EVE Online Executive Producer Discusses What’s Coming with Into the Abyss

EVE Fanfest is a gathering of EVE Online players that takes place in Reykjavik every year. During this three day event, players lay down their arms and forget about the war across the different alliances to come together for a celebration of EVE which includes numerous game related presentations and a pub crawl. Hardcore Gamer attended the fifteenth annual Fanfest and had the opportunity to sit down with Andie Nordgren, the Executive Producer for EVE Online to discuss her role in overseeing the game and some of what we can expect from Into the Abyss.

[Hardcore Gamer] If I remember correctly from last year you are pretty much involved with every aspect of EVE Online so I could probably ask you anything about EVE and get some good information, so let’s go with what can you tell me about the upcoming expansion Into the Abyss?

[Andie Nordgren] I’m super excited about it because it brings a type of experience that we’ve never been able to create in EVE Online before. It’s all new PVE basically with the new environment with weird visuals in a closed off environment with clouds, storms and huge asteroids that are actually flying around with a gameplay challenge you cannot run away from. In a lot of instances in EVE Online PVE occurs in an open environment and if things aren’t going so well you can just warp out of it. Obviously you have to know you can warp out, when I started playing EVE I died a few times because I didn’t know that you can just run from most of the stuff. It’s really exciting for us and I hope it also is for most players. For us it is also like a lab where we have this new space where we can create this new type of experience. When this expansion releases it will also have new ships and new weapons along with these new mutaplasmids that will work on existing modules that can reroll some of the stats on them. It’s a full on quantum package that will have everyone reevaluating combat tactics and evaluating what ships to fly and new choices and for us that seems like a strong package of things together that will challenge everything to think fresh in EVE Online.

You did cover a lot of the new additions in yesterday’s presentation. You brought up a new weapon: entropic disintegrator, I believe it was called. How will that differ from other weapons currently available in EVE Online?

Basically the damage will spool up. If you have someone locked, for as long as you’re able to keep them in range and keep firing the damage output will increase over time. This is similar to some weapons in other games but we have not had anything like this in EVE Online. It becomes a weapon I would say where you have to actually have more piloting skill to wield. Theoretically it has a very high damage output but you have to be able to fly it and keep the other ship in range at all times because the moment it falls off your lock disappears, the weapon shuts down and the damage has to spool up all over again.

So it really requires a lot of player skill to use it effectively. You mentioned there is a new enemy in this expansion, the Triglavian Collection?

Yes, the Triglavians are a whole new race. You can’t actually play as one of them but you can fly their ships.

Their background is shrouded in mystery. Is there anything you can tell us to reveal some of the mystery about their history or how they fit into EVE lore?

That is very much something we want players to discover by engaging with the Triglavians in game when it actually hits. We really like working this way now where when there are major developments in the world you discover them from inside the game world. There are clues but we don’t just tell you everything up front. You have to actually go and find out and uncover these mysteries as they play out so from that perspective there are few things that are known about them right now but there is a lot for players to go out and discover.

In the presentation you mentioned that you don’t get to play as a Triglavian, but you get to fly their ships. How will players be able to get their hands on Triglavian spaceships?

You can find the blueprints and skillbooks for the ships in the Abyssal Space. If you attack the ships you can steal that stuff from them. The Triglavian ships have a lot of utility high slots. The weapon, the Entropic Disintegrator, only takes one slot. So instead of just filling up all the slots with a lot of guns you just put on that weapon and can use the slots for other things, making the ships very versatile. Other than that there isn’t a huge difference in the ships per se compared to other ships but it is something different. The weapon does a new damage type which is a combination of, I want to say explosive and thermal but we’ll have to look it up. There is some other stuff in the expansion as well. The Abyssal Deadspace is of course the heart of the expansion but there are a few more things we’re releasing at the same time and we are renovating the overall experience and the planetary traction which has been high on the user request list for a really long time and we’re glad that we get to go in and clean a lot of things up.

After Into the Abyss launches there are some changes coming to the structures, including people being able to get their alliance immortalized on a citadel if they hold it during the changeover. Can you tell us how that is going to go down?

Hopefully with a lot of conflict (laughs) we expect a lot of fighting to start over people trying to hold down the structures on the day of the event. There are quite a few structures that have sentimental value to a few groups so we’re expecting a lot of planning and fighting to take them over.

When I heard that announcement my immediate thought was you’re trying to start World War EVE

(laughs) Providing the opportunity…but I think we’re doing it in a good way.

And next year there will be a retrospective on the Great Monument War of 2018.

We’ll see if that actually comes to pass. Maybe people will peacefully trade over these structures, that would be a very EVE like thing anyway, of course there will likely be some betrayals, agreements to do it peacefully and then people going back on their word. We’ll see.

I’d be disappointed if there wasn’t some backstabbing involved. Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t this the first time something in EVE is truly permanent? I was under the impression just about everything can be destroyed, stolen or otherwise taken from you.

Either it’s NPC stuff or destructible, and if there’s a player name on it that means it’s destructible so in that regard this will be unique.

What separates the Abyssal Deadspace from the regular living EVE space?

It’s a very different type of challenge, you can’t just warp out of it, you have to complete it and make it through. It’s like survival gameplay, not only how long can you last but can you also make it through alive and these areas will have a time limit. It also has its own decision making involved like should you just try to push ahead, should you take on these NPCs. Those more tactical decisions are what we are trying to create to provide a new type of challenge. The environment will matter a lot more in the Abyssal Deadspace and because it has its own localized weather systems and depending on where it is in the pocket they will have their own buffs and debuffs so you have to deal with the overall environmental effects and localized weather effects. These effect the NPCs as well so you can use tactics where you can use the environmental factors to your advantage. If you’re fit for a certain benefit you might want to draw the NPCs into some of these storms that could have an adverse effect on them but a beneficial effect on you. That is very difficult for us to create in the more open ended regular space.

Out of the twenty or so quality of life updates you’re bringing to EVE what is one that you are really excited about?

The Activity Tracker. I’m really interested in how that will work out for veteran players especially. We can’t make it retroactive because it is capturing data we’ve never captured before so we can’t find some magical way to capture stuff we’ve never captured so I’m curious to see how it works both for new and veteran players. I want to see if they look at it and go hmmm I never really did much with that part of the game before. Our tactic is now to recognize that in a big sandbox game like EVE the player has to set their own goals. We can’t tell someone what to do, they have to decide what they want to do and what success looks like to them and what they want to accomplish in this sprawling universe. What we can do is provide a better job of explaining what there is to do inside of the game instead of having to go outside of the game and go read on a bunch of webpages what they can do.

For more on Eve Online, be sure to read our interview with CCP CEO Hilmar Veigar Petursson.