Valkyrie – Becoming a little less vague…maybe..

This entry has been written from an ‘out of character’ perspective to discuss EVE Valkyrie.

EVE Valkyrie is at the same time probably one of the most exciting prospects in gaming right now and one of the least understood.  It is exciting because it has shown considerable innovation and flair, but no-one claims to know much about it yet as CCP have announced next to nothing.

Which is why today I was very interested to read a few pieces on Rock Paper Shotgunwhich define a few more elusive details for us.  Weirdly though since reading it this morning their articles appears to have been carved up from one piece to three.  I’m guessing they wanted more page views or something. *Shrug*.

The first report is a bit gushing and describes in detail the reporter’s experience of playing the game.  Nothing knew there if you are already familiar with the announcements to date.  Then in part two we have a very confused journalist tryingto make sense of what CCP’s Marketing CMO David Reid (CCP Pokethulu) refused to say.  Having watched his EVE Vegas keynote on the stream last weekend I’m not surprised.  David Reid appears to take great pride in talking in circles.

He apparently wants you to be very excited about CCP’s projects but adamantly refuses to give you any actual solid information on them while refusing to confirm details had thought were already confirmed.  After watching the Vegas keynote I came to the conclusion that he had spent an hour giving a presentation that featured no actual content, announcements or indications of what CCP are actually aiming to achieve in the future.  There was a lot of “we thought we could go in this direction but we might not” going on.  I found it exasperating, which is a shame as I have enjoyed his presentations in the past.  Where he actually did say something.  But back to Valkyrie.

This third piece contains some actual information.  Assuming that CCP are actually going this route and it wasn’t just a thing they thought of this one time and may or may not still be the thing they are thinking about doing.  Yeah.

It appears that CCP do intend to integrate Valkyrie with the Tranquility server alongside EVE-Online and Dust 514.  That seems like a definite thing now, so that’s progress and the answer I’m sure we were all hoping for.  The how and when is still very much up in the air though.

RPS: So integrating EVE and Dust makes simple sense. One’s in space, the other is planet-side. The two play well together, but in a way that allows both to specialize. Valkyrie, however, is also in space, so how do you integrate it without simply replacing EVE’s ship battles – which are a different animal entirely?

Reid: There’s a couple different ways to think about that. Here’s an example: with Dust integration, what we’d like to do is have boarding parties from Dust dropships enter in EVE spaceships someday, and start laying waste to the crew and taking over ships and stuff. So that would be a place that – if we were able to do that – would collide those things. Kind of as you’re saying: does a Valkyrie ship collide with an EVE ship? What’s that shared space? How do we think about that? You can certainly go in that direction.

But you can also go in a different direction that would be technically easier to implement, which would be that they’re all in a shared universe. They share resources, they share an economy and things like that together, but the actual literal combat mechanics are more like orbital bombardment between EVE and Dust right now. It’s not that Valkyrie ships are flying around in the exact same space that EVE frigates and titans and things are; it’s a different part of space.

And a little later on:

We think in terms of, “Are there pockets of the universe that aren’t accessible by giant EVE ships?” For lack of a better way to think about it, is the door too small for a giant ship to fit through, but a Valkyrie fighter to poke through? Those are some of the things we’re thinking about, but it’s still a little early.

So I think what we are likely looking at in 2014 is a fairly straight forward core mechanics dogfighting game that takes place over small deadspace pockets and I’m going to throw this out there and suggest it will be a third element tied into Factional Warfare in order to begin affecting EVE’s sandbox in a more controlled setting.  We won’t be seeing Valkyrie and EVE-Online players mixing it up in the same fleet battles for some time.  We will probably see market integration more quickly than we have seen with Dust514 as CCP are realising that its absence to date has been hindering the game.

I’m feeling pretty positive about that prospect.  Valkyrie doesn’t need to have a feature list the length of Star Citizen’s from day one, it just needs enough depth to supplement the dogfighting core to tide it over while the other components are slotted into place and interwoven with EVE-Online and Dust514.

The report then moves into the murky waters that David Reid waded into in the post-Vegas Keynote Q&A session.  When Valkyrie first came to light earlier this year it was as a tech demo called EVE-VR.  The big deal was that it used the Occulus Rift to deliver a spectacular dogfighting experience.  And it was clearly demo’ed on PC.  Reid is now heavily stressing that CCP have not conformed if Valkyrie is going to be released on either the Rift or on PC.  Which is utterly bizzare.  I can’t decide if CCP is being overly cautious about expectations management at this early stage or if they are genuinely angling for another platform exclusivity deal.

If Valkyrie ends up as an Xbox One exclusive, the induced rage will eclipse 2011’s Incarna Monocle-Gate.  Reid seems edgy about tying CCP down to releasing alongside the Rift, presumably because CCP are not in a position to wait out a long delay in someone else’s product development.  But I find the launch-platform uncertainty being raised now particularly weird as to date Valkyrie has always been shown on PC.  Why create such obfuscation at this point if it is going to launch on PC?  Should Valkyrie turn out to be a next-gen console game then I’ll likely be thinking twice about getting myself a Rift any time soon.

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