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FanFest 2013 closes with news of a comic, ‘Dust’ gets a clever release date, and ‘EVE Online’ heads to the TV

CCP-Games-with-swordsEVE FanFest 2013 is over and we were there to see it all. There’s really nothing quite like it in the video game industry. The level of developer-to-fan back and forth is unprecedented under normal circumstances, and FanFest represents the pinnacle of this two-way dialogue. EVE Online, and now Dust 514 as well, are shaped by CCP Games, but it’s the community in the navigator’s chair.

The final keynote of FanFest is the big reward; while each of the preceding evening’s keynotes focused on what’s to come in EVE and Dust respectively in the near-term, the final night is all about the look ahead. There are, however, a few tidbits regarding things coming  soon that CCP saves for the final night. And for its 10th anniversary FanFest celebration, CCP dropped a heavy payload.

EVE True Stories Dark HorseThe talk kicked off on a high note, with the revelation that CCP has partnered with Dark Horse Comics. Two releases are coming in 2013 with more (as-yet-unconfirmed) material to follow. First up is EVE Online Source, a 184-page hardbound book that presents a detailed look at the underlying lore fueling New Eden’s ever-developing story in EVE Online and Dust 514. Meant to appeal to fans and curious newcomers alike as a coffee table book and reference volume, Source is meant to be the most comprehensive account that one can find outside the Internet.

Even more exciting is Dark Horse’s upcoming EVE: True Stories, a one-off comic book inspired by CCP’s recently launched “True Stories From The First Decade” website. This fan-fueled portal offers a platform from which EVE and Dust players can offer up firsthand accounts of their successes and failures in New Eden. Dark Horse’s True Stories will see four writer/artist pairings tackling four different stories from the site. Not direct translations, mind you; the one-off will take creative license when necessary to deliver a compelling series of stories.

CCP chose to bookend the final keynote with major announcements. Roughly two and a half hours after the Dark Horse reveal, founder and CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson ran 2013′s cinematic trailer – an annual tradition – commenting after it was over on how every year the new clip is followed by calls from fans for an EVE Online movie. Pétursson and the rest of the team at the studio is thinking bigger, however, and planning an ongoing TV series.

There was once a time where TV was a less-than motion picture equivalent to feature-length movies. No longer. Quality TV offers a broader palette from which to share stories, and CCP feels that New Eden is a perfect place from which to draw material. So that is what is going to happen, with some help from an established Hollywood filmmaker who, as it turns out, is a native Icelander.

EVE TV seriesPétursson admits up front that CCP brings no background to TV production, and so he’s turned to a fellow countryman and Hollywood movie-maker to steer things instead: Baltasar Kormákur, the director of Contraband and the upcoming 2 Guns, starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg. Kormákur is currently off shooting a pilot for HBO miniseries The Missionary so he wasn’t able to attend FanFest, but a pre-recorded video message offered viewers a chance to hear the excitement directly from the filmmaker.

Then there’s the brilliantly simple, yet powerful, tagline: “Based on a true story, set 20,000 years into the future.” Really sit and think about that for a moment. It’s an alluring idea, isn’t it?

In more game-centered news, the keynote brought word that Dust 514 will conclude its public beta, launched earlier this year, in mid-May. The end of the beta also marks the full launch of the free-to-play multiplayer shooter. There are no plans to wipe the server, though the in-game economy won’t be linked with EVE’s immediately. The official date falls one week after the May 6 release of the free Uprising expansion, on May 14. Yup: Dust 514 launches on 5/14. Clever, CCP.

The last item of big news is aimed largely at the EVE players. As part of the 10th anniversary celebration, CCP will be re-releasing a boxed version of its MMORPG as the EVE Online: Second Decade collector’s edition box set. The $149.99 set is coming in October 2013 (pre-orders are open now on CCP’s website; fans will also be able to grab the release from Amazon) and it packs in a wide assortment of physical and digital items to justify the added cost.

On the digital side, there are items for EVE and Dust fans alike, including a golden escape pod (which players end up in when their ships are destroyed) and the blueprint for a bonus ship that all subscribers will receive on May 6 (EVE’s official anniversary day), among other things. Those who play Dust as well will score a variety of drop suit variants and weapon skins. Additional bonuses are rewarded to those who pre-order, and an included multi-use “Mystery Code” carries the promise of additional bonus content to come over the course of the game’s second decade.

So… you know. You probably shouldn’t lose it and stuff.

EVE Online Second Decade CE

For physical items, the Second Decade collection comes packing a digipak CD copy of the 10 year anniversary symphony performance (will also be sold separately), a model of a Rifter ship that doubles as a USB hub, and a 190-page retrospective book called Into the Second Decade, featuring photos, interviews, and more. Check out CCP’s website for the complete rundown.

In a neat twist, the box set will also include a newly refreshed version of CCP Games’ earliest effort, the Icelandic board game Haettuspil. The Second Decade version is an entirely new release for English-speaking players, complete with a translated title: Danger Game. In a neat twist, the early CCP effort featured photographic contributions from Jón Gnarr, a former comedian-turned-Reykjavik mayor. Gnarr will reprise his cross-dressing performance from 10-plus years ago for the new version of the game, and he’ll be joined in the game’s included photos by members of the CCP team.

The keynote included a handful of other announcements, including word of a partnership with fashion designer Musterbrand for wearable EVE gear and stated plans to explore 3D printing opportunities, both for models and statues of generic in-game content along with more player-specific items. It was a lot, and the fans responded enthusiastically to each new announcement.

CCP brought EVE Online and the New Eden community into its second decade with style, and the extended keynote that closed out FanFest 2013 speaks to that. It is clear now more than ever EVE Online will always be the same complicated MMORPG that 500,000-plus players (and counting) have invested so much in, but it is equally clear that this isn’t enough. The MMO may be the base, but CCP has a clear goal laid out for its next 10 years: go big, attract millions. They may not ever become true capsuleers, but the hope is that they’ll be drawn to some aspect of New Eden’s rich and ever-growing fiction.