EVE Fanfest 2016: Project Nova will include territorial warfare, link with EVE

At this week’s EVE Fanfest 2016, CCP Games revealed its new PC first person shooter Project Nova that has risen from the ashes of console FPS DUST 514. Rather than being a direct PC reboot of DUST 514 with huge planetary battlefields and a direct link with PC MMO EVE OnlineNova aims to be its own game set in the EVE universe. In my hands-on time with Nova, I found it to be a perfectly competent if somewhat generic squad-based shooter but was left with burning questions about the future plans for the game. Would there be any unique gameplay elements to hook people in? What will progression look like in the finished game? Will there be territorial warfare, and what about a link to EVE Online?

Today I posed those questions and more to CCP’s Snorri Árnason, and the answers shined a light not only on Nova but also the development process for new games at CCP. Nova is still in an early pre-alpha development stage and I was surprised to learn that it’s been in development for only a few months. It also turns out that the game is set in the current EVE lore and not in the future as we had previously been informed, and the team’s long-term ambitions do include sandbox territorial warfare and eventually a real economic link with EVE Online. The difference is that while DUST 514 sold us on huge promises and tried to do everything at onceNova will be built slowly from the ground up.

Read on for a brief overview of the long term goals for Project Nova and detailed interview responses from Snorri Árnason.

What’s in the cards for Nova?

Nova is being referred to as a “Project,” a term CCP uses to indicate that it’s past the protoype stage but hasn’t yet been officially greenlit for full production into a release title. These games now regularly get shown off at Fanfest to gather feedback and gauge interest levels, a strategy that has proven very effective recently for CCP. Valkyrie started life as a project named EVR at Fanfest 2013, and Gunjack was originally Project Nemesis at Fanfest 2015. Once it’s given the go-ahead, Project Nova will get a new name and branding and new versions will be brought to events like Fanfest for feedback.

ProjectNovaScreenshot2Full development will start with a focus on creating a solid sci-fi lobby shooter set in the EVE IP that is popular in its own right, with much of the deep customisation gameplay being similar to dropsuit fitting in DUST 514. Once that has been achieved, the next long-term goal will be to include territorial warfare between corporations in a similar manner to DUST 514 and thematically set on the planets of New Eden. Next, the two games could be merged socially by allowing Nova players to join EVE corporations, which is something that we could do in DUST 514. Finally, if the game is still going strong, then an economic link could be opened up between EVE and Nova in the form of some items that can be produced in one game but used only in the other.

It’s important to note that none of this is promised or guaranteed, and that at each stage the game will need to stand on its own two feet without relying on big promises. DUST 514 was big on promises and poor on delivery, launching to high anticipation but ending up as a mediocre shooter sold on the premise of a realtime link with EVE that never fully materialised. This time around the game will be built piece by piece from the ground up with big long term ideas but no promises, and perhaps that will be enough to truly call it a spiritual successor of DUST 514. Video capture of the demo below by EVE player Dannie Fleetfoot:

An interview with Snorri Árnason

MassivelyOP: The Nova demo seemed very polished and bug free; how long has it been under development?

Snorri Árnason: A few months, maybe half a year.

Did having assets from DUST 514 and unreal engine 4 help?

It’s having assets, it’s having people from the DUST 514 team, and it’s having a super dedicated DUST player — that’s me, I knew the game inside and out and I knew every playstyle and weapon. That all helped, so we got a running start and a lot of excitement and enthusiasm to do it; with all that coming together you can get a really good results quickly. It does help to have a live ops guy that has been here for 10 years in the Shanghai office who is a real tyrant on stability and stuff like that. He’s been here day and night in Harpa with his team to make sure it’s all running smoothly.

Nova isn’t a fully committed game yet, is it?

We call our products Projects until they’ve passed a certain threshold. At that point, the game becomes a product, and then you go out with key art and a brand and logo and say, “We’re committed, this is the game we’re making, and this is the plan we have.” That’s the thing that happened to Project Nemesis: It came to Fanfest as Project Nemesis and got great feedback, people loved it, and we saw a partnership. At the end of that project status, we created the Gunjack brand and key art, and then it became a product. Nova is a working title.

I understand that right now you’re focusing on the core minute-to-minute shooter gameplay, so what’s the next big step?

That’s to nail progression, the reward structure, unlocks, and customisation. We already have strong ideas about it that I’ve been kind of floating with a couple of people here at Fanfest. That’s something that we can start talking to the community about soon now that we’re officially a Project coming out of the woods. Nailing that core gameplay loop is the next big thing, and then we go into what changes it from a lobby shooter into something else.

ProjectNovaScreenshot1

So is the plan for Nova to have its own persistent elements such as territorial warfare?

“Planetary conquest is something that I consider the key feature of the game. It’s where you had the veterans fighting the veterans, and that is on the roadmap.”
If you remember DUST 514, planetary conquest is something that I consider the key feature of the game. It’s where you had the veterans fighting the veterans, and that is on the roadmap. It is the defining feature of DUST 514 to me, and I supported it as much as I could during the last two years by fixing exploits. I’m not sure if it’s common knowledge, but we actually reached out to every single CEO that owned a district and created a planetary conquest think tank. We had more than 70 people contributing on how to fix it and how to make it robust, people telling us secrets that they had been using to get an advantage. They were all working together on a common goal rather than their own selfish purposes because they wanted the game to succeed and the feature to be more realistic and more fun.

Is the plan to have its own planetary conquest that isn’t connected to EVE then?

So planetary conquest in DUST actually took place on the planets that are in EVE, but it was really more of a thematic leap than anything else. Its like the battle of Hoth in Star Wars, Hoth is a recognisable planet, and it’s all a part of the Star Wars universe. These planets were all a part of the EVE universe and these battles were taking place there, but there was no additional gameplay link apart from the orbital bombardment. The orbital bombardment itself was really difficult to use, and it was logistically difficult to align the people on both sides of the game, so it wasn’t a feature that a new player or an intermediate player could get enthusiastic or excited about. I’d like to put something in their hands earlier than that.

We’ve been proposing the following connection stages: thematic, followed by social (being in the same corporations), supplemented by planetary conquest so we have the corporations owning land. The next link for me would be an economic link, so there is the idea that if you own a planetary district, you can farm something, but that unit would be useless to you as a Nova player; it would only be useful to you as an EVE player and vice versa. So you could force an interaction between the two games that would be helpful to both sides if they trade and work together. Ultimately, whatever you could create with that Nova unit in EVE and EVE unit in Nova wouldn’t need to be anything magnificent; it could be just a cosmetic item or a side-grade or something cool. It could be anything, but just the fact that it can exist is more important to me than a gameplay link that is obscure.

ProjectNovaConceptArt

Is this a case of you want Nova to stand on its own two feet and then build it up a bit at a time?

100%, yep.

And then maybe when it’s viable, then talk about connecting it to EVE in a way that is mutually beneficial to both games?

Yes, exactly. The thing is that now that people have seen Nova, they are saying, “Well that’s nothing unique; why are you showing this to us because there’s no EVE connection!” But the exact opposite is what they said in the last six months. They said, “Why would I even want to play connected to EVE when I can barely get 20 frames per second and I’m lagging and the shooter gameplay isn’t great?”

We’re targeting the feedback we’ve got during DUST 514, which is basically performance first, gameplay second, and making sure the minute-to-minute gameplay is great, tactical, and fun. That will retain people on its own merit, not on the premise that its going to be great some day, so we are twisting the vision of DUST 514 and inverting it. We make sure people stick because of the game they’re playing, and then we can augment it.

Another thing that’s different about an FPS is that first-person shooters are way more about mastery, and if you take the mastery away from an FPS player, he becomes way more frustrated than an average gamer. I rely on my mouse, keyboard, and situational awareness, and if I’m being let down by lag spikes and killed over and over because of the game and not because of my own performance, I think that frustrates FPS players more than other games.

What’s the unique twist that will make Nova more than every other shooter?

That’s where we are refining the message both at Fanfest and during development. To me — and this may be controversial — I really just want to make a great shooter as I’ve been lacking a great shooter for a long time that I want to play in this setting. For me, the current marketplace doesn’t have a realistic sci-fi FPS that I want to play, and I think that there are people like me who would want that offering. So it’s a tactical, squad-based, realistic game that has its own laws and its own rules and its own lore setting and feels real, and that’s something I’ve always kind of yearned for in games.

“We’re not going into the Team Fortress and Overwatch area; it’s going to be crowded, and there is going to be a winner or two out of that blood bath.”
We can see that the market is going very fantasy MOBA direction with games like Overwatch; we are not positioning ourselves to fight on that front. We’re not going into the Team Fortress and Overwatch area; it’s going to be crowded, and there is going to be a winner or two out of that blood bath. We’re going to be in a different area while that’s happening, so for example you can see that Warframe has been very successful in its own niche as a third-person shooter with more of a co-op PvE element but with a realistic “sci-fi cool” genre. We had a lot of people playing DUST 514 in the past, and retaining a bigger chunk of them would have made us more successful.

We were told that Nova is set in the future of the EVE universe, but if you’re considering a link, is it actually set in the current universe?

Nova is basically set in whatever time is happening in EVE now. We actually talked to the EVE lore team as it’s very important to me not to say anything wrong in the setting. We had a sit down with Paul Elsy and the lore guys Linzi Campbell and Nick Bardsley to really nail that, and we talked about how the cloning tech works with the DUST clones and Valkyrie clones. It’s incredible to be able to ask that question like you would ask the doctor or a real-life person to explain something because someone has already defined it — it’s an amazing asset.

The current demo doesn’t feel very EVE-like; it doesnt have any recognisable environments or items. What are the plans to make it look iconically EVE?

This is a prototype map really to explore what we can do with the engine, and that’s something we already identified before to make it audio and visually more iconically set in New Eden. The ship interiors themselves are something that we met with the art team about last week. They have a lot of source material and were very happy to help us out. We asked what kind of decals could we see and what kind of iconic rooms would be in an Amarr ship that are different from a Gallente ship.

So are there any assets being taken from inside EVE such as the station interiors, etc.?

I’m not sure that those are compatible, but we have the concept art and the spec sheets defined by the EVE artists defining all the colours and material settings for an incredible amount of things inside and outside of EVE ships. Even if you don’t recognise any decals or an Amarr statue or anything, you should be able to feel it through the visual language where you are. You should be able to tell from the mood and the lighting and the colours used where you are, and then we can top it off with some iconic imagery.

EVE_Online_Amarr

I played two matches in a row, and in the second I started noticing ad hoc strategies emerging. Is that the goal of the squad-based gameplay?

I was incredibly happy to see that started organically, I was monitoring the room every time I could, and you could see that some of the people who are used to these strats from CS:GO or something were immediately setting up their lines and barking orders and finding out alternate routes to get to hack the CRUs. It started happening with complete strangers, but honestly I would like that to start in the first battle. I’d like that to be something you don’t have to learn at all, but we were seeing people confused by objectives like hacking the CRU, so we’ll take those lessons in.

Given the fact that its coming up as a very tactical squad based shooter, do you see any potential for Nova as an e-sport?

I haven’t seen a 16v16 game become a truly successful e-sports game. You lose a lot of the detail, and there’s a lot of chaos and a lot of deaths, so it’s very hard to follow, and we don’t have the round system like CS:GO. We’re not thinking about it as an e-sports game, but there should be rudimentary things like spectator modes and streaming in-game. We have strongly thought about a unique game mode for veterans that’s a free for all last-man-standing thing, and in the EVE spirit I’d like for you to place a bet on yourself. We could have an entry fee to join to keep out the new players who shouldn’t be there and winner takes all — that could be very cool.

Are there plans to add big open maps like DUST 514 and vehicles?

“The idea of open maps… that’s something that’s on the roadmap, but those kinds of battles would of course coincide with planetary conquest in districts owned by players.”
We’re not planning any vehicles for the first release; it’s the same philosophy that we’re approaching the rest of the game with that we’re not going to do something if we can’t do it well. You add complexity when you are capable of adding complexity. The idea of open maps… we have all the terrain and the assets, so it’s fairly easy to create the maps and with unreal engine 4 and a more powerful PC you can make them look quite vivid compared to the barren worlds in DUST. That’s something that’s on the roadmap, but those kinds of battles would of course coincide with planetary conquest in districts owned by players.

Is there any feedback in particular you’d like to respond to, or are there any common threads you’d like to address?

There’s two things we’ve seen. People think the 6v6 is here to stay, but it’s really just to make a great experience at Fanfest. It’d be difficult to wait for 16v16 in a queue, but the game is definitely 16v16, which is also why the map may feel a little bit empty at times. The second thing is that people are perceiving the loadouts that they start with to be the definitive loadouts. They’re there to help you start the game, and afterwards we’re definitely aiming freedom that you have in DUST 514. We’re trying to learn the lessons of DUST and not just give you all these choices in the beginning.

What we wanted to show was performance and that people had fun; those are the only things we wanted to get from Fanfest. We knew all these questions would come, but every time we see, “It’s a great shooter; let’s build on it” — that’s the thing we want to hear.

We’d like to thank Snorri Árnason for speaking with us!

Disclosure: In accordance with Massively OP’s ethics policy, we must disclose that CCP paid for our writer’s travel to and accommodation at this event. CCP has neither requested nor been granted any control or influence over our coverage of the event. They also have this huge vat of coffee and I’m pretty sure my blood is now 90% coffee by volume.
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31 Comments on "EVE Fanfest 2016: Project Nova will include territorial warfare, link with EVE"

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alizbth
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alizbth

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Cyroselle
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Cyroselle

Nyphur Cyroselle TY Nyphur! It might be fun to give this a go then.

Cyroselle
Guest
Cyroselle

Elirion Cyroselle Ah, right there at the start, haha, well, I blame my poor reading comprehension on my high fever, it’s been hard to read when the text keeps dancing around. XD

Thanks!

Denice J Cook
Guest
Denice J Cook

I hope CCP have not deluded themselves into thinking that the main reason Dust bombed was that it looked old.  I hope even moreso that Nova isn’t just Dust reskinned into Unreal 4.

Shooter peeps don’t want to “lose everything” every time they’re killed in PvP, CCP!  And making a game that doesn’t require a Ph.D to comprehend is going to be a must for the console shooter crowd besides.

Good grief.

MorpayneRADIO
Guest
MorpayneRADIO

Had they kept working on World of Darkness they would already have their 2nd hit game.

Gibs
Guest
Gibs

Making sure the basic gameplay and the feel of the game is great is the most important thing for a shooter.

But they better have a larger vision cause simply being a “good shooter” is not gonna be enough anymore.

PaulStephenCox
Guest
PaulStephenCox

I currently have 1 district by myself in DUST 514 and use to be a director in a corp that was first in districts so that they hope to have something like territorial conquest is welcome news. But what I’m hearing from fanfest does seem more COD like and less EVE. I always thought the progression system and fittings made DUST a little unique along with the economy of fittings made it a cut special when compared to other console FPSs(and Iv’e played quite a few). Sorry for the shameless plug but I plan to do a reaction vid and have already posted the interview and announcement of Project Nova (AKA not legion) on my youtube channel PSC502 if you haven’t seen them and don’t feel like searching through the twitch replay of fanfest 2016 for Nova info. https://youtu.be/oum7JUD4DAc

arktourosx
Guest
arktourosx

“DUST 514 was big on promises and poor on delivery”
Being poor on promises and poor on delivery isn’t any better.  Promising me the game I want to play so long as I support the game I don’t want to play just isn’t a viable strategy in today’s market.  I get them not wanting to take chances, but they aren’t exactly doing anything unique to set themselves apart from the get go either.  Valkryie is a VR flight sim, not exactly a crowded field (yet).  Hell how many just rail shooters do you get with Gun Jack?  FPS games on the other hand are dime a dozen, and without a gimmick just going to be another on the long list of CCP failures.

Landari_Omega
Guest
Landari_Omega

People can bitch and moan all they want. As long as CCP is making this game using real feedback and they truly aim to make a game the fans want, then I’ll gladly look forward to playing this. DUST 514 had too many unrefined aspects thrown together all too soon. If CCP can make an addictive shooter then work their way up from there, I’ll be happy.

Smiggins
Guest
Smiggins

Another thing, they need to take serious measures against aimbotters.
Also,
theyll have a difficult time if they release the game with nothing more
than Call of Battlefield features. Why would people leave CoD/BF for
this game if it doesnt offer something more than what CoD/BF offers?

Smiggins
Guest
Smiggins

If they make it more than a lobby shooter Ill be all over it. Im done with all the Call of Battlefield type games.

Here’s what it needs….
1. EVE like skill progression
2. Persistence
3. Territory conquest that is persistence, not a Call of Battlefield conquest game type that ultimately means nothing
4. Vehicles that can be modded, upgraded, etc
5. Gear for your avatar that can be modded, upgraded, etc

Armsman
Guest
Armsman

So – one of the “long term ambitions” for Project NOVA is to have it link with the EVE Online MMO. Nice, I guess – but considering how many of CCPs other announced log term ambitions turned out:
– Walking in Stations (First announced as coming soon in 2006 – and mentioned or touted in some way at every EVE Fanfest until the TERRIBLE ‘Captain’s Quarters’ implementation in June 2011; and the announcement that further WiS development had been shelved…)
– The “World of Darkness” MMO (In development for 6 years and then abandoned..)
Color me skeptical until I see Project NOVA to EVE MMO integration ACTUALLY demoed Live.

Branagain
Guest
Branagain

Nyphur saxxon68 I like how they’re starting out small and building it up, similar to modern EVE compared to it’s 2003 origins. They could start out with arena fights and pvp agent missions. Eventually it can be further developed for the EVE link, with commando raids on citadels, stations, and capital ships owned by player capsuleers. 

At the same time they could continue developing Valkyrie into a solid space dog-fighting simulation first, and later integrate it directly into EVE for fleet fights and such.

Eventually both can be combined for planetary warfare, with Novas acting as infantry and vehicle operators (or perhaps Novas stick with light vehicles like hoverbikes, LAVs and MTACs, with a separate class operating heavy vehicles like tanks, APCs, self-propelled howitzers, and Baserunner-esque logistics/ECM/drone vehicles) and Valkyrie players operating atmospheric fighters, bombers, gunships, and dropships.

Nyphur
Guest
Nyphur

PurpleCopper Legion was announced way too early to gague interest and it pissed off DUST fans, so I think they quietly dropped it and the devs continued working on DUST. It was also another big risk scenario because they were talking about rebuilding all of DUST’s gameplay from scratch on PC. CCP has tried twice to build huge expansive games (DUST 514 and WoD) and both times have been expensive disasters.
Since then CCP has seen success with two games (Valkyrie and Gunjack) using a very low-risk model of developing a low-cost prototype and showing it off at Fanfest to gauge interest, then pushing it through to full production and using Fanfest feedback to guide development. It looks like CCP has now adopted this new strategy of prototyping as its standard way of developing new games, but this method comes with the caveat that they can’t promise huge expansive games like DUST 514 or WoD any more.
Ultimately, Legion had to be cancelled because it was this huge expansive game that promised all the features of DUST 514 up front and CCP doesn’t take those kinds of huge financial risks any more. Nova promises considerably less up front and so only needs to succeed on a much smaller scale. They likely used a new name to get away from the reputation Legion had of being a full DUST reboot, and to highlight that this is a new game that has only been in development for a few months.

Zothike
Guest
Zothike

Well, really CCP is like an alchemist that turn gold into lead…

PurpleCopper
Guest
PurpleCopper

Was it ever explained why Legion was cancelled and Nova took it’s place?

7BitBrian
Guest
7BitBrian

This all sounds awesome and I will definitely be getting this. But something I would absolutely love to see some development on, and would guarantee I play the game a lot, would be campaigns. Tell us a great EVE story through 4 campaigns, one for each major empire. This would be be a great “unique twist” to help sell the game as they continue to expand on the multiplayer aspect of it.

Nyphur
Guest
Nyphur

saxxon68 As discussed above, it’s going to be developed as its own standalone shooter set in the EVE IP. Initially it won’t be linked to EVE or have territorial warfare, and then they will begin adding that stuff one feature at a time as it makes sense to do so. So it won’t be in the first release and isn’t 100% guaranteed to happen, but it’s on the long term roadmap.
Regarding 6v6, the sites that reported this were mistaken. Snorri explained that the 6v6 was only for the Fanfest demo and actually it’s going to be 16v16 in the final game.

saxxon68
Guest
saxxon68

They just said the other day it would not be linked to EvE. So which is it?

thickenergy
Guest
thickenergy

Elirion The problem they’ll have is the same problem with PlanetSide 2. People will play the game with the expectation that certain things are coming fairly soon. When those things don’t manifest the players will leave.
Game play and performance totally have to be there, and those things will go a long way to making the game sticky and retaining players. But nothing will make your players more salty than what they perceive to be broken promises.

Damonvile
Guest
Damonvile

I tend to agree with him about not wanting to start out too tied into EvE. It sounds like a great idea to implement it directly into eve, but then you’re only appealing to eve players. That’s a pretty limited market to go after, when that market is already aging and CCP needs to do something else.
If the game has it’s success it can always be brought more and more into eve like they said.

Nyphur
Guest
Nyphur

SallyBowls1 I think DUST was so big and so expansive that it just had far too many points of failure, and then it failed on most of them. If nothing else, Nova has limited the number of things that could go wrong by taking one step at a time, and if it doesn’t take off or fails at any stage then it will be much cheaper to abandon.

BKone
Guest
BKone

Ironwu Yep, that was my first thought too. Why don’t they bake this into EVE…
It looks good, it seems it plays good why not put it into EVE as ground arena?
Same with that dogfighting simulator. Put that in as space arena.
They’re just fragmenting their already small playerbase further with all these games…

SallyBowls1
Guest
SallyBowls1

IMO, “What’s the unique twist that will make Nova more than every other shooter?” is the important question.  DUST 514 seemed to suffer more from implementation than strategy.  We hope/expect a better implementation with Nova.  Yet I am not sure yet another fps will stand out.

zyrusticae
Guest
zyrusticae

Elirion Yep, this is what interested me in this in the first place. Good to know it’s going to have something, though it seems it will probably be better minor judging from the “economic” part. Still, some link is better than no link!

Ironwu
Guest
Ironwu

Instead of working from the outside of EVE, thinking that they will move into the EVE universe . . . why not start from inside the EVE universe and work outward?  Put planetary landings into EVE.   Make EVE a slightly safer place by restricting non-consensual PVP to the lower ends of the sector scale.  Put in ship interiors.  Implement ‘boarding’ instances into the PvP game.  Think outside the box a little for a change. 
If CCP attempts to get into a market already saturated with far more advanced products of the same type?  I fear they are doomed to failure (again)!  It is time for them to go all-in within the EVE universe and stop mucking about with these off product attempts.

Nyphur
Guest
Nyphur

Cyroselle Yes, it is for PC and it’s targeting 60fps on decent hardware. It’s also built using Unreal Engine 4, so a console release isn’t beyond the realm of possibility.

Elirion
Guest
Elirion

Cyroselle “Rather than being a direct PC reboot……….”

Cyroselle
Guest
Cyroselle

So….. Will it be available on PC? Or will CCP be wooing the console market only with a shooter based on a PC gaming franchise IP once more?

Elirion
Guest
Elirion

” long-term ambitions do include sandbox territorial warfare and eventually a real economic link with EVE Online.”

OK, I’m listening again.

heliaxb
Guest
heliaxb

Terrible. I want to select a armor with the Amarr design and shoot laser with a weapon with Amarr design too.

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