Every year, the developers at CCP Games host the truly massive EVE Online Fanfest. Players from all walks of life and countries will soon gather in Iceland for the world's biggest event dedicated entirely to internet spaceships. Fanfest originally started as a small gathering for the game's most dedicated fans, but over the years, it has grown both in size and in its importance to players. CCP often uses Fanfest to give EVE players a sneak peek of what's to come and to showcase what the company has been working on. We look forward each year to CEO Hilmar's keynote speech, in which the year's big reveals typically take place.

Over time, the EVE Fanfest has become an integral part of CCP's feedback-gathering mechanisms. Developers run a series of presentations on game design, work being done at CCP, and the lessons learned from previous projects or expansions. Round-table discussions give players the opportunity to raise questions directly to developers, and Fanfest in general gives players a way to mingle with developers in a very informal way.

In this week's EVE Evolved, I look at how to prepare for the EVE Fanfest and how you can get involved even if you won't be in attendance.

Planning the trip

If you haven't already planned your trip and booked your plane tickets, there isn't much time left. The party at the top of the world begins in less than a week, on March 24th, and runs until March 26th. Icelandair is running its usual deals for the event, charging as little as $465 USD for flights from the U.S. or £269 GBP for flights from the UK. Alternative prices are available for flights from other countries, and packages including hotel stays are also available.

Anyone interested in extending his stay should aim to arrive before the 23rd or after the 27th to take advantage of some special deals on offer. Several CCP developers will be taking Iceland's famous Golden Circle tour on March 23rd, and Fanfest attendees can join them for a reduced rate. I've personally been on this tour and found it absolutely fantastic. Iceland has some incredible and almost alien scenery, which this tour really showcases. The tour includes visits to Thingvellir National Park, the incredibly impressive Gullfoss waterfall, and Iceland's famous geysers. Those staying until March 27th can also join developers at the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa for some post-Fanfest relaxation and recovery.

Internet spaceships

While a lot of tourists visit Iceland to take in its volcanic scenery or to sample the Reykjavik nightlife, EVE players will undoubtedly be more interested in the future of their favourite MMO. CCP has planned three days of intensive discussions, stage shows, events, presentations and contests, all centered around the wonderful world of internet spaceships. Three rooms will be dedicated to round-table discussions on a huge range of topics, from large-scale warfare and wormhole space to nullsec and industry. The remaining three rooms will be used for presentations, demonstrations, and special events.

With all the festivities going on in several rooms at the same time, you'll wish you had a second account in real life. The best way to deal with it all is to plan ahead -- pick out all the events you absolutely cannot afford to miss and plan your Fanfest around them. A full listing of all events, presentations, and discussions is available in the official Fanfest brochure. CCP usually leaves big announcements until Hilmar's keynote speech, which will be happening at 3:00 p.m. GMT on Friday. This year's big announcements are expected to be related to Incarna and Dust 514, both of which are currently under heavy development.

Special events

If developer chats and presentations aren't your thing, CCP has organised a whole host of special events on each day of Fanfest. Thursday is typically a slow day for Fanfest as attendees orient themselves and plan their weekends, but CCP aims to change that with a huge free-form PvP event. That evening, CCP will also be running an open-mic night for any players with a story to tell or a song to sing. Additionally, the devs are hosting a player-vs.-developer rock band contest in aid of charity Get Well Gamers. Friday kicks things up a notch with the official Fanfest PvP tournament in the morning and a vicious chessboxing match in the evening.

For players who love the nightlife, CCP is hosting its customary developer pub crawl on Friday between 9:00 p.m. and 1:00 a.m. GMT. To secure a spot in the pub crawl before the groups fill, you'll need to sign up during Thursday afternoon or Friday morning. Saturday ends the festivities with the now-legendary "party at the top of the world" event, which runs from 8:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. GMT. This year, the party features the talents of Booka Shade, FM Belfast, and CCP's own musical teams RöXöR and Permaband.

How you can get involved

If you're not able to attend Fanfest, you won't miss out on a great deal of information. CCP has a history of putting videos of key presentations and stage shows online after the event to give people a taste of what Fanfest attendees got to see first-hand. This year, CCP has even announced plans to stream over 18 hours of Fanfest footage live to players for free, including all the major presentations. Access to a separate HD stream can be purchased for one PLEX, which can be bought on the in-game market for ISK or paid for in cash.

Massively will be in attendance at this year's EVE Fanfest to bring you coverage of the event and exclusive interviews. We'll be talking to developers on topics ranging from nullsec warfare and incursions to microtransactions, Incarna and the Council of Stellar Management. If you have any questions you'd like us to put to CCP's developers, leave them as comments on this post and we'll do our best to get you some answers.

Summary

EVE Online's annual Fanfest has become a major part of the game's calendar year, more important than the alliance tournament and hulkageddon combined. This year we expect announcements on Incarna, Dust 514 and the war on lag, but CCP usually surprises us with something unexpected. Whatever is announced, we'll be there to interview developers on a wide range of topics and find out what the future holds for EVE Online. If you have a question you'd like to ask CCP's developers on any topic, please let us know.

Brendan "Nyphur" Drain is an early veteran of EVE Online and writer of the weekly EVE Evolved column here at Massively. The column covers anything and everything relating to EVE Online, from in-depth guides to speculative opinion pieces. If you have an idea for a column or guide, or you just want to message him, send an email to brendan@massively.com.

This article was originally published on Massively.