I'm enjoying a wonderful weekend in New York City with my charming bride. On Monday night, I leave from JFK airport for the "top of the world" in Reykjavik, Iceland, to attend Fanfest with a couple thousand other EVE Online enthusiasts. My significant other won't be joining me in Iceland, alas. Though I did my best to convince her, she just smiled, patted my head, and said, "No, honey - you will have more fun with your all your little playmates without me there."
She can be sort of condescending like that sometimes - but she is wise. She has no interest in the machinations of New Eden, both subtle and explicit. So, I shall be sojourning in Iceland alone.
I'm on a mission - or three, actually
I go to Fanfest with a trio of specific objectives.
- First, Fanfest is all about connecting with players of EVE Online. For me, that means talking with my fellow EVE University corpmates, and also chatting with others I've encountered in virtual space. By far, this is the most fun part of being at Fanfest.
- Second, I am both fascinated and concerned about the coming changes to industry, which will be the theme of the summer expansion for EVE Online. The initial dev blogs published so far on the subject have me both excited and worried. I hope that all will be revealed at Fanfest, so that I can know if I can continue as a small-scale industrialist in high sec space. Increasingly, that is beginning to look like it will no longer be tenable, but I am hopeful that after Fanfest, I will know what options are open, and what choices I need to make.
- Finally, I am highly curious to learn what CCP Games has in its collective mind for expanding the New Eden universe. DUST 514 appears to be on life support, and is in need of some serious injections of new life. I hope that they make that game available on the PC, and integrate it further with EVE Online, so that players like me will join and play it. Valkyrie looks amazing, and I cannot wait to see how CCP intends to flesh it out as a real game. I suspect that it will not be integrated with EVE Online - though the potential for doing so intrigues me. And I hope to see and hear how the New Eden universe will be available in other media - especially in the previously announced TV show.
This will be my third Fanfest, and I'm starting to get pretty good at knowing how to structure my time there. This year, I arrive a couple days early, so I'll be able to relax and see some of the sights in Reykjavik. Each time I've visited Iceland, it's been a pleasant experience - the natives are friendly, the food is decent (if you know where to go and what to order), and the camaraderie with fellow Fanfest attendees is excellent. I go this year in anticipation of a really good time, once again.
The master plan
I've planned out my itinerary, careful to leave some unstructured time. In the past, I've overplanned, and it all disintegrated when I deviated from my original timeline. This tends to happen a lot when you are hanging out with your corpmates, who are exceptionally gifted in suggesting fun things to do that you had not previously considered.
The Fanfest agenda includes multiple sessions that run concurrently, which force you to make some hard choices. There are a couple of instances where two really good sessions are scheduled at the same time. Most of the sessions in the larger auditoriums are recorded as part of the live Fanfest stream, and will be available for viewing later on YouTube, so I've selected some of the smaller sessions, which won't be recorded, at those times.
- Arrive 6:15 am. Hopefully, I won't be impacted too badly by the airport strike. I'm arriving one day before the announced strike date, so I think I'll be OK. I'll take the Flybus to the Thingholt hotel. The lobby bar there is the unofficial gathering place for EVE University members - all are welcome to join each evening!
- Breakfast at the Laundromat - I've never been to this Reykjavik standard. It's an offbeat place for breakfast and late-night meals, so I'm told. I hope to say hello to Ripard Teg and some other CSM8 members there.
- Shopping and sightseeing - I'm looking forward to wandering around in Reykjavik and getting to know the town a bit better this year. If anyone has any specific suggestions of sights I should see, please list them in the comments. (And no, I do not plan to go to the world-famous Penis Museum, thank you.)
- 17:00 - Monument unveiling - the big reveal of the Worlds Within a World monument near the CCP headquarters. This should be interesting.
- 20:00 - #Tweetfleet meet - Celtic Cross - I've never attended the annual gathering of Twitterers about the EVE Online community. I understand that it is a fun group.
- 12:00 - Little Things, Big Matters - I'm eager to see what tweaks and improvements in the EVE experience that CCP Karkur and CCP Punkturis have incorporated. These "little things" make a big difference in making the game a lot easier to play.
- 13:00 - The Future of PvE in EVE Online - I'm keenly interested in making player vs. environment gameplay better. I want to hear what CCP Games intends to do to give this neglected part of the game some much needed love.
- 14:00 - Ships and Module Balancing - One cannot know enough about what CCP is thinking about changes to our precious ships, and the modules that we fit on them.
- 15:00 - Null Sec discussion - I generally have ignored Fanfest sessions about 0.0 in the past, but since CCP Games seems intent on buffing null space, I think I need to pay more attention to the trends there. Also, I have a feeling that changes to sovereignty and power projection are in store for null sec soon. It should be fun to see how well the 0.0 folks cope with change.
- 16:00 - Lowsec and Crimewatch - I'd prefer to join the CSM Panel at this time, frankly. I rarely go to low-sec. But I think this discussion is important, as I think low-sec is the most neglected space in all of New Eden. I'm curious to learn what kinds of ideas players have to improving the experience there.
- 17:00 - Fanfest Welcome & EVE: Valkyrie Keynote - the first of three big, daily capstone presentations by CCP Games. I'm eager to see the plans for the release of Valkyrie.
- 20:00 - Charity Dinner - I've never attended this event before, but I understand that it is a great opportunity to connect with many of the devs. I'm looking forward to meeting more of them.
- 11:00 - From Evidence to Bans - After the recent Erotica 1 incident, this might be a very interesting presentation and Q&A session.
- 12:00 - New Player Experience Vision - I work with a lot of new players in EVE University, so I'm very interested in anything CCP Games plans to do to enhance the experience of entrants into EVE Online.
- 13:00 - DUST 514 Keynote - There's nothing else going on at this time, so this is the default presentation to attend. Last year, this was an endless parade of different kinds of guns and items that DUST 514 players could use, which was endlessly boring to those of us who do not play DUST 514. My hope is that we will hear about a port of the game to the PC platform, and about plans to further integrate DUST with EVE Online.
- 14:00 - Fleet Warfare discussion - I've not heard a lot of ideas for improving fleets in EVE Online. I'm curious to learn what people think about this aspect of the game.
- 15:00 - Ship and Module Balancing - a follow-up discussion to the general presentation from the previous day. Last year, I heard some really stupid questions in this session, which generally followed the format of: "Why don't you make my favorite ship, _______, an automatic winner in any PvP engagement?" I'm not kidding. Watching the devs get increasingly annoyed at these idiots was hysterically funny. Hopefully, it will be a more intelligent conversation this year. I am not optimistic.
- 16:00 - Factional Warfare - It was either this or the EVE Lore session, but this one won out because I've just started playing FW on an alt, and I'm curious to learn more.
- 17:00 - EVE Online Keynote - This session should cover the plans for the summer expansion. I'm curious to see how CCP Games tries to make a presentation on industry interesting. I'm hopeful it will include some surprises. For example, CCP Fozzie mentioned in the pre-Fanfest broadcast that it will include six new ships - I want to know more. And what is EVE: Legion?
- 19:00 - Alliance Panel - I'm one of the presenters this year. I can say confidently that my overview of EVE University will be lighthearted and brief. CCP Dolan gave us some very strict rules on behavior, so I don't think we'll see some of the crazy over-the-top antics typical in past Alliance panel discussions - but I could be wrong. We shall see.
- 20:00 - EVE of Destruction - I have no idea what to expect from this exhibition of CCP devs going up against a professional ultimate fighter. I'm thinking it could be intense - all the CCP devs think they are Viking warriors.
- 21:00 - Pub Crawl - I've avoided this for the last two years, but I'm bravely joining this year. I may regret this. My 55-year-old body may not be able to keep up with some of the professional drinkers.
- 10:00 - EVE Movie Morning - I'll probably skip this, nursing a hangover from the Pub Crawl. I hope they show Clear Skies 3.
- 12:00 - Making EVE: Valkyrie a Full Game - If the keynote on Thursday piques my interest, I'll definitely attend this session.
- 13:00 - (REDACTED) - As an EVE fansite operator, I've been invited to cover a special event by CCP Games. More on this later, I promise!
- 14:00 - Industry Panel - I feel like I should attend the roundtable discussion on New Player Experience, but with so much going on in industry in the summer expansion, I feel I can't miss this.
- 15:00 - Deploying Pluggable Space Things - I may attend the Industry roundtable discussion instead, but the title of this presentation is too intriguing to ignore. I'm curious to learn more about CCP Games' plans for deployable modules - will they become the foundation of a new, configurable POS architecture, as we all hope?
- 16:00 - A Study of Geometry in EVE Online - My fellow EVE University professor, Seamus Donohue, will deliver this special lecture on the mechanics of space in the game. If you want to understand more about ship sizes, grids, station undocks and other aspects of how space is managed in EVE Online, you won't want to miss this.
- 17:00 - CCP Presents! - The big finale, where CCP Games reveals the future direction of EVE Online, DUST 514 and Valkyrie. Last year, this was mostly a long tease, without a lot of substance, and I came away intrigued but unsatisfied. I hope for more this year.
- 20:00 - Party at the Top of the World - This is the big bash to cap off the entire event. Last year, I had a fantastic time partying with a lot of good people, and I expect to do the exact same thing this year.
I've given myself some time to recover on Sunday, and fly back home that evening - hopefully happy after five days of being immersed in Fanfest. If the airport is shut down because of the strike, then I may have to stay a bit longer. That would be fine with me - I can certainly think of worse places to be stranded for a while.
I'll post a couple updates during Fanfest, especially if anything of special interest happens. Stay tuned.
Fly safe! o7