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CCP Games reveals Odyssey, Eve Online's 19th expansion, at PAX East

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Eve Online, CCP Games' nearly 10-year-old massively multiplayer online role-playing game, will receive its 19th expansion, Odyssey, on June 4, the developer announced today at PAX East.

The update will include a revamped scanning mechanic, user interface tweaks and hidden locations among the ever-expanding game's 7,929 solar systems.

Polygon spoke to Jon Lander, executive producer of Eve Online, at PAX East about the expansion and how CCP aims to entice new and old players alike with its components.

Lander framed Odyssey as a continuance of the game's evolution, which is tied to its roots.

"Really, 2012 was about getting the foundations in place for a second decade, and Odyssey will be the the first step in that. It's taking is back to our roots, taking us back to when people first came into the game in 2003 and there's this huge expanse of the unknown," he said. "People never really knew what was out there. Were things dangerous? Were they scary? What would they get? What would they lose? Is there going to be some pirate around the corner who's going to get me?

"Over the years, it's either become harder to get into it, or people have discovered it all and it's no longer exciting —here's no longer a sense of the unknown."

"Over the years, it's either become harder to get into it, or people have discovered it all and it's no longer exciting —there's no longer a sense of the unknown."

CCP's user interface tweaks are perhaps the best example of the developer's attempt to retain the old, foster the new and satisfy both crowds. The work began about 18 months ago, when CCP rewrote a new backend engine for the UI.

"The UI has been likened to spreadsheets in space, or whatever," he said, "and it's looking a bit dated.

"One of the unique and interesting challenges of having a 10-year-old game is, we've seen in the past when we just removed something that a lot of our players are very used to and replace it with something else, that's a very dangerous way to go. You've got to be very, very sure of yourself. We had a good examples last year where we got that balance wrong.

"So, listening to the feedback from our players — listening to what they're telling us — we've started reintroducing these concepts now, and introducing these new graphical elements using this new rendering path in addition to what we already have."

Eve Online will continue this graphical shift over the next several releases, he said. Those who like "spreadsheets in space" will have what they want. And the developer hopes that the graphical changes will welcome new players in.

Odyssey will also redistribute, rebalance and add new ships. The idea, Lander said, is to take something old and make it new again.

"When you think about all of the great science fiction ... it's all about 'What is it?' What's going on? I don't know what's going on, and I love that feeling of discovery.'

"Odyssey is really about enabling our players to do that."