Friday, June 8, 2018

I'll Get To Abyssal Space Eventually

At Fanfest, I had a conversation with CCP Fozzie where I told him I probably wouldn’t participate in the Abyssal space content for the first couple of months. At the time, I though all my attention would focus on building CONCORD ships, with the Marshal at the top of the list. I still haven’t run a site on Tranquility, but not because I’m busy mining in low security space. I’m currently taking an online introductory Python class offered by MIT. I’m getting all the solutions and received a perfect score on the mid-term, but the coursework is taking up more time than expected.

Having real life get in the way of gaming probably will help in the end. I planned for the lack of time, which is one of the reasons I chose to jump into Elder Scrolls Online instead of trying out Bless Online. From all reports, Neowiz tried to copy Funcon’s launch of Anarchy Online. Apparently, the launch of Bless went over so well, Guild Wars 2 experienced a massive influx of new players.

I felt pretty smug about the choice until I heard Zenimax slipped spyware into ESO. The game company claimed they never activated the code, but why was the code in the client in the first place? From what I heard, the code performed a location tracking function. But what else did it do? EVE has had a geo-tracking function based on IP address for years designed to let players know if someone else had accessed their accounts. The IP addresses are available to players in Account Management. I wonder what else was in the spyware.

That returns me to EVE. My EVE related activities have fallen into three main types. The first is updating my CSM Wire site for the election running through downtime next Monday. I wish candidates would stop moving between corps and alliances. After CCP announces the results, I’ll reconfigure the site to reflect the makeup of the CSM and turn my attention towards other things until next year.

The second is the continues monitoring of the black market and botting. The ban wave that began on 23 May was amusing to watch as CCP began deleting the characters involved in market botting. My monitoring activities require recording the price of PLEX, skill injectors, and skill extractors, and that routine changed with the end of the CREST and XML APIs. I had used a third-party site that allowed me to do a quick copy/paste into my spreadsheet, but the site changed and no longer offers the information I need. After asking around, I now just log into a trade alt in The Forge and record the daily market data from the game client. Maybe when I finish my coding class, I’ll play around with the ESI and save myself a few clicks each day.

First recorded deletion of market bots

My final type of EVE activity maybe doesn’t really qualify as a real EVE activity. When I get a block of an hour or so of free time, I hop on Singularity and lose ships running tier 2 Abyssal sites. I’m convinced the sites have gotten harder since I first started running them. I can run the tier 1 sites just fine in a tech 1 cruiser. But I would really like to be able to complete a tier 2 site. I may give up and just borrow a fit or two and see how they do. Those pairs of Triglavian ships are tough.

I eventually will have time to play video games again. I only have two more weeks left in my programming course. I also traditionally take a couple of weeks to a month playing another MMO a lot after the CSM election season. But given what a chore I find playing ESO, I may cancel my sub and just play EVE. The whole spyware drama makes that choice a lot easier. But tonight I don't have any coursework to do, so perhaps I'll finally run some data sites and get some filaments for when I have time to dive into Abyssal deadspace.

Friday, June 1, 2018

CSM 13 Elections - A Collection Of Interviews

The election to populate EVE Online's 13th Council of Stellar Management will take place starting next week on 4 June, ending on 11 June. For those interested, I collected some information about the candidates on a Google site called CSM Wire. Each candidate has a page, with the links running down the left-hand site of the site.

I know that some people enjoy listening to podcasters doing interviews with the candidates. This year, 18 of the 48 candidates appeared on at least one of EVE Online's many podcasts to talk about the election. Since a lot of people like listening to podcasts, I thought I'd also post the list here.


Monday, May 28, 2018

Punkturis Wins!

I don't normally dive into real world politics on the blog, but an election took place on Saturday I thought might interest EVE Online players. Iceland held its municipal elections, and in the capital city of Reykjavik, the Independence Party led the way by winning 8 seats.

Why should EVE players care? Because in Iceland, the voters vote for a political party's list of candidates, which are then distributed proportionally. And the sixth candidate on the list of the Independence Party was Katrín Atladóttir.

"In their natural habitat, programmers are nocturnal creatures that prefer to be left undisturbed"

Katrín Atladóttir is better known to EVE players as CCP Punkturis. Katrin's last day at CCP was 30 April, or a few weeks before the election. Following on the heels of CCP Seagull announcing she was leaving CCP on 26 April, some decided that CCP was doomed and everyone was leaving a sinking ship. But for Katrin, a new career in politics awaits. Now, her new office is in Reykjavik's city hall.

Friday, May 25, 2018

EVE Online's Unique Selling Point: Inventory Space


CCP did not design EVE Online with the free-to-play business model in mind. Playing other MMORPGs always reminds me of EVE’s unique selling point. The feature that makes EVE unique is not its player-run economy, time-based training system, harsh death penalty, or single-shard nature. No, other games have many, if not all, of those features. Instead, what makes EVE unique is the nearly unlimited inventory space for each character. I don’t know of any game that allows players to hoard as many items as EVE. With the fall of the subscription system for MMORPGs, I doubt we ever will again.

The inspiration for this post is my third attempt to play Elder Scrolls Online. Most level-based games have a dead spot about half-way toward the level cap, as if one team of designers started building the game from level 1 upwards while a second team builds the game from the level cap down. Someplace in the middle is a dead spot where the two teams meet and don’t quite mesh the content together smoothly. A player just must grind through with the hopes the game is not the second coming of Age of Conan and the blight that occurred after leaving Tortage. Unfortunately, in ESO I hit the dead spot around level 8 and have yet to get past level 16. In my current playthrough, I am at level 12 and am ready to throw my keyboard out the window.

Perhaps my biggest pain point in the latest attempt to hit level 50 is lack of inventory space. At level 8, I not only had full bags, but a full bank as well. I desperately needed to make some bags, but I didn’t have the ability. Since I fully intend to hit level 50, even if it kills me, I broke down and spent $40 for a three-month subscription.

Paying money makes life so much easier in ESO. The first benefit is subscribers (called ESO Plus membership) receive double the bank space as those who just choose to buy the game and not subscribe. The difference between 70 and 140 bank slots is huge. On top of that, subscribers get access to a special bag that holds all of a character’s crafting materials. My bank situation went from using all 70 slots to only using 14 out of 140 inventory slots. I’m used to paying for extra bank slots with real money, but I never experienced such a change in a game like I did when I subscribed to ESO on Saturday.

The purchase of inventory space, a staple of games with cash shops, is unneeded in EVE. Players can store 1000 stacks of items in any station. But that is just the beginning. Players can then purchase containers, place them in the station, and then fill up the containers with additional items up to the volume capacity of the containers. Notice I stated items above. Ships do not count as items and have their own storage space. I assume that the capacity is 1000 ships, although I have never run into the cap.

Did I mention that, unlike most games, players in EVE do not access a global inventory system? While inconvenient if the shiny module wanted for a ship fit is 60 systems away, EVE's inventory system means players can store 1000 stacks of items in each stations. As an example of how much inventory space is available to new players, let's use the system of Lustrevik. Located two jumps away from one of the Minmatar starter systems in the Heimatar region, the system is home to 9 NPC-owned stations. Nine stations represents 9000 inventory slots, not including ship storage. And if 9000 inventory slots is not enough, a player can travel to the next door system of Eystur which contains 6 NPC-owned stations and an additional 6000 inventory slots. And did I mention that I have yet to run into a stacking limit for things like ore and minerals? Those used to limits of 100 or 200 item stacks will find the ability to have a stack contain one million items mind blowing.

EVE Online is a pack rat's dream game. While most games force a constant need for inventory management on players, CCP took that worry away. Instead of trying to keep space open for the next shiny drop, players in EVE have the challenge of trying to keep track of all their stuff. I wish I could find another game with the same design mindset, but I don't think modern business models will ever again allow for the discarding of such a basic source of sales from players. Which, to my mind, is a shame.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Rewards Of Reaching Level 500 In Project Discovery

On Saturday I finally reached level 500 in Project Discovery, EVE Online’s mini-game involving searching for exoplanets in the real universe. I have not used any of the blueprint copies given out as rewards for taking part in the citizen science project, but now is a good time to review if the journey was worth the rewards.

First, how much effort did I put into reaching level 500? I didn’t keep close track of time but looking at my wallet transactions shows I spent approximately 115 hours over the course of 156 days, or an average of 45 minutes a day. Overall, I managed to do over 4 levels an hour. I guess I should add that for at least the last 400 levels I received the maximum reward for each pattern evaluated due to my accuracy rate. When I reached level 500, my accuracy rating was 99%. I would expect the effort to take longer with lower ratings.

The rewards for playing Project Discovery fall in three principal areas. The first type is the ISK reward received for evaluating a pattern. These rewards are based on the player’s accuracy rating, with a maximum payout of 99,000 ISK for a player with a rating a little over 98%. The reward is deposited into the player’s wallet every 5 minutes. At level 500, I had collected a total just over 1.5 billion ISK in Project Discovery rewards.

The second type of reward occurs with the completion of each level. For the first 24 levels, players receive an Exoplanets SKIN, with the reward increasing to 2 SKINs per level at level 26. Exoplanet SKINs exist for each ship built by the four main NPC factions (Amarr, Caldari, Gallente, Minmatar). Overall, I received 975 SKINs (227 unique) worth 560 million ISK at the time I completed level 500 according to the price evaluator in my hanger.

Project Discovery also grants rewards for reaching certain levels. These rewards range from clothing (including a hat) to CONCORD ship skins to 1-run BPCs for the Pacifier, Enforcer, and Marshal. The clothing only was valued at 44 million ISK. The Pacifier and Enforcer SKINs rewarded for reaching levels 75 and 150 only were worth 9 million ISK. The blueprint copies of the Pacifier (125 million ISK) and Enforcer (275 million ISK) brought in more, but weren't amazing. The big money is the Marshal BPC. Looking on the contract market, the blueprint copy brings in a little over 7 billion ISK.

I don't plan on liquidating everything I acquired from playing the Project Discovery mini-game. My next steps are to inject the SKINs into my two main characters and then work on building the CONCORD ships. But I figured that people solely interested in ISK might want to know the possible rewards for reaching level 500. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Catching Up On Things


Sometimes life gets in the way of blogging. Okay, sometimes playing video games takes precedence over writing. But writing about video games requires playing them, right? Still, real life does get in the way. Instead of composing four or five posts, this post will have to do.

The real-world project, apart from work, which will cut into my gaming time is I decided to get serious about learning Python. I signed up for an online course that is part of a three-course series that leads to a certificate that will look good on my resume/CV/LinkedIn page. My hobbies often spur me to learn about subjects I then translate into work skills. Why not do it one more time?

One doesn’t need to know a scripting language to do the types of economic analysis seen on the blog, though. My latest EVE-related project involves creating my own price indexes to help evaluate changes CCP makes to the game. On Saturday I finally created a Google sheet that recreates the Consumer Price Index found in some of the older Monthly Economic Reports. I tried using the MER released in April, but the file was missing information about tech 3 items. Now I just need to learn how to make decent looking graphs in one of the Google programs, so I don’t need to export the results into Excel.

I hear a lot of hype surrounding a game coming to Steam this month called Bless Online. Not seeing the game released yet, and wanting to play something with a humanoid avatar, I decided to update a game I hadn’t played in two years, Elder Scrolls Online. For some reason I woke up at 3:30am Sunday morning and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I created a new character and started playing. I think I played 4-5 hours, which I never did before. I heard the game changed over the years, and so far, I think for the better. I’m still on the newbie island, and every time I create a character, I never reach level 20. With my goals in EVE, the same fate likely awaits my new character as well.

Returning to EVE, I forgot about the big 15th year anniversary. Hard to believe with the latest event putting a beacon in every system I travel through, but after awhile all beacons look alike. I only managed to fill my Procurer’s ore hold with hedbergite once before company arrived in system Saturday night. The rest of the time I spent playing Project Discovery. I’m currently on pace to reach my goal of obtaining the Marshall blueprint copy before the launch of Into the Abyss on 29 May.

Finally, I did a little work on my CSM Google site, CSMWire, adding the latest interviews of Xenuria, Mawderator, and Sullen Decimus conducted by Kael Decadence of The Mind Clash Podcast. Just in time, too, as CCP Guard a dev blog announcing the dates of the CSM 13 election as 4-11 June. CCP Guard was kind enough to link to CSM Wire in the dev blog, which means I should see some traffic coming soon. I also need to watch social media and the official forums for candidate activity for the next month, so I know when to update the site.

Hopefully I can tear myself away from the class work and play some video games. Last night I did all the homework for the week, but I discovered I enjoyed working with python. I may need to resist the urge to race ahead so I can work on other things.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Outside Abyssal Space, Life Continues


A lot of people seem intrigued by the new Abyssal deadspace zones CCP is introducing to EVE Online in the Into the Abyss expansion coming on 29 May. Perhaps the reason is the DDoS attacks last week only hit Tranquility, so players went and took a peak at what is on the test cluster. Or maybe the usual suspects just like to whine about change. I try to keep an open mind, which is why I will test on Singularity over the coming weeks. I did run a site Sunday night. If we learn more from failure than success, I am a lot smarter player now than before.

I only ran one site because life doesn’t stop on Tranquility, the only shard that counts. I have goals to achieve, deadlines to meet, and ships to build. My overarching goal is to get myself back to playing mostly in low sec, although I may wind up doing some ninja mining in w-space to meet my shipbuilding goals. I completed one of my key goals, access to a second low sec factory station. Access is probably the wrong word. To minimize build costs, I only build in NPC factory stations in which I have standings with the NPC corp of 6.67 or greater. I performed the standings grind in 8 days by running mining missions in low sec. I know, apart from the Loki that dropped in to try to gank me, pretty boring stuff. As a bonus, I did pull in over 160 thousand loyalty points, two +4 learning implants, and some intelligence on the residents of the area.

With the factory situation set, my next step was setting up pings in the new mining system. I’m a little less risk averse in my old age and now use an interceptor to set up perches and other points so I can stay aligned while I mine. While the bookmarks I have around each system work well so far, I need to set up one or two more using the interceptor around each asteroid belt, then I can settle down and bookmark cosmic signatures for additional spots. Give me a couple of months and I’ll have a home-field edge when avoiding a gank attempt.

Of course, mining is pointless if I don’t have a use for all the ore I mine. I usually come up with a ridiculous battleship to build, and this year’s effort is constructing a Marshal.  Technically I began the project in early December, but the plan was to have a CONCORD battleship sitting in my hanger by the end of 2018. I’m a little ahead of my goal as Wandering Rose is currently at level 458 in Project Discovery, only 42 levels away from receiving the blueprint copy. The last time I checked, she had earned over 1.1 billion ISK in Project Discovery rewards which should pay not only for the tech 2 materials needed to build the battleship, but hopefully the Pacifier and Enforcer as well.

Don’t get me wrong. I probably will spend more than a few hours on Singularity over the next few weeks, and perhaps even months, researching the new Triglavian content and its evolution. But for now, I have a few billion ISK worth of ships to build and I want to finish up that task before diving into the new content.

Friday, April 27, 2018

CCP Seagull Flies Away And Weirdness At Daybreak Games

CCP released the new Abyssal Deadspace content on Singularity yesterday. Instead of joining in on the fun, two stories are distracting me.

The first story is the news that EVE Online's Executive Producer, Andie Nordgren, is leaving CCP to return to Sweden and work for Unity Technologies.


Nordgren announced on the official forums she will leave the company sometime in June, so I still have time to write a proper post before she leaves. I'll just note that Nordgren's initial job with CCP involved working with Carbon and the Core Technology Group and she leaves to work on the Unity game engine. For those interested in Nordgren's background before becoming EVE's Executive Producer, I wrote a little piece back in 2014.

Going from sadness to madness, what is going on with Daybreak Games? Starting from the premise that Daybreak Games is under threat of US sanctions against Russia due to the company's ownership by Columbus Nova, a subsidiary of the Renova Group owned by Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, the situation got weird. A spokesperson for Daybreak told MassivelyOP Tuesday that Columbus Nova never owned Daybreak, and that years of press releases and privacy policy statements players agreed to were incorrect.

On Thursday, Daybreak laid off an estimated 70 employees as MMORPG.com reported that Daybreak ownership was shopping the studio around for sale. The report singled out Intrepid Studios as a serious suitor. As a former EQ2 player, I plan on following the story.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Abyssal Deadspace:


CCP has not published a dev blog about how Abyssal space will work, but we know three basic mechanics I believe will heavily influence the acceptance rate of the content.
  1. Players must exit from Abyssal space at the same place they enter.
  2. While in Abyssal space, local does not function.
  3. Other players can probe down the exit.

From a science-fiction and lore standpoint, the mechanics make perfect sense. When opening a gate into another type of space, of course you need to use the same gate back. Also, if wormholes are detectable with probes, then so should this other type of space. So far, so good.

From a game mechanics standpoint, the situation resembles jumping from high sec to low sec with a blinged-out ship without bothering to scout the other side. If necessary, I can dual-box, letting my leadership/industrial character fly a Stratios through the content while my main sits outside cloaked up in a Falcon. But I think the purpose of Abyssal space is to provide new, dynamic PvE content to casual players. Contrary to popular opinion, not everyone has two or more Omega accounts.

Comparing the exiting of Abyssal space to jumping into a gate camp gives some parameters to test on Singularity once the feature appears on the test server. Here are the factors I plan on investigating.

1. Where can a player use a filament to open a deadspace site? I heard from other attendees at Fanfest that some of the restrictions on where a player can use a filament are still up in the air. CCP stated that players can run the sites in any system, but I highly doubt CCP will not issue restrictions on where players can open an entrance to Abyssal space within a system. I assume sites cannot use filaments near citadels, NPC stations, and star gates. My question is whether will restrict filament use to within 4 AU of a planet. If so, then probing down exits to Abyssal deadspace pockets in a system becomes much easier.

2. Will the Abyssal sites show up as cosmic anomalies, cosmic signatures, or neither in the probe window? As the ease of hunting down Abyssal deadspace zones will influence where, when, and whether PvE players will run the sites, how the beacons appear in the probe scanner window is key. The description of the exit beacon announced at Fanfest highly suggests the sites will not show up as cosmic anomalies. Cosmic anomalies not only automatically identify that classification of site upon a player entering a system, but do not require the use of probes to scan down.

That leaves treating the Abyssal deadspace sites as either cosmic signatures or mission instances. I lean towards believing CCP will choose to see Abyssal space like a wormhole, if only for lore reasons. But I only lean that way, as mechanically Abyssal space will work like receiving a mission from an agent in space. Just as accepting a mission from an agent creates a mission instance, activating a filament will create an instance of Abyssal deadspace. From a development standpoint, if the Abyssal content is a testbed for future changes in EVE PvE, then I think treating the new type of space as a mission site makes more sense. Or in other words, I can see the justification for either way CCP chooses to proceed.

Of the two choices, I think treating the new deadspace sites like wormholes is the way CCP will proceed. Not only for lore reasons, but to satisfy demands to make the new content more dangerous. If CCP treats the Abyssal deadspace sites as a cosmic anomaly, all a hunter or small gang needs to do is fly into a system, record the signatures, and then the next time the hunter enters the system, check for new signatures. Odds are that the new signature will either be a wormhole or an exit from Abyssal space. With a likely target spotted, all the hunters need to do is scan down the new signature. Easy peasy. I can think of a couple of ways to set up Google Sheets or Excel to do the work of picking out the new signature.

3. What is the signature strength required to successfully probe an Abyssal deadspace beacon? I honestly can’t see CCP making the exits from Abyssal space difficult to probe down. That said, CCP also has an interest in seeing a few high-quality modules appear on the contract market (and on killmails) to spur greater user acceptance of the feature. I can see where the higher the tier of filament used to open an entrance, the harder the beacon is to probe for hunters. We already see that with data and relic sites, which are cosmic anomalies, so using the same mechanics makes sense.

4. How long does the beacon remain after a player exits the site? At this point I assume the cloak will hold the standard length of time. The invulnerability cloak is a technical mechanic put in to allow a player to load the grid before having to interact with hostile players. The question is, will anyone camping the exit receive a visual queue that the person running the Abyssal site has exited before the site runner decloaks? The biggest visual queue I can imagine is the exit despawning before the site runner decloaks.

5. Do players in an Abyssal deadspace pocket appear in the system’s local? We know that local will not work in Abyssal space. But will the player running the site still appear in local in k-space? If not, then the player exiting the site will appear in local before uncloaking, giving the hunters a visual cue. Not a definitive cue, but at least a warning to be alert. But if the player running the site does show up in local, then hunters can just ignore empty systems when roaming for content. Either way, local is an intelligence tool useful to the hunter.

6. How far away from the beacon does the player exit? Since players must emerge from Abyssal space where they entered, I wonder if that piece of information presented at Fanfest is literal. If so, then all a hunter must do to keep his prey from cloaking is sit within 1 km of the beacon with a swarm of drones orbiting his ship and the odds of escape without a fight decline by a not insignificant amount. Or will ships reappear in k-space some distance from the beacon? The greater the distance, the greater the chance of escape as the sphere hunters need to cover grows. I can see PvPers lobbying to keep the distance within scram range as low and high security space do not allow the deployment of bubbles. If the same rules governing star gates apply to Abyssal space exits, then the distance will be 10km from the edge of the exit. The question then becomes, how big is the exit?

Conclusion. Since returning from Fanfest, I heard some express surprise that those attending the Fanfest keynote were not ecstatic at the news of the new Triglavian Collective content in the Into the Abyss expansion coming to EVE Online on 29 May. My initial reaction sitting in the audience was extremely negative. Now I just look at the content as jumping into a prepared gate camp. I don’t like doing so in a blockade runner or covert ops frigate, much less a combat ship.

I consider myself pretty risk-averse, but people have told me that a penchant for low sec mining means I don’t qualify as a complete carebear. Still, I like to stack the odds in my favor. I think the big problem with my lack of excitement over the content is that I can’t tell if the odds are for or against escaping the area of the Abyssal space exit with my loot. Why get excited over content I potentially will never run?

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Fanfest 2018: Reflections

Sitting in the press room CCP set up in the Harpa is a reminder that Fanfest is not just an event for players to gather from all over the world to discuss serious internet spaceship business. Fanfest also gives CCP the opportunity to tell the world their upcoming plans not only for EVE Online, but other products as well. Fanfest 2018 was my seventh event. Thanks to Matterall, the host of Talking in Stations, I got to see a side of the event I never thought I’d see.

From an outsider’s perspective, EVE is a fascinating, but complicated game. Most of the journalists who attend Fanfest write with a non-EVE audience in mind. Players who have spent years playing EVE find trying to make EVE comprehensible to non-players a challenge. For every Brendan Drain, Steve Messner, and Lee Yancy writing about video games, there are others who do a parachute drop into a game convention and write the basic story about the business side of CCP. The “EVE media” fills an important niche in writing up the facts and player stories that the mainstream gaming media outlets don’t want to cover, even if the writers on the ground do.

Embedding with the gaming press also gave me a new appreciation for some of the work that goes on behind the scenes at an event like Fanfest. CCP Grendel’s team had to set up the press area and keep it staffed and stocked with drinks and meals so the journalists could stay on site and work, but also help arrange the time for each journalist to make their lives as easy as possible. Oh, and try to make the event journalists will want to come back and cover next year.

Moving on, I think the October layoffs hurt the event. A few things stood out. Did anyone notice that Hilmar didn’t sound quite right at times when he was on stage? People reported that the teleprompter malfunctioned at times. I think he still did better than some professional politicians I could name, but the effort probably came off as distracted.

The end of the keynote, and the replaying of the trailer, also came off a bit weird. Normally, CCP plays the trailer, the crowd erupts at the end, and the trailer runs again. This year, the trailer just played twice in a row.

Some things just ran differently due to CCP’s reduced staff levels. A team of volunteers lead by EVE Vegas veteran Greygal handled checking in attendees. I think the extended check-in period as compared to EVE Vegas really helped. I know that last October, between the horrible elevators at The Linq and trying to process everyone is such a short period of time through a confusing maze of lines, I got a little frustrated.

One thing I can’t comment on is the EVE TV coverage. I was on-site, so I couldn’t watch. I heard that the presenters this year were all players. For those wondering where CCP Mimic was, I can report she was very visibly pregnant. CCP Guard, on the other hand, was just running around like a maniac.

One tidbit I noticed was the presence of CCP Fozzie and CCP Larrikin everywhere I went. I attended two disparate roundtables, Lowsec/Faction Warfare and Markets, and both were present. CCP Quant recently left CCP and Larrikin took his place running the monthly economic report. Either CCP is short staffed, or CCP Larrikin is moving up the ladder. I hope the latter is the case, as Larrikin seems like a good guy.

One of the things people who go to Fanfest talk about is the chance to talk with the developers. Between writing the blog and attending the convention of seven years, I really do get to talk to a few devs. Then again, developers are people too who like talking with a whole bunch of people who appreciate their work. CCP Nomad stands out for this, as he bought me a beer after we abandoned attempting to get into the Tweetfleet karaoke event, even though he had no idea who I was.

I got the chance to talk with devs as varied as CCP Peligro, CCP Masterplan, and CCP Fozzie. Oh, and I didn’t get to talk with CCP Grimmi, but I did get to say hi as the Party at the Top of the World ended. Did you know he wrote or co-wrote some of Permaband’s songs? If you look closely at the footage, you can see him playing bass guitar.

I also got to see a couple of former devs. I met a ribbon-and-pin festooned Grideris, the community developer formerly known as CCP Logibro, at the final bar on the pub crawl. I didn’t go on the pub crawl, but the group I was with ate dinner there and stuck around all night. Have I mentioned I’m still puzzled as to why they let Grideris go? Six months after the layoffs, the move seems pretty short-sighted if you ask me, but what do I know?

The big name I got to talk with for quite a bit was the former CCP Quant. I found out last year he was a fan of the blog from when he was a player. We talked about a few things, with the others at the table, who just happened to be market traders, also asking questions. CCP Quant also gave me some advice on calculating price indexes, as I hope to include some in future economic analysis posts. The last I saw of Quant, a wild Seagull had swooped in and carried him off to the middle of town.

Now, to address the 800-pound gorilla in the room. The Triglavian Collective. The concept of putting in a tech testbed on Tranquility scares me just a bit. First, what happens if players don’t flock to the Abyssal complexes? Will CCP abandon the effort? I hope not, but I have a couple of concerns that could lead to players not running the content.

The first is the risk factor associated with running the sites. My concern isn’t the potential difficulty of running procedurally-generated sites facing off against challenging NPCs, all the while racing the clock to kill the boss before the pocket of Abyssal space collapses. I’m worried about the risk that players will pose as players emerge from the sites back into k-space. Here are some of the questions I have.

The first is, when players emerge, will they emerge on the beacon created by using the filament? Or will the players emerge within a sphere around the site. And if in a sphere, how big is the sphere? I can foresee exiting a site turning into walking into a gate camp, complete with a swarm of drones to decloak players using a ship with a covert ops cloak like a Stratios.

The second is selling the new transformed modules. Players cannot sell the new items on the market since so many sets of stats falling under the same item name will exist. Instead, the items will have to use the contract system. The big question is whether contract system will prove adequate to handle the sale of the new modules when Into the Abyss launches on 29 May.

At this point, I am not concerned with the ability of large null sec organizations to organize in the most efficient way to farm the sites. Large, well organized organizations can min/max anything. One of the selling points of the Abyssal space complexes is that CCP designed the content for short (15 minute) play sessions. What I hope to see is the casual players whom CCP designed the content for interested in engaging with the content. I just didn’t get enough information in Reykjavik to make an informed prediction. Reading the upcoming dev blogs and running the content on Singularity is key.

Finally, I’d like to mention one of the big reasons for attending these events: the players I meet. I won’t name them, mostly because I’d forget so many names. But also, because I talked to so many people, some of them might get blamed if I get something terribly wrong. Just figure that when I write about EVE, all mistakes are my own.

One of the big advantages of Fanfest over EVE Vegas is the more international flavor of the event. Besides the ever-present residents of the UK, I talked with players from Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Canada, and Australia. When I went on the tour of the south shore of Iceland, I even partnered up with someone from the Isle of Man. I have the feeling I forgot a couple of countries, although I don’t think Russian game journalists count.

As someone who pretty much plays the game solo, the opportunity to interact with so many players of different play styles helps keep me from developing a provincial point of view. I had the opportunity to rub shoulders from null sec alliance leaders to line members. I don’t think I ran into too many low sec players, but I heard about the upcoming changes in Into the Abyss from high sec players looking for more challenging solo content. I also heard from market traders and industrialists whose point of view I frequently overlook as I play. I have to admit my attitude towards the new Abyssal space content became more positive in the days after the keynote, even though almost everyone I talked to voiced a concern or two.

This blog post concludes my coverage of Fanfest 2018. EVE will feel the ripples from the events and presentations in the weeks to come as CCP posts dev blogs to let the players know more details about how Abyssal space and other new features will work. From a personal standpoint, I'll treasure my memories and can't wait to go back to that volcanic rock in the North Atlantic in 2020.