Dust 514 Articles RSS Feed | GameSkinny.com Dust 514 RSS Feed on GameSkinny.com https://www.gameskinny.com/ en Launch Media Network EVE Online Community Raises $190,890 for Philippines Relief Effort https://www.gameskinny.com/b93an/eve-online-community-raises-190890-for-philippines-relief-effort https://www.gameskinny.com/b93an/eve-online-community-raises-190890-for-philippines-relief-effort Wed, 11 Dec 2013 04:28:27 -0500 Mat Westhorpe

One day of Icelandic craziness resulted in EVE Online players raising $190,890 in aid of the relief effort taking place in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

The PLEX for GOOD campaign was highlighted by an 8-hour Twitch livestream, hosted by an assortment of CCP Games developers, in which they enticed players to donate PLEX (a one-month game time code worth $20) by offering to perform strange, often uncomfortable acts such as boxing matches, paintball pelting, head shavings, a training session from Icelandic mixed martial arts fighter Gunnar "Gunni" Nelson, the eating of the local "delicacy" of rotten shark, and much more.

A lot of the pain seemed to be directed at community dev, CCP Dolan (pictured below).

Clips of the action can be found in this YouTube playlist.

In a press statement released today, CCP Games announced:

"During the PLEX for GOOD drive the EVE community banded together in dozens of unique player-run efforts to donate 12,726 PLEX (approximately 1060 years of playtime) to total US$190,890."

CCP Games CEO, Hilmar Veigar Petursson said,

“We often talk about how EVE is ‘real’, a simulation of humanity where there are few rules and all the economic, political and social forces of human nature push the boundaries of morality in all directions. We’ve seen the passionate side of our players over the past decade, but truly nothing could prepare us for this level of generosity from them. It is humbling. It is beautiful. It is what EVE is really about.”

 Since 2003, the EVE Online community has generated over US$340,000 for various charitable organisations.

Interview with CCP CMO: Valkyrie as a Bloodsport and a Sovereignty Shake-Up https://www.gameskinny.com/i3gfx/interview-with-ccp-cmo-valkyrie-as-a-bloodsport-and-a-sovereignty-shake-up https://www.gameskinny.com/i3gfx/interview-with-ccp-cmo-valkyrie-as-a-bloodsport-and-a-sovereignty-shake-up Mon, 18 Nov 2013 09:58:31 -0500 Mat Westhorpe

David Reid, CCP Games Chief Marketing Officer, was interviewed by BBC Radio's Adam Rosser on 12th November. They discussed EVE: Valkyrie and EVE Online's upcoming Rubicon expansion.

To listen to the audio of the interview, visit this article. What follows is the full transcription of the conversation.

Adam Rosser: We're talking about the Oculus Rift. How difficult is it to manage the expectations of an audience who are very tech savvy, very invested in EVE when it comes to this particular iteration of the EVE franchise?

David Reid: It's a big challenge obviously, I mean EVE has been running for over ten years now; a big success by any standards, half a millions subscribers around the world and growing every year. And when you introduce a new facet of the universe if you will, whether it's EVE: Valkyrie right now or DUST 514, it's important to remain internally consistent, it's important that the people who have been part of that universe from the beginning and have really helped build it look at this and realise that this is something that fits in and makes sense.

And so part of our business here has not been just to make a game, but to make sure it's a game that is consistent with the universe, that a fighter that you pilot in EVE: Valkyrie feels like it is the right size of what is should be in the EVE Universe alongside our frigates, our titans and things like that.

It has to make sense from a lore perspective, you know we have immortal clones, we have a pod where you can move your consciousness from one clone to another as you die in the game and such. Does that work in the EVE: Valkyrie thing? You know, those are the things we had to spend a little more time on rather than a typical development exercise where you're simply spinning off another franchise, another instalment in your game. This ultimately has to feel like a vibrant and coherent part of the overall EVE Universe.

AR: And it all comes from a thought experiment put together for Fanfest by a group of what was it? Five engineers?

DR: There was five people in the core group but there were probably another dozen or so people who helped out and it was very much, like you say, as many tech companies have, a 20% project--the idea that you can spend a certain amount of your time exploring new technologies and different things to do. And that is exactly what happened, CCP was one of the original Kickstarter backers of the Oculus Rift program and one of the original funders there.

The first dozen or so units showed up at the Reykjavik headquarters maybe two months before Fanfest and thus began a 20% project to see if there was something here - and wow, there was.

It's not often in gaming that, for those of us who have been in the industry at least for a while, you feel like you've kind of "yeah, it's a console launch, this is a big deal", but it's still predictable, I mean you know you're going to get great instalments of the next franchises but you aren't expecting to be surprised.

This was a surprise, right? This was for me--again, I think we all have moments--mine was the first time I put the prototype on and taking a hard turn to the right as a foe crossed me, I moved both my thumbsticks and my head and suddenly felt my stomach just drop like I'm on an airplane or a rolercoaster or something.

Taking that to Fanfest, getting that acclaim from the core EVE community - hey it was clear we had something to take to E3 and show off a bit and at E3 it became clear that "wow, this is a game that needs to be made" and it feels like the right thing to do for our players. That's where it all began--just a labour of passion from a handful of people. Now we have moved it fully to the Newcastle studio for CCP--20-some men, making this game in Britain with a British executive producer who's coming back to us from EA now, Owen O'Brien who was the producer for Mirror's Edge, maybe the only other first-person game with simulation sickness issues to work through, as Valkrie does. It's really a perfect match for us, we're really excited about the potential this team and this project has.

AR: Of course, the question that comes up and must have come up quite early on: how well integrated into the EVE universe does this game get? Because small fighters could have a role in large, pitched battles. But, in anybody's mind at the moment, is there an idea that this will live on Tranquility? That you'll be able to play the little ships against the big ships?

DR: It is certainly not a launch year 2014 endeavor. But part of what we do at CCP right, we build these high integrity universes where everything makes sense and actually works together and every player ultimately can have an impact on every other player. So you have connections already between EVE Online and DUST 514 as an example and we're going to grow that, we're going to connect those markets together, there are going to be resources in each game that matter for the players of the other game to facilitate this sandbox, we have corporations of players joined together.

That surely is in the future roadmap for Valkyrie. How much of that gets done in the next year is a very different question, but expect that that will happen and that Valkyrie will become a fully fledged sibling, if you will, of EVE and DUST in the EVE Universe.

Now, the very specific question you're asking - you know again I think we all have that vision: the Battlestar Galactica pilots by, the Viper pilots come screaming out of the side, you have the titans on each side fighting, but you also have the scrappy fighters on each side in combat.

That is a vision we have, that is something we want to work towards. I wouldn't say it will be 2014, but technology keeps getting better, we think this will happen.

AR:  You get the quantum computer to replace the server you've got and you're fine. Because of the amount of processing power you'd need, you'll probably make London go dark.

DR: [Laughs.]

AR:  I mean, for me, I was sitting thinking about how EVE: Valkyrie would fit into the EVE Universe and I thought to myself: it makes sense that it's an arena game, it makes sense that people in EVE can bet on it. I would put money on the fact that Doctor Eyjo G, your economist, would love to see something like horse-racing suddenly appear in the EVE universe. So while it may stand alone to begin with, it could be very softly integrated into the EVE Universe, couldn't it?

DR:Oh absolutely, I mean we don't have any official lottery of the EVE Universe if you will, or that sort of thing. We expose a lot of what goes... you know, the data of EVE Online through APIs, through our CREST layer and people are able to build a lot of applications around this and there have been gamers who do these sorts of things on the side of EVE Online.

It does make sense at some level as you think about; could Valkyrie be the bloodsport of the EVE Universe, if you will, right? To get more mechanically at what you're talking about? Well why not? It certainly could be and it feels like the sort of thing as you say in a high integrity economy right - probably the most robust virtual economy in the world, why wouldn't you be able to do things like that? We have investing already, we have banking - why couldn't there be betting? This seems like a logical thing for us to explore.

AR: You're about to cross the Rubicon in your next update of EVE Online, Rome had charioteers, charioteers became enormously wealthy despite the fact that lots of them were slaves. I mean, there's a logic to it.

DR: Absolutely and Rubicon, it's a super exciting time at CCP right now. We're about to launch our 20th free expansion on the 19th, we'll be debuting a little more of it on our Twitch stream on the 14th, including our cinematic trailer for Rubicon and Rubicon is a point of no return in many ways.

The EVE Universe was built and launched in 2003, with 7000+ Solar systems*, tens of thousands of planets, but there really hasn't been an expansion to the universe since then and Rubicon begins a multi-expansion arc now where players are going to be getting the resources, getting the blueprints, getting the items that will allow them to start constructing stargates and go out and find new galaxies to colonise.

This will add a whole new dimension to the sandbox, it'll add a whole new gold rush if you will, of planting flags on different systems that the sovereignty of null-sec in EVE right now is going to be disrupted in a big major way by this.

And it's important for us as we think about crossing the Rubicon of EVE and beginning this journey with our players that not only do we remain consistent within EVE Online, but there are places for DUST, there are places for Valkyrie, there are places for future games to all have an impact on this as well.


*EVE actually had 5000 systems at launch, the remaining 2000-odd arrived in 2009 as a result of wormhole space introduced in the Apocrypha expansion (and while I'm being picky, there's only one Solar system and it doesn't feature in EVE, David means star systems or planetary systems).

EVE Online's Chief Marketing Officer Talks Valkyrie, Rubicon and "new galaxies to colonise" [Exclusive Interview] https://www.gameskinny.com/qc1ix/eve-onlines-chief-marketing-officer-talks-valkyrie-rubicon-and-new-galaxies-to-colonise-exclusive-interview https://www.gameskinny.com/qc1ix/eve-onlines-chief-marketing-officer-talks-valkyrie-rubicon-and-new-galaxies-to-colonise-exclusive-interview Mon, 18 Nov 2013 09:58:10 -0500 Mat Westhorpe

Adam Rosser, BBC radio journalist and video game correspondent, recently caught up with CCP Games' chief marketing officer, David 'CCP Pokethulhu' Reid, to discuss the ongoing development of Oculus Rift's killer app, EVE: Valkyrie.

David talks about how the single-pilot fighter ships and the dogfighting gameplay of Valkyrie might integrate with the EVE Universe and what upcoming expansion Rubicon heralds for the future of EVE Online.

Of particular interest to me was the idea of Valkyrie as a bloodsport, as this was a concept discussed at some length by the EVE bloggeratti in a 2011 Blog Banter. Back then, it was a discussion about delivering some kind of quick match system within the EVE client and proved to be a quite a divisive idea. Of course, this latest conversation is simply spitballing, but Valkyrie certainly gives good cause to return to that particular can of worms.

Also, David gives apparent confirmation of plans to expand the game world of New Eden with some kind of dynamic which will lead to some big null-sec changes: 

"...Rubicon begins a multi-expansion arc now where players are going to be getting the resources, getting the blueprints, getting the items that will allow them to start constructing stargates and go out and find new galaxies to colonise.

"This will add a whole new dimension to the sandbox, it'll add a whole new gold rush if you will, of planting flags on different systems that the sovereignty of null-sec in EVE right now is going to be disrupted in a big major way by this."

Exciting stuff.

You can listen to the full interview below or follow this link to read the full transcription.


CCP Games - Interview with the Video Production Team https://www.gameskinny.com/0hhgm/ccp-games-interview-with-the-video-production-team https://www.gameskinny.com/0hhgm/ccp-games-interview-with-the-video-production-team Sun, 10 Nov 2013 11:17:29 -0500 Poetic Stanziel

Similar to the previous interview with the Software Director for CCP Games' EVE Universe properties, this interview first appeared in my blog back in September 2013. My blog no longer exists, but I feel that these are good interviews and should continue to be made available to those people that are interested, whether they are interested in CCP Games, EVE Online, or video production.

Following the interview is a link to a script, followed by the video that resulted from that script.

To start off, tell us a bit about yourselves, your CCP names (if you have one), your job at CCP Games, and your specific role in video production.

The CCP video production is split into three sections. There is the trailer team of six which makes our CG trailers, two work in EVE-TV which does all live broadcast production like our tournaments and Fanfest and finally there is the live action team with us two (CCP Loki and CCP ArnarV.) We produce the “In Development” videos which is a series of interviews with developers working on EVE and DUST, and we also do some more “CCP” videos, like the Midwinter Festival one.

Our video-specific team consists of:

CCP Loki : Producer, Writer, Director, Post
CCP ArnarV : Producer, DP, Director, Audio, Editor, Post

For the In Development series, CCP Guard has played host and worked with the team on ideas and concepts. CCP RealX has helped with Music and SoundFX throughout.

Where do the ideas for these videos come from? Who is involved in the process of nailing down the initial story that is used to introduce EVE players to new features and concepts?

CCP Loki: "One of us initially comes up with an idea to base the video on which we then start bouncing back and forth until we are happy with a certain frame to work from. I then take all those ideas and mold them into a script which we iterate and polish together. Some things then just happen on the set and a lot of good lines and ideas have been borne last minute during filming."

How long from start (conceptualization) to finish (finished product) does the process take?

CCP Loki: "The time varies depending on the video. Sometimes we get really ambitious ideas with lot of special effects and those can take more time than others. Fastest take around three days from the time we start filming but the longest ones can stretch into two weeks."

How much assistance can you normally get from other departments? Such as art? There are a number of special effects in each video, such as greenscreening, ships overhead, the dude that is run over and explodes, which I assume requires work outside of the video department itself.

CCP ArnarV: "When it comes to post work we try to do as much as we possibly can ourselves. I do all filming, sound, editing and color as well as all green-screen comps.  Loki does a lot of the compositing with 3D assets and occasional editing. For complicated and time consuming shots we often draft our friends from the trailer team to help us get things done. We also sometimes get custom artwork from the Art department."

We asked the police if they were willing to chase us with lights flashing so we could film it and they said no.

How much input does CCP Guard (and the other actors) have in their roles?

CCP Loki: "It depends on what we are doing but CCP Guard often has a lot of input in his scenes and often improves and even adlibs some of his dialog."

Do you ever have difficulty getting the assistance and resources of organizations outside of CCP? (I'm recalling a video in which CCP Guard "visits" a prison.)?

CCP Loki: "People are usually very receptive of our requests. I think the small size of the community in Iceland helps us since there is always somebody who knows someone. We have been able to go on coast guard choppers and film in police stations."

How much practical filming is done? Or do you rely on stock footage? I'm thinking to the cop-chase scene in the Crimewatch video. I've never been to Reykjavik, so am not sure if we're seeing the Reykjavik skyline in those shots. Are we looking at stock video or were you able to enlist the assistance of the local police?

CCP Arnar: "We rarely use stock footage and try to do all practical filming. The police chase for the Crime Watch video is a good example of a good practical shot. We asked the police if they were willing to chase us with lights flashing so we could film it and they said no. "That sucks," we thought, and started searching for some stock footage but could not find any that was good enough. CCP Loki then came up with a great idea when he passed a police car driving home one day. He put a GoPro camera on the back of his car and loitered around the main police station in Iceland. When he saw a police car come out he placed himself in front of it and filmed the car for a while. We then added the sirens and lights in post."

The Skyward Sphere Project. Perhaps explain how that project came to be. Maybe explain the work and planning that went into the entire project before the the launch. How many videos were there leading up to launch day? What technical hurdles did you have to cross? What permissions were necessary to launch into the stratosphere.

CCP Loki: "The basic idea I believe was born with the one and only Greg Fountain who is currently the Marketing Director for World of Darkness.   The idea was to send up a balloon with and iPad or something like that to celebrate the players of EVE.  We played around with the idea and made some changes, for example we felt that the iPad was unfeasible and instead opted to send first a pod and later a Rifter model. The project was a cooperation with the University of Reykjavík so we had about 13 students helping us out.

"The first test flight consisted only of trackers and a Samsung Galaxy Note streaming live video, we did not use nearly enough gas so the estimated 90 minute flight lasted 5 hours and was last seen drifting between Iceland and the Faroe islands.  Flight two had some problems in its windy takeoff making all video material unusable.  However it flew exactly as predicted and came down less than three miles from the estimated landing site.  Flight three again flew as predicted except the pod separated from the balloon somewhere along the way.  Finally flight 4 was completed streaming live over the internet and this time carrying a Rifter without any major incidents.

Skyward Sphere was in cooperation with the University of Reykjavík so we had about 13 students helping us out.

"Amazingly we never ran into any problems when dealing with the civil air authorities and they gave us a green light and before each flight we would contact air traffic control and launch once the airspace was clear.  The only time we had a major delay was when they were waiting for this Piper Super Cub to clear the area so we could launch but once it turned that the plane in question was the spotter plane we had Arnar filming in then we got the green light.  Furthermore the Icelandic coast guard was kind enough to use one of their exercise flights to recover the kit so we got to participate in a search and rescue flying in a Super Puma over the Icelandic highlands in the middle of winter."

Perhaps you can describe the sorts of equipment you use to film the video. And the sorts of software you use to edit, composite, etc. the video?

CCP ArnarV: "We recently started using the Canon 1DC which shoots wonderful 4K footage. Prior to the 1DC we used the 5D Mk3. Filming in 4k gives great opportunity to play around with framing as well as cropping into the image. We light scenes with 4tube Kinos and 1x1 Litepanels. Audio is most often a DPA 4061 Lav over Sennheizer G3 wireless into a Roland R-26.

"For editing we use Adobe Premiere CC with the Cineform codec and for composition the almighty Adobe After Effects CC with the Magic Bullet suites, Primatte, Optical Flares and Element 3D."

What do you all do at CCP when you're not creating great videos?

CCP Loki: "I currently hold the title of producer, scrum master of triLambda which is basically the graphics department of EVE and occasional producer of “other” projects."

CCP ArnarV: "As Senior Video Producer, I rarely see a dull moment as I am also the in-house photographer, creator and caretaker of the 2000 gallon reef fish tank in the Reykjavik office as well as the game room maintenance guy where I set up and tweak arcade and pinball machines."

CCP Guard: "As Community Developer for CCP I work on a wide variety of projects, some temporary and others more persistent. I work with developers on communication to the community, I work with players on organizing and advertising gatherings, I host and help organize live streams, plan player gatherings and special events for CCP, write news and messaging pieces, act as stakeholder on one of the design team, liaise with community members and organize support for all sorts of fan projects to name a few things. These days I’m getting more involved with some of the DUST community plans, getting some cool things off the ground hopefully...or should I say...on the ground? You could say my role is that of a creative lead for the community team but my job changes a lot from week to week depending on what falls in my lap. One day I’m doing regular old stuff, the next day I’m in a helicopter with these crazy video producers or brokering a sponsorship deal with a UFC fighter :). I like not always knowing what happens next!"


Watch the Christmas 2012 EVE Online trailer. It not only describes free gifts for the players, but is also a celebration of Icelandic culture. Here is the actual script that was used, in PDF form.

CCP Games - Interview with the EVE Universe Software Director (Part 3 of 3) https://www.gameskinny.com/kp3ax/ccp-games-interview-with-the-eve-universe-software-director-part-3-of-3 https://www.gameskinny.com/kp3ax/ccp-games-interview-with-the-eve-universe-software-director-part-3-of-3 Tue, 05 Nov 2013 04:05:15 -0500 Poetic Stanziel

This is the last of a three-part interview. You can read the second part here.


What does a normal day for CCP Explorer look like?

It normally starts fairly early with emails and video conference meetings with Shanghai (Reykjavík is on UTC but Shanghai on UTC+8, so my start of the day is their tail end of the day). I often do that at home from 7-8 o'clock and come to the office at 9-10 o'clock. If there is a deployment then it's at 11 o'clock, which involves a conference with all the deploying teams as well as Virtual World Operations. Lunch is an important downtime at the office. Meetings, emails, text and video conversations, hallway chats and tomfoolery follow for the rest of the day; the theme is planning and communication. I end the day in the evenings with emails to Shanghai.

How involved (or not) are you in the processes that decide expansion features. Without discussing any specific features of Odyssey, how much input did you have in Odyssey?

I don't decide on expansion features. I'm responsible for the technical debt backlog, but not features.

How long have you been in charge of deployments? I ask, because when I first joined EVE Online two years ago, a popular player refrain before deployments was "Remember to set a long skill in the queue. Don't be surprised if EVE is out of action for a day or more." Since my time in EVE, I've not experienced a single problem deployment. The servers either came up early, on time, or at most a couple hours late. Which in my books is a stellar track record. I no longer hear the "skill queue" refrain as often before deployments. What has CCP done to turn this player impression around? What responsibility do you bear in this turnaround?

I've been in charge of deployments since 2007, working with a good group of people throughout the years. When I joined CCP in 2007, 24 hour expansion deployments were the norm and the post-deployment phase would sometimes be characterised by instability and unscheduled server reboots.

The "Remember to set a long skill in the queue" thing is still something people say to this day but the fact is that we have been steadily decreasing the deployment downtimes; now routinely do them in approx. 2 hours (we were there a couple of years ago) and rarely have any unexpected server reboots.

To accomplish this we have improved our build systems so we can build everything overnight, every night, in a few hours and deploy in the following downtime; we have a better patching system so we are not afraid of patching on a daily basis if needed; we have changed our final testing so that we do that on Singularity the day before now instead on Tranquility during an extended downtime; we have worked with the development teams to make it easier for them to deploy fixes; and various other things to make deployments a better experience for everyone involved, players and devs alike. The development teams are delivering a better quality product now than then and are very much focused on the deployment and post-deployment monitoring, delivering the needed post-deployment fixes much fast than before.

You just came back from China. Is this a new expansion to your job description? What was your role in China? How does your job now extend into DUST development? Is your DUST liaising still EVE-related?

I took on a new role as the EVE Universe Software Director last year, inter alia responsible for supporting and coordinating software projects that span the different EVE Universe groups, EVE Online, DUST 514 and New Eden Services.

I was in Shanghai this time planning with people at the Shanghai office, continuing on-going technical projects, starting discussions on new projects and preparing for using the opportunity of people coming from Shanghai to Fanfest for further work.

Will you be applying for the Executive Producer of EVE Online position? If not, why?

No. The role of the Executive Producer is to a certain degree a business role, which is not my interest.

You're exceptionally active on Twitter. Is this something that is part of your job description, or is it something you do because you enjoy it, not because it is expected of you?

It's mostly because I really enjoy it, but also because one of the themes of my job/roles is communication. These are outlets for a real life semi-introvert :)

In order I'm active on Facebook, Twitter, EVE Forums, Instagram and Google+. This is also in the approximate order of from most personal to most business (please note that I need to know people in one way or another in real life to accept them on Facebook).

This provides me both with an opportunity to keep in contact with players but also to keep in contact with CCP-ers out-of-hours and on more casual topics.


Thus the interview was over, and I thanked CCP Explorer for this time and patience.

CCP Games - Interview with the EVE Universe Software Director (Part 2 of 3) https://www.gameskinny.com/mpxkt/ccp-games-interview-with-the-eve-universe-software-director-part-2-of-3 https://www.gameskinny.com/mpxkt/ccp-games-interview-with-the-eve-universe-software-director-part-2-of-3 Tue, 05 Nov 2013 04:05:11 -0500 Poetic Stanziel

This is the second of a three-part interview. You can read the first part here.


My understanding of agile development is fairly basic. I've never worked under the methodology, but have read a little about it here and there. What exactly is a technical debt backlog?

A backlog is a task list; but it is a prioritised task list that may get re-prioritised every two weeks (on sprint boundaries) and the teams only commit for a two week window (one sprint). A technical debt backlog is a subsection of the overall backlog and stories (tasks) which are interleaved with the general backlog.

Well, that doesn't tell me a tonne, but I did a quick google, a bit more reading, and have determined that "Technical Debt is what makes code hard to work with. It is an invisible killer of software, and must be aggressively managed." Based on that, I believe I understand one aspect of your job much better. Modernizing, bringing up to standards, some of the older code in the EVE Online codebase, such as what happened to Crimewatch last year.

I know any revamp of the old corporate and POS code is not on the development slate anytime soon, but how excited would you be if someone said "Let's rewrite this and make it right!"

You may recall the discussions that happened around POSes recently; CCP Seagull handles communication on that subject. I could discuss the subject of technical debt but not in the context of POSes.

Fair enough. Let's tackle this from a different direction. Crimewatch. By all accounts an old, very fragile piece of code. It was very difficult to work with, and most projects avoided interacting with it, because it could cause unforeseen problems. When CCP made the decision to rewrite this code, how involved were you in the process that focused on the new design? How much oversight do you give to projects such as Crimewatch to ensure that they are to your standards and that they don't add to technical debt down the road? How happy were you when the greenlight was given to rewrite Crimewatch?

In terms of the actual technical design, not a lot, and not involved in the game design. The technical lead for the game play teams (CCP Atlas) and primarily the senior server programmer (CCP Masterplan) in the team that implemented the new system were the people in the trenches for the actual design work. My role was to highlight the fact that the old Crimewatch code was brittle, caution programmers and teams that ventured into that code and directly monitor their work, promote the idea that it should be refactored by demonstrating the cost the current system/code was causing us, and set the standards for implementation and performance testing (the QA Director is responsible for feature testing and general testing practices).

I was very happy when this project was finally greenlighted; it's always good to be able to cross these things off the list, and then move onto the next system.

I'm finding the whole technical debt backlog part of your job fascinating, especially since it revolves around a lot of old, core EVE systems that the players find difficult to work with and/or would like to see refactored with better, more modern features. CCP has been careful on tackling these areas of old, brittle code.

Would the corporate role system fall into the Technical Debt Backlog?

To a certain extent, but mostly that system is a question of what it's supposed to accomplish and from there possibly derive an overhauled game design. The code for that system is not in particularly bad shape.

"Not in bad shape," in what respect? From a player perspective, the role system is difficult to work with, and things that people would expect it do, often have to be performed with various odd workarounds. (Kelduum has documented a few of these workarounds in his struggles get the corporate roles to behave in some basic ways.) I suppose that the code could be in "good shape" given what it actually was and was not designed to do. Most players would agree that it is in need of an overhaul. Is it in good enough shape for such an overhaul, were it given development priority?

I'm using “not in a bad shape” in the context of the Technical Debt Backlog from a purely technical aspect. What you are describing are usability issues in the system, what I referred to as “a question of what it's supposed to accomplish and from there possibly derive an overhauled game design”. From a technical perspective then the code itself is not that bad, comparatively readable in the grand scheme of things and not badly structured.

What are some of the systems that fall into the Technical Debt Backlog?

The POS system, the in-game browser, performance improvements to client startup, performance improvements to dispatching physics simulation events to clients, performance improvements and refactoring of the attribute system; to name a few. There are other systems but they are either low-level or internal tools or pipeline. Some of these systems above fall into multiple other categories; such as the POS system has usability and design aspects, some of which we are addressing in Odyssey with Quality of Life Improvements.

Who makes the final decision on what Technical Debt Backlog items will be tackled?

Ultimately it's the Senior Producer that makes a call on what the backlog for each release contains. She seeks input from various parties on the priorities and tries to balance the various technical and business needs. Items on the Technical Debt Backlog are of various sizes and therefore a smaller task may get done earlier (because it fits into the schedule) even if has less technical priority than a larger task. Where there will be significant changes in the game mechanics, such as with Crimewatch, this falls under the purview of the lead game designer.

Even so, you must still have a fair bit of input on those priorities. I would imagine the Senior Producer must rely on your expertise and experience with the Technical Debt Backlog?

Knowing how the Senior Producer needs to balance the different needs then I don't send her a single prioritised list; rather I discuss the backlog with her and the relative importance and possible size of each project along with how doing certain Technical Debt Backlog tasks may enable other things for her and how not doing other certain Technical Debt Backlog tasks may possibly "paint us into a corner".

Are Technical Debt Backlog items handled by a particular team? Or are they handed out to teams based on which can best deal with them (i.e. team expertise)

They are handled by all the teams, although Team Gridlock has been involved in only Technical Debt Backlog tasks, as fits the rest of their backlog and expertise.

Are Technical Debt Backlog items tackled on an expansion-by-expansion basis, or are they simply ongoing, and not generally tied to a specific expansion cycle?


What Technical Debt Backlog items were tackled for the Odyssey expansion?

To name a few: We are improving patching (there has been a low number of failures when using HTTP/1.0 proxies), rewriting the Image Export Collection generation process, and revamping error handling and logging in the EVE API as well as the deployment method of the API and updating its internal caching mechanism (local and distributed.)


Continue reading Part Three of the interview with Erlendur S. Þorsteinsson.

CCP Games - Interview with the EVE Universe Software Director (Part 1 of 3) https://www.gameskinny.com/ujebb/ccp-games-interview-with-the-eve-universe-software-director-part-1-of-3 https://www.gameskinny.com/ujebb/ccp-games-interview-with-the-eve-universe-software-director-part-1-of-3 Tue, 05 Nov 2013 04:05:09 -0500 Poetic Stanziel

This email interview was conducted April 2013. It first appeared on my blog in early May 2013. I've since retired my blog, so I don't want these interviews to become unavailable. I believe these CCP Games employee interviews should continue to be available to EVE Online players and other interested gamers.


CCP Explorer. Many of you know him on Twitter as @erlendur. He's the dude that is always so helpful. Answering what questions he can, forwarding questions off to the right devs. If a dev isn't on Twitter, he does his best to get an answer to a query in a timely manner.

He's one of the most active CCP employees on Twitter.

He's a personable guy who's always looking to help and socialize with the playerbase more. He has an intense interest in making sure players get the answers they need. He has an intense interest in ironing out any misconceptions.

The funny thing is that few people really know what CCP Explorer does at CCP. I thought I had an idea before I began this interview, but really, even I didn't know. He wears quite a few hats. He is a conductor for the EVE Universe, were the universe a symphony.


Before we begin, some definitions and rules of language.

CCP distinguishes between three different management roles: Producer, Director and Manager.

  • Producers are responsible for task lists, backlogs, planning, scheduling, execution, etc. They oversee the What and the When.
  • Directors are responsible for all tasks being carried out according to all relevant best practices. They oversee the How.
  • Managers are personnel managers and are responsible for hiring, performance management, salary negotiation, soft skill training and continuing education. They oversee the Who.

When referring to EVE it is in reference to EVE Online. DUST is a reference to DUST 514. When speaking of the One Universe paradigm, EVE Universe is used.

On to the interview ...


Who is CCP Explorer?

My name is Erlendur S. Þorsteinsson (or Erlendur S. Thorsteinsson for those using the latin alphabet.) I have a B.Sc. in Applied Mathematics and a B.Sc. in Computer Science from the University of Iceland. I then went to the States to further my education, acquiring an M.Sc. and a Ph.D. in Algorithms (Combinatorics and Optimization) from Carnegie Mellon University.


When did you first arrive at CCP? And what was your first role with the company?

I started at CCP in March 2007. My title was "Software Director" and I have kept it to this day even if my role has changed since then.

I started as the EVE Software Personnel Manager and was also responsible for various aspects of the software development as well the live operation of EVE Online. Later I also took over personnel management of EVE Quality Assurance. About a year ago I handed off all personnel management roles to dedicated personnel managers, leaving me currently with four defined roles:

  • EVE Universe Software Director
  • EVE Online Software Director
  • EVE Online Senior Live Producer
  • EVE Online Technical Director (one of two)

The Technical Director is responsible for code quality and coding practices (such as code reviews) with a group of Lead Programmers and Technical Leads.

My role within EVE Universe is to facilitate technical communication between EVE Online, DUST 514 and New Eden Services.

The Live Producer is responsible for deployment scheduling and the deployments themselves with DUST's Live Producer and New Eden Services' Live Producer. New Eden Services is responsible for EVE and DUST's joint/shared services, such as Tranquility itself, but only at the level of managing the hardware and identifying what group needs to tackle live issues. The Live Producer is also responsible for all live issues on Tranquility being tackled.

The Software Director is responsible for software project management.

Technical project management and live operations have long been my passion and as roles and responsibilities have been redefined as business needs changed then I have trended towards those roles.

What has been your proudest moment at CCP? A specific project, perhaps?

The EVE Trinity expansion is the one I recall most fondly (yes, despite boot.ini). It was a tremendous amount of hard work but there was joy and excitement in the air at the Reykjavik office. I felt a similar excitement at the Shanghai office recently as the DUST Uprising expansion was submitted to Sony. There have been many other high points but Trinity holds a special place.

Currently, where are you in the CCP foodchain? What people report directly to you? Who do you report directly to?

No one reports directly to me in terms of personnel management [see explanation above]. In terms of technical direction then approximately half of EVE's programming teams. In terms of deployments and live operations then all of EVE's development teams. It really depends on the specifics if I'm responsible and accountable for a particular task getting done and/or correctly done.

I report directly to CCP Unifex, EVE's Executive Producer, as do CCP Seagull, EVE's Senior Producer, and CCP Ripley, EVE's Development Director.

I had no idea you were that far up the foodchain. Just below CCP Unifex and on par with CCP Seagull and CCP Ripley. Which CCP employees do you deal with most often on a daily/weekly basis?

The programmers, the configuration management and build team, the CTO, CCP Ripley, the Live Producers of DUST and New Eden Services are the ones I interact most with, but I also talk to a number of the testers and game designers on a regular basis.

My notion of your job is that you basically manage all the various development teams. My notion could be very much wrong. Please explain what it is your job entails. What important function do you offer into the development process?

EVE's scrum culture provides the development teams with great autonomy to manage their backlogs and time, and the Product Owners and Scrum Masters are the responsible parties there.

The EVE Trinity expansion was a tremendous amount of hard work but there was joy and excitement in the air at the Reykjavik office.

My role within EVE is to follow up on code quality and engineering practices with the senior programmers (who in turn are responsible for their teams), plan EVE deployments with the Development Director, plan (technical) software projects with the Senior Producer and the Development Director and consult with them on technical matters, plan code and data structure and porting with the build and configuration management team, execute EVE deployments, coordinate EVE and DUST deployments with the Live Producers of the other projects, and tackle all live issues that occur on Tranquility with Virtual World Operations, the Live Response team and the feature-owning team(s). My role within EVE Universe is to facilitate technical communication between EVE Online, DUST 514 and New Eden Services, and within the different projects between the Reykjavík and Shanghai offices as needed.

Continue reading Part Two of the interview with Erlendur S. Þorsteinsson.

EVE Online: Rubicon Video Preview - Bastion Animations, Mobile Siphons and New Ships https://www.gameskinny.com/wmaa9/eve-online-rubicon-video-preview-bastion-animations-mobile-siphons-and-new-ships https://www.gameskinny.com/wmaa9/eve-online-rubicon-video-preview-bastion-animations-mobile-siphons-and-new-ships Thu, 24 Oct 2013 19:48:43 -0400 Mat Westhorpe

Sci-fi MMO EVE Online's 20th free expansion, Rubicon, is less than a month away and the anticipation, acrimony and antagonism is already starting to rise amongst a fevered internet spaceship community. (To be honest, that's actually just standard operating procedure for capsuleers.)

I was intrigued to see how the new features are shaping up and paid the Singularity test server a visit to capture some footage of the exciting new developments.

What's in the Rubicon Video Preview?

  • A look at all* the Marauder battleship 'Bastion Mode' animations.
  • A closer look at the Mobile Siphon Unit.
  • A brief fiddle with ISIS, the Ship Tree.
  • A loving gaze at the new Sisters of EVE ships.
  • Some wishful thinking and rampant speculation about what lays ahead.

It runs to a little under six minutes, please check it out (at the top of the page or on the GameSkinny YouTube channel) and feel free to share your thoughts and feedback here... and yes, that is my real voice. Don't laugh.

(*the Vargur was a no show.)

Edit: On request, below I have added the original high-resolution screen captures of the information shown in the video and links to other related resources. It's worth bearing in mind that this information was accurate on 23 October 2013, but is subject to change at the whim of CCP's development process.

Bastion Module Information:

[Click image to enlarge]

Mobile Siphon Unit Details:

N.B. I really hope that text is a placeholder - direct reference to "player owned structures" and POSes instead of "starbases" is a real immersion-breaker.

 Sisters of EVE Astero Frigate Details:

[Click image to enlarge]

Sisters of EVE Stratios Cruiser Details:

[Click image to enlarge]

Changes announced since publication:

"We feel that while there are significant weaknesses in the cruiser that do balance it against major abuse, it's simply too strong in its current state. The combination of the covert cloak, black ops portal access and extremely high damage potential make for a ship that does a bit more than we are comfortable with. To tone it down slightly we are going to lower the drone bandwidth to 100mb/s and the drone bay to 400m3.

The ship will still have very high damage potential and will certainly still be very powerful overall.

This also makes me feel better about some other small changes that improve the ship, so we'll also be increasing the virus strength bonus to +10 and changing the laser cap use bonus to a medium energy turret optimal range bonus of 50%. We will also extend the virus strength bonus to the Astero."

- CCP Rise, EVE Forums, 24 Nov

Useful links and resources:

  • The official Rubicon features page
  • EVE Online Singularity test server discussion forum
  • EVE Online Features and Ideas discussion forum
  • New Eden Today - Official in-character world news
The Vargur's bastion mode animation (since I missed it): 

Credit to AkrasjelLanate for capturing this on an earlier, unbugged release.


The full EVE: Origins trailer:

The DUST 514 Uprising Continues with a New Patch and a New Executive Producer https://www.gameskinny.com/y70za/the-dust-514-uprising-continues-with-a-new-patch-and-a-new-executive-producer https://www.gameskinny.com/y70za/the-dust-514-uprising-continues-with-a-new-patch-and-a-new-executive-producer Fri, 11 Oct 2013 11:06:45 -0400 Mat Westhorpe

This week saw CCP Games' ambitious free-to-play massively multiplayer shooter DUST 514 take some significant steps forward in their quest to sharpen their Playstation exclusive title.

New Guy at the Top

On October 8th, CCP Games announced they'd hired former Electronic Arts executive producer, Jean-Charles Gaudechon.

Frenchman Gaudechon, whose previous form includes Battlefield Heroes and Need for Speed World, wasted no time choosing his dev moniker, CCP Rouge, and getting his first devblog under his belt, in which he clearly stated his objectives for the future of DUST 514:

"With DUST 514, my mission is to give you the most intense and engaging experience possible for a free-to-play online multiplayer shooter in the EVE Universe. This requires focusing primarily on the core gameplay, but also on a deep and rewarding link to EVE Online and everything that comes with it: the incredibly immersive fiction, sandbox design, best-in-class player-driven economy, and much more."

Uprising 1.5

The ongoing DUST 514 iteration process, which is a staple of CCP's development ethos, sees some well-received improvements this time around, with New Player Experience streamlining and many quality of life refinements.

As I have recently discovered and documented in my DUST 514 Diary, there's more to getting involved in the planetary conflict than simply logging in and shooting stuff (although they've doing that easier too).

Here's an overview of the polish added:

The Squad Finder – Rather than charge to your death alone, it's now far easier to find an audience. I've used the Squad Finder and it works really well, allowing me to get stuck in and experience DUST 514 as part of a team. No more “LFS” in chat channels.

Tutorials – Intuitive, objective-based tutorials now help you learn key elements like joining a battle, creating a custom dropsuit fitting, training skills. They also give rewards for achieving objectives.

Other key elements which will improve the experience for both rookies and veterans include:

Corporation Roles – Organised mercenary corporations can now assign new roles to its members. The Accountant, Personnel Director, Terrestrial Combat Officer and Terrestrial Logistics Officer are key to the smooth operation of any respectable merc outfit. Especially ones specialising in Planetary Conquest mode.

More War Points – Mercs now get more points awarded for performing non-lethal tasks on the battlefield, such as Intel Assist (if a merc's scan leads to a successful kill), Transport Assist (dropping folk into enemy fire is now rewarded) and Counter Hacking (not taking chunks out of work surfaces, but the other thing).

Stuff That Just Makes Sense – Buttons renamed for clarity, further improvements to server-client performance, graphical refinements and more.

Full patch notes can be read here.

Dust Bunny Diaries: Squad Psychyology https://www.gameskinny.com/b0pno/dust-bunny-diaries-squad-psychyology https://www.gameskinny.com/b0pno/dust-bunny-diaries-squad-psychyology Mon, 30 Sep 2013 16:51:00 -0400 Lioso Cadelanne

Question: Why do some squads dig in when challenged while others splinter with the first signs of stress?

Answer: Interaction of the psychological forces at the personal level and squad level can explain this phenomenon

Personal Level

When you are losing a battle, this can place stress on you.

Stress is the reaction of an organism to environmental or physical pressure. Examples: would hunger, being involved in an argument, or running for you life from a predator. The sort of stress you’re dealing with in Dust isn’t as acute as a real life or death situation, but many of the same reactions occur. We’ll focus on the mental reactions, as bodily reaction don’t have as much bearing when it comes to Dust.

Attention is focused on a central task and peripheral tasks and information are often ignored. How the person decides on the central task is often based on what is deemed relevant to the threat. A good example is an average Planetary Conquest battle. These battles are often very intense, as territory that you spent a great deal of effort acquiring is on the line. When things go bad, many commanders will begin to ignore the state of the battle and continue on with the orignal plan. This sort of reaction is very typical.

Working memory (the short-term memory holding the info related your current task, ie your mental workbench) is often impaired. Your will often find it difficult to fully grasp the situation and remember the finer details. The small signals that hint at your opponent's strategy can easily be forgotten in this sort of state.

In addition to the above, decision-making and judgement becomes more rigid, looking at fewer alternatives. There is also a tendency to rely on previous responses to that stressor, regardless of its past success. This translates into many battle commanders becoming very inflexible and losing the creativity that you need to come out ahead.

Lastly, manual dexterity decreases when under stress. This has particular significance when dealing with Dust. Imagine that you're under fire and need to duck into cover. However, due to your lessened dexterity you misjudge the movement and end up being killed.

Squad Level

When it comes to the squad level there are two types of social binding forces to look at.

    • Social cohesion: the type or quality of the social bonds between the members, such as friendship, liking, closeness.
    • Task cohesion: the collective commitment of the group member to achieving a given goal

Task cohesion is more important when it comes to effectiveness the group. It allows your group to act independently while still keeping the goal in mind. Each action will slowly build toward your goal. Social cohesion plays a role in the ability for members to trust one another, whether squadmate to squadmate, squadmate to squad leader, etc. It is the job of the commander to think for the squad and make the decisions. Naturally, the squad is much more effective when squad members trust their commander's decisions.

Task cohesion breaks down when the group loses sight of its goal, often when the goal appears unattainable or the current strategy isn’t working. Say you are in a particularly difficult battle and you commander has fallen under the influence of stress and stuck with the failing plan. One of the possible reaction for the squad is for each member to take their own approach to winning the battle. With your squad now splintered, no one person is capable of completing their own goal when met with the full force of the enemy squad.

Social cohesion breaks down when group member are unwilling to work together or communicate with each other. Essentially the group splinters into many separate, independent parts. This result is similar to that of the breakdown of task cohesion, in that each individual isn't strong enough to complete the goal on their own.

Take Aways from This Info:

Individually, a squad member needs to have a level of self-awareness. Look for what is causing the stress and reassess how you can address it. The key is to reassess. That second look at the problem will often lead to a more effective plan.

From a leadership perspective, unit cohesion often takes precedent over managing stress reactions. For the average line member, unit cohesion can help reduce the negative effects of stress. Humans are social creatures and having support of others can strengthen an individual’s resistance to the effects of stress. Think about your real life for a moment. Isn't it almost always less stressful to have some group support when tackling a problem? For the leaders themselves it is particularly important to decrease the effects of stress. The leadership is the brains of a unit and play a key role in unit cohesion. Many of the effects of stress (especially irritability and hampering of decision-making) can work to undermine unit cohesion

There are many ways to promote unit cohesion. Below is a list of a few:

    • Always have your goal in mind and make it known to you squad

    • Have a number of default tactics to fall back on, i.e. always put down plenty of Drop Uplinks, stick together, Have a decent mix of roles in your squad, etc

    • Squad members need to be aware of their role in the group, logi heals and revives, heavies are the first in with assaults backing them up

    • Put in the time to get to know your squad. Become aware of their strengths and weaknesses and let them know what you see.


Everything You Ever Wondered About EVE Online's Backstory: Mark726's EVE Lore Survival Guide https://www.gameskinny.com/60vjc/everything-you-ever-wondered-about-eve-onlines-backstory-mark726s-eve-lore-survival-guide https://www.gameskinny.com/60vjc/everything-you-ever-wondered-about-eve-onlines-backstory-mark726s-eve-lore-survival-guide Sun, 29 Sep 2013 16:05:00 -0400 Mat Westhorpe

New players entering the EVE Universe might notice that, beyond its celestial battlefields filled with star-kissed psychopaths, there are countless references to an incredibly well-realised backstory with dozens of factions, organisations, characters and technologies.

EVE Online has been running since 2003 and player “capsuleers” have been front and centre of New Eden's history thereafter. But that is just the tip of the comet's tail - the rich and diverse lore of EVE stretches back thousands of years.

The EVE: Origins cinematic (as seen above) touched on mankind's rise to the heavens, the discovery of the New Eden cluster and its subsequent colonisation and exploration.

Recent dialogue from EVE's senior producer, Andie “CCP Seagull” Nordgren, suggested that exploration and discovery will continue to be a driving force in EVE's expansion arc which began with Odyssey in June and looks set to continue with November's Rubicon and far beyond.

For many EVE players, this is tantalising news. Not all capsuleers are driven by the need for conquest, some are drawn by the mysteries to be uncovered and the discoveries to be made.

A Rough Guide to New Eden

One such EVE player is Mark "Mark726" Mazzone, a celebrated blogger who has spent many years exploring and documenting the unique sights of New Eden in his EVE Travel journal.

Mark726 is also a voracious consumer of the EVE lore who has absorbed the vast swathes of documented fiction found on the EVElopedia wiki, in three novels (The Empyrean Age, The Burning Life and Templar One), countless Chronicles and a host of other sources, distilling his findings down in to a (relatively) brief overview of the key facts about EVE Online's epic sci-fi narrative.

Written with verve, wit and tongue often firmly in cheek, Mark726 picks over the bones of New Eden's history, revelling in the detail whilst poking fun at the sci-fi tropes. He also shows he's not afraid to use brackets.

Here's a peek into Mark726's EVE Lore Survival Guide:

1. "EVE Online: The Greatest Story Still Being Told"

The foreword to Mark726's body of work is a brief, fanciful look at the past and the future of science fiction storytelling techniques through the ages; from Jules Verne and Fritz Lang through through Isaac Asimov and Gene Roddenberry to the rise of the epic, interactive entertainment frontier upon which we now stand. [Read the foreword in full.]


2. An Introduction

Mark726 warms us up with an explanation of what grew from a quick blogpost to his magnum opus, before taking us on a brief romp through 21,000 years of future history. He discusses the “lost civilisations” whose shattered technology remnants act as the MacGuffins for many aspects of EVE's ever-developing storylines. He also explains how one of these races - the mysterious Jovians – played a very Promethean role in bringing about the creation of the immortal capsuleers. [Read the Introduction in full.]


3. The Empires

The five superpowers of New Eden, once described as “a king and his four princes”, oversee the central regions of New Eden. The four racial factions and an independent police force provide security and protection to the residents of high-security space whilst being the conflict drivers in numerous contested low-security constellations.

The Amarr Empire: “God Has a Plan”

“We start with the largest and, depending on who you talk to, most diabolical of the four nations of New Eden: the Amarr Empire. Two parts theological empire, one part bureaucratic morass, with a sprinkling of lifetime indentured servitude for just a bit flavor, the Amarr Empire is founded on the idea that the State and the Church are one.”

Mark explains how the dogmatic Amarr used to be proper bastards, but now they're really trying not to be (quite so much). [Read more about the Amarr Empire.]

The Minmatar Republic: “7 Tribes for 7 Brothers”

“It shouldn’t be surprising that the history of the Minmatar Republic is intimately interwoven with the history of the Amarr. While the Minmatar are a rich culture in their own right, of course, the brutal enslavement for centuries left an indelible mark on their society, and in many ways still dictates how the Republic and individual Minmatar react to many situations.”

These are the folk who the Amarr mostly enjoy being proper bastards to. But it's okay, the aggressively tribal nature of Minmatar society means that, if they didn't have someone else to fight against, they'd probably be killing each other. [Read more about the Minmatar Republic.]

The Gallente Federation: “Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll”

“A nation where anything goes, as long as it makes you happy (and doesn’t hurt anyone else), the Gallente pride themselves of being on the forefront of the Cluster’s culture, fashion, and philosophy.”

Mark delves into the colourful history of the “Federated Union of Gallente Prime” to show that there's a lot more to them than thrill-seeking Frenchmen in space. [Read more about the Gallente Federation.]

The Caldari State: “Nothing Says Love Like a Giant and Soulless Megacorporation”

“Having developed in the same system as the Gallente, the State was born in blood and fire, through their determination to not be governed by anyone. Any description of the Caldari as a people have to start and end with the concept of megacorporations: gargantuan corporate entities that control a person’s life from cradle to grave.”

It's hard not to think of the Caldari State as the science-fiction love-child of German and Japanese industry, but there's a lot more depth to be found – from their early victimisation at the hands of their overbearing Gallente neighbours (akin to European treatment of native Americans) to the rise of their recently deposed dictatorial tyrant Tibus Heth. For a faction that likes grey, they've got a lot of colour. [Read more about the Caldari State.]

CONCORD: Policeman of the Skies

“CONCORD, short for CONsolidated COoperation and Relations commanD, was originally the brainchild of the Jove of all people. Devised as a way for the empires to maintain the peace, CONCORD was given broad authority over many interstellar affairs. CONCORD is charged with maintaining the status quo between the various empires.”

The device for keeping both warring NPCs and unruly player capsuleers in line, CONCORD are the big stick that EVE Online hits lawbreakers with. It doesn't help the victim much, but in high-security regions of space, CONCORD destroy ("Concordokken") illegal aggressors with 100% efficiency. Everywhere else, they're non-existent. [Read more about CONCORD.]


4. The Frontier Organisations

“For most video game companies, the four major empires, with their expansive backstories, would have been quite enough for their content teams... Beyond the four major empires, the Jove, and CONCORD, there are a rich number of smaller factions that, while you can’t necessarily play them as a bloodline, fill in more of the tapestry of New Eden (and let people get their yarr on in quite a few different ways).”

This three part section skims through many of New Eden's more prominent “pirate factions” (although they're not all pirates), such as the Angel Cartel, creators of popular ships like the Dramiel and the Machariel, the independent industrial giant Outer Ring Explorations, who manufacture many of EVE's non-combat ships and the Servant Sisters of Eve, a philanthropic group who work for the betterment of humanity (and will soon be making some sexy-looking ships). [Read more about The Frontier Organisations.]


5. Technology and Miscellany

“For a game that takes place 21,000 years in the future, technology actually plays a fairly secondary role in the lore. That is a testament to CCP’s content writers who avoid, as much as possible, the whole “technobabble saves us all” approach to conflict resolution (much as it pains me to say this, my beloved Star Trek is particularly bad at this). Still, it’d be ridiculous if CCP didn’t lay down SOME background knowledge on the technology that makes our lives in space possible.”

Mark does his best to demystify the technology which explains many aspects of EVE's gameplay and weaves the player into the universe. Chief amongst those is the sci-fi explanation for capsuleer (and DUST 514 mercenary) immortality and ability to “respawn” in a persistent game world. Also explained is the space calendar thing, the divergent evolution of language in the far future, wormhole generation and many other things. [Read more about EVE technology.]

  • Mark Mazzone writes regularly on EVE Travel, can be found on Twitter as @webspaceships and will be in print as one of the contributors to EVE: The Second Decade, part of the Collector's Edition boxed set.
  • All above linked online pages to Mark726's EVE Lore Survival Guide are hosted and maintained on Freebooted, an EVE blog maintained by the author of this article, Mat Westhorpe.
  • Mark726's EVE Lore Survival Guide is also available for download as a PDF (with images and without) and an ePub version.
  • All EVE Online and EVE Universe images and fiction are the property of CCP Games - they make the worlds, we just explore 'em.
DUST 514 Diary #5: Logistics and Ladders https://www.gameskinny.com/yx928/dust-514-diary-5-logistics-and-ladders https://www.gameskinny.com/yx928/dust-514-diary-5-logistics-and-ladders Mon, 23 Sep 2013 19:01:07 -0400 Mat Westhorpe

[Alternative subtitle: No, I'm not pleased to see you, that's a Nanite Injector in my pocket and I have no idea how to get it out.]


23rd September 2013, Monday Afternoon:

Another opportunity to play DUST 514 occurred today as my wife had arranged to meet up with some other new mothers to exchange stories about drool, nappy contents and so forth.

So, safe in the knowledge she doesn't follow me on Twitter, one quick, gleeful tweet later...

(... at least I hope she doesn't follow me on Twitter...) 


... and I fired up the PlayStation 3.

Two Ears and One Mouth

As I logged in, I reflected on my DUST 514-focused console experiences so far. My previous diary entry lamenting the lack of a PC version had brought forth some interesting and enlightened responses from the community. They're well worth a read and are food for thought.

My various enquiries about issues with getting my Logitech G35 USB headset to produce game sound rather than just voice chat had produced a variety of responses but no solutions, so I was still restricted to using the cinematic surround sound on and the living room TV. It's a terrible hardship I know - I've got the sound turned up so loud, the bass makes something buzz on the bookshelf.

Audio rebellion aside, it would be good to get the problem resolved, just so I can play without commandeering the entire living room. If you have any pointers I'd be very grateful.

Suited and Booted

Previously, I'd gratefully received some assistance from Blind Nojoy in getting some dropsuit fits prepared. I was now the proud owner of a wardrobe of custom-built Gallente Logistics G/1-Series dropsuits, each complete with a BDR-2 Repair Tool, K-2 Nanohives, a Drop Uplink and various fancy modules I had very little idea about. Well, aside from the fact they were all relatively expensive in ISK in-game currency terms.

This meant I wasn't prepared to go swanning around in them whilst I didn't know what I was doing. Given that I still don't know what all the buttons do, there seemed little point in sacrificing my shiny purchases to enemy gunfire.

Instead, I decided on the strategy of experimenting with the basic medic dropsuit fitting, which was free and fairly idiot proof - it only has the Nanite Injector tool which is used to revive fallen allies. I could figure out the other stuff later.

So, to battle!

I entered the first match as a lone wolf – I wanted to hone my abilities a little before offering my services to a squad.

My first battle was an Ambush map, meaning there'd be lots of objectives to attack and defend. The advantage of being logistics is I no longer had to decide which location to charge or protect, I just had to followed the dudes who did to provide support.

This was fun – rarely being the first guy to round a corner and walk into a hail of bullets meant less frustrating insta-death. Of course, trying to resurrect the guy who did meet that fate isn't always a cakewalk.

Especially if you're as inept as me.

To be honest, the biggest enemy was the radial equipment menu. I don't want to run around the battlefield constantly brandishing a hypodermic needle like a mad scientist, but my ham-fisted attempts to produce the appropriate equipment at the key moment often left me standing in the open whilst I waved around random items like a Wile E. Coyote opening a parachute.

Discovery of the CAPS LOCK key being an alternative radial menu trigger to the middle mouse button didn't help much. As often as not, I ended up joining my fallen comrade to bleed out in the dirt, apologetically still clutching my rifle with medical impotence.

Despite this total lack of skill, I started to get a rewarding sense of participation as the ebb and flow to subsequent battles became apparent and I started to learn to read the troop movements and provide support appropriately.

It was almost going well, with my contributions including dying slightly less, hitting targets slightly more and occasionally doing something helpful like hacking a useful looking building or reviving a team-mate in a location where he didn't get instantly gunned down again.

Then I discovered ladders.

Stairway to Heaven

I had assumed the ladders extending up the side of some of the larger structures were simply decorative until I dived for cover next to one and was invited to press circle to climb. Well, thank you very much. Don't mind if I do.

Ooh. Suddenly my battlefield perception brain started to work in three dimensions.

What followed was me wandering around high above the action as I stopped to eat sandwiches and take the occasional pot shot. I didn't feel that bad as my fellow mercenaries fought and died beneath me, the view was lovely and they were doing perfectly well without me.

I'm thinking of starting a blog about my favourite ladder hangouts now, I could call it A Rung of Truth.

I like ladders now. Ladders are cool.

NEXT: #6 - Bad Medicine [coming soon]

PREVIOUS: #4 - Why DUST 514 Would Thrive on the PC

Discover the Sinister Truth About Iceland and CCP Games in This New EVE Documentary Teaser https://www.gameskinny.com/qyp23/discover-the-sinister-truth-about-iceland-and-ccp-games-in-this-new-eve-documentary-teaser https://www.gameskinny.com/qyp23/discover-the-sinister-truth-about-iceland-and-ccp-games-in-this-new-eve-documentary-teaser Thu, 19 Sep 2013 07:25:00 -0400 Mat Westhorpe

In April of this year, a plucky team of video journalists travelled to Iceland, their mission to study the strange phenomenon that is EVE Fanfest and gain a greater understanding of the culture of Internet Spaceships.

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to help out, acting as an honorary member of the team, as a guide, liaison, sherpa and bloke-who-waves-his-hands-around-a-lot.

It was my third Fanfest attendance and I really enjoyed watching the newcomers as they pieced together the sci-fi craziness that goes on in the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik.

As they continue work on their feature length documentary, A Tale of Internet Spaceships, the Swedish film-makers have produced a charming travelogue teaser featuring highlights from their experience.

But look carefully and you will see the sinister truth behind CCP's activities on that remote, harsh North Atlantic rock. Be afraid.

Soon after arrival, I try to explain EVE politics (or possibly offer an invisible fish) to BBC's Adam Rosser as Petter films.


The bar which has become the unofficial pre-Fanfest gathering point. Don't think badly of these folks for heavy drinking in daylight hours - this is Iceland, it could be 4am. ;)


As Fanfest gets underway, Petter and fellow Swede, EVE A-lister Chribba, discuss their pole dancing routines. Petter claims he can get his legs higher.


An unknown journalist loses his chewing gum whilst playing EVE on the Oculus Rift. As CCP ensures everyone takes part, many brains are made more pliable by this technology. But to what end?


CCP CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson officiates the wedding of EVE fans Tarsisis and Idunn Aasgard as select members of the dev team form an honour guard in their dress whites. Rumours that CCP attendance was based on their fighting ability are unfounded.


EVE spymaster and celebrity turned media mogul The Mittani (aka Alex Gianturco) attempts to use his evil mind control powers on myself, Keza MacDonald of IGN and ATOIS documentarian Petter Mårtensson. Inexplicably, I really like bees now.


Over a dozen teams of rowdy, drunk nerds are assessed for 'suitability' by CCP devs as they set out from Fanfest to invade Reykjavik town centre on Friday night. At least the flags give locals fair warning.


True to their Viking heritage, ten year CCP veterans are awarded a bloody great sword. Seriously, it really isn't worth breaking those controversial Terms of Service, these guys are packing.


Massively columnist and Predestination developer Brendan Drain relaxes with Petter, surrounded by the bizarre architectural glory of the Harpa concert hall. They start to piece together the truth about Iceland and Fanfest...


The Blue Lagoon, a tranquil, volcanically-heated natural pool. Or possibly an outdoor processing plant where they lure unsuspecting tourists and boil off their flesh to fuel world domination plans. You decide.


Petter and Philip watch helplessly from their vantage point as The Mittani and his zombie Viking slaves round up unsuspecting tourists for processing. There's no sign of Elin!


In the final act of A Tale of Internet Spaceships, the true horror is unveiled as CCP's secret cloning facilities under the volcano are exposed. Sadly, it is too late for these poor souls who are being herded into the biomass tanks.


What has happened to the diminutive third documentarian, Elin? Why are they building an army of zombie Vikings? What part does The Mittani play? Is Chribba involved? Can the evil machinations of CCP Games be stopped?

We'll have to wait for the full A Tale of Internet Spaceships documentary to find out.

[Disclaimer: Some of the above information may not be entirely accurate and the documentary might actually be a far more serious look into the relationship between CCP Games and their customers. But then again, it might not.]

DUST 514 Diary #4: Why DUST 514 Would Thrive on the PC https://www.gameskinny.com/o5v9r/dust-514-diary-4-why-dust-514-would-thrive-on-the-pc https://www.gameskinny.com/o5v9r/dust-514-diary-4-why-dust-514-would-thrive-on-the-pc Wed, 18 Sep 2013 20:24:15 -0400 Mat Westhorpe

My first experience of DUST 514: Uprising has been a mixed bag.

I wasn't expecting a perfect gaming experience - the mediocre critical reception DUST 514 received on release and my previous experience during the beta had prepared me, but I did enjoy myself and, importantly, have made first contact with more established players whose influence has changed my experience hugely for the better already.

I will certainly be returning to the smoking battlefields of New Eden – and continuing with this diary – in the future. But I will be doing so with a weathered eye and an honest opinion.


DUST 514 was always a gamble for CCP Games, but historically the folks at the Iceland-based development studio have shown they aren't afraid to roll the dice. The ongoing growth and success of their primary product, EVE Online, has been built on many such gambles.

In fact, after enduring the fallout of one of their less successful dice rolls, in his 2012 Fanfest keynote CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson showed humility to EVE fans, apologetically explaining:

“I was infected with some reverse disease of the Innovator's Dilemma, where frankly companies are usually too afraid to risk their current business. I would say that we were too liberal about our current business.”

The DUST 514 concept was born in that same era of fearless innovation. But, despite hard lessons learned, it was an era of which I was quite fond. It was that innovation, that bravery, that lunacy, which made me stick around.

I really want to see DUST 514 succeed and I've seen enough already to see some hope. But there are certainly some problems - there's one stand-out issue for me.

DUST 514 is Hampered by Platform Exclusivity

My chat with Blind Nojoy really polarised the Venn diagram of DUST 514 players. He made me realise that, rather than having a broader appeal than EVE Online as was the intention, DUST 514 manages to transfer all of the niche qualities of EVE Online into a different genre, attracting a very particular audience who enjoy the combination of RPG-standard character customisation applied to a fast paced FPS.

DUST 514 has failed to appeal to the hordes of mainstream shooter purists and not all RPG players will relish twitch gameplay, so already the demographic is looking rather sparse. Add to this that DUST 514 is only available to PlayStation 3 owners, and that platform exclusivity suddenly seems like a millstone.

For all the benefits that console gaming brings, tying up the family entertainment platform for the extended periods just isn't going to fly in many households. I appreciate that in many cases, people are luckier than me and still have their “man-cave”. But it's still a factor that whittles away at that demographic. The kind of players likely to be able to invest their time and effort into sustained DUST campaigns are also likely to have a PC. Why exclude them?

Put the Square Peg Back in the Square Hole

I'm willing to bet that PC gamers–more than console players–are more inclined towards slow-burn gameplay and the kind of menu-based jiggery-pokery that underpins the deeper aspects that are apparent in DUST 514. It is those elements which will encourage players to stick around and invest time and resources.

More than that, PC gamers are used to a culture of patching and iteration, can forgive a shoddy rollout and will return to an improving title. What CCP have in DUST 514 is a game with the potential to be embraced by long-term users, but I just don't think that they're looking in the right places.

Being free-to-play makes DUST 514 potentially accessible to a broad audience, why not put it on the PC and tap into that market? It would give its player-base a healthy growth spurt.

Let the wives and kids have the TVs back and let budding DUST mercs loose on a more suitable platform.

Or maybe the Innovator's Dilemma has finally taken hold.

NEXT: #5 - Logistics and Ladders

Previous: #3 - The March of the Tinkermen

DUST 514 Diary #3: The March of the Tinkermen https://www.gameskinny.com/omc5l/dust-514-diary-3-the-march-of-the-tinkermen https://www.gameskinny.com/omc5l/dust-514-diary-3-the-march-of-the-tinkermen Wed, 18 Sep 2013 19:27:06 -0400 Mat Westhorpe

I'd experienced enough in my first two DUST 514 matches to realise I'd probably benefit from using something other than that bog-standard starter kits. One of DUST 514's strengths is the customisability of every soldier and vehicle and I wanted to take advantage of that.

Borrowing heavily from EVE Online's ship fitting mechanic (which itself was based around collectible card games like Magic: The Gathering), DUST 514 mercenaries went to war in a variety of dropsuits, each with their own characteristics, which could be further augmented with the addition of modules.

However, most of the available dropsuits, modules and handheld equipment required the learning of skills in order to unlock them. These skills needed to be purchased with skill points, which are accrued passively over time and earned actively through combat. Fortunately, my character (Seismic Stanley) has been created some time ago and so had passively accrued several million skill points.

So Many Options...

The problem was, I didn't know where to start. The options were bewildering and I didn't want to invest my skill points in the wrong things. I knew enough from my EVE experience to know that I would benefit from some guidance. I should join a player-run corporation.

Looking through the list of established corporations, I saw the DUST University was one of the largest, with over 1,500 members. In EVE Online, EVE University is a respected and trusted brand and this was their sister organisation. I sent an application and then turned to my PC to read their website, where I found their chat channel which I joined via my EVE client.

It was here that I struck up a conversation with Arunis Genforge and later Blind Nojoy, both members of G I A N T corp. They were both incredibly helpful in giving me the advice I needed. Arunis helped me decide on an character objective – I wanted to aim for a battlefield medic and so needed to put my skill points towards the logistics disciplines.

Retail Therapy For Geeks

Blind Nojoy joined me on voice-comms and spent over an hour talking me through the various skill trees, directed me to the market and identified which equipment I needed to buy and in what quantities (on death, the player's dropsuit and all fittings are lost, so it was important to stockpile equipment).

Every new skill and purchased item costs ISK, the in-game currency earned through combat. When this process depleted my limited funds, Blind Nojoy even threw a couple of million my way. What a gent.

I was very impressed with his knowledge of the fittings, as he recited statistics and other trivia freely as we chatted. His enthusiasm was infectious too; previously I had found wading through endless swathes of equipment and menus an irritating barrier to my gameplay, but Blind explained that he really enjoyed that aspect of DUST 514, having the opportunity to tinker with his character and find rewarding combinations of equipment to use in-game.

The Next Layer of DUST

As he talked me through fitting all my purchases together, he explained that he really enjoyed the Fallout RPG series for the same reason. Despite having never played EVE Online, Blind Nojoy was clearly he was a man of patience – after all, not only was he content to flit endlessly through setup screens, he was happy to talk an idiot rookie he;d never met through the same process – and even fund him!

He talked enthusiastically about “set plays” that he and his corp mates have based around particular fits and enemy behaviours, he outlined the gameplay of planetary conquest and told me about the three districts that his corp owns. He spoke of the ebb and flow of action and a recent “war” that his corp had been involved in. Much of the language he used reminded me so much of EVE's null-sec alliance pilots.

Hypocrisy and Handbags

As he spoke, I found myself becoming more and more enamoured with the ideas behind DUST 514. There was so much possibility and Blind was clearly making the best of it. He had is his opinions on what needed improving and how the game could grow, so he was certainly not blind to the failings referenced elsewhere, but was content with the game experience as it stood.

Despite the lack of actual gameplay participation, I felt we were putting in useful groundwork to improve future experiences and Blind continued to enlighten me as he directed me through menu after menu. It took a fair while to set myself up with his guidance, without it, I suspect I would have messed it up or given up, but eventually, I had 20 fully fitted fancy logistics dropsuits ready to go and the parts for a host more cheap imitations.

It idly occurred to me as we shopped for the tools of war and gossiped about gameplay, we weren't so different from those awful women in my wife's reality TV shows - we were just more about pixels than plastic. I shuddered at the realisation.

With perfect dramatic timing, it was then that my wife returned, scotching any further living room based activity. I thanked the helpful folk online, made my apologies and logged off.

Battle-testing my new arsenal of dropsuits would have to wait for another day, but I'm really looking forward to my wife's next shopping trip.


NEXT: #4 - Why DUST 514 Would Thrive on the PC

Previous: #2 - Operation: Fake Housework

DUST 514 Diary #2: Operation Fake Housework https://www.gameskinny.com/j2c7g/dust-514-diary-2-operation-fake-housework https://www.gameskinny.com/j2c7g/dust-514-diary-2-operation-fake-housework Wed, 18 Sep 2013 15:38:04 -0400 Mat Westhorpe

17th September 2013: It's mid afternoon. The wife and baby are out seeing friends and won't be back for hours. I've stayed behind to “work”. There was probably some laundry or something I should be doing, but I'll get to that later.

My PC, now on a wheeled desk for mobility, is already in the living room due to some late night podcasting that saw me consigned to the farthest point from the bedroom. With fingertip access to the internet and all the guides and walkthroughs it can provide, it was the perfect set up to finally get to grips with DUST 514.

That said, I didn't use any of it at first. So long has been the wait, I feverishly logged on and charged straight into combat with lunatic gusto. I just wanted to get into the action and shoot some folks in the space helmet.

Battle 1: Factional Warfare Skirmish

My first battle experience quickly knocked the wind out of my sails. I'd not even taken the time to connect a keyboard and mouse and was armed only with the PlayStation controller - a device so alien to me, I'd probably be just as effective operating it with my face.

It was soon evident that I'd made a big mistake.

Everyone was more accurate and more agile than me. I died lots and only killed by accident (I inadvertantly changed weapons in a panic and hilariously downed an opponent with 5 uncannily accurate quickfire pistol shots). The enemy Minmatar team took early control of all the battlefield objectives and won pretty convincingly.

I'd like to think it wasn't entirely my fault.

Battle 2: High-Sec Ambush

Undeterred, I connected a keyboard and mouse and instantly felt more at home for the second battle.

I took some time to admire some great scenery I'd not seen before; a series of skyscraper-sized electrically charged vertical rings towered over the battlefield like pylons. Having had some experience of the pre-release build I was glad to see a little more colour and variety to the environments.

The battle itself was far more rewarding. The simple ambush format meant there was no objective-based shenanigans to worry about, so I followed a bunch of fellows who looked like they knew what they were doing and we dug in by a series of buildings.

The tit-for-tat firefight that ensued was quite enjoyable and I managed to hold my own. We killed more than we died and won the match as a result.

I'd like to think I did my part.

No Sign of Inbound Hostiles

I was quite gleeful at this point - I'd got a bit of a rush out of that second battle and was starting to feel like a naughty child who had sneaked home from school to an empty house.

I calculated that I still had a good couple of hours before I had to withdraw from the sofa hot zone, so I made plans to press the advantage and go deeper into the DUST 514 experience.

I needed bigger guns.

NEXT: #3 - The March of the Tinkermen

Previous: #1 - A Very Domestic Theatre of War

DUST 514 Diary #1: A Very Domestic Theatre of War https://www.gameskinny.com/ko57p/dust-514-diary-1-a-very-domestic-theatre-of-war https://www.gameskinny.com/ko57p/dust-514-diary-1-a-very-domestic-theatre-of-war Wed, 18 Sep 2013 12:55:49 -0400 Mat Westhorpe

DUST 514 is all about territory--and I don't just mean within its game world.

Despite the pioneering cross-platform shooter being linked into the interstellar conflict that drives EVE Online, DUST 514 is at the centre of numerous territorial challenges in the real world too.

As CCP Games faces an ongoing battle to fulfil their ambitions of delivering a triple-A shooter experience on the PlayStation 3, and integrating it fully into their EVE Universe on a free-to-play budget, I find myself fighting a personal battle simply for the right to play the game.

What follows is my journey into the heart of first world adversity as I attempt to become an immortal mercenary in DUST 514.

Tally ho...

A Family Experience?

I am openly a fan of the EVE Universe and have been involved with the PC-based EVE Online for over a decade. Despite this dedication, I have played and enjoyed other games - particularly the Battlefield series - so the arrival of an EVE-themed first-person shooter had me unsurprisingly giddy with anticipation.

The exclusive PlayStation 3 release of DUST 514 left me no choice but to step out of my PC gaming comfort zone and convince the wife we needed a console.

“It comes with Netflix,” I pleaded.

And so, even though the sun was setting on the PlayStation 3, Sony's slinky black box of tricks found a home in our living room, igniting a domestic cold war for territorial control.

I thought our 42-inch plasma TV and 6:1 cinematic surround sound would make DUST 514 a fantastic experience, but my wife had other ideas. For some reason she doesn't like it when our living environment becomes an interactive futuristic war zone and with her using our baby as a human shield, the fight for couch-based mercenary operations was over before it began.

Tactical Withdrawal

I had no choice but to retreat to my PC gaming once more, keeping a watchful eye for a window of opportunity to grab the PS3 controller and jump into a dropsuit. But even if there wasn't something on regular television that needed to be watched, now there was Netflix. I'd scored a spectacular own goal.

The massed ranks of Real Houswives of Shallow County (or whatever that rubbish is called) seems to be an endless televisual dirge which would make any grown man run screaming.

Seriously, Firefly only got 11 episodes yet these insipid harridans go on for years? There's no justice!

However, if EVE Online has taught me anything, it is patience. Now, several months later, my wife has sated her thirst for terrible reality TV shows and the mother-baby unit has become more robust and mobile, often heading out for coffee afternoons and baby groups.

Now is the time to take up arms and really get to grips with DUST 514 (possibly from a well-defended position behind the sofa).

The living room territory is ripe for the taking. Let the domestic conquest begin.

[This is the first in a series of articles following our intrepid DUST 514 rookie as he negotiates domestic hazards, confronts the developmental challenges and endeavours to find out just how deep the DUST 514 foxhole goes.]

NEXT: #2 - Operation Fake Housework

Interview: The EVE Community Questions CCP Unifex About Valkyrie (Part 3 of 4) https://www.gameskinny.com/mdgwc/interview-the-eve-community-questions-ccp-unifex-about-valkyrie-part-3-of-4 https://www.gameskinny.com/mdgwc/interview-the-eve-community-questions-ccp-unifex-about-valkyrie-part-3-of-4 Wed, 04 Sep 2013 19:16:25 -0400 Mat Westhorpe

[This is Part Three of our full transcription of Crossing Zebras' audio interview with Jon "CCP Unifex" Lander, temporary Executive Producer of EVE: Valkyrie. Part One can be found here.]

Xander: Okay, I've got a great question here from Roc Wieler. Roc wanted to know about the name. The Valkyrie in EVE is a Minmatar drone, but the game is about piloting fighters, so there's a discrepancy there. Can you explain it?

CCP Unifex: The actual name came about from... it was originally pitched by Manifest [PR & Marketing]. We were going around looking for a decent name, because E-VR just isn't a decent name. He basically brought this deck together and the salient points were: what's CCP all about? CCP is all about space, it's about openness, it's about a few things, but it's also got a healthy streak of Viking in it.

It's about combat, it's about the infernal cycle of harvest-build-destroy, harvest-build-destroy. And he said, so hang on … he did this great deck which led to, so how about you just combine space and Vikings and fighting and you get Valkyries. It was purely down to the Norse legend, if you look at Wagner's Ring Cycle and Ride of the Valkyries, you look at what Valkyries are in Norse mythology, it just kind of fitted very, very well.

And afterwards – I can't remember who it was said, “you also have a tech 1 and tech 2 medium scout drone which is a Minmatar Valkyrie.” It was like, “Yeah, but it's a really good name.” So there's absolutely no link between the name and the EVE Online drone.

So unfortunately Roc, there is no conspiracy theory, there is no great way to find out what we're doing.

Xander: So this question was asked by Poetic Stanziel and it's the big one that I think everybody was going to ask.

Valkyrie has this amazing USP which is the Oculus Rift, and as far as I'm aware, Valkyrie is the first game to be specifically developed for the platform as opposed to other games which have been modded to work with the Rift such as Doom and other games like that.

DUST has had a mixed response from players in the gaming community I would suggest up 'til now. Part of which is down to its USP, which is the connection to the EVE Universe. I would suggest that's not perfect at the moment. You might have a different view but I think there's a proportion of the community that feels that's not been done perfectly yet.

Can you give us more details about how Valkyrie's going to link to EVE and DUST for that matter?

CCP UnifexNope.

Xander: [Laughs]

CCP UnifexWhat I can tell you is this, which is that the key thing around Valkyrie is, the thing that's really been validated is that core experience, the experience of – I said it before - that visceral, close-to-the-metal, that twitch, 'I'm sat in the cockpit', when you look down, those are my legs, I'm the guy who's piloting this fast fighter around. That is the experience that the world has told us it likes.

So very much the focus for us right now will be; develop that, make a game which isn't just that but which is, has got all the... if you look at the experience you had at Fanfest, what it means is it needs a context, it needs a beginning.

Xander: Absolutely, yeah.

CCP Unifex: At the end of my three-minute match or whatever it ends up being, I want a reason to go in a play another one, which is more than just 'I want to play a dogfighting battle'. I mean that has to be the reason you're playing that sort of hands-on piece.

Our number one mission right now is to take that and turn that into a successful game. We've got a million and one ideas about how this could tie into the broader EVE Universe.

Xander: Without going into specifics – I know you can't do that – the intention long-term is for there to be a mechanical link into the EVE Universe as opposed to a setting/narrative link?

CCP Unifex: I mean, absolutely – I mean, lets get our crystal balls over ten years or however many years (god, I just pulled that out of the air – people get on about 10 years [… ?brokeback? … ] at CCP). Let's look at some point in the future, we want everything to be a seamless world. You can already see it with EVE and DUST. We've spoken at various Fanfests about boarding parties and all of this kind of stuff. How on Earth that would work, I mean it's down to those games [ …?teams?... ] to work out.

Also, the thing that we want to do is create a sandbox world where it's kind of seamless. Are we in a position to do that today? No. Nowhere near able to do that, but we can certainly do different types of interaction.

Will there be more than just an IP/story/backdrop to our link between Valkyrie and the rest of the EVE universe? Yeah, absolutely it will.

Will that be our number one priority of the focus as we develop the game? Absolutely not.

It will be driving, making this a game which personally I would want millions and millions of people to play, enjoy and then those people who desperately want to find out more, desperately crave more and want to be a part of this world, I really want to give them that avenue.

You know, we've got to make sure we don't give them that at the expense of just making a really good game.

Xander: Okay, so let's go on and talk about that potential playerbase. It's been confirmed that Valkyrie will be playable in some way on mobiles and consoles.

CCP Unifex: Who by?

Xander: I thought that had been out there in the ether, that it was looking to be multi-platform.

CCP Unifex: Right now we haven't mentioned anything about any platform.

Xander: Okay.

CCP Unifex: There's probably a lot of conjecture out there, coming out of GamesCom and hopeful in various responses.

Xander: Perhaps that's where I got that from then.

CCP Unifex: Yeah, it could be. Right now we're not saying anything about platforms or peripherals or anything.

Xander: Okay, I'm going to ask anyway then: is there an intent to make the game playable without Oculus Rift?

CCP Unifex: We're going to have to see. Again, we're not saying anything about that right now. I think there are two bits to the game. I think there is a great game in there and I think the VR sends it, if you like, to 11.

Xander: Yeah, I agree.

CCP Unifex: I think it will be interesting to see how we get on as we experiment with this sort of thing. I think the experience that existing games have had, kind of retro-fitting VR into their experience has been pretty hit-and-miss. It's difficult. The things that the guys have learned from developing this from the ground up for VR – they're re-writing the rulebook for a lot of things about how you do certain parts of game development. So we'll just have to wait and see on that.

Xander: The obvious follow-up question here is: is there any kind of nervousness about developing a game whose primary selling point is the astounding immersion created by the Oculus Rift – which is this amazing platform, but doesn't exist in houses yet. It's not out there. Whereas something like DUST had a potential established user-base already when you launched it.

...Is there any kind of nervousness about developing a game whose primary selling point is the astounding immersion created by the Oculus Rift?

CCP Unifex: … We are at the bleeding edge of games development right now. We're carrying a lot of risk. But we've also got a very small team. You know, we're not throwing the baby and the bathwater and the kitchen sink at it. You know, we've got to be very cautious with how we go forward. But I'll be absolutely honest with you; my personal point of view is that I think that VR is going to change how we do a significant portion of our gaming.

Xander: I agree. One hundred percent.

CCP Unifex: It's not going to replace screens and all of that, but in terms of the experience you're going to be able to get from it, it's going to be staggering. I think the days are gone where these are just geeky things which don't work very well, I think we're going to have the technology to go up to a point where these are genuinely going to be part of … anybody who calls themselves 'gamer' is going to have one of these. I've sat with a 1080P screen on the side of my face, I mean the HD kits we were using at GamesCom are 30% of the weight of the ones you had a Fanfest.

Xander: Wow.

CCP Unifex: Yeah, exactly, they weigh almost nothing. These are still just prototypes and devkits.

Xander: And it's not like the ones we had at Fanfest were heavy. They weren't uncomfortable. I only wore it for three-four minutes of course, but they were fine.

CCP Unifex: Exactly. So I think the work that is going on there, there's huge potential here. If we can continue to be at that innovative and cutting edge with what we do, we're not going... especially Valkyrie … I think this is a good bet to make. I think everybody can look at it as 'yeah, it's a bet, but we would be crazy not to push it'.

NEXT: Valkyrie Payment Model and Oculus Rift for EVE Online?


Jon "CCP Unifex" Lander Interview by Xander Phoena
Interview: CCP Games on Developing EVE: Valkyrie for the Oculus Rift (Part 2 of 4) https://www.gameskinny.com/z7udy/interview-ccp-games-on-developing-eve-valkyrie-for-the-oculus-rift-part-2-of-4 https://www.gameskinny.com/z7udy/interview-ccp-games-on-developing-eve-valkyrie-for-the-oculus-rift-part-2-of-4 Wed, 04 Sep 2013 19:16:11 -0400 Mat Westhorpe

[This is Part Two of our full transcription of Crossing Zebras' audio interview with Jon "CCP Unifex" Lander, temporary Executive Producer of EVE: Valkyrie. Part One can be found here.]

Xander: So you are currently leading both the fledgling mobile division within CCP and the Valkyrie project. Which is taking up most of your time at the moment? Is one prioritised?

CCP Unifex: Yeah, absolutely. Right now, the opportunity there is Valkyrie, so I'm spending the vast majority of my time doing that. I had some good time pretty much straight after Fanfest where I was able to look at the CCP strategy around mobile and get some good work done around that. And then Valkyrie kicked off and just looking at the opportunity we have with that in the short term.

It's definitely something I've thrown my all into to get the project up and running. But the intention is – like I said – I'm gonna be handing over so that I can actually go and focus on mobile for CCP and all the various projects and products that we've got planned under that.

Xander: Is there any kind of timescale... can you give an approximate timescale when you may hand over and go back to the mobile side of things?

CCP Unifex: It's going to be happening this year. By the time I get to the end of this year I should be completely transitioned over and looking at what mobile means for CCP and how we should start building things.

Xander: Valkyrie and the team working on that are currently based out of Newcastle I believe. Are you flitting between Rekyjavik [Iceland] and Newcastle [UK] at the moment? Or are you based in Newcastle? What's your working strategy for that at the moment?

CCP Unifex: [Laughs] It's tiring and complicated. I'm actually in Newcastle today, I flew in yesterday. It's brutal getting up at 4.50 in a Sunday morning in Reykjavik.

Xander: I had to to that on the Sunday of Fanfest. I had to catch that flight back. Oh my word.

CCP Unifex: Absolutely, yeah. Basically the taxi and we had to drive from where I live right in the middle of Reykjavik and I'm like why are all these party people out drinking and that – oh yeah, the bars are still open for another hour. Very, very strange experience going through Reykjavik at that time in the morning.

I'm still living and based in Reykjavik, I then come out to the Newcastle office once every few weeks and then the rest of the time we've got really good video conferencing facilities. We've got some really good people dealing with the day-to-day […?...] I mean, just because of the stage of the project, most of what I need to be doing is in Reykjavik; budgets and accounts - all of those sorts of bigger picture things.

Eventual development is all happening in Newcastle. To be fair, the guys here are doing a fantastic job. They've jumped on this really quickly and they have made some amazing progress.

Xander: Okay. I did ask the community for some questions to ask you. Obviously there are a lot of people interested in this project. One of the questions that came up that a couple of people asked me... EVE is obviously a massive ongoing project, DUST is a game which I think portions of the community would suggest needs a lot of work, yep? World of Darkness is obviously another project which is taking up a lot of resources, I presume, at CCP at the moment.

Where does the development time, the budget, the resources come for Valkyrie? Is this a brand new development team with new people being hired in or is this re-allocation from elsewhere? How does this affect the bigger picture?

CCP UnifexSo the guys in Newcastle were working on a part of the DUST engine and they rolled back off that earlier this year - I can't remember the exact date - and basically their part of the work was done. It's one of the bits that got handed back over to the Shanghai office to take forward, so these guys had rolled off and that was one of the factors that enabled them to really push forward with Valkyrie.

The timing just worked out very, very well completely by coincidence. These guys were rolling off and we were looking at – okay, what are the options for them going forward in terms of how do they contribute to what CCP are doing. And that happened pretty much over E3. When we came out of E3 saying, “you know what, we should really do something with this. How on earth are we going to do that without disrupting our existing projects?”

What we've got is a small development team in Newcastle who can do something with this. And it's a small team of 14-15 people. Not a big office by any stretch of the imagination.

So with that: good coincidence and timing, and a product that needed to be done and these guys actually fitted what we wanting to do with Valkyrie in terms of their skillset and the graphics and a ton of just very happy coincidences. We said, “hey, studio – are you interested in doing this?”

They took one look at it and I actually brought one of the Oculus Rifts down here, we had the guys in Reykjavik all standing by on the other headsets and we actually ran what was the first cross-country demo of what was then E-VR.

It was actually in this room we had a stream of the developers just coming in, having a beer, playing the game and at the end of it I said, “what do you think? Do you think it's something that your studio what like to be involved in?” and they just unanimously went, “Yes! Let us at this.”

So we did that and then there were a few of the core who did the original development [to whom] we said, “look, this is your baby. CCP wants to take this labour of love and turn it into a real product, we've got a studio who can do it. Are you guys happy with that?"

Of course, they were. They were eager to turn this thing into a real product. Basically, we've brought them over to Newcastle to help with that transition and we will see where that leads to get to the end of the year.

Xander: I know that you've mentioned that these guys were coming off the part of DUST that they were working on at the time, but is there any reason for DUST player to be nervous that they've lost some developers. DUST is a game which I think certain portions of the community would suggest is still very much in development and they've lost that personnel. How exactly does that work?

CCP Unifex: They shouldn't be concerned. I think things which DUST needs to work on right now - if you look at what's in the 1.4 release, I mean 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4 – they've all been developed without these guys. I think players will see, when it goes out tomorrow - fantastic advances.

The views we were getting coming out of Gamescom, a lot of the guys who played went, “ah, you've fixed that, you've fixed this...” so the things that need to be iterated and worked on are a different class of things from what the guys in Newcastle have been working on, so actually we at the company have no worries about that. […?Nothing?...] very cognizant of the fact of yeah, being clogged up.

Xander: Okay. So you've touched on it already, but at what point did CCP go, “right - E-VR, it's had all this great press, it's had all this great reception but at that point it was just a tech demo, it was an example of what could be done potentially with Oculus Rift.

What was the point at which you guys went, “we need to go ahead with this, this needs to be a full game? What happened there?”

CCP Unifex: It was in a hotel room in Los Angeles and there was myself, Hilmar [Veigar Petursson - CCP CEO], David Reid our CMO, and Thor, our VP of BizDev. We sat down and went through all the various bits and pieces and just looked at each other and just went, “You know what? We've just got to make this happen,” and it was really coming off that amazing reception at E3.

So from that, everybody looked around and we had that thing of, “yeah, but how are we actually going to do this? Who's going to do it? And then they all looked at me...”


CCP Unifex: But then like I said, we had a whole bunch of developers who were also, luckily, becoming available. I mean, to me, this was the big concern: is there a way we can actually take advantage of this opportunity? Because it's a heck of an opportunity. I mean, you've played it...

Xander: Yeah, I have.

CCP Unifex: … and it's the people who played it at E3 and Gamescom – and actually the Gamescom build has come on hugely since Fanfest. I mean, it's in 1080P HD, instead of 720 on the kits you had. And they've polished and added a ton of stuff to it. I mean, it's just an amazing opportunity, but how do you do that without screwing up all the other things that we currently have going on. I think – anybody who knows my background on EVE and at CCP – we've learned some pretty tough lessons over the years; how not to try to do everything and do most things not particularly well.

We've focused down and are very clear on what our priorities are. We have these other projects; EVE Online, DUST 514 [ ...?World of Darkness?...] – these are very important things for us that we can't just suddenly disappear and pull everybody off because there's this cool thing over there in the corner.

So that was really our big concern and the big hurdle that we had to get over; how do you build and take advantage of this without impacting, in a bad way, the other projects?

Then you've got the thing, like I said, with the fortuitous timing and we're still very, very clear on that; whilst this is great, we're making great strides with what we're developing and how it's moving forward, we can't just ignore other products because they're the lifeblood at CCP, the games that we have out there, they're the community that we have.

We're not going to short change them.

NEXT: The EVE Community Questions CCP Unifex About Valkyrie


Jon "CCP Unifex" Lander Interview by Xander Phoena
Interview: EVE: Valkyrie's Executive Producer on the Beginnings of the Virtual Reality Revolution https://www.gameskinny.com/c325m/interview-eve-valkyries-executive-producer-on-the-beginnings-of-the-virtual-reality-revolution https://www.gameskinny.com/c325m/interview-eve-valkyries-executive-producer-on-the-beginnings-of-the-virtual-reality-revolution Wed, 04 Sep 2013 19:15:22 -0400 Mat Westhorpe

EVE: Valkyrie looks to be the killer app for Oculus Rift. The space dogfighting tech demo was first unveiled as E-VR at EVE Fanfest in April this year and has since gone on to literally turn heads at E3 and Gamescom.

Despite the growing excitement around EVE: Valkyrie, details are light in these early development stages. Earlier this week, leading EVE podcaster Xander Phoena caught up with EVE's former Executive Producer Jon “CCP Unifex” Lander for a forty minute interview to separate fact from rumour and find out what CCP Games really have in mind for their rough diamond.

The audio interview can be heard on Crossing Zebras, but some of the sound quality is less than clear at CCP Unifex's end so, for your convenience, Xander permitted me to transcribe and reproduce the entire interview here.

Come back in 24 hours and I'll have something more abridged for your enjoyment, but in the meantime, here are all 6,500 words for you to explore.

Buried within are the some tasty nuggets of clarification about what the future holds for EVE: Valkyrie, CCP Unifex and the overall strategy of CCP Games.

CCP Unifex & Xander Phoena on EVE: Valkyrie

Xander: Welcome back to Crossing Zebras, I am Xander Phoena. As those of you who listen to the podcast know, one of the most exciting things I was able to take part in at Fanfest was the E-VR demo. It completely blew me away. Totally unexpected, came from nowhere and was one of the highlights of an amazing Fanfest.

Valkyrie was confirmed as being a full title for CCP last week and I immediately jumped on the blower to CCP Manifest - who is CCP's PR and social media guy – and said “look, I really want to sit down with whoever is available and whoever is behind Valkyrie at the moment and talk to them, get some information from them about this really exciting project and he pointed me to none other than CCP Unifex who joins me now. Thanks very much for coming on this show Unifex.

CCP Unifex: Good to be here again.

Xander: Thank you, thank you. It doesn't seem that long ago since we sat down and talked.

CCP Unifex: No, it was just after Fanfest I think, so a lot has happened in a very short period of time.

Xander:  Indeed, indeed. So let's crack on. This isn't directly connected to Valkyrie as such, but can you tell me how the summit went? The CSM summit has just finished and I think the guys flew back on Saturday. How did that go from your end?

CCP Unifex: As far as I know, it went really, really well. It's actually the first one in a while where I haven't been in every session or fully involved. I saw the guys around, they seemed to be okay. They didn't have their pitchforks and torches out so it's always good not to see that.

I did a couple of sessions with them late on Friday and everybody seemed to be making good noises in a really productive summit. Had some good dinners, some good conversations. It was good actually. It felt really, really professional, really productive and it was good to see old faces and meet lots of new ones.

Xander:  Yeah, Mister CSM himself, Trebor [Daehdoow] who has attended many of these summits said it was the most professional one and the best one he's attended so far. So if he thought it was good, I guess that's a good thing. If any man would know it would be Trebor.

CCP Unifex: Absolutely, yeah I think we've seen a steady, building crescendo over the years. You know, we've really managed to evolve the CSMs – it's a very effective body now and it certainly knows it's role, it knows how to influence, it knows when to stick its foot down.

There's a similar evolution that's happening on the CCP side, where it was just really good this year just seeing the dev teams really craving the input the CSM were able to give them and the input they were able to crowdsource from the community. I think everybody has found their feet, we're in a really good place going forward with that. It's just good to see the CSM being super productive.

Xander:  Awesome. Okay, so let's talk Valkyrie. Can you clarify your exact position in the Valkyrie project at the moment.

CCP Unifex: Right now I'm the Executive Producer for it, which means [I'm] the guy who in effect runs the business and overall everything reports into and is responsible for moving the product along. But it's a temporary role. We've got some announcements in terms of... what the handover plan and all of that is and who'll take over, which'll come in the future. Right now I'm... it was very much a sort of follow on from the EVE Online Executive Producer role.

I mean I remember back in... oh, when was it? About a month before Fanfest when the guys originally came to me and [CCP Chief Marketing Officer] David Reid  and said, “Hey can we try this stuff out please?” and we had a look at it and were kind of blown away in a similar way that you were when you played it at Fanfest.

Xander:  Yeah.

U: They sort of said, “Do you think it'd be alright if we showed it at Fanfest?” We sort of looked at each other, swore quite a lot and said, “Yes of course it'll be fine.”

Xander:  [Laughs]

CCP Unifex: And then we took it to Fanfest and really from there I helped the guys really just evangelise it within CCP. It was very much a grassroots effort that the guys did and I thought it was super cool so I just kept on pushing it and putting the things that they were doing in front of people and just sort of offering them any sort of advice and guidance that they wanted.

At that point it was very much just the guys doing this as a labour of love. As we looked forward we though E3 was coming up, why don't we kill two birds with one stone. Why don't we take a look at building on the free PR – it sounds awful but, yeah – how do we continue to build the noise around CCP and EVE and DUST by taking what was then E-VR to E3.

And also it was a good opportunity for some of the guys who'd worked on it to get a bit of a reward. It's like: hey guys, we'll pay for you to go to Los Angeles for a week and they worked pretty hard, don't get me wrong, but they had a good time as well.

But at the back of my mind there was really this question of validation which was taking something like E-VR, putting it in front of the people who go to EVE Fanfest and seeing the reaction... is playing the home game. Y'know, I have to say I wasn't that surprised by their reaction.

To take it to something like E3, then all of a sudden it's the entire gaming world who're looking at it and you get a very good sense of 'are we actually on to something here or are we onto something which is… are we kidding ourselves.

We got what? IGN 'Most Innovative in Show', PC Gamer gave us 'Best in Show' which is like – I felt really sorry for people who'd been developing a game for four years with multi-million dollar marketing budgets and a tech demo comes and steals the show.

But that kind of reception that we got was full of the validation that we needed to really take it back into a huddle with CCP and say 'you know what, there really is something here'.

There's a latent need in the market place for a couple of things really, one of which is – VR is taking off, it's now getting to a point where actually I think it's a viable technology which fundamentally has the opportunity to transform how we do many different things.

Also there's just this need for a first-person, dogfighting, visceral, close-to-the-metal, twitch kind of space combat game which has really been missing for ten, fifteen years.

I think you combine those two things and you get something that is very, very powerful.

So we went ahead and said, “okay, yep, we should do this” and basically started building up the team because, at that point, I was kind of freeing up in terms of what I was doing - I was beginning to look at the mobile side of things. But we don't have a spare executive producer lying around at CCP, so I had no problems whatsoever just jumping into that one and helping get the team up and running and kicking off.

Next: CCP Games on Developing EVE: Valkyrie for the Oculus Rift


Jon "CCP Unifex" Lander Interview by Xander Phoena