As I mentioned the other day, it's really tough to choose which sessions to attend, something that's only going to get harder today and Saturday. For Thursday, I selected the following:
1200 Litte Things, Big MattersIn doing so, I missed some interesting sessions, most notably "Null-sec 1", one of two null-sec round-tables scheduled at Fanfest... which was totally and completely mobbed.
1300 Economy: Into the Second Decade
1400 Ship and Module Rebalancing
1500 Ship Skin Pilot Roundtable
1600 CSM Panel (duh)
1700 EVE: Valkyrie Keynote
And that's the first thing you have to understand about Fanfest. The Harpa venue is ideal for two or three concurrent large audience presentations. But it is kind of terrible for round-tables. I mentioned this last year but it bears mentioning again: there are really only four private meeting rooms. Two of them hold 20 or so people. Two of them hold 50 or so people. This is not ideal for EVE Online round-tables where a null-sec or wormhole RT can easily draw 100 to 150 people without a problem. This is something that simply must be addressed before next year. Once those RT rooms fill up, they become hot and uncomfortable and while EVE players are 98.5% very fine hygenic people... 1.5% of you are not. And that's all it takes.
So the Fanfest organizers should work with Harpa to determine a setting for one large RT per hour. My suggestion is taking over one of the large open areas outside the meeting rooms. That was done for the wormhole RT last year on an ad-hoc basis and on an ad-hoc basis it worked well. Something to address the need for one large RT per hour would address the issues with Harpa admirably.
Little Things, Big Matters. Big kudos to CCP karkur and CCP Punkturis for being 100% ready for their round-table! They had a nice short presentation ready on the things that they've done over the last year or so, plus a shorter one on things they're working on for the coming year. One of those is something that they and CCP Rise and the CSM have been talking about: countdown timers for modules with long reload cycles such as RLMLs and RHMLs. As you can imagine, this got an enthusiastic reaction from the gathered players. Then they had pencils and note cards ready to take suggestions for future little things, and led the group in a very nice discussion of possibilities brought up by the group. I had to leave a bit early for another commitment, but it was going splendidly when I did, with lots of good ideas being batted around. Good stuff!
As promised, CCP karkur was also a recipient of one of the EVE hoodies I brought to Iceland, which I presented to her with the applause of the group attending. :-) The caption on hers reads "You push my buttons."
Economy: Into the Second Decade. CCP DrEyjoG took this presentation, and unfortunately said right at the outset that he would not be taking questions. But he made a compelling case for EVE's economy being stable and healthy right now (if a tiny bit stagnant). He then moved into a discussion of PLEX prices. He gave the impression -- without saying so -- that he's not overly concerned about PLEX prices on Tranquility. As a matter of fact, he pointed out at least twice that PLEXes on the Chinese Serenity server are 3.6 billion or so (without saying why). But he did say that he was concerned at the rate of rise of PLEX prices, and revealed that he had conducted an "intervention" into this a couple of weeks ago.
In that, he implied that he and his team took a number of the PLEXes that they hold out of captured RMT stock and sold them into the market with an eye toward briefly stabilizing PLEX prices at 720 million ISK. He did not say whether the team would continue to do so to keep prices at about that level, but implied they wouldn't. Again, he seemed more concerned about the rate of rise of PLEX prices rather than the price itself and again he didn't take questions. But he did offer to answer questions asked of him on Twitter and live in person. If I can catch up to him walking the halls or at the Party, that will be the very first question I put to him.
Other than that, this was a pretty straight-forward presentation.
Ship and Module Balancing. I had intended to to to "The Community (EVE Time) Code" round-table instead at this time -- I'm on the CSM and I knew the bulk of what CCP Fozzie and CCP Rise would be presenting. But the former RT was mobbed and standing room only, taking place in one of the 20-person rooms. So I made my way to this one instead. I've already covered the Chameleon and Whiptail in my previous post. Another reveal is a re-balancing pass on the Phoenix and Citadel Cruise Missiles and Torpedoes planned for summer. Will this address all of the Phoenix's ills? Nope! In a way, I'm kind of disappointed that this mini-rebalance is happening because it seems to put off the idea of a capital/supercapital rebalance pass firmly into late 2015. With the truly embarrassing Phoenix as a goad, that might have pulled a full rebalance closer to the present. But I guess it's a step in the right direction.
The rest of the presentation covered the ships already revealed in Features and Ideas over the last several weeks, notably the 15 ships of the five pirate factions, all of which are receiving a rebalance pass. The changes being made to mining barges were covered as well, as was the NOS change. As I mentioned earlier, more reveals of new ships will have to wait for later today.
Ship Skin Pilot Roundtable. This was scheduled for a 50-person room and I am utterly disappointed to say that only 13 people showed up including myself. Part of this was undoubtedly the fact that this session was scheduled opposite the first Null-sec session. Much of the rest, I'm sure, had to do with the fact that it was also scheduled into the busiest slot of the day, with no fewer than eight things going on. But 13 people? Sigh.
Anyway, those of us that were there spent the hour profitably on nudging CCP toward expanding this pilot to a broader selection of colors and options, as well as corp and alliance logos (that came up several times). CCP Bettik and CCP Xhagen were there to represent the programming side, as well as a good-size group of CCP's art team to listen in on the discussion of what players might want on the art side. The fact that the art team is very uncomfortable messing with the "look of EVE" came up several times. But the discussion was profitable though I wish more people had been in attendance.
CSM Panel. I didn't notice until a couple of hours before our session, but we were scheduled opposite "Team Gridlock Talks Performance." Sigh. ;-) As a result, our room was about 30% full. Still, we had a good discussion with a lot of good questions raised. Two particularly good questions focused on ways that CSM9 can improve over CSM8's performance and I think the nine(!) of us from CSM8 that were in attendance had good suggestions. In particular, several of us raised the need to get more players involved in the process more often and to a greater extent. I still think CSM8 has been more successful than any past CSM in this regard, but I also think that there is still a lot of room to improve.
EVE: Valkyrie Keynote. I've already covered much of what I want to say about this one in my post earlier today. Still, a couple of more general notes come to mind. Owen O'Brien was every bit as nervous this year as CCP Seagull was last year. It took him quite a while to hit his stride and I'm afraid a solid majority of his jokes fell flat with much of the audience. However, by the mid-point of the presentation that didn't much matter becuase the meat of what he had to say was so good.
The EVE: Valkyrie website has been updated with a lot of his presentation material including a new bit of footage, tagged as "pre-alpha":
O'Brien also announced that Fanfest attendees would have their chance to try out Valkyrie today, with most being able to try it out on the new Oculus Rift DK2 and a smaller group being able to try it out on a PS4 Project Morpheus headset. Needless to say, I'll be sharing my impressions of the game as soon as I can. ;-)
More later today! I have to finish deciding on my Friday schedule and I tell you it's going to be really tough.