EVE Fanfest 2015: CCP opens VR Labs, unveils four new side projects

The story of how virtual reality dogfighter EVE: Valkyrie was born is a great indicator of shifts within the games industry. While the big publishers continue to shove millions of dollars into blockbuster titles that are too big to fail (but often do anyway), Valkyrie arose from a side project by a few developers in their time off. There’s no such thing as a sure thing in the new VR frontier, so making small experiments and seeing what works turns out to be surprisingly effective.

Valkyrie has attracted a huge amount of interest in the growing VR gaming community and may have placed CCP Games at the head of the pack, so it’s no surprise that the company is trying to catch lightning in a bottle once again. At EVE Fanfest 2015, CCP announced the formation of a small internal division it’s calling VR Labs that aims to do just that. Composed of two small dev teams in Atlanta and Shanghai, the group has been given carte blanche to just play around with VR and see where it leads. The teams haven’t even been asked to specifically make games or products that could sell, and at this Fanfest they’ve revealed the fruits of their labours in the form of four weird and wonderful VR tech demos.

Project_Nemesis_ScreenshotProject Nemesis: Based in a battle scene between ships in the EVE universe, Nemesis puts the player in control of a battleship’s turret. It’s a casual shoot-’em-up-style game using EVE assets and the new Samsung Gear VR, a headset that can turn a Galaxy Note 4 into an Oculus Rift-style device.

arenaDisc Arena: One of two projects on show that aren’t based in the EVE universe, Disc Arena is a Tron-style competitive game in which two players throw discs at each other and either dodge opponents’ discs or deflect them with a moveable shield. The game uses an Oculus Rift paired with a kinect sensor to put the player actually in the game, so you can see how your opponent looks rather than an avatar. It’s kind of spooky to see your opponent represented in a virtual environment and see his actual movements rather than pre-programmed animations, but the game is completely immersive. If CCP could develop more minigames in the same style, it could legitimately become the Wii Sports of the Oculus Rift.

TheWorkshop-VRLabsThe Workshop: The second game not based in the EVE universe, The Workshop is a bizarre immersive physics sandbox that lets players fling fireballs at targets, splash digital water around, and generally terrorise a virtual landscape. It’s a pretty nifty immersive VR demo and a good indicator of what can be done with the current tech, but it’s pretty hard to see where this one will lead.

spinShip Spinner: When I first heard about Ship Spinner, I was sold on the idea of a 3-D scene of the EVE Hangar that lets you view a ship in true immersive 3-D using the Oculus Rift and spin it around. This demo turned put to be much more, allowing players to lean forward and see the interior of a ship (the design of which has clearly been designed with Clear Skies in mind). You can also test things like activating ship shields and shooting asteroids, but the best part is launching drones. I’m sure I got a few funny looks as I laughed maniacally and swatted the drones out of the sky, blowing them up. I could see this being integrated into EVE as a virtual showroom for ships and skins, perhaps as a room in stations with optional VR, but it’s a pretty interesting demo as it is.

Massively Overpowered is on the ground in Reykjavik, Iceland, for EVE Fanfest 2015, bringing you expert coverage from EVE, Valkyrie, DUST, and everything else CCP has up its sleeve!
Disclosure: In accordance with Massively OP’s ethics policy, we must disclose that CCP paid for our writer’s travel and accommodation to this event and is providing the press with food and entertainment. CCP has neither requested nor been granted any control or influence over our coverage of the event. The sun was also blotted out briefly today, but I’m pretty sure CCP didn’t do that. At least not deliberately.
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FineFineValentine
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FineFineValentine

I wonder if they’ll figure out they can use everything they learned/demonstrated here for a “Bridge Simulator”-like game next year? Imagine an Oculus game where 5 or so people play different roles on the bridge. You get to use the hyper detailed interior spaces from the ship spinner demo, and then you can manipulate things and have your avatar shown off like in Disc Arena and the Workshop, and you can fire turrets from there like in Nemesis. Or raise shields. Or steer the ship, etc. 

That would be amazing. Just like EVE Valkyrie. That’s the dogfighter; they need to do a Capitol Ship(?) take on VR now.

ausj3w3l
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ausj3w3l

EO_Lonegun I think it could lead to something that will eventually change the landscape and how people view media but as it is now it will be something niche.

melissamcdon
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melissamcdon

Cujo H Trust auntie.

Cujo H
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Cujo H

melissamcdon  Is that powered by the wearer’s humiliation?

melissamcdon
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melissamcdon

EO_Lonegun It’s come a very long way from that my friend.  :)

melissamcdon
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melissamcdon

Cujo H melissamcdon Gear VR available at best buy. 
If you have a droid, gamble twenty bucks on a Cardboard visor,  i suggest this one:
http://www.amazon.com/AM-CARDBOARD%C2%AE-Cardboard-Instructions-Numbered/dp/B00LZGN63G/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1426885508&sr=8-2&keywords=i+am+cardboard

Golden_Girl
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Golden_Girl

Cujo H
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Cujo H

melissamcdon  That is all pretty interesting to know.  I’d of course have to try it before I bought it, hopefully… that becomes a thing… like at, ugh, Best Buy.

EO_Lonegun
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EO_Lonegun

melissamcdon I am just going to continue to use what already works.

melissamcdon
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melissamcdon

Pandalulz melissamcdon Midgetsnowman EO_Lonegun True… cardboard is very inexpensive way to find out… and if you don’t like it, it’s almost certain to make a very cool gift for a friend, co-worker, or teen.   Win-win.

melissamcdon
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melissamcdon

MesaSage melissamcdon there is a size for 5.7″ like Note series, haven’t seen one big enough for a 7″ tablet like nexus.   the cardboard flap and velcro latch would still probably be able to make it fit if you bent it a little (it is cardboard after all and meant to be an inexpensive tech preview device).

melissamcdon
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melissamcdon

Cujo H melissamcdon Gear VR says, take off your glasses so you don’t scratch the Gear’s lenses.  But, it has a focus wheel, so you can focus in even without your prescription eyewear.   Cardboard is cheap enough that you can wear your eyeglasses and not care about wear and tear…

Cujo H
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Cujo H

Ghostmourn  Interesting… I’d heard Youtubers say they had to take theirs off.

Ghostmourn
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Ghostmourn

Cujo H melissamcdon Pretty sure you can as long (as they haven’t changed things) the Oculus RIft had room for glasses in the design.

MesaSage
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MesaSage

melissamcdon  I would except that I only carry a 7 inch tablet and no phone.  I heard somebody super-sized the Cardboard, but I don’t know, that seems pretty clunky – even for demo tech.

Cujo H
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Cujo H

melissamcdon  I was assuming it was stereoscopic 3d,, yeah. But I also don’t imagine you can wear glasses inside the thing.

Pandalulz
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Pandalulz

melissamcdon Pandalulz Midgetsnowman EO_Lonegun It’s not so much the focus itself, I wear glasses anyway.  It’s that when stuff pans left to right or whatever quickly, my left eye can’t keep up.  It makes any movie with lots of quick movements turn into a blurry mess. It might not be so bad though in a headset since the eye doesn’t really have to pan as much as watching on a large screen, but until I try, I won’t know.

melissamcdon
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melissamcdon

MesaSage that is why Cardboard is so important.  For a mere $25 you can get a really sweet demo of the new technology with lots of content.   It will make you believe and it will whet your appetite for more.

melissamcdon
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melissamcdon

Pandalulz melissamcdon Midgetsnowman EO_Lonegun Sounds like you will want to either wear contact lenses or get something with a focus wheel for the lenses.  Gear VR has that, but it controls both lenses.
A quality VR visor will need independent focus like a quality pair of binoculars has.

melissamcdon
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melissamcdon

Cujo H why can’t you use it?  You don’t need 2 eyes, it’s not a stereoscopic trick.   I can close one eye and the other still sees the VR space as it should.

Cujo H
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Cujo H

I’m completely uninterested in VR. IT’LL NEVER WORK!!!!!!!!!!
…  I can’t use it, so this is why I weep.

Pandalulz
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Pandalulz

melissamcdon Midgetsnowman EO_Lonegun That’s pretty cool actually.  Minus the fact that I have a lazy eye and can’t focus on the left side, making 3D impossible for me to watch anyway, my second biggest annoyance is that I apparently hold my head at an angle when I’m watching something, and so the polarized lenses start blocking/unblocking everything incorrectly.  This would definitely solve that issue.

MesaSage
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MesaSage

It’s easy to be skeptical of VR since it’s been around for ages without going anywhere.
The trick is finding the right app suited to VR that doesn’t make you want to hurl after 5 minutes – and that’s a challenge.  That, and finding the right mixture of heads-up interface and some sort of controller that can be used without looking at it. 
I want to believe, it’s just been so damn long getting anywhere.

melissamcdon
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melissamcdon

Midgetsnowman melissamcdon EO_Lonegun Did you know that you can watch 3D movies inside the VR world? There are VR theaters you can “sit in” and watch the movie on what appears to be a huge theater-sized screen.   On my Gear VR for example, i can see 3D movies and the images appear to leap off the screen of the VR theater I’m sitting in.  It’s actually way more enjoyable than wearing glasses and watching it on a 2D screen in the real world, so to speak.   In the VR space you’re aware that you’re seeing 3D that appears to be just sort of magically leaping off the movie screen, glasses-free as it were, which is ironic since you’re wearing a visor.  But, that’s how it feels to me.   I surf around Youtube looking for SBS (side by side) 3D content to watch in my Gear VR.

Phaserlight
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Phaserlight

Disc Arena sounds like something I would want to play

melissamcdon
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melissamcdon

Snky melissamcdon oh yeah.  magic wands that are game controllers/interface objects.   i have postulated in another thread that AR capabilities of mapping environment and laying a skin over it could mean a simple broomstick becomes a gnarled staff like Gandalf would carry, and you’d feel it in your hands as you played… fake guns could look like amazing plasma rifles or vintage ww2 carbines.. plastic swords could be huge vorpal blades like Conan would enjoy…

Snky
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Snky

melissamcdon My kids would love this or just AR for some kind of Harry Potter property as well.

Nyphur
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Nyphur

Damonvile The thing is, CCP has only had two side projects come out of the company: Valkyrie, and EVE Offline (a little arcade machine game they have at fanfest every year now). Dust 514 and World of Darkness weren’t side projects, they were the company’s main projects right after EVE and were ostensibly in full scale development for some time.
Dust didn’t turn out as good as hoped and flopped on ps3, while world of darkness development slowed to a snail’s pace for years and was often used to create tech for EVE Online under the guise of CCP’s Carbon engine, but both were full game projects.
The idea of putting in a little bit of work developing many experimental prototypes and then seeing where it leads makes sense. Of these four demos, maybe one will lead to anything substantial, maybe none. But if it develops the company’s VR capacity and only costs a handful of devs who aren’t working on EVE, it’s a very small cost.

Midgetsnowman
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Midgetsnowman

melissamcdon EO_Lonegun Its back with a vengeance. Just like 3d television!

Midgetsnowman
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Midgetsnowman

Oh good. CCP’s going right back to the same plan that crashed and burned last time of having multiple new products in the fire at once. lets see if they flame out as fast as WOD did.

Damonvile
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Damonvile

The salt came from world of darkness and how the ip was handled.Or dust and what they didnt do with it.
Ccp has a history of exciting side projects that end up flopping because they dont devote resources to finish them and end up borrowing people any time they need extra work on eve.

melissamcdon
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melissamcdon

Snky i could totally see disney selling “lightsaber hilts” that are simply AR/VR game wands, yes.   With force feedback/haptics so you feel it when the sabers clash…

Snky
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Snky

Now to hook a Wii-mote to VR for some “laser sword” PVP!! hah

BrotherMaynard
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BrotherMaynard

WandaClamshuckr syberghost EO_Lonegun It’s not just entertainment media thing. Those are merely the most immediate and obvious application of the tech, but VR in itself is is a new human/machine interface in the broadest possible terms. And therefore, cannot be a gimmick. It’s one step (and a necessary one) towards a direct human/AI interaction.

melissamcdon
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melissamcdon

EO_Lonegun It’s definitely not a gimmick this time, it’s back with a vengeance.   I was seriously skeptical about it.  I thought it surely had to be just hype.  I thought it was surely primitive.   But after reading so much star-struck comments I gambled $25 on a Cardboard visor for my droid, and i went from skeptic to Apostle in about 10 minutes’ time.  I’ve got over 40 VR apps (all free) on my Note for Cardboard alone…   i liked it so much I bought the Gear VR for my Note 4… which is a leap over Cardboard.
Until you’ve experienced modern VR tech you can’t really imagine how clever it is now and how immersive it is.   Still a toddler, but the tech even on your smart phone with a cheap Cardboard visor will knock your socks off.

melissamcdon
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melissamcdon

Oooohhh can’t wait for this on my Gear VR!!!

Now, the thing that really caught my attention was the pairing of the Oculus Rift with Kinect for Windows.   That’s huge, potentially, for mapping you and your space and your avatar’s movements.   I’ve been saying in another tech forum that’s running a lot of AR/VR articles that this is where Kinect finally comes “home”, and maps our bodies into the AR/VR space, hopefully that’s going to be true, and here we have a PC implementation.   Very nice. 
Good times ahead.  By end of this decade we will be gaming in ways we could scarcely dream of even a couple years ago.

Needmoreloot
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Needmoreloot

It’s cool I’ve been playing WODO for a few years, the animation quality of the game is amazing and just like they promised the world is so immersive and I’m loving my time WODO… wait what I’m dreaming, they bought that as a pet project to help perpetuate the myth vampires sparkle… oh ok then, well glhf CCP

CCP feel like uber nerds with excessive over padded wallets at this point. That said they do scramble for a quick return to actually upgrading eve post financials

*man where did all this CCP salt come from?*

Scopique
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Scopique

JimGriffiths I’d be willing to bet that CCP is well aware of the potental legal issues involved if they tried to SELL this Disc Arena…according to the post, this is currenty just a lab experiment to see what can be done with the tech.

Damonvile
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Damonvile

It’s CCP and a side project…how could anything go wrong ?

WandaClamshuckr
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WandaClamshuckr

syberghost EO_Lonegun I think it’s the next logical step in where entertainment media has to go.  It has to start somewhere.

syberghost
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syberghost

EO_Lonegun video games used to be a gimmick too.

Koolthulu
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Koolthulu

EO_Lonegun Well most new things start as just gimmicks. But this is like the 3rd or 4th coming of the VR god and I don’t see this one turning out any better than the others.

BalsBigBrother
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BalsBigBrother

EO_Lonegun nope you are not.

EO_Lonegun
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EO_Lonegun

Am I alone in thinking that VR is gimmick?

syberghost
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syberghost

JimGriffiths small cutting-edge projects like this are what lets you keep top tier developers onboard so you can pull them into problem discussions and let your B-level devs learn from them. It’s vital to a healthy dev team.

Every once in a while it produces something you can immediately use, and then you shift resources to fleshing it out.

JimGriffiths
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JimGriffiths

Sounds like another miss to me. Sounds like limited content and a potential lawsuit. Disc Arena sounds exactly like Tron and if they didn’t get authorization from Disney they have have the legal team that would tear CCP a new one. They just should have kept working on World of Darkness instead of wasting money on something a limited amount of people will use.

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