CZM Special Edition: Fanfest 2016Oh Takashawa
Crossing Zebras had an unprecedented number of staff members attend Fanfest this year – three of the four members of site management, plus almost a dozen staff writers and editors. While they’ll all have more detailed content based on their trips coming soon, we wanted to take a moment quickly to gather their impressions of the event as a whole, while the memories are still fresh. What was great? What wasn’t? What about the event will bring you back next year, or make this a one-time trip? Just how much of a lightweight drinker is our intrepid Editor-in-Chief? Read on to find out.
Tarek: Confirming Niden is a lightweight drinker. As for the rest, this Fanfest had much less in terms of spectacular content reveals compared to the last one because the focus was heavily on citadels and we kind of knew what was coming. Sadly I did not go to that many presentations and roundtables this year because I focused much more on the social aspects of things.
I can not possibly list everything here, but there were a few highlights in that respect.
I was unable to be embedded as a spy with TEST during the war of TEST/CFC against the SoCo because I couldn’t deal with their culture
First of all the absolutely great GMVA party in the fabulous apartment we had rented. Our man Nariyu is a professional barman and spent the whole evening mixing cocktails for us and all the guests. I also ran into some fans of my work and it’s always nice to get some appreciation from the readership. I shared old spy stories with BoodaBooda and confessed to him that I was unable to be embedded as a spy with TEST during the war of TEST/CFC against the SoCo because I couldn’t deal with their culture. Many laughs were had.
I met Phyridean and his partner again which is always a pleasure. I could not help but burst out in laughter when she didn’t clearly remember me, but as soon as she saw a picture of former Gallente President Souro Foiritan it all came back to her. Also I now know a terrible secret about Phyridean that could end his career. I will use that as leverage to force a lifetime exclusive contract for pubquiz questions on him. I spent time with the great Tiberius Stargazer and his Gallente brother the General.
Being on the Pubcrawl with CCP RedDawn, Delegate Zero and Antiquarian was great. Particularly RedDawn is a guy I love to have conversations with and hang out with. I just get the feeling, If we would live in the same place, chances are I’d count him among my best friends. I wished I talked more with Delegate Zero and Antiquarian though.
Special shoutout also to Makoto Priano and his fiancee for being the best looking Caldari couple on Fanfest. I looked at the picture they allowed me to take and it just looks so right.
On the topic of friends, hanging out with the Galmil crew was as good as always, and meeting the CZ colleagues was very nice too despite the messed up timing of that dinner we had because the Succession Tournament was late and ran over time.
I also had a very personal and interesting conversation with Xenuria. Other than many, I do not think that he’s a bad person despite having had interactions with him. He’s difficult, sure, but as he says himself, he has learned a lot. I used to have a friend in school who was very much like him. Unfortunately he took his own life one day because it all just became too much for him. I can only say I wish Xenuria luck in his endeavours and hope that he can manage his personal difficulties to such a degree that he can be a valuable CSM member. I think he could be.
World War Beer just sounds so much more catchy
Speaking of the CSM, the election turnout was abysmally low and the result could easily mean that the CSM this year will be a drama riddled snakepit. I certainly do not envy Guard and Logibro their job with this.
As a closing statement, I’d like to mention, that World War Beer just sounds so much more catchy as a pubcrawl title than War of Beerless Aggression.
General Stargazer: I think I’m going to dub this year’s fanfest as “Karaoke Fanfest”. From my tweetfleet meet this year, to the pub crawl and party at the top of the world – Sing alongs have been a common theme and has certainly created a few memorable moments this fanfest.
However one of the best experiences I’ve had this year, social events aside, is the interaction with the Valkyrie Devs has been amazing. They’ve essentially got a trello board viewable to all as the future roadmap and nothing to hide which allowed for an endless great conversation between the players and Devs. Eve devs still seem to get held back on holding back information for future plans.
Neville Smit: This was my fifth Fanfest, and it was a great time, as always. For me, the main reason to attend is for the social opportunities. Talking about Internet spaceships with fellow EVE Online devotees never gets old. Hanging out with my fellow EVE University alumni and staffers was fun, and bantering with fellow bloggers like NoizyGamer is never dull.
As for the content and reveals, I admit I was disappointed. There was only a little new information about Citadels, and even less about plans for future structures. There was nothing definite announced in roundtable discussions for other aspects of the game, though there are teams looking at possible improvements in PvE, NPE, FW, and other options. I was especially impressed with CCP Ghost and his ideas for improving the new player experience, but it’s too early to know what this may mean practically. Overall, I was hoping for more statements about what the future development plans are, instead of what they might be.
I enjoyed the player presentations this year, especially Makoto Priano’s on the Drifters. It’s amazing how deep some players’ expertise goes – even a little scary.
one of the simplest but most fun virtual reality experiences I’ve ever had
I tried Project Arena and really enjoyed it – one of the simplest but most fun virtual reality experiences I’ve ever had. My non-gamer wife, who accompanied me to Iceland this year, also tried it and really liked it. I can’t wait to see this game released. It will have very broad general appeal.
I also tried Project Nova, the PC-based replacement for DUST 514, and enjoyed that as well. It’s fairly basic at present, and I’d like to see stronger connections to the EVE Online universe, but I had fun with the demo. I am not a console gamer and never tried DUST, but I’ll definitely play Project Nova when it is released for my PC.
A big highlight for me was the Amarr Championships. Kelon Darklight is a member of my alma mater, EVE University, so I naturally supported him and team Tash-Murkon – and the 20 billion ISK I bet on him and his team didn’t hurt my level of engagement, either. I really did not expect it to go the full five matches, and it was close and exciting right up to the end. I love the 4-on-4 match format – I’d really like to see more tourneys like that again.
I brought my charming spouse with me to Iceland this year. She barely tolerates my strange affection for EVE Online, but she was curious to understand my fascination better. She attended the opening keynotes and closing sessions and joined me for most of the social gatherings. If there’s a testimony to the power of Fanfest, it is this: as we were returning home, she asked me, “Can I get an EVE Online character with a cool name?” Mission accomplished!
Will I return for a sixth Fanfest next year? Hilmar mentioned that it will be CCP’s 20th anniversary, and as a result, they are thinking of some ways to make the next Fanfest special. So, yeah, I will most likely return to Iceland again.
This was my first Fanfest and likely not my last
Dunk Dinkle: This was my first Fanfest and likely not my last. I had a good time, even though I was a bit nervous about my spot on EveTV and presenting at the Alliance Panel. Scary Wormhole People did the best job, BTW. I found it hard to keep track of everyone I met. Eve Vegas is a busy time, but Fanfest is significantly larger and harder to keep track of people.
What stood out was the amount of patience and respect that the Dev Team showed the players. Roundtable after roundtable, Devs answered questions endlessly without getting defensive or upset, no matter how ‘Junior Game Developer’ the speaker went on. Huge changes to as someone who plays in Null Sec and can fly capitals, there was plenty to devour. The High Sec and PvE folks might feel a little left out. Not nearly as much to look forward to as capitals pilots do.
Partying with Eve folks was great. I got to meet most of the Crossing Zebras crew for the first time in person and was happy to find a great group of folks. I did my best to share the Briefcase of Friendship with as many people people as possible. We went through 2 liters of Jack Daniels. I wish more players would have brought significant others, as Mrs. Dinkle would liked to have conversation partners that didn’t play EVE and talk about it endlessly.
The amount of content & news delivered at Fanfest was not significantly different than what is given at Eve Vegas, so the main difference is really the location and attendees. I bumped into a lot of former Brave members, but only two current Brave members, which felt a bit sad. It would have been fun to have a Brave group photo or dinner. Next year, please! Or come to Eve Vegas!
Met many influential players and was able to congratulate many of our new CSM members in person. I was given the “all roads lead to PL speech” not once, but twice. No real ‘grrr’ moments from anyone, no matter what side they were on or Brave’s status with them. A good community feeling overall.
tl;dr: good times, worth attending
MainDrain: I’ve watched Fanfest on Twitch for the last four years – actually being able to be there and feel the energy in the room, especially during the Eve Keynote. I’ve heard from many people that there’s no substitute for being in the room and they were right!
From Fanfest itself I was left intrigued rather than massively overwhelmed by the Eve content on offer. The citadels are impressive and I am excited that they are pushing forward with the new structures, the drilling and industry platform, but for me there was no headline feature unveiled.
It was the other content, the chance to try Eve Valkyrie, the introduction and the opportunity to play both Project: Arena, a concept I really enjoyed, and Project: Nova, something that split the CZ staff, personally I found it a really solid first person shooter. There’s a couple of balance issues with weapons etc, but at this stage, pre-pre-alpha these issues can all be worked out. The biggest bone of contention between those who love it and those who hate it can be tied down mainly to the fact it doesn’t feel Eve-ish enough, it’s just a generic shooter. For me I would rather see a solid shooter that they then add Eve touches to after.
The concept art session, with CCP Pointy Bits was fantastic, it started off slow, but he slowly built up his confidence and provided a really engageable and entertaining insight into his methods. I was disappointed that I never found the time to get along to any roundtables, for next year I will certainly manage my time better to make sure I attend these.
Every single person I met over the course of my four days in Iceland were all incredibly welcoming, no matter who they fly with or how ‘Eve Famous’ they were, everybody was down to earth and keen to chat about anything related to spaceships or even just general chat! The devs especially were all willing to chat to any player that came up to them
Xander Phoena: This was my 3rd Fanfest and what an amazing event it was. Each Fanfest has been a little different for me. 2013 was obviously a HUGE event and I went there with Jeg, wide-eyed and unsure of what to expect. I missed 2014 but 2015 was weird for me on a couple of levels – firstly, I didn’t have Jeg with me which felt like I was missing an arm or something. Also I was on CSM as well as presenting EVE TV along with Niden which was a colossal drain on my time. I mean, I had a blast but I felt like I was constantly on the clock.
This year was different. I had Jeg with me and my calendar was clear. On top of this, CZ came in full force. Niden joined us along with huge number of our content creators. I take enormous satisfaction in the fact that we got the new site ready and provided a solid, steady flow of content through the event.
But Fanfest is nothing if not a social event. I’m pretty confident I did a reasonable job of ‘socialising’ throughout and the journey home yesterday reflected both my depression at leaving a bunch of people I see once, maybe twice a year and consider actual genuine friends along with the fragility of a body not used to a hard week of partying. In terms of the social aspect of Fanfest, I thought the tweetfleet meet was amazing. Rumours of *ahem* certain videos persist… The GMVA party was, for the second year running, a massive highlight as well. Particular shout out to Julianus and Nariyu.
the Social Sciences presentation was one of the best I have ever seen at any Fanfest
In terms of the actual content of FF itself, I thought the Social Sciences presentation was one of the best I have ever seen at any Fanfest. Seeing such a huge volume of data presented in an understandable and real way was brilliant in and of itself but the wider concept of Eve as this ‘future testbed’ kinda blew my mind. Oh yeah and obviously Pirate Caps. Because I know fine well I’ll likely never fly a Vanquisher but seriously, go look at it. Insane.
I thought Project: Nova was a little disappointing not in so far as it being bad, I just found it entirely unremarkable, solid and totally ‘unEve’. Arena is amazing but ostensibly a tech demo. Really enjoyed it but don’t see it as something you would spend 50, 100 hours on at home. Didn’t come away from either with the goosebumps I felt after EVE VR at Fanfest 2013 but then again, lightning in a bottle.
Overall, a magnificent Fanfest full of surprises, friendship (the best ship) and Eve Online. Thanks to everyone one of you who made it happen, both in terms of CCP and players and I hope I’ll see you there next year!
Niden: As CCP Hunter and CCP Guard rip through the chorus of “Wrecking Machine” on stage, the electrified hall of people scream the lyric back at them in a wild frenzy. Confetti cannons go off and smoke bursts from the stage in rhythm to the arena-style rock anthem, all while a crazy light show blazes through the room, creating a criss-cross of laser fire in the smoke. Among the berserk frenzy of the middle of the front row, one of the fans is jumping higher and shouting louder than anyone else. In the mosh pit, his name tag had been spun around to land on his back, reading “Hilmar Veigar” – CEO of CCP games. This moment captured so much of what Fanfest was about for me.
You may think Fanfest is about internet spaceships
You may think Fanfest is about internet spaceships. That’s kind of like saying that an awesome pizza is just about the bread. Fanfest is about people and can best be described as a palpable vibe in the city of Reykjavik and a series of amazing moments such as the one above. However, I cannot possibly go on without mentioning a few more of them.
Apothne and I got a chance to hang out with CCP Ruffage and CCP Manifest for a couple of hours, talking about everything from how wars are and aren’t named to learning that it’s not OK to do it before marriage (CCP Ruffage – the moral compass of CCP), before heading out to the Tweetfleet meet, which, as anyone who has been will tell you, is an absolute must.
While there, I ran into old friends and met new people. It did not take long for Gorski to shove a shot into my face, promising it was only water (Brännevin), and then it was off to do the old meet and greet through the venue. I would spend a few minutes listening to Jeg and Xander talk shit about each other just for the entertainment, found Laz and shook his hand for the first time, got hugs from Sindel, Rahne and Panda, tried to goad Bagehi into writing again, joined Drechlas in accusing CCP Cognac of taking beard-enhancing drugs, toasted RocketX and wished I had his good looks, had an uncomfortably long (but not actually) man-hug with Asher Kagan as well as Nashh Kadavr, complained to General Stargazer (organiser of the Tweetfleet meet) that he got a 3D-printed Machariel and I didn’t, told Tiberius (yet again) he should come work for a real site, was happily surprised that Karkur and Antiquerian knew who I was, was not surprised that Fozzie still looks naturally smug almost all the time, and listened intently as Jeg explained to Masterplan how he was better than him, and everyone else really. And so on, and so on. Needless to say, the Tweetfleet meet is when Fanfest actually starts and is the main reason people are already hung over on the first official day.
Tl;Dr: I met a lot of people and we drank a lot.
Oh and did I mention this?
Another high-point in this year’s Fanfest was the GMVA house party. Starting in drama with Nashh Kadavr and Tiberius Stargazer from #EVE_NT, along with a few others, stuck in the lift up to the penthouse where the party was held, and ending with CCP Foxfour climbing on top of everyone and yelling “You’re all a bunch of cunts! … And I love you!” During the whole night, our bartender must have made at least 50 whiskey sours (which turned out to be so popular, no one wanted anything else). As has become tradition at this point, Xander got heavily into trolling Nashh after he’d gotten a few drinks in him, and it worked this time too. Amongst the devs present were a few from CCP’s Shanghai office, quickly cornered by nerds and force-fed Project Nova feedback. I’m sorry guys. How we managed to not get anyone hurt and not break anything is beyond me.
The very next night it was time for the infamous Pub Crawl, during which many people ended up with a warp core stab sticker on their back and it may or may not have been me that put them there. At some point, Jeg and I caught up with CCP Rise and CCP Rubberband, explaining to CCP Homewrecker why it was a great dev name and why she should stick with it. At the final club where all of the groups converge an amazing dance-off just kind of happened and we all got to see some pretty tight moves – something one does not perhaps expect from a bunch of drunk spaceship nerds. Also, you can give me a call when some other MMO’s executive producer goes up on stage and busts a move, because Andie Nordgren was up there along with everyone else, there’s no way to not love that.
On Sunday, the day after Fanfest officially ends, we hit the pubs and ended up in the back yard of one of them listening to Sir Squeebles telling stories of his Fanfest adventures. None of them safe to publish to the general public. Suffice to say a small group of us were thoroughly entertained for a couple of hours.
At this point I just need to stop myself before this turns into an even bigger wall of text. These were only a handful of my experiences from Fanfest, there are quite a few more, and I haven’t even talked about internet space pixels yet.
Apart from the partying there is, of course, the actual internet spaceship bit. We have already covered a lot of it here on CZ, will continue doing so, and you have seen all the trailers and seen the big presentations. The key difference is that at Fanfest you get to share your experience and reactions with fellow players and devs immediately. You can also attend the roundtables which provide a very intimate connection to people who are interested in the same things you are and devs who are directly responsible for the specific area – be it structural mechanics in Citadel or CCP’s involvement in community events.
The actual EVE and talking with CCP part deserves it’s own article, and I won’t go into it here.
I will most certainly be coming back for Fanfest 2017 when CCP celebrates 20 years.
Massive shoutout to CCP Manifest and CCP Ruffage. I can’t say enough good things about these gentlemen.
Also, Ithica Hawk, Nashh Kadavr and I have renamed the event Smugfest 2016 (see #smug photo from Blue Lagoon above).
PS: Delegate Zero is chill as fuck.
PPS: Xander is the lightweight, he passed out during the GMVA party. There are pics.
Jin’taan: Fanfest, as always, was one of the highlights of the year for me. A cavalcade of alcohol fuelled poor decisions (especially the Absinthe), mixed in with some awesome like getting to take part in the Valkyrie Tournament, and watch the new Empress be picked. Most of the Roundtables seemed to be way, way too packed this year though. There were so many questions left to answer from the main presentations that it naturally went that way, and that left a lot of people stranded outside of them. There absolutely needs to be better time allotment for questions next year, as a lot of key things only got revealed in the Roundtables, which makes the information much much harder to get out there (though props to the attendees who wrote their experiences up).
Other than that however, things were great. So many announcements had a huge pop, despite them having been expected for a while. It’s great to see CCP feeling like it has the legroom to really make big, game shifting changes again, and I feel we may have one of the busiest CSM terms since 7 on our hands, and given the low turnout, that is kind of worrying.
Still, I hope everyones recovered from both the hangovers, and the Scandinavian Flu that seems to have struck a few of us down. And if you didn’t go on the Golden Circle, do it next year. Iceland’s probably one of the prettiest countries in the world.