convention

EVE Fanfest 2018: CCP Falcon on EVE’s community team layoffs and having Hilmar as a CEO

It’s safe to say that it’s been a rough year for CCP Games, with the company pulling out of VR game development and laying off around 100 staff worldwide. The entire EVE Online community team was reported to have been slashed down to just two employees, and many of the studio’s most experienced PR staff were let go when the Atlanta office was shuttered. EVE players (including me) came down hard on CCP and on CEO Hilmar Veigar Petursson in particular, and some inside the company were notably shaken.

EVE Online Community Manager Paul “CCP Falcon” Elsy was one of the few members of the community team left after the layoffs, suddenly finding himself organising the 15th anniversary Fanfest without a team. It’s now been almost five months since the layoffs, so I caught up with Paul at EVE Fanfest 2018 recently to find out how the company has coped with the loss of so many skilled community staff. He also clarified CCP’s role in tackling harassment outside the game client in the wake of a recent virtual scuffle on the Open Comms show, and gave a fascinating account of how Hilmar himself dealt with the recent layoffs and how he’s been getting more involved with EVE lately.

Read on for our massive in-depth interview with EVE‘s Community Manager Paul “CCP Falcon” Elsy.

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‘We all can be heroes:’ An interview with Star Trek Online’s Chase Masterson

With a dozen members of the all-star cast of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine returning to reprise their roles for this June’s Star Trek Online: Victory is Life, one actress has the advantage over the others. Chase Masterson is back for at least her third stint in the MMO, having played fan favorite Leeta in past updates (including as a hologram and as a Mirror Universe villain).

With the heavy Deep Space Nine focus on the game’s third expansion, it’s good to see the reunion of a cast from a show that’s now 25(!) years old. Masterson has since gone on to act in many TV shows and movies, perform as a jazz singer, and found an anti-bullying organization called Pop Culture Hero that uses film, comics, and TV to take a stand against bullying in schools and communities.

We sat down with Masterson to talk about reprising the role of Leeta, the continuation of Deep Space Nine, the benefits of maturity, and how we all can be heroes.

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EVE Online’s ‘million dollar battle’ set a Guinness World Record for PvP battle concurrency

Last January’s much-hyped “million dollar battle” in EVE Online may have been a $3300 bust in terms of the value of the ships destroyed in the chaos, but that doesn’t mean the battle was for nothing. As The Ancient Gaming Noob himself noticed, the folks at Guinness World Records have determined that the event set a new record in online PvP.

“Fans of space-based video game EVE Online have helped set a new record after achieving the Guinness World Records title for the Most concurrent players simultaneously involved in a single multiplayer PvP videogame battle. A total of 6,142 players took part in an enormous battle – the Siege of 9-4 – in January 2018.”

At Fanfest, where CCP accepted the award, CCP Guard fittingly said, “This award is yours; we’re just its stewards.”

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EVE Fanfest 2018: CCP Games has big plans for data collection and machine learning

Every day in the sandbox of New Eden, several hundred thousand EVE Online players perform millions of unseen actions. Every item manufactured, module activated, shot fired at an NPC, and stargate activated leaves its mark on the universe, but the granular details of those actions is lost forever. It simply isn’t feasible to record every little thing a player does in-game, or at least it wasn’t feasible until now. At EVE Fanfest 2018, CCP announced an innocuous new Activity Tracker feature that may actually eventually have big consequences for everything from game balance to fighting bots.

The feature will be delivered as a new Activity Tracker window in the game client that will show players detailed stats on almost everything they’ve done in-game since the tracker went live. This in itself is useful, both for helping players set goals and for highlighting other areas of the game they might not have given a fair shake yet and so might enjoy. Behind the scenes, the way that CCP is collecting this detailed data and the implications of its use are really fascinating, and there are even plans to use machine learning to look for patterns in this data that would help identify bots.

Read on for a breakdown of exactly how masses of new data is being captured on EVE players, and how it could be put to use in the future.

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EVE Fanfest 2018: Andrew Groen on the sequel to his popular EVE Online history book

One of the most common comments you’ll see in articles about big events in EVE Online is that it’s a lot more entertaining to read about than to play, and that’s certainly true if what you’re reading is Empires of EVE. Written by EVE Historian Andrew Groen back in 2015 and published thanks to the support of over 3,000 players through a crowdfunding campaign, Empires of EVE tells the story of some of EVE‘s earliest and most deadly wars and political schisms.

Cutting through all of the propaganda and player self-motivations in a political sandbox like EVE is no small task, and it’s complicated by over a decade of shifting loyalties, misinformation, propaganda, and misremembered events. Andrew is uniquely equipped to cut through many of those issues, collecting as accurate historical records as possible and delivering it all as a coherent, deeply compelling narrative that even plenty of non-players have thoroughly enjoyed. Andrew recently announced that Empires of EVE had broken the 15,000 sales mark, and at EVE Fanfest 2018 he announced a sequel is now in the works.

I caught up with Andrew at Fanfest to find out how the first book’s success has affected him and what the future holds for Empires of EVE: Volume II.

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SuperData examines the lootbox controversy’s effect on EA and the gaming industry

How big a deal with the lootbox controversy that finally hit the mainstream last year? Pretty big, SuperData argues. In a new blog post, the analytics firm argues that “the loot box controversy hampered Star Wars Battlefront II out of the gate” as shown by the game’s monthly active users compared to its predecessor’s, and that the resulting dumpster fire has caused publishers to rethink lootboxes and self-regulate or at least modulate their greed – an effect we’ve already seen in the MMO industry too.

“At the upcoming E3, we’re likely to see presenters announce ‘no loot boxes’ or that paid content is ‘cosmetic only’ in order to get on the good side of creators and hardcore gamers,” SuperData predicts. “Loot boxes won’t disappear anytime soon given their success in games like Overwatch (over $600M of loot boxes sold through February 2018). In the short term, though, ‘No loot boxes’ will be the game industry’s own ‘gluten free water’ — and we’re likely to even see this slogan used to market titles where loot boxes would not make sense such as adventure games.”

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Next year’s EVE Fanfest won’t be in Iceland, obviating your efforts to properly spell Reykjavik

Last autumn, when CCP Games began dumping assets and studios and VR holdings overboard, it also sent almost all of its EVE Online community team packing too. At the time, it caused some players to wonder about the fate of EVE Fanfest as well as its spinoff versions like EVE Vegas, so we were all relieved to hear that this year’s Fanfest would go on as planned.

But CCP is apparently planning a shakeup of its gatherings. Next year’s event won’t be held in Reykjavik, Iceland, breaking a 14-year tradition to hold it in CCP’s own back yard. The company says it’ll instead hold 2019’s events across the continents, so there will be one in Europe, as well as Australia and the US (Vegas and one on the east coast too). CCP further says that’ll hold one event inside one player’s home, which is definitely something I do not want to have to clean for, so I will not be entering the video contest for that, but you folks definitely should. We’ll bring the popcorn.

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Defiance 2050 delays its console closed beta event, but the PC event will go on as planned

A couple of weeks ago, Trion announced that it was prepping a big closed beta test for Defiance 2050 across all platforms – this very weekend, in fact. But it appears the test will be suffering a delay, at least for console players.

“The Defiance 2050 closed beta test will run on PC this weekend (April 20 – 22),” Trion’s email blast this morning reads. “In order to best optimize the experience for all players, the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions of the closed beta test are being moved to a later date. We will communicate the updated console beta dates as soon as we can.”

Trion announced the console-oriented reboot back in February; the MMORPG studio has since promised it won’t abandon the original game and can’t support full crossplay but will credit classic Defiance players in the new title. Signups are live on the official site.

Want to know what to expect? We got hands-on with the reboot at this year’s GDC.

Source: Press release

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The Soapbox: Three augmented reality game problems (most) MMOs don’t have – and one thing they do so much better

I’d like to think that I’m kind of a healthy gamer. While MMOs take a lot of time, the nice thing is that their downtime can lead to forming bonds, or give you time to exercise. Augmented reality games can give you both at once, especially Pokemon Gosince it’s the best-known ARG we have (and the mountains of merchandise make it easier to stand out as a fellow player).

However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, and I’m not just talking about game mechanics that have plagued Niantic games since at Ingress. I remember playing that title and thinking, “Man, this game is dangerous! There’s no way they’ll just clone this for POGO, right?” And yet, here we are. But I can’t put all the blame on Niantic, especially after my time with ARG competitor Maguss. Some things just seem inherent to the genre.

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The MOP Up: Seal Online embraces a cartoony spirit (April 15, 2018)

The MMO industry moves along at the speed of information, and sometimes we’re deluged with so much news here at Massively Overpowered that some of it gets backlogged. That’s why there’s The MOP Up: a weekly compilation of smaller MMO stories and videos that you won’t want to miss. Seen any good MMO news? Hit us up through our tips line!

Maybe you’ll discover a new game in this space — or be reminded of an old favorite! This week we have stories and videos from Seal OnlineTrovePokemon GoSea of ThievesTales of GaiaBattleriteWar of RightsPUBGWorld of WarcraftCity of HeroesWill to Live Online, and Prosperous Universe, all waiting for you after the break!

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EVE Fanfest 2018: Two EVE players were married by the space pope. Yep.

Of all the fascinating things the EVE Online community has embraced over the game’s almost 15-year lifetime, perhaps the most bizarre is space pope Max Singularity. The character of the space pope started out as a joke among players who discovered Max doling out words of worldly wisdom in the in-game chat channels and counselling players who were going through tough times. This most cutthroat of online communities embraced Max’s kindness, and he embraced his new in-game role as a religious leader of the Amarr empire.

The space pope is actually NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory employee Charles White in real life, but at EVE Fanfest 2018 this week he was in full papal garb with an entourage of space monks and space nuns. If you’ve never heard of the space pope, well, I promise I am not making this up. Today at Fanfest, lucky EVE players Tairon Usaro and Irma Amatin were married by the space pope himself in a traditional Amarrian ceremony in front of hundreds of onlookers. Skip past the cut for a short video about the wedding.

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Massively Overthinking: The best of PAX East and GDC in 2018

The past couple of weeks has been wild as we dispatched writers to GDC in San Francisco and PAX East in Boston to gather up and bring back everything they could on the MMORPGs large and small on the spring convention circuit. In fact, as I type this, we’ve got Brendan in Reykjavik for EVE Fanfest too! So for this week’s Overthinking, we’re rounding up our coverage and then reflecting on the best and worst as we pick out what most excites, surprises, and disappoints us: First the roundups, then our thoughts. Read on!

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Here’s how to playtest Elder Scrolls Online’s Summerset chapter next week

Summerset is closer than you think! The Elder Scrolls Online team announced today that the chapter is expected to hit the test server on Monday. In fact, all of update 18 will be playable there too. Getting in is the tricky part.

“Invites will be sent to a large group of new PTS testers, but if you participated in the ESO: Morrowind PTS beta last year, you’ll be able to log into the Summerset PTS from the ESO launcher yourself, no invite required! Just don’t forget to enable ‘Show Public Test Environment’ from your launcher settings. Note that as always, anybody can install the PTS client, log in, and test the base game changes, but they won’t be able visit Summerset or experience any of the new Chapter’s features unless granted access.”

Do note that the main quest and story are under a strict NDA (agreement, watermarked screenies, the works) that lifts May 1st.

MOP’s Andrew and Eliot got hands-on with the chapter at GDC and PAX respectively, both of them finding it to be basically exactly what Elder Scrolls Online fans want and expect out of a big content dump.

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