Monday, April 2, 2012

Inside EVE Online’s Fanfest 2012

CCP Games held their annual Fanfest last week in Reykjavík, Iceland and I was on location checking out Dust 514 and everything new happening in EVE Online. While DUST may be the newest property to come from CCP, they aren’t backing away from EVE. In fact, they demonstrated during the show how they plan to bring the two together in a way that has never been done before.

Attendance numbers were relatively low, compared to other gaming events I've attended. But Fanfest is a big deal to both CCP and EVE Online fans. There were just over a thousand people in attendance (not including CCP staff or press). But that’s a pretty large number of people willing to fly to Iceland for a week, considering that the game has just over 400,000 subscribers.

The Harpa Opera House. Quite a lovely venue.

Having outgrown Iceland’s Laugardalshöll Convention Center, Fanfest took over the Harpa Opera House this year. It’s a beautiful location, and allowed more room for panels and keynotes as well as a place to actually sit down! It was one of the most enjoyable convention venues that I’ve ever been able to nerd-out in.
There was a big focus put on Dust 514 –you can read all that about in my hands-on preview– but EVE was still the main reason that people were there. CCP detailed the points of the upcoming Inferno expansion, as well as cleared the air on what went wrong with Incarna – a tumultuous expansion that saw a large number of players unsubscribing from EVE Online.

CCP releases several free expansions for EVE Online every year, adding new content for players to dabble in. Incarna was supposed to introduce avatars, and see players finally leaving their ships to walk around space stations, to interact with each other face to face. When Incarna launched, players were given a single room to meander about in alone – a colossal disappointment.

During the keynote, there was a surprising level of transparency, which we don’t see much of these days. There were detailed graphs and explanations of what went wrong with Incarna, and how CCP plana to continue to fix it. The presentation was filled with jokes about monocles (woefully expensive micro-transactions were one of the biggest failures of Incarna), and players were repeatedly reminded that CCP acknowledges that spaceships are the core of EVE, and need to be made a primary focus again.

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