As I write this, Serious Gaming Journalists are rushing to scoop each
other about the DUST 514
announcements and various changes to style="font-style: italic;">EVE gameplay
uncovered at FanFest 2009. In about a week we'll be able to link to
interviews, EVE-TV clips, random embarrassing photos and new gameplay
footage; CCP has apparently been waiting to release a host of new dev
blogs describing the Dominion changes until after the playerbase has
recovered from its collective hangover (or flu, since allegedly 30%+ of
the CCP staff caught some kind of plague over the weekend). But the
real purpose of FanFest swiftly became apparent after our arrival - not
so much to talk about spaceship games a lot, as to get absolutely
wrecked in Reykjavik. Here's a guide for prospective Fanfest newbies or
veterans looking to eke out a little more debauchery in 2010.
Scheduling Your Trip
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Boring but critical stuff: Show up at least a day early and stay a day
or two late; next year I'm aiming for Wednesday to Monday. If
you're coming from the USA, know that Icelandair tends to group most of
its flights to arrive at approximately the same time in Keflavik, and
that they're mostly red-eyes: you hop on a plane at 8 in New York or
Boston and you land at 6am in Iceland. You may think to yourself (like
I did) that you'll sleep on the plane and be fine - but the actual
flight is only five hours, and that's not enough. If you have to
schedule a connecting flight to get home, make sure you have at least a
3 hour layover. Don't try to return on a Sunday night when
most US airports practically shut down and service slows to a crawl;
perhaps non-JFK airports are paragons of efficiency, but I nearly
missed my NYC to DC connection despite a two-hour delay.
stayed in the Park Inn. If you split a hotel with a friend, the rates
are quite reasonable; 3 nights ran me $168. Veto Corp, of lowsec fame,
rented an entire house/condo for their group. One of the main hostels
for budget travellers is within easy walking distance of the Fanfest
venue, as well.
What to Bring/Arriving in Reyk
Chapstick. Iceland is cold, and you're going to be drinking a lot. A
raincoat; Iceland has a nasty habit of spitting freezing rain. CCP
apparently is planning on moving the FanFest up a month to September
2010, so hopefully that won't be critical next year. If you
have an iPhone, you can download and set up Skype such that you can
make international calls on the cheap and SMS without getting screwed
on extra charges; the convention center has free wifi. Heavy doses of
painkillers such as Aleve or Xanax and B-complex vitamins for hangovers.
As soon as you land in Keflavik and escape customs, you'll be
confronted with a massive Duty Free store. Smart drinkers will load up
on hilariously inexpensive, tax-free high quality vodka. The rest of
the alcohol you'll find in Reyk is much more expensive; don't be so
exhausted when you land that you miss out. The Fanfest food stands sell
Polar Beer and Smirnoff Ice; the Smirnoff makes for a perfect vodka
mixer (obviously enough) so plan accordingly.
Keflavik is way the hell outside of Reykjavik, some kind of
international-traveler quarantine. There are two ways out: "Flybus,"
which most travellers use, and a taxi. The bus will drop you off in
front of your hotel, and it only costs about 10 bucks USD. The downside
is that, if it happens to take you to your hotel last, you've wasted an
hour and a half of herky-jerky stop-start-stop-start when you're
already in a miserable, just-got-off-a-redeye state. Pro move is to
split a taxi with four friends; a taxi will cost you almost 80 bucks,
it's at least twice as fast, more comfortable and you won't have to
smell unwashed spaceship nerds and listen to them complain about the
critically important nuances of faction warfare.
There will be an ATM at the airport for you to get ISK. Skip it. You
can pay for everything with a credit card in Reyk, even 2-dollar
hotdogs. You'll just end up with leftover fish-money at the end that
you dump into the chairty box on your way out of Keflavik.
Icelandic water smells like a particularly nasty fart, due to the high
sulfur content. Try to ensure your hotel's water is filtered. On the
other hand, the bathrooms are universally spotless.
Holy Sh** I'm In Reykjavik, Now What?
If you did the smart thing and got here early, you'll want to take a
nap. The cycle of Fanfest isn't based on days and nights, since
everyone is on a catastrophically mucked up schedule; expect instead to
nap, party, nap, recover from hangover, party, nap, repeat ad nauseam
(quite literally). If you screwed up and showed up on Thursday morning,
Fanfest opens at 10am. The good news is that practically nothing of
note happens on Thursday at Fanfest until the Alliance Presentation at
6pm. We showed up early to sign up for the 'pub crawl with a dev', were
told that the signups for that had been shifted to Friday, and promptly
passed out until Darius warned the playerbase to href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/75142">tighten their
If you have extra time, go to the Blue Lagoon and wander around
Laugavegur drinking. Of critical importance is the " href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B%C3%A6jarins_Beztu_Pylsur">Bill
Clinton Hotdog Stand", which sells hotdogs with everything
for only 260 ISK (like 2 bucks, quite possibly the single cheapest item
sold in all Iceland) which Bill Clinton himself declared to be the best
hotdogs he had ever had. They're especially good when you're three
sheets to the wind. Get them with everything; the toppings are
completely unrecognizable to an American, but they live up to Bubba's
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Polar Beer, Smirnoff Ice spiked with vodka, href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brenniv%C3%ADn">Brennivin.
When you get your Fanfest goodie-bag, you'll find a couple of food
tickets and beer tickets. There tend to be some teetotaler types at
Fanfest, so see if you can convince them to give you their beer
tickets. Polar Beer is fairly weak but comes in a huge can and at the
high price of free, it gets the job done. If you can't scavenge beer
tickets (hint: CCP gives the CSM members and their employees a pile of
both types of tickets) try to participate in the 'Live Agent' missions;
most of them are silly and mildly entertaining, but you can get beer
tickets for winning. Better still, one of the Live Agent missions tasks
you to do shots of Brennivin; several goons I know did three shots of
Brennivin for free, then won a free beer for their trouble.
Pub Crawl With A Dev:
This is a waste of time and money. You have to pay an extra fee to some
tour company to go on this, and it's pretty easy to drink with a dev at
Fanfest without paying a fee. They provide you with a bus to
Laugavegur, a 'guide' whose patter is missable, and a free condom.
Seriously. The first bar we were taken to was so shameful that an
anonymous CCP employee turned to me and said, "Wow, this bar is so
shitty, I've never even been in here." The experience was entertaining
because of the crowd of space nerds, but at the end of the pub crawl we
found out that the bus which took us there wasn't returning; we'd have
to make our own way home. A simpler, cheaper way for CCP to help
attendees get their pub on would simply be regular shuttle busses to
and from Laugavegur at regular intervals throughout the fanfest. If CCP
doesn't shift to the 'shuttle bus' system in 2010, save your money and
just catch cabs.
There's a lot of them at Fanfest and by and large they're a lot of fun.
You're in a conference room with 30+ people and a couple of devs, and
you sound off about whatever. The Capital Ships, PvP and 0.0
roundtables were a blast. The 'Economy' round table was full of a bunch
of highsec pubbies whining about being scammed, and was a much less
convivial atmosphere. There are signup sheets for round tables, but the
truth is that these signups aren't checked at all; just walk on in.
Also, don't be the guy raising his hand like he was in elementary
school waiting to be called on; you just talk.
Rock Band Competition and
Poker Tournament: These are a blast. Next year, however,
the Rock Band contestants must be allowed to choose their own songs;
due to a foolish last-minute decision, every band was forced to play
"White Wedding" and "Wanted Dead or Alive." I love Billy Idol as much
as the next metrosexual, but hearing the same two songs over and over
again took the steam out of the event quickly. A shout out to the 2009
Rock Band champions, "Dick Butt and the Jaypegs".
Devs say that they want more people to cosplay (ie: dress up in silly
outfits) at Fanfest. CCP hires some fashion models to wander around in
full-out gear which look pretty awesome, but about the only player
cosplayers in 2009 were some CVA guys dressed up in Jedi robes. I
suppose that they were supposed to be Amarr Priests or whatever, but it
just pissed everyone off and made CVA the consensus candidate for
"alliance most likely to be obliterated after Dominion." Use the force,
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Most people ate pizza from the food stands at Fanfest. Problem: it was
almost indistinguishable from cardboard - but free, if you acquire
enough food tickets. There's an excellent Pizza Hut next door to the
Nordica, barely 5 minutes away. Hike there. I didn't know you even
could have an excellent Pizza Hut. Try not to eat the native "food," href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H%C3%A1karl">hakarl,
sheep heads and ram balls are only acceptable when you're a starving
viking trapped on a volcanic treeless island. Also, apparently no one
knows what 'Cool Ranch' flavor is, so the Doritos in Iceland are
labeled 'Cool American', and chocolate chip cookies are from the
The Big Saturday Show: This was absolutely amazing. If you're planning
your partying, save your best drunk for Saturday night. CCP apparently
has hired a dev purely to plan and coordinate Fanfest, and the extra
attention showed. The hall was decked out like a Caldari club, complete
with Quafe bars and a lot of leather couches; I wish we had a nightclub
space like that in DC. The sound system was perfect. The Dev Band Roxor
exceeded my (admittedly low) expectations, playing a lengthy and
dead-on cover set of pretty much every awesome metal and punk song you
could think of. Somehow, a symphony was conned into coming, and played
orchestral versions of all the EVE game music which no one listens to;
apparently we're going to be able to download those tracks on MP3 to
replace the ingame music with. Then href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2manydjs">2ManyDJs,
who tore the place up, absolutely wrecked it. Amazing stuff.
Mingling with the Locals
If you're going to drink with the locals, you should know a couple of
things in advance. First, working for CCP or playing spaceship games
does not make you a cool, desirable person even in a country where a
ton of the hard currency comes from CCP. Hide your fanfest badge, or
you will be gently mocked for going halfway around the world for an
internet spaceship game. The appropriate response, when questioned, is
to just pass Fanfest off as an excuse to drink and party with your
international friends; Icelanders take their drinking seriously,
regardless of what they think about EVE, and seem to respect those with
similar attitudes. Expect to see locals smash their glasses in the
street as a sign of good humor/excitement/whim, piss in the middle of
the street like it's no big deal, and puke on the floor of a bar only
to drink more. If you're an American, 'bar territory' is not
respected/understood in Iceland; if you and your party claim a booth
but aren't taking up all the available space, locals will happily come
and sit with you. This is a good thing once you get used to it, as it
means you'll be able to either make some new friends, or at least seize
a place to sit yourself when push comes to shove. And push will come to
shove - Icelandic bars appear to have no conception of fire codes, so
they're absolutely jammed. Don't be a fat nerd in an Icelandic bar. If
you're not a fat nerd and you'd like to meet some Icelandic women,
you're in luck; like a lot of more developed countries, women in
Iceland have no problem whatsoever with initiating first contact and
hitting on men.
Hanging Out with Mortal Enemies
Probably the most refreshing thing about Fanfest is that, except for
one demographic, even mortal spaceship enemies are happy to see each
other and go on bar crawls together. I ran into a number of former BoB
people, all of whom were extremely friendly. Fanfest is a fairly old
crowd; the average age was probably around 30. If you've recently
pissed someone off ingame, at Fanfest you probably don't need to worry
about getting punched in the face. The exception is the kids. There are
a few teenagers there (perhaps three?), and they seem to be so coked up
on hormones that they're unable to get out of the chest-beating
mindset. Avoid them and simply focus on the partying; that's what
everyone else does.
Take a damn shower, you greasy nerd. Some people there didn't seem to
realize that international flight + convention center full of nerds +
drinking results in an awful lot of smell. Don't be that guy; no one
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