EVE Evolved title image
The annual EVE Online Fanfest is a massive event that brings together players from across the world to discuss the serious business of internet spaceships. It's three days of in-depth developer talks, sneak previews of what's to come, and roundtable events that let players discuss their ideas and feedback directly with developers. The EVE communty may not be as large as the community of games like World of Warcraft, but thousands of players pay a considerable sum of money each year to fly to the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik for the event.

Fanfest started out as a very small and personal affair with just a few dozen people in attendance, but it's grown to absolutely massive proportions in recent years. This year's event promises to be bigger than ever as it will be celebrating EVE Online's 10th anniversary and the impending release of CCP Games' MMOFPS DUST 514. It's a special milestone for CCP and EVE fans alike, and tickets for the event have already sold out! If you didn't manage to snag a ticket, you should still be able to enjoy parts of Fanfest as key talks and events will likely be streamed live as in previous years and videos will be uploaded after the convention.

In this week's EVE Evolved, I look back at the highlights of the past two EVE Fanfests and the social aspect that makes it one of the best experiences and EVE player can have.

EVE Evolved side imageSocial gathering

If you're lucky enough to be in attendance this year, you're in for a huge treat. The developer panels and keynote speeches are all very interesting, but the real treat at Fanfest is getting together with other people who are as passionate about EVE Online as you are. Being surrounded by other fans so fervent in their love of the game that they'll fly across the world and brave the Icelandic springtime to discuss it is an odd feeling that's kind of hard to describe. It's like being in a little micro-universe designed specifically for you, one that only exists for three days per year.

I got to go to Fanfest only once, in 2011, but I can honestly say it was a fantastic experience. I was suddenly surrounded by people just like me, and all of those crazy internet spaceship things I find interesting were suddenly extremely important to everyone. The conversation even extends outside the convention centre walls; One of the biggest highlights of my Fanfest experience was sitting in the hotel lobby telling stories of wormholes, crazy battles, and political secrets. That little universe may only exist in the real world for three days per year, but it carries on inside EVE Online throughout the year. A lot of the big political alliances, events, and wars that happen throughout the year in EVE can be traced back to something that happened at Fanfest.


EVE Evolved side imageHighlights from 2011

The 2011 EVE Fanfest was jam-packed with awesome panels and reveals, and it was a chance for players to chat directly to developers. In the first day we heard from CCP Soundwave on the incredible work behind the Incursion expansion, had a few laughs at the hilarious and not-safe-for-work Alliance Panel, and eavesdropped on a panel discussion with the CSM. The second day's Keynote speech was a huge success, showing off some impressive new pieces of server hardware and details of huge game improvements to everything from mission-running to manufacturing. We also got a first glimpse of the Incarna captain's quarters, which at the time was very impressive.

The final day of the 2011 Fanfest was a massive visual spectacle, with stunning videos showing new turret graphics and nebula backgrounds, and the unveiling of the amazing trailer A Future Vision. All three days were packed with fascinating talks and developer roundtable discussions, and each night was filled with social events and parties. We also took the opportunity to interview CCP Zulu on CCP's plans for Incarna, problems with Incursion group PvE, and the community backlash over 2010's "18 month" fiasco.


EVE Evolved side imageHighlights from 2012

The big topic on everyone's mind at Fanfest 2012 was undoubtedly monoclegate, the scandal that started with leaked internal documents on microtransaction plans and ended with EVE losing 8% of its subscriptions and CCP firing 20% of its staff worldwide. We weren't in attendance to interview developers on the topic, but CCP certainly didn't shy away from it. It featured heavily in the 2012 keynote speech, and the Fanfest show was littered with promises to work almost exclusively on in-space EVE features for the next few expansion releases.

The highlights of the event for me included the live planetary bombardment demo and CCP Veritas' incredible talk The Year in Lag, which showed how new tools had made fights with thousands of players almost lag-free. There was no shortage of eye candy, with new launcher and missile graphics and an incredible Physx demo showing shield impacts, asteroids breaking apart, ship hull damage and a new technology that generates 500,000,000 triangles per second on the GPU using geometry shaders. Several talks discussed PvP changes, ship updates and new modules planned for the Inferno expansion.

EVE Fanfest 2012 was the first event to feature significant coverage of DUST 514 and World of Darkness, with the overriding theme of the year being focused clearly on linking DUST 514 with EVE. The impressive cinematic trailer below set the scene for DUST 514, showing wormhole explorers entering a Sleeper structure and recovering an advanced implant that allows ground soldiers to benefit from the same cloning process as pod pilots. Fans worrying that World of Darkness had been cancelled due to layoffs at the Atlanta office were treated to new gameplay details and a video of a city scene in the game engine.


EVE Evolved title image
Fanfest is a special time of year for EVE players, full of reveals and shiny videos that offer a look into the game's future. This year's event celebrates EVE's 10th anniversary and the impending release of DUST 514, which promises to make it the biggest party yet at the top of the world. We aren't sure what to expect from this year's talks and reveals, but there are sure to be some incredible eye candy and details of what EVE's next big expansion will be. We'll hopefully also see more of DUST 514 and get an update on the World of Darkness MMO.

For those in attendance, Fanfest is much more than just a series of talks and parties; it's an opportunity to network with other players, make in-game contacts, and share epic stories from your little corner of the universe. For three days per year, the city of Reykjavik plays host to a universe that for the rest of the year exists only inside a supercomputer in London and on computer screens around the world. If you ever get a chance to go, definitely take it.

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.