EVE Online has always been more about the players than the game. EVE Online's unique metagame encourages politics, spying, and treachery. Yet somehow when we all get together, our in-game rivalries get checked at the door. Sure, politics still take place there. People find better corporations to join, network with other CEOs, or just meet up with the people they know in EVE Online.
EVE Online has more players subscribed than the population of Iceland, with daily struggles for wealth, power, and survival. Yet if you get us all into one building on a misty Icelandic evening, we just end up shaking hands over beer.
This is a trip report of the most important things that went down at Fanfest. More in-depth looks at various presentations and events will be forthcoming, this week.
style="font-style: italic;">Chessboxing more or less stole the show.
CCP has mastered the art of spectacle. This year, the most high-profile event at Fanfest was the high-production, high-expectation match of chessboxing. This sport combines the thrill of sport violence with the schadenfreude of a mismatched boxing match. The event was incredibly over the top in concept and execution, with booming music, clouds of smoke, flashing lights, and a mens' choir singing the Icelandic national anthem.
Once the match began, the crowd became incredibly involved. During the chess portion, the crowd was screaming advice about moves in Icelandic. During the boxing portion, the crowd howled and gasped as the two contestants weaved and punched. CSM 5 member Mazzilliu was sitting directly behind me, screaming "Kill him! Hit him with the chair!" over and over, and money definitely changed hands when the match finally ended.
Without spoiling anything, I will say that the footage of the event will probably not be as visceral as watching Pain punch Brain, over and over. The crowd mostly started on Pain's side, but Pain slowly won over their sympathies. Everybody loves an underdog.
Beyond the Fanfest people, there were also thousands of non-EVE-playing Icelanders in attendance, most of whom bought special tickets to attend that portion of fanfest. I presume most of them had an affinity for either chess or boxing. Based on the reactions to this event, CCP may have inadvertently created a new sports trend.
EVE: A Future Vision
CCP's other spectacle was EVE-related but no less impressive. During Saturday's final EVE presentation from CCP, CEO Hilmar showed off several silly videos, followed by a video designed to show the future of EVE Online: where it's going, how Incarna and DUST 514 tie will into it in the end, and what the pace of the game will be like. It's a pretty incredible video, though Hilmar was careful to emphasize that it will take years to get to that point. It sure seemed to make believers out of the crowd, regardless of how long it will take the various games involved to reach that point.
Celebrity: The Council of Stellar Management
The CSM is a democratically elected team of what are in one sense the most powerful players in EVE Online. These players fly to Iceland to debate game changes with CCP developers, face to face, and get to peek behind the curtain at what CCP is planning for the future.
Previously, the CSM has sort of been dismissed as ineffective, but the fifth CSM council managed to both leverage their stakeholder share in CCP's prioritization process, and spook the big alliances by not contesting some unpopular changes to how null-sec works.
In response to what the null-sec community perceived as a threat, they organized massive electioneering campaign to try and fill the council with representatives with a better appreciation for how null-sec works. Alliance life in null-security space inculcates a degree of organization and engagement that make for much better voting blocs than disengaged or scattered high-sec corporations, so the resulting CSM is now almost entirely composed of players that have a null-sec focus. Whether this is a design flaw or feature in CSM politics, I leave for the reader to ponder. One thing seems certain: this CSM will be extremely interesting.
Hilarity: The Alliance Leader Panel
Though I am uncertain how much footage of it will end up being by CCP, the alliance leaders panel was an entertaining and at times raunchy presentation by five alliance leaders, though not always by the CEO of that group. The corporations represented include Test Alliance Please Ignore, Goonswarm Federation, Dirt Nap Squad, Noir. Mercenary Group, and the now-defunct Systematic-Chaos.
style="font-style: italic;">EVE TV was there, covering everything. Unfortunately, much of the alliance panel is too offensive to be shown by CCP.
With one exception, the presentations were pretty standard fare. The Sys-K guy explained what his alliance did wrong and how it more or less destroyed itself. The Dirt Nap guy bragged about his PvP prowess while a burning alliance logo danced on screen. The Noir leader talked about what it is like being in a mercenary alliance. The Mittani (of Goonswarm) gave a sort of tepid history of his alliance.
The real show-stealer was Michael Bolton, of TEST alliance. His presentation was uproariously funny, with excellent art, great bon mots, and an endless slew of jokes punctuated by him asking audience members to bring him drinks. Unfortunately, it was also unspeakably foul. No effort was made by Bolton to mitigate how offensive or inappropriate his presentation would be to the world at large. While this certainly played a part in his success as a speaker, it also means that CCP can't release their footage of the event, and I can't directly link to any fan videos that may or may not be easily found on youtube. Que sera sera, I guess.
An Ongoing Big Crunch
There were many other events at Fanfest worth covering, including presentations from CCP developers, round table discussions covering everything from wormholes to fan sites, a PvP tournement, previews of future game changes, and more. Tune in to Ten Ton Hammer over the next two weeks to see more of it.
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