Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A comfortable feeling

Gonna keep this fairly short, since it's really just a prediction. Know how I like to read between the lines? Reading between the lines, I think EVE: Valkyrie won't be released in 2014. Matter of fact, I think it's going to be a holiday 2015 release.

I've had the opportunity to deal with programmers quite a bit in my personal and business lives. After a while, you get a feel for their default mannerisms and language. You get a sense if they're comfortable with their job and how stressed out they're feeling. In particular, I've encountered lots of situations where a bunch of conflicting dependencies cause a group of developers to play chicken with each other, daring each other to be the one that "misses the date."

There's a funny scene illustrating this in From the Earth to the Moon, in the episode "Spider". The Apollo 8 Lunar Module is being built by Grumman. The manager overseeing the project gets all of his department heads together in a room and asks them if they're going to make the date to ship the LM on time. Department head after department head confidently asserts their readiness... until one finally admits that he's not going to make the date. Suddenly, nobody else is gonna make the date, either. Needless to say, the manager isn't pleased.

And that's how Valkyrie is feeling right now. The devs are sounding very confident that their main dependency -- namely the consumer version of the Oculus Rift -- isn't going to make the date, and as a result, they don't have to, either.

Earlier this month, Business Insider leaked the fact that Oculus management will now only be "disappointed" if the consumer version doesn't ship in 2016. And now over the weekend, Eurogamer published an excellent article on Valkyrie where the CCP devs -- assuming they were quoted accurately -- are sounding very cheerful about this prospect. After all, if Valkryie is an Oculus launch title, then it doesn't really need to be ready until the hardware is, right?
The launch feature-set for Eve Valkyrie is decided internally, but the launch date is harder to pin down. "We don't know when the hardware is coming out, which is tricky," [lead game designer Chris Smith] shrugs, "so we stick to our feature-set and as far as the feature-set goes, we're on target. And I can't say what our initial target was because I would be in all kinds of hot water for that."

The goal is to have Eve Valkyrie ready for the launch of both headsets, he tells me, and at that point both versions should be the same - because at the moment there's a clear difference. But again, without knowing final specs, it's a hard prediction to make with any certainty. "We certainly don't want to be making two versions," he grins.
Thank you, that certainly answers that que-- waitasecond.

The sound you're hearing are some very comfortable devs, both in CCP Newcastle and at Oculus VR HQ. Now that someone has missed the date and therefore everyone can miss the date, nobody's in any huge rush to get their respective products out the door. Of course, this is a tiny bit disappointing because it likely means we won't be playing Valkyrie any time soon. But of course this gives everyone concerned the extra time and resources they need to get it done right. Funny the comfortable feeling a couple of billion dollars of extra financing buys, isn't it?

Anyway, go read that Eurogamer article. It's a doozy.

EDIT (14/May/2014): Follow-up for those that say this was somehow always going to have been the case, here's a senior Valkyrie dev being interviewed at Fanfest mentioning that they have a "really tight" release schedule. Or did, at that time...


  1. saw some public photos of occulus VR - is the headset included in the final product or gonna be 3rd party?

  2. Interesting, but I just have that uncomfortable hunch about "launch windows".

    VR headsets do have a launch window. They must be released before something else takes their place as the coolest kid in town.

    Yes they are the coolest kid in town... now. But, next year? Or 2016? It only takes a single genius having the biggest idea ever and sweep the market, pulling the rug from under VR's feet.

    What can it be? Dunno, either I would take my chance to sprint for it and be rich. Gigavoxel rendering, maybe?

    But I am certain that VR sets are not alone in their struggle to conquer the market. Someone else is trying to make players go crazy, shoveling billions of dollars his way. The longer VR takes to become real, the more they smug and think nobody can ever take their claim to the throne, the higher are the chances that once they launch their product the players may be too busy shoveling billions into something else.

    It's just a hunch so you might buy it or don't, but there it is nonetheless...

    1. Cuz ppl totally haven't been trying to do VR since the late 80's......no holograms are totally coming out next year better get those VR goggles sold lol.......

  3. I love the smell of vaporware in the morning. The Valkyrie devs will be working for someone other than CCP if the hardware isn't available until 2016.

  4. Considering the Oculus won't be available for sale until 2015, your prediction isn't much of a prediction at all. Obviously Valkyrie wasn't going to release without the headset available to retail.

    1. That's a nice bit of revisionist history. Now go watch the video at the front page of http://evevalkyrie.com/ .

      The original implication from Oculus was also that they were going to run out of money if they didn't get a full-on product out pretty soon. Now they have the money to do limited runs of dev-kits and iron out more bugs before they ship product.

  5. Interesting.

    I wonder, when was the last time any of you went to see a 3D movie after it was a thing for Avatar?

    As Poetic states Jester, obvious delay is obvious.

    However, CCP REALLY needs Facebook Rift. The same really can't be said in reverse.

    With WoD abandoned, DUST effectively abandoned, Legions a pipe dream CCP don't need a delay as much as you think it's a good thing.

    1. See my reply to Poe. Then go read the article. CCP is claiming not to need the Oculus if the Morpheus ships earlier.

    2. I went to see Prometheus in 3D, still regret the extra money spend.

      Regards, a Freelancer

      PS: will buy Avatar on blue-ray soon.

  6. So the race is on.
    Will the cash cow that is Eve keep the flow going long enough to support the development of 2 games, and keep the lights in the CCP buildings, until Valkyrie can get released in a production version and sales for that can ramp up to shoulder the load?

    Because as CCP continues to double and triple down on the concept of "fuck the casual high sec player, we don't need them anyway", and subs slip away, it is going to be real interesting.

    1. Well at least CCP can rely on your sub until the very end, eh Dinsdale?

    2. Since fanfest the Consumer Power from CCPgames tranquility costumer base has not been so obviously high in years.

      With many casual gaming capsuleers not renewing their subscriptions, most of this Consumer Power will land in other parts of eve online's costumer base.

      IF there are a(ny) political blocs on the Tranquility server that want to harness this high potential Consumer Power for the next 2 years at least, then we could see some interesting developments from their representatives be it in game or out of game.

      CCPgames upper management will no doubt direct to their staff to focus Eve Online to be an even more Open World PvP mmo, in order to be competitive in a spaceship mmo market.

      An already niche open world pvp game, will focus it's development resources (which are scarce) to an even more open world pvp playstyle, and less of a casual playstyle.

      Casual gaming can mean two things, logging in to play less intensively or less time consuming, I predicted earlier ~15% of the total subscriptions will not be renewed.

      The probable Voter numbers as a Turn Out and the calculated 6.32% drop in Eligible Voters from 2014 compared to 2013 is hardly a surprise and only a beginning, see recent past blogs.

      With CCPgames cancelling WoD, refocusing Dust into Legion and Valkeryie still being years away, all these nice pie in the sky dreams will not put food on the CCPgames table.

      CCPgames Serenity costumer base of about 100k subscribers pitching in less then $10 (60 Yuan) a month for subscription fee also will not put as much on the table as Tranquility does.

      宁为太平犬,莫作乱离人, may you live in interesting times.

      Regards, a Freelancer

    3. lets do a lil exercise lets just say that its all a lie and only 300k people sub to eve. 300k • $15 = 4.5million....in reality there are pry 200k more subs and god knows how many ppl are buying plex every day.....how much food u need on the table?

    4. Easy, they need 65 million USD minus 15% of their personnel costs for 2013 (15% of 18.7 million=2.8 M), minus their total comprehensive income for 2012 (4.6 M), minus a guesstimate of 15% of 2012's development costs (15% of 16.5 M= 2.47 M).

      Or, some 55.1 million dollars in order to keep the current employment and investment on EVE+DUST+Valkyrie (+Legion?) w/o taking a hit to their company value.

  7. "Right now, connecting it to Eve would be too big a scope for us, and we don't need to do it," he says. "What we want to do is establish Valkyrie, get people excited about Valkyrie, then in two years, three years, four - whatever time period that is - when the right opportunity and the right way to connect it comes in, there's no way we wouldn't. It's always technology and the right moment and the right way, and rushing that would be the wrong way to do it."
    I'll try my hand at reading between the lines here: Does this mean that CCP thinks they rushed the connection to DUST?

    1. What is obvious is that somehow they think that Valkyrie will last three to four years... I wonder whether they should remove those headsets from their face and look at Actual Reality (AR). They're building a VR FPS MOBA, period. If they fail to build a FPS MOBA, then the game will fail. And if they succeed, Valkyirie will be out of the market within six months or a year, when the newest VR FPS MOBA comes out with fancier graphics and better effects.

      Being the first is cool, but it's not enough in itself.

      And VR still is a gamble, as much as 3D.

  8. This is going to end soooo badly for CCP.....

    Maybe its time i start looking at Star Citizen after all...

    1. Indeed. I just read the Business Insider and Eurogamer articles.

      Does anyone else see a BetaMax / VHS or BlueRay / HDDVD potential here?
      Sure, Facebook has oodles of cash, and is the frontrunner now, but what happens if tomorrow Google, Sony, and Microsoft announce they are forming a new joint company to build their own VR platform?

      Now we have a situation where CCP could be building the "killer app" for a platform that might lose a tech / PR war 3 years from now.

      Now that being said, if any company is getting into the VR gaming space, that company will have to take a gamble on if that platform will be around 5 years from now, or if their application can be easily ported. So CCP is not doing something different from anyone else in that regard.

      But I think a larger question would be "Are any of the gaming giants like EA, Sony, etc, trying to build a VR game at the moment, or are they waiting to see if the Occulus technology will be the platform standard a few years from now?'

      Given CCP's track record building non Eve games, if I was in charge, I would be very reluctant to throw resources at a new gaming platform, if the big boys are not, unless I was desperate, thinking that CCP's cash cow was running dry.

      It is one thing to be a an early adopter if you are diversified. It is another to be gambling when you are in CCP's position.

    2. Its not the 80's anymore I wouldn't be so quick to gamble against vr. I think it's a better move for ccp than WoD and a far better place for ccp to get into a real esports area. The biggest mistake they could make is making it too much like eve. Lets be honest valk done right will kill star citizen in its crib. Personally im hoping to see more of a MOBA style game in valk and that's right where ccp should go if they really want to break into esports. Keeping it separate from eve can only help that direction.

  9. I too have been on a lot of projects where the various development teams play the brinkmanship game. I've even played it myself. xxx project can;t make the Q3 release? Brilliant, we get 3 months to get our shit together so we don't have to say we can;t make the Q4 release. Once people get the blame culture out of the way it can lead to that extra time being used to bring in features that were so far down the backlog they were never going to see the light of day otherwise. CCP have proven their ability to deliver on time but not on spec, let's see if given more time due to Oculus' delays they can up their game and deliver on spec.

  10. Talking of missed windows - what is stopping features slipping back ad infinitum during the rule of the titans? CSM9? Isn't it ironic that industry can not be accommodated by the god of time.

    1. Nothing, but how would you notice? Do you really think they are going to go public on features that don't have clear road map to delivery?

    2. @megarom.......er..... yes

      They have done that many many times before.


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