Friday, May 2, 2014

Fanfest 2014 - Day 1

The preliminaries are over and now the real work begins.  That's right, yesterday was the first day of CCP's Fanfest and serious internet spaceship business began.  I didn't do too much social stuff outside of going to dinner with Kelduum and Athanor at the little restaurant that Neville said he didn't want to go to this year.  But as Neville was at the charity dinner, we went anyway.

I stuck to the schedule I set up Tuesday, which meant six sessions.  Here's a quick impression of each presentation.

Game Design Panel - I took the most notes of this panel.  Basically, CCP Arrow introduced the game designers on stage and then the audience asked questions.  A lot of questions were deferred to either the EVE Keynote today or the Industry panel on Saturday.  One interesting development is the move towards making better tool tips to try to help both new players and bitter vets learn parts of the game.  That's important as CCP revamps many of the core systems, such as industry, over the next few expansions.

One subject, voice-over work, was one of the things that we had discussed at the hotel in the days leading up to Fanfest.  Adding voice to the tutorials means that CCP needs to stop development of the code in order for the actor/actress to finish up the voice work.  Also, whenever CCP would update the code, new voice work is also required.  Trying to arrange with that voice actor to do the work is sometimes a pain.  Much easier to just use text.

One interesting response I heard came to a question asking to make updating market orders not take so much effort came from CCP Foxfour.  He respondend, "Do you want us to let you bot it?"  Quite frankly, any system that would allow a trader to engage in .01 ISK games without direct imput is distinguishable from a macro or a bot.

Economy -  PLEX prices aside, the EVE economy is in a slightly deflationary period right now.  Much of that is caused by the increased efficiency in salvaging over the past year.  The introduction of salvage drones resulted in an increase in the amount salvaged by 67%.  Odyssey witnessed another 20% increase in the amount salvages with the introduction of mobile tractor units.  Overall, the salvage price index decreased by 40% over the past year.

Dr. Eyjo stated the PLEX is now acting like gold is in the real world.  That is, PLEX is acting as an investment vehicle with some utility in the form of game time.  The additional uses (multiple character training, ship skins, etc) are not adding a significant amount of demand that would result in price increases.  In 2013, the EVE Central Bank did not intervene in the PLEX market, but did so in mid-April in order to stabilize prices.

One interesting part of the presentation was discussing how he would like EVE players to produce their own economic analysis.  One of the examples concerned the recent accelerated rise in the price of PLEX.  Yes, Dr. Eyjo used a chart I produced as an example.  Yes!

The original, not from the Economy presentation.
Dr. Eyjo concluded by stating that the economy was currently stagnant but at a point of good equilibrium.  He also stated that the upcoming expansion is the biggest change to industry in EVE since launch.

Ship and Module Balancing - CCP Fozzie and CCP Rise gave a preview of the upcoming ship balancing changes.  The big news is that the Phoenix is receiving a shield resist bonus, improved rate of file, and Citadel missiles are receiving increased velocity and swapping the explosion radius bonus for explosion velocity.  When finished, the new Phoenix will deal type-selectable, capless damage while having a great tank.

I wasn't too interested in the 2 new Alliance Tournament ships.  Sorry, but those are so rare that they basically won't matter.  Of greater interest is that the next classes of ships due for rebalancing are the Orca and Rorqual, stealth bombers, recon ships, and strategic cruisers.

After Module Tiericide

A module tiericide, similar to that performed on ships, is in the works.  Like the one performed on ships, the module revamp would take several expansions to implement.  One thing Fozzie mentioned is that players would eventually have the ability to manufacture the named meta modules.  Yes, the dream of players manufacturing everything in EVE is still alive.

One last note that I found amusing after the presentation.  The speed buff to the Procurer is to help high sec miners combat the practice of miner bumping.  That's right, the reason that my ability to ice mine while aligned is affected is to protect the high sec miner.  With the change in speed, if I wish to stay fully aligned, I'll only get at most two full cycles of my ice harvester before I have to change direction and align to a new celestial, unless I get lucky and the ice balls align perfectly.  Currently I can get 4 cycles in.  That means I have to change direction twice as much, which makes me vulnerable to a stealth bomber.  Looks like I need to come up with some new tactics for mining in low sec.

Third Party Developer Tools - I'm not a third party developer, although I might want to start learning in order to get the data I think I'll need to write about the industry changes.  Either that or I'll need to do a lot of queries by hand.

According to CCP Foxfour, nothing public is available for image exports and no news at all about WebGL.  But the EVE API is in the best shape ever and public CREST is starting to roll out more features.  CCP will conduct a small test with a couple of third part developers for single sign-on (SSO) and authenticated CREST access.  Also expect, from either the API or CREST, access to Customs Office information.  Planetary Interaction end points were added on Tuesday.  After a study, it seems that the big killboard operators are getting almost all generated kill mails (over 96%), so expect all kill mails to become public knowledge in the near future.

Whatever else happens, the industry changes are going to cause changes to the API and CREST.  But CCP will keep some of the endpoints that will no longer function available in order to not break any existing apps that depend on them.

A lot of the guys in the room just want to do cool stuff.  Things like security or worrying about over-automation that would detract from game play don't seem like that big a concern.  Kind of reminds me of work, where we need to put the brakes on enthusiastic people.  Of course, at work, those people are marketing people who promise clients the moon, not the technical staff.

One other thing.  I'll be so glad when CREST is fully developed and the data cache is removed.  But the API will still stick around for years, because making a fully functioning CREST system is just that big a project.

Team Gridlock - I hear that the CSM panel was broadcast instead of the Team Gridlock presentation.  Let's just say I think people should watch the presentation when it comes out on YouTube.  The TL,DR is that Team Gridlock could push the Dogma rewrite and Brain-in-a-Box out to Tranquility by the end of the year.  But CCP Veritas did not say that definitively.

Friday Keynote: Welcome and EVE Valkyrie - Hilmar touched briefly on the shutdown of World of Darkness, but didn't really give out any new information.  Also, I was a little underwhelmed by the presentation.  I did come away with some confidence in Owen O'Brien, the Executive Producer of the EVE: Valkyrie project.  And if the ribbing of Hilmar he engaged in is any indication, the relationship between the two is probably pretty good.  From everything I've heard about CCP, human relationships are important inside the company.  Kind of like how human relationships are important in making EVE Online work.

Getting Katee Sackhoff, who played Starbuck on the Battlestar Galactica remake, to do the voice acting within the game is pretty big.  Having a female character to lead the Valkyrie not only makes sense lore-wise, but can appeal to female gamers.  Add in her on-screen persona and she was instant geek cred with male gamers also.  Her introductory video didn't hurt either. (Caution, NSFW).

On the technical side, the game is now using Unreal Engine 4.  From what I understand, the press and fansite operators got to play with the game yesterday and us regular attendees will get our chance today.  A raffle will determine who gets to play with the PS4 version of the game.  Interestingly, the lottery will occur in the middle of the DUST 514 presentation.

I'm not sure if I will try EVE: Valkyrie.  I may just due to peer pressure.  But I don't like flight simulators or dogfighting games.  The only reason for me to try the game at all is to check out the new tech.  If I wasn't blogging, I'd probably ignore the whole thing.  Depending on the schedule, I still may.


  1. One of your previous posts was about "please let CCP make the case" for the industry changes. If their economics guys just stated, again, that the Eve economy is deflationary, outside of the new gold standard, why on earth are they turning it upside down, handing null sec obscene gifts and advantages?

    Did ANYONE at CCP give an explanation of why they have tilted the table so far?

    1. So far, CCP has not said, but I truly believe that these changes are necessary for when we are allowed to build star gates and jump into unexplored space. When that happens, industry cannot be tied to high sec. Industry must be viable in the new space without a huge logistics train heading back to Jita.

      I have the feeling that low sec is about to get squashed, with the industrial spoils split between high sec and null. However, that is just a feeling and until the changes go live we won't know the true effects. In fact, I doubt we'll really know before the summer expansion in 2015.

  2. "In 2013, the EVE Central Bank did not intervene in the PLEX market, but did so in mid-April in order to stabilize prices."

    What was the reason why the PLEX market destabilized mid-April this year NoizyGamer ?

    Regards, a Freelancer

  3. "The speed buff to the Procurer is to help high sec miners combat the practice of miner bumping. That's right, the reason that my ability to ice mine while aligned is affected is to protect the high sec miner. With the change in speed, if I wish to stay fully aligned, I'll only get at most two full cycles of my ice harvester before I have to change direction and align to a new celestial, unless I get lucky and the ice balls align perfectly. Currently I can get 4 cycles in."

    Hehe Nozy, you should know by now that keeping aligned at 75% speed, you can double click the speed dial in the UI, is enough to keep "fully" aligned to warp out.

    Regards, a Freelancer