The Next Major Expansion:
The focus of the expansion will be "true exploration", with players using new skills and modules to travel through wormholes into all-new, unconnected space. There they will find unique stellar phenomena and the resources and artefacts that will lead to the third level of technology in the game universe, Tech 3 - the first such update since Tech 2 was introduced back in 2004.
The star feature of Tech 3 will be modular, customisable ships. Instead of providing each faction with one or two new ships each, CCP will provide each with a template that comes in five sections, with five options in each. That's a total of 25 possible basic ships for each faction, with many more thousands of smaller modifications possible (7776 permutations possible, to be exact). This announcement was received rapturously by the Fanfest audience.
Epic, branching mission arcs will provide hierarchies of missions, organised in trees, that will provide a varying experience depending on success or failure. These missions will cover the storyline introducing the wormholes to the universe.
Additionally, the new player experience will be made more accessible. It will take less time to get a new character flying in space, with more of the character creation process spread over the first few days in the game (although Olafsson also promised that creating alts would still be as streamlined as experienced players expect).
Walking in Stations will also make EVE the first game to take advantage of a new lighting technology called Enlighten from Cambridge's Geomerics. In technical terms this means real-time radiosity - the bouncing of light from surfaces to other surfaces. In practical terms, it's supposed to allow games to take advantage of the kind of dynamic mood lighting of film, and especially film noir. A Geomerics representative showed clips of Alien and Blade Runner as well as a deeply impressive tech demo. Enlighten wasn't built into the demo shown, but regardless, there were some stunningly subtle lighting and shadowing effects on display already - ambient occlusion (softer darkening of obscured areas, as opposed to hard shadows) was spectacular.
You'll be able to rent a "socket", buy a bar blueprint and insert it. Set your own restrictions on the clientele, hire NPCs to populate the bar (including dancers), even craft dialogue rules for them to create your own little quasi-missions and adventure storylines. Then sit back and watch the beer money roll in. Maybe.
Crafting clothes will be another new source of income in Walking In Stations, although it's likely to be done via the regular market than clothing boutiques. Crafting and trading in general are going to be left out of Walking In Stations at first, as well as agent missions. CCP reasons that what you can do with a few mouse-clicks now, you're unlikely to want to spend five minutes walking around to do later. "It's important that we don't create gameplay mechanics that are just there for realism and are hugely annoying," Olafsson says.
Footage was shown of a Halo-like shooter on a daylit, Earth-like planet surface. The architecture and gun designs were clearly redolent of the space MMO's art style.
There was also a third-person view of a land vehicle driving across the surface.