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Sins of a Solar Spymaster #60 - Deconstructing Fanfest

Posted Tue, Mar 29, 2011 by The Mittani

EVE Online fans that attended the 2011 Fanfest last week were treated to CCP's latest plans and a series of discussion panels about the future of the EVE universe. The newly elected Council of Stellar Management Chairman, The Mittani, was also in attendance and this week he reflects on what he learned at this year's Fanfest in Sins of a Solar Spymaster #60 - Deconstructing Fanfest.

Reykjavik is a surreal binge, drowned in alcohol, broken glass, and - during Fanfest - thousands of socially awkward spaceship nerds, shouldering through the narrow streets and bumping into the ubiquitous sleek blonde eurotrash. It’s been a year and a half since the last Fanfest, which was delayed until now ostensibly to enjoy ‘spring’ weather, and for our sins, the city was still blanketed in snow and mud. The sun hasn’t shined yet since I arrived last Wednesday.

Raven

Fanfest 2011 was a bigger event than 2009 in terms of attendance and excitement outside of the context of the Eve-related tracks and panels, such as the wild bread-and-circuses of Chessboxing. Yet as an Eve player, this year’s grand convention was something of a damp squib. Within the official programming, little was revealed that wasn’t already known to the playerbase through dev blogs; there was no real ‘wow’ moment, like the Alpha Dust match at the keynote in 2009. This may have been a calculated decision by CCP in order to manage expectations, but it was disappointing nonetheless.

In between alcoholic binges, I managed to hit the major events that concern nullsec denizens: the Large Scale Warfare roundtable, the 0.0 roundtable, the EVE and CCP keynotes, and the denouement of the CSM drama. There were a number of other happenings, but panels like ‘Science and Industry’ and ‘Women in EVE’ were of less interest to me.

Large Scale Warfare Roundtable:
Imagine the sound of wheels spinning for an hour in a room packed to capacity with sweating, overheated Eve players, asked an impossible question from the outset by Greyscale and Chronotis: How can CCP change the game to prevent server-crashing blobs from a game mechanics perspective, rather than a technical perspective? The answer, of course, is that one cannot break the “N+1 = better than” equation, because large scale warfare is part of a social evolution in the player societies of nullsec, rather than the output of some rationalistic math equation.

Polaris

Despite the frankly alarming social naiveté of one of the developers, something worthwhile came from CCP Veritas, who revealed that a technical solution to large-scale lag might arrive in the form of a ‘time dilation’ mechanic, with the servers dynamically slowing massive battles in order to ensure that no packets/commands are lost. This was met with near-universal acclaim. 

Those of us who actually engage in large-scale warfare have been left stymied by the mixed messages from CCP; the Dominion expansion was advertised as a method of getting more players involved in nullsec, and now it appears that certain segments among the Dev community were somehow surprised that this would result in larger wars. 

0.0 Space Roundtable:
By contrast, the Nullsec roundtable with Hammerhead was far more productive. In the past, 0.0 discussions have revolved around a false conflict between larger empires and the ‘elite PvP’ entities which prey upon them. To everyone’s surprise, a consensus rapidly emerged:  there needs to be more industrialization in nullsec to create ‘farms, fields and crops’ for smaller entities to burn. In the modern era entities like Pandemic Legion or Rote Kapelle have no desire to displace the empires and take on all the responsibilities and ties that involves; they just want to burn stuff. Meanwhile, the empires find it ridiculous that they cannot be self-sufficient and independent from hisec; as it presently stands, nullsec empires import all their industry from hisec, exporting only moon goo back to Jita.

This roundtable envisioned an Eve where truly independent empires lived and produced in nullsec, exporting their riches to hisec, while being forced to defend their industrial base against small hostile gangs who burn their ‘crops’ as well as guarding against other empires who would invade and conquer them. 

Most disturbingly, one of the devs present didn’t appear to understand how strategic deployments work in nullsec. As anyone with nullsec experience knows, war is based on extended deployments in a staging area, with home defense provided by jump clones and secondary fleets. For example, the Northern Coalition is currently in an extended border war in Geminate; thousands of pilots from many regions have moved to live in one staging system, and will remain there until the campaign ends. Should their home region get attacked, they can simply use a jump clone home to defend, and then return to the forward staging area 24 hours later. The dev in question seemed to think that pilots use jump bridges to and from the war front every day, trapezing across regions and ‘projecting power’. This provoked widespread expressions of disbelief from the attendees.

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