EVE Online developer has the right attitude about making sandbox games


Laissez faire

Earlier this week, the Citadel expansion came to EVE Online. Two years ago, developer CCP moved toward releasing more frequent updates for the game, so this type of event is a relatively regular occurrence. Citadel, however, is a pretty big milestone on that roadmap.

While the Citadel update is a notable one, CCP doesn't necessarily know how it'll affect the larger New Eden universe. That's intentional. Speaking with EVE Online executive producer Andie Nordgren at Fanfest last week, she flatly said "We're just setting it loose and we really don't know what people will do with (the citadels)."

This mindset isn't new for CCP either. It's the guiding light behind EVE Online. According to Nordgren, this hands-off attitude is critical to making a true sandbox game. "If we try to control everything, I don't think you can be successful as a maker of sandbox games. If you think that the proof that you're good at what you're doing is that you can predict anything, I think that's a completely wrong strategy," Nordgren commented. "We're trying to make stuff where if we can predict it, players can predict it even better. At the very least, we need to make stuff that we can't predict," she continued.

"If we're putting new tools into the sandbox of EVE that give players new capabilities, the ecosystem is so complex and people have so many different motivations, it's basically impossible to predict all the cases. We think that is really good because it's interesting. Players have to figure out what other people are going to do and not just trying to learn the mechanics that we put in. They're trying to learn so that they can exploit them in a good way to gain an advantage over other players."

Even when the developer missteps, Nordgren stresses that it's usually better to take no action. "Sometimes we see some really unintended obvious consequences that we can kind of fix up right away. But, we also want to give it time because all the consequences aren’t immediately obvious. Even if something looks very broken, we hold back a little bit and say 'Okay, let's not rush to a reaction. Let's see if the system can figure itself out.' Sometimes someone comes up with something that's really overpowered, but after a while people come up with effective counters for it. If we had rushed in to nerf something right away, we don't let the system play out like it's supposed to."

Last year, CCP made a point to say that it wanted to put power in the players' hands. It wanted to put tools into the game and then step back as much as possible. Developer interaction should be a last resort for any true sandbox experience. So, even if something seems broken in EVE, chances are the developers are fully aware; they'd just rather that the system straighten itself out.

You are logged out. Login | Sign up


Brett Makedonski
Brett MakedonskiManaging Editor   gamer profile

While you laughing, we're passing, passing away. So y'all go rest y'all souls, 'Cause I know I'ma meet you up at the crossroads. Y'all know y'all forever got love from them Bone Thugs baby... ... more + disclosures



Also on Destructoid: EVE Online   (36)   From our database:

  • EVE Online's next big thing doubles down on the Triglavians, out next month - Chris Carter
  • CCP is making strides with their EVE: Aether Wars project, which aims to get over 10,000 ships fighting at once - Chris Carter
  • EVE Online's new expansion expands its Star Wars Empire-like villains - Chris Carter
  • CCP reveals dates and locations for its EVE Online World Tour - Chris Carter
  • EVE Online is hosting a massive winter update with an expanded focus on its instanced content system - Chris Carter
  • EVE Online releases its 38th named expansion, Into the Abyss - Chris Carter
  • With VR in the rear view, CCP is doubling down on EVE Online - Chris Carter
  • CCP unveils details for new EVE Online expansion 'Into the Abyss' - Chris Carter
  • Watch EVE Online's 2018 Fanfest keynote here - Chris Carter
  • More related stories
    Filed under... #CCP #Destructoid Originals #Developer stuff #EVE Online #fanfest #Interview #MMO #PC #sandbox



    You're not expected to always agree, but do please keep cool and never make it personal. Report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community team. Also, on the right side of a comment you can flag nasty comments anonymously (we ban users dishing bad karma). For everything else, contact us!