Fanfest 2016 Opening Day Impressions

Today was the first day of Fanfest in Reykjavik. It was a bright, sunny and brisk morning, and I strolled into the Harpa conference center with enthusiastic anticipation. CCP Games stacked all the major keynote addresses into the first day, so that the developers would be free to chat openly with all the attendees during the remainder of the event. I was expecting to hear a lot of exciting news about plans for the future - both imminent and for the longer term.

Alas, I ended the day disappointed.

Some Good News

Make no mistake - there were some good bits of news presented. Hilmar set a good positive tone, as any good CEO should. CCP Games is in the best financial position in years, and a profitable CCP is good news for anyone who enjoys playing their games. There have been some solid successes in the company's virtual reality (VR) offerings, EVE:Gunjack and EVE:Valkyrie. The PC-based Project Nova is shaping up to be a better free-to-play replacement for the discontinued PS3-based DUST 514 first-person shooter. Even the discarded World of Darkness intellectual property found a suitable new home.

Regardless, I ended the day feeling disillusioned - even a little depressed.

I will not recap all of the details of the proceedings. You can go read Drackarn's solid first-day summary. Instead, this post will focus on why I left the Harpa at the end of the day in a dour mood, instead of feeling uplifted and excited.

A Good Day for Null-Sec

If you are part of the 15 percent of EVE Online players who operate mostly in 0.0 space, you undoubtedly liked everything you heard in CCP Seagull's EVE Online keynote session:

  • New big citadels to play with and explode
  • New pirate capital ships with absurd bonuses
  • New capabilities for the Rorqual industrial capital ship, with cool new mining drones
  • New industrial and drilling structures coming soon
  • More interesting gameplay coming for warfare links soon

And then there is the CSM XI election - or should we rename the Council of Stellar Management to the "Council of Null-Sec Dudes, plus Steve Ronuken"? The turnout for CSM XI was the lowest in six years, and as a result, the null-sec power blocs and affiliates secured every slot except one.

Good for the null-sec blocs - they all voted as instructed. It's just too bad that CSM XI already fails as a representative body for the entire EVE Online player base. In the past, the majority of CSM positions were won by null-sec candidates, but at least there were token representatives for w-space, low-sec, high-sec and other interests in the game. The CSM XI team will be all null-sec, all the time - except for Steve.

I feel sorry for Steve.

Not Much for the Rest of Us

If you are part of the 85 percent of EVE Online players who don't principally play in null-sec space (using CCP Quant's statistics), then you probably felt like me, and were left wondering, "Is that it?"

Apparently, we are "somewhere in the middle" of CCP Seagull's development roadmap, shown with a line bisecting a vague timeline. I learned exactly nothing from this, except that we are "somewhere in the middle" of something happening sometime - maybe. Hopefully.

So, we are "right about there" in CCP Seagull's development roadmap, as shown by the line - whatever that means. (Image stolen with apologies to Drackarn from his post.)

So, we are "right about there" in CCP Seagull's development roadmap, as shown by the line - whatever that means. (Image stolen with apologies to Drackarn from his post.)

I did like the news about the phone application in development - soon, high-sec corps will finally be able to get instant mobile notifications whenever there's a new griefdec. So, that's something, I guess.

Oh, and mining barges and exhumers are getting a makeover. Yay.

Perhaps the topical presentations and roundtable discussions tomorrow and Saturday will make me feel a little better. But for today, as a former high-sec based industrialist and now wormhole explorer and pacifist space hippie, I'm feeling a little ignored. Perhaps we in the unimportant 85 percent of the player base should just leave Fanfest to the 0.0 crowd, as it seems to be so inordinately oriented to that elite and exclusive audience.

Really, I'm not bitter. Do I sound bitter?

Well, perhaps I am, a little.

A Few Nice Highlights

One bright spot was the introduction of CCP Ghost, who will be tackling the new player experience (NPE). Ghost impressed me as a smart man with an interesting background and a fresh outside perspective. Here is someone who seems to understand the importance of story, and how players can build an emotional attachment to their characters as they develop within the story of EVE Online, to the point that they can then start to make their own stories. His presentation was short on details, but I liked what I heard. I'm planning to join the NPE roundtable discussion, and will hopefully learn more.

My charming bride and I also had a chance to try out the Project Arena prototype, which was a lot of fun. Think of Tron flying disc fighting and you get the idea - a very good VR experience.

I also enjoyed Andrew Groen's session about his book, A History of the Great Empires of New Eden. I also got him to sign my copy.

What will the rest of Fanfest bring?

Regardless, my high hopes to be wowed in the opening keynote addresses of Fanfest 2016 were dashed. Perhaps my expectations were too high. Perhaps the focus of Fanfest really is on just the most vocal null-sec devotees, and not on any of the remaining player base, and I just didn't know - hard to believe since this is my fifth Fanfest trip, and I've never really felt that way before, but I guess it's possible. Or perhaps I'll hear a few bits of news in the next two days that make me feel like CCP hasn't forgotten players like me.

We shall see. I will share what I discover here, so stay tuned.

Fly safe! o7