Last Day Revelations from EVE Vegas

The last day of EVE Vegas concluded on Sunday afternoon, after a couple of substantial roundtable discussions and some interesting player presentations. Attendance was light in the morning, as many had reveled long into the previous night at the party at the Paris Chateau nightclub. As a result, the atmosphere was definitely very low-key on Sunday morning. But by the afternoon, the energy picked up to a satisfying conclusion.

Once again, I live tweeted bits of news from the events that I attended, as did other dedicated attendees. Here is a summary of the most pertinent tweets from the day

  • CCP Ghost described the updated new player experience (NPE), called Inception. It consists of five components. 
Christina Cole - the voice of Aura

Christina Cole - the voice of Aura

  • The old Aura is gone - hello, Aura 2.0 - focuses on how to do things, while the faction mentor tells you what to do.
  • The new voice actress for Aura 2.0 is Christina Cole, best known for the TV show Suits.
  • Drifters are the bad guys in Inception NPE story. CCP Ghost suggested more Drifter ships are coming to the game.
  • CCP Ghost says story is important in NPE to help memory with context. Memories attached to strong emotions easiest to retrieve says CCP Ghost, so NPE story helps make emotional reactions.
  • Inception NPE includes five new types of sites as the setting for the story - this is the "mystery site", where pilots look for SoE facility:
EV3b.jpg
  • New Inception NPE, teaching how to hack:
  • Multiple narrative and visual cues in NPE designed to reinforce emotional connection.
  • The Inception NPE gives a taste of awesome scale in a battle around a Drifter Hive - capital ship arrives in scenario.
  • CCP Ghost says NPE feedback has been very positive so far.
  • CCP Ghost asks current EVE Online players for help with NPE:
  • Plans for next steps for NPE development:
  • Planned next for NPE: Operations Center to offer choices of actions by type: e.g. Combat, Mining, Trade, etc. CCP Ghost hoping for phase 2 of inception by Fanfest - but not set in stone.
  • Ganking in the NPE is viewed as illegal. 
  • Eve Vegas SKINS presentation from the Art Panel - TONS OF PICS
  • Billboards will be outside your citadel or industrial complex soon.
Twitch streamer Manic Velocity shares how EVE Online helped him overcome social anxiety.

Twitch streamer Manic Velocity shares how EVE Online helped him overcome social anxiety.

  •  Twitch streamer Manic Velocity confesses that he suffers from social anxiety, but EVE helps him overcome it. He says EVE not only has a steep "learning cliff", it also has a significant "social cliff" as well.
  •  Manic Velocity's advice for scaling the social cliff: Experiment with different types of in-game social interaction, take risks by doing things that aren't necessarily comfortable, find your niche, know your audience, and above all: be genuine.
  • CCP Falcon hosted a roundtable discussion on EVE Online lore, to a packed room.
  • He noted that there are no real conditions to what gets in the ticker in the Scope news videos. If he sees something he likes, he'll run with it.
  • He would like severe consequences for players for stupid decisions, like changes to access in NPC stations. He'd love to limit docking rights in NPC corp stations if you have low standings with them. But game design considerations may make that difficult, if not impossible.
  • "It's a good thing I'm not a game designer, or EVE would be a much darker and more horrible place."
  • Falcon says "There are a lot of misconceptions about the Sisters of Eve... they're not very nice people."
  • He would like to write a chronicle explaining Drifter conflict in the Inception NPE.
  • On further story development about the Drifters, Caroline's Star, Sansha - Falcon responded with "Not yet".
CCP Falcon leads the lore roundtable discussion

CCP Falcon leads the lore roundtable discussion

  • He is working on a Gunjack chronicle, but no release date yet.
  • A new official lore portal is online but not released. It will be a massive backstory repository. Falcon is HOPING to go live with the new portal in December or Q1 next year. No promises though. Mercury has a lot to do.
  • He really loves the idea of incorporating Scope videos into the portal as well.
  • There is so much lore in EVE Online that there is no one person at CCP Games who knows it all, says CCP Falcon.
  • Are there triggers on EVE Online landmarks we haven't found yet? "I'm not going to tell you that!" says CCP Falcon.
  • CCP Falcon idea: a monument "Tomb of the Unknown Capsuleers" to recognize players who have passed in Real Life.
  • Mentas Blaque is the most fun character ever, says CCP Falcon - would like to see him in a visible position of power.
  • Q: any plans to bring back more classic live events? A: can't really reuse the tools from the Sansha live events, unfortunately.
  • Independent capsuleers are a very small minority - most are in faction navies. We are a rare but powerful oddity. 
  • COSMOS constellation content is considered canon, of course. Not sure how they'll intro it to new players though.
  • How dead are the Talocan? "I take the fifth", says CCP Falcon.
  • We will see more about Upwell. Some corporations may leave the consortium and new ones join.
  • Falcon would like to add a moderation option in local for live events, but that would be a lot of dev time.
Elise Randolph speaks about varying EVE Online playstyles

Elise Randolph speaks about varying EVE Online playstyles

  • Elise Randolph says EVE Online pushes us to specialize, leading to a trap of sameness and burnout. To thrive, players must vary their playstyle.
Some ideas for creating more variety in playing EVE Online

Some ideas for creating more variety in playing EVE Online

Max Singularity, a.k.a. the Space Pope (in Real Life: Charles White of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory) dons his shawl for his talk on the Solar System.

Max Singularity, a.k.a. the Space Pope (in Real Life: Charles White of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory) dons his shawl for his talk on the Solar System.

  • It's official - New Eden is not in our local galactic group. 
  • "EVE Online players know what AU means."
  •  Carl Sagan has been officially canonized as a saint by the Space Pope Max Singularity.

EVE Vegas 2016 culminated with an upbeat farewell from CCP Guard and CCP Falcon, and an invitation to Fanfest 2017, to be held April 6-8 in Reykjavik.

  • 2017 will be CCP Games' 20th anniversary as a company, so they promise that Fanfest will be a big celebration.
  • Apparently, EVE Online players like pink ship skins for charity, buying $44,840 of then.
  • Altogether, EVE Online players have raised more than $500,000 for charity, so far.
  • Fanfest 2017 attendees will get some CONCORD ships. One of these, the Marshal, will be given to players who attend both Fanfest and EVE Vegas.
CONCORD ships for Fanfest 2017 attendees!

CONCORD ships for Fanfest 2017 attendees!

Thus ended EVE Vegas.  I will definitely be going back next year!

If I missed any news, please leave it in a comment.

Fly safe! o7

 

More Tidbits from EVE Vegas

Yesterday was the opening keynote for the EVE Vegas player convention, which I covered in my previous post. Today, the second day of the event, included a series of roundtable discussions and player presentations.

I live tweeted key points of news from the events that I attended, as did EVE lore god Mark726 and a few other dedicated EVE Online fans. (Thanks, Mark726 - I hope you don't mind that I stole a few of your tweets in this report.)

If you use Twitter, and you aren't following me, you can do so at @NevilleSmit.

I am recapping the key tweets here, for the record. I'll comment on some of these bits of news in future posts. I did not attend every session, but I tried to capture all the items that were broadcast throughout the day.

  • CCP Larrikin explained new NPC mining ops using new AI: they fly ORE ships and actually mine ore in belts.
  • New NPCs drop strongboxes for sweet loot - you can sell the strongboxes in the market, or you can try to open them and take what's inside:
EV2a.jpg
  • Haulers will show up to take the ore away. They will be doing something with the ore, but Larrikin won't say what yet.
  • Attacking NPCs in belts cause support ships to appear and defend. Act like players act with very similar fits.
  • Attacking the ops will drop standings. If you attack or have low standings, the ops ships will try to call for help and run away.
  • NPC fleets will be very close to player fleets. Will have an FC that they anchor on and will have ECM and logistics.
  • New NPCs have a little diamond after their name in the overview.
  • There will be pirate mining ops as well.
  • Larrikin emphasized that they want PvE skills to translate to PvP skills.
  • New NPC AI won't jump gates now, but "very soon" says CCP Larrikin. There are plans for NPCs to react to players on a "global scale". Plan is for NPCs to react to players' fleet compositions.
  • Will Thukkers get mining ops? Hopefully. There are things CCP wants to do in Great Wildlands.
  • No new AI NPCs in drone regions, but there are plans for them later.
  • New NPC AI mining ops will not be in wormhole space. The NPCs don't know how to probe, and will only go to static belts.
  • There are new Defender missiles, designed to take out bombs - acronym is DICKS - only one launcher per Destroyer-class ship:
  • New defender missile stats:
  • Re: new Defender missiles - their hit probability is completely random. Staggering firing helps to optimize effect.
  • DICKS can be fitted on all destroyers, including Tech II varieties.
  • Medium-term structures development roadmap:
  • Drop boxes will be way to get stuff into citadels without docking. Will let you complete courier contracts without docking rights.
  • Also looking at tethering changes to reduce bumping.
  • Will Engineering Complexes show super caps being built? CCP Fozzie says alliance logos on ships are a higher priority, but yes, eventually.
  • Any job that is active in an EC have a chance of dropping loot and will show in killmails. You will NOT see anything going into asset safety.
  • Ships can now undock from Citadel and self-destruct while tethered - CCP will stop this at some point in the future.
  • Balance priorities:
  • Proposed changes to recharge rates:
  • Possible idea under consideration - community fittings:
  • CCP Fozzie says alliance fittings are "maybe, someday".
  • Any plans to bring back mines? No. They're not fun and create system performance issues.
  • There is a possibility of a hardcore clone state with permadeath added in the future. No firm plans to do this yet, but it would be extremely easy to implement now.
  • CCP Rise says they will keep tinkering with dailies rewards to help give Alphas a bit of a leg up for training/gaining skillpoints.
  • The Council of Stellar Management noted that there is an in-game chat channel called "CSM" where members hang out to answer questions - players are invited to join.
  • All the CSM members agree that the CSM institution isn't going anywhere, as CCP Seagull, Executive Producer of EVE Online, strongly believes in it.
  • Jayne Fillon, leader of Spectre Fleet, talked about being an EVE Online content creator.
  • J Mcclain talked about social support networks in EVE Online, and shared his own personal story of how EVE players helped him in his time of need.
  • J Mcclain and Mom Bellicose reminded everyone that all of EVE Online is one big social network.
  • Mynxee and Johnny Splunk, co-founders of the Signal Cartel, talked about creating a counter-culture in EVE Online.
  • Rahne led a panel of EVE Online live streamers:

Tomorrow is the last day of EVE Vegas, with sessions on the "Inception" new player experience, lore roundtable, more interesting player presentations, and the closing ceremony. I will try to capture the key points and report them here.

Fly safe! o7

 

Ascension: Looking Good (Mostly)

I'm supposed to wear this for three days? What are you thinking, CCP?

The registration process for EVE Vegas 2016 was quick and easy - after scanning my ticket, the CCP staff gave me a paper wrist band and a badge, and I became an official attendee. Everyone is a bit mystified about the wrist bands. Apparently, CCP doesn't think that we bathe when attending gamer conferences? I'll see how mine holds up in the shower, though I suspect there are going to be a lot of bandless attendees showing up over the next two days.

After registering, I joined a group of EVE media personalities at a nearby bar. It's a little strange seeing new faces to match up with the long-familiar names and voices from blogs and podcasts. Marc Scaurus, of the Just for Crits blog, organized the gathering. We gave him a little good-natured ribbing about his scheduled EVE Vegas presentation on "Inside the EVE Media", telling him we were all planning to attend and heckle him throughout.

We EVE media types look nothing like our avatars - not at all.

Marc has announced that he is quitting EVE, but I don't give it much credence - everyone who leaves EVE Online seems to come back after a while. We all try to deny our addiction ("I can quit whenever I want!"), but we never really leave - we just take the occasional hiatus away from the game. You'll be back, Marc, and we will welcome your inevitable return with open arms.

CCP Falcon and CCP Guard kick off the start of EVE Vegas 2016

CCP Falcon and CCP Guard kick off the start of EVE Vegas 2016

After a flag-waving opening (literally) by CCP Guard and CCP Falcon - who revealed that there were an impressive 800+ attendees at EVE Vegas this year - and a short break, CCP Seagull, Executive Producer for EVE Online, started the keynote address. I won't recap everything that she and the other CCP presenters covered here - you can watch the recorded video. Suffice it to say that there are a lot of interesting new features coming out with the Ascension update to EVE Online on November 15th.

I was hoping that CCP Seagull would use the opening keynote to unveil a future roadmap for the game's planned development, but it was clear from the start that the emphasis for this presentation would be on Ascension, the new update due in a couple of weeks. There were hints that the more forward-thinking presentation would be forthcoming on Sunday, so I'm content to wait.

I thought I had a pretty good understanding about what is coming out in Ascension, but the keynote includes some really interesting reveals. The keynote succeeded in putting any concerns I had about this release to rest. Based on what I saw, Ascension is looking really good, and I'm now very confident that it will be a significant success.

It's all about the Alphas

The big news for Ascension is the introduction of a free-to-play option, called the Alpha clone state, and it's clear that CCP is going to advertise this very heavily. They are banking on a horde of new players streaming into the game. I have my doubts about how many Alphas will join EVE Online - I estimate a 10-15 percent increase in average daily log-in counts, perhaps. But I'm a cynical, old bittervet, and I could be way off. Perhaps Alphas will draw a tidal wave of new players into the game - I would love to see it.

I'm happy with CCP's decision to keep the same limits on Alphas that we currently have for Trial Accounts, preventing multibox log-ins with an Alpha clone character. This should keep any potential abuses to a minimum.

Critical to the success of Alphas is the new player experience (NPE). This has been revamped for Ascension by CCP Ghost and his team. The new NPE is called Inception, and it is designed around a narrative story. In this regard, Inception does its job well.

The success of the NPE is not merely a function of how well it explains game mechanics - candidly, the old tutorial-driven system did this just fine. Rather, the NPE really only succeeds if sets an emotional hook to a player's character. If Inception gets Alpha players to invest emotionally in their character, they will be much more likely to stay. I plan to set up a new character and try the new NPE myself, once it comes out - but from what I've seen so far, I think it will succeed at retaining a higher number of new players.

Ascension brings new Engineering Complex structures - and the end of solo industry

Ascension brings new Engineering Complex structures - and the end of solo industry

The End of Solo Industry

CCP Fozzie described the new engineering complexes (ECs). After speaking with other attendees who play in null-sec, wormholes, low-sec and high-sec, the general consensus is that they are inadequately armed soap bubbles, which will be very difficult to defend. I heard some ideas for locating ECs at 1,000 kms from Citadels, since missile ranges from Citadels will extend out to 1,100 kms, providing some nominal defensive coverage. Why CCP doesn't allow ECs to be anchored closer to Citadels, in order to create clusters of structures in space for mutual defense, is a mystery to everyone.

In his keynote comments, CCP Fozzie said that the Raitaru medium-sized EC would be suitable for "bold solo industrialists". Based on the numbers I've run, and supported by the conclusions of other analysts, only idiotic industrialists would try to operate an EC alone. They are simply not defensible unless you have a team of people able to rally together to fend off attackers. As a solo platform, an EC of any size is just a giant loot pinata.

Once Player-Owned Starbases (POS) are discontinued, solo industry in EVE Online, in any kind of space, is dead. The only option for individual manufacturers will be to use station facilities, which is expensive and generally unprofitable.

Personally, I'd love to see CCP introduce a small EC - or some kind of comparable mobile depot for limited industry - that approximates the functions of current POS towers and arrays, with significantly lower bonuses than medium ECs, and which can be taken down quickly. Then there would be something for aspiring solo industrialists to use. But perhaps this is the point - CCP clearly wants industry to be conducted exclusively by larger alliances and corporations. Soon, individual entrepreneurship will be an extremely rare thing in New Eden, if it exists at all.

This is my only disappointment for Ascension. My days as a successful Tech II manufacturer in high-sec are numbered. Time to find another way to make a living in New Eden.

In-game simulated fitting looks amazing!

Amazing Simulated Fitting

Previously known as "ghost fitting" the demo of the simulated fitting capability coming out in Ascension went far beyond my expectations. Not only does it intelligently replicate the functions of EVE Fitting Tool (EFT) and Pyfa, but it does so with some very valuable new features.

For example, it screens out modules that don't fit on the ship you are working with, making it much easier to learn what different modules do for your design. Even more useful, it allows the user to buy the modules needed and instantly outfit multiple ships with the same fitting. This makes the previously tedious job of setting up multiple doctrine-compliant ships much, much easier and faster.

Kudos to CCP karkur and the other developers who worked on this feature - it looks fantastic.

Dynamic interactive PvE, at last!

CCP Larrikin talked about the new interactive non-player character (NPC) mining fleets that will start to appear in asteroid belts. This goes far, far beyond what I expected for this new feature - these NPCs will react to player actions, and fight just as players do to defend themselves.

I can't wait to try out this new feature. If the NPCs do in fact react as intelligently as he led us to believe, this opens a whole new chapter in how player-vs-environment (PvE) content will be handled in EVE Online. It will convert the systems of New Eden into dynamic, realistic spaces, full of vitality and activity, with which players can interact.

Of all the announced features for Ascension, this is the one I am most excited about.

Consistent ship skins that can be applied to all ship types and races - coming soon!

Consistent ship skins that can be applied to all ship types and races - coming soon!

Corp and Alliance Ship Skins - Soon?

CCP Seagull revealed that an upcoming revamp of the ship skin technology will provide more flexibility in how ships appear, and in how much they can be customized. She also revealed that these color schemes can be installed across racial and ship type boundaries.

This provides the opportunity for consistent corporation or alliance standard ship appearance - something that alliance leaders have desired for years. While this will have no impact on ship performance, of course, it will create a level of affiliation and unity for fleet members. Essentially, all the soldiers will be wearing the same uniforms when they go into combat and fight as a team.

It's a little thing, compared to the other more practical features announced in the keynote, but it definitely got the most buzz from the attendees.

The new mobile app for iOS and Android - now you'll be able to keep tabs on your Internet spaceships, anywhere, all the time!

The new mobile app for iOS and Android - now you'll be able to keep tabs on your Internet spaceships, anywhere, all the time!

Other Nice Things

CCP Seagull also announced a few other interesting features:

  • A new EVE Online store - now you can buy your swag from an official shop
  • A cool mobile app for iPhones and Android devices - EVE Online Portal
  • Recruiting bonuses for referrals and for corporations - a bonus of skill points for referring new players, and for corporations recruiting new players into the game

And a New Song

Overall, I was impressed with the opening keynote. Lots of great features and interesting reveals. Now I go to attend the presentations and roundtables, to learn more details. I will report on the key findings here.

CCP Guard ended the event with a new, slightly cheesy, but undeniably catchy Permaband rap song. I love it.

Fly safe! o7