Fanfest 2022 – Recap & Review

This was my very first #evefanfest. In 2020 I had planned to go. But well, a pandemic happened. 😐 And it is still not over. Other than some attendees I was lucky and tested negative afterward. And I hung out with many of them for hours in the same places. To everyone with any form of con-flu, I wish you a speedy recovery. Get well soon folks.

Table of Contents

  1. Traveling
  2. The Venue
    1. Gallery
  3. Programm
  4. Highlights Overall
  5. Highlights Presentation
    1. Photon UI
    2. Factional Warfare: Arc 1
    3. Heraldry
    4. Particle System & NODDI
  6. Sentiment

1. TRAVELING

Travels overall went rather smoothly. I arrived a couple days before in Iceland and explored the south coast with a car & roof tent before Fanfest. But that will be the topic of another blog post soon™.

Getting from the main venue called Laugardalshöll into the Reykjavik city center, however, was not such an easy task. It was about a 2.5 – 3 km walk taking about 30-40 minutes or spending some money. Many utilized the rental scooters and minibikes that would charge you the equivalent of 3-5 USD via app. But of those were only so many available at a time. Some called for cabs while others figured out the bus lanes.

I made the “mistake” of having booked my hotel close to Laugardalshöll instead of the city center. That meant meeting up downtown with the other capsuleers in the evenings required me to walk ~5 km back and forth every time.
On the other hand, the 5 minutes to my hotel enabled me to drop off the swag bag and make myself some budget lunch in the little kitchen in my hotel room during breaks. I stayed at the R13 Townhouse Hotel.

2. THE VENUE

I’ll go into detail on the location here, if you are more interested in the things presented, I recommend scrolling over this part.

Laugardalshöll has some clear benefits going for it:

  • The main stage has a wall of three huge screens that enabled an impressive rendering of the Jita 4-4 station and a solid backdrop of the DJs.
  • Lighting at the ceiling: Those got used quite a bit and the people operating them did a decent job, although it looked like it was mostly pre-programmed settings being used well, nothing overly special.
    I can’t tell if they had a dedicated Lightjockey pulling strings at the final party… buuut I did not pay much attention when I’m honest. The music just wasn’t the kind I would shake a leg to.
  • Free space in between the stages for seating, tables, and the shop. Although especially the one in front of the art team’s desks would probably have benefited from fewer tables or maybe standing tables. The sofas were cool, but many of the other tables and chairs got in the way while navigating the area.
  • Catering: Solid and the price tag was okay, given we were in Iceland.
  • I had one can of the LANDFALL beer because I overheard some people complain about it and wanted to try it myself. Was an okay brew in my book, although I preferred the Gull from the glass bottle. Hard to argue about taste.
  • The photo booth at the final party. That finally produced some good images – because it used a flash – and letting it send directly to an e-mail address was also a good way to keep and share the image later.
  • The options for decorations are vast. I especially liked the Caldari banner by the stairs.
  • Sanitizer stations. A little detail, but an appreciated one. What surprised me the most was that the stuff they burped on your hands didn’t even smell weird. It didn’t even smell at all. Convenient. 👍

I did not want to carry around my bulky camera during the event. As a result, all images were taken with my phone. Please excuse the mediocre image quality.

And now the things that can be improved for next time. Buckle up, that’s going to be quite a list.

  • Lighting: Neither, Humans nor cameras are made to work with blue light exclusively. I can only explain that decision with a lack of experience here. Usually, competent staff at such a venue would just add some regular white light into the mix for sanity reasons, except someone from CCP insisted on blue light only… I can tell it prevented more than one selfie.
    As you can see in the images, blue light only made stuff pretty hard to identify. I turned on the flashlight on my phone once to check if a shirt in the shop was actually red or just looked like it in the blue light. People do not buy what they can’t see! I think this did especially Lloyd George’s paintings and prints a disservice. They added a few white lights later, but that did only do so much.
  • Sound: Wow. Like really. What was that Sound Engineer doing? I had a couple issues that I want to address here. Maybe I’m overly picky on that topic because it was a branch of my studies, but I was not the only one in the audience who noticed it.
    • Videos embedded in presentations were much louder than the microphones of speakers. It felt like ~6 dB or more difference to me. Humans have a (mostly) logarithmic hearing, and I can not imagine that this Sound Engineer did not hear the difference. Either they did not bother to adjust it – because the issue prevailed over the event – or they couldn’t? 🤨
    • No noise gate on speakers microphones.
      I absolutely can not imagine that the tech of this venue did not allow for this. That’s very basic stuff. There were multiple occasions when a speaker was not talking while switching slides, coming to the next chapter, or keeping quiet while a colleague was speaking. But the problem here was, that all the breathing or beard-scratching would come through the mic the whole time. And since not breathing is not an option, that would have been the Sound Engineers’ job to get right. From the recordings I watched on Twitch and YouTube, it did not seem to be as bad on stream, but sitting there live in the audience, really made me raise an eyebrow.
      Don’t neglect your audio!
    • Music at the party was straight too loud in general. Imo nobody needs more than 100dB in their eardrums to have fun. But it would have been nice if one wouldn’t have to shout at each other in the foyer.
  • Round Tables: All talks I attended were pretty good and most people had the respect to keep their mouths shut during the conversations. What was a bit annoying was the limited space and the fact the “rooms” were one space-separated only by common black “Molton” curtains. I’m pretty sure CCP is aware this wasn’t optimal. I don’t know if I will make it to Iceland in September 2023, but if they don’t fix that, I’d be a bit disappointed.

3. PROGRAMM

What I’m a bit sad about is that I almost missed the main stages completely in favor of the round tables and chats in the hallways. Knowing everything on stage would get recorded and could be caught up on later.
Sadly that also made me somewhat unable to discuss the contents of those presentations. But I don’t regret at all going to the round tables or having a nice discussion with CCP Antiquarian about art stuff in the cantina. This brings me to the next topic:

4. HIGHLIGHTS OVERALL

The following paragraphs are in no particular order. Just a bunch of nice things that happened during Fanfest.

I gave CCP Antiquarian (who is an actual antiquarian, btw) a list of ships that from perspective could use a re-design rather sooner than later. In true venue style, it was written down on what was available: A napkin. 😄
What was on the list, you ask? The following: Helios, Celestis (the flying Banana), Burst, Scythe, and Bellicose;

CCP Games Games. I would probably describe it as “hilariously unplanned chaos”. But the participants and hosts just being the characters they are added so much value to it. I greatly enjoyed every bit of it. The day after, I might have managed to salvage some of the trivia cards from the floor in front of the stage. Actual collector’s items you can touch, read, sell, burn… unlike an NFT.

Meeting all the cool folk I only knew from Discord chats or voice comms in the flesh.
Seeing Ithica Hawk and Damassys Kadesh boulder up the hardest routes like it was nothing gave me some motivation to step up my game till next year. I met CCP Aperture, also known as Razorien, and had a nerdy chat about space photography, took a selfie with the Space Pope (get well soon, Sir), and with the artist formerly known as CCP Guard.
I got to know my Anger Games team captain, Damassys Kadesh, and fellow teammates Gorski Car and Jamie James aka bluemorph. I got blinded by Jin’taans famous golden sparkling tie and witnessed elite PvPers slug it out on stage in a terrible balanced AT ship format.
I had the honor to dine with wormholersbtw and got to laugh over Insidious Sainthoods comments during the Abyssal Proving Grounds round table. During which I like to believe having made CCP Fozzie take a note about placing MJD-units in the arena. By pure chance, I met the fabulous BjornBee at Lebowski Bar, got the chance to briefly introduce myself to CCP Aurora, and just met sooo many others. Like my current CEO from Noir., Alekseyev Karrde, fellow mercenaries Mark Havoc, and Acre Leone. I now can tell that Torvald Uruz IRL is just as fun as on his streams. And all the others I forgot to mention here. Thanks for being awesome. Chatting, drinking, and talking Eve with you was a blast.

5. PRESENTATION HIGHLIGHTS

The Keynote… just kidding. My favorite presentation sadly wasn’t that one, although I think the Heraldry system and FW changes shown have lots of potential if it’s done right. And it seems like the Activity Tracker finally found some use. If you remember, I wrote about that a while ago.

In fact, I think the “Living Universe” presentation on the second day was what large parts of the Keynote should have been. It’s linked above with a timestamp if you didn’t see it yet.
Sorry Hillmar, but after so many years we kind of know what the development of EVE Online looked like. Still nice of you to reinforce the statement about NFTs. Although the wording was still a bit sus.

Now to the things I personally look forward to:

Photon UI

After the roundtable with the team, I’m very confident that they understand what problems there are for new players and veterans alike. And that veteran players want to tailor their interfaces to the pixel for sometimes very niche scenarios. Losing that functionality to fine-tune was an “instant concern” when a potential grid system got brought up, which would make it easier to snap UI elements into predefined places. Great for a more casual approach to the game, but likely problematic if you have more specific requirements.

⚠ BIG DISCLAIMER: That image shows a Work-In-Progress. Treat it like that.

Also great news for anyone running multiple accounts: The team is looking at a function to save, export, and import your UI layouts to different characters. That is also nice if you are a tournament pilot who often loses UI settings in between practices due to changes on the test server. Or just when you can skip all the hassle of copying files around on your PC to get your settings on Thunderdome before a tournament.
Overall it seems like the UI team “gets it”.

Factional Warfare: Arc 1

With the proposed frontlines, FW has the potential to concentrate the action much better. Meaning: Less roaming around for content. Arsia Elkin is the most efficient CSM member of all time now. As an FW update and more story was pretty much her whole agenda, that was now announced. Well done! 😉

My personal hope, when looking at the allegiance system, is that it will also offer a way to get rewarding gameplay out of it as a neutral, non-aligned character. #piratelivesmatter

If you missed it, here is the FW round table recorded by EQ11

Heraldry

I admit I’m a sucker for customization in video games of all kinds. I have spent hours inside a character creator of games I knew, I wouldn’t really play. Probably, I’m an exception here. But as a result, the proposed heraldry system has huge potential to keep me playing.
I’d love to add another antenna to my Flycatcher and refine its uniqueness. Although I think some of the holographic stuff (like on the Rifter) shown at fanfest was a bit over the top. It all depends on how that’s being implemented. Hopefully, n+1 mechanics won’t mean too much in gaining the currency of “Interbus Credits”. It would be a bit disappointing if just existing inside a big blob would give one more option to customize your personal ship than an actively playing solo pilot, for example. We will see how that goes, but knowing what the art team had delivered in the past, I’m optimistic there will be at least cool stuff waiting to be unlocked.

Here is a Twitter thread with the slides of the presentation.

Honorable Mentions: Particle System & NODDI

Yes, these two did not look like much on stage, but both are the tools a developer may be enabled to do really cool stuff with and drastically improve the experience it is to play. I’m looking forward to hearing more on these in the future. What is NODDI? A new tool that CCP built for themself to create new content players can experience. CCP Loki mentioned they would currently be testing it on missions. And CCP Dragon mentions a tool (which I guess is NODDI) in this interview with Ashterothi.

Overall it sounded to me that CCP used the time of the pandemic to get rid of some of their technical debt, which hopefully will benefit the development of the future. If you are unfamiliar with the term here is a metaphor explaining it:

A woodcutter that does not spend a bit of time per day to sharpen his ax will soon cut fewer trees per day than his peer who uses some time of his day to maintain his tool. Updating tools and getting your processes of development in order is like sharpening your ax. If you neglect it too much, you’ll end up working harder but achieving less. Getting rid of years of technical debt can be quite a challenge and often requires a major effort that starts with management enabling the room to get it done. In aging companies, technical debt seems almost unavoidable. Very good, if CCP could reduce it.

If CCP would just keep the game on “live support” as some like to claim, they would not do this kind of work. You also don’t develop a new UI when you intend to milk your product until it’s dead. That are very much live-ensuring measures being done here.

6. SENTIMENT

When CCP did start to sell questionably fitted t1 mining barges from the cash shop, I wrote an article titled The Day My Optimism Died. And I fear Fanfest 2022 could not change that. When it comes to CCPs monetization strategy my optimism remains very much dead.

And I’m still not sure if some of the people in charge of steering this big ship actually have a clear direction, a vision, a north star they are following. CCP Burger & Co. tried to get that across during the keynote. Sadly too abstract for me.
But what I have seen during Fanfest is teams at CCP, working passionately on their own bits of the Eve Online universe. And many have the potential to noticeably improve the game in those regards.

I’m still on board for the joyride, watching closely.


I can see in the distance
Cliffs and waves
Where I’ve made great memories
Where the mountains and the ash
Tell me a story
And I hope that we’ll see each other there again.

Ingó

2 thoughts on “Fanfest 2022 – Recap & Review”

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