CCP has shed some light on how unexplored space is going to be opened up in the next free EVE Online expansion, Apocrypha, due on March 10th.
In a blog post titled "Sic Iter Ad Astra - Building a Bridge to the Stars", a developer going by the handle Whisper explained how Apocrypha's wormholes are going to work, and how the game's scanning mechanics are going to be completely overhauled.
With space in EVE comprehensively mapped and becoming crowded, wormholes to unexplored zones are being added to bring a sense of the unknown to the sci-fi MMO.
"We are going to give you thousands of new solar systems which will contain new NPCs, new exploration content and new pockets of resources to exploit," said Whisper.
Unstable wormholes to these new systems will spawn and vanish randomly throughout known space, remaining open until either a random time limit is reached, or a random amount of mass to pass through them is exceeded. There will always be a way back to known space, but it will require exploration to find.
In order to make wormholes easier to locate, scanning will be made faster and easier, with more powerful and flexible scanner probes, including cheap exploration probes which cannot locate other ships but will be able to track down wormholes "and other celestial anomalies".
Rewards for exploration will include Tech 3 technology drops from "a brand new type of NPC", rich ore deposits, or a short-cut between two distant areas of known space that might open up a temporary but lucrative trade route, or the possibility of a surprise attack on an enemy.
The important facts are that it will be impossible to establish stable and predictable routes to the new space, or to colonise it, meaning that all the unexplored space will be "open to all players all of the time".
It's a radical and exciting shift in how EVE's single universe works. We'll bring you more on the Apocrypha expansion in the next couple of months; in the meantime, check the EVE Online gamepage for features galore.