Friday: Fanfest day 2
While I really like trading and creating stuff, and in any game I play I usually at some point get rich by playing the economy one way or another, I just couldn’t drag myself out of bed to attend the State of the Economy presentation. However, Ship Balancing was not to be missed, because EVE is about the spaceships! Sadly this isn’t on Youtube either (yet?), but there has been a dev blog which mostly covers what it was about. As I saw it but didn’t fully process it before I set off to Iceland, it was nice to hear what is in store here. Making all the ships useful, as they should be! It’ll be a great deal easier to understand and makes way for a lot more variety without adding ships that nobody will ever use. Currently only half the ships in the game really gets used, that’s just such a total waste, especially since some have really nice designs. What more delighted me is that the lore got some attention here and that T2 ships will fit in with manufacturers that suit their roles. It’s some shuffling here and there but it is little details like that which make my roleplayer heart beat faster.
Lag is nobody’s friend and CCP Veritas had lots of graphs to show again how it, or at least the server kind, is being dealt with. While that fight is not totally over with, focus seems to be shifting towards the client now. Actually being able to use brackets without slowdowns? Being able to run multiple clients without having to give up all the eye candy? Faster dealing with crashes? Yes please, make it so.
Then it was time for Factional Warfare. While not something I have ever participated in other than shooting the fuck out of the Militias back with Operation Bold Harvest, it’s been something that I’ve always kept an eye on. Especially because way back when CCP actually mentioned pirate faction warfare, and that is something I hope to see before I retire from the game. While last year was still an outright denial for it ever happening, this year it was said that it could be implemented as the system does account for more than a two-way fight, the issue just seems to be they first off want to fix up the current issues, and secondly they’re not quite sure how to make it all work. I may elaborate on my thoughts in a future post, but basically since the pirate factions form 2 blocs, you could have a 3-3 split just like Amarr + Caldari are opposing Gallente + Minmatar. And then make it so that all pirates are open targets to the Empires and reverse.
The proposed changes in the FW presentation are a bit of a shocker, and some things like cyno jamming or datacores being moved over to militia LP stores to me seem unrealistic to be implemented as they are presented here. I do however like the idea of a sov-lite kind of playstyle, the only downside being that only the Empire factions get to enjoy it. I suppose us pirate roleplayers will have to be content with playing mercs or infiltration for now, or simply opt for other non-FW styles of play. However, it is good to see that this is being iterated on, because it means people in lowsec, and that is relevant to my interests.
The Brave New Module presentation was a bit spoiled by not being led by the most engaging speaker, but I never realized modules had been intended to be like cards and the addition of new decks in Magic The Gathering. This is quite interesting however, not only because I have been making my ISK as of late by producing the (new) Tech 2 modules, but also because of how it affects tactics in both PVP and PVE. Finally drone damage modules! And webber drones of all sizes. And salvage drones make a return! And so much other interesting things. The plans for using alternative methods of seeding them into the game made me frown a bit though, I can see it work for those that are totally new like tactical warp, but drone damage should in my oppinion be the same as weapon damage modules and thus be a standard blueprint. However, as at the end there is talk of phasing modules in and out of the game, maybe buying blueprints and growing a large researched library is going to become a thing of the past? I can think of some unhappy industrialists though as some spent years growing a perfect catalogue which is invaluable due to the many years of research applied on them.
And then, of course, the EVE keynote. With the painfulness of the ‘failure’ of Incarna, and the 20% layoffs still fresh in mind, this was bound to be interesting, and the right approach was taken. Generally speaking, this entire Fanfest has been one of restoring faith and celebrating that EVE did not fall over and die. Loads of things that came up at the start here were basically fast repetitions of presentations already attended. But then, what is this? No, not the new stealth bombers, although those are mighty pretty as well. I’m talking about the missile launchers visibly on ships. Squeeh! Happy Caldari pilot at last. I recall talking about that with CCP Masterplan last year and he said with the old system it was just not possible, and it may or may not be with the new. So, I am quite happy to see that the new system does allow for this, and I hope eventually we will see all the high slot modules visible.
Being given a free Fanfest ticket, as a perk for being a fansite, I decided to end the day by making my way over to the Fansites & Apps roundtable. Unfortunately, it was the App developers that took over the conversation and I felt pretty lonely and awkward as a blogger amongst them. Gladly, I have a background as a programmer so I could at least follow the conversation, but I’ll be mailing CCP Alice some things as I just didn’t get around saying what I wanted to say. A bit meh, as there were several other roundtables I understand were more suited for this tech talk that happened, but then again with so many apps and so many new possibilities for apps, I can’t hold it against those developing them to be all fired up about it.
Being a little tired by now and having lost track of most people, I missed out on the quiz show, but caught up with Verone who was assisting CCP during Fanfest and really deserves props for all the effort he is putting in. We managed to get everyone together and went out for dinner and then secured ourselves a few tables at Islenski Barinn before the pub crawlers poured in.
Saturday: Fanfest Day 3
Ugh, even 11:00 is too early at this time of the week, so I got in at the end of Growing EVE’s infrastructure and the first proper presentation of the day for me was War Declarations. Wars are going to get a lot of love, and seem to be moving from a griefing tool into a proper thing. I really like that mercenaries will get a proper way to offer assistance. The war statistics are also very nice, and I hope in future this can be expanded upon for all corporate killmails, as it would make an ingame killboard possible which would let a corporation see how well it is doing.
The game design panel wasn’t much interesting other than Diedra Vaal shaking things up with the first question, though I believe somewhere in there someone asked about pirate faction warfare again. Not sure, and can’t immediately find it. As the next thing was the art panel, which I assumed wouldn’t bring much new (skimming over it, I feel I was right), I wandered over to the EVE vs the Real World presentation. This had caught my attention because it was an actual player presentation, and it was about security theories (political sociology). While normally I’d have been able to keep up with this easily, I struggled to keep up, but was none the less intrigued by this subject which I knew a little about and how it applies in EVE Online.
Next up was the World of Darkness presentation, which I was happy to see getting some attention still. While I’ve only lightly dabbled in the WoD setting, or more specifically I have played Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines, it is a setting that captured my imagination long after. The game itself wasn’t that spectacular, and I didn’t know back then it was part of a greater setting, but it left a lasting impression. I do plan to look more into it in the future, as the Grand Masquerade seems like an event I’d like to attend at least once just because it seems so very cool. What mostly intrigued me about the presentation was the talk of a player politics system, with elected positions and city leaders. While they drew the connection to EVE Online, in my mind I immediately linked it to the text games Lusternia and Aetolia, both by Iron Realms Entertainment, which I have enjoyed dabbling in during the last few years. I do wonder if the WoD team is at all aware of the existance of these games and how studying their political system could be useful to develop an even better player politics system.
Bittersweet as usual, the last presentation of the day was CCP Presents, where we got to see a glimpse of what the future may hold. Got a bit scary when that fire alarm went off, but the new launcher and further work on EVE voice is something that bodes well, even though I currently skip the damn thing to get the Steam overlay on the main client. Tessellation looks pretty sexy, and nice to see what more is coming for Dust 514 — eSports and PVE and MTACs and non-temperate planets, oh my — but of course it is the EVE stuff that intrigued me the most. Ring mining sounds like it could be a lot of fun, not to mention finally allow the ‘common player’ to take part in the moon mineral game. And modular POSes, ooh, I like building stuff, even though at times I bitterly hate taking care of my ‘space tamagochi’, as the POS gets so lovingly called. The new UI seems like it could work out really well, especially loving the camera close-up view and prettier explosions. What nearly had me jump out of my chair though was using avatar gameplay and combine that with exploring the insides of abandoned installations. If they put that in, and it will be as awesome as it sounds, I am so going to be all over that. I’ve always wanted the exploration system of EVE to be more interesting, but this just totally blew me away. And then, it could not have ended better, the story of Templar One turned into a new game trailer. Around the one minute mark it dawned on me what I was looking at. That’s just so cleverly done!
Gathering everyone up again, we went for dinner and then to prepare for the party. It was alright at first, but after HAM had performed and we retreated to the Fanfest lounge, it quickly grew terribly boring. We sat there quite a while until eventually enough people were bored enough that we packed up and left for the hotel. Settling down there was a lot better and we had a lovely evening, sitting around and talking. Keith Neilson, CCP Masterplan and some other folks dropped by as well.
Sunday: Brunch and Blue Lagoon
As per tradition, there was the Brunch on Sunday, this year at the Vox Restaurant at the Reykjavik Hilton. So many delicious foods!
With our tummies filled, we went over to the Blue Lagoon, which was a first for me. Quite nervous about this, I admit, I’m not a good swimmer and the etiquette at these kind of places always kinda worries me, I don’t want to shock people but neither do I want to come off as too prude. However, it turns out that for the women at least, it’s really quite relaxed, everyone just stripped down, headed for the showers wrapped in their towels, put swimming gear on after, and went outside. Ah, it was so nice to just soak for a few hours in the hot water, even though I had to make a bit of a detour through the shallower ends of the water to keep up with people. For once, being small really wasn’t handy! But later on taking up a little corner of the sauna, I was quite happy with my small frame again. What I really liked was that you could just use your bracelet to buy drinks, so I had a slushy. Kind of handy, this hot water, when it didn’t melt fast enough to keep drinking I just dipped the bottom in the water for a while.
After the Blue Lagoon, it was quite late already when we finally got home. Some people got pizza, but I was still quite full from the brunch, so I started to pack my things up and watched another movie, before we all headed downstairs and sat together the final few hours, joined by the excellent folks from Rote Kapelle. As my flight was late, and we had Damir Delon to take us back, I stayed up into the wee hours with the people who had early morning flights.
Monday: Travel again
It’s never fun to say goodbye, but good things have to end someday. This whole week felt like it just blazed past. Adrian Schultze, Lacrimae, Stranger (who had flown in just for the party and the events on Sunday!), that guy from Rote Kapelle who I never asked for his character name and me all were on the same plane, together with Diedra Vaal and his girlfriend. Once landed in Copenhagen, our party soon started to break up as everyone headed on to their final flights.
What a week it had been. Props to the Veto guys for letting me hang out with them again, so nice to meet some new people again, and see many old faces once more. While I was really fearful this fanfest would be marred by the layoffs and the negative events this summer, I must say I am feeling very optimistic again now. It wasn’t quite the same as the previous years, and I fear it may never be again, but it was very nice in a different sort of way. Big thanks also to CCP for providing the fansites with free tickets again this year, it does help in me being there and writing about all of this now.