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Tuesday, September 9, 2008
 

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EVE Online: Economy, Politics, Player Avatars
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 1 comment

Strategy Informer and Eurogamer recently published articles about EVE Online, CCP Games' popular sci-fi MMO. SI's article features interviews with Dr. Eyjolfur Gudmundsson, the game's Lead Economist, and Arend Stührmann, EVE's Associate Producer. Eurogamer's Jim Rossignol offeres an examination of the game's political environment.

From Strategy Informer:

Strategy Informer: With the economy becoming more and more player driven, is there a danger that new players will find it hard to get a ‘foot in’ or make money in a world which is dominated by well established players?
Dr. Gudmundsson: Actually it is vice-versa, because it’s a very competitive market, so those that are producing they are trying to out-sell there competitors. So the prices have been declining over the past two years and because it is relatively easy to gain the manufacturing skills and trade skills, almost everyone can start trading and selling within a few weeks time. So from that perspective it is easier for a new player now to buy a more advanced space-ship than it was two, three or even four years ago when we started. On the other hand, there are certain items that are in very high demand, such as some technologies, that we’ve started to see a sort of ‘shortage’ appear for these items – thus increasing the prices.

Strategy Informer: There have been rumours going round that you plan to introduce a feature that allows you to walk around the stations. Can you confirm that?
Stührmann: Yes I can. We are working on it, and we even have a working prototype… [At this point, Stührmann shows us some early builds of the feature on his computer, showing a fully represented avatar standing in a corridor, with all the standard user interface options. Early days yet, but it still looks impressive.]… Unfortunately I can’t give you a screen shot to take away with you, but there it is, and this is in-game. So instead of just looking at your ship in the station, you can walk around and interact. It’s coming along in leaps and bounds, we’ve been working on making sure that, from the concept arts, and each of the four races has a unique visual identity. So you can say ‘Oh this is Mimitarr Station, or this is a Caldari station…’ We’ve also tried to make sure that even the clothes you can wear fit in with these principles, and with the style of EVE itself. We actually have fashion designers working on the clothes. We’re also working on lighting and textures, as well as the voice communication aspect so you’ll be able to join conversations just by going up close to people just like real life. We’re really putting a lot of work into the technical aspects of the game, but also making sure it feels like EVE. It’s a lot of work, I mean we’re pretty much creating a whole new game which will then merge with EVE, but I’m positive that it’s going to be a brilliant addition to the game.
From Eurogamer:
Once groups of players began to form, so we started to see the local politics emerging. Leaders became personalities, love and loathed, and people voted with their firepower: attacking this alliance, or supporting that one. Some people banded together over friendships, others over national bonds (there are Hungarian, Russian, and Finnish speaking corporations, as well as countless other nationalities). Over the years alliances have risen and fallen, but as time has progressed it's become clear that all roads in EVE lead to something like the Roman Empire. What the game supports leads inexorably to a kind of advanced feudal system. Even if the alliances are democratically led, they end up being big power blocs based on military might.

The most high-profile instance of this has been in the rivalries that defined the last two years of war in EVE, between Band of Brothers and The RedSwarm Federation. An early war between the Goons, who hearken from the Something Awful forums, and the Band Of Brothers (an old and grumpy power within EVE Online) led to an alliance between Something Awful's teeming hordes and the precise, patient empire building of the Russian-speaking Red Alliance. Both the Brothers and the RedSwarm began to capture vast amounts of space and - with that space being beyond the capacity of their armies to control or exploit directly - they began to install allies and vassals in the space. It's a model quite like that of the Roman Empire, which installed Roman governors over local governments in their vast, conquered regions. The Roman armies might have all been off in Germany, but there was no reason why the Empire couldn't enjoy the riches of occupying Gaul - and so it is in EVE.
Visit the sites listed below to learn more.

Strategy Informer: EVE Online Q&As
Eurogamer: EVE Online Politics
CCP Games
TransGaming
EVE Online


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