EVE Fanfest 2015
Similar to last year, I wanted to write a little post describing Fanfest from the point of view of an attendee, focusing on the things you can’t really see on the official stream. Last year I was lucky enough to finally have both the time and opportunity to go to Iceland and experience what it’s really like to spend some time meeting other players and the devs and I had a blast. I fell in love with the country, the atmosphere of the event, the city of Reykjavik and it left me wanting more! Soon after I arrived back home I was already planning my next trip. I didn’t exactly know when it would happen, but I knew I wanted to go back as soon as possible. Around December 2014 it turned out that I will get to visit Iceland once more and I couldn’t be happier.
My trip began very early in the morning, at around 3 am local time. I had to drive to Warsaw to catch my flight to Copenhagen, where I would board a plane to Keflavik. I arrived at Keflavik Airport on March 17th, two days before Fanfest was actually starting, wondering what should I do next. One of the wonderful things about the EVE community is that it constantly develops new ways for people to communicate in and out of game. With the introduction of the #tweetfleet Slack last year it made it really easy for attendees to find each other and get together in Reykjavik. Combining that with the new EVE Meet website, you’re never left alone, all you have to do is reach out and you’ll never be bored. Upon landing, I spent a few hours getting to the hotel, checking in, unpacking after which I headed to Celtic Cross for drinks with EVE players.
This time around I got to see a bit more than just the city. Considering my background in the tourism industry, I was really interested in what Iceland has to offer, so I was really looking forward to this little sightseeing trip. Suffice to say, I was not disappointed. At around 10 am people started gathering at Harpa. It took a while to get everyone on the buses but soon enough we were off into the Land of Ice and Fire. Golden Circle is a seven hour trip, visiting the Þingvellir National Park, the Gullfoss waterfall, and the Geysir hot springs. Stunning views I could try to describe to you, but instead I will let the photos do all the talking.
The weather was less then ideal, and it was constantly changing from wind to snow to rain to wind again, but it was still a very impressive trip, totally worth it and I would recommend it to everyone visiting Iceland. There was close to a dozen buses full of EVE players driving around this year, and I think there wasn’t a single soul that disliked what they have seen. If you want the full Fanfest experience, you should definitely put this on your schedule.
Fanfest wouldn’t be the same without the #tweetfleet meet. After getting back to Reykjavik from the Golden Circle tour, quick shower and dinner, people started heading to the first player gathering.
Similar to last year, it was scheduled a day prior to the festival, at the Celtic Cross Pub. People started pouring in at 18:00 and soon enough the place was full of EVE players and Devs alike. This is where you get your first taste of what Fanfest is really about. Players meeting players. If it’s your first time at Fanfest, you should definitely drop by, preferably before TiDi kicks in and the security close the doors. The party lasted until ~1 AM, at which point people went back to their hotels to get some rest before the the main event. Which brings us to:
Gate is Green! Gate is Green!
Fanfest 2015 kicked off with the opening ceremony in the main hall, Tranquility. There was no queues to get inside Harpa this year, since you could pre-register at various venues around the city starting monday. CCP also took a bit of a different approach to the order and way they present things at Fanfest, so shortly after the opening presentation there were panels and roundtables set up which were meant to set the stage for the main event, which was the EVE Keynote. It all happened on the first day so that the devs could freely talk about the revealed features without having to repeat the dreaded phrase “Come to the Keynote”. Instead, cards were on the table day one, and everyone could get their questions answered without NDA getting into the way.
Main theme of the opening presentation, apart from EVE obviously, was VR and the progress CCP has made with Valkyrie since last may. It was exciting to see what the Newcastle team had to show us this year, especially since last year’s demo was so impressive.
The Future of VR
Im sure those of you who weren’t there watched the stream, so I’ll skip the details, but I simply must link the Valkyrie gameplay trailer they showed because everyone was left speechless and eager to try the game out after watching it. EVE players, ever since EVEVR was showcased, dreamed about being able to fly among much larger EVE ships, seeing what it’s like to take part in a battle of enormous scale. That is what the trailer was all about.
Shortly after the presentation there was a “Meet the Valkyries” panel with the team from New Castle, during which people could get to know the team behind the game, ask questions and get hyped! The PVP room was open from day one as well, the setup they had this year was bigger and better comparing to what you could see the last time. 10 people could try out the multiplayer at any given time, and the 5v5 matches were broadcasted on two huge screens in the room. Apart from that there was additional two setups that you could use to try out the PVE aspect of the game.
There was also a lot more space at Harpa for people to just hang out, chat and meet other people. Various booths, the VR Labs area, Capsuleer’s Lounge. Every single bit of Harpa filled with things to do and see. And eat too! Blue Donuts were certainly very popular.
In between queuing up for Valkyrie I tried to attend some of the roundtables and panels, namely The Little Things, Big Matters with CCP Karkur, which is always packed, after which I went to the Game Design panel, Valkyrie one mentioned above, an awesome presentation by CCP Manifest called Cap Boosting Your EVE, where the focus was put on 3rd party content creators (something I enjoy greatly about the EVE Community) and then of course the main event of the day.
EVE Online Keynote
The main Keynote was scheduled at 17:00. and it was the last event of the day. I sat down with Corbexx and Sugar Kayle and enjoyed the show. One of the things about being on the CSM is that you already know what’s going to be announced, so my focus was on the audience and the reactions of the crowd to what was about to be revealed. I was not disappointed. One of the things that did surprise me were the CSM voting results, but let’s leave the space politics out of this post.
Everybody knows EVE players love fancy graphs, and this year CCP delivered. CCP Quant came up on the stage and did his graph magic, putting a bit more light on what a typical EVE player is like contrary to popular belief, as well as showing us the one thing everybody loves, DAMAGE. It was also when 3rd party development was given a nod, and the Year in Review project was revealed. I think it is very cool to see the growing support for 3rd party devs and I was happy to see two of my friends being featured on the screen with their great apps taking advantage of the new Crest data. (www.spreadsheetsin.space/year-in-review/ and www.pozniak.pl/yearly-stats make sure to check them out!)
And of course they premiered the new EVE Cinematic Trailer.
Overall I think it was a great keynote, leaving everyone talking about the future of Sov and Structures and looking forward to the roundtables to come. I finished my day with the Charity Dinner which took place at the Marinetime Museum, right next to CCP HQ. Food, drinks, devs all around and later on an afterparty at Nora’s.
Fanfest 2015 was a special one. Scheduled around a rare celestial event, a full solar eclipse, with Iceland being one of the best locations on our planet to view the event in it’s full glory. However, the Icelandic weather is constantly changing, and nobody was sure that we would actually see anything due to clouds, blizzards and rain that would come and go constantly. However, on Friday, 20th of March Bob smiled upon us and provided us with the perfect viewing weather.
Hundreds of people gathered in front of Harpa equiped with proper eyewear and the waiting began. The whole thing was surreal. I’m glad I was there to witness it in person, because there is no way to describe the feeling you get when suddently the Sun starts to… dim.
I tried my best to capture it on camera but it’s easier said than done. From Reykjavik we got to see 98% of the full eclipse, which the above picture shows. Breath. Taking.
I spent the entire day queuing up to play Valkyrie over and over again. This time around the demo was ~9 minutes, during which you took part in a 5 versus 5 PVP match. The game has come a long way since EVEVR and even comparing to the version of it they showed us last year, you can clearly see the amazing progress such a small team of devs made in the past 12 months.
I encourage everyone, given the change, to try it out. It’s really hard to describe what it feels like to put on the headset — stepping into the EVE Universe, launching from a carrier and fighting among the wreckage of capital ships. This game is something I really am looking forward to. VR really is the future of gaming and I hope Valkyrie will be as successful on release as it is popular with the EVE community at fanfest.
In the afternoon the CSM panel was taking place, where 9 out of 10 CSM 9 members present at Fanfest took some time to answer questions from the attendees. It’s a pretty stressful thing to participate in as a Council member, since you’re being put literally in the spotlight, on a stage, in front of a live audience, and on top of that it’s being broadcasted on the stream.
Overall I think it went well, as far as space politic events go, with Sion and Corbexx having a little fun, announcing the infamous defection of the wormhole representative to the GFC. Personally I thought it was rather funny, shaking things up a bit and starting a whole lot of rumors and rage on the forums.
The main event of the day, where Tranquility Server AT XII Champions — The Camel Empire met Serenity Server Champions City of Angels in a best-of-five PVP series on the main stage of Harpa. First EVE PVP Trounament held in fron of a live audience and broadcasted on EVE TV. It was AWESOME. People cheering for both teams, with thunderous applause every time a ship exploded in a glorious ball of fire! Hilarious to watch live with all the technical issues happening right in front of you, with the amusing CCP Gargant, Fozzie and player commentators on the stage keeping it all entertaining. Nail biting matches from start to finish!
The stakes were high, because only the winning team’s server would receive the grand prize of the Victorieux Luxury Yacht, while the other would have to weep in silence. And guess what [Spoiler Alert]!
Congratulations to the Camel Empire, you made the Tranquility server proud!
Pub Crawl with Devs
After the victory it was time to celebrate, and how else would you go about it than experiencing the nightlife of Reykjavik with CCP Devs. Over a dozen teams went out drinking and having fun across all pubs and bars in the city, eventually meeting at the afterparty with a live DJ. I had a blast and so did everyone who attended.
I guess you could say I had a little bit too much fun, since I overslept for nearly half of the presentations on the last day of fanfest. Waking up at around 1 PM, I went to harpa, coffee in my hand, where I found things to be fairly quiet, so I think I wasn’t the only one suffering.
The Final Day
I got to Harpa rather late, catching the very end of the Valkyrie Tournament, which was quite exciting to watch. Overall I heard that more than 1600 people tried Valkyrie during the course of fanfest, which is 400 more than the number of attendees, so many people tried it multiple times, and the majority of the winning team was among them. I wish my name had been drawn, but I wasn’t so lucky (plus I overslept for the drawing). I think streaming VR, especially in a tournament scenario is very interesting and I would love to see it becoming as popular as other e-sports.
After that I met with some of the devs from QA and we spent some time playing Carcassonne.
Once I got back on my feet, it was already time for the closing ceremony. Everyone headed to the main hall. The presentation was exactly what you’d expect it to be, a summary. After that everyone had 2 hours to get ready for the final event of fanfest.
Party at the Top of the World
It was quite different from what I remember from last year. There was only one room with the stage, with various DJ’s and a Metallica cover band playing throughout the night. Permaband made an appearance as well, but most of the ‘action’ took place outside, in the lounge area, where people had their last chance to chat with each other and the devs. Various afterparties commenced, fun (and later hangovers) was had by all.
I took the last day to decompress, slept in, went for a last walk along the harbor shore line and later met up with people at the English Pub to say goodbye. I didn’t sleep much that night, flipping through the photos on my phone and camera, while waiting for the 5 am Flybus to Keflavik Airport and getting ready for a long trip home. Once again Fanfest proved to be mind blowing.