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EVE Online's Senior Producer on expansion plans

James Egan

Some new directions for EVE Online were announced at Fanfest 2008 earlier this month. Torfi Frans Olafsson is the Senior Producer for EVE Online, who presented many of these new features. Eurogamer's Oli Welsh recently spoke with Torfi Frans about the Fanfest announcements and how they'll impact the game as it moves forward.

The interview focuses heavily on the Walking in Stations expansion, which -- despite no small amount of negative sentiment from some of the playerbase -- has the potential to expand the limits of gameplay in New Eden. "The expansion is about growing EVE Online as the general-purpose science fiction simulator out there... the whole idea is just to deepen the experience," Torfi Frans tells Welsh.

Key to ensuring the gameplay experience is enhanced by Walking in Stations is that it doesn't compromise the game as it is played today. That is to say, as a ship-based PvP-centric title. Walking in Stations will run in tandem with EVE as players already know it and, by all indications, players who opt to never don a 3D avatar should never need to. "There's nothing in there that compels you to go there or that you need to find in there in order to succeed in the game as it is today," Torfi Frans says.

So while some will reject Walking in Stations, others will embrace it as filling that missing immersive aspect of the game -- the ability to associate oneself with an avatar rather than the more demanding notion of envisioning oneself as a capsuleer wired into the heart of a ship. That aspect of being a capsuleer hasn't and presumably won't change -- but having a customizable avatar is a standard feature of most MMOs, which EVE has always lacked.

An idea that runs throughout Torfi Frans' statements is that CCP Games simply does things differently than most of the much larger MMO developers out there. After all, EVE is a single setting that evolves over time. Rather than adding new realms and servers in expansions, the game becomes deeper with each iteration, with added layers and some new dimensions to gameplay.

Welsh also asked about the relationship between CCP's in-development title World of Darkness Online and EVE's Walking in Stations expansion -- namely, is this new dimension to EVE just a test-bed for the gothic horror MMO? The underlying technology in both is the same and there is cooperation on Walking in Stations between the expansion's development team and the staff working on World of Darkness Online in their Atlanta office, but not to the extent that EVE's players are being 'used' somehow. "To look at it as a beta test and players as guinea-pigs is a gross misinterpretation of the situation, because we would never abandon our strong player community of roughly a quarter million people who pay for our meals just to have an affair with another IP," says Torfi Frans.

The interview also touches on how CCP plans to address 'emptiness' in the player-populated space stations, a problem which affects many virtual spaces. (Namely, how players tend to congregate around hubs of interest while the remaining space goes underused, if not unused altogether.) It's a good read, and the interview goes beyond the forthcoming expansion. Torfi Frans also speaks with Eurogamer about the new player experience, capital ship proliferation, and his views on the future of EVE Online.

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