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."Thank you, that certainly answers that que-- waitasecond.
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.
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...