It's always great to touch base with the guys at CCP. Every show, they're displaying something new. This was the first time I've seen the crew since they acquired White Wolf, so I had a few new questions in mind.
As a big fan of both EVE and White Wolf's World of Darkness, the unlikely marriage of the two was a match made in my gamer Valhalla. But what interested me was how CCP, the people behind what we here affectionately call Internet Spaceships, planned on tackling a giant game famous for its loose gaming system and gothic cover art. As it turns out, they're not. At least, the core EVE team isn't.
No, CCP's big news this GDC is the hiring initiative they're putting on. Magnus, CCP's marketing guru, and Kelly, an established White Wolf vet, told me they're planning on adding over 100 people to the team in Atlanta, to develop a new World of Darkness MMOG. When I spoke to Hilmar, the company's CEO, he told me he doesn't want to cross the streams between studios too much, just because the properties are so different. They're so early in development, they haven't named the core team yet, but they assured me more news would be coming soon.
On the EVE front, I got a chance to see promo footage of Project Ambulation, a new feature that will allow players to get out of their ships and actually walk around inside stations to interact with one another. Their hope is to use the new system to help new players get into the game's social structure, the only way to really access the meat of the game. In that vein, they plan on setting up recruiting offices where corporation members can meet with new players face to face. Speaking as someone who washed out of EVE numerous times before finding my way into a large alliance, it's a welcomed addition.
I asked if they planned on giving players the option to rent personal space inside stations, the closest EVE can get to player-owned housing. Magnus and Hilmar both said it was a possibility, but not something on the design document currently. Both were clear in saying they didn't intend to create anything very gamey inside the stations, because they don't want players leaving space permanently. They see Ambulation as a new social layer rather than gameplay addition.
Also of note is their plan to introduce a Mac client sometime this year, inching me one step closer to never having to boot up my PC ever again.
As I said my goodbyes, one of CCP's legion tossed me a party invite and promised cage dancers, tattoo booths and goth music. After looking at the invitation, which featured some of White Wolf's game art, a man chained up by a vampiric dominatrix and two women on either side of him in gas masks, I knew where I was going to be spending a good chunk of my night.
In the absence of a true keynote, the party will probably be the most talked about event of the show. Here's a snapshot: The first thing I saw when I walked into the common area was a naked girl covered in body paint, trapped inside a cage, gyrating to a speed metal song; two more dancing girls on pedestals, wearing only a bit more; and Interview with the Vampire playing on a giant screen in a corner. I told the bartender to forward my mail.
I bumped into one of CCP's guys, and he told me about a tattoo parlor upstairs, then he showed me the EVE logo on his neck. I figured it was a good a time as any to don the ink, so I went up to the second level.
Before I knew it, I had White Wolf's footprint logo on my forearm, and fortunately, the tattoos were only airbrushed. This actually annoyed me last night. I didn't spend much time around the tattoo area, because the groans from around the corner caught my attention quickly.
Three girls were prowling around a roped-off section with two seven-foot structures shaped like large "X"'s, lashing volunteers with a variety of bondage gear. After watching the, uhh, festivities, I went up to try it out. Twice. While I was waiting my turn the second time, I spoke a bit with the guy running security for the area, and he said the girls weren't pros, they were just regulars from the club's bondage night. The girl who whipped me confirmed that, and she said she was usually on the receiving end of the whips she was using. But judging by the maze of welts on my back, she took to the domme side of the equation like a duck to water. After my second ass kicking, I'd finally had it, so I rounded up a bit of the crew and headed out to the Gamecock party (more later) to close out the night.
Overall, CCP put on one hell of a show this year, even without much to say about their games, and they definitely left an impression. But this year, it's the one on my back.