Interview with CCP CMO: Valkyrie as a Bloodsport and a Sovereignty Shake-Up

David Reid shares some of the vision for EVE's future, from the imminent Rubicon expansion, to EVE: Valkyrie's place in the EVE Universe and making that universe bigger...

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.

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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).

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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.