Monday, March 26, 2012

Fanfest 2012 - Day 2

On Friday I woke up, ate breakfast and showed up early to the Harpa center.  I really believe that CCP has a sadistic streak in them by always scheduling CCP Dr.EyjoG's "State of the Economy" presentation at 10am in the main Tranquility hall.  But the time is not as bad as it sounds.  Either that or I was smart and just didn't drink much the night before.  But I learned a lot about the New Eden economy by getting up early.

The first major thing I noted was the demographics show players moving away from null sec and into wormholes.  Null sec went from having 16.2% of the population to having 15% and w-space saw a corresponding increase from 4.2% to 5.4%.  The demographics also show that older players move from high sec to other areas.  While 71.5% of players stay in high sec overall, only 65.3% of players with over 5 million skill points remain in high sec.  And when excluding Jita, the population in Caldari space is actually declining while that of Amar is increasing.  Dr. EyjoG believes this is a function of the Amar Empire's size and that population pressure is forcing players into the traditionally underpopulated systems.

Inflation is a big worry for Dr. EyjoG as the isk faucets are pouring in 24 trillion isk per month more than the isk sinks can remove.  New Eden's GUP (gross user product) increased by 15% in 2011 (or YC113 for roleplayers) which Dr. EvjoG indicates shows that Eve has made up for all the players lost during the Summer of Rage.  One of the big culprits, if not the biggest, to the wave of inflation is incursions.  According to the statistics, 5% of the population in Eve takes part in the anti-Sansha efforts.  What part of incursions do pilots run the most?  Vanguards.  I would expect a Vanguard nerf in the very near future.

Another area of concern is the PLEX market.  The PLEX market now represents 25% of the total trade in Eve.  The CSM is going to receive a new role as a watchdog over CCP's efforts to regulate the market.  Dr. EyjoG revealed that there are over 10,000 PLEX on banned accounts that the Eve Central Bank could use to intervene in the markets.  A new organization, the CCP PLEX Council, consisting of Dr. EyjoG, a senior developer, and a player (most likely a CSM member) will oversee the PLEX market.  With the advent of the CCP/CSM Skype channel, this type of conversation should be possible whenever needed.  For those who think the CSM doesn't have power, you might want to think again.

I would like to make one additional observation before moving on.  Throughout Dr. EyjoG's presentation, no mention of subscriber numbers or actual number of pilots was given.  In fact on one chart the numbers were clumsily blacked out.  I don't know if this is to hide that subscriptions didn't actually increase very much to players or is now proprietary information because CCP is looking to take itself public.  That said, I do believe CCP when it states that subscription numbers went up last year.  I am skeptical of claims that the game has 400,000 paid (real life money or PLEX) subscriptions and the lack of numbers hardens that suspicion.

At 1100 was the "Ship Balancing" presentation.  I admit the dev blog on ship balancing left me a bit confused so I welcomed the opportunity for CCP Ytterbium to explain exactly what the reasoning behind the moves.  After listening to the explanation, things started to make more sense.  Personalizing the presentation, why should Rosewalker need to learn Assault Ships and Heavy Assault Ships to fly the Slepnir command ship or Logistics to fly a Claymore?  I think the proposed path that all she needs to learn is Minmatar Battlecruisers V makes sense.  Of course, the fact that he already has Battlecruisers trained to 5 makes me a little uneasy about what happens when the expansion does come out.

After the ship balancing presentation I quickly ran out to the concession stand to get a nutritious meal of a brownie and water before the noon presentation "Year In Lag" by CCP Veritas.  Admittedly I sat back and watched as he pulled out several very impressive graphs and failed to take notes.  But the basic thrust of his talk is that Team Gridlock has made great strides on the servers and the next area that would gain the greatest return for the effort is working on the Eve client.

CCP Veritas at the Eve Keynote

Once CCP Veritas finished, I made my way to Singularity for CCP Sreeg's presentation on "Eve Security".  As tempting as watching the Faction Warfare presentation was, I just had to see the goodies CCP Sreegs would unleash.  And I wasn't disappointed.

CCP Sreegs first surprised me with one of his first slides documenting his successes in 2011 and The Nosy Gamer featured at the bottom of the slide.  I was so surprised that when he said he believed the gentleman who runs the blog is in the hall that I didn't raise my hand or otherwise take a bow.  I'm not sure what surprised me more, the mention of the blog or that he knew I was in Iceland.

But enough about me, what about bots?  First, the majority of characters banned have under 20 million skillpoints, with the most flown ships the Tengu, Hulk and Raven Navy Issue.  Surprisingly, the security team caught on player botting in a Nyx.  Really?!

As for the changes, the one where accounts are flagged as botters can no longer transfer characters was known before Fanfest.  Two new ones are that bannings will be done daily, which means the algorithms that detect bots must be pretty good by now.  Only one player was confirmed as being a false positive with a second about to be confirmed.  Also, effective the week before Fanfest CCP began removing all of the money earned by bots from accounts.  If the character is a mining bot, then a value of the minerals is determined and deducted from a character's wallet.

Among other security news is that two factor authentication will probably begin around July, but that is not confirmed.  I'll have to review the presentation once it hits YouTube for additional details as I was most concerned with bots.

After the presentation I went down to introduce myself to CCP Sreegs.  I waited awhile as people talked with him, including the gentleman who was falsely banned.  During the presentation CCP Sreegs said that CCP would take care of people affected and he confirmed he was well taken care of.  I then had a brief chat with the security chief as we walked out of the room as the next presentation began.

I had 90 minutes to kill before the Eve Keynote address so I made the five minute walk back to the hotel, grabbed some crackers, took some aspirin and drank a lot of water.  Oh, and made a post about getting mentioned by CCP Sreegs.

Unlike the DUST 514 Keynote, the Eve Keynote started on time at 1530. First, Hilmar came out once again to try to convince everyone he "gets" it about Eve being about internet spaceships.  He also came out with an interesting timeline of the "Ages of CCP".  The first age, from 1997-1999 was the "Age of Innocence" where the few members of CCP gathered up the resources to actually begin building Eve Online.  The second age, from 2000-2003, was the actual "Making of Eve Online", or the development of the game.  From 2004-2007 was "The March to 200K", or making the game popular.  The fourth age, 2008-2011, he called "War on the Impossible", when CCP attempted to build two new games while continuing to run Eve.  That last kind of stepped on the whole "flying in space" is priority one and should have been saved for Saturday, but Hilmar does get carried away sometimes.

The new senior producer for Eve, Jon Lander (CCP Unifex) came up next to reassure everyone that the new concentration was on Flying in Space and not leaving features half built.

Senior Producer CCP Unifex at the 2012 Eve Keynote

He also produced a production schedule that reminded me of Scott Hartsman-era EverQuest 2 with releases every month.  Unlike EQ2 though, Eve will continue to have two major releases a year instead of one.  Right now the Inferno pre-patch is scheduled for 24 April with Inferno itself releasing 22 May.  Inferno 1.5 is scheduled for an August release with a point release in September and the winter expansion launching in November.

Next up came CCP Soundwave.  CCP Soundwave stated that Crucible would not be a one-off expansion and that Inferno should be even better as the developers move on to start fixing some of the bigger things that need love like the war dec system and faction warfare.

CCP Soundwave explaining Crucible at 2012 Eve Keynote

After CCP Soundwave finished, CCP Veritas came on and talked about Team Gridlock's efforts to reduce lag.  CCP Veritas is one of the more popular devs and besides, you can never get too many graphs.

To wrap up the presentation, CCP TorfiFrans came on to talk about avatars and other types of things.  While improved skin colors, sleeve tatoos and race blending are interesting, he fortunately had other things to discuss other than reminders of Incarna.  When you get to talk about salvage drones (finally!) that makes up for a lot.  The steath bomber redesign also looks promising.  But he got to end the presentation with the introduction of missile turrets.  While Minmatar ships do use missiles as well as guns, the Caldari pilots went crazy.  What could have been a rough conclusion got a rousing ovation.

Following the presentation I had a few hours to kill so I stopped by a restaurant called American Style for dinner.  The place played American rock and roll music and was a rather nice place, especially since I managed to hit it at a quiet time.  I had a Buddy Holly burger, which was pretty good.

After going back to my room for a couple of hours I headed back to the Harpa center for the Pub Crawl.  I'm not going to go into too much detail, but my group lost its guide and we would up with the Goons group, squeaky bees and all.  I did bump into The Mittani a couple of times and he isn't as bad as he would like everyone to believe.  He also confirmed my view that going to Iceland is just like going to Wisconsin.

I lost the group in the 5th bar sometime around 1am and made my way back to the hotel, stopping by Hlölla Bátar for a sub to try to soak up some of the alcohol.  Sorry, no pictures.  Sometime what happens in Reykjavik stays in Reykjavik.

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