Friday, April 6, 2018

Questions Going Into Fanfest 2018

I land in Reykjavik Monday to attend my seventh Fanfest. Over the past two years the quality of the event went down as the organizers tried to make Fanfest more like EVE Vegas. Having travelled to Las Vegas three times for the “North American Fanfest,” I can state I liked the 2012-2015 era Fanfests much more than any of the EVE Vegas’ I’ve attended. The older events featured the debut of a lot of information destined for the upcoming summer expansions as well as longer term plans. Admittedly, those longer-term plans often either failed to materialize or disappointed when finally introduced. But the parade of developer presentations introducing upcoming content meant I didn’t have many blank slots in my schedule. Last year, I think I only attended a handful of events after the keynotes Thursday evening. If I had attended for the first time in either 2016 or 2017, I probably would not have made a second trip.

I have hopes this year’s event will see a return to its pre-2016 form. The latest content drops on Tranquility, despite having a major impact on game play, were mostly quality of life fixes. The EVE chattering class and gaming media alike really have no idea what will emerge from Reykjavik in a week’s time. I know I don’t have much of an idea. So instead of trying to present a preview of Fanfest 2018, I’ll just mention what news I hope to see everyone talking about afterwards.

EVE Online

CCP’s flagship game EVE Online should have the most stage time, even if the game doesn’t provide the biggest headlines. I just made a prediction, but I foresee the gaming media setting aside the future of a 15-year-old game in favor of the new shiny. The EVE chattering classes will no doubt disagree with the gaming media, with limited one-way sniping to follow. But enough with the predictions.

What is coming in the summer expansion? Last year, CCP stated it would continue with its five-week development cycle but would group new content into expansions when doing so made sense. With the dearth of news about truly new content over the past several months, I have the feeling CCP will announce a named expansion for this summer, launching on 29 May. The big question? What features will we see? Or am I giving CCP too much credit for its ability to keep secrets?

Any advancements in the NPC AI? Every time CCP introduces a new race (Sleepers, Drifters) or new PvE content (NPC mining fleets, pirate Sotoyos, Resource Wars), the artificial intelligence driving the NPCs takes a step up. With the latest lore storyline seeming to introduce a new race/NPC faction, the Triglavian Domain, I’m anxious to see what advancements has in store for us in the short-to-medium term future.

What is the status of Project Discovery? The latest iteration of Project Discovery, the search for exoplanets, is approaching the one year mark. CCP and MMOS have given updates throughout the year, but to see a presentation on whether players discovered a real world exoplanet. I also want to hear the future of Project Discovery. Will players keep searching for exoplanets or has MMOS presented CCP with a new citizen science project suitable for inclusion into EVE Online? The answer is kind of important, as Project Discovery is the source of player-flyable CONCORD ships. I’m sure market traders, at the very least, want to know.

Who’s running for CSM? CCP Guard tweeted out that 52 players submitted applications to run in the upcoming election for the 13th Council of Stellar Management. So far, only 23 potential candidates have posted a campaign thread on the official EVE Online forums. Not only do I want to know so I can start doing a little analysis, but I need to know so I can update my election site.

Other CCP News

Project Foundation. Introduced to the world as Project Aurora in October at EVE Vegas, Project Foundation is a mobile game CCP partnered with [INSERT COMPANY NAME] to develop based on EVE. I played an alpha version of the game at EVE Vegas in October. The battery usage alone led me to uninstall the game before the convention ended. Will CCP announce the release of the game at Fanfest? Or will CCP test the game at a second player event?

Project Nova. Project Nova is the code name for the FPS game CCP partnered with Sumo Digital to develop as the successor to DUST 514. Sumo Digital is also the company that purchased CCP’s VR development studio in Newcastle. CCP created a little buzz recently by sending out a survey to former DUST 514 players asking about Project Nova. I would not be surprised if CCP introduced some gameplay footage from the game.

The unnamed MMORPG. Players have noticed job postings from CCP indicating that the company is developing a new MMORPG using the Unreal Engine 4. When I saw the Project Foundation trademark in January, I hoped the name was related to the new game. At this point in time, I would just like a confirmation if a new game is under development.

CCP Falcon published a dev blog with more information about Fanfest yesterday. The schedule of events doesn’t excite me. Hopefully, my questions aren’t too ambitious.

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