbitrary combinations of those passes on selected surfaces, creating photo-realistic material effects, such as rusty metal, copper, gold, dirty glass, non-reflective paint and dirt on metallic surfaces, etc. This also enables us to use a new light mapping method to create sophisticated illumination such as spotlights, glows and sharp highlights on extremely simple meshes. We have engineered the EVE engine so that most of the 3D pipeline it is accessible to our artists through the use of in-house tools. This really puts the power in the hands of our artists and that is the main reason for the visual quality of EVE. The simple techniques used also mean that the game will run on an average computer system, although a Nvidia GeForce 3D graphic card or better is required.

Doupě: Could you tell us something about the story behind EVE: The Second Genesis?

H.O.: The game takes place in an unknown area of our universe thousands of years into the future. Humans reached this area through a natural wormhole (termed EVE), which later collapsed. A huge jump gate was constructed between the old world and the new one. It remained in operation for only 70 years, when it inexplicably flared out, destroying the system it was in and rendering itself unusable. The game starts when the surviving factions from that catastrophe are back on their feet and exploring space yet again. The isolation following the collapse of the EVE gate shaped numerous radically different human factions. It took awhile for these factions to get to terms with each other, but today they`ve maintained a sometimes shaky) peace for a number of years. The roles of all players are those of ship captains. Ship captains are a very specialized group of people, specially fitted (with neural riggings and other stuff) to handle the job. So this makes every player special right from the start. But note that players can still follow widely different paths in how they play the game.

Eve the Second Genesis Eve the Second Genesis

Doupě: How many ship types and which ones for example can players choose? Will this number increase during the progress of the game?

H.O.: In total, there will be around 100 ship modules in the game. For many of those, several different versions will be available, with small differences in weapon fittings, cargo space and such. Each empire, and some of the smaller factions, has its own line of ships. So there will be quite a lot of ships for the players to choose from. Making a new ship or modifying an existing one is not a big issue, so you can expect more ships as the game progresses.

Doupě: And what about some super-strong extraterrestrial races, unknown dangers from the deep space which all the players will have to face - can we expect something like this?

H.O.: The basic game concept of EVE is player vs. player (PvP) gaming, not player vs. environment (PvE). So we focus on the ways that players can interact with each other. By having extraterrestial threats we`re breaking this, because then the game becomes `everybody against the computer`, which is not interesting in our opinion. Having said that, there will be an evolving grand plot behind the scenes, which players can take part in if they want. This grand plot (I don`t want to give too much away) can become a threat for the while EVE world.

Doupě: Will the player`s have chance to shape their ships accorging to their own ideas (e.g. equipment, appearance)?

H.O.: Players will be able to customize their ship quite extensively, both in fitting them as well as in outward appearance. This includes altering various things on the ships (weaponry, defenses, etc.), adding emblems and logos, changing their color, and more.

Doupě: What will be the player`s in-game character possibilities? What will they be able to do and what they won`t be able to realize?

H.O.: There is an extensive skill tree for characters to climb up. Skills can allow certain activities, give bonuses or allow the player to use high-level equipment. The player can also give his character cyber implants and boost its abilities with numerous substances. Also, during the creation process of his character the player can select the appearance of his character, the possibilities there are almost endless, making each character unique in appearance. The main thing that in the current version of EVE the characters are not able to walk inside space stations, we decided to focus on the space environment to begin with.

Doupě: What about the cooperation with other players?

H.O.: We believe that player interaction in every form is the nature of massively multiplayer games. Thus, we`ll support a lot of player interaction, including many forms of grouping. Players can form loose-bound associations, or clans, mainly for mutual identification and protection. Players can also form companies, which can own space stations and even planets. Companies are the main vehicles for players that want to exert greater influence on the world. The players themselves choose what kind of a company they want to form or join - these can range from tyrannical dictatorship to benevolent democracies, and everything in between. The size can be anywhere from a handful to dozens, even hundreds of players. Players can hold offices within their company, giving them special roles and abilities. As for the communication, we`ll support myriad ways for players to talk to each other and exchange information. Think of all the different ways we communicate today over the Internet and similar ways will be in the game.

Eve the Second Genesis Eve the Second Genesis

Doupě: What`s the maximal number of players for which EVE is suited and how many players does it have now?

H.O.: As the setting is space, we have a natural definition of locality (a solar system). There are very little communications between players that are in different solar systems. This minimizes the network traffic considerable. As we have a defined point to scale on, the solar system, at it greatest calability we can have one solar system per server, which translates over to 5000 servers serving a single world. A dedicated server per solar system brings the number of users per system at the same time up to something like 1000 (the open beta will give us more info on this). In an effort to minimize network latency effects, we have also designed all game systems in EVE to be deterministic, thus giving the EVE client an option of extrapolating the results of user actions, even though the response from the server is delayed (due to lag for example). So, we envision that at least a few hundred thousand players can play in the EVE world - the only real limit is how many can be in any one solar system at the same time. We`re starting the beta phase as we speak, so we`ll have more definite numbers soon.

Doupě: Which aspect of massively multiplayer online games is most important for you - graphics, story, freedom, community, anything else or all the above?

H.O.: That would be community - if you don`t have good community, players will leave the game quickly, and with no players the game will die no matter how good its game systems or graphics or story is. So we`re very conscious of creating and maintaining a strong, thriving community both before launch and after.

Doupě: Will we have to pay regular fee for playing EVE: The Second Genesis?

H.O.: Yes most likely. The Publisher will probably have the final word on the exact numbers but the price model could be similar to existing ones in other MMOL games, around 10-13$ pr. month.

Latest update: You can find quite a lot of new goodies (music, movie, screens, background story & more) on the official EVE`s site at http://www.eve-online.com/.

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