Friday, 13 April 2018

Fanfest Keynote 2018: Wut?

OK so as predicted, the Yulai in game happening stopped happening. But to be fair nothing was promised this time around so I will let that one pass. Will it be the end of Luobote's travels for another year? Did Fanfest do anything to rekindle his enthusiasm? It was the Citadel Fanfest that killed it in the first place so there is always the potential for facts in space to change. 

So Fanfest. It is always hard a judge an any public event from a distance. Eve fanfest is a case in point. It is a fan gathering but it is difficult to get the sense of that across the ether. But it is also a platform for CCP to wax lyrical about their product. Usually, that part does come across more clearly to the remote viewer. It is CCP's moment to shine.

However, this time around CCP seemed conflicted about how to utilise this opportunity. You sense there was a powerpoint slide in some strained middle management meeting late on a Friday that had a list of buttons they felt they had to push. On the following Monday morning after senior management got wind of their efforts there was a corresponding list of things that mustn't be mentioned. The navigation of that rather awkward presentational minefield was what we ended up witnessing in the keynote speech.The subtext seemed to be something like this:

Message: We are 15 years old! Thats cool!
Counter message to avoid: 15 years but just pulled out of the VR market and only have Eve Online as our revenue generator
Message: We are building new games!
Counter message to avoid: Development for these games will be at Eve Online's expense. Again
Message: We are committed to Eve - see new the new deadspace PVE instances and ships and stuff. Not like World of Warcraft honest
Counter message to avoid: ...and we will monetise it in the following way.
Perhaps I am exaggerating but the cocktail of positive yet defensive messages didn't really set the juices flowing. There are tweaks or iterations here and there that some will hate/like but this is all small beer. At the strategic level, the routemap has been replaced with 3 pillars. This is progress of a sort as it suggests there are some underlying principles behind their decisions. It's essentially a promise of goodness. It's hard to criticize goodness because badness is bad and unlikely to recover from that reputation. But it is not a vision. Eve will be tangibly better how? Dealing with RMT/bots is (or should be) the day job, not a new feature.

So I am really not sure what to think. My lines in the sand resulting from the Citadel release haven't been challenged but I didn't expect that  to change. But what CCP have in store for Eve isn't clear. Whether that is just down to CCP being untogether about the message or whether that is because they can't decide is perhaps the bigger concern.

Monday, 9 April 2018

Fanfest Preamble

Eve Fanfest is upon us. This is remarkable. Afterall, Fanfest is one of those rare things that has survived the year unlike democracy, free trade, many CCP staff and some if not all of the other games in the CCP stable.

Where Eve Vegas was all about CCP conquering new vistas, the events of last year now mean Eve Fanfest ought to be about how CCP are going to keep what they have in Eve Online together. That's not to say it will be like that but it would be a change to their recent policy of maintain, fix and monetise.

The vision section of the keynote has been notably sparse in recent years. This was probably because CCP's vision wasn't supposed to depend on Eve. VR was supposed to fix all that, yet here we are again with the aging revenues of Eve needed to subsidise projects to allow CCP to diversify from their single game dependency. If they are ever to pull a rabbit out of hat, now is the time to do it. I hope they will, but my expectations are low because it is a challenging situation they find themselves in.

An event even rarer than a CCP customer support Dev is me actually logging in. It has happened however. Luobote Kong has been spending time getting drunk in Jita. As he is not a streamer or an Eve famous commentator, he managed not to offend anyone or loudly demand urgent debates on who capusuleers should or shouldn't meet meet and when they should or shouldn't meet them. Frankly who cares. But it has been a year long binge since he last undocked. I know this from the insurance expiry. That was to cover the the journey to the last fanfest/ingame interactive event that turned out not to be an event at all. At least the player bit. The larpers had fun in Iceland we are told       

So again with low expectation, he has strapped himself into a rusty Aries Interceptor and buggered off to Yulai because something is "happening". There is an unknown ship powered by, or at least possessing, a singularity sphere hanging outside the Concorde station looking rather the worse for wear. This being Eve, it could be the sum total of the "happening" but we shall see.

That fact I logged on at all is due in no small part to my use of Parsec streaming software in conjunction with a Raspberry Pi and the cloud based gaming PC I play all my games on now. When you can play Eve (or any PC game) anywhere on pretty much anything,  it makes it an omnipresent option provided you have a reasonable internet connection. So it would be churlish not to log in and make the journey

Anyway, let's see what Fanfest brings. I am hoping for Captains Quarters 2.0 because frankly, I have forgotten what gender Luobote Kong's is and so it it is hard to know which party to go to or not to go to.

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Serenity 2018

OK this blog isn't quite dead yet. And seemingly neither is Eve Online's chinese presence - the Serenity server. There appears to be a bit of a push from CCP Games to reassure chinese players that Serenity - or at least Eve Online has some future for them.

This is not overdue. Player activity has taken a hit in the last year as RMT/bots have been subject to a purge. Anecdotally, some chinese players have moved onto the Tranquility server that the rest of the world plays on. The graph below gives a sense of the decline on Serenity.

Tiancity, who run Eve Online in China appear to have largely given up on the game. The last news update was in June 2017 (Google translated version below).

Many game updates have also been parked - Alpha clones for example and the game appeared to be in managed decline. Given the player activity numbers that would be understandable. However, Chinese New Year has indicated there might be life in the old dog yet.

Firstly, the eye candy. Some Serenity skins have been released:

A video of the Skins can be seen here:

Perhaps more importantly, there is a message from CCP (first sighting of CCP Seagull for a while) where they labour the point that Serenity players haven't been forgotten and they are welcome to come to Fanfest (so presumably the Chinese fanfest isn't happening). Additionally, there will be changes for Serenity that they are excited about but these aren't defined. So it is sort of like the UK's Brexit position. There are number of ways you could speculate about this. The Tiancity relationship appears broken and a lot of the barriers that required CCP to have such a relationship are not as insurmountable as they once were. The main takeaway is that CCP want to hold on to chinese players (unlike Japanese and Korean - RIP localisation) so that would indicate some sort of a plan for them. Anyway, enough of me - here is the video: