Fanfest Pics from Last Year

I figured I might as well migrate the pictures from my website to Flickr, so if you’re curious how Fanfest was last year then feel free to head over to my Fanfest 2006 photo set.

EVE TV’s been adding a whole ton of videos recorded during Fanfest this year, so head over to their Fanfest video page here and check them out. So far they’ve been putting in the lecture videos, but hopefully they put all the interviews and random goofy stuff from throughout the weekend there as well.

Post-Fanfest Depression

Sad PandaAnyone else suffering from this as well? Happened last year for me too, and it’s one of those things that folks who’ve gone to Fanfest for the first time probably are going through and wondering “What the hell?”

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I never want Fanfest to end while I’m there. Iceland’s such a cool country to visit (no pun intended), with interesting people. It’s awesome to meet all the developers and shake their hand, and to meet all the players who come from every corner of the world and share the same common ground as you: a thorough enjoyment of EVE. Going home from that to your regular life is actually pretty tough, especially leaving all your new found and long time friends.

Maybe I should start a support group about this. πŸ™‚

Fanfest 2007: Open Your Eyes

Everything All TogetherThe Trinity 2 engine seminar was one of the ones I was looking forward to seeing. The actual Fanfest content on Trinity 2 was spread around a lot, so I’m going to lump together as much as I can here for easier consumption.

We were shown a bunch of new details on specific effects being added with the new engine revamp. After seeing all the goodies being added I have to say that I’m pretty impressed so far with all big brain thinking going on over there. They’re working on individual technologies and effects which directly affect the realism of the rendering of the game’s visuals, taking what we have and launching it into orbit. At the same time, the enhancements are intended to drastically reduce the current workload imposed on your poor CPU by portioning off the work properly between the CPU and the GPU.

New videos were shown of ships like the Avatar, Megathron, some faction frigates, Rifter, Thorax, and more. Then we were shown the new teaser for the Trinity trailer (no word on when that’s coming out). Let me just say, the detail being shown on ships like the Nyx is just mind blowing. Each and every one has a level of polish that has to be seen to be believed, and the shakeycam footage and other screens you’ve probably seen does no justice for this stuff.

All of this makes it easier for CCP’s developers and artists to create and experiment, and get the most they can out of the new tech like they’ve taken the old tech as far as it has. In the meantime, models are being updated by an outsourced company to make sure the content is ready. Hopefully that process doesn’t introduce its own type of delays to Trinity2’s release.

First thing’s first though, and the initial releases will only deal with stations, some objects like stargates, and ships. What’s not getting the new coat of paint at this point are things like weapons effects, planets, starfields (nebulae apparently were rendered by a now-forgotten method, whoops), etc. Once they get the core material and technology in place, they’ll turn their eye towards things like the above.

One of the big gotcha moments was when someone asked how this was going to work with multiple clients on the same machine. Well on the scale of priorities, multi-client efficiency was not high on their list of things at least for the first releases. I expect given the reaction from the presenters when asked about this, that the results will NOT be pretty on day one for those who are used to doing this without the benefit of more than one PC.

The question of graphical lag came up, and this was quickly addressed. The amount of work the new engine does to get something rendered on the screen is being cut by a huge factor when compared to the old one. It was put to the audience that a nicely defragged hard drive would solve a lot of the current issues when the game client has to load all the textures and goodies of ships which jump through gates and such, which is why your client thinks for a critical second sometimes. T2 utilizes asynchronous loading, so instead you might get some lag time in the ship itself being rendered but the interface itself will not lag out. That means you can start killing the guy while your client works in the background to render things instead of locking up briefly. No no, allow me: o/

One thing’s for sure, EVE is about to look a hell of a lot prettier. CCP’s got some seriously talented technical guys working on this, and the results so far look insanely good.

Fanfest 2007: Ambulation

New Facial TestsOne of the long talked-about features coming to EVE is ambulation, and this one has the player base pretty polarized. Some additional information was given at this year’s Fanfest by the uber Torfi Frans.

Historically EVE’s motto has been “you are your ship”. When you log in, you’ve got a character portrait, but your presence isn’t your person, it’s the big hunk of tritanium you see rotating around in the station. Ambulation is set to change all of that, letting you step out of your ship and wander around in station.

First, some new bits. And a note that hey, Ambulation’s not final, so these details are probably subject to change as CCP evolves the design.

To begin, station areas are limited to 65 characters as a maximum. That means you won’t see fifty thousand Goons blobbing a particular station, or doing the galaxy’s biggest line dance. This is a start, and would be raised at a later date. One would hope, because a 65 character limit is pretty useless if this is to be anything interesting.

One idea presented at the Fanfest seminar about Ambulation was how you as a player could create items for people. You’d rent a slot of some kind at a station, and build yourself (or get one built) a store, for instance. Install it, then go put your wares in it for sale, even having a NPC avatar standing there hawking your stuff to passers by. Items such as clothing, accessories, facial reconstruction, you name it. Imagine becoming a famous plastic surgeon.

More details stated that your captain’s quarters can be used to store items including your uniform or whatever you want on your character. The point was made that if you lose your ship, you lose those items you’ve got stored on it, just like you currently lose modules, etc. If you want to keep it safe and sound, don’t take it with you.

CCP’s hired an architect to translate the amazing concept art to workable livable spaces, and even a costume designer to make sure all the guys don’t look like storm troopers while the girls don’t all walk around in thongs and white t-shirts. Clothes will be practical, stylish, no doubt a bit risque, but nothing that looks like it’s done by a bunch of sex-starved otaku.

You can change your body shape, refining what kind of character you’d like to be. Beanpole or beanbag, and everything in between. You can set your current emotion, which affects the visual emotes. Wave while sad and you’ll wave in a sad way. Set yourself to happy and you’ll wave all enthusiastic like.

At some point CCP’s going to have to bridge the gap between our current stylized looks and the new more realistic looks (think Mass Effect’s character generator). Presumably when ambulation goes live we’ll be presented with a converted avatar and have the ability to tweak as we see fit, then start life as a new and improved resident of New Eden.

Sounds pretty nifty, but the seminar was pretty light on the point of why we would jump for joy for this just yet. None of this affects the pewpew, or does anything for our current internet spaceships. I like social interaction in EVE, but typically have done this at the end of a gun or some shrewd market dealings. It’s obviously looking at the Second Life market, seeing if it can snag that segment which likes to have their MMO grounded by something with two legs and a /dance emote.

I’m still iffy on this. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s amazing the level of attention and detail that’s going into the design of this thing. There’s a passion there that we see in the current EVE. I like the approach they’re taking – it doesn’t support people running around like idiots dressed like clowns. And I for one would love to not only fly around in the world of EVE, but also to walk around in it. Only time will tell whether Ambulation will be a worthwhile addition to the game when considering it’s intended to have no impact or direct benefit to the systems currently in place.

Leaving Today For Home

Just lazing around my hotel lobby right now, got another hour and a half or so to go until my taxi shows up to take me to the airport.

Put up a few pics last night before I hit the sack, just of a small wandering excursion I did in the area around the hotel. I’d wanted to see more of the sightseeing type things, but I managed to come down with a cold here on my last days so I haven’t been up to much. At least that waited until after the party was done. Oh well, next year I’ll plan things a bit better. πŸ™‚

Fanfest 2007: Day Three

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Sorry for the late posting of this, it’s been a day of recovery. πŸ™‚

Day three, the final day of Fanfest, has now come and gone. It’s an important day in many ways, which will come to light as I go through this writing.

Got up at a decent hour, went down to get some breakfast at the Grand’s breakfast buffet (which is pretty decent, but I think Nordica’s was better overall) with my in-game boss. Afterwards we headed to the Venue and met up with everyone. This was the day of all the big presentations.

Reynir was first up for the day, with an awesome presentation on the History of CCP and EVE. We were treated to a timeline, complete with pictures and videos, of CCP’s beginning and EVE’s designing, from the past to the present. It’s was a great presentation for those who haven’t been privy to the story thus far, and was a brilliant retrospective on a unique company.

Next up was the Trinity2 discussion, where the big brains responsible for the engine revamp dished out some details about the improvements we can expect with the first of the engine upgrades. Now, last year’s FF presentation on this subject showed a lot, and there’s not a lot from that first presentation that is repeated here. Instead we were given a rundown of how the project has progressed, and were shown screens showing how the 3D technology improves the visuals, effect by effect. Scaling is being looked at to make sure big stuff looks BIG like it should, hundreds of objects in the game are getting an incredible remodeling and look insanely detailed.

Effects and such are getting tweaked later, so don’t expect turret effects to suddenly improve vastly with this first iteration. But they’re taking a staged approach, focusing their efforts on getting the base enhancements down before moving on. The photos from the session I took should speak volumes.

Oveur was up next, giving a sizable presentation about coming features for EVE. This talk included new tweaks to Heat, including increased module HP and heat attentuation, which allows you to create buffers using deactivated modules to soak damage from overheated modules. This way you can protect other modules from damage. Pretty funky. A pile of new missions are coming including mining missions. Then he showed a series of videos, due to be available online soon, in which various developers describe new coming enhancements while videos of the new engine play behind them. Oveur showed a bunch of outtakes from the filming of these and they’re a riot. He’s such a trooper that the biggest chunk of outtakes were his own screwups. πŸ™‚ Not only did these videos give us some drool-worthy glimpses at what some of the new objects look like in the new engine, but you could really get a feel for how excited the developers themselves are about the whole initiative.

Last but certainly not least, was the big man himself, Hilmar’s keynote address. This was not so much a keynote to go into the various graphical mindblowers that had come before, but more to go into how EVE’s growth has progressed since last year, and give an indication of what the future holds.

Afterwards MC headed to figure out what to do for dinner. At this point the issue of a zillion EVE players hitting the local restaurants at once to make sure they could make it back to the party became an issue, as almost every restaurant was filled with people. We managed to find a spot in a Pizza Hut which has to be famous for having some of the worst service in the world. We noticed as we were leaving that there was a table of Devs, including Hilmar, who were just finishing up and getting ready to go to the venue. I left them a present at the till. πŸ™‚

I worked my way back to the hotel to quickly change and headed to the Venue for the epic Party at the Top of the World. For those unfamiliar with Fanfest, this is the cherry on top of the whole experience, where CCP pulls out all the stops for a gigantic party, EVE style. Great looking beer girls dressed up with EVE makeup, amazing lighting, and of course RoXoR’s amazing performance. RoXoR is the dev’s band, and let me tell you, you will never look at these people the same way again. I had no idea Pann could sing like that. Good God.

As the evening went on, things got fuzzier and fuzzier. πŸ™‚ Much alcohol was consumed. I lost count of how many Tuborgs I downed, and most of MC was pretty messed up by the end of the night. But it was awesome meeting so many EVE people just cutting loose and having fun.

Anyway, this is a pretty brief writeup of what is a pretty busy day, but I hope to go into some more details on specific things in the near future. I’m still in Iceland until the 6th, will see what other goodies I can bring for everyone on this blog before I leave.

In the meantime, check out the Flickr photos, I dumped hundreds up there from the party.

Fanfest 2007: Day Two

Well, day two was survived by all, more or less. πŸ™‚

First off, the bits that I was able to attend. First off in the morning was a brief introduction to the Council of Stellar Management. This is the player council thing talked a while back. The introduction didn’t have too much concrete information other than indicating a full white paper will be given out on the forums at some point in the near future for review by the players. So far it looks like they’re going for a democratic system of not only representative election, but also for what issues should be brought to the attention of the council. One vote per account, so even if you have 30 characters on 10 accounts, you’ll only get 10 votes. I didn’t get a chance to check out the following panel though, which probably went into more detail.

The EVE Artwork Demo by Borkur (probably butchering his name but..) was amazing. He’s the guy who does the artwork for the chronicles and EON stories. Just like last year, the guy doing the demo went through the process of creating a fantastic bit of EVE artwork. It was incredible to watch the talent in action. Wish the print was available like it was last year, but you can’t have everything.

Ambulation. Holy crap. Things have come a long way, and there’s a ton of information, but to cover it briefly, CCP’s hired architects to do fancy drafts of interior spaces, translating the fancy concept art into livable spaces. Costume designer’s been hired to make decent clothes for everyone. I’m not kidding, they’re really getting into the details on this one, making it more and more into a living, breathing experience. Still won’t totally affect primary gameplay of course, but it’s astonishing we’ll be getting it for free.

Socialized a TON, meeting all sorts of interesting folks from different alliances. Hung out with the EON guys who have a nice little area all to themselves near Jita 2. Jita 1 got too busy, so they sharded it. (rofl)

MC went to Red Chilis for dinner again, the 200g cheeseburgers there are simply awesome. A few MCers like Dinger got the ribs, which is a plate of ribs the length of your forearm. Decently priced too, I just pity the kitchen staff there when we roll in with 30+ with miscellaneous allies. πŸ™‚ As we were about to leave this small group of three utterly gorgeous Icelandic women came to the restaurant. I wasn’t lucky enough to snag a picture, but Lowa did so I’ll have to wrangle that from him.

At 9PM we all headed back to the Venue to attend this crazy silly Developer Show. I’m totally abbreviating the title here, they came up with some insanely long and crazy title for it. Essentially a game show, two groups of three devs competed in trivia questions, a variation on rock paper scissors called Cow Lake Bomb, some “Who’s Line Is It Anyway?” improv stuff, and general silliness. Hopefully a video of it comes soon, it’s *hilarious*.

Afterwards the MC group and friends went back to Nordica to blob their lobby like last year. Lots of alcohol was consumed, various EVE people came and went including a hilarious batch of Goons. Hilarity ensued, including but not limited to the combined flag flying of MC and Goons banners, and Suas serenading Seleene to the tune of “I’m A Loser” with the Goon guitar.

Great stuff, was a late night for me getting all the photos online but they’re there. Sorry the descriptions weren’t all complete and stuff, but it was 3 in the morning. I’ll get to it when I get the chance.

Day three awaits. πŸ™‚

Fanfest 2007: EVE Novel

It’s early morning and I haven’t gone for breakfast, but CrazyKinux asked for some more info on the EVE novel. πŸ™‚

There wasn’t a lot of information on it given for obvious reasons, but here’s what I can remember.

  • Final submitted manuscript was over 500 pages long
  • There are 74 chapters (!!)
  • Conflict between the factions, especially Minmatar vs Amarr, is pivotal
  • Jove apparently play a small role, but no information could be given as to what that is
  • Meant to coincide with game enhancements, though no definite answers given as to which enhancements those are (for obvious reasons)
  • CCP apparently has laid the legal groundwork just in case the book is optioned for a movie, so hooray for thinking ahead and lets be hopeful
  • Some kind of teaser copy will be available at Fanfest for day 2 (gotta get my hands on one of these
  • Open-ended, leaving room for potential sequels though none are being planned at this time

That’s about all I can think of. Rest assured I’ll be picking up a copy or three. Tony’s reading was, as I stated in my last entry, gripping. The man’s amazing, and even the preview reading of one chapter shows that the quality of the writing is going to be top notch.

Going to run and get cleaned up now, get something to eat, then get ready to head out. More later as I can get it to you. πŸ™‚

Fanfest 2007: Day One

Finally Up in the AirGot to Iceland in the early hours of the morning to a hotel room that wasn’t ready, so I sat around in the restaurant at the Grand writing the next installments of Nature Vraie. Once that was all set (upgraded room too, wheee), I crashed for a couple of hours and set my Nintendo DS’s alarm to wake me up at 1330h so I could sneak in some lunch before going to the FF Venue.

Finally made my way to the Venue (can never get the name right so I’m not even going to try) after a quick bite to eat, got myself signed in and met up with my fellow MC pilots after running into a few CCP folks. The new venue’s a bit more spaced out, with areas on different floors. It’s a bit tougher than last year to “take it all in” at once, but the organization makes a lot of sense given the increase in people.

Lots of socializing ensued, but I managed to get in on Valerie Massey’s Creating a Fansite lecture, and Tony Gonzales’ lecture about the upcoming EVE novel. The Fansite lecture was pretty basic, but covered some initial points that are pretty important for folks who might be considering starting a fansite and getting that fansite integrated into EVE Online’s official list. It was a bit quick, but then the audience for it would be limited of course.

Tony Gonzales has been involved in the EVE prime fiction since forever, and is responsible for so much backstory it’s not even funny. The man is, in a word, awesome. I met him last year and was totally take aback by his candor and intelligence, and his approach to his work. He’s someone that I try to aspire to be as I write Nature Vraie. To see him read a chapter from the upcoming novel (due to be released June 19th, if I remember what he said correctly) was chilling and amazing. This is going to be a must buy for anyone interested in EVE’s fiction, whether they play the game or not.

The weather’s been interesting. It started out cool but relatively calm, then later ended up bleak and windy as hell, including some freezing rain. Pretty Canada-like all around, except for the insane wind. The five minute walk between the hotels and the Venue feels a lot longer because of that. Good thing I brought lots of layers.

Day 1’s usually the meet and greet day, and it served its purpose wonderfully. The main meat of things comes in the next couple of days, since some people were still flying in late in the day. Stay tuned for more information, and as always check my Flickr site for my ongoing pictures from the event.

Side note: I’ve also opened up the comments somewhat on this site, you don’t have to register fully in order to post just provide a name and valid email along with a comment.

Made it to Iceland

Well I’m finally in Iceland.

Hotel took like 3-4 HOURS to get a room organized for me but I got a nice one. Pics coming. Sleep first. Already been running into media folks, players, and CCP people (Pann’s everywhere it seems).

Sleep. Haven’t slept in 24+ hours. More later including some pics. πŸ™‚