A small project: new Eve Online tools

For some time now I've been playing the MMOG "Eve Online"; a game of epic space battles and warring factions in the far future (and so on). Think "Massively Multiplayer Elite with Babylon 5-style graphics".

Eve is famous for various key ways it differs from most other MMOGs:

1) It's unsharded. All players (0.25 million at the last count) play within one server cluster, and any player can (subject to not getting blow up in transit) travel to, and play with or against, any other player.

2) It's extremely free-form. you can choose to mine, build, invent, explore, run missions, fight solo, run megacorps, carry freight - there's a vast in-game economy - and change roles as rapidly as you can train new skills.

3) The learning curve is incredible (although there are no shortage of newbie-safe areas); it can literally take years (of real time, not in-game time) to qualify to fly the largest ships, and months for some of fairly common intermediate ones. The skill tree is colossal.

In other words, it's a highly complex game that occasionally causes you to reach for a spreadsheet (or dedicated app) to work out what to buy, how to equip a ship, or what to study. Fortunately, there are very good tools - and, even better (for my purposes), there's a good supply of data through an API and periodic DB exports.

The DB and API (and a certain degree of transparency in sharing key formulae) allow the use of skill planning apps such as EveMon and ship fitting tools such as the Eve Fitting Tool. They also allow very simple tools as Skill Monitors, and more complex tools that let you search and analyse all your in-game assets.

At the moment, there are some very good tools for Windows, a few less-great ones for the Mac, a decent range on the web, and no iPhone apps. So, I'm looking to fill that gap.

I'm not a Mac coder; I've never written a line of Objective C or cocoa; I'm a PHP developer. But that also means I've a decent object-oriented programmer, and I've got a reasonable C/C++ background. So, I'm initially experimenting with the (XML/REST) API in PHP, while I learn enough about it and Objective C to move to the desktop or the phone.

So far, I've got a crude skills monitor (was there a shortage?), and, more interestingly, a complete asset viewer that also lets you see complete fittings and cargo of all your ships. These tools are currently web-only (hosted at phase.org) and currently open to a very small closed alpha test. However, they will grow, so if you're interested in access or have suggestions, comment here. Priority for alpha/beta access will go to members of my Corporation (Ominous) and Alliance (Ethereal Dawn).

(For what it's worth, the other thing I'm looking to write for the iPhone will be a decent LiveJournal client).
Posted by parsingphase, 2008-08-28 19:16

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