I'm listening to Dirk and Wiggles jabbering away on their TWiNE (This Week in New Eden) show as I write these words. They are speculating about what Fanfest 2016, the annual gathering of space-nerds in Reykjavik, may bring to light, and I'm hanging on every word. With World War Bee buzzing, the imminent release of the Citadel expansion, and the possible revelations that Fanfest may bring, I can't seem to absorb enough EVE Online media lately.
Perhaps I've had too much coffee this morning, but I am practically vibrating with excitement. In less than 24 hours, I will be jetting towards Iceland to attend my fifth Fanfest. You'd think I'd be somewhat complacent about it by now, but I find myself really anticipating yet another capsuleer convention.
This year, my charming bride will be accompanying me - she's never joined me for Fanfest, and I think she's somewhat apprehensive about it. She's not an EVE Online player - in fact, I'd say she is perpetually perplexed by my fascination with the game - but she's curious about Iceland, and is looking forward to the adventure. I'm really curious to see how she reacts to the unique experience of an EVE Online player gathering.
Every year, CCP tells us, "The full schedule for Fanfest will be revealed a few weeks before the event" on their website, and like the sucker that I am, I always believe them. Then I get impatient and agitated when the agenda doesn't show up until just a few days before the opening ceremony. You'd think I'd learn, but optimism springs eternal, as they say.
But, as usual, I joyously received the Fanfest schedule when it was finally released on Friday. CCP once again is putting the big reveals right up front on the first day, which worked very well last year, as that frees all the devs to speak openly with the players over the next two days. Alas, this makes the agenda for the remainder of the event feel relatively light, though as a practical matter, no one will really notice or care.
Last year, I had some difficult choices about which of the concurrent sessions to attend. I decided to go to the smaller roundtables, as a rule, since they are generally not recorded and later released on YouTube, like the large auditorium presentations. But this year, I had very little difficulty choosing between different options, to my surprise.
Upon closer inspection, I found that my ease in session selection stemmed somewhat from what is not explicitly contained in the schedule. For example, there is nothing overtly listed for DUST/Project Legion, which doesn't really surprise me since DUST is being discontinued, though I was hoping for some news about plans for release of the PC-based FPS replacement now in development. Perhaps this will be part of the two-hour opening update session.
There are also fewer player-presented sessions this year, but they are longer. I found the 20-minute format used last year to be frustrating, because the player presenters were generally very good, and the short time slot didn't allow for anything other than a surface examination of whatever issue they were talking about. This year, these get a full hour, so they should be more satisfying.
With the release of EVE:Valkyrie and EVE:Gunjack, CCP has gone "all in" on virtual reality (VR) games, and as a result, there is a substantial portion of the Fanfest schedule devoted to this topic. I was blown away by both Gunjack and Valkyrie when I tried them last year, and I have an Oculus Rift on order so I can play them regularly. CCP has reserved two rooms for demos of VR offerings, including some in development, and I'm eager to sample them.
After reviewing the schedule, here's what I have tentatively planned to attend:
- Thursday: the opening ceremony starts at noon in the large Tranquility auditorium, and effectively runs for the next five hours. This marathon session should cover all the big updates, including an hour on EVE Online, an hour on Valkyrie, and then an hour by Andrew Groen to talk about his book, The Empires of EVE. I hope to hear about: the next steps in the EVE Online development roadmap, the future of DUST/Project Legion, plans to improve war mechanics and PvE, Valkyrie expansion plans, announcement of Groen's History of EVE, Part II.
- Friday: I'm planning to attend the sessions on IP Development, Ships & Modules, Contracts, Lowsec/Faction Warfare/Crimewatch, Drifter Lore, Valkyrie roundtable, and the live Amarr Championship finals. I hope to hear about: plans for the EVE Online TV show, next steps in module tiercide, on-grid only boosts, FW expansion to a four-way conflict, how to kill Drifters, and watching Kelon and the Tash-Murkon team emerge victorious.
- Saturday: I'm attending the roundtables for PvE, security, structures, backstory (lore), PvE events, economy, and the big closing ceremony. I hope to hear about: plans for improving PvE, how CCP is thwarting botters and RMT'ers, plans for new structures, dates for EVE Vegas.
The wife and I will hang out at the big Party at the Top of the World on Saturday night, and then return to Real Life on Sunday evening.
Fanfest: To Do List
I've begun compiling a mental checklist of stuff I want to do at this year's Fanfest. This is an exercise I do every year, partly because I'm obsessively goal-oriented, but mostly because Fanfest is such a unique opportunity to connect with fellow EVE Online devotees and mix a little virtual-space business with real-world pleasure.
In addition to hearing some interesting content at the various sessions, I hope to:
- Watch my spouse try Gunjack and Valkyrie - she's never tried a VR game, and I can't wait to see her reaction to the experience. I think she's going to love it.
- Sample the experimental VR demos - last year, there were some really interesting demos to try, and I'm curious to see how they've progressed, especially the Project Arena concept.
- Try more of the local cuisine - my wife and I are planning to venture into Reykjavik and try some interesting restaurants. In past years, I tended to just grab a beer and burger, or perhaps a delicious sub sandwich or hot dog. But this year, we will indulge our palates a bit more.
- Hang out with the E-UNI gang - Fanfest is really all about being with people you enjoy, and though I am no longer in EVE University, I consider that as my original home in New Eden, so it's always fun to party with my fellow UNIs.
- Meet up with the #tweetfleet crowd - there is a reception on Wednesday night sponsored by the EVE Online users of Twitter, and I plan to be there. I am a habitual #tweetfleet poster, and I am eager to meet up with some of my fellow space-tweeters again.
- Get to know my CZ colleagues - I've written a few articles for Crossing Zebras this past year, and we're getting together for dinner on Friday evening. I'm really looking forward to it.
- Find some Signal Cartel folks - I haven't yet completely integrated into my new corp yet, but I hope to find some fellow space hippies at Fanfest. I know that my friend and fellow blogger, Noizy, is one, so perhaps he can introduce me around.
- Watch Noizy tactfully eviscerate EVE Online cheaters - no one understands botting and RMT like The Nosy Gamer. I was thoroughly entertained watching him present at the Team Security session last year, and then banter with obvious botters at the follow-up roundtable session - it will be fun to see him do it again this year.
- Say "thank you" to CCP devs - I am bringing a few gifts for certain CCP devs - just some token items to say "thank you" for a job well done. I don't think they get nearly enough recognition from the player community.
- Sample the Fanfest brews - CCP has sponsored some specially brewed beers for Fanfest, which are being revealed on Monday night. Alas, we are not arriving until Tuesday morning, so I don't know if I'll have an opportunity to try them. I'll have to do some investigation and see if we can hunt them down somewhere.
- Eavesdrop on World War Bee banter - it will be interesting to see how people react to the tumult of the latest war at Fanfest. Generally, people get along great at Fanfest even if they are bitter enemies in New Eden, but emotions are a bit high over the current conflict. I would not be surprised if there wasn't some friction, especially during the Pub Crawl on Friday night.
- Test an idea - I've been thinking about doing something new in EVE-related media, and I'm going to chat with a few folks at Fanfest about it. More to come, pending the outcome of those conversations...
- Dance with the wife - I'm not a great dancer, but my wife loves it, so I've resigned myself to give in during the big party on Saturday night. I expect I will have a good time, regardless of how awkward, uncoordinated and ungainly I will undoubtedly appear. Oh, the things we do for love.
Please say hello!
If you are in Reykjavik, and recognize my name tag, by all means, please say hello! The best part of Fanfest is meeting and talking with fellow enthusiasts for the game. So, please don't be shy - I give free hugs to anyone who asks!
I hope to see you there!
Fly safe! o7