ZAM @ EVE Fanfest 2012: EVE Keynote Speech

We're at EVE Fanfest 2012 in Reykjavik, Iceland, to bring you all the upcoming news on EVE, DUST 514, and World of Darkness. Up today is the EVE Keynote Speech!

And so it begins! Thursday marked the first day of EVE Fanfest, as players and CCP enthusiasts gathered in Reykjavik, Iceland, to hear of future plans for EVE Online, in addition to getting new details on CCP's upcoming PS3 exclusive MMOFPS, DUST 514 (more on that in a few days!). World of Darkness is also slated to make an appearance Saturday, day three of EVE Fanfest, although what sort of details we'll get regarding this delayed horror-based MMORPG remains to be seen. Yesterday we took in the DUST 514 keynote and, while not a lot of new information was presented there, ZAM will attend all of the round table discussions being hosted today and tomorrow to bring you our in-depth analysis of the game, as well as our hands-on experience with it. For now, however, let's get on with the EVE Keynote speech!

CCP CEO Hilmar Pétursson opened the EVE keynote speech by first acknowledging CCP's microtransaction mistakes from 2011; the events of which ultimately culminated in Pétursson personally apologizing to the EVE community for losing focus of what EVE really is. Pétursson noted that CCP's second latest expansion, "Incarna," was ultimately "not the Incarna anyone was looking for," and he acknowledged that he was rushing to push CCP to achieve their "future vision," a glimpse of which they released in their trailer just one year ago at EVE Fanfest 2011.

But what is the real focus of EVE Online? Here, Pétursson invited CCP's new Senior Producer, Jon "Unifex" Lander, to the stage to tell the crowd (and the thousands of viewers on the live stream) exactly what that focus should have been all along: Spaceships. Lander also remarked that he wants the team to stop looking for "Jesus" features, which he said was when everyone was looking for a "new, shiny feature to end all features." Lander also pointed to CCP's latest expansion, Crucible, as a highlight of 2011, and called Lead Game Designer Kristoffer "Soundwave" Touborg to the stage to discuss this further and to tell us more about EVE's upcoming spring expansion, Inferno.

Touborg pointed out that what made Crucible great was that it focused on three core components: continual balancing, fixing stuff that's dumb, and dealing with the gripes of the community. Manifestations of these themes ultimately culminated in the introduction of Battlecruisers (new ships), Nebulas, Corporation Bookmarks, balance changes and - this one evoked another huge round of applause from the crowd - Time Dilation. For the unaware, Time Dilation in EVE Online occurs when thousands of players attempt to duke it out in one tiny system (and this happens often enough, given EVE's single-shard platform for around 400,000 subscribers). Once a region becomes too populated, it begins to lag, and actions can get lost in the server queue. With Time Dilation, however, servers move to accommodate the lag by literally slowing down in-game time, with one second of game time corresponding to something like four or five seconds of real life time. This gives the servers room to implement the thousands of commands being issued per second without anything being lost in the lag.

Looking to the future, Touborg stated that they would be building off of Crucible's themes in creating Inferno, but that Inferno would (or should) simply be better all around. What this means is that faction warfare will be getting a revamp, as CCP hopes to make territorial warfare more meaningful for players (obviously to supplement DUST 514's factional warfare tie-in). Additionally, ship balancing will be taking place, with the team working from the start to "fill in the gaps" for ship tech lines that feel sparse or don't have enough options. A unified inventory will be implemented with Inferno, along with the ability for players to drag and drop their inventory as they want. Finally, new modules (micro jump drives!) will be coming in Inferno, which should give players more paths to consider when outfitting their ships. There is also the matter of implementing DUST 514 and seeing how much of an impact this MMOFPS can / will have on the EVE Universe (and vice versa), so there's a lot on the plate for CCP and EVE coming this spring.

Jon Lander also revealed a solid development launch date plan for EVE Online going to the end of 2012, noting that on April 24th, CCP will release their "Inferno: The Escalation Begins" update, which will introduce "real meaningful content" that sets up Inferno. EVE's Inferno expansion will launch May 22nd, and the team also plans to release "Inferno 1.5" in August; presumably an update to address or expand upon content introduced in Inferno. September will see a point release, similar to Crucible's 1.1 point release, which addressed a lot of balance changes from Crucible. Finally, in November, we'll see a "winter 2012 Release," the contents of which we will discover at a later date.

Ultimately, coming to EVE Fanfest and seeing how close a relationship CCP has with its fans (CCP remain the only major MMORPG company to maintain a council of player-elected representatives - the Council of Stellar Management - who communicate player feedback directly; sometimes even traveling to Iceland to consult with the developers on key features), it's easy to see why EVE Online remains unique amongst its MMORPG brethren and why it remains the only MMO title to have posted persistent subscriber growth over nine years. While every day we hear of rabid fans who declare that some studio or another has "sold out" or has "lost their vision," it's clear from CCP's humble acknowledgement of 2011 - and their vision for 2012 - that they have done more than just apologize: they've learned, and they've grown stronger because of it.

Stay tuned this week for future news from EVE Fanfest, including information on World of Darkness, an upcoming interview with CCP CMO David Reid on CCP's future vision for games and MMORPGs, as well as the information you could ever want on DUST 514.

Chris "Pwyff" Tom, Editor-in-Chief



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