This year I had the luxury of attending the SOE Fan Faire along with a number of friends from my guild Revelry and Honor (Guk). If you haven't been to a Fan Faire before, I highly recommend it. It's a great opportunity to get out and meet your 'friends', rub shoulders with the developers, and just generally get involved in the community. By far the biggest hoot of the weekend was hanging out with my guildmates. They were all really funny, high quality peeps. It was a blast getting to know them a bit out of game.
Our guild leader, Karen, from Journeys with Jaye, was one of the winners of the SOE Backstage Bloggers contest and was doing a bunch of work with the community members over the weekend. I tagged along a bit and it seemed like every time I turned around I was shaking hands with another dev or community fixture... Calthine, Amnerys, Kiara, Frizznik, Feldon (EQ2Wire), Adam (Epic Slant) and yeah... Smedley. Well at least we think that was him chilling at the bar while we did our 8 am shots of Patron.
'Jace' Hall was the MC for the event. You may know him from his work on the web based Jace Hall Show or the television series 'V'. I'm going to say that although 'Jace' may aspire to be a gamer, he was a bit out of his element hosting Fan Faire. I'm not sure he ever garnered the respect of the audience. Perhaps that was just part of the shtick. Linda Carlson AKA 'Brasse' really stole the show up on stage. She was great! SOE, next year skip the fancy shmacy MC and just have Brasse do the whole thing!
I participated in the EQ2 contest which involved running a group through Zraxth's Unseen Arcanum. This zone will be released in one of the future expansions and it was challenging for us. The group had 30 minutes to go as far as we could and received points for each named kill among other things. We had a great time doing this, but network problems kept this event from going off as smoothly as it should have. One suggestion SOE for next year... Put up a leaderboard where all teams can monitor results. Use a large LCD panel and let everyone see how they scored compared to the other participants. There were a lot of people clogging up the contest area, trying to figure out how they did. It would also be cool to see who was in each group (i.e. class and/or guild). Roll this up into a web app that references player profiles fromo EQ2Players! Better yet, give us devs more access to XML from EQ2Players and the EQ2 environment and I'll do it for ya =)
I attended a couple of the EQ2 panels including EQNext and thre Class Mechanics panel. While EQNext looks interesting I wasn't really impressed with how SOE presented this over the weekend. I really got the impression that there wasn't a lot of vision or innovation going on. Smed and the devs spent about 10 minutes talking about the game at the beginning of the panel and then just opened it up for questions and comments. This really made the whole thing feel like a phishing session. 'We really don't have much yet and were hoping you could give us some ideas'. It felt like a 'design-by committee' approach. I can't quite put my finger on it, but it just seemed like it lacked mojo. Some things I didn't like hearing about... classes, raid sizes, instances.. Again, not a lot of apparent innovation from the outset. Do something... I don't know... different. Everyone else has raids, but you have: 'fill in this space with your really cool new features' The screenshots did look nice and I have my fingers crossed but there certainly will be a lot of competition for this game when it finally appears (Guild Wars 2, Rift, and new Blizzard mmo).
The Class Mechanics panel clearly illustrated three things for me. First the players are still really passionate about this game. They know their stuff. Second, if you ask a silly question during this panel in front of 500 people, they will reinforce my first observation with you. (i.e. 'You suck!' or 'Learn to play your class!') Third, the development team is really loaded with stuff to do. I sympathize with what they are up against. Ouch. Hopefully they are able to get through with their reduced workload after the layoffs this spring.
I'll try to get some more of my notes from the EQNext and Class Mechanics panels up later this week.
For now, I'm out!