FanFest 2014 Day 3

Hello friends,

Once again I’m here to give you a bit of perspective on today’s Fanfest events. Saturday is the final day of Fanfest and has a somewhat lighter schedule than Friday. Still, there were some interesting presentations and let’s face it: after last night’s pub crawl and then staying up till 8 am to finish the day’s writeup, I needed a half day off anyways. Again, this is not a complete representation of the day’s events, only the ones I went to. All times are local GMT.

13:00 Valkyrie on Morpheus demo

One of the biggest fansite perks was CCP setting up an hour for us to privately demo the new Morpheus headsets. I love dogfighter/airplane sims. This was the older version of Valkyrie (same one at GDC), running on the Unity engine with DK Morpheus hardware (running off PCs). Even for an older version of the game, this was probably the best three minutes of my Fanfest experience. The gameplay was extremely smooth, the controls easy to use and the visual immersion was like nothing I’d ever experienced. Not much I can say about this other than “fucking awesome.”

14:00 QA Roundtable

The QA team is one of the most important teams at CCP as they help to fix and polish the game we love both in present feature and past expansion. We had six or seven members of the QA team present to answer our questions as well as run some ideas past us.

●When talking to them about their testing methods, you really get the sense that they love the new thin clients because it reduces/removes their need to schedule mass Singularity tests and hope they get enough people.

●I asked about the QA members embeded in feature teams and if they handled most of the QA themselves or had more QA members working behind the scenes to assist them. Apparently, basically all of the QA team members are embeded in one team or another and under normal circumstances, they handle that team’s workload almost exclusively.

Being a QA team surrounded by like-minded people led to a conversation centering heavily around bug hunting and reporting. CCP Goliath asked our opinion on the idea of a system that could allow players to vote on which legacy QA issues they thought should be tackled first. We all went squeeee in general but had some comments on it:

●I brought up the fact that given CCP Seagull’s keynote speech yesterday, it would make sense to separate out the legacy issues that would be fixed given the “we’ll need to rewrite this code” kind of nature of the roadmap. Goliath confirmed that ready-for-development issues would not be included here, nor would some of the most minor issues (ones with infrequent occurences or viable, commonly accepted workarounds). I agreed this was a good idea as the simpler the list, the more people you’d rope in to using it.

●This idea of getting more players involved led to a small discussion about the best way to get even the most basic player involved in the system. Several trains of thought left the station and the general concensus was that the simpler, the better and the more honest the QA team is about the need for average people to get involved in bug hunting, the more people will respond positively. QA doesn’t NEED our input to do their jobs, but it sure helps them utilize their time effectively and deliver the results we expect from them.

I was also curious what the technical hurdles were when it came to mirroring Tranqulity to Singularity. Apparently it takes roughly two days to complete the process as well as quite a bit of diskspace. Account status is updating almost daily though, so gone are the days of having SiSi access months after your Tranq subscription has lapsed.

15:00 Dust 514: Graphics

I really wanted to catch both Dust roundtables today to try and get some more information on how it’s going to exist within a post-Legion environment, so I started with what the graphics team could tell me. Turned out they couldn’t tell me much about the team but we did end up having quite a fun hour of cracking jokes and spitballing content ideas.

●A comment was made on modern-looking technology being used in futuristic weaponry,  which sparked a conversation on the balance between having assets be so futuristic that you have no tangible connection to them versus being so modern that it breaks the player immersion.

●There are some incoming UI changes to things like the visor and HUD that should bring greater flexbility and more information to the player.

●I asked what the nature of compatibility was when it came to Dust and Legion visual assets and whether or not the things being created for Dust were able to be used by Legion in anyway. While it’s not a complete overlap, there is certainly some, although obviously there will be differences (for example, rendering).

As I said before, there was quite an exchange of ideas:

●More uniform color scheme between a race’s dropsuits and guns,

●Urban environment maps (we all said yes please),

●Moving map parts; the two issues that came up here were that in past, Dust’s lighting had been static (it’s dynamic now though) and that there could be technical issues with syncronizing the collision physics you’d need between clients. All in all, the devs didn’t get too down on the idea as the technical hurdles were not insurmountable.

●Blood effects in general were greatly desired, including ideas such as particle spray or pooling beneath a body. From here, the idea moved to loosing pieces of your dropsuit when you take armor damage to the obvious need for a chainsaw as a primary weapon. We all agreed chainsaw-cloak would be the future of esports.

●In the style of deeper imersion and situational awareness, footprints were suggested as a good idea. The memory issue of accumulating such a vast collection of data could be offset by simply giving them a lifespan and having them disappear after that. A tangent idea in the longetivity of wrecked vehicles was also brought up, with generally the same issues as footprints and sync’d physics.

●A question was asked about water assets, which rapidly devolved into asking if we could then drown our opponents and if it was possible to render our new blood river red.

●Someone mentioned that it should be easier to discern classes than having to study their dropsuit, which becomes extremely ineffective at medium to long ranges. I chimed that the HUD could be a good place to do that as it would require very little in asset changes and presented the most effective source of information to the player. We were hinted to watch for the aforementioned UI changes as they would contain something to help combat this problem.

16:00 More sand in the box for Dust 514

I still really wanted to get a sense of what exactly was going on with the Dust team so I decided to check out this roundtable. There was unfortunately only one dev present while I was there but I managed to get half an answer to my question of what exactly the Dust team looks like now. Basically, the team still feels as if it is one unit, despite the fact that they may be working on ‘separate’ projects. Development has been centralized and consolidated into Shanghai where the team still works on the EVE Universe links and to streamline all CCP projects. Figuring this was the best answer I was going to get, I decided to leave early and go get some lunch.

17:00 CCP Presents…

The first sign of trouble was the distribution of French flags, at which point I took the liberty of telling anyone who asked that the servers were retreating to France. In reality, it was to celebrate both CCP Rouge and EVE’s newest localization package: French. Before leaving the stage, Rouge had two bits of information to share regarding Dust:

●First, he wanted to reiterate that development on Dust was not stopping.

●Second, in a statement that completely contradicted his keynote 24 hours prior, he implied that there could be a plan to integrate Dust and Legion a la something like characters transferring over. This statement made me wonder if he planned that keynote out at all or just spent the last day dealing with the Dust fallout created by said keynote. Either way, the game is far too early in the development cycle to truly know what’s going to happen and I’m more or less done trying to guess what Rouge will do next.

The general theme of the keynote was moving from “EVE Everywhere” to “EVE United”. It wont kill you to go check this one out but be warned, it’s about 75% advertising. My biggest takeaway from it all was CCP’s change in goals: instead of looking outward towards new mediums (think tablets running EVE), we saw a redefined, inward focus on the universe as a whole (think being able to have an EVE, Dust and Valkyrie pilot all with the same name and being able to switch between them from one client). It’s a pretty radical design change based on their previous plans and again, I suggest you do watch this keynote but be ready to fast forward just in case. Technical stuff is towards the end.

This was my first fanfest and I had the most amazing time. Thanks to CCP for helping me get out there, thanks to everyone that helped put the event on but MOST importantly, thanks to all of our loyal fans as none of this could have happend without you.

See you next week, -NT

FanFest 2014 Day 2

Hey folks, time won’t work out for recording audio but there was a ton of awesome stuff at fanfest today and I wanted to keep you guys in the loop with what’s been happening. I’ll try to keep it short while highlighting the most important info. Let’s just say that today was a very good day to be a fan of EVE Online. I would also like to highlight that this is NOT a complete listing of events, but rather the presentations I attended personally and my retrospect based on vigorous note taking and an extremely overbearing sense of interest. All times listed are local GMT just to remind you where the party is.

11:00- Security Team- “From Evidence to Bans”

Introduced by CCP Blofeld, we saw a relatively new security team (backed up by the 10+ years of CCP Grimmi and Peligro) give a great presentation on EVE’s current state of infosec. There was quite a bit of graph porn involved but I’ll try my hardest to relay the important info. It’s worth mentioning that this was one of the more informative and in-depth presentations we’ve seen from Team Security.

●Somewhat new Director of InfoSec- CCP Bugartist

●New systems and strategies for InfoSec as well (technical stuff on graphs, not worth explaining)

From here we heard about a relatively popular infosec issue: DDoS

●Over 12 DDoS attacks in 2014 with spikes up to 75 Gbit

●Focus on prevention and mitigation- use of a “scrub center” to stand between attack source and CCP’s data center

There also have been some changes to the “strike policies” involving both botting policy and ISK buying:

●Botting reduced to 2 strikes from 3

●ISK buying reduced to 3 strikes from 4 (I think they said these two were coming soon)

We also got a good sense of how dangerous RMT can be:

●Most bans come from new accounts (0 to 99 days of age)

●1/3 of all hacked accounts had purchased ISK at some point

●There was a very noticeable increase in credit card fraud after the Target company infosec breach

●Banning bots leads to an increase in hacked accounts (don’t ask)

●Since January 2013, approx. 30,000 accounts have been either temporarily or permanently banned for some reason (58% for macro use)

●US is still the source of the most banned IPs (not accounting for proxy connections) followed closely by Russia. MURICA

●Average SP of banned characters is somewhere between 4 and 8 million SP (the biggest was 178 mil)

●Trillions of ISK impounded per month from SecTeam actions, NOT including assets

●Despite conventional thought, botting and RMT issues are highly concentrated in highsec, although definitely not exclusively. One of the most interesting pieces of data was when they showed a pie chart of banned bots versus their alliance affiliation (without naming them obviously), about 50% of those bans came from a combined two alliances.

12:00 The EVE UI

I mean come on, CCP Karkur AND Punkturis? Sign me up. Here were some of the ideas tossed around:

●Ability to select specific lines of chat text to copy (very tough based on complexity of chat log scroll)

●NPE additions and reworks

●Improved tagging features

●Expanded and increased overview options

●Improvements to the PI system, specifically preset, repeatable setups

●Better fleet window (more options)

●Better personal/corp/alliance standings UI

●Better market window, specifically when it comes to filtering market orders

●Moving away from the right click context menu via developing the radial menu

●Improving the corporation UI

13:00 Dust 514 Keynote

Hoooooooly shit. CCP Rouge introduced as Dust 514 EP.

●More or less all you need to know here is that there is a new Dust coming to PC called Project Legion. Very little real information was said here, which kind of sucks for the people not here because they weren’t able to go to the following roundtables and presentations to get more info. This was streamed so you can watch it live, it looks really good.

14:00 Project Legion Roundtable

The Dust keynote was extremely short and lacked alot of critical info people wanted to see so I decided to skip the Fleet Combat roundtable in favor of getting some more info on Legion.

●This is a VERY rough development product right now, if I had to guess we’re talking about 18 to 24 months away by my personal estimation. There is no publically slated release date

●There will be !NO! Dust/Legion link. They will very much be separate entities. Info here was again a bit vague but that much was clear

●While it looks alot like Dust, we’re told that it will have a different game structure and experience

We will be keeping an eye on this development process and keeping you guys updated on its progress.

15:00 The future of EVESports

If you weren’t aware, CCP Bro is a beautiful, wonderful man. We talked alot about where EVE sits within the esports world and its future there. Here’s some of the stuff we talked about:

●Barriers to entry when it comes to tournament play- SP, isk, having a team, previous experience,  knowledge of the metagame

New possibilities for tourny structure:

●Cold-calling matches a la Starcraft 2

●Creation of a ladder style PVP

●Tranquility versus Serenity tournament

There were also some issues raised, specifically with the alliance tournament:

●Top heavy prize pool

●Distribution of workload and the structure of volunteering, as to have the powers you need to broadcast something like the Alliance Tournament are devhacks to the extreme. This ended up seeming like the biggest issue lying in the way of player run tournaments as well as random people volunteering: You can’t give regular people those powers.

16:00 EVE Production

This was a pretty hush hush roundtable given the huge news that we were going to get from the following keynote but we still had the chance to ask some good questions. We got some great info on how CCP is working their development cycles and CCP Xhagen/Explorer (among others, including a member of the art team) were on hand to give some personal answers to our extremely nerdy questions. If you enjoy coding and production, this was a good roundtable. Fun fact- The necessary changes to the game art are a sizeable obstacle to changing POS code.

●Legacy code is going to be less of an issue coming up. Again, the keynote has some big reveals in it so they didn’t give us a ton of specifics on this issue. What they did tell us was that the industry section of code reworked for this coming expansion was one of the biggest sections of legacy code to tackle; the rewrite included over 10,000 lines of code and lays the ground work for alot of upcoming stuff. I asked how tough they thought the remaining legacy code was going to be and it depends on the difficulty of the project as well as the depth of code interaction. It’s very safe to say that the industry revamp could be good practice for their future rewrites.

●I also asked if they liked working with the smaller, more often release versus the twice a year “jesus feature” style expansion and I got some serious headnods. It’s makes time management and their production easier and more reliable. They enjoy the additional freedom of ‘having the destination but choosing the road.’ They did admit it was a big change and they’re still working to find that balance between the two.

●Outside of that, there were a few engineering related questions regarding other stuff like Sprint and Agile development, team dynamics, etc.

17:00 EVE Keynote Speech

I’ve also been calling this one “How I learned to love again.” Seriously, if you didn’t see this keynote, go watch it on YouTube. I’ll wait.

Hilmar introduced Seagull who gave us the standard recap of the last year since last Fanfest. Interesting fact- there are no more InterBus pocos left in New Eden. And the summer expansion is called “Kronos.” And basically everything here should be releasing this summer

●Seagull got the first of many loud applauds when she announced the switch to a 6-week development cycle starting with this summer’s expansion.

From here, Seagull brought on CCP Scarpia, Lead Game Designer. He gave us some interesting insight as to his vision for EVE:

●Build and control any structure in space

●Everything should be destructable

●Work like the Industry revamp is nothing short of critical for future improvements

After that, CCP Nullarbor came out to show us some stuff about the Industry revamp:

●If you’ve been keeping up with the dev blogs, there wasn’t anything secret or new in most of this information. He described his three part focus on the revamp to be: 1) Making balanced gameplay, 2) Balancing risk versus reward, and 3) Keeping things accessible and discoverable.

●I can’t remember if it was in the dev blogs but he briefly mentioned the introduction of “teams”, the little NPC sweatshop employees you’ll have making your goods.

It was a little vague but I didn’t dwell, as CCP Fozzie and Rise were up next to talk about upcoming balancing changes. This information should mostly either be out already or released in the immediate future, so I’ll recap:

Ship Balance

●Mining barges/Exhumers- Stronger, diverse roles and more freedom of choice

●Freighters/Jump Freighters- Desire for more customization, freighters will be getting rig slots. On this note, Fozzie introduced the new hull hp rigs

●Transports/Blockade runners- Expanded flexibility, addition of one high slot

●Deep space transports- More info coming

●New mining frigate- Called the prospect, expedition mining frig in the style of the venture but different role and covert ops cloak. Can also take a black ops bridge if you’re so inclined. There will also be some new improvements for “dangerous mining.”


●Touching all four factions at all levels

●New drone modules (low slot drone tracking enhancer)

●Making the skill progression easier for new players to use drones sooner

Pirate Factions

●Updates to the pirate faction lines have been published for some time and they haven’t really changed otherwise

●However we were introduced to the new faction line of Mordu’s Legion, who will apparently be showing up in lowsec, dropping fat loot you need for those new ships. They’ll be fast, versatile skirmishers with missile specialization and a bonus to warp disruption range

CCP Scarpia was back out by this point to show us some more awesome stuff in the realm of customizing EVE:

●We saw pictures of faction themed stations, ie if you were in a Quafe station it would have a pretty blue theme. Not faction in the sense of an upgraded structure.

●New station environment and booster sounds, as well as a brand new overlay for customizing your sound options

●New tool-tip styls overlays will improve the NPE with critical information

●12 new ship skins for the pilot project

●There’s a new warp in and out effect that I don’t have words for cause it’s so cool

CCP Veritas gave us a quick overview of some technical stuff he’s been up to:

●Dogma is being further simplified in terms of the information it needs to operate and how it has to connect between relevant pieces of information to perform calculations. If you’ve never heard of it, Dogma is EVE’s very own Rainman, keeping watch over basically anything that needs math

●EVE Probe (graphics and rendering benchmarking tool) has been updated to give better info and testing capabilities.

●The concept of “thin clients” (low profile client builds that minimize needed resources as to more easily test Scalability issues) has been extended to the point where Veritas had 1000 rifters running on one machine. Much better for testing these kinds of things

By now we were reaching the end of the keynote, so Seagull came back on to wrap up, and by wrap up I mean drop the most awesome news I’ll probably hear all fanfest. I’ll try to recreate the picture:

Industry changes —> Stations/Starbases/Outposts –>

                                                                                            Control and construction of stargates

Corp/Alliance mangement –>   Sov and warfare    –>

Yeah, you read that correctly. Some of the biggest legacy code issues in the game lined up like ducks. Items that lie in the same parallel line depend on the thing before it, and once both lines are done, player stargates can finally be a reality because the foundation will be there. If you’ve been playing for a while you realize how huge this is, especially if it needs to get done in order for Seagull to complete her player owned stargate idea. I think we’ll be seeing some very positive movement forward from thisn.

There were some cool views of what looked like a developer level ship skinner that could do cool paint jobs but I still think it’s bullshit that CCP immediately tied shipskins into a microtransaction so I’m not going to validate how cool I actually thought it was.

After hours upon hours of presentations and roundtables I was exhausted and hungry so I skipped the Alliance Panel and most of the wrestling match to relax with friends. I do have some video of CCP Xhagen and Guard both wrestling so I might post that later lol. Thanks again for dealing with a blog post, you have no idea how long it took on a tablet.