Not only did we find out that EVE Online is finally getting a collector's edition box full of goodies, but CCP revealed that a new EVE comic book and lore compendium are both on the way. As if that weren't enough, there's also an EVE TV series in the works based on player-submitted stories of true events inside the EVE universe. I couldn't help escaping the feeling, though, that this year's CCP Presents talk was more than a little marketing-oriented. As one of the press put it to me after the talk, it felt at times like watching an infomercial. On the plus side, we did get to see more of CCP's future vision for the EVE universe and an amazing new trailer showing the game's core storyline.
Read on to check out the incredible EVE Universe Origins trailer and my summary of the final day of Fanfest 2013.
CCP Presents: Now with 200% more marketing!
In all honesty, I'm really excited for the EVE collector's edition despite the hefty price tag. It ships with a Rifter model that sits on your desk with a stand and acts as a USB hub, complete with flashing lights showing data transfer. The in-game collectable cosmetic ships that come with the collector's edition are pretty nice to have, but some people will undoubtedly sell them in-game for ISK, so buying the collector's edition might not be the only way to get your hands on them. As I predicted, the Gnosis battlecruiser with its bonus to every race's weapons turned out to be the 10-year anniversary present, and adding a blueprint copy of it in the collector's edition is a nice touch.
The new EVE comic based on true stories from inside the game should be interesting, and thankfully the digital edition will be free, but there's nothing in place for verifying submitted stories. The competition results will also be determined by a public vote that can be manipulated, which will probably happen since this is EVE Online we're talking about. CCP is also looking into 3-D printing busts of player's character models as a service, which will probably be quite expensive. The cynic in me wants to complain about the rampant merchandising in the talk, but the EVE player in me just wants all the merchandise right now!
We expected CCP to announce a release date for DUST 514 this year, but it oddly didn't come as part of the DUST Keynote speech. The announcement of a cleverly selected May 14th launch date was shoehorned into CCP Presents along with details on future plans for the game. Players will get new racial variations on all the different dropsuits and vehicles and can look forward to two new PvE game modes in which they will fend off rogue drones. The idea is that players will be able to run co-op PvE matches in districts they own to kill drones and collect materials from the corpses. Those materials will be funneled back to EVE to build items like tanks for DUST 514. The NPC supply of items could then be removed from DUST entirely.
This all sounds pretty awesome, but there was no indication of when the feature might actually be released. It became clear that these were CCP's long-term targets for the game when developers showed concept art of the interior of a titan for a proposed game mode named Penetration. Other ideas put forward included mining platform maps in space with zero gravity, and making EVE players carry clones to the target system in a war barge to start a fight. There was also talk of e-sports arenas streaming battles up to EVE and boarding parties delivered to structures from ships in EVE. I'm baffled as to why most of this wasn't mentioned in the DUST 514 keynote, but then it did seem to be a far-off fantasy that we won't see for many years to come.
Senior Producer Andie Nordgren spoke about EVE's plans for the future in a very clear manner all throughout Fanfest, and in CCP Presents she gave a run-down of the new approach CCP is taking to development. Normally EVE goes from expansion to expansion without much in the way of long-term direction, and the vision of the future of EVE changes beyond all recognition on an almost annual basis. Now developers have a five-year vision for where the game is heading and why, a three-year roadmap for how to get to that vision, and a 12-month plan for specific development of features.
Because of this new process, the crazy far-future ideas on space colonisation and building your own stargates presented in yesterday's EVE keynote are more likely to actually make it to the live game than previous big visionary ideas. They're part of the five-year vision that the entire EVE development staff is getting behind, so it should be only a matter of time before true space colonisation becomes a reality. When it does, we'll be able to build stargates aiming into the unknown and settle completely new solar systems. Also part of the five-year plan is an investigation of immersive flight and combat in EVE, which could potentially bring more twitch-based controls to the game.
Whether you're a die-hard fan of internet spaceships or just a gawker on the sidelines, EVE Fanfest is the EVE Online event of the year (and the key source of new DUST 514 and World of Darkness scoops!). Follow Massively's Brendan Drain as he reports back on this year's Fanfest starpower, scheming, and spoilers from exotic Reykjavik, Iceland.