This past weekend was not the first time I have attended a developer’s convention, but Frontier Expo 2017 was one of only a very few times when I have been able to attend the first one of its kind. Last weekend, I got to witness the birth of Frontier Developments’ fan convention, held in London, UK. At 1500 attendees, it may have been a relatively small gathering compared to conventions like PAX or other more established cons, but it was still great. In fact, it offered fans a few firsts of their own! Besides your classic meeting-and-greeting, game announcements with reveals, and after parties (including live entertainment by Jim Guthrie, the musician who created the Planet Coaster music), folks got to try their hand at the studio’s really old games on their original equipment in the Frontier Developments museum.
Even more than that, attendees got to meet and listen to world-renowned experts in the fields of paleontology and astrobiology. Not because these would sell the game, but just because they are subjects of interest to fans. How many studios have offered that?
Now there were understandably a few bumps and learning experiences in this first endeavor, but in all, I say the inaugural FX2017 was a resounding success! It was easily the most chill convention experience I have ever had, and I look forward to next year’s show (and hanging out with the space loach more!). Let’s dig in!
No, it’s not an MMO. Boy oh boy do I wish it were! You know that little old movie franchise, Jurassic Park? If you’ve ever thought you could run a dino-filled establishment better than those who tried in on-screen, you’ll be getting your chance with Jurassic World Evolution. The sim game was shown off at Frontier Expo 2017 and lets players move beyond the movies.
Jurassic World Evolution will allow players to design their own dinosaur parks, with three different development paths to pursue. Those who want to create a bustling tourist attraction (and hope tourists don’t become dinner) will focus on Entertainment. Players who prefer to focus on improving military and security applications of dinosaurs will go for Security. And for those enthusiasts who just want to understand more about dinosaurs, there’s the Science path.
When I spoke to Elite Dangerous’ devs at this year’s Frontier Expo 2017, the company’s first fan expo, they admitted that communication went dark for a time. But it wasn’t for any worry-worthy reason: No, it was because the devs were preparing for Beyond, the big update road map for 2018 that was revealed on stage at the con. And what a reveal it was! The crowd was quite excited about the announced features spanning four updates throughout the year, including squadrons, fleet carrier ships, a codex, new ships, improved mining, revamped planetary graphics, and more. As Lead Designer Sandro Sammarco said, “Elite is an ongoing project. It’s not finishing any time soon.”
Along with the big news reveal, I also spoke with Chief Creative Officer Jonny Watts and Producer Adam Woods about these updates that focus on three areas — core game, narrative, and new features. This is what I learned.
Visitors can sit while vendors run wild! That’s the news that Planet Coaster devs shared on stage at the inaugural Frontier Expo 2017. The free upcoming first anniversary update will introduce new management features, rides, and customization options to the roller coaster building sim. First up: picnic tables. Now park visitors can sit to enjoy their meals, making them happier. Conversely, vendors will become free-range, leaving their shops and moving around around the park. This becomes important because vendors will have energy levels, and in order to recharge after a long shift they will need to go to the newly introduced staff management building (which players can customize to provide different perks).
In addition to those features, more customization will be available, from interchangeable coasters and tracks to four new rides — including a community-requested water coaster. Later, in the 1.4 update, folks will be able to create scenarios and share them on the Steam workshop to play with others. Get a peek at these features in the videos and screenshots below!
Do you have a deep and abiding love for Planet Coaster? Probably not. How about Elite: Dangerous? Yes, that’s good, many more hands are being raised. How would you like to attend a convention for both of them in October? Frontier Developments announced the upcoming Frontier Expo 2017 in London’s Olympic Park, a one-day convention on October 7th devoted to both of the studio’s games and what comes next for the titles.
It is not immediately clear how much overlap there may between the fandoms for the two games, but that may be part of the entertainment.
Elite: Dangerous fans will be able to learn more about the game’s upcoming plans and features and attend panels about the real-world science behind the game, as well as collecting various exclusive digital and physical merchandise at the convention. If you’re going to be in the area and have a powerful need to be in on the ground floor (or would consider flying out to London for a one-day convention), tickets go on sale in about two days.