On November 29th (two weeks earlier than I predicted but still on a Tuesday... expansions are always on a Tuesday...) Crucible will be delivered and a new age of graphical and functional improvements will be available to the pilots of New Eden. New ships, new customs offices, new nebulae, new engine trails... and add to that the modifications to super capitals, hybrids, Gallente and Caldari ships... it definitely has been a dream come true for many pilots.
But, as has been pointed out in other place, Crucible is all about making existing for former players happy to shore up the eroding subscriber base and expertise bleed. Its not going to attract new customers very much by itself (although a happy playerbase is a a good draw in of itself).
So its time to start thinking about the Summer expansion. Release planning as they call it in SCRUM circles. What are the stories/epic stories going to be? Here are my suggestions as a stakeholder in the decision process.
CCP has invested a lot of time and effort into Incarna and I think its important to acknowledge that the concept is valid in that avatars in sci-fi environments will attract certain types of players, and that the avatars and captain's quarters that they have created look amazing (overheating graphics card notwithstanding). CCP may have failed in the roll out and communication and priority setting, but that is in the past and we need to keep this moving forward.
A first basic step would be a story to allow players to visit each other quarters, or perhaps even multiple visitors. It would be cool if there was some sort of minigame they could play on the screen together in the quarters, just hanging out on the couch. Even this limited gameplay would be a huge step from avatars just chillin' alone in the quarters.
The next step is actually leaving quarters and meeting in establishments, but I don't know how feasible that is with CCP current development of incarna assets and we don't want the whole expansion to be about incarna as that is what lead to the summer of rage in the first place. But if two teams over the release can get a basic establishment that allowed up to 6 players to chill in a bar and perhaps play poker, I would call that a huge win. Heck, even playing pong with a mate in my quarters is a win here, CCP. Aim low and surpass expectations (because doing the opposite has not worked out, you know what I mean?).
2) Expand the NeX store
I like vanity items, and I'm disappointed in the NeX store in two regards: not enough selection and prices too high. The latter can be forgiven if CCP is trying to create a luxury market to keep items moderately rare, but the former needs to be addressed at least by four fold.
- more clothes
- more tattoos
- more implants
And not only incarna avatar stuff. Where are my special paint job BPCs for my ships? Where are my customized furniture options for the quarters?
I think its important that forward momentum on the items in the NeX store continue as long as the items in no way give a PvP advantage.
3) New Ships
They don't necessarily have to be brand new hulls like the pocket battleships, but nothing excites the playerbase more or has the potential to change up the optimals in PvP more than new ships. I suggest (as per my ideas post) Tech II versions of the tier II battlecruisers, but even tech II versions of the new tier III battlecruisers (Heavy Stealth Bombers!) or tech II versions of the tier III battleships (Flagships!) would be awesome and interesting. Or perhaps Tech II carriers...?
4) Dominion Redux
Ultimately, the Dominion expansion was not a shining success. Sov warfare went from POS bashing to structure bashing, and the improvements through IHUBs remain lackluster at best. Population per system overall may have actually decreased since the anomaly nerf.
While player owned customs offices goes a good way to providing more terrain for player modification in the null sec battle theatre, there needs to be more. Perhaps more player structures in the scale of the customs offices that perform industrial / logistical roles; for example, a player owned storage hanger that acts like a hanger array at a POS, and a player owned ship maintenance array for making in space modifications and storing a couple ships. Risk versus reward where reward is convenience and the risk is it getting blown up.
In addition, I think its time to make sovereignty of a system and its outpost (if any) dependent on actually living there and not on the number of structures your alliance has anchored. Making reinforcement timers for structures smaller, with fewer hitpoints, would encourage hostile alliances to send smaller fleets while at the same time encouraging alliances to rally to defence of those systems since they can be lost more easily. Also, make IHUBs and their installed improvements capture-able like outposts.
5) Open Up Jove Space
Its time to break that pinata and open it up to a land rush. Story: Jove are gone, leaving behind their empty station husks and a few broken relics. Sansha and/or Sleepers can be the rats of the regions, the Jove technology pretty much lost, many stations gone. Lots of storyline applications here, as well as justifications for some of the other major features.
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Those are my suggestions, leave in the comments your ideas for major features for the summer expansion.