Of course Jester beat me to the punch on this one. He’d no sooner gotten home from EVE Vegas than he posted about the upgraded Valkyrie experience. You can read his excellent write-up here. He is right on the money with everything stated. The only thing I will add is this little gem that popped out of my news alerts last night as I was waiting form my late night flight home.
Eve: Valkyrie — The Future Of Immersive Virtual Reality Gaming Experience – by Michael Venables for Forbes Magazine
Mr. Venables states that Sigurður Gunnarsson, “points out that the biggest challenges are figuring out the configuration of the user interface, and figuring out the core game play.” (Emphasis mine.) To me, core game play is synonymous with the ‘wrapper’ Jester wrote about – or the ‘how’ as I like to call it. Since Jester already covered the ‘wow,’ I’d like to throw a few ideas out on the ‘how.’
No matter how you slice it, this game cannot be a stand alone product. I know there are a lot of gamers out there who resent the always connected requirements leveled by most of the game companies these days. I sympathize in certain situations, because games like SimCity or Civilization, when not played in multiplayer mode, should just work regardless of Internet connectivity.
That said, Valkyrie is not one of these types of games. This is a space dogfight game. NPC AI will not make this a compelling game even for the one or two hours Jester wrote about. It will be appealing for exactly as long as the 3-D wow factor lasts – 5 minutes. Okay, it will actually vary from person to person, but for me, I was done with the wow after my first 3-minute session with the hardware on. After that, it was about the dogfight! For the dogfight to be compelling, there must be humans flying the other fighters.
The simplest PvP implementation that I personally would find appealing is the kill board. Pilots would compete for “bragging rights” based on a publicly accessible database of victories and losses. In addition, there could be special achievements for maneuvers successfully flown, fighters mastered, weapons utilized, etc. The list of possible achievements is limited only by the imagination of the developers. Pilots who do exceptionally well would see their faces blastered on billboards at every gate in New Eden and on the live feed in the Captain’s Quarters. Now there’s real New Eden fame!
And there would always be room for expansion. Take fighter types for instance. Currently there are only two in the simulation: Minmatar Einherji and Amarr Templar. But, EVE Online has many more types of fighter craft, as well as bombers. More could always be added. As the various factions develop them, perhaps pilots would have to master those new craft by achieving preset goals. This could also double as player tutorial. These achievements do not have to necessarily entail combat. The navigation and general flight graduation ceremony could be a no holds barred race through space, or some such PvE scenario. Not everything done in these single pilot ships has to be combat oriented. However, everything should lead the pilot to the PvP aspects of the game – in true EVE Online fashion.
One thing that would be crucial to this TOPGUN (and I mean the Navy program, not the movie) approach would be a social environment in which to exercise it. CCP Pokethulhu alluded in his talk at EVE Vegas that CCP would not keep the door in our Captain’s Quarters locked forever. Valkyrie could give that reveal a more urgent need. It would help answer the question of how CCP could fit Valkyrie into the EVE Online universe as it stands today.
One way I think that could be done is to call the piloted fighter program a test by the various factions to see if capsuleer pilots can handle the fighters better than a drone AI. Can even a capsuleer clone, as heavily enhanced as it is, withstand the sheer physics of that dogfight? This test program would be implemented at faction navy bases throughout known space. Capsuleers would become test pilots by walking through that now locked door. Once that happens, their achievements would not only be visible in the database, but would be worn as medals and ribbons on their uniform for all to see.
And think of the tournaments that could be aired on CCP’s Twitch channel. The casual viewer may not understand what’s happening in Alliance Tournament, but everyone understands Top Gun (this is the movie reference.) Imagine a future where the best Valkyrie pilots are professional gamers earning a living flying EVE Online fighters…
These few start-up ideas are just a beginning. From what I heard and saw at EVE Vegas, there is a strong desire to integrate Valkyrie into the PvP capsuleers already conduct. Just as Dust mercenaries have a role in New Edin politics, so will those capsuleers who elect to become fighter pilots.
That will be a far more difficult proposition than this simple kill board and tournament based system I’ve outlined. Players have already shown a finicky nature when it comes to anything they perceive as “bad” for the sandbox. And I do foresee difficulties that could arise from Valkyrie integration with the sandbox. For instance, what if some very large alliance gained a substantial advantage over everyone else because CCP implemented Valkyrie in a way they were the only one’s in a position to take advantage of? Those not in such a position would no doubt feel the balance of the game was decidedly tipped against them.
In conclusion, I agree with just about everyone else. Valkyrie has a very promising future. I also see a way in which it can fit into the EVE Online we all love. Whether it successfully becomes an integral part of the sandbox is a question orders of magnitude more difficult to answer. I know CCP will go carefully here, and I for one will be very interested to see what they develop. But until then, I can’t wait to get back in the cockpit again!