So Ends Fanfest 2016

Fanfest 2016 has ended. I won't recap all the specific news from the event here - for more details, see Drackarn's useful summaries on his blog, the news reports on Crossing Zebras, and the recorded streams to be available soon on CCP's Twitch and YouTube pages.

Instead, I thought I'd simply record some of my thoughts and impressions about my fifth Fanfest experience.

Much Good News for 0.0

I previously documented my disillusionment over the keynote addresses on the opening day of Fanfest in this post. The heaviest proportion of announced features will clearly provide the most benefits to players based in null-sec space, by far.

Regardless, it's very hard for me to dislike anything that I saw. The new Citadels are impressive structures, and will be a dramatic new addition to the game. Especially if you play in null security space, you're going to love Citadels, without a doubt. This is generally a very good thing.

However, I was also hoping for news in the opening keynotes about features for those of us who don't play in 0.0. Fortunately, during the last two days of Fanfest, I did hear a few interesting tidbits that encouraged me.

Goodbye to Perpetual Bumping

For example, bumping is being addressed - ships that are trying to align and warp, but are being bumped out of alignment continuously, will be able to warp off regardless after 3 minutes. That means that the strategy of bumping freighters out of range of gate guns to make ganking easier - or just bumping people for hours to make their lives miserable - will become nearly impossible. This is a good change - it still leaves plenty of room for professional gankers to operate in Uedama and Niarja, for example, but minimizes the harassment potential of bumping tactics.

If a ganking crew can't take down a target within three minutes, they either didn't bring enough ships, or they just stink at ganking. This little but important change might make me start flying my freighters again, and return to part-time space trucking.

Methinks I detect the hand of Mike Azariah in this change. If so, here's a tip of the hat and a hearty thank-you, Mike - and to whomever else is responsible.

More Hugs for Noobs

One highlight of the entire event for me was the higher level of interest in helping new players - this was a recurring theme. I have been long concerned about the need for EVE to do a better job in retaining novices, so I'm delighted to see a renewed focus on the new player experience (NPE).

I was very impressed by CCP Ghost, who was introduced in the opening keynote. He and his new Team Genesis are focusing on improving the NPE. In a roundtable discussion, CCP Ghost and CCP DelegateZero both emphasized the importance of making an emotional connection with new players by giving them more "pinnacle moments" earlier. They also talked about weaving the NPE inside a story-driven narrative, to provide better context about why EVE mechanics work as they do.

I also watched ScaredPanda talk about her "Newbro Experience" - she's a relatively new player, known primarily for her Twitch streaming about EVE Online with an emphasis on solo and small gang frigate PvP - something in which she has become quite accomplished. She was nervous and hesitant, but she had some good advice for new players.

The Importance of Story

Another theme I heard over and over was the importance of stories to the player experience in EVE Online. In his presentation about his new book, which chronicles the early history of the game, Andrew Groen explained that EVE Online's unique sandbox enables players to make their own stories within the game, and create a very real shared history.

In his opening and closing addresses, Hilmar talked about how EVE Online is a "story-making machine", and how that provides a unique player experience. CCP Ghost discussed the importance of connecting players to the backstory of the game, and enabling them to create their own narrative as they interact with and within the EVE universe.

Even the President of Iceland, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, talked about how his country has long emphasized story-telling as a defining force of their culture, and how that is now made possible by CCP Games for people all over the world through EVE Online.

I recently wrote about the importance of story, and how EVE Online provides a uniquely valuable opportunity for players to experience crafting their own fantastic tales of victory or tragedy, heroism or cowardice, gain or loss. CCP recognizes that the true value of EVE Online comes from its amazing ability to be a story-making machine. This goes to the core of what makes us human - we all love stories, especially when we can play a critical role in them.

Will high-sec industry die?

Alas, there was little to be learned about industry structures, expected to be released in the fall. CCP Fozzie and CCP Nullabor briefly covered them in their structures presentation, but provided few details.

I'm keenly interested in the statistics for industry structures, which will come in medium, large and extra-large sizes. My principal question is: will they be viable platforms for solo or small gang invention and manufacturing in high-sec space? Certainly they will be used to great effect in 0.0, low-sec and even in wormholes, but I am not sure they will be profitable in empire, or if they can be properly defended against serial griefdec corps. I will be watching keenly for news, and will crunch the numbers when they eventually arrive.

For now, CCP devs were careful to emphasize that player-owned starbase (POS) towers are not going away, but their end is on the horizon. I'll be surprised to see if they are still being supported by next year's Fanfest. I'll continue to crank out Tech II modules using my POS arrays for now. Hopefully, I'll be able to use the new industry structures to replace my POS. Otherwise, I'll sadly close that aspect of my EVE career, and move on.

The Best Ship is Friendship

Over the last three days, I spoke with many comrade capsuleers, and we generally agreed that if CCP Games had withheld all the news about Citadels, and released it in one massively big hyped-up announcement at Fanfest, as they used to do before they moved to a more frequent incremental update schedule, then this would have been the most amazing Fanfest ever. We'd all have been blown away by the artwork, the new mechanics, and the amazing potential of the new structures.

But we have been spoiled by the openness of CCP Games. They have been releasing bits of news in dev blogs about Citadels for months. The net result is that there was not much news to share at Fanfest itself. After the opening day's keynote addresses, I couldn't help but feel a little let down - and my feelings were far from unique.

Regardless, I'm glad I went to Fanfest, because the main reason for going is to meet and talk and celebrate with fellow devotees of the EVE universe. In this regard, I had a fantastic time, and that made the whole trip worthwhile. It's hard not to have a good time during Fanfest, and I will most likely return once again next year - which will be my sixth pilgrimage to Reykjavik.

Fanfest 2017 will be on April 6-8. I've already marked my calendar.

Fly safe! o7