Monday, April 29, 2013

Fanfest 2013 - some thoughts

I'm sorry to say I wasn't in Iceland last week, but I watched livestreams and replays, read the blogs.. time to write down a few points that stick out for me.

Eve Online + Dust = ...
One of the driving forces behind Walking in Stations, was the vision of New Eden as the complete, immersive scifi simulator. Not just a 'Flying in space' game but much more than that. After this years' fanfest, I'm tempted to say that CCP is still working on that grand vision.. they are just approaching it from another angle. A New Eden that is populated by Dusties, Capsuleers, mobile device users and - who knows, one day - Evr pilots and whatnot. Seen in that light it's no wonder that Dust got the amount of attention it did: it's just another piece of the New Eden puzzle. A very important piece I might add: CCP hinted that in terms of concurrent users, Dust 514 is rapidly growing to around the same size as Eve Online. If this trend continues, pod pilots may soon find themselves a minority in New Eden!

If World of Darkness would have gotten the airtime that was given to Dust, then I would surely have been annoyed. World of Darkness does not add to New Eden, and any energy spent on WoD, does not directly benefit us capsuleers. That said, a company with just one successful product is (almost by definition) a vulnerable company, and as such there is an indirect benefit for Eve Online and Dust players if WoD becomes a profitable game. A more diversified CCP, with income from several sources, is more likely to survive and thrive long term.

And this is also, I think, part of the reasons why CCP is expanding the Eve IP into other territories such as comic books and TV shows. Broadening the audience and potential customer base is a sound strategy, if they do it right.

The Oculus3D EVR game was praised for its' immersive qualities and immersion is also a key driver behind CCP Soundwave's 'war on loading bars' and the system scanner revamp. Immersion is very important in a virtual world and I am happy to see very concrete improvements in this area. This, too, fits a 'complete scifi simulator' vision.

Odyssey style jump gate about to fire
The new, immersion improving jump gate effects and system scanner, the hacking minigames, Navy battlecruisers, the restructuring of ice and R64 moons, possibly even new life blood for nullsec industry, and more: I'm looking forward to it. Bring it on!

The CSM election turned out nicely, most of the people I voted for made it into CSM8. It's certainly not the CSM some of the nullsec blocs wanted to see.. and this too is a good thing. I'm pleasantly surprised by the huge response to Ripard Teg and the fact that a guy like Mike Azariah actually got elected.

I can't help but admire CCP. They are certainly able to host a significant event and throw a tremendous party, and seeing it from a distance certainly makes me more than a little envious :-) Especially via Twitter you get the feeling that Fanfest pumps a huge shot of energy and sense of togetherness the Eve community. The devs certainly play a positive part in this. Kudos to all involved.
Obviously there is a lot going on in the company, with John Lander moving to a new position and no replacement yet announced. Pressure will remain on CCP to get Dust 514 off the ground, both short and long term, WoD still in slomo development and a mobile strategy that has to be developed as well. Lots to do, but CCP has shown they are able to adjust and overcome, and I expect them to be able to continue doing so well into Eve Online's second decade.
The only thing that worried me, was that - until recently - if you searched for Eve Online on, it would list 'Sony' somewhere on the Eve Online page. It seems to be gone now, and I'm happy about that :-)

And if you want to see it all again, is the place to go. It has all the broadcasts!

In my RL job, I am a product owner in an agile/scrum team, working on creating and improving virtual channels for a financial services company. We have only begun to use scrum a little while ago, so I'm still learning.
In my role as 'PO' I'm especially focused on the backlog and how to deal with it. I've been taught that a product backlog contains user stories in different stages of development. The user stories scheduled for 'somewhere in the future' tend to be large, not well defined. They are more like general ideas, not yet ready for implementation. In due time (when the user story progresses through the backlog) the idea will be thought through, elaborated on, be specified, quite possibly broken into smaller, more concrete user stories which can, finally, be built during a sprint. So, as their implementation date nears, user stories will progressively grow more concrete and better specified.
Via Twitter I learned that CCP Seagull is product owner for Odyssey, and I just asked her if she is also the owner of the product backlog for the rest of Eve Online - if such a backlog exists, and my guess is it does. If so, it's not surprising that CCP is vague about the long term plans as detailed in the Seagulls' statements in the Eve Online keynote, which were repeated later in the CCP Presents keynote. These future visions are just the vague ideas and big chunks of unspecified work at the end of the backlog :-)

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