Friday, 26 April 2013

FanFest 2013: World of Darkness

Note: We were asked to not record video of this presentation because CCP do not want people commenting on stuff presented through an in-house video being used as an art target for the World of Darkness art department. This is part of CCP learning to do thing "expectation management" thing. I have no experience with any of the franchise so I don't know the background to what is happening. I'm just reporting what I remember thinking I saw.


We are in a dark alley. It is raining. Sparse fat drops splash into rippling puddles on the ground. A woman is feigning interest in her mobile phone while observing a man leaning against a wall under a street light, cigarette smoke highlighting the dun cone of light. The woman approaches the man and makes a romantic advance, which the man accepts willingly as he pulls her towards him. She snaps his neck and sucks his blood.

In the distance there are ghostly figures running over rain-drenched rooftops, leaping over alleyways and climbing walls. The woman considers them for a moment, then strides down this alley towards a brightly lit café. Inside the cafe we see innocents pursuing their mundane mortal lives, resorting to alcohol and romance to drive away the boredom of stable civilisation. The woman wanders through the cafe to the balcony on the other side, watching the ghostly figures in the distance while maintaining a nonchalant attitude. She leans against the glass balustrade.

The figures in the distance split up, one is proceeding alone to a nearby rooftop. The woman waits for an opportune moment then dives across the alley way, clinging to the parapet of the building next door. As she raises herself onto the roof the woman fades into the shadows, becoming a ghostly figure herself. The woman darts through the rooftop machinery, emerging into an open area where a man in a trenchcoat appears to be waiting for something.

As the man starts casting some kind of spell, the woman loses her shadowy cover and runs at him, landing a sidekick which launches the man off the building. The assault over in moments, the woman dives after him, landing next to the man's broken corpse. The woman slices open the man's throat and starts to feed.

Ghostly figures materialise around the woman, solidifying into a man and another woman who do not appear happy to see this woman here.


The video we were shown is an internal "goal setting" exercise: this is a video depicting a few moments of what the art team wants World of Darkness to look like when we are actually playing it. Thus there are no dramatic scene changes, cuts, or camera changes. This is all third-person perspective like you would experience in World of Warcraft or EVE Online's Captains Shoebox. The level of detail is the same as or better than Captains Shoebox, and all very convincingly real.

It is now some time after watching the footage, so my memory is fading (or falsely enhancing the imagery) so I'm not certain of the details such as reflections, ripples, smokey atmosphere in stark downlights, but the footage we were shown was perfectly suited to setting the mood of the piece. I may be more impressionable and gullible than you.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

FanFest 2013: Design Principles

CCP Soundwave provided us with a selection of 6 from the claimed 9 principles that govern EVE Online (and presumably DUST 514) game design.

  1. No game should be more complex than it absolutely needs to be to meet its goals.
  2. A good feature can be based on positive or negative player interaction.
  3. Other players will always be more interesting, for longer, than designed experiences.
  4. Every system should affect, and be affected by, the wider world of the game.
  5. Here are the tools, do something cool with them.
  6. The social experience is more important than practical system balance; the interaction between winners and losers is more interesting than mechanical equality.
  7. Interactions should be about reaching and touching, more than reading numbers.
  8. Things in the world need to make sense.
  9. Players are not entitled to success. There should be an achievement mountain, with players able to find their level and strive to be better.

These are design principles that I can very strongly agree with. I have posted them here so I can refer to them when I come up with my next bizarre idea for tweaking the EVE universe.

Update: a longer article about these principles over here:

FanFest 2013: PVE In EVE Round Table

I attended the PVE Round Table hosted by CCP Affinity and CCP Bettik. My recollection of the topics discussed is roughly as follows.

Throughout these notes it is important to know that CCP Bettik's philosophy is that EVE is a living universe, and the traffic of mission runners and haulers are part of the life of this universe. I thoroughly agree with his opinion. IMHO, where any other MMO might have NPCs doing stuff (kodo wandering the plains of Mulgore, for example), EVE should strive to fill that role with players doing stuff (miners in belts, explorers in space, etc).


CCP Affinity made the scandalous statement that perhaps the "Damsel in Distress" mission has seen enough air time and should be canned. I vehemently disagreed!

One of the audience asked about being able to accept and complete all non-handin missions remotely.
IMHO, Damsel in Distress deserves a sequel, depicting the life of said Damsel after she realises that running back to her drug dealing casino-running boyfriend is a bad idea. Maybe she starts her own drug ring and becomes an agent for the Serpentis.

As far as remote completion and handin of missions, I disagree. Although we do have FTL communications and funds transfer the idea of having mission runners never set foot in station except to pick up or drop off items removes too much content for tourists and gankers. In addition allowing remote acceptance and completion of missions will boost mission-runner incomes far too much. Without the extra travel time you can shave 2-3 minutes off every mission, in some cases (esp. Cargo Delivery) this will double the mission runner's income, before any clever tactics are applied to maximise ISK/hr.


The discussion about mining mainly centred around the desire to remove the current mechanic of respawning asteroids once per day. There was no mention of my awesome ideas suggested in "Mining is Boring". I'll forgive them for now and simply ensure that Ripard Teg and his soon-to-be-CSM-minions get the right message.

CCP Bettik suggested that in keeping with his desire for a living, organic universe it might be worth compressing many of the existing belts into one or two: thus rather than a half-dozen miners doing their own thing you would have a half-dozen miners in the one belt giving the feeling that stuff is happening.

I dislike CCP Bettik's idea of condensing asteroid belts into mega-belts. Currently there is a rule of thumb: if there are more people than belts, move on. One pilot is able to clear out a belt in a manner of hours. If all the miners had to share a belt there might be more "social" interaction in the form of "get your grubby mitts off my rock", but there would also be easier ganks to be had (because all the miners are in one spot), less relaxing and chilling out available due to the requirement to pay attention for the purpose of negotiating rights with other miners, before you even consider the attention that will be required for avoiding the now-more-prolific gankers.

Moving all mining to bigger asteroid belts also removes content for explorers, as opposed to moving mining to grav sites.


The discussion of exploration mainly revolved around hacking: the idea proposed by CCP Affinity was that only one player at a time would be able to hack a crate, but once hacked anyone could loot it. This further led to discussion about whether looting crates hacked by other players should trigger suspect and/or limited engagement status.

CCP Affinity expressed an interest for introducing a Guild Wars 2 style questing system to EVE: for example you wander around and see a "shiny thing" which you investigate which then leads to a mission, perhaps with an agent contacting you for follow-on missions. There was a leak about the new discovery system involving a system-wide "ping" which would highlight probable signatures in your view of space, enticing you to stop and smell the roses even if you are just flying through a particular system.

My opinion about hacking is that all pilots in range of the crate should be able to hack it (just like all miners in range of an asteroid can start mining): the one with the better skills gets to unlock the crate first. Then everyone gets to dogpile on each other until someone is left with an intact ship and the remains of whatever was looted.

The new discovery system sounds awesome.


If I missed something, please remind me. During FanFest 2013 I will be most easily contactable via Twitter on @Mara_Rinn.