Fanfest 2015 Keynote Thoughts

Fanfest is, sadly (thankfully), over. No doubt Harpa, the convention hall in Reykjavik where Fanfest takes place, stands empty and quiet. The local populace silently rejoice at the departure of the unwashed foreign masses, the bars are busy counting their take, and beer might once again be found in Iceland sometime later this week. For the EVE community, now is the hangover and honeymoon period. Some will set quietly contemplating their life choices, while others will be basking in the warm afterglow of a faith reaffirmed in the plucky Icelandic developer, CCP.

It is also usually around about now that most people begin to realize that while there are exciting things on the horizon, that horizon is far away. FozzieSov is still months away from deployment; the promised structure revamp is even further away. In the meantime, we have Scylla out today, bringing with it nothing so exciting as what has been promised. Now is a time for reflection, on what is coming and how it will impact the game.

Thankfully CCP decided to frontload Fanfest this go round, with the EVE keynote taking place at the end of the first day and most revelations being delivered unto the populace in the first 10 hours of the convention. For those of us not able to attend in person, life was easy this year, as CCP spared us the suspense of waiting for 3 days to see what was going to happen to EVE.

The keynote on Thursday brought with it a CCP Seagull that is markedly better at public speaking. After two years of awkwardness, Seagull appears to be at least more tolerant of the experience of being on stage in front of a thousand nerds. She brought with her some really cool highlights and recognition for player efforts like Evemeet.net, heists in the game, as well as the success of player meetups around the world. This culminated, of course, in a new EVE trailer that featured Hydrostatic Podcast’s Lore Panel rather prominently.

CCP Quant, a data scientist, took the stage and showed off some impressive visualizations of damage done in New Eden. There was applause first for the spikes caused by the last two Burn Jitas; then for the battle of BR5; and then, the crowd erupted when Quant demonstrated how much damage was done in structure grinding and how that would be reduced to zero this summer.

Seagull took back the mic and announced the results of the CSM election, which I covered yesterday. However, she also announced a couple of pretty mundane, but exciting in their own way, features: two factor authentication and download on demand. Two factor authentication was promised ages ago, and quite frankly I’ve remained puzzled that EVE didn’t have a 2FA solution in place even before then. Finally, we’re getting it, though it will only apply to website access and account management (i.e., not the client itself) when it first deploys on April 28th. Download on demand would appear to be underwhelming at first, and is again a feature found in many other online games that is finally making its way to EVE. However, the exciting part about Download on Demand is that it enables CCP to finally deploy high resolution textures to EVE – making one of the prettiest games in the world even prettier.

Opportunities, another topic I tackled recently, got a little love on the main stage, which was cool. Apparently CCP have been A/B testing the system with new players coming into the game (unfortunately they started this after I created Beth Weston, as I would’ve loved to see it in action) and will be expanding on the system in the coming weeks. ‘Ghost fitting’ was also announced – essentially an in-game replacement for third party apps like EFT and Pyfa – as were more details regarding the coming ship skin program expansion. Over 100 skins will be available at launch, meaning New Eden will doubtless be getting a bit more colorful.

Alliance logo submissions will be opening back up, now that CCP has resolved some potential legal issues regarding copyright stuff – perhaps now, finally, A Band Apart will have some sweet Rixx Javix art to display in-game. This will be particularly important when we start raiding nullsec in the summer~

Finally, CCP Nullarboar hit the stage to bring the real meat and potatoes of the keynote: POS work. Structures are being rebalanced across the board to bring them in line with the design philosophy that has been successfully deployed with regards to ships. Drilling platforms, administration hubs, player built gates and more will all be hitting New Eden…sometime. The only commitment as far as dates go is that the first rebalance efforts will be coming in 2015, though I can easily see this getting pushed to 2016 if they run into trouble.

And then – it was over. To be honest, even with the ambitious announced scope of structure work coming later this year, I found the keynote to be a little underwhelming. Perhaps, though, this is just my bittervet showing – I’d rather see devblogs than nebulous date announcements and such (which, to be fair, we did get pretty soon after the keynote). Hopefully there will be more information from the off-stream panels and roundtables, which apparently were all recorded locally and will hit Youtube at some point – but I figure if anything important had been announced it likely would’ve hit Twitter already. At any rate, while underwhelming in its delivery, I’m quite excited by the direction that was announced at Fanfest. There has never been a more optimistic time when it comes to EVE, and I’m eager to see how it all pans out.