EVE Online's next expansion, Crucible, will be available on November 29th, developer CCP has announced. The free update will "turn up the heat" on space combat by adding over three dozen updated and improved features based on player feedback. Most importantly, the Crucible pack promises to improve graphics, tweak the interface, and offer greater balance and diversity to space battles.
According to CCP, "interior decorators have been contracted" to make new Station-themed Captain's Quarters for the Crucible update--an improvement over Incarna's Captain's Quarters, which were identical across all races. You'll also be able to switch between Ship Mode and Captain's Mode. Ship Mode will be enhanced with numerous graphical upgrades and visual enhancements.
Crucible also adds time dilation to the servers, which promises to reduce the performance impact of engagements that involve hundreds, if not thousands of ships. What does it do? Essentially, "time dilation slows down time so the server can keep up with what y'all are doing." The concept is quite difficult to wrap around, but CCP Veritas attempts to describe a hypothetical scenario:
Here's how I envision this working for a large engagement (say, 1600 or so). When the attacking fleet warps in, the server gets extremely overloaded - warp-in and other setup tasks like drone deployment are quite expensive - so the game clock gets dilated extremely, down to 5% of real time or something. As those tasks complete, the server gets ahead enough to safely creep the dilation factor up to around 30% of normal time, and the fight is properly joined. At this point, we're sitting with 1600 actively fighting, with their requests being acknowledged quickly and fairly, but everything just taking about 3x as long as usual. The players in the fleet can tell that's happening because many of the HUD elements are animating slowly and the explosions in space are slow-mo too. As more ships die/chicken out, the load of the fight eases up and at around 1200 engaged I'll guesstimate we're back up to around 60% of normal time. Maybe at this point one of the FCs realizes he's boned and calls the retreat. Jumping out is expensive as well, so the clock dilates back down far, to let's say 10%, while the fleet buggers off. With the fighting over and the losers bailed, there's very little load remaining on the server and it returns to 100% time.