EVE Evolved: Everything there is to know about Crucible

EVE Evolved title image
This summer's lackluster Incarna expansion and the ensuing microtransaction drama took a massive toll on EVE Online's player community and development staff. Players were quitting in droves, and CCP eventually had to lay off 20% of its staff worldwide. Two years of half-implemented expansions, broken features, and "first steps" that were never iterated on left players begging for a content-heavy expansion like Apocrypha or those released in EVE's early years. EVE is known for being practically a new game every six months, but since the blockbuster Apocrypha expansion, daily life in New Eden hasn't changed much at all.

To pull things back from the brink, CCP refocused development on EVE Online and gave developers a free pass to work on hundreds of small features and improvements. The company began flooding us with details on new ships, graphical updates, new gameplay mechanics, and desperately needed balance tweaks, and we loved every bit of it. Although it's mostly small features and gameplay tweaks, the Crucible expansion feels like a genuine rebirth for EVE Online. The types of changes made show that CCP knows exactly what players want from EVE and that the company is now willing to deliver it. With CCP's renewed focus on internet spaceships, the Crucible expansion feels like the start of a new era in the sandbox.

In this week's EVE Evolved, I pull together everything there is to know about the Crucible expansion that went live this week, from its turbulent origins to the awesome features and PvP updates it contains.

Epic Trailer title image
What really jumped out at me about the Crucible trailer is that it's the first proper game trailer EVE Online has had in years. Previous trailers have showcased EVE's art style and story as if it were a movie, but the Crucible trailer is a short, snappy video that rapidly delivers a list of everything the expansion contains. Lining up dubstep beats with footage of real PvP action captured in-game makes for an awesome trailer, and I think it's another example of how most of the developers at CCP really do have the same mindset as the players, as dubstep first started appearing in player-made videos. CCP has so often lagged behind the EVE playerbase in creating epic videos, but this time the team is 10 steps ahead.

CCP Apology title image
It takes a lot of courage to lead a company with hundreds of employees into unexplored territory as CCP does, but it takes even more courage to admit when the wrong path has been taken and it's time to turn things around. At the height of the summer drama, for the first time I genuinely did not know whether CCP was going to pull back from the brink or crash and burn. The company has made mistakes in the past but always managed to recognise them and learn from the process. This time it seemed to have adopted a bull-headed approach, ignoring players and pursuing its own plans in spite of complaints.

Thankfully, CCP eventually did turn things around, and not just with a simple apology. What started with a well-constructed open letter from the CEO continued with a commitment to getting back to the business of making awesome internet spaceships. The crucible expansion is proof that CCP has followed through on that promise, and we can only hope that the trend continues for years to come.
CCP to EVE players: We've heard you, unprecedented development refocusing in the works
Significant change is afoot in EVE Online, and no, we're not just talking about the latest clothing item on the Noble Exchange or additional captain's quarters built on top of Incarna's foundation.
CCP Games CEO issues letter of apology to EVE Online players
Just over three months ago, fans of EVE Online looked on in disbelief as the game they loved faced its biggest crisis of confidence since 2007's T20 developer scandal.
Returning EVE players receive discount as part of CCP apology
Last week CCP Games proved that it's still an indie studio at heart when CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson issued a formal letter of apology to the entire EVE Online community.
EVE CEO: 'We are back in the spaceship business'
CCP's damage control tour continues, and the latest stop is Eurogamer. CEO Hilmar Petursson recently sat down for a lengthy interview with the website and offered up what should be music to the ears of disgruntled EVE Online veterans.

Community title image
The summer drama took its toll on not only the player community but also the internal community of developers at CCP. The company was forced to lay off 20% of its staff in October, with the potential threat of further layoffs if EVE's subscriptions didn't pick up. Among those laid off was EVE's much-loved community manager Valerie "CCP Pann" Massey, whose essential expertise in crisis management was made clear during a talk at GDC 2011. As a result of the layoffs, CCP has had to restructure its customer relations department and bring back the volunteer forum moderator program. A monument was even erected inside EVE Online to serve as a reminder that players can and will talk with their wallets.
GDC Online 2011: CCP talks community management
As we all know, every MMO has its share of crises. They can range from an unpopular game nerf to bugged content to full-out server meltdown. Ironically, CCP Community Manager Valerie Massey submitted her plans for a GDC Online talk the day before, as she put it, "all hell broke loose at CCP."
CCP layoffs affect 20% of worldwide staff, company focusing on EVE
Reporting on game industry layoffs is never fun, so we're a bit sobered this morning as we bring you news of CCP's downsizing. The development firm behind EVE Online, DUST 514, and the World of Darkness MMO has just issued a press release stating that it will be trimming approximately 20% of its staff worldwide.
EVE Evolved: The human casualties
This time last year, EVE Online developer CCP Games was an untouchable powerhouse in the games industry. In addition to servicing around 350,000 EVE subscribers, the company was also developing the World of Darkness MMO and the full-scale MMOFPS DUST 514 set on the planets of EVE.
CCP announces new Customer Relations details
A couple of days ago, CCP announced that an alarming number of team members had been laid off. Many EVE Online players were understandably concerned about what this might mean for the future of the game.
CCP bringing back EVE's volunteer moderator program
CCP's community outreach continues, and the latest feel-good EVE Online PR salvo takes the form of a news blurb about the recommissioned volunteer moderator program. Applications are now being accepted for EVE's ISD outfit.
EVE Online monument commemorates the summer riots
Back in June, the EVE Online community reacted negatively to the release of a lackluster Incarna expansion and controversy over microtransaction prices. Complaints eventually erupted into in-game riots with the leak of a company newsletter on microtransactions and an internal memo from the CEO denouncing complaints as noise.

New Features title image
It would be impossible to delve fully into each of the hundreds of new features that hit when Crucible went live earlier this week, but suffice it to say we were treated to a lot of new shiny things. Ship spinning made its return before Crucible launched, giving players the option to opt out of using Incarna's captain's quarters. Time dilation is now on the live server but has been temporarily disabled to give developers time to test it thoroughly. The new game launcher isn't yet live, but the much-loved engine trails and incredible new nebulae are online and look amazing.
EVE Evolved: Ship spinning and Incarna
Last week, EVE Online developer CCP Games released a devblog about an upcoming patch designed to re-introduce the ship hangar removed as part of the recent Incarna expansion.
EVE Evolved: Time dilation and the war on lag
When EVE Online launched back in 2003, it quickly gained a following of over 40,000 subscribing players. With around 5,000 solar systems for players to explore, those players spread themselves throughout the galaxy rather than gathering in one place.
New EVE Online launcher will simplify patching
EVE Online developer CCP Games has dedicated this winter's expansion to small features, balance changes and small quality-of-life improvements. Most of the changes we've heard about so far have been gameplay features and and graphical improvements.
CCP expands EVE's asset search functionality
If EVE Online is truly spreadsheets in space as some of its detractors (and even fans) have surmised, thus far it's been a spreadsheet with fairly limited search capabilities.
EVE Online adding implants to killmails
When a ship is destroyed in EVE Online, half of its fitted modules are destroyed and half are dropped as loot. When EVE was young, the list of modules destroyed and dropped in a kill was sent in an in-game mail to both the victim and the player who got the killing blow.
EVE Online shows off new Crucible engine trails
Veteran EVE Online players will remember the joy of engine trails, a simple graphical effect that really added a feeling of speed to fast ships like interceptors or microwarpdrive cruisers.
EVE Online introducing new nebulae
The final frontier is about to get a whole lot prettier, as CCP has announced in a dev diary today that it's working on introducing a smattering of new nebulae to EVE Online.

PvP updates title image
Over the past few years, the proliferation of capital and supercapital fleets in nullsec has transformed the landscape of EVE's lawless outer regions. The wealthiest alliances with access to the largest number of supercapitals have dominated the game without any real counter. Sovereignty warfare and starbase mechanics are due for a complete revamp soon, but Crucible delivers the first round of balance changes aimed at ending supercapital domination.

Blasters and the Gallente ships that use them have recieved a huge buff, making them competitive with Minmatar autocannon ships and turning them into absolute monsters up close. The biggest changes are to customs offices and starbases, both of which are being transitioned over to new systems. Customs offices are now player-owned, allowing players to finally fight over planets and get something for the effort of holding onto one. Starbases will soon use a new fuel block system, but their anchoring and onlining times have been radically decreased to allow rapid deployment as part of a PvP operation.
EVE Evolved: Looking forward to the winter expansion
Since EVE Online's release in 2003, CCP Games has been the center of one of the most interesting success stories in the games industry. Produced by a tiny indie development studio on a frozen volcanic rock, EVE was the perfect example of how to do things right.
EVE capital ship balancing coming this winter
The lovefest between CCP and its disgruntled playerbase continues, this time in the form of a new blog entry heralding the impending balance of capital ships.
EVE Evolved: Gallente and hybrid balance
It's been another week filled with announcements and positive news for EVE Online, with CCP showing off EVE's new nebulae and revealing the Amarr and Caldari tier 3 battlecruisers.
EVE dev blog outlines starbase-related tweaks
Oh those crazy CCP devs! Not too long ago the company was hell-bent on steering EVE Online down the microtransaction dress-up path, and now the folks behind the sci-fi sandbox are posting spaceship-centric blog updates on a daily basis.
EVE dev blog teases new player customs offices
How does the prospect of a player-owned customs office in EVE Online grab you? Whoa, settle down there, Mr. flying-in-space troll, as we're not talking about Incarna-style player housing here but rather a new mechanic that seeks to add a bit more sand to New Eden's sandbox.
EVE Evolved: Player-owned structures
For much of EVE Online's life, warfare has revolved around player-owned structures of one sort or another. When conquerable stations were released at the end of 2003, they became flashpoints for PvP and goals for corporate territorial warfare.

Battlecruisers title image
It's been far too long since we've seen any new combat ships in EVE, and this week we were spoiled with the incredible new tier 3 battlecruisers. These goliaths are able to fit a full rack of battleship-sized weapons, sniping at competition from ridiculous distances or dealing incredible damage up close. They fill the gap between existing battlecruisers and tier 1 battleships, and all four racial designs were actually taken from player submissions to a starship design contest last year. If you don't have one of the new battlecruisers yet, go and get one right now! I mean it, get out of this post until you've got your hands on one!
EVE dev blog talks new Minmatar battlecruiser
More good news for EVE Online fans just showed up on the sci-fi sandbox game's official website. It turns out that CCP wasn't kidding when it said it has shifted its focus back to internet spaceships.
EVE dev blog unveils new Gallente battlecruiser
Another day, another piece of good news for EVE Online. Are we sensing a trend here? At any rate, the latest CCP dev blog reveals the Gallente Talos, the newest New Eden internet spaceship that will find its way into the hands of capsuleers everywhere.
EVE Online reveals Amarr tier 3 battlecruiser, the Oracle
Last year graphic designers and EVE Online fans from across the world competed in CCP Games' huge Design-a-Starship contest. The ultimate contest winner was the incredibly impressive Minmatar Tornado.
Meet the Caldari Naga, EVE's latest battlecruiser
Minmatar? Check. Gallente? Yep. Amarr? Roger roger. Caldari? It's about time! EVE Online's battlecruiser rollouts are now complete thanks to today's introduction of the Naga.

Dev videos title image
One of the problems CCP has always had with development is that much of what the devs are doing internally is never communicated with players. New nebulae and custom ship skins have been under development for some time, for example, but there wasn't a devblog on it to let us know. CCP Guard has made it his mission to right that wrong by delivering developer videos on the various departments within EVE. He explores the art, gameplay, core technology, content, customer relations, virtual worlds, and engineering departments in the video series below, all of which are definitely worth watching.
New EVE video devblog series shows off revamped nebulae
With CCP Games' recent refocusing on in-space content for EVE Online, developers on the floor have been working harder than ever to bring us shiny new toys for the winter expansion.
EVE dev video shows work on engine trails, custom ship skins and more
If you're a fan of EVE Online, I apologise in advance for the funny looks you get when you jump out of your seat yelling "HELL YES!" while watching the latest In Development video.
Latest EVE dev video talks ship balance and features coming this winter
Several weeks ago, EVE Online developer CCP Games restructured its company and announced a new laser focus on in-space features for EVE Online. Since then we've seen an absolute deluge of news updates and devblogs on features due for release in the winter expansion.
New EVE video takes you behind the core technology curtain
Holy cow, would you believe that CCP has put out another positive press blurb? We know, it shocks us too, and the unfailingly chipper Icelandic development firm is winding down a week full of dev blog updates with a behind-the-scenes look at EVE Online's core technology team.
New EVE dev diary talks PvE content
CCP has fired off another EVE Online press release, this time extolling the virtues of the PvE content coming in the winter expansion. New DED complexes are on the way, as are new bosses, modules, and "more reasons to generate massive explosions in space."
EVE dev video talks customer relations and server nodes
As part of a refocusing on developing EVE Online, CCP Games has recently taken us on a video tour of its art, features and core technology departments. This week it's the turn of the customer relations and Virtual Worlds departments as CCP Guard finds out what makes EVE tick.
EVE development video features engineering team interviews
CCP has released another behind-the-scenes video that details life as a member of the EVE Online development team. This time the focus is on the engineering group, and the five-minute clip features a few talking-head interviews with CCP Atlas, CCP Punkturis, and other luminaries.

Brendan "Nyphur" Drain is an early veteran of EVE Online and writer of the weekly EVE Evolved column here at Massively. The column covers anything and everything relating to EVE Online, from in-depth guides to speculative opinion pieces. If you have an idea for a column or guide, or you just want to message him, send an email to brendan@massively.com.
This article was originally published on Massively.