EVE Valkyrie has caught enough eyes to populate the world's weirdest, most Halloween-friendly gumball machine, but let's be honest here: we don't actually know all that much about it. Yes, it's glittering, glorious dogfighting with a thing that sounds amusingly similar to "Octopus" strapped to your face, but EVE is more than just a series of battles. Much, much more. It's a universe of politics, corporations, and player-powered intrigue. The spaceships are nice, yes, but they're only one piece of the highly fractured intergalactic puzzle - pawns in a game of blood and money. So where does Valkyrie fit into all of that? How will it integrate with EVE as is? Will we eventually be able to explore in first-person, or just exist in the universe as we please? And what about Dust 514? Where does it end up? I asked CCP's David Reid, and he returned fire with the most potent space laser of all: answers.
RPS: Right now, Valkyrie's just dogfighting, but how will it tie into EVE's bigger picture? Also, when? Will it be directly connected to EVE's goings-on as soon as it launches?
Reid: That is the plan, but a lot of it depends on exactly, for example... we don't have ship dates for virtual reality tech yet. So if that was tomorrow, then we wouldn't have it all linked in. But that's the plan.
But the focus first is, well, the whole VR thing is still pretty new and early. We just want to make sure we get that right before we start laying roadwork for integration with the universe. But ultimately, what it should be is the sort of stuff where corporations should be able to span all three games, EVE, Valkyrie, and Dust. Chat should span all three games. That market will span all three games. Things like that will happen. And then you start thinking about, "Well, what is the analog of orbital bombardment between EVE and Dust with Valkyrie now added? How do all three of these games have something happening?"
So there's a lot we're thinking through and working on. I think what it'll really come down to is when in 2014 we launch and on what platform. That'll guide the integration road.
RPS: Are you basing your launch on when Oculus, specifically, comes out?
Reid: No, not necessarily, right? While we can’t get into details here, there are other platforms that are available. It is technically possible to run this game without a Rift. There’s a whole bunch of different things out on the market right now.
RPS: Things like CastAR, from some former Valve types?
Reid: We have not talked to them officially. Their focus seems more AR than VR. There's no reason not to have the discussion, though. We've talked with Valve about a lot of stuff, although this is ex-Valve, I guess. That's true.
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.
Maybe another way to think about it is, for me being a former military guy, you have Dust as your army and marines, you have EVE as your Navy, and Valkyrie as your airforce. The Navy ships, whether it's water or space, it's a very different thing than the frantic stuff that's going on when the airforce are doing their dogfights. So that's another approach.
But ultimately, the beautiful vision that many of us gamers would have is like, the EVE ship is coming by slowly like a Battlestar from Battlestar Galactica, and then the gates open and out come all the Vipers flying into battle. I think that's possible, but I don't think it's going to be happening in 2014. I think that's a little farther out on the roadmap.
But that's what we do. We've run EVE as a service for ten years, and we add to it all the time. Valkyrie will hopefully have ten years of life ahead of it as well, and those things will start to happen as technology gets better and we get our design concepts down.
RPS: Has CCP thought at all about a vision of Valkyrie in which, at times, we're not fighting at all? We're just flying around and exploring/doing other EVE activities?
Reid: Sure. Again, we have figured out to a certain extent where the Valkyrie ships live in the spectrum of EVE stuff. You know, how big EVE ships are versus how big a Valkyrie ship is versus how big a Dust mercenary is, and by extension of what where they belong in the universe and how it makes sense. Once you start getting into that, you start thinking about, well, Dust doesn't have a single-player component right now. But it is stuff we've teased in, stuff we've worked on. Are there exploration, resource-gathering, crafting sorts of things I could do as a solo player? Could I fight bots and drones without having to go into the deep end of player vs player?
Why not explore those things as well on the Valkyrie side? 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.
But it is the kind of stuff we'd like to enable for sure. You don't have to be dogfighting all day and all night. We'd like to give you more things that you'll be able to do in the game.
RPS: What about a full-blown single-player campaign? Is that something you're actively considering, or is this more about solo activities that could tie into the multiplayer universe?
Reid: We're certainly thinking about it, but I couldn't confirm anything just yet. We're looking at it, and we consider it a good opportunity.
RPS: So EVE and Valkyrie are both PC games, but Dust is - for now, at least - only on PlayStation...
Reid: Hold on a second, we haven’t confirmed that Valkyrie’s on PC. It’s capable of playing on PC right now, but we haven’t confirmed what we’re going to launch it on.
RPS: Er, oh. But it makes sense to launch on PC, right? I mean, given where it's at and all - especially with your heavy support of Oculus Rift.
Reid: It technically works on PC, and it’s working fine, but there are other platforms it could run on. There’s nothing that technically prevents it from running on a console, for example.
RPS: Don't tell me Valkyrie's become an Ouya exclusive.
Reid: [laughs] That is incredibly unlikely. I will say that with confidence.
RPS: OK, so you might not launch on PC. But it's definitely still in the cards, right?
Reid: Well... it's definitely in the cards. Is it definitely something that’s there in 2014 on commercial launch day? I couldn’t answer that for you yet. We certainly could do it, but it’s still a question of whether we will.
RPS: Well hmmm. Alright, then. So is this the part where you announce some crazy Trading Spaces thing, with Valkyrie going to mysterious "other platforms" while Dust makes its way over to PC? I mean, you recently said that it's not bound to PlayStation by any sort of deal. It's yours to port as you wish.
Reid: There's absolutely interest in bringing Dust to other platforms. Dust right now is... if you think about EVE back in 2003, it was pretty choppy water in the beginning, and then six months later it was better, and then six months after that it was better, and so on. Dust is about six months old now as well. Right now, the focus for us as an independent developer with limited resources is, "Let's get this thing really, really working, and let's make sure it's a great title on PS3 before we start looking at what platforms to take it to next."
But there's no legal reason why we couldn't. There's no contract or piece of paper saying we can't. It's definitely something we're looking at doing.
RPS: Thank you for your time.