This is SoniClover from team Super Friends, telling you about some of the things the team has been working on for EVE Online: Odyssey's June 4th release.
The team took part in the theme-conception work overseen by CCP Seagull earlier in the year. From that work the exploration theme emerged as something we wanted to focus the expansion on. Super Friends part in this work was looking at the current probe scanning system to see what changes were needed to fit the overall vision.
What is this overall vision? The overall vision for exploration is to make it a more noticeable part of the game and lower the barrier of entry. Exploration is something that appeals to a lot of players, but because it is so obscure it was rarely something that newer players entered early. Instead, newer players tend to go for easily accessible systems like missioning or mining as their first careers. The goal was to try to make exploration as easily accessible in the early stages as those two, as exploration allows players to experience better the unique flair of EVE than mining or missioning does.
This is no easy task, as this has to be accomplished while at the same time retaining the functionality of the scan probing as a whole for other users of the system, such as veteran explorers, wormhole dwellers and scouts. While the focus this time around was on accessibility and basic mechanics, we feel this is only the tip of the iceberg and the changes we’re making now give us an opportunity to expand the exploration mechanic at the higher end, adding more depth of gameplay, in the future.
It’s full of probes!
With the vision discussion out of the way, let’s delve into the meat and bone of this dev blog – the changes coming in Odyssey.
So let’s start with the changes we’re doing for probe scanning:
- You launch all probes in your launcher at once, regardless of how many you currently have loaded. You can have a maximum of 8 probes in space at the same time. All players can use 8 probes now by default as the Astrometrics skill no longer limits the number.
- There are two pre-set formations coming in Odyssey for players to use – Spread (probes aligned to cover a large area) and Pinpoint (probes aligned to focus on one point). These are not intended to be the absolute best possible formations, but rather a solid starting point for budding explorers.
- The probes launch into space next to your ship, but the formation view in the solar system map is centered around the sun and is not indicating the current position of the probes until you hit scan and they warp to the positions you've determined.
- The default method for moving probes is a single handle for all probes you have out. Holding Shift will give you an individual handle for each probe, same as the current default. Holding Alt allows you to move your probes closer together.
- Probes will also resize together by default, holding Shift allows for individual resizing. Note that this is the opposite of the previous system. Resizing probes keeps them centered. We’ve also made the celestial brackets be less in the way when moving/resizing probes.
- The recall and expire options have been changed a bit – recall is now instantaneous and happens automatically on system jump or dock. Probes still have a timer, but instead of being lost when the timer is out, they automatically recall instead. The system remembers your last probe setup before they were automatically recalled so they can be quickly deployed again in the same pattern (by activating the launcher). No more forsaken probes in space!
On the visual side, the scanner window is changing a bit. Apart from some basic polish, we’ve added the buttons for setting formations. The formations only work if you have 8 probes total, they do not support fewer than that at the moment.
- The scan result list is seeing the biggest amount of changes. The progress towards getting a warpable signature has been made much more visually clear, as well as indicating the difference between your current and last scan results. This allows players to get a better sense of how well they’re progressing towards the signature they’re focusing on.
- As mentioned above, the Astrometrics skill no longer dictates the number of probes you can use. Instead, it now gives a bonus to all of the relevant areas of probe scanning (scan strength +5%, scan deviation -5% and scanning time -5% per level). The specialized skills (Astrometrics Rangefinding, Astrometrics Pinpointing and Astrometrics Acquisition) instead give lower boost per level (5% instead of 10%). Another change is that Astrometrics is now a starting skill for new players, same as Mining for instance. The skill was given out in the exploration career agent chain, but it is much more straightforward to have players start with it, plus it aligns better with the vision of making entry into exploration be on equal footing to mining.
- We’re adding new modules that affect scan probing. These are three types of modules that affect the same things as the specialty skills (scan strength, scan deviation and scanning time). Each module type has a tech I and tech II versions, the tech I version has BPOs on market, the tech II versions can only be acquired through invention and they require a new ingredient only found in archaeology sites to build.
- Deep Space Probes (DSP) are being removed. With the overall changes to scanning (not just probe scanning, but also the addition of the Sensor Overlay), players are getting a fairly good overview of non-ship objects in a system. Combat probes exist to track down ships and are intended to become the new main avenue of scanning down ships. The other changes and additions coming in Odyssey speed up scanning down ships and removing the DSP counters this a bit. This means that on the whole, scanning down ships is going to take approximately the same as before, but with greater variations depending on circumstances. Existing DSPs will be changed into their corresponding combat versions.
- The career agent missions and tutorials have been updated with the changes coming in Odyssey.
The Name of the Game
We’re changing the terminology of a few things, plus adjusting distribution somewhat.
We changed the terminology of some of the exploration sites:
- Radar sites become Data sites
- Magnometric sites become Relic sites
- Gravimetric sites become Ore sites
- Ladar sites become Gas sites
- The Unknown type has also been split into Combat and Wormholes.
- The main reason for this change is that the Radar/Ladar/etc. terminology is already in use elsewhere in the game and having the same term for two different things can only lead to confusion.
We’re also changing the name of the hacking and archaeology modules:
- Codebreaker becomes Data Analyzer
- Analyzer becomes Relic Analyzer
- The main reason for this name change was to tie the two module types better together and reduce confusion, especially when it comes to the Analyzer name.
- A final name change is for decryptors. The old decryptors had thematically strong, but very random names. The new naming scheme is easier to grok, while retaining a bit of the thematic appeal.
- We’ve removed Salvaging as a thing of its own in exploration sites. No salvaging sites will be distributed post-Odyssey and there are no special salvaging containers.
- As part of the work Team Five-0 is doing, Ore sites (aka Gravimetric sites) are being made Cosmic Anomalies instead of Cosmic Signatures, meaning you no longer need probes to find them.
We’ve made several important changes to loot drops in exploration sites:
- To compensate for salvaging sites no longer appearing, archaeology sites drop more salvaging materials now than before (there was no special salvaging-only loot in salvage sites).
- Because players are no longer guaranteed to receive all the loot when opening a profession container, loot drops have been increased to compensate. This is a combination of increased drop chance, increased quantity, higher number of runs, etc. On average, a solo player should receive loot of equal value post-Odyssey as he receives now.
We’ve added some new loot into the mix to make exploring a bit more interesting:
- Three new decryptors, one has similar drop rate as existing ones, two (with the prefix Optimized) have a lower drop rate.
- Capital rigs, tech I and tech II versions. Tech I is seeded on market, tech II BPCs you get from exploration sites or through invention.
- Faction POS structures, BPCs for both versions (i.e. Blood/Dark Blood) can now drop in exploration sites. These have a very, very low drop rate.
We’ve made a few changes to market groups, to make it easier to find some items:
- Decryptors are now listed in a more rational way. Instead of being under faction groups in Prototypes and Datafiles under Research & Invention, it is now listed under the empires and the group name is Prototypes and Decryptors.
There are two new groups under Ship Equipment, named Scanning Equipment and Harvest Equipment:
- The scanning equipment group has the ship, cargo and survey scanners as well as the hacking (Data Analyzer) and archaeology (Relic Analyzer) modules. This group also has the probe launchers. The survey probe launchers now have their own sub-group.
- The harvest equipment group has all the different mining equipment (lasers, ice, gas, etc.), as well as salvagers and mining upgrades.
Some POS work
In addition to the exploration work described above, Super Friends also did a couple of POS stories:
- We added Personal Hangar Array. This is similar to the Corporate Hangar Array, but, as the name implies, is for personal storage only. The PHA has a storage capacity of 50,000.
- We adjusted the arrows and camera when positioning POS modules, to make it less of a hassle.
There are a few things that we want to get in, but aren’t able to in Odyssey. We aim to get these things in for a point release, but can’t promise it. Here are the most pertinent ones:
- Custom formations – Odyssey will only have a very basic formation setup. We want to expand this and allow players to save their own formations and support formations with variable number of probes in them.
- Scan history – the colored bars in the scan result list give an indication of whether a specific result got better or worse from your last scan. We want to take this further and allow players to essentially ‘go back’ to a previous result.
- Improved visual clues – we want to make it clearer in the scan result list what results are at maximum signal strength for the current scan range set.
That’s it for Team Super Friends, we hope you enjoy these changes and have a great summer!