Fan Fest ’11 Retrospective
Another FanFest has come, and gone. Viewing fanfest remotely has its advantages, you can remain slightly distanced from the fervour and enthusiasm that CCP whips up so well. Whilst watching the latest ‘vision’ trailer would send a shiver of expectation and excitement down the spine of any EVE player you don’t need to have too much of a cynical nature to wonder if we haven’t heard a lot of this before. I’m not blaming CCP however – FanFest has established a well proven formula for success and part of that formula has to included a healthy dose of enthusiastic optimism.
The high light from the ‘CCP Presents’ presentation for me has to be Torifans description of improved boosters and changes to contraband. Having players act as ‘customs’ to catch smugglers makes considerable sense in my book and turns a previously lack lustre PVE mechanic into a potentially interesting PVP mechanic. I don’t have any real gripe about the idea of smugglers needing to pass contraband ‘face to face’ either. Some players will decry this, and complain that CCP is somehow forcing them to utilise Incarna but being realistic no matter how anti-incarna you might be its hard to deny that it has to mesh into EVE somehow and have a relevance beyond just dressing up. Off grid shady deals and gambling sits in the right ball park and if the thought of decanting into a pod really bothers players that much they’ll just have to forgo that part of the game – in the same way that if you loath mining you have to suck it up and get minerals from loot or the market.
Visually much of what is on the mid term future looks very nice – with the re worked turrets looking a particularly nice touch. I won’t be holding my breath for ship decals or re worked nebulae. These improvements have been mooted at almost every single Fan Fest and whilst I’m sure they’d be appreciated by many players my confidence in the “Soon tm” scale is limited. The captains quarters equally look stunning but perhaps will have the greatest impact upon the new player as they enter into EVE. Again this is no bad thing per se, even if I’m mildly jealous not to have the opportunity to experience EVE from such a perspective myself. Incarna, as proposed in previous, Fan Fests looks impossibly far off with suggestions in and around the margins of the presentations that CCP are marking time before the technology can match their proposed vision of crowded station hubs and corporate facilities.
For all of the hype, hollerin, f**kyeahs and whoops the moment that struck me most was Hilmars impassioned plea to us, the players, to get out there and market EVE. Are CCP concerned that EVE has an image problem? He certainly seemed to suggest that its breadth and diversity was difficult to market effectively and that perhaps the expansion of the player base is not increasing as fast as CCP would wish. With new MMOs on the horizon such as Guild Wars 2 and (closer to EVEs demographic) SWTOR CCP have good reason to be concerned. Star Wars Galaxies fail cascade brought a significant chunk of players to CCPs table – SWTOR will certainly threaten that. In many respects I think CCP is missing a fundamental feature of EVE that it has never really capitalised upon and ironically was quite literally staring them in the face – it’s players. Not perhaps in the traditional sense of customers being your best marketing tool but the actual personalities EVE creates. EVE is unique not because it is a cold harsh universe, or has shiny spaceships. It’s unique because its single sharded nature creates true characters – Rettic, Chribba, Roc Weiler, Mittani, Verone, Jade Constantine, OmberZombie, Mynxee, Crazy Kinux, Rixx Jarvis, Akita T, Pottsey, the list goes on and on.
In what other MMO can a player achieve such notoriety, fame or infamy? Istavaan Shogotsu single handedly brought a mass of players to EVE with the GHSC heist. Was it the heist that was important? Maybe. What was more important was that you could be that person, meet with them, fight them or denounce them. And it doesn’t stop there because that degree of…..relevance applies at every scale from the smallest corp to near empty systems. EVE’s greatest strength is its players, not because they pay the bills, or because they create the content of EVE but because unlike any other MMO each is relevant, individual, unique. EVE might be an MMO, and CCP may be over 600 strong but provided it celebrates the achievement of the individual it will draw others to it like moths to a flame.