Exclusive BBC Interview with New EVE: Valkyrie Executive Producer Owen O’Brien (Part One)

New CCPer Owen "CCP Nonameyet" O'Brien talks to BBC Radio about his new role as Executive Producer for EVE Valkyrie.
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Adam Rosser, broadcaster and journalist for BBC Radio 5 Live, interviewed new CCP Executive Producer Owen O’Brien on September 13th. The as yet unaired conversation gives an early insight into the man who will be taking the reigns from Jon ‘CCP Unifex’ Lander and steering the EVE: Valkyrie virtual reality project to completion.

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The interview will be broadcast on Adam’s Game On segment of the Up All Night show on Tuesday 17th September at 2205 Eastern US time (Wed 18th 0305 GMT) , along with some discussion with erudite and informed industry commentators (oh, and me).

Adam kindly allowed me to preview his interview and transcribe it in full for the exclusive attention of GameSkinny readers.

As a follow-up to last week’s interview with the now-outgoing Jon Lander, it is interesting to see the next chapter in the development of EVE: Valkyrie start to take shape and get a sense of the man who will be making some very important decisions as he leads the team who are spearheading the virtual reality revolution.

Adam Rosser Interviews EVE Valkyrie Executive Producer Owen O’Brien: 

Adam Rosser: … [Invites Owen O’Brien to introduce himself.]

Owen O’Brien: Yeah, my name is Owen O’Brien and – as of about two weeks ago – I’m the executive producer on EVE: Valkyrie.

AR: Now Owen, you were with DICE up until very recently and you’re moving across to a project which is going to be on the Oculus Rift. That is a bit of a jump, isn’t it?

OO: It is a bit of a jump yes, I mean I’ve been at DICE for about eight years now. The main thing I worked on was Mirror’s Edge. Basically [with] the team that created that and [have] been working on various other projects and preparations for the reboot which has just been announced at E3.

EVE: Valkyrie is a very different project to Battlefield 4 certainly, but it’s quite similar in some ways to the beginnings of Mirror’s Edge. You know, it’s a small team, a very passionate team focused on something that is based around a unique core experience. So actually it’s kind of… it felt familiar to me to come over here and do that.

AR: When you articulate it in those terms, that does make sense, because the team which made Valkyrie were tiny weren’t they? And they were almost doing it in their own time and it was just this little toy that they were putting together to show at Fanfest.

OO: Just to be clear to distinguish between the two products; the team that you’re talking about – the five guys – put together the E-VR tech demo, which was what was shown at Fanfest and has gone down so well with everybody. Those five guys are now in the Newcastle studio and they’re helping – with the wider team – and they’re helping to turn it into a more fully rounded game rather than the very impressive and exciting, but very short, experience that it was before.

AR: Well ‘short’, but I’d characterise as a very worthwhile experience. I had two goes and I was one of the ones at the lighter end of the spectrum in the press room.

What do you think it was that made that tech demo so compelling and how do you bring that through and keep the compelling qualities of it into a fully realised game?

OO: The first thing about the tech demo is that for someone of my generation, it feels like the first time, finally we’re getting the VR experience that we were always promised. You know, VR has been the next big thing numerous times and it’s got a lot of fatigue about it, including [from] myself. But the first time I put on the headset, it was like ‘wow, this is finally happening, it’s finally coming.’

‘Immersive’ is a very over-used term in our industry at the moment, but this truly was immersive – you were there in the cockpit and you were looking around and using your head to target and lock onto things. – Owen O’Brien, EVE: Valkyrie Executive Producer

It was a very compelling and unique experience and that’s what I think has resonated with people. I mean, as soon as I took the headset off, I kind of wanted to put it back on again, I wanted to be back in that literal space.

So I think that’s what’s made it so compelling. The challenge now for our team is to make that a longer and deeper experience and something that’s got legs. That’s probably the wrong metaphor to use but, you know, something that people want to play for longer periods of time and keep coming back to and feel like they’re progressing through the game.

Next: O’Brien on EVE Universe integration, CCP’s strengths and picking a dev name…

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Mat Westhorpe
Broken paramedic and coffee-drinking Englishman whose favourite dumb animal is an oxymoron. After over a decade of humping and dumping the fat and the dead, my lower spine did things normally reserved for Rubik's cubes, bringing my career as a medical clinician to an unexpectedly early end. Fortunately, my real passion is in writing and given that I'm now highly qualified in the art of sitting down, I have the time to pursue it. Having blogged about video games (well, mostly EVE Online) for years, I hope to channel my enjoyment of wordcraft and my hobby of gaming into one handy new career that doesn't involve other people's vomit.