Sunday, 29 April 2012

Spaceships with Loose Cannons: The UK Player-Dev Meetup

Like the TARDIS, it's a lot more impressive on the inside.
The rejuvenating effect of meeting other EVE fans never ceases to amaze me. On Friday night I attended the official EVE Meet UK at the Loose Cannon pub in London and now my hangover has passed, my head is buzzing with inspiration and possibilities.

I'm certain that this is the reason CCP Unifex, CCP Soundwave and CCP Guard took the time to attend and it's also the empowering effect that makes organising events like this and the much grander Fanfest worthwhile for CCP. There seems to be some kind of osmotic process which occurs when cramming crowds of spacegeeks into enclosed spaces, generating a creative ether that fuels the imagination [insert body odour joke here].

Of course it would be remiss of me not to give huge credit to the endlessly positive input from Diana Dial of EVETimeCode, who flew over from The States and stayed with my wife and I to attend the EVE meet. There has, however, been a heavy price to pay. Being outnumbered by women meant that I had little control over the schedule and my wife, electing herself tour guide and hostess, lined up a series of suspiciously un-scifi outings for us. I didn't so much mind wandering the historically-rich halls of nearby Hatfield House (after all, films like Sherlock Holmes, Batman, Tomb Raider and Elizabeth: The Golden Age shot scenes there), but the oestrogen-heavy stage show Hormonal Housewives was a terrifying experience, especially sitting in the front row. If death-cloning had been an escape option, I would have taken it.

Cleansing My Manhood With Beer (Figuratively)

We few, we happy few, we band of... oh wait, that has different connotations in EVE, doesn't it.
Fortunately my gender minority was rectified in glorious fashion when I arrived at the Loose Cannon. Well, in truth it took a while for the numbers to pick up - arriving four hours before the scheduled start was perhaps a little keen - but hell, there was manly drinking to be done to wash away the memories of the previous night.

With only Nick and Mark (in-game names washed away with the other memories, sorry fellas) already in attendance, others began to trickle in, including tweetfleeters Rhapsodyy and JPS Dante. PR guy Nick was already working hard on getting things organised behind the scenes and we practically had to force that first Guinness down him. ;)

Politicians and Deejays

EVE University and Red vs. Blue plot the downfall of Goonswarm. Maybe.
As the afternoon wore on, EVE University CEO and CSM representative Kelduum Revaan arrived with some of his compatriots and I had the opportunity for a quick chat. He welcomed me to E-UNI and we discussed the amount of red tape required for successful application - I had found the process quite laborious, but he said it used to be worse! Despite the admin overload, some of the things that have impressed me about the EVE University setup is the sheer volume of info available, the professionalism of the organisation and the number of events and classes available every day. EVE University is certainly a fantastic resource for new players, as long as they are resilient to information overload. Kelduum also talked a little about his initial CSM experiences and it sounds as though the ship has been steadied and is on a good course now.

A little later, Diana and I spent some time chatting with DJ Wiggles and DJ Squishy of EVE Radio. They were an oddly entertaining pair, reminding me a little of Penn and Teller. The amiable and introverted Squishy was quite hard to hear over the ever-increasing drone of spacegeek smalltalk, whereas the verbose man-mountain that was DJ Wiggles was quite the opposite. Even a simple question like "Would you like a drink?" would result in a five-minute diatribe. As a result we were entertained with our own private radio show, although despite his willingness to talk, I couldn't quite prise from Wiggles the "exciting thing" he claimed to know. It is now clear that the hot news nugget he was struggling to contain was the addition of CCP Affinity to the re-organised EVE Radio line-up.

An Icelander, a Dane and a Brit Walk into a Bar... 

By the time the guests of honour arrived, the number of EVE players had swollen to at least 250 and we had been moved from the main bar to a much larger private bar area. After a short period of preparation they took to the stage, with CCP Unifex opening with a statement about keeping the presentation short with just a quick question and answer session so they could get into the proper face-to-face mingling and drinking with the players. Both CCP Soundwave and CCP Guard spoke briefly, then the Q&A began. I would love to be able to report more on what was discussed, but sadly due to poor acoustics and an underwhelming PA system, I couldn't hear much. The odd phrase or sentence fragment that I could decipher gave me the impression that it was mostly reiteration of Fanfest information for those who hadn't attended. At least that's what I'm going to tell myself so I don't feel like a really terrible amateur journalist.

The evening wore on and there was much spaceship chatter and mingling. It always amuses me that the standard EVE player conversation ice-breaker is always along the lines of "Who do you fly with?/What alliance are you in?" The answer invariably results in one of three responses;

1. Hey you're an ally, let's have a beer.
2. Oh, you're the enemy [laugh awkwardly], let's have a beer anyway.
3. Never heard of them [tumbleweed]. Beer?

That said, the conversation content thankfully tends to diversify after that. Beer is everybody's friend.

Creative Feedback and Piratical Shenanigans

One particularly rewarding conversation I was part of involved a group of us discussing the quality of volume of player-made promotional material that is available despite CCP's lacklustre support for said material. Obviously CCP are happy to promote some of the material once it has been made, but with the vast talent in the community, it was widely agreed that better tools would be a great benefit to the creative community and ultimately EVE Online. I'll be tubthumping in greater detail about this in a separate post, but thanks to MofoAnimal, Rhapsodyy, Maxx Ender, Lotta Mullarkey and others for the input and support. St. Chisholm, patron saint of EVE creatives, is surely smiling upon you. ;)

By the end of my Guinness-fuelled evening, I had met many folk and was pleased at the amount of unsolicited positive feedback I'd received about the Tech4 News audio broadcasts. I'm becoming increasingly aware that our proof-of-concept marketing experiment was perhaps more far-reaching than I had initially believed. My drawing board might not have quite as much work cut out for it as previously thought.

Just as I was about to leave, buoyed by the creative goodwill but ready for food/bed, I was ganked by the infamous pirate corp The Bastards. They seemed like a good bunch of lads and rumours that Marco Drack, ReBeLSKuLL and TFS Tibbs stole my wallet and made me sing naked in the street to get it back are unfounded. However, they have invited me to participate in their morally wayward shenanigans by flying to their home system of Evati and joining their Independence in-game channel. What could possibly go wrong?

The Bastards [L-R]; Marco Drack, (me), ReBeLSKuLL and TFS Tibbs. What's not to trust?
I made my excuses and left. I have hair-brained creative schemes to hatch.

2 comments:

  1. Glad you had a good time and great pics.

    I was there too.

    Oh, and don't worry about the Q&A. I was quite near the front and I couldn't hear anything either. It seems that ring mining is really a thing and it's coming out in "less than a year". I know this because a drunk bloke in the pub told me.

    Did you pick up swag? CCP kindly furnished me with a free drink ticket, a DUST beta key and a Quafe bag.

    ReplyDelete

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