EVE Fanfest 2014
I’ve been meaning to write this post ever since I left Reykjavik. I’m not much of a blogger, as you might have noticed, but this one single event deserves a write-up. Fanfest. The annual player gathering in Iceland. I always wanted to go but something always came up and I could not attend. This year, however, I decided I will fly out there no matter what. Everything went according to plan, and with some help from a corp mate of mine I finally got to reach Reykjavik.
I won’t bother writing about what was announced — you could tune in to the stream and see for yourself. I will, however, write about the Fanfest experience, if you will. My impressions of flying out and seeing Iceland for the first time. A trip every EVE, Dust or in the future – Valkyrie player should consider.
I was there! It was real!
My story starts in december when I was offered two free tickets to Fanfest. I immediately started arranging for transport and accommodation with the help of one of Adhocracy member. Fast forward a couple of weeks and I am on a plane to Keflavik. Icelandair offered some pretty nice deals on plane tickets, so the cost of flying from Glasgow to Reykjavik was the same as my trip from Warsaw to Glasgow (I could not find a direct flight from Poland). The only thing that I was worried about was the upcoming strike at the Keflavik Airport, but since it was postponed to a later date, everything was fine.
We arrive on April 29th, 2 days before Fanfest officially starts. It was mostly due to the flights schedule, but also we wanted to have a little bit of time to explore Reykjavik and get our bearings. If you are planning to attend Fanfest in the future I would recommend you do the same.
Landing, customs and all that was pretty straight forward, but we were still 49km away from Reykjavik. There is a Flybus office at the airport you can purchase tickets at, which we did, and shortly after we were heading to the capital along with 40 other EVE Players. The trip takes between 30 and 45 minutes and the route takes you through vast magma fields – the view is amazing, as if you were driving through a terraformed planet. The bus drops you off at the main bus station, just outside of the city, and you can choose between getting on a smaller shuttle bus that will take you directly to your hotel or you can walk. We chose the latter, because that’s the best way to get to know your way around. It was a short hike, during which we passed the Hallgrímskirkja — the tallest landmark in Reykjavik.
Our Hostel was located on the main shopping street called Laugavegur, so everything was close by and within walking distance. Harpa itself was just a 5 minute walk. Reykjavik is small enough that you can walk everywhere, but everyone there seems to own a car anyways (“You mean “Downtown Postcode 101 Centrum Reykjavík” is small enough ;)” – CCP Explorer). Walking is what we did for the first day. Went all the way to the other side of the harbor, up north, to check out the views and see all there is to see before all the festivities began, and I think it was a great idea. Trust me when I say — once Harpa is open, the presentation, keynote and roundtables schedule is so packed, that you won’t have much time to do anything else for the majority of the day, and there is a lot to see, even if you don’t plan to visit all the museums, bars, pubs, stores and what have you. Reykjavik was built in a beautiful setting, and everyone should take at least some time off their busy schedule to stop and appreciate the views at the very least.
Scouting the Unknown
That is exactly what I did for the first, second and last day of my trip. Walking down the shore line, up north, to the other side of the harbor, opposite of Harpa and CCP HQ you are presented with panorama of Reykjavik on one side…
…and mountain tops 700 meters high on the other. The landscape changes drastically within a span of a few hundred meters. The further you go the better the views get. I was lucky enough to have a clear blue sky above my head, but the wind was pretty fierce, even in May, so make sure you are prepared for that.
We ended our day with a beer at the Celtic Cross, an Irish styled pub near the main street, where we met a couple EVE players that arrived early as well. Came back home at a decent hour, ate supper and went to bed.
Next day, 30th April, the EVE Monument was revealed. It was scheduled for 17:00 and the turn out was great, by my estimation around 300-400 people were there. Hilmar made a short speech followed by the designer of the sculpture and Reykjavik’s Mayor.
Located right next to CCP HQ we had some Devs come down and talk to the crowd while the others were watching from the balcony and taking pictures of us taking pictures of them. EVEception! The unveiling went smooth after which the crowd ganked the Monument, looking for their name on the plates. To everyone’s surprise, they were not in alphabetical order, but CCP quickly released an online app that could let you search for your name and its’ exact position on the monument.
Every day from now on, during Fanfest, if you went to the Monument, you would meet a small gang of players crawling around the Monument with cameras and phones in their hands, trying to pinpoint their name’s location. It was a pretty funny sight.
There was a slight issue with the search app at first, and some of the names, including mine, didn’t show up in the database, so to find mine I had to resort to asking CCP Paradox to use his mighty DevHax to find my name. Eventually I did find my name and took a fancy picture of it as a proof.
Shortly after the event there was another one that I wanted to attend, this time a player driven, famous #TweetFleet Meet, hosted by the wonderful Sindel and her husband. I did not take my camera with me (or rather Sao’s camera, as mine was dead due to lack of batteries inside, long story), but I did, however, end up being in one memorable picture:
From the left: Sao, CCP Guard, Me, Sindel Pellion and Bagehi. After having a beer or two with the bunch we’ve met Chribba, CCP Bro, CCP Falcon, CCP Paradox, CCP Affinity, CCP Karkur and a lot other devs and players I am fuzzy about the names, as I was already intoxicated after a while. The bar was packed, the security had to close the doors at one point, making people wait in line in front of the bar to get in. Goons and TEST Alliance took over the basement, while EVE University, Wormhole people and many others took refuge near the TV and bar. It was an amazing event, a small taste of what was still to come in the upcoming days.
Cyno up! Hotdropping Harpa
We went back home after sunrise (which, by the way, took place at around 4 AM, while sun set close to midnight, 4 hour night!), and went straight to bed. Fanfest officially starts at 10:00, May 1st, so we had to be ready. In the morning it was proven that we were not ready. Sleep deprived, the two Adhocracy Zombies arrived at Harpa at 10:15, only to wait in line to the front desk for another half an hour or so. It was cold and windy, but the sun was shining, and I was excited enough not to mind.
The front desk was manned by devs, handing out ID cards and goody bags. Once past that point, movement within Harpa was uninhibited.
First day of Fanfest started with the Small Things Panel by CCP Karkur and CCP Punkturis, and the room was packed! Bára and Katrín presented what they have been working on for the past 12 or so months, explained how exactly the little project came to be and how they operate, after which they asked everyone in the room to write down top 3 little things they would like to see fixed or changed.
This is basically how each panel and roundtable looked like. You might recognize some of the people in the picture. With two ADHC members marked. But I promised I wouldn’t talk about all the things that were said and done at Fanfest when it comes to game content and related things, so let’s move on to the things you probably did not see on the stream (I am yet to go through all the recorded presentations myself!).
One of the few things that I don’t think was shown on the stream was the EVE: Valkyrie demo. It officially started on the second day of Fanfest, 10:00, bottom floor. People were waiting in line to get to try the new Unreal Engine 4 demo, running on the new Oculus Rift SDK 2 headset. It was only a 3 minute demo, but boy was it amazing! I could go on about how stunning the experience is, how immersive the VR world is, how fun the game is to play, but it pales in comparison with trying it out yourself. If you ever get a chance to have a go at EVE Valkyrie, it should be your top priority.
I got lucky — I got to try both the Oculus Rift demo as well as the Sony Morpheus demo which was a closed demo for Press, and later on open to a selected group consisting of ISD members, Fansites and lucky winners of a raffle CCP held a day prior. The Sony Morpheus demo was running the old Unity engine build, so it’s hard to compare the two, but both were very fun to play!
The Sony Morpheus headset felt a bit more consumer friendly, if a bit less sturdy. It was as if it came straight out of a box ready for shipping to customers. Apart from that it wasn’t that different from Oculus. The demo itself was, to everyone’s surprise, running on a PC, where as everyone expected to see PlayStation 4. I guess CCP will take care of porting it over to the console once they have the PC version polished and ready. It should be easy enough, considering the new consoles are running the same architecture as PC’s these days. It will boil down to optimization.
Harpa is an amazing venue. Fits the theme of EVE perfectly. It was easy to navigate, but at the same time big enough to hold all the various activities, stores, roundtables, presentations, events without having people going in each other ways. I was told there was over 1600 people attend Fanfest this year — it did not feel crowded at all. The glass + metal design of the building gives you a very open feeling.
It’s easy to find, not far from CCP HQ, right in the centre of the city. A beautiful piece of architecture that stands out in the large harbor of Reykjavik. Given my background I could talk for hours about the pros and cons of the venue, but let’s skip that and move onto the second day of Fanfest. The two things everyone were waiting for. Starting with:
EVE OF DESTRUCTION!
After Chess-Boxing everyone was waiting for what CCP comes up with next. This year they announced that they would be inviting a MMA Champion to fight 10 of their own Devs on the second-to-last day of Fanfest. The event was held in Tranquility, the main hall of Harpa. I got in through the back and with my MicroWarp Drive on I raced other players to the front row. Score! Second row, dead center. The ring was at eye-level, with the big screen above it showing what you guys saw on the stream. I didn’t have the camera with me, but Sao had a pretty good spot himself, 3rd floor, overseeing the entire hall.
If you look closely you can see me to the left of Jessica who was wearing a green shirt, second row. The fight was epic, funny and lasted way longer then I anticipated. CCP Guard did an excellent job providing the commentary and later on took a place on the ring himself.
After the show everyone started getting ready for the Pub Crawl with Devs. Again, didn’t take many pictures, as alcohol and expensive cameras do not go well together. Trust me when I say — it was amazing.
I joined up late, because I haven’t had a meal that day yet, so I ran back to my hostel and grabbed something to eat, took a shower and then went out to join up with all the people. After a couple of hours everyone ended up at the Nora Magasin bar, located at the very center of the city. That’s where I met Hilmar himself among many other amazing people.
Party at the Top of the World
Last day — events and roundtables focused on Art, CSM, Marketing, Fanfest itself and of course the anticipated CCP Presents Keynote. Everyone was exhausted after 3 days of drinking every night, ending with the epic Pub Crawl the previous night. You could see nearly everybody walking around with a bottle of water and/or coffee. It was a quiet day, as everyone was preparing for what was still to come. The Party at the Top of the World. DJ Z-Trip was making a comeback this year and I was really looking forward to that. Come 20:00 everyone left the Tranquility hall, was handed a free beer, courtesy of DrunkenOne, and they opened up the rooms. I didn’t take any pictures of the main hall where all the bands were playing, but I did however take a few of the EVE exclusive lounge.
And that was it. Fanfest was officially over. After the concert, which I might add was amazing, everyone started heading out to bars and house parties for the last time, or hunting for devs, or rather their red lanyard for their personal collection. I don’t really remember much more then that about the last night at this point. Even polish people have limits.
I spent the last day walking around Reykjavik, trying to see whatever there was left to see, and later on, in the evening, meeting up in a bar for the last time with guys from Ministry of Inappropriate Footwork, great bunch of people.
At 3:30 in the morning a Flybus shuttle picked us up from the hostel, and we headed back to the airport. The last picture I have taken was this amazing view of Reykjavik as seen from the departing airplanes, some 50 kilometers away, from the Keflavik Airport.
Fanfest. It was one of the best weeks of my life. I fell in love with Reykjavik. The setting. The people. Even the weather. I will definitely go back there at some point. Maybe not next year, but that’s yet to be decided. It was something you have to experience for yourself, and it makes you want more. If you are even thinking about going — consider this a letter of recommendation. I was there! It was Real! And you should go too!
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me on twitter @Asayanami or convo me in game.