Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Fanfest 2012 - Day 3

Saturday began, as expected, with a hangover.  However, the never-ending supply of hot water available in Iceland really came in handy and by the time I left the hotel for the first event of the day I felt pretty good.

In typical CCP fashion the first presentation at 1100, "Growing Eve's Infrastructure", involved lots of numbers.  Did I mention that CCP has a bit of a sadistic streak?  The impressive numbers that I noted were that Tranquility has grown to 220 Sol servers and 48 proxy servers.  The proxy servers handle tasks such as connection negotiation, routing and data integrity checks. They route traffic to and from the Sol layer. Sol servers are where all the processing missioning, mining and fighting are computed and shared out via various proxy servers to other clients.  These servers have a combined 1 terahertz of processing power and 4 terabytes of RAM.  The proxy servers are designed to handle up to 40,000 concurrent players, which is good because with the introduction of DUST 514 CCP expects the peak concurrent users to increase by a factor of 10.  Yipes!

One thing I am concerned about is a possible move to virtualize Tranquility.  CCP has already virtualized a lot of other servers with no issues.  I even see how virtualization could aid in combating lag as resources would move around from underpopulated nodes to large fleet fights automatically.  I'm mainly concerned if a server is vMotioned whether that would lead to nodes disconnecting all the players in the fight.

Following the infrastructure presentation at 1200 was the "War Declarations" presentation.  The Eve-O forums contain a good summary of the presentation so I'll just make a couple of observations.  The first is that while we were told one of the basic questions was whether there was a problem with the war dec system, the problem became widely acknowledged with the GMs allowing practices that used to be considered exploits to become common practice.

Another thing that struck me is that while the devs are putting in features like war reports and war histories to attract those outside of high sec to declare war, I still don't see null sec alliances doing so.  For example, the current proposed pricing structure for wars I think would preclude that.  For example, I think war deccing the Goons would cost 3.5 billion isk per week.  I think that the cost will actually reduce the number of war decs as high sec corporations will no longer be able to declare nuisance wars against the large null sec alliances where the only combat occurs in Jita.

The good thing is that the changes to the war dec system are still in progress so I hope the devs take in player feedback about the holes in the system.

I felt a bit run down so I took a break until 1400.  That first presentation with all those numbers really took a lot out of me.  But eating some crackers, downing some aspirin, drinking lots of water and lying down for a bit left me refreshed for the next presentation I attended, "Eve Online vs. The Real World".   The presentation was given by a graduate student from the University of Aberdeen who did his thesis on real world security and international relations theories as applied to Eve.  I just put down my pen and enjoyed the talk.  If the video gets posted to YouTube I highly recommend watching.

The next event I attended at 1500 was the War Declarations round table.  I sat back as I watched the folks from Eve University, some mercs and some griefers discuss the mechanics.  A very informative session that showed me just how broken the war dec mechanics were.  For instance, people would drop corp, fly through two systems to another station and then rejoin corp.  Yes, definitely broken.

With the end of the round table it was time to go to the main hall for the "CCP Presents" talk.  This final session gave us CCP's vision of the future.  On Friday Hilmar told us of the first 4 ages of CCP.  On Saturday he told us of the fifth planned age from 2012-2015 which would begin with the launch of DUST 514 and would end with the launch of World of Darkness.  That's right, no one put the stake through the vampire's heart and the game will see the light of the moon yet.  Or that is the plan.

Next up was CCP's Chief Technology Officer Halldor Fannar.  The big news was the demonstration of improved graphics but with a requirement of dedicating a team of 5 developers for a year on implementing the graphics the question of whether to put forth that effort will go to the player base.  The other big news was that the purchase of GTX 560 video cards is now possible for the cost of 20 PLEX.  I'm not sure I like that idea since I anticipate some cash strapped governments would use the exchange of virtual currency for physical objects as an excuse to tax my in game earnings.

After the CTO came the new head of CCP Marketing David Reid.  He gave a great talk, but I have the same feeling as Wilhelm from The Ancient Gaming Noob about the former NC West President of Publishing.  Does anyone remember the Tabula Rasa "we're triple-A and here to stay" interview given a month before the announcement that the servers would close?  So I think this is a good time to list his "2012 Laws of CCP Marketing".
1.  We don't need to make Eve something it is not.
2.  We don't need Jesus features to get new players.
3.  We will launch DUST as a AAA shooter.
4.  We will create moments out of our Eve experiences.
5.  We will portray New Eden and its citizens with authenticity.
Let's see if he carries through with this list.

Following David Reid came DUST 514's executive producer Brandon Laurino.  After giving the standard information from the Thursday presentation he decided to drop a couple of bombs.  DUST will have PvE in the form of combat against rogue drones.  DUST will also introduce gladiator arenas in 2013 in which battles can be observed and wagered on within both DUST and Eve.  Also in 2013 combat on non-temperate planets and MTACs are planned.

Next came Eve Online's producer John Lander.  Most of what he said was just a review of everything I'd heard over the past 3 days so I just sat back and relaxed.  Then Hilmar came back out and introduced the new Eve trailer based on the story of Templar One.  I was really hoping that the video was a trailer for an Eve Online movie but after a bit of reflection I figured that the orgy scene would cause some problems.

With the end of CCP Presents only one more event remained: The Party at the Top of the World.  I walked back to the hotel, stopping by Hlölla Bátar for one of their delicious subs for dinner.  The party was listed to begin at 8pm but was delayed a bit for some setup.  I have to admit I was pretty tired but managed to make it through RoXoR's set and see Permaband's two songs, ending with HTFU.  I called it a night around 11pm and went back to the hotel after 3 beers to catch some much needed sleep.