Turning EVE Valkyrie into a real game

This entry has been written from an ‘out of character’ perspective to discuss the Fanfest ‘Making EVE Valkyrie a real game’ panel.


CCP want EVE Valkyrie to be a highly accessible game.  This point is being stressed a lot so I think that Valkyrie is being positioned as a more casual entry point into the EVE Universe which would make sense as it is the game using the exciting new interface technology that may expose the EVE Universe to whole new demographics. CCP may be hoping that VR is the new Wii controller and therefore that Valkyrie is the new Wii Sports.  To be clear, CCP have not made the Wii comparison, that was me just now! 😉

CCP are intentionally aiming for Valkyrie to have fewer game modes at launch in order to simplify the learning experience and to concentrate the player base.

CCP believe that new players coming in to Valkyrie can and will be overwhelmed by the ‘newness’ of the situation, having the acclimatise to the VR sensation while learning to fly the ship and come to grip with the objectives.  Later on this will presumably expand as the game and community settles in.

fanfest2014 Valkyrie panel

The game started out with a rock-paper-scissors dynamic of Fighter (light), bomber (heavy) and Lancer (sniper) classes but found that the sniper role was problematic as it was very difficult to learn (and therefore off-putting in a game intended to be highly accessible) but overpowered once mastered.  This was also touched on in the keynote where the sniper was replaced with a support role ship.

The team are placing an emphasis on creating distinct roles rather than overlapping classes of ship that perform similar functions.  A role would be ‘support’, ‘fighter’ or ‘heavy’ while classes become variants that players can tune and customise to their preference.  Pains were being taken in the panel to not talk about the heavy role and where it fits between fighters (zoom around killing stuff) and support (shielding other ships from incoming missiles etc) so I guess we will hear about that in the future.

Turfs are the name being attached to EVE Valkyrie’s ‘space terrain’.  As mentioned in the keynote this is stuff like asteroids, wreckage, dust clouds and plain open space.  Stuff that will influence the combat and how the different ship roles perform as they pass through different turfs.

Maps will be themed and the turfs used within them.  Two examples given are a map being worked on that takes place within and around a wrecked Titan, and a ‘Wrath of Khan’ style dense nebula severely limiting sensor ranges.

A question asked about ‘active turfs’ where the environment impacts on you or changes as the game progresses.  CCP replied that they are experimenting with features like electric fields given off by wrecks and are open to the possibility of things like asteroids breaking apart but can’t commit to it yet as it may make the physics engineers cry.  But maybe.

It turns out that fanfest/public build(s) of the game have had collisions turned off to reduce the learning curve.  Internal testing showed that most of the damage dealt to player ships in early tests was due to people crashing it stuff.  I don’t recall ramming into anything when I tried the game at the London meet a few months back but it was probably switched off then as we were all drinking before climbing into the cockpit… 😉

The UI and HUD display is still very much a work in progress as you’d expect.  CCP are finding that the more information that they put on screen (on headset?  What is the correct term for a VR game anyway?) the greater the sense of nausea felt.  Information overload is bad if you want to keep your lunch down, so expect a more minimal HUD!

Team play is going to be encouraged.  Which is great as I assumed it would be!

A question was asked if guns would be able to traverse as the current implementation are locked forward.  The reply was that this may be something given to other roles.  It sounds to me like that could be something given to the heavy role.

No keyboard & mouse support is planned.   There is a disconnect with the VR sensation if the pilot you see in the game is not using the controls in the way you are.  The current pilot flies using a control pad.  If you wanted to use a joystick then the pilot modelled in game would need to be visibly using a joystick.  CCP don’t seem keen to model a guy in a fighter using keyboard & mouse, can’t imagine why! 😉

There was a comment made that it is hard to tell when countermeasures are deployed (no visual or audio cues).  The response was that this is another WIP point and simply hasn’t been added yet.  The new fanfest build was completed at the last minute with the cockpit being untextured just two days ago!

Sadly I didn’t hear anyone ask about the release date.  Maybe everyone knows the answer already; ‘it will be done when it is done’.  I would be very surprised if Valkyrie hit the previously announced ‘2014’ release window given that it just switched to a new graphics engine but then that isn’t really an issue anyway as the Occulus Rift and Sony’s Project Morpheus are as yet unreleased too.

So we have an interesting if a bit vague little look at the state of the game which is still in its early days.

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