EVE Online Developer Discusses Triglavians, Abyssal Deadspace

EVE Fanfest is a gathering of EVE Online players that takes place in Reykjavik every year. During this three day event the 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 game developer Steven Clark to discuss his involvement with the dev team and some of what we can expect from Into the Abyss.

[Hardcore Gamer] You’re quite involved with the upcoming expansion Into the Abyss which introduces the Triglavian Collective. What can you tell us about them?

[Steven Clark] They are a totally new race of ships which we have never done before in the game. We usually just do new pirate factions that are slightly different but these have a completely different style since they are a new race with a new weapon system which is something we haven’t done in a really long time. We have a set of basic weapons that everyone in the game is used to using and these guys have a completely different and unique weapon that doesn’t show up anywhere else.

They mentioned something about that in the keynote yesterday.

The Entropic Disintegrator, it gets more powerful the longer it is locked on to its target. It’s a pretty common mechanic, it shows up in a lot of different games but it fits EVE really well. Usually in EVE all our damage is front loaded so that first shot is really powerful and the first hit you do is really important. Having a weapon that works backwards where the first hit isn’t that powerful but builds up over time is good and can lead to different strategies than what we can see with existing weapons.

What can you tell me about the lore and back story of the Triglavians?

They were not part of that central part of New Eden where all of the main empires and they have been missing ever since then. They are now reemerging through these weird pockets of space.

These pockets of space, the Abyssal Deadspace, can these be opened up anywhere or is access to them more limited?

They can pretty much be opened up anywhere but there are some rules to accessing them to prevent certain types of exploitation as to where, so you can’t open them inside a station or right next to a star gate but you can do them in any part of space like inside a wormhole or in high sec space.

What’s different about space inside these pockets than regular EVE space?

The whole inside is different from anything else we have anywhere in the universe. The visuals are completely new and insanely cool. The NPCs are totally different, the encounters you have and the fights are completely different than what we currently have. Currently the NPC encounters are smarter and more dynamic. There’s also these environmental effects like where you can fly through clouds that will either help your ship or hurt it. We don’t have anything like that anywhere else plus we have new loot so it’s a super different type of thing. There’s new mutaplasmids that can be attached to existing modules. The big thing with these is in the current version when you have a module everyone has the same version. You have a Tech II Afterburner, everyone has the same Tech II Afterburner, they all have the same attributes. These new mutaplasmids change that, they make it so you can attach it to a module and make it unique. It’s a super detailed customizable option that lets you create your own mods that are different from anyone else’s.

Is this something where you can choose what stats you want to alter or is this more of a randomized gamble?

There’s randomization in the value that you get but there’s no randomization in the value that’s effected, so if you’re using one on an afterburner it’s always going to change the same four attributes every time you use it, so you’re not going to sometimes change one and sometimes change the other. The amount that they change varies depending on each use and which quality of mutaplasmid you use. For instance, with the afterburner the speed quality will always be affected but you don’t know how much exactly.

Into the Abyss comes out at the end of May, and early on in June there is another event that involves the structures. Is that event directly related to the expansion?

They’re partly related, they have some of the same themes and loot and we are going to use the same mutaplasmids in it. It has some things in common but it’s more like our traditional timed events where we will have some new things scattered across normal space and then more cosmetic rewards and an event progression system like our past event.

Does this event relate to having an alliance getting immortalized on a citadel?

That’s a really big thing but it’s separate from the event even though it happens around the same time. That’s just part of our reworking of the structures system in the game. Part of the old system is where you can build these outposts that we’re replacing with a different type of player built structure. We’re letting people memorialize these by whoever owns these structures when they get replaced will get a monument stating they owned them before they got replaced. That’s happening in the same time frame but not related to the event specifically.

But that’s still going to cause all hell to break loose when players are fighting to lay claim to these outposts.

I certainly hope so. There’s outposts in areas that have huge sentimental value to alliances that don’t own them anymore. I’ve heard players talking about VFK Station that has lots of history so all those groups that have history with that station will probably want to put their mark on it before it switches over. We’re happy any time there is a reason for people to fight about stuff but we had to do this for the simple reason of needing to revamp┬áthe structures so they’re better to use, it’s just a nice bonus that we hopefully can cause some fights at the same time.

There’s been a lot of discussion about the visual differences with the Abyssal Deadspace and some of the other unique aspects such as weather and new mutaplasmids. What are some of the other ways it changes the gameplay of EVE?

The actual pockets can appear in a range of system and have a system wide weather effect so some are literally on fire and others might be burning with an electric energy and some are filled with gas and this will effect the attributes of your ship and the enemy ships and on top of that these localized obstacles and effects like storms and towers that shoot at you will influence your strategy inside the dungeon. Maybe there’s a tower that blows out the electronics for the enemy ships so you want to drag the enemy into that since your electronics are really strong and you don’t mind that. Every one of the encounters is different and that is key to the strategy.

They mentioned during the keynote that you want to get in there and get out before the space collapses on the player. Do I detect these as being timed missions?

Yes, there is a fifteen minute time limit to complete this and you die if you don’t get out time. There’s also some other stuff that goes with that. The area you have to work with is a lot smaller than what you normally have to work with in EVE. Normally you can fly in one direction forever if you want but inside these pockets you’re trapped within the space and if you try to warp anywhere you can’t. If you try to warp or run away from the bad guys you’ll end up in a less stable pocket of space and that will just tear your ship apart so you’re kind of in a cage with a timer where you have to finish it. You come out where you started when you leave but you actually have to get to the bottom to get to the exit so it’s like a loop.

Sounds brutal.

It’s brutal, it might even be too brutal. Our players like brutality but this might be too much so we’ll have to wait and see to be sure. The balance to this is where you enter these dungeons, sorry they aren’t dungeons but the actual authoring for them calls them “dungeons” so we use that way too much. To enter these pockets you use an item called a filament and the filament will tell you how hard it’s going to be, it’s kind of divided into difficulty ranges so if it’s too hard you can go to an easier one until you get a stronger ship or develop a better strategy or train more skills.

It doesn’t sound like the environment we’d typically associate with the term dungeon, but when you describe these pockets and how they work, dungeon seems like the appropriate gaming lingo to use.

It’s hard to get away from using it too since when we build the game all the assets were called dungeon set or otherwise used dungeon terminology but there’s no dungeons in space. It is more dungeon like than our other content.

Maybe for an Easter egg you can put a chained skeleton against one of the unstable parts as a little sight gag.

Just has a skeleton chained to an asteroid or something. Love it.

We’ve covered a lot of the major updates that are coming in the next couple months. Are there other aspects that you’re working on?

We’re doing a lot of ship tweaking and rebalancing. We’re going through a lot of the old content and making adjustments to things to make the power more even and getting some of the underused ships back into the limelight. We have plans for some more changes like that coming up but that’s always the case. Oh along with the weapons the Triglavians have a really unique layout. Normally on ships all the high slots are used for weapons but on the Triglavian ships you can use those slots for other utility slots like put in things that will take the energy from other ships or cloak your ship. Triglavians can fit way more of those than anyone else so the whole style of ship changes and they kind of become these Swiss army knives where along with these really powerful weapons they can have a bunch of other offensive tools so it’ll be interesting to see what people come up with for that. I have no way to predict what the strongest application will be but we’ll see what players come up with. It’s scary since they can have all these applications and a really powerful weapon and normally it’s one or the other but these ships make trade offs in other areas so they can have both.