What the creation of Mirror’s Edge taught the new CCP hire about the possibilities of EVE-VR
“I’ve been here a whole six hours,” Sean Decker said, laughing, after I asked about the differences between the corporate culture at EA and CCP. Decker used to be the GM of DICE, both before and after the acquisition by EA. He’s now SVP of product development for CCP, which is an interesting position within the company. CCP was, for a long time, the EVE Online company. Now they’re dealing not only with EVE Online, but launching the console-only first-person shooter DUST 514, not to mention the upcoming World of Darkness MMO.
Suddenly CCP is a company with a lot on its plate, and Decker will play a large role in making sure the company doesn’t buckle under its own weight. So I had to ask… when the hell are we going to see EVE-VR turn into a full game?
Skunkworks in Iceland
EVE-VR is an interesting story; a group of CCP developers got together in their spare time to create a dogfighting game in the world of EVE Online, using the Oculus Rift. The game made a giant splash at this year’s Fanfest, the gathering of hardcore EVE fans in Iceland, and it gained even more momentum at E3.
“Based on the feedback from Fanfest and E3, for sure that is very much a topic of conversation, whether we should take EVE-VR and turn, as we sometimes refer to it, turn Pinocchio into a real boy,” CCP Games CEO Hilmar Petursson told the Penny Arcade Report.
“And now with Sean joining us, certainly we have more bandwidth to manage projects without losing focus and priorities on our individual wants. As I talked about at Fanfest, we very much need to maintain focus and priority on EVE going strong and getting DUST released and up to a great takeoff,” he continued. “But now, certainly the feedback from the world is telling us they want EVE-VR, so we’re seeing if that’s something that makes sense to do.”
I asked for Decker’s thoughts on his, and he grew thoughtful, talking about his time working on Mirror’s Edge. EVE-VR may seem great, and the core mechanics are strong and enjoyable, but as it stands it’s much more of a tech demo than a game. Decker seemed realistic about the amount of work that needed to be done.
“I was GM at DICE when we did Mirror’s Edge. Mirror’s Edge came about as a mechanic, honestly, it came about from someone playing around with animations of running and jumping,” Decker explained. “Everybody, as Hilmar just said, everyone was attached to it, and said wow this is fun. But you have to take it to the next level, you have one mechanic, and that mechanic is by far the most important thing, you know, if you don’t have a first-person shooter where it feels great to have a through the gun experience, it doesn’t work.
“The same thing with Mirror’s Edge, it was all about the mechanic. You have to flesh it out,” he said.
That's where EVE-VR is right now. They have the limited dog fighting demo, which is amazing, and now the challenge is turning that into a full game. It's not as easy as it sounds, and all the different elements need to work together.
“Mirror’s Edge, one of the pieces was the art style, and the world you build around it. And then the character, and then what do you do in that world? So you have to build it out in concentric rings,” Decker explained “At some point you get an amount of mass that tells you yes, this is it, we’re going to do it.”
“It’s not a completely logical system, but it’s one that I’ve found has worked in the past, and that’s the right way to go,” he finished.
So that's where things are right now. The core of the game is sound, and it's been amazing everyone who plays it, both on the inside and outside of the company. But there needs to be more, and it has to be fleshed out until it feels like it's own thing. That could happen quickly, or it could take some time, but it doesn't sound like the game will be ready any time soon.
Besides, with only a limited number of Oculus Rift developer kits in the wild, there isn't much market for a Rift-only release. When the retail kit comes out, however? It's very possible CCP may provide the hardware with its killer app.