Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Fanfest day three: Valkyrie day

And finally, Fanfest day three! This was a shorter day than Friday with fewer sessions to choose from which resulted in fewer hard choices. There was also a weight of Valkyrie presentations on this day, which ended up being my focus for Saturday. I ended up going with:
1000 EVE Movie Morning
1200 Making EVE: Valkryie a Full Game
1300 EVE: Valkyrie
1400 CSM Roundtable
1500 The Birth of a Valkyrie
1600 Art & Graphics Panel
1700 CCP Presents Keynote
2000 Party at the Top of the World
The thing that hurt the most was missing both the Industry Panel and the Industry Q&A (at 1400 and 1500). But I should be able to catch up with the former on Youtube and for the latter, I guessed (correctly, as it turned out) that this session would not be widely-attended. It was competing with both "Deploying Pluggable Space Things" (which I will also watch on Youtube) and "Make EVE Real - Going Interstellar", much of which I was able to see at EVE Vegas last year.

EVE Movie Morning. After a long night the night before, I decided I felt like something low-key instead of jumping straight into the Valkyrie line. This was just the ticket: about 20 or so short EVE movies from a variety of eras throughout the game's past. Mixed in were some really well-known ones (Concordokken, FutureProof) along with lots and lots of lesser-known propaganda videos from roughly 2004 to the present, plus this one which I guess is well-known but which I had never seen before (it's really funny at times!):


So all in all, an entertaining morning!

Making EVE: Valkryie a Full Game. This one featured Owen O'Brien, the Executive Producer of Valkyrie and four of his team talking about the development of Valkyrie. Much of the time was spent discussing the apparently roller coaster development of the game over the last year. O'Brien was surprisingly frank about the troubles the team has gone through solidifying what type of game they want to have, a general idea of what they want the maps to look like, what types of ships and missions they want to include, and other factors. Then the team told some amusing stories about the first CCP-only play-tests and how those pretty much threw a lot of their initial ideas out the window such that they had to re-engineer large swaths of the game. Really interesting stuff!

Needless to say though, O'Brien and his team were pretty coy about their future plans. A big piece of this is the eventual context and wrapper for the game, which are clearly still under development. They made it clear they didn't want to talk about this and were not going to. I got the impression that they're thinking pretty clearly about Star Citizen and their other competitors in the space and so didn't want to share any of their current ideas until they're more pinned down. This was an interesting session, but frustrating at times! At the end, they threw it open for questions and a good 15 or so people walked to the two microphones. Needless to say, not all questions were answered. ;-)

EVE: Valkyrie. Because the team doing the Valkyrie demo was shutting it down at 1600 most days, this was the best slot I could find to try out Valkyrie on the Oculus Rift DK2. I've already recorded my impressions.

CSM Roundtable. We had about 35 or so people for our Roundtable, which was pretty good! In form, it pretty much followed the six CSM8 Town Halls we've had this year: there wasn't much in the way of prepared statements from anyone. Instead, we almost immediately started taking questions from those in attendance. As you can imagine, most of them focused on pretty tame topics: what did we regard as our successes and failures, how could CSM9 improve, what does it take to make a good CSM member, et cetera.

EDIT (7/May/2014): I forgot to mention: Mike Azariah made all of us tin-foil hats for the RT. mynnna has a picture of them on his blog.

I got to close out this session by presenting two of my hoodies, one each to CCP Dolan and Trebor Daehdoow. The former's caption was "It's all my fault." Dolan joked (accurately) that this was the most frequent thing he said to CSM8. Trebor's caption was "Chairman Emeritus", which turned out to be somewhat prophetic.

The Birth of a Valkyrie. As I said above, I guessed that this session would be poorly attended, not because of lack of interest but because of multiple really good competing sessions. Therefore, this struck me as my best opportunity to ask a lot of my questions about Valkyrie. And that turned out to be true: there were about 20 of us in the 50-person room and as a result, those of us that wanted to ask questions got in three or four each. I first asked a question about inspirations and they talked about a lot of computer games that are influencing Valkyrie (Starfox and Descent came up in particular) as well as Battlestar Galactica as a strong influence. Later on, I also got to ask a couple of questions about how the game development changed as Valkyrie went from toy to product and got some really interesting answers from a developer stand-point. In particular, they talked about the need to let pieces of their baby go as the team grew from just a few people to the current team of 25.

Lots and lots of the questions were more general, though, and didn't really concern the birth of the game (though of course the devs covered that for about ten minutes before the Q&A started). I've covered a bit of the detail that they provided in this session in my overall impressions of the game -- for instance, the map designer talked about the things he's doing to give players more information visually such as the length of time remaining in the mission by the change in light. The sound guy talked about CCP's "20% time" structure where the developers get to use that amount of time for personal projects, how Valkyrie was built out of that... and honestly, how it sometimes cut into EVE development time. ;-) All in all, this was a really interesting informative discussion! I'm glad I went.

Art & Graphics Panel. I only got to attend about half of this one because I had a small gift for CCP Guard that I wanted to deliver to him before the Party. Those things that WERE covered, I was already pretty familiar with as part of my CSM duties and by now, you've seen all of them. I was curious if the art team would throw in some details about inspirations and future concepts that I might not have seen yet and for the most part this didn't happen in the half I was able to stay for. I'll catch the rest on Youtube.

CCP Presents Keynote. This session deserves not one but two separate posts, which I'll be doing over the next two days.

Party at the Top of the World. And finally, the end of Fanfest! I had intended only to stay at the Party for an hour or two, but ended up staying until past 1:30am. It's just such a good opportunity to catch up with players, CCP devs, and friends that I attended a lot of the sessions with from Rote Kapelle. I had a particularly long and good conversation with CCP Prawn who is a key member of CCP's video department and works on cinematics and trailers. He and I talked and debated over CCP-made videos going all the way back before Trinity. I also had a long conversation with Trebor, and shorter conversations with mynnna and lots of other EVE players. As with last year, I didn't spend very much time at all listening to the music; I was mostly there for the people.

And that's a good close to this series of posts! I thoroughly enjoyed Fanfest this year! It was much more low-key than last year, with many fewer attendees. But the depth and variety of game-related sessions made up for it and at no time did I feel like it wasn't worth my time to be there.

As I said, there will be a couple more Fanfest-related posts before I close out this topic, both of them relating to the CCP Presents Keynote. I want to cover some of the things said at this keynote... then I want to cover some of the things that were said between the lines.

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