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.