April 21, 2016

Fanfest from a Distance: Build Your Dreams, Wreck Their Dreams

Fanfest may be a long way away from here, but I'm plugged in to watch some of the key presentations.  So this is my Fanfest at a distance, somewhat live-blogger style, with lots of links from videos and stills that are being posted...

While waiting for the stream my characters are making the pilgrimage to Amarr to register for the YC118 Amarr Championships Community Draw.  This is a bit trickier for some of my characters (*cough* Gallente factional warfare *cough*) so all of them might not make it.

Opening Ceremonies - Connections

Nice touch listing Upwell Consortium as a "sponsor", that's a fun little teaser.  The light and smoke for the Amarr Championship seemed a bit out of place as Hilmar dropped right back into his calm, paced presentation.  I don't know about other folks, but for me the React website wasn't loading the scripts needed to actually have buttons to press.

Rooks and Kings: I love their videos, but honestly "Message in a Bottle" isn't their greatest.  What I really wish is that we'd see them breaking out with the next great thing - Pantheon, Pipebombing, ... do they still have the skills and creativity to make it a trifecta?

I get the grand vision Hilmar is looking for, but I'm not sure if joining Tranquility and Serenity is a good idea.  Both have grown into their own communities, their own balance of economics, their own reality.  There were some cool ideas tossed around on reddit for limited connections via wormholes that certainly would be a nice way to slowly bring the two together.  In the end the barrier to making this happen is more of a political thing than a gameplay thing of course.

I had to chuckle at the Eve Valkyrie "Carrier Assault" video.  When will ship designers stop putting their main reactors right near open bays where people can blow them up?  I'm sure the lore experts will jump in and the idea of the "recovering tech" that is referenced in this scenario.

Project Arena: the overlay of the video footage and the VR rendering really helps sell that concept.  Obviously very Tron-like here.  I really like this as the next-level after the Wii first came in and got so many people up and "bowling" into their television across the room.

Project Nova: the successor to Dust 514 on the PC using a free-to-play model.  I'll be curious to see what the Fanfest goers report on this.  I'm not a FPS player really, but since Nova would be on the PC I could see giving it a try.  My son might actually be more interested in this than I am, which could be very cool.  "Dad, I need an orbital strike, now!"  However, the o7-segment between the two sessions mentioned that Nova would focus on space locations more than just planetary settings, which is a nice nod towards the potential teaser with videos for some time.  How long until we can deliver a troop carrier full of space marines to take on an opponent's Citadel, perhaps to be able to shut down modules or otherwise affect the ongoing space battle.

Eve Keynote

Overall I like how they slipped a bit of an RP feel into the Keynote segment, with the pirate broadcasts interrupting things and the references to Upwell and ORE as groups who are present and active in a real sense.  There's a lot of "great stuff coming, but you'll have to wait" that points to things whose delivery date is out past the next Fanfest, but that's balanced by more immediate deliveries as well.  But on to the subtopics...

CCP Quant.  It's all about pi in the chart porn.  I'm looking forward to bloggers and podcasters like Eve-Prosper, Nosy Gamer, Eve-Fail, and marketsForISK tear into this.  I love the teaser that the Palantine Citadel would require liquidation of 1/15th of all of the active assets in Eve today.

CSM Elections.  Low turnout isn't a surprise, but it is disappointing to see.  I'm sad that Apothne's real-life troubles kept him out, as I'm sure he would have been in.  Given that Hyde got a permanent spot, chances are good that this would have been Apothne's to win.  Will the Imperium folks be able to put their drama behind them enough to contribute constructively to the CSM?  We'll see.

Frigates of Eve book.  I gotta says that I was a bit disappointed at the end that the book is only frigates, but on the other hand that means they are going to be more comprehensive and in depth on just that class.  Of course, it's a teaser of moving up through the ship hulls should the book be successful.  Summer 2017 is a pretty long way away though.

Official Eve App for iPhone and Android.  The big question is of course where this puts third-party apps like Neocom.  I'm glad to hear that they do not expect this to be the only Eve app on your phone.

Industrial Arrays: That teaser video was hilariously good.  Getting into it though, I love the idea of the owner of the industrial array can allow usage for a fee.  This is something that I'm itching to be able to do right now, as I don't have quite enough time and toons to run a POS on my own.  First blueprints not until this Fall though, so that means the actual release is Winter or so.  I'm not so thrilled at how far out this is though.  Drilling Arrays in Winter is the next step, but not as sexy for me.  The promise of beginning the full replacement of POS with Citadels by next Fanfest is a big one.  Mining changes aren't quite my thing, but I'm glad to see that the Rorqual owners finally the rework, though I see there are already people whining on reddit that it will be unworkable.

Faction Titans and "Shadow of the Serpent".  You know that Larriken was just waiting to be able to say "mere run of the mill Erebus."  I'm curious about how this event will work, along with the whole idea of rat caps and supers.

CCP Ghost and new player retention.  This is very much a promise of direction rather than anything big, other than some nice phrases like "suffering from the weight of its own awesomeness."  I agree that Empire space is a logical starting point with a lot of material already in place, but I do still wish they were ready to add the idea of the pirate factions as a starting point.

And the Eve Fanfest Trailer for 2016.  This really should be titled "Build Your Dreams / Wreck Their Dreams."  I can't imagine that  you're reading this blog and you haven't seen it, but there's the link to watch it gain.

April 14, 2016

The Fizzle's not in the Sov

"This is the way the world ends /  Not with a bang but a whimper." -T.S. Eliot, "The Hollow Men"

Perhaps the poet wasn't thinking of The Imperium when he wrote this in the wake of World War I, but I wonder if some disillusioned Imperial subject will end up writing "The Hollow Goon" after World War Bee.  The Mittani has taken to making ever more fantastical postings on TMC, and they are being echoed by some that are presenting a stalwart front with their master, but honestly the increasingly desperate and fatalistic tones sound like they are about to break into whimpers.  It seems the inner circle of the Imperium is ready to lash out at just about anyone right now, from their turncoat allies in CO2, to their opponents such as Mercenary Coalition, to personal attacks at members of CCP.

I mentioned last time that I found the idea of joining the Allied forces very appealing.  I figured I'd take a look around, so I found a potential event on the World War Bee filter of Timerboard, got into a newly refitted stealth bomber, and headed out.  I made perches on the way and was particularly careful making the transition from lowsec into null Pure Blind at Mantenault.  Nothing but empty systems greeted me.  There were no camps on the entrance, no bubbles to slowly burn out of.  Two systems in I saw a TEST pilot enter local, so I opened up a convo to ask how things were going.  "Nothing happening" was the answer.  Another couple systems in I met another TEST pilot and figured I'd try again and got the same answer.  I got to my target system and set up some bookmarks around the IHub that was going to come out in less than an hour, but the single other occupant of the system (a Goon, even) wasn't anywhere on d-scan.  I've never actually fired a bomb launcher before, so I warped over to a belt and tried tagging some rats but at least according to the combat logs didn't do any damage so I clearly have something I need to figure out.  Perhaps just as well then that the only fleet I saw the entire time was a small goon interceptor fleet that raced through the system, spamming in local about how MOA couldn't catch them.

I would have envisioned Mittani not railing with this effective admission that it will take them "years" of "long, cold and brutal" conflict to reclaim their place.  There is no sign of these "Ancient Great Warriors" returning to Goonswarm ranks - instead it seems all of their great warriors, the ones with the adaptable and creative minds capable of fighting under the new Sov, well ... they've all gone over to other Alliances it seems.  I would have expected some kind of call of "rise and get in fleets or be purged" with the Imperial Bureaucracy keeping track of slackers via the infamous PAP links.  I would have expected a "fierce and hot" conflict for VFK or YA0 rather than "long and cold" - honestly the former would sound a lot more fun if I was a lapsed Imperium pilot.  The expectation (myth?) was that the Imperium had an amazingly huge treasury from all those deep 0.0 riches, so even if they were outnumbered 3:5 then could be fighting in a home system, die, reship, undock, and be right back into the fight - unlike their MBC foes who would have a much longer reship supply line.  The "Goonhammer" I expected was the power of the purse, combined with the Mittani's infamous political power, and the wily commanders who made the name for the CFC from being able to overwhelm bigger opponents with nothing but Rifters.  Instead it seems that many of the big names are on the other side.  Now the game's largest capital and supercapital fleet stays logged off or hidden for risk of being lost if it is used.  The big take-away from the Close Quarter's interview with Vily (jump to the end if you don't want Vily's long early history bit) is that he and others wanted to fight, but that pugnacious heart of the CFC is gone.

What has fizzled is that the Imperium no longer has no confident swagger, no fearsome reputation, and no strong right arm to back it all up.

A hot war that carried through spring and into summer would have been incredible for the game, though even as it is it has been good for the game.  About two weeks ago I posted a Eve-Offline PCU count image.  Here's the latest:

Those two spikes over 40k since my last blog are great to see.  There is a clear change in levels since the start of World War Bee.  I'm curious about the future.  It seems pretty clear that the Imperium will be wiped from the Sov map.  This is accepted by the Imperium leadership and they're already setting up their pilots (those that remain anyway) for the war that will happen after that.  If there is enough of a low-sec lull then the MBC will doubtless break apart.

That could begin a new age of sov that might also be appealing to players like myself.  We'd be looking at a sov-null that is shattered into many smaller nascent empires much like the dreams of sov we heard in the player meta a year or two ago.  The Imperium, shrunk into a hardened core could be a villain of a whole new cast - perhaps they could be the marauding barbarians then, rather than the calcified structure they are now.  Perhaps they would be feared again, like they once were, and maybe they can even start to live up to what Mittani is putting out right now.  It would be a lot smaller, a lot less dominating, but a lot more fun.

And it'd be a lot better than ending with a whimper.