This entry has been written from an ‘out of character’ perspective to talk about the London meet hosted by CCP this weekend.
This entry was meant to have been posted on March 9th, turns out it got saved as a draft and I didn’t notice. :S
As you may know, on Friday CCP hosted a London meet on short notice. It was unusual in a couple of ways, the first being the fact it was only announced a few days before the event took place and the second being that CCP put on a live demo of EVE Valkyrie! As I had nothing else planned, I set course for London and had myself a good time.
It turned out that the reason why this event was put together on such short notice was that EVE Valkyrie was being demoed live on Sky News that morning to demonstrate the recent advancements in Virtual Reality technology that the non-gaming media is starting to get a handle on. The Occulus Rift was strapped to a reporters head and he was sat down to play Valkyrie. It was a pretty good bit of coverage for CCP and Occulus I think.
All of this explains why CCP were suddenly in London with their kit and a new demo build of Valkyrie. I was very happy to hear of this because I have been regretting not going to try it out back at Fanfest last year. I didn’t think I would get a second chance any time soon so jumped on it. London EVE meets are usually just a pub crowded full of EVE players milling about chatting and drinking, this time round the whole thing was focused on the line for Valkyrie which snaked around the bar, so I found myself spending most of the evening either at the bar, in the line, or both simultaneously! Thanks to that, I managed to comfortably try out Valkyrie three times and chatted to the random people I was next to in the queue about random topics. I have always found that a bunch of EVE players have no problem keeping the conversation going with people whose names they don’t even know.
I was quite impressed with both Valkyrie and the Rift. I’m pleased to say that I didn’t get any sensation of nausea despite also being on the booze. The main issues I did find were that I’m not used to the Xbox360 controller or wearing a Rift, so I sucked badly. Also I wear glasses so found the Rift to be pretty snug and it would have gotten pretty uncomfortable after a while although I did not have much time to adjust the straps to get the best fit. I’m told that Occulus are planning to bring out versions for people who wear glasses so that should help. Apparently due to the way the Rift works you do need to keep your glasses on for the best effect, as your depth perception is important despite the image being so close to your face.
I’m reluctant to draw firm conclusions about Valkyrie’s gameplay from the trio of three minute demo’s I had. I did have fun with it and I remain excited for the future. The use of head tracking to acquire missile locks is fun and intuitive, the game looks good. What I saw was a very thin slice of the game but I’m encouraged by it.
Sadly the Dev’s in attendance did a pretty good job of not giving me many straight answers to anything sensitive. They clearly all had ‘The Briefing’ before coming over not to spill any of the beans ahead of Fanfest. Valkyrie will be launched as a standalone title to begin with that CCP hope to integrate into Tranquility later on. I did get the impression that this area of the design is still very much on the drawing board at this point. In fact I think the entire ‘metagame’ of Valkyrie is, if it isn’t directly part of the dog fighting experience then it is far from finalised at this point.
Release date? Seems that as Valkyrie is now an exclusive launch title to the Rift, it won’t be launching until the Rift does which puts it at late this year or even into 2015. I did however get the distinct impression that CCP are expecting to do very well indeed out of this deal, so whatever they got out of Occulus in return they did not sell Valkyrie’s freedom cheaply. I consider that good news for EVE/Dust514 players as Valkyrie’s commercial success can only be good news for the EVE Universe.
In other news I’m told that there are big things indeed coming for Dust514 in the near future. After Fanfest Dust will be “a different game” as one Dev put it with a big smug grin on his face. As he refused to elaborate on what that means. I liked his confidence though, whatever it is I look forward to hearing something about it. That same Dev also told me words to the tune of “all those cool things we have been talking about for years? We are finally doing them.” He seemed really happy about that too. If he is on the money then Fanfest should have some cool announcements in store for us all this year!
I had a little chat with CCP Xhagen about the new ship customisation pilot scheme CCP are running. Mostly I took the opportunity to impress upon him the importance that CCP management not judge the number of Frigate skins sold as the greatest indicator of success or failure. Personally I am not sure many players will be willing to spend Aurum on skinning an asset as disposable as a T1 frigate hull. Battleships, yes. T1 Frigs? Not so much. Hopefully CCP will take that into account.
Finally a couple of fun thoughts on the meet itself. Usually when I go to London meets I run into people I already know and spend the bulk of my time chatting with them. This time there were fewer old acquaintances around so I spent much more time to strangers. And it was great to do! Lots of impromptu discussion popped up in that Valkyrie queue and around the bar (where I suddenly found myself merged back into the queue!).
CCP held a raffle of stuff they had squeezed into their suitcases including books, baseball caps, T-shirts, game time cards and the grand prize of a Second Decade Collectors Edition! Excellently, the guy who won it didn’t already own one.
I was quite happy to win the above 60 day time card and a Blood Raider patch I guess I should sew onto something! 😀 As I have been out of the game for 3 months this goes some way towards recouping my lost subscription which is a very welcome thought. CCP also put on a very generous bar tab for this meet which was unexpectedly awesome, I have no idea what their budget was but the drinks kept coming all night as far as I saw making it a much cheaper trip than I’d been expecting! Hopefully no-one gets in any trouble when the bill comes in. :S
All in all it was a very good little event and I’m glad I made the time to get on the train and attend. Not that I ever regret going to an EVE meet. 😉