EVE Fanfest 2014 day two: Details on EVE's Kronos update, plus booze and fighting
Last night I watched a procession of CCP developers wrestle with undefeated MMA fighter Gunnar Nelson. Unsurprisingly, they didn’t win, but it certainly was a spectacle—especially when the last guy, who looks like Zangief and towered over Nelson—arrived in in the arena from above, suspended in the air by ropes. CCP know how to have fun, but Fanfest is also, as players often say about EVE, serious business. Throughout the day fans join developers in round table meetings to steer the direction of the game based on their own experiences. It’s a remarkable community event as well as a way for people like me to see what new projects, and updates of existing ones, the company is working on.
The main event yesterday, besides the fight, was the EVE Online key note. Senior producer Andie Nordgren talked players through some of the changes coming to the game. Rather than release two big updates a year, CCP are instead doing 10 smaller releases, starting with Kronos in June. This update will overhaul industry in the game, and make manufacturing more intuitive, as well as a number of changes that only the most hardcore of EVE fans will understand. Fanfest is a place where people cheer for percentage tweaks and new ship sounds like they were at a football match. Being in a room with so many passionate people rubs off on you. As soon as I get back from Iceland, I’m playing EVE.
One of the biggest reactions at the keynote was the new jump animations. That might not sound particularly impressive, but they were genuinely brilliant. When ships jump in and out of a system, they disappear in a flash of light with a satisfying thooom sound. The sight of an entire fleet jumping in is a sight to behold, and created such a stir in the crowd that they showed the video twice. Kronos is a large update, but the others, also named after Titans, will be smaller. The thinking behind it, Nordgren says, is to allow CCP to get new content into the game faster. They think this will result in more creativity from the team as they can get new ideas and concepts into the game more efficiently.
I spent some time wandering around the venue talking to players, asking them why they play EVE, and what brings them to Fanfest. The variety of people and answers was really interesting: I spoke to a mother whose children play with her and her husband, and a representative of EVE University, a corporation that helps new players who are understandably daunted by the game. The people here are crazy about EVE, and it’s infectious. Everyone I spoke to was incredibly polite and friendly, even though, by their own admission, their in-game alter egoes are anything but. I heard some great war stories, and I don’t think I’ve ever met a more interesting group of people.
After the Gunnar Nelson fight, the attendees of Fanfest poured out onto the streets of Reykjavik for the infamous pub crawl. Split into teams, players, press, and developers got hammered together, and you’re allowed to drink on the street in Iceland, so the boozing never really stops. At least until everyone is unconscious back at their hotels. There’s a really great atmosphere around Fanfest, and it feels like the event is taking over Reykjavik. Everywhere I go there are huge posters of the game, including the airport when I arrived, and Fanfest attendees get discounts at bars and shops around the city. After aluminium, fish, and Bjork, EVE is one of the country’s most profitable businesses.
So that was day two of Fanfest. Today is the last day, and is ending with what CCP are calling the ‘Party at the Top of the World’. If the last couple of days are anything to go by, it promises to be quite the event. I’ll be talking to more developers and players today, and seeing more new EVE stuff, so keep your eye on the website for more reportage.
You can read Andy's recap of EVE Fanfest's first day here.