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

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