For a few days each year, hundreds of EVE Online
players from across the world flock to a frozen volcanic rock at the top of the world for the annual EVE Fanfest. I was on the ground at EVE Fanfest 2017
last week in
Reykjavik to get the latest on what’s ahead for EVE
and CCP’s other titles, and it was a thoroughly enlightening experience. We learned all about CCP’s amazing plans
to roll out adaptive AI-driven PvE across the game world, talked to players and developers, and heard about the next stage of Project Discovery
that will let players search for real exoplanets in space.
We also got hands-on with CCP’s immersive VR sport game Sparc, looked at Valkyrie‘s new Groundrush game mode that has players fighting inside huge structures on a planet’s surface, and confirmed that DUST 514 successor Project Nova is still in development. There were talks at Fanfest that we just didn’t get a chance to go to, and others that really have to be seen first-hand. Thankfully, CCP has recorded most of the event and has begun uploading talks to the EVE Online YouTube channel.
In this edition of EVE Evolved, I’ll be running down some of the highlights of the official videos from EVE Fanfest 2017 for those who missed the event.
At the end of February, CCP Games announced a new game that has nothing to do with EVE Online or even the EVE IP. Named Sparc, the new VR game is being pitched as a virtual sport environment with competitive online gameplay and an online social space. It has the aesthetic of the Tron-style cyberspace world that movies promised us throughout the 80s, and uses motion controls to deliver full-body VR gameplay. Even the social space will have a bit of an 80s arcade vibe, with players able to gather around and watch others compete and challenge the reigning champion to a match.
Anyone who’s been to EVE Fanfest in recent years will recognise Sparc immediately. The game made its public debut as Disc Arena in Fanfest 2015’s VR Labs demo section alongside three other VR experiments, and made a re-appearance the following year with motion controls as Project Arena. Just as Project Nemesis became the release title Gunjack, this game has now graduated into a full production title with its own development team and budget. Sparc is due for release at some point in 2017 on Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR, and we managed to get some hands-on time with an early version at this year’s Fanfest.
I sure hope you’re not tired of CCP Games talking about VR because CCP can’t stop won’t stop.
The video game studio known best for EVE Online has been laser-focused on the VR space for the last few years now, launching Gunjack, Gunjack 2, and EVE Valkyrie for VR and just last month announcing VR sports sim Sparc.
Today, CCP CEO Hilmar Pétursson features in a new interview on GamesIndustry.biz, where he basically talks up how well VR is doing. When interviewer James Brightman suggests that only about two million high-end VR devices have sold — numbers that the analysts at SuperData said made VR the “biggest loser” of the holiday gaming sales season — Pétursson argues that two million is actually a much bigger deal that it seems to be by putting the number into national perspective.
A couple of weeks ago, I was puzzling over the fact that besides a few golfing and racing games, we don’t have many sports games inside the MMORPG genre — we leap right from sandbox sport fishing to full-scale murder with little in-between.
I dunno whether CCP’s new VR venture will count, since it’s multiplayer but not MMO exactly, but it’s definitely in the ballpark, pun intended: It’s called Sparc, and the MMO studio is calling it a “unique virtual sport” where “players connect online to compete with each other in fast and fun full-body VR gameplay.” Unlike CCP’s other games, this one won’t be set in the EVE Online universe in any way.
“Sparc’s skill-based, full-body gameplay makes for a fast-paced and fun physical sport. Players use their motion controllers to throw projectiles at their opponents from a distance, and in turn defend themselves by dodging, blocking, or deflecting the incoming attacks. Players can join one-on-one matches with friends online or find opponents via matchmaking. Sparc enables players to connect and compete in an online community. […] Sparc includes multiple two-player game modes as well as single-player challenges and training modes, plus a range of customization and personalization options for competitors.”