Interview: The EVE Community Questions CCP Unifex About Valkyrie (Part 3 of 4)

Xander Phoena of Crossing Zebras EVE podcast pitches questions from the EVE community to EVE:Valkyrie Executive Producer, Jon "CCP Unifex" Lander

Xander Phoena of Crossing Zebras EVE podcast pitches questions from the EVE community to EVE:Valkyrie Executive Producer, Jon "CCP Unifex" Lander

[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

About the author

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.