Eve Vegas WrapupAshterothi
Last weekend was EVE Vegas, one of the two largest events each year for EVE Online. This year’s EVE Vegas was of particular importance as it was the final coming together of the developers and the EVE community prior to the Ascension expansion and the launch of EVE: Free.
Going into it the pressure was high. Although CCP has demonstrated that much of the content coming in Ascension was solid and have gotten the majority of the playerbase behind this monumental transition, there were two major questions left to answer: How will this product be sold, and what comes next.
EVE Vegas was centered around those questions, and for the most part they were answered in two events – The Keynote, and the Design Panel. However, these two panels and also these questions have very different audiences. While often Keynotes are designed to encompass nearly all of the big news for a convention, in this case there was so much news and for such different audiences, that CCP opted to split the content cleanly, making the Keynote all about the 15th, and the Design Panel in the second day focusing on the question of ‘what’s next’.
If you want to see me talk through each of the two presentations (note: videos are several hours long), each breaking down nearly everything said in both presentations, you can check them out below.
While many people, myself included, expected to see some teases of what’s next here, the goal behind this presentation was clear and two fold.
- Communicated to the gaming media and launch their advertisement campaign for EVE: Free.
- Whip the player base into as much of a frenzy of hype as possible and provide the key points for players to sell the product to their friends.
Overall the Keynote was exceptionally well done, both on an individual level and on a macro level. Each step of the Keynote worked together to walk the audience through the message. Ascension has a lot of features coming up and a huge concern has been that it hasn’t felt like a cohesive expansion. The keynote was used to walk through the feature-set one by one and it was not only to get people excited by the features individually but also to wrap it all together into one package, ultimately culminating in the feature tour and trailer.
This presentation was tight and well produced, obviously coordinated by an overall marketing team. Each presenter knew their place and showed off their message well. You also didn’t have to look far to find examples of the gaming media taking this presentation and lapping up the details, broadcasting CCPs message for Ascension.
The Design Panel
The second day was strikingly different than the first, the hype behind Ascension having been locked in, it was time to talk about where we were going next. The overall vibe was extremely optimistic, yet cautious. While many expected in depth teases and details about Drilling Platforms, CCP opted to curb that enthusiasm and focus more on how they are going to make the things we have work better. CCP Fozzie in particular was extremely careful to caveat much of what he said, but he did give us some pretty good ideas of what we are expecting to see in the next few months.
It seems that the message CCP wants us to take is “we’re listening to you” which is a very good narrative to reinforce. Much of the panel appeared to more be a “heads-up” to what they have been kicking around, to get feedback early. The most shiny demonstration was the rework of the defender missiles to counter bombs, but even then CCP Larrikin described it as his side project and did not commit to it coming to TQ. Overall it felt a bit more like the design panels of old, designed to get our dreams working while at the same time being rooted in topics that were actually deliverable (looking at you ‘ring mining’).
If nothing else, EVE has become a game about stories, and that fact struck me more watching Vegas streams than even the previous Fanfest. Each presenter not only presented their topic, but also their story. Whether that was by design or happy accident, the impact was profound. The entire lineup of presentations, from the inspiring story of a young player learning to survive in the harshest areas of EVE to J Mcclain’s sobering tale of PTSD and redemption, shined as an example of amazing presenting, moving tales, and exciting information.
It wasn’t all sunshine and roses, however. The presentation was plagued with audio issues. Mostly in the discussions between presentations with many times the filler guests struggling to fill the time, but even the presentations were often difficult to hear or having inconsistent volumes. This is evidenced in my videos, in spite of my best efforts. Such things can be forgiven as the entire production was predominantly supported by volunteer effort. What CCP did demonstrate was that they have the chops to be a ‘high tier’ game development studio.
While we all knew Vegas was a gamble, it looks like it paid off in spades.