EVE Vegas 2015 – Wrap Up

So, EVE Vegas wrapped up today and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  It was my first time at any large scale EVE gathering and it was touch and go until last week when I could finally confirm the flights.  I had a work trip this week and managed to re-route my flights to come from somewhere to Vegas rather than go home first.  Which means, my bags were full of crumpled suits and dirty underwear.  But, hey, its EVE… 🙂

I arrived at the venue a tad early – I had my timezone mixed up and thought registration starts at 10:00 instead of 11:00.  When I arrive the CCP Team with CCP Curtis and CCP Guard (and many I didn’t recognize) were still setting up the registration table.  EVE Players are nothing but disciplined and formed an early line

So, I registered and joined CCP_Seagull’s keynote presentation which was everything one could possibly ask for – a veritable firework of new feature announcements.  Watch it on youtube, its quite something

CCP_Seagull and her team manged go through a dizzying array of new developments, features, updates and ideas that were reminiscent of the bad old days when keynotes were nothing but breathless enthusiasm about never-finished features.  But CCP_Seagull’s track record is different, she speaks from a base of having made bold and radical changes to the game and seen them through – including iterating and backrolling.  She established the trust that what is presented will launch, in one way or the other and mostly on schedule.

Keeping with tradition, the keynote is the igniter for much conversation and the subsequent presentations picked up individual topics and go deeper.  Two new developments (Capitals and Citadels) overshadowed much of the other content (ghost fittings, new grid map…) to a point that when CCP_Seagull ended her portion of the keynote, the audience (me included) could not sit still, jumped up eager to discuss.  But wait, there was more…. Valkyrie…. 

With respect to the new developments, read the posts on The Mittani.com (linked below).  I just added my opinion as it stands today.

Capitals

Captial ships have long been the pinnacle of EVE PvP.  They are slow, expensive and used to be rare, dropping them into a fight meant that you were in it with all measures.  They were the ultimate force projection tool and with EVE player’s famous efficiency, they used to be able to cyno across the universe and simply swat away any opponent that couldn’t bring their own – bigger – fleet.  Then CCP introduced jump fatigue, curtailing the ability to teleport a fleet across the map and hence neutering captials as a strike force.  Re-balancing these ships to fit their new roles was really required. It now looks like CCP is trying to enable faster, mobile and highly specialized capital fights in null, low and Wormhole space with a complete overhaul of the ship classes, their ability to attack, defend and repair themselves. The goal appears to be to give EVE Vets with much ISK and Skillpoints a new game mode, effectively making capital fights as fast, furious and aggressive as sub-cap fights.  From my point of view – awesome.  I always wanted to be in combined arms engagements and not just be a smear on the windshield of someone’s Archon.

Implication for me: review my skill queue.  From what I learned, I think I want to fly carriers now.

Structures

Citadels were announced some time ago as the replacements of Player Owned Structures (POS) and Outposts.  Everyone agreed this was overdue, management of these things is archaic and smells of 1990’s deep-nested menu architecture – remember how to navigate a Nokia phone?  Exactly.

First of all, Citadels are enormous.  I mean, no-kidding enormous.

They need to be huge of course since they will fit capital ships and super capital ships which are gigantic already.  But hey, real estate is cheap in space and why not make a structure that is literally 150 km long? And with much size comes much value and with much value comes… an enemy fleet to take it away.  Citadels are going to be a focal point of commerce, manufacturing and warfare.  The only thing missing in my view is the lower end “home”that so many smaller corporations crave, a place to park a few ships for a solo player or a small team.  The current deployables do not allow that and POS-es appear to remain the only option.

The two notable features are how they are deployed – from a freighter for the large and extra large ones and from a normal hauler for the medium one.  This in itself is a slight problem since a freighter doesn’t fit into a anything smaller than a C5 wormhole – does that mean, we can’t have the Large Citatel?  That would be a little odd?  Sure, we could put a Medium up, build the components, build the freighter (!) and then deploy it but please.

Secondly, when these things get shot in Empire space, some content drops and ISK is made but the privately owned ships etc are moved to a nearby NPC station or to a new Citadel in the same system.  Except in WH space where everything drops / is destroyed.  I recall that the difference between WH space and K-space was not so clear last time they talked about it and is much welcome.  Wormhole fights and evictions are for ISK and political reasons (but mostly ISK, admit it).  Bashing these things for a week is not fun and there better be a good drop.  So, the change or at lease clarification how this works for Wormholers was very welcome.

Implications for me: None for now and for the near future. I don’t hold any decision power over structures either in my personal corporation or in my current stint as Noir Academy. mercenary.  But I can’t wait to participate in setting an alliance Citadel up or burning an enemy Citadel down.  Both will be awesome.

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Other random stuff in no particular order 

Someone at CCP must have recently woken up with a revelation that the company was sitting on a goldmine.  Unlike “themepark” games, EVE is built on the stories that players create online and in real time – there is no scrip that needs to be followed.  The machinations of military, espionage are set on the background of a SciFi universe and just need to be told by someone comfortable with both media.  Enter: Jeff Edwards. Jeff is a professional author with a military background and has many books and awards to his name.  In a very unusual way, CCP and The Mittani.com enlisted Jeff to write the “real” story of EVE which in many ways is more entertaining and gripping than some fictional tale.  Jeff clearly has the pedigree and after listening to his presentation and speaking to him afterward, I am convinced that he has the guts to take on this venture.  He has “the right stuff” and when his kickstarter goes live next week, count me among his first supporters.

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EVE Online players are a weird bunch and never shy away from something that is a) scientific and b) serves the community.  Emma Lundberg gave a talk showcasing a new feature for our game that does both.  Emma is the Associate Professor for Cellular Profiling at Human Protein Atlas.  In her talk, she explained why it is important to identify exactly where each protein is in each cell and how researchers use fluorescence, confocal microscopes to shoot gorgeous pictures – 13 million of them.  Analysis of these images is however often beyond the scope of even heavy scientific supercomputers and she and her team aims to enlist EVE players in a mini-game where we identify specific subcellular structures and thus further our understanding of cancer development (for example).  I accidentally happen to quite a lot about this topic and will follow the feature very closely, I was able to have a lengthy conversation with Dr. Lundberg after her presentation.  Watch this space, this has the potential to be my favorite feature in EVE Online (if it works).

one-page-project-1-eve-hpa

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I attended a CSM panel – hoping to finally put faces to names and in that (only in that) wasn’t disappointed.  The panel (notably absent was CSM’s most productive and least self-promoting member, Sugar Kyle) itself was nothing but a pathetic “nobody-loves-me-but-worked-so-hard” fest.  The audience with earnest faces still asked about “transparency” – a word they learned from Fox news and use it with breathless excitement.  After 10 CSM’s even engaged players still don’t have a clue what the CSM is and what it can and can not do. And the CSM members take themselves so seriously, its painful to watch.  I sat in the back watching CCP_Leeloo attempting to shape this panel into something constructive and fail miserable. I felt sorry for her and tried to speak up but never had the chance until much later that night during the party where I buttonholed her and Sugar Kyle and thanked them on behalf of all normal players.  What little that amounts to, the behavior of both “sides” during the panel was below par.

My personal opinion of the CSM has changed over the years – I see them as incredibly valuable to communicate between the developers and the players.  Especially the current CSM does just that and does it extremely well – with exceptions of course, you can’t have 14 (13?) people being consistently active and engaged all the time.  So, the panel could have been so much better highlighting the achievements but it focused on drama – a wasted opportunity imho.

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During my line-up for the admission ticket, I tried to engage the two players behind me into a conversation.  I nearly failed until they gloated how they fly with CODE or worse and take delight out of driving new players out of the game.  Its hard to describe the gleam in their eyes when they told tales about awoxed corporations, “tears”, people biomassing their characters and the satisfaction they derive from making someone else angry at them personally.  Of all possible avenues to play the game, this is one that I will never understand.  I wrote about this too many times on this blog but I simply do not subscribe to the idea that you can be another person online than you are in real life.  Online is real life, a different facet, sure but it is as real as working with a colleague on a conference call that I have never met in person.  Living out some kind of fantasy of playing a total asshole means you are a total asshole.

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The Chateau party was a lot of fun – partly because players were directed to dress up – the place has a dress code of “casual chic”.  Now, it can be debated whether clothes make the man but I prefer a groomed crowd to an unwashed one.  Geeks take pride in their disdain for clothes but you put them into a collared shirt and they nearly look human.  During the party, I had tons of conversations with Sugar Kyle, CCP_Leeloo, CCP_Seagull, CCP_Curtis and many players of random corporations and backgrounds.  Nearly all of them fun, engaging, smart and – much alcohol was flowing – open and without “guard”.  I also ran into CCP’s new marketing / branding person, she is 2 weeks into the job and since we come from similar backgrounds we talked shop for quite a while.  She seems to be very clear in her head what she wants to do and very competent in how she wants to do it- especially on bringing the lore back into the game without making EVE “theme park”.  No, really – I will watch her progress with much (professional) interest.

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A lot of players seemed to have organized their community, PL was there, the goons etc.  As I only recently joined the Mercenary Coalition, I didn’t know anyone but Aleks Karrde.  But over the weekend, these Mercs made every attempt to make me feel as one of them – despite my newbness.  It was cool to see them in action, they are really a fun crew.  We took a picture and someone posted it on slack:

Mercenary coalition. Group shot

The Mercenary Coalition crew. I am the unfit looking white guy

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CCP is notoriously crap at commercializing their brand.  Its nearly a joke that they are unable to catch the wads of money that their players want to throw at them.  The current EVE merchandise store is (when they remember to turn on the website) filled with 3 items that nobody wants for 100s of Euros plus more hundreds of Euros to ship product to us in the colonies. Its an embarrassment that many of the player community could simply “do better” – Rixx Javix has literally put up a better store on his Blog, in his own time than CCP has with the might of a consumer-facing company.  And so when CCP_Seagull announced that they would open a real store at the show as well as an online store, the audience went wild.  I was sitting in the back dumb struck.  Why can’t I work in a company where my announcement that I have stuff for sale gets greeted with cheers and dollar bills fluttering my way.  I could casually estimate that CCP is leaving $200-400k (revenue, not profit) on the table for no good reason.  In addition, branded product increases the visibility and furthers the brand.  I perused the store (cardboard boxes on fold-up tables) and while I didn’t like the designs too much, the quality of the swag is damn good.  So, I picked up a luggage tag for my (work) laptop bag – colleagues be damned.

$10 luggage tag - oh my, But the quality is decent

$10 luggage tag – oh my. But the quality is quite good

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Valkyrie is the new Occulus Rift-based shooter coming out at some point in the future. I think I was the last to try out the game and can only repeat the observations that many made before me – its an amazing experience. Actually the amazing thing is the lack of an experience – once you were the googles, head movement and image change happen in synchrony.  The experience is so seamless that I didn’t even notice it at first. As shooters go, its the same, bad things come flying at you, you have missiles and guns to make them go dead and give you points.  Ho Hum. I played a few rounds today when there was no queue and genuinely got bored after my third run – once the novelty of the headset wears off, there is nothing else to engage me.  I hope Valkyrie becomes a successful product but I can’t see how that happens if it doesn’t integrate with a full game, yes, Star Citizen or similar.  I know, I know.  Focus, CCP, focus.

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So, overall, I had a lot of fun and would strongly recommend anyone who lives in the US at least to attend once.  Vegas can be very expensive of course but a vacation can be made from it – I didn’t attend all the talks and went shopping etc between sessions (even watched a show last night).  And the surrounding area is gorgeous – very much worth a road trip for a few days.  And thats why I close this post now, more could be added but I have to pack and get out of the hotel 🙂

Fly dangerously

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6 responses to “EVE Vegas 2015 – Wrap Up

  1. One: Wish I could have made it. It’s too bad I’m on the wrong continent without enough leave time to manage it.

    Two: which size Citadel is that superimposed over New Jersey?

    Three: To expand on your notes regarding those who celebrate driving others out of the game, I’d say that they’re not just what they pretend to be, but in driving people out of the game, they threaten the future of the game itself…

    • Sorry you missed it! It was a fun event. It all depends whether one sees EVE as a game or as a hobby

      I think it’s the extra large citadel, about 150km length. I could be wrong. There are no racial variations – that was odd. I had expected 4 or more different designs with different stat like POSes

      I agree that these people drive players out of the game. But I would change the game per se. The ability to make moral choices is the greatest thing about eve.

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