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EVE Online: "The War on the Impossible", Part 4: Trinity

Dana Massey | 12 Nov 2007 20:57
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Fannar also unveiled one improvement that should make hardcore EVE players happy: in the new client, players will arrive and then the ships will pop into the scene. It's not as pretty, but this means that when a player jumps into a large fleet battle, they'll have information and responsive UI instantly, even if they cannot see all the ships on the screen. He pointed out that it has always been visuals that locked people up for those precious moments. It isn't ideal to see a ship "pop" into a scene, but Fannar believes players prefer that to seeing everything come in at once only to find out that they are already dead.

While the technical guys and artists have their hands more than full with a new client and completely rebuilt visuals, the designers of EVE Online were not all on paid leave. Trinity also introduces a host of new gameplay refinements and improvements.

Richardsson gave a comedic overview of the new content, which includes heat attenuation, enhanced drones, more exploration, brand new faction loot, corporation registry, improved in-game help and enhanced EVE Voice.

EVE Voice has been a contentious introduction into EVE Online. It made perfect sense on paper, as many players used Ventrilo and TeamSpeak in conjunction with the game, but for a variety of reasons, the integrated voice solution provided by CCP and partner Vivox has met with resistance from the hardcore community.

During large fleet battles, the client can often lock up or lag and since EVE Voice is controlled from within the game itself, that means its UI is also non-responsive. Repeatedly throughout the week, fans asked for a stand-alone client, which Vivox does offer, but not as part of EVE Voice. Other complaints included the basic functionality and, of course, the additional fee.

CCP and Vivox took some great strides towards further adoption of EVE Voice during Fanfest and in Trinity. They announced that EVE Voice will soon be completely free to all EVE subscribers. There goes that roadblock. They also explained the first big wave of upgrades to EVE Voice that may not solve all complaints, but are definitely steps in the right direction.

The big push in Trinity with EVE Voice is to make fleet command more user friendly. To support this, they've added "layers of chat" so that people can listen to more than one channel at the same time, then contribute with a simple click to the one they have something to say in. They have also set up levels and permissions in channels, so that if a fleet commander requires radio silence in the general channel, they can moderate it so that only senior officials can speak, while others can continue to chat in their more specialized rooms. They've also enabled the ability for moderators to mute those who just cannot shut up and other IRC-like functionality. What's more, it's now easier to figure out who exactly is talking, as the UI displays a history of who has spoken.

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If the hardcore fleet commanders in the room are to be believed, these changes likely don't go quite far enough, but it's tough to call them anything other than progress. CCP and Vivox also outlined all sorts of plans for the future, which we will cover in the 5th part of this series later this week.

The gameplay cornerstone of Trinity is Heat Attenuation. Heat is not new to EVE Online, but with Trinity, should be a much improved aspect of the game. Kristinn Þór Sigurbergsson, who is a bit better known as Tuxford, explained what he calls "rat in the corner gameplay".

They set out to create an easy to learn system that when used correctly offered big rewards, but also big risks to those who didn't quite get it right. They also didn't want to add much server load. Heat is not a resource people need to juggle all the time, but as the "rat in a corner" line suggests, something people can play with to get that tiny inch up on an enemy in a sticky situation.

Ships in EVE have multiple slots that players load with modules. It's a way to further specialize and differentiate one ship from the next and lets players customize their experience to whatever role they want to play. Heat is all about the ability to overload certain modules and balance the power flow so as not to blow them up in an effort to get a head.

In its initial implementation, players were unable to fix blown up modules without a return to the station and often blew them up too quickly. It created travel time, rather than compelling gameplay. In Trinity, they've addressed player concerns and added more depth to the system.

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