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Previews: Fanfest: Avatars, Linux & Announcements!

By Dana Massey on November 16, 2006

Fanfest: Avatars, Linux & Announcements!
EVE Fanfest: A Wealth of Announcements (Page 3 of 3)

Although no demonstration was available during the speech, Sharma promised crystal clear quality with virtually no impact on game performance. Vivox runs its own servers for all chat - including EVE - and thus, server-side, the changes mean virtually nothing in terms of performance.

The Vivox servers also mix all sound in real time locally and shoot when audio stream back to all users. Sharma mentioned that the time it typically takes to mix and send back is less than the human ear perceives, so the effect is of talking in a crowded room. Furthermore, mixing on the server means the voices all blend together rather than clipping off as often happens in other voice solutions.

At the moment, players can have 200 other players in one room, although in the beta they had only gone as high as 90 and they plan to charge a $10.00 flat fee per year for all service.

In the future, Sharma noted that CCP is following their traditional route of getting the basics right and then fleshing out the content as the community wants. There is much more Vivox can do and likely will in the future.

Vivox could provide a desktop client for players to chat with others who are in the game. He even took this further by using his network to call one of the developer's cell phones. The only development question here is security and design.

Vivox also supports 3D audio so that players can ascertain where the speaker is in reference to themselves. He noted, though, that this may be a bit odd given the game takes place in ships that use radios to communicate. Although, who is to say what kind of fancy radios they'd have in the future since knowing where people are without having to look was a feature the fans seemed quite interested in.

Another neat idea, one Vivox is currently developing, is voice fonts. These modify the speakers voice to sounds like something else. A few companies have done this - at E3 one of our writers tried a product that transformed her voice into that of a small child - but Sharma was not impressed with their efforts. He envisions a system where based on a small voice sample, the computer can make subtle changes to the person's real voice that better reflect their character in the game. For example, in a fantasy MMORPG, a guild leader who is an elf will have a more powerful, but Elf-like voice, that nonetheless bears some resemblance to their own (for variation among players). These kinds of innovations may or may not ever make their way into EVE, but they're definitely a step in the right direction for players who find real voices in games to have a negative effect on immersion.

Concept to Reality
Asgeir Jon Asgeirsson, an Lead Concept Artist for EVE, kicked off the day on a mellow note with an art presentation. He was joined on stage by Art Producer Benjamin Bohn. At first, it seemed like a terrible idea: an artist with a tablet sketching mostly silently in front of an auditorium of people. Yet, as time went by, Asgeirsson showed where EVE gets its inspiration. He'd draw briefly, then flick on a photoshop layer and take the audience step by step from the initial concept of a ship through to the final piece of art. By the time he was done, his hand-drawn (and Photoshop manipulated) piece of concept art might well have been a 3D model for all the difference the untrained eye could see.

Asgeirsson's presentation started slowly, but by the end, the audience hung on his every layer reveal with gasps and applause as the ship he drew became more and more complete.

Serenity Now - CCP in Asia
Kjartan Emilsson, the Managing Director of CCP Asia, concluded the morning presentations with an update on CCP Asia and their parallel universe Serenity.

Serenity launched in August after four months work by 20 translators. Their open beta in June had 1.5-million users, but generally in China that does not necessarily mean much for the final product. Now released, they have 100,000 players and 20,000 subscribers, which is not altogether unlike Tranquility (their English server) just after launch.

To date, the game has been dominated by intense alliance warfare. In China, there are super-guilds that transcend all online games. A few have taken up a foothold in EVE and the result has been intense PvP that has even gone so far as guild leaders paying people (with real money) to fight for them, quite the twist on the secondary market.

Based out of Shanghai, they intend to develop CCP Asia partly as a support office. They're building a new office and hope to have 30 employees in six months. They are recruiting people who are fluent in both English and Mandarin so that they can house support for Tranquility and Serenity without issue.

Next Article: Revelations II & III, More Presentations and Fanfest itself!
Two articles and over seven-thousand words later and I still have a lot more to report on from EVE's Fanfest in Reykjavik. Check back soon for a final article on the Fanfest itself, the afternoon presentations from Creative Director Reynir Hadarson on the Nature of Evil and Senior Producer Nathan Richardson on EVE's 10 Year Plan, Revelations II and III and whatever else I can fit in.