Walking through Harpa, it is absolutely packed with fans and EVE enthusiasts for CCP’s annual Fanfest. They come in all shapes and sizes and fill presentation theatres, keynote events and round table discussions. But interestingly, it looks like the developers are doing more than just presenting ideas; they take a lot of notes and listen to the ideas of the players. With their newest free to play online shooter DUST 514 being only moments from release, the team still asked for help and suggestions from players. The theme is player inclusivity, as was showcased with True Stories, a site where players can submit their real experiences from the EVE world. The stories then get voted on by EVE players and the best stories will be turned into a graphic novel by Dark Horse Comics and a mini-series directed by Iceland’s Baltasar Kormákur.
‘Thurenu’ of the Lonely Soldiers Corporation tells me that’s what keeps EVE players hooked, the sense of ownership they have in the game. Thurenu is in real life a paramedic from Michigan. He preferred to give me his EVE name as he said, “nobody would know my name in real life.” He’s played the game now for seven years and has only finished half of it.
The developers have learned the hard way what happens when they don’t pay enough attention to their player base. In 2011 they were developing an expansion called Incarna that left many players feeling frustrated and excluded. As a result, many players cancelled their subscription and CEO Hilmar Veigar had to send out a public apology to bring them back. The players have returned, but a few I met told me it is still fresh in their minds.
SO MUCH TO DO, SO LITTLE TIME
For a first-timer at Fanfest, there are almost too many things to do. The organisers have made sure to cater to a wide range of tastes. There are lectures on economics and game design, panels where players engage with developers, live concept art sessions and sneak peeks into the future of CCP. For those looking for simple fun, there are free arcade booths, poker, EVE and DUST tournaments, and an immersive virtual reality space flight demo reminiscent of dogfights from Battlestar Galactica or Star Wars. There are also EVE hair and makeup booths, a place to dress up for a Viking photo shoot and a tattoo parlour.
There is even a wedding of two Norwegian players, ‘Tarsisis’ and ‘Idunn Aasgard.’ Speaking to them after the ceremony, they couldn’t be happier. Not only did they get married, but they got to do so at a monumental event on the balcony of Harpa, surrounded by fellow fans. Admittedly, they tell me, they haven’t played the game recently, but they: “Have a lot of friends from playing the game.”
MORE ONLINE PLAYERS THAN ICELANDERS
As of February of this year, there are half a million active subscribers on EVE Online, and they all play on the same server in a libertarian lawless environment. Players can use this freedom to mine asteroids and moons, craft valuable items, build alliances and engage in battles over star systems. The world is truly on an interstellar scale, and CCP keep expanding it by introducing space elevators, wormholes and a new first person shooter DUST 514.
The players are also proud of the world outside the game. Some meet up for barbeques and beers, a few host online TV shows devoted to the game, and yet others run gambling sites with in-game currency and in-game prizes. And the developers of the game make sure to alert the players to these great community efforts by writing articles on their website about them.
To finish the three-day festival, players get to party with developers to Skálmöld’s Viking metal, Retro Stefson’s cool tunes and world-class DJ Z-Trip’s nerdy mashup beats. The players stumble back home in the early morning hours with raspy voices, lots of good memories and a nasty hangover looming on the horizon.
The future is bright for players of the science-fiction online multiplayer game, but CCP may have a tough act to follow next year.
DUST 514 Released
Baltasar Kormákur Set To Develop EVE Online TV Series
CCP To Premiere DUST 514 Tomorrow