Fanfest itself is divided into four areas scattered around the Harpa venue. The first area are two large theater-style auditoriums, labeled Singularity and Tranquility for Fanfest. Singularity is a pretty typical theater style arrangement that can accommodate about 700 people. Tranquility is where the EVE Symphony Orchestra performed. It's a vast space able to seat about 1600, the entirety of the Fanfest attendees.
Next up are the Round table rooms, of which there are four this year, two "big" and two "small". The big ones can seat perhaps 70. The small ones, about 45. Yeah, go ahead and raise your eyebrows now.
Next up is the PvP arena that can theoretically seat several hundred people but is obviously set up for its stated purpose. I haven't been in there yet. Thursday was too busy and today will be too. I'll be checking it out Saturday.
Finally, there's an extremely large "gaming area" and associated food court with lots of tables plus three or so EVE console video games including an absolutely hysterical EVE side-scroller. I can't help but laugh every time I walk past it. But there are also gaming tables for poker, sci-fi related board games, and the like. What's happening in practice is that from time to time, the round tables are spilling out into this area. Most prominent among them was the Wormhole Round Table, which was scheduled for one of the smaller Round Table rooms. I conservatively estimate some 120 people wanted to attend, about three times the capacity of the scheduled space. I didn't attend that one, but apparently those that did were happy with what they heard. ;-)
CCP has a terrific mobile version of the schedule which makes it really easy to find the sessions you want. I didn't really commit myself to many of the sessions except:
- PvE in EVE session. This one was dominated by hard-core solo player care-bears, plus a few null-sec bloc care-bears and their concerns. I attended because PvE in EVE is clearly one of the most broken things in the game, but absolutely nothing got settled in this session. I think my amusement level peaked when a guy who lives in Pure Blind started complaining that his space is really bad for making money. To his credit, the dev who took the question made it clear that Pure Blind isn't the problem. ;-)
- Null-sec session. This one was dominated by the blocs, obviously, including a rather humorous and presumptuous Dabigredboat. He kept trying to sit behind the table since "I generate most of the null-sec content!" CCP Greyscale wasn't amused. Someone trolled him right into the ground by joking that DBRB hates targets that shoot back.
- Retribution Roundup. This one was held in the main Singularity hall and it was here that I stepped up to the mic and asked my first question of CCP Explorer, CCP Greyscale, and CCP Seagull. When I said who I was, the latter shielded her eyes from the stage lights to get a look at me. ;-) The session was mostly about application development project management concerns in Retribution and how CCP goes about measuring their workload. My questions, in essence: "In the past, CCP has said the art team is a bottleneck. In a project management sense, how does CCP manage such bottlenecks?" and "Again from a project management stand-point, is there any team concerned with the documentation of new features? While Crimewatch is fantastic, I've explained it to literally hundreds of new and returning players who don't quite get it." IMO, Explorer dodged the first question and Greyscale made it clear that they look to their players to solve the second. I thought that was kinda interesting.
While I would wander from session to session, this was a great time to meet EVE players and in this way, I met CSM members Hans Jagerblitzen (as well as Trebor), CSM candidates Roc Wieler, Korvin, Greene Lee, and CSM candidate interviewer Xander Phoena (in a kilt) as well as dozens of others which space precludes me listing. It was really great to put faces and voices to the names of people that I've chatted with in various fora! And by the time it got around what I looked like, people were stopping me here and there to say hello, which I really appreciated.
The back half of the day, I spent in the Lowsec PvP/Crimewatch session and the Emerging Economies session in the Singularity secondary hall, followed by the DUST 514 keynote in the Tranquility main hall. I must admit the latter did a great job of selling DUST 514! I suppose it's now OK to let this out of the bag: during closed beta, CCP realized they were only using half of the graphics memory that the PS3 supported. If you stopped playing DUST because of "ugly", you might want to have another look. It now looks pretty freakin' gorgeous. In addition, the new player experience and skills system "will probably make EVE players jealous." Yep. The new DUST 514 map of New Eden is also miles superior to the EVE map.
My original plan afterward was to get dinner then head to The Celtic Cross to meet more EVE players that I haven't yet had a chance to say hello to. Unfortunately, by that time my allergies were really making me suffer. In addition to having trouble breathing, I had an impressive headache. The idea of food was repugnant. I got back to my hotel room about eight, napped for a few hours, sketched out the four blog posts you'll be reading here today, then went to bed. We old men need our oxygen. ;-)
Other highlights of Thursday:
- Roc Wieler telling me I have pretty eyes. I told him not to get any funny ideas. ;-)
- A CCP dev made it said there are higher resolution skins for most ships but they haven't wanted to release them because of concerns about client size. When he asked "If these were optional downloads, how many of you would download them?" virtually every hand in the room went up.
- I met CCP Greyscale on a staircase... and absolutely nothing happened. I'm getting soft. ;-)
- This bit was a tiny bit unclear, DrEyjoG and DUST's economist (whose name I didn't catch) said that there have been 600 trillion ISK of market transactions in DUST 514. The number for EVE: 650 trillion. The part that was clear was whether this meant "in total" or "since DUST started". Either way, that's an enormous number for DUST. I've been worried that EVE ISK might overwhelm the DUST economy. Clearly, the concern might be in the other direction. Everyone's been very careful not to say how many DUST players there are, but it's clear it's a big big number.
- The DUST 514 TV commercial, I found really underwhelming. IMO, DUST should market to its strengths and the fact that you respawn isn't one of them. Every FPS MMO has that! The commercial didn't show anything of the new graphics or the deepness of the game so I get the impression that the gaming community response to the TV spot will be "so?"
Tomorrow (today), Friday, Fanfest Day Four:
- Most of today in the Singularity hall, with:
- CSM Panel
- Alliance Panel
- Art Panel
- Game Design Live Session
- Probably not gonna risk the Round Table rooms today, but we'll see
- Pub Crawl with the Devs
- PvP Finals: Hydra Reloaded/Rote Kapelle versus Pandemic Legion!
- Find out who won that whole CSM thing