This entry has been written from an ‘out of character’ perspective to duscuss the Fanfest 2014 keynote ‘CCP Presents’.
Ok, last Fanfest 2014 post. Probably. 😉
The recordings for the final day of Fanfest 2014 presentations are now up on youtube which means I have caught up on CCP Presents! 😀
I won’t go through everything as by now its all been covered, so I’ll just pick out a few things that stuck with me. In the interests of keeping things, as Hilmar put it, ‘a little lighter’ for the close of Fanfest we were treated to the new Permaband song, ‘Killing is just a means’. It was a definite highlight of the show! 😀
19minutes into the proceedings, CCP Rouge came on stage to issue his belated clarifications on what Project Legion means for CCP’s commitment to Dust514. He looked nervous, and Hilmar looked like he was trying really hard to act casual and keep things ‘light’. I imagine there might have been a bit of ‘discussion’ going on in CCP management circles following the Dust514 keynote…
As you hopefully have heard by now, CCP pledged to continue updating Dust with more content and fixes in the pipeline, even if there will be less ‘development firepower’ available as CCP Shanghai put efforts into Legion (assuming it gets the green light). Hilmar congratulated the team on their hard work building the Legion prototype and CCP Rouge joked that he was ready to take some leave. In turn, Hilmar joked that he was not allowed any vacation! I found it hard to say how much was genuinely joking… 😉
I have been thinking about the Second Decade Collectors Edition Mystery code lately and how CCP hadn’t done anything with it since the Collectors Edition went out. The demise of WoD has devalued the Mystery code a bit for me as it means one less CCP product for we code-owners to benefit. So I was pretty glad to hear that we all get a new Rorqual skin for EVE’s 11th birthday. Hopefully CCP won’t go too long before the next thing happens.
CCP have unveiled a little more of the storyline introducing EVE Valkyrie. The Guristas have gotten their piratical mitts on the highly controlled technology under pinning the Hydrostatic Capsule and Capsuleer cloning. They then go further in developing new technology to apparently remove the need for the pod altogether! Que a clandestine campaign of hunting down the best (mortal) fighter pilots in New Eden, killing them, then somehow stealing their consciousness to be imprinted capsuleer-stylee into a new cloned body and recruiting them into the Guristas. Thus creating an army of elite (immortal) fighter pilots. Insert a rebellion and the creation of a new pirate faction, The Valkyries.
This piece of fiction not only introduces the plot hook for introducing EVE ValKyrie to the EVE Universe, but the other big thing of this keynote. CCP are working on a new ‘single sign on’ system that will allow for us to access all of the EVE Universe games through a single account/service using the same character identity. No longer will we need to establish our identity across the games using different characters, but instead we will be able to use just one. In the future Ugleb could have a one clone body specialised for Capsuleer implants, a second adapted the needs of piloting a fighter and a third unber-manly form to go all action hero on the battlefield.
Regular readers might recall me bemoaning last year’s EVE Vegas keynote by CMO David (CCP Pokethulu) Reid for a lack of substance and copious amount of vague. He actually did talk about this back then, but in such insubstantial and non-committal marketing terms that I didn’t see this coming. Take from that what you will.
Now, it is not unusual for CCP to make statements and throw out ideas during Fanfest (and especially during CCP Presents) that sound cool but never lead anywhere. I would put this cool-sounding but probably technically challenging thing in that category if it were not for two points. CCP’s technical guru Halldor Fannar took the stage to explain this section and briefly described the design of Tranquility’s server setup and stated that in order to pull this off the character login/selection processes would have to be separated from EVE/TQ and broken out to become its own ‘thing’. Sounds complicated? Sounds like something CCP ‘would like to do’ but probably won’t? Well, Halldor also thinks that separated the login process out will generate a significant performance increase for TQ in the process. Now that I think will motivate CCP to go do it. Oh, and it won’t be affected by a need for daily downtime, so another step towards a long term goal.
Firstly, CCP are well aware that TQ needs all of the extra performance it can get to keep ahead of ever larger player battles. Secondly, as the player base grows (and more players come in through Dust514/Legion/Valkyrie) there will be more and more character names filling up the shared name-space, allowing us to use just one for three games reduces that pressure. Thirdly, it is simply a cool feature and fourthly, this could be just what CCP need in order to let us switch characters from within the client removing the need to log out and back in. And how long has that been high on everybody’s wish list? It might even be useful for bringing Valkyrie/Legion to consoles.
Another quick technical point from Halldor was that CCP shipped the back-end support for DirectX11 two years ago now in the Retribution expansion, albeit with no graphical features. He reports that over 60% of players are now using it and that it has increased performance across the board. So CCP are going to start bringing us some shiny new graphical effects to use it!
Moving on, CCP consistently talked about their new strategy being to simplify their product range in order to focus on delivering strong core products. The key examples of this in action being that World of Darkness is no longer in development and that they are stepping away from Dust514 on PS3 in order to build Legion (they really should just confirm it!) for PC. The exception would be that Valkyrie is being developed (and their mobile plans put on hold for it) for both PC and PS4, but let’s not dwell on that. Going forwards CCP will be (hopefully) less stretched and dealing with a more narrow range of *stuff*, enabling them to do more and better. I honestly think that is the right move as it is high time that CCP started delivering on their grand vision for the EVE Universe.
Speaking of which. I was always disappointed that Incarna never worked out. I wanted the ability to step out of EVE’s spaceships and explore New Eden in other ways. Valkyrie should provide a more immersive (and accessible) vantage on the grand scale first saw through EVE-Online. I am now looking more towards Legion though. Legion’s ‘sandbox first’ approach to game design intrigues me, it should because it is what I always hoped Dust514 would become.
The concept of exploring New Eden’s world for salvage reminds me of the Fanfest 2012 trailer in which we saw Capsuleers exploring a Sleeper structure. That trailer was made post-Incarna at a time when CCP were prototyping other directions in which to take their avatar-based gameplay in future. It was a well-recieved concept that lacked development resources back then. Maybe now we can see that vision come to New Eden through Project Legion’s sandbox zones and the single-sign on system. This, I find enticing.