BB75: Going Super Nova
Sunrise Aigele

Kirith Kodachi has put up the latest blog banter:

What Does Project Nova Need to Be Successful?
At Fanfest CCP showcased their current iteration of the FPS set in the Eve Universe. Following on from DUST514 and Project Legion, Project Nova is shaping up to be a solid FPS with CCP taking the decision to get the game mechanics right first. However with so many FPS out there what will Nova need in order to stand out from a very large crowd and be successful? What are the opportunities and perhaps more importantly, the dangers for CCP? How can Nova compete against CoD, Battlefront and Titanfall to name a few?

That got my imagination going! If only I had more time. I will do my best.

Start with the given, that CCP Shanghai will nail down the fundamentals of a solid FPS first. What would make Nova stand out? The most obvious things, to me, flow from EVE Online itself: its lore, and consequential gameplay.

Lore:

We already know that they will attempt to reproduce stations and ships faithfully. That is good.

It is not enough merely to have levels take place in a Chimera. Place the Chimera in a likely context: It is ratting, and the rats have breached the ship and are attempting to neutralize it and steal the technology/take slaves/harvest blood/etc; your mission is to neutralize their threat while the capsuleer concentrates on the attacking ships. Rogue drones have compromised a capsuleer ship that is rescuing a cook or a janitor from an unstable wreck. Get on board and remove them and restore the ship’s electronics to a working state. Sansha have come to a planetary colony to harvest slaves; repel them. You can have scenes from EVE shown through the ship’s windows. The NPCs can have lore-appropriate attacks and goals. The Serpentis want to capture the ship’s technical crew. The Blood Raiders want blood, and prefer clone blood, and have the tools to extract it. The Sansha want slaves, and have the tools to get them. They could have analogous EWAR and weapons to their ship-piloting counterparts.

From there, the step to PVP is simple:

Invert the PVE scenarios: there are now two player teams on board the ratting capsuleer ship: one hired by the pirates to scuttle the ship, one by the capsuleer to defend it.

Or, set up a pure PVP scenario: the target ship is part of a massive fleet battle. The enemy commander has hired mercs to take out a ship that is tanking his fleet. The friendly commander has hired mercs to stop them. Or it is not a ship, but a citadel, or one of the forthcoming industrial structures, or a PI colony. Perhaps the defenders cannot allow any explosions or breaches, because they will betray the ship’s weakness to the enemy fleet, which will focus fire anew and destroy the ship.

Integration. Integration with EVE is, well, not simple, but by design there are many options to choose from, because each Nova mission has been carefully placed in the context of a plausible scenario within EVE Online. Linking the missions to actual scenarios in EVE Online then becomes at least potentially transparent. Citadels are especially amenable to links, because both attacker and defender can schedule their plans around a known time, which means that both the capsuleers and the mercenaries can be in place at the right time rather than waiting around for someone to call. With that said,I like the idea that the connection is so seamless that it’s impossible to know that you’re defending a real fleet ship in a real fleet until you’re actually there! If the interface makes every match seem like an opportunity that has just arisen, then it becomes possible to include live opportunities that have just arisen. If there are none, the scenario is scripted, but the PVP is still real.

Consequence: This is obvious, yet in a way it is not. Notice that I have set asymmetrical goals for all of my scenarios. This is because there are so few scenarios in EVE play that work out to be as even as a capture-the-flag playing field in any normal FPS (1v1 at the sun!). If the game is designed around the asymmetrical scenarios that are common to live events within EVE, then it becomes easier to make Nova mercenaries impact the game, because the game has already taught them how to have an impact. It is harder to balance, of course, but so is EVE.

Miscellany: The current 16v16 plans center around large ships like carriers. Battleships, Orcas and freighters could also accommodate 16v16 easily. But it opens up other kinds of play: 8v8 in cruisers ad barges. 4v4 or 2v2 in destroyers. White-knuckled, melee weapon only 1v1s in the cramped confines of a frigate or shuttle.

I have not mentioned any of the gameplay modes that were used in DUST514, such as Planetary Conquest, because I take it as given that they will be included in the new game. The lead has said as much.

And I will give a shout to Roc Wieler’s request for destructible terrain. I am not sure how they would accomplish this, but it would be truly novel if they did.


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