EVE: Valkyrie Interview with Chris Smith

Valkyrie's Lead Designer discusses roles, Ran and a ZAM scoop on Fanfest 2015!

With the Unreal Engine 4 build, it's much more difficult to track players. What has it been like tweaking the amount of visual assistance pilots receive?

We're working hard on the HUD and the awareness, and we'll continue working on that. It seems like everyone wants different things, and (having trouble with tracking) might be fixed with more time in VR. It also depends on the distance:

  • Long distance: Where's everything happening, and where do I want to go?
  • Mid distance: How do I choose to engage with my role, turfs, and level?
  • In-combat: Screw HUD! *wild gesturing* Dodge! Flares! Decoy, ahhhh!

Maybe we do it differently in the Heavy versus other roles, how you get information. There's lot of philosophies in here. What you'll have seen that's new is: there's glass on the floor. The reason we did that, the Fighter – and this goes to roles, back to the philosophy you heard us talk about yesterday – the Fighter's a predator, so the cockpit's designed as a predator. The wings are here *gestures* to focus you forwards. It's actually harder to see behind you, and that's sort of on purpose! The role needs to...a Heavy, well...maybe it's more like a bomber from World War II? Do you need more view around? What kind of view do you have, what kind of information do you need in that?

What kind of details are going to make Valkyrie's "core" more complete?

The nuances, the subtleties that we're putting in – for you discover gameplay and new ways to play – are all in that core. We don't need to put 20,000 features in. In an older build, you had guns you could fire as long as you want. That's kinda cool, but this is about the 1,000th play thing. There's no subtlety there, there's no discovered gameplay, there's no "I can get better than you, not because I paid for it, but I can find a better way to play, because I'm a better pilot!"...now that's cool!

You would've seen spinny-things on the wings in the new build? It's very subtle, but for the first two seconds, your guns fire faster. Then they go to a normal rate of fire for X amount of seconds, then you'll see them drop down dramatically. Average players will hold down the button, then discover after a while they can't do that. Other players might start going "If I become more accurate and tap my guns, I can kill people slightly quicker than the other guy does!"

Gears of War: the quick reload. Mario Kart: the quick start. Subtleties in gameplay like that, to me, bring people back to games. "I just discovered something, and now I'm better – and I didn't even buy a loadout, I just mastered my fighter a little bit more." You can be given achievements, you can be given rewards, you can earn whatever-it-is-you-earn to get loadouts...but there's nothing more satisfying in my opinion than when you earn better piloting ability for yourself. Times that by the roles, times that by the loadouts, there's a lot to discover.

How many distinct roles could you imagine down-the-road?

I've already got 7 or 8 in my head, but when they come into the game, we'll see. Loadouts are a way of having different flavors of the same thing. A good analogy: TF2 does it with their weapon loadouts. There's always plusses and minuses. Balancing, for me, is actually easier because you only have to balance certain things within a role. Other things you don't, because they're specific to that role.

Could you shed some light on the Valkyrie logo's general design or specific elements?

The biggest thing, for me, is noticing that it's got that nod to the Guristas. We started off with literally the (Guristas) bunny rabbit, and then I think we had this cool image from the internet, a cat wearing a helmet and it's a really cool one!  And there's sort of the military insignia, because in her history, she does come from an organized part of the galaxy. You can also see "EVE" inside of it...and also, it's just freaking kickass!

Now, this is a scoop for you: if Valkyrie does well, I have said I will get tattooed next year, on-stage, the logo on my arm! I will start the tattoo in the presentation, and finish it afterwards. If everyone goes out and buys it, and I'll figure out what success means...I'm so proud of this game, I'd love the ink anyway on that one.

Is there any chance that Rán has any disfigurement underneath that visor?

We're not…we're not...talking about that at all! *cheeky smile* We're not talking about that yet. 

And there we have it. What do you think is going on behind the visor? Let us know!

Another big thanks to CCP Games and Chris Smith for a great chat at Fanfest.

Colt "ShdwFlm" Casey
Deputy Editor

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