Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dominion Part 4 — the good, if elusive, bits.

[Continued from part 3 on Dominion]

After three rounds spent pounding on CCP for their drunken attempt at fixing nullsec, it's only fair to give our Icelandic overlords the praise they deserve for the good bits floating atop the Dominion soup.

The most promising additions are of the facilitating/enabling stripes, meaning stuff that doesn't rest on any specific expectation of CCP about how spacenerds should play EVE, but rather on devs acknowledging what can help users to play at all.

EVEmail, now with (much less) suck.
The mail is quick enough to cover, it's sort of a circa-1998 mail client, but in game !
If that's not a big deal for you, you never had to endure the current 'mail' system in EVE, and I recommend you go have a look now, so you can fully enjoy the bliss of finally getting tech from the last century in our gooey podpilot hands.
Beyond that, there are words about this thing somehow being accessible from outside the game, at least in read mode, which is a giant step in the right direction (although we've no idea whether it will really make it in Dominion in any functional shape of form) and brings us to…

New Eden (aka COSMOS, aka Spacebook).
Yes, CCP do have a knack for confusing naming schemes.
The shiniest item here is the possibility to actually manage some actual EVE game stuff on Tranquility from a web browser. In addition comes the Spacebook aspect of the New Eden web portal, that should bring us essentials like calendars, player finder and personal/corp profiles etc.
This is really promising, not so much because of CCP's own implementation of this new toolset, but because they seem really intent on expanding the out-of-game options to pull and push in-game data, which should hopefully enable interesting community-made tools to come out.

EVE Chromium (made with awesomium).
Built on top of Chromium (itself built on Apple's WebKit) the new in-game browser is of course the great enabler for New Eden and C° — bringing a 'real' browser into the game client means the same content and features can be seamlessly accessed both in and out of game (within some limits), which obviously cuts on development costs and acts as a multiplier of the total value and utility of the offer.
With full AJAX support and maybe (limited) flash capacities, it's easy to see the potential for great webtools and spectacular security breaches — good fun coming our way in both cases.

It's really hard to comment further on this aspect of Dominion, considering it's all very much in the works at this stage, and because it will only reveal its full potential once the community starts to put out tools and services leveraging the APIs and middleware behind. I'm sure there will be more to say about it by the first months of 2010, and that's definitely one of the most exciting developments around EVE to arise in a while.

Fleet Finder (a giant leap, just one foot shy of the mark).
For lack of empirical experience, I won't say more about the new Fleet Finder system, except everything about it falls somewhere between good and w00t — the only bad part being what's missing.
A pretty good dev blog details the new features and overhauled interface — recommended read.
Accessibility wise, it really will make things much easier for all types of teamplay, be it war, mission running, ratting or mining, that's the sort of tool where almost every single feature benefits all players.
The lack of ability to manage Squads and Wings as lego bricks, however, means that it will still be extremely cumbersome (and therefore practically unrealistic) to increase the granularity of fleet management under most circumstances. Making sure the various Leadership boni trickle down where they should, that the right leaders are in charge of their respective Squad/Wing and enjoy some autonomy, all will remain a headache and too time consuming to be practical.
The lack of options to seamlessly merge/split fleet blocks isn't dooming, but is a bit of a shot in the leg of that otherwise quite pretty horsey.

NPE — Newbies' Prime Endeavors.
This one I'll give its own entry as soon as I'm done figuring out what difference Dominion's will make relative to the current NPE, which isn't perfect but already has come a long way.

[Tomorrow I'll start looking into making post-Dominion less ebil for 0.0 players, and maybe others, too.]

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